Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It Would Be Foolish

"[It] would be foolish, at such a 'critical time in our history', to pick people who 'had no experience in Washington whatsoever,'" said the 48-year-old junior senator who had served less than two years in the capitol before beginning his run to hold the top office in the land and become the leader of the free world. [For how long the U.S. can continue calling itself the leader of the free world remains to be seen.] Hello!

While I completely agree with President-elect Obama's call for experience at his press conference this week, I wonder if he sees the irony of his words. He ran on "CHANGE" as in "change the channel." Had his theme been "Let's watch a re-run of the Clinton cast of West Wing," it would have been less impressive. In fact, for many it would have confirmed that Hillary was a wiser pick than him. At that time, Obama mocked Hillary for lacking foreign experience, now he's poised to make her Secretary of State.

Those of you who have "read me" through the years would rightly guess that I was no fan of Hillary Clinton, but I should clarify (since those feelings go way back before I blogged) that one of my biggest beefs with the Clintons was the complete double standard of Hilary's blind eye to Bill's "bimbo eruptions." What we learned in those years was that it did not matter what a man did TO WOMEN as long as he did the right things FOR WOMEN. A man in power [as both a governor and a President] could gratify himself with subordinate women all he wanted, in any way he wanted, [in any rooms of the White House he wanted] and feminists would defend him.

The very groups of women who tried to "BORK" Clarence Thomas for allegedly telling Anita Hill a joke about a Coke can stood by their man as if to say, "As long as you support feminist views," Mr. President, "we'll overlook how you treat females. As long as you make good on your promise to put women in White House positions, we'll overlook the positions you put "that women" in. And Hillary was right out front explaining that our President was not a megalomaniacal womanizer; it was all just a "vast right wing conspiracy." ["That woman," by the way, was only six years older than the Clinton's daughter Chelsey.]

So yes, I am among those who found it fitting that a set of George Bush bookends would help hold forever shut the "pulp non-fiction" volumes of the Clinton years.

Having said that, I am willing to concede that people can change. Bill's heart surgery may have made a faithful husband out of him, and while I still have lingering distrust for the Clinton cast of characters from "That 90's Show," they were at least operating in the realm of 20th Century American politics and Capitalism. I take some comfort in that. ["Better the devil you know than the devil you don't."] It's also somewhat reassuring that Obama's most worried critics (at the moment) are the far left (and leftists) who hoped he really was going to bring rapid, radical CHANGE.

Obama also said in the statement that opened these thoughts: "What we are going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking.” It will be interesting to see if the end result of mixing Clinton's re-tread, "Washington insiders" with yet un-named "fresh thinkers" will produce a potent political cocktail or a just a cockamamie concoction. Time will tell, and the gaps between posts here at PI reflect my willingness to wait and see one week at a time.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Franken Awaits His Daily Day of Affirmation

(Updates added at bottom.)

The thought that a foul mouthed former SNL star who has tried and failed to be a liberal Rush Limbaugh now wants to jump into a U.S. Senate seat was troubling enough before November 4th, but the fact that he will stop and nothing and stoop to anything to win the recount should keep that frozen state thawed through December.

Here is one of the ballots that Franken thinks should not count for Coleman.

Something tells me it would have counted for Al Gore in 2000. Franken desperately needs to take about 200 votes from Coleman in hopes to unseat the Minnesota Republican. He is so optimistic that statistical improbabilities will continue to fall miraculously his way that he has gone to D.C. to "measure for drapes."

UPDATE November 24th: Nearly 3 million recounted votes later, and there is still no net gain for Franken, but with 25% of the votes yet to be recounted, and 3,000 disputed ballots added to the one above, many games can still be played in this suspicious process. Here's one interesting fact buried in this story: since Obama carried the state by nearly 20%, one in five voters either didn't vote for a senator or actually split their ticket to vote AGAINST Franken. He may be "smart enough," but evidently, "Dog-gone-it! People don't like [him]." This fact has not hampered his willingness to do whatever it takes to pull a skinned cat from a rabbit's hat.

UPDATE December 2nd: “The Franken campaign has made it clear that the recounted votes and will of Minnesotans matter little to them, and that they intend to take their campaign to change the outcome of this election on to the United States Senate,” said Coleman campaign spokesman Mark Drake. “Al Franken should personally reject this strategy outright, and honor the right of Minnesotans to choose who their senator should be — and not allow lawsuits and the strong-arm tactics of the majority leader of the United States Senate to intervene in this process."
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's recount tally, Coleman leads Franken by 282 votes with 86 percent of the recount complete. In total, 5,623 ballots have been challenged, with the Franken campaign having challenged 67 more votes than Coleman's campaign. The Franken campaign said it would announce withdrawn challenges later this week
Update December 23, 2008: Franken now leads with only thousands if bakkits to change outcome.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Uniformly Uninformed

While it is true that anyone can gather "interviews" of people that would make voters look uniformly uninformed, I think this recently released video reflects how selective coverage of "issues" and the brazenly brutal (and bigoted) coverage of Governor Sarah Palin affected this election. It also confirms that millions of voters base their opinions on "satire" and not serious thought.

Now watch this post-election interview which provides a truer picture of Governor Palin than the media cared to share before November 4. This lady is not stupid. She is a thick-skinned lady, gracious executive and exemplary wife and mom who I don't think is going to "go away." And when she begins to "come back" the media and SNL will again portray her as the ditz reflected in the answers of the above interviews. The next two years will either strengthen her for that time or usher her into the "cartoon graveyard" where most VP candidates inevitably find their rest.

Matt Lauer Interviews Governor Sarah Palin:

Here's another post-election interview with Greta Van Susteren that explains all the hoopla about "the clothes." Why did this very obvious explanation about the campaign clothes not get told before the election? This was a non-issue that the press harped on for a week.

The truth is, this is an intelligent, sharp governor with a bright future who scares the liberals to death. In the weeks after the election, she has gotten more press and been more accessible than any other candidate. Television will find it harder and harder to keep the "Tina Fey version" of her alive, but they must if they hope to keep her and her charming family up in moose country.

Update 12-3-08: Governor Palin's influence continues to grow a month after the November elections.

Update 1-9-09:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

See the USA in a Chevrolet Loan Delay?

I doubt it. I suspect the Feds will indeed loan at least the $25 Billion being requested by GM, Ford, and Chrylser Monday. I wonder if it will be an even three-way split of if the company that's done the worst will get the greatest reward?

I do appreciate the auto industry and hope it remains a part of Michigan's economy. I worked my way through college thanks to a great job at Ford for four summers in a row. I have close family who still work there. I know this will tick off all my union buddies, but I hope the Feds put two conditions on this "loan":

First, I suggest they impose a maximum cap of $250,000 on any annual salaries, bonuses, or other residual income at all levels of ownership, management, and employment until the loan is paid off. Update Monday: This is what I'm talking about. No way!

And second, the Feds should force the UAW to loosen its grip on the current contracts. Renegotiate. It should be very willing to go back to the drawing board in light of the realities of decades of "over-reaching." The most loyal hard-working employees should get highest priority in the process. I know one of them very, very well. Update Monday: This is what I'm talking about. The UAW is in denial!

How do I know about waste and "gravy train" in the auto industry? I watched if for four summers. Sure things have improved since the Seventies, but there are a lot of cuts that can be made to help the plants save themselves. We talk about "pork" in government--believe me, there's tons of "pork" in the auto industry. I dare say, these to suggestions alone could generate a "match" for the $25 Billion loan.

No more waste. No more pork contracts and bad-year bonuses. No more "gravy train" jobs and hours. Cut the "champagne perks" for what's basically "beer" work at many levels. Those who keep their jobs should be thrilled to have them, and thrilled that Uncle Sam extended this loan and these conditions until it's paid off.

In the meantime, watch this video and you'll see why this loan is probably a necessary "evil" as we take one more step toward socialized industry.

Update Monday night: In light of the two Updates above, it's less surprising that the response so far may be "sink or swim" for the Big 3. If this doesn't happen before January, what do you think the odds are that Obama, who basicly owes winning the state of Michigan to Detroit and the UAW, will not come to Governor Granholm's side?

Year-end update: This took much longer to resolve than I thought it would. There is a disconnect between the auto industry and the consumers it hopes to retain. Take for instance that the United Auto Workers (UAW) owns a $6 million dollar golf course on its $33 million dollar "retreat." If we're going to "bail out" the auto industry, as we now have, I suggest that they sell this and use the $40,000,000 to help pay the unemployment of the thousands of UAW workers who will be laid off as the 17 Billion dollar bail out fails and some of the Big Three go broke in the months ahead.

Li'l Abner Said it Fifty Years Ago

In keeping with the "Dents in the Carpet" theme, I got thinking (and humming) a song the other day from a lesser-known musical back in the Fifties called "Li'l Abner (based on the comic strip). The song I was looking for was "Put 'em Back the Way They Wuz," since that is a song we may all be singing about some of the CHANGES that may occur in the next four years. I couldn't find that song, but to my surprise, the lyrics of this song below remind us all that the more things CHANGE the more they stay the same. I think that's true because regardless of who's in charge, we're always working with human nature, which tends to be pretty predictable.
(In this scene, Li'l Abner has just returned to Dogpatch from Washington, D.C.)

"The Country's in the Very Best of Hands"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Dents in the Carpet" Part II

Prop 8 not "Hate" Reclaims Status Quo in California

This “Dents in the Carpet” series will be a recurring feature here at patronus incognitus. The title is not meant to suggest that CHANGE should never take place; it is to remind Americans that the “burden of proof” always rests on those who would CHANGE the way things are (status quo).

There is usually good reason why things are as they have been. Before upsetting the fruit basket, we need to ask questions like: Is the CHANGE truly an improvement over the status quo or is it just different? Who will pay for the CHANGE and is the cost justifiable? What are the unintended consequences of the CHANGE? What moral implications, if any, accompany the CHANGE? And so on.

The relationship between status quo and burden of proof is perhaps best understood in the statement: “A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.” The status quo is the individual's presumed innocence, making it the prosecutor’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Dents in the Carpet” are reminders that the time to undo wrongly imposed CHANGE is sooner rather than later--before we forget how to put things back in their rightful place. Since president-elect Obama has promised head-spinning CHANGE in the months to come, there's no telling how many parts in this series lie ahead, but lets begin with the most recent example of undoing CHANGE: the successful passage of Proposition 8 to constitutionally define marriage as between a man and a woman in California’s November 4, 2008, ballot initiative.

Before we proceed with this important discussion, let's take a look at a news story from a couple nights ago. Regardless of what side you may take on this issue. There are two undeniable facts: Prop 8 passed fair and square and the 47% who voted against it need to accept that fact just as those who did not vote for Obama accepted their loss on the same night. Second, please study the use of the word hate as this and other protest stories unfold. Ask yourself who is full of hate as you watch this old lady being assaulted (last part beginning at 2:30).

Elderly Woman Assaulted by Angry Mob

Prop 8 was put on the ballot to correct an improper shift in the burden of proof that happened a short time ago. Throughout recorded time, virtually all reproducing civilizations have operated on the same presumptive status quo: marriage is union between a man and a woman. It's a “water is wet” truism behind centuries of undisputed legislation and case law.

Even in liberal California, the traditional definition of marriage was included in the “Family Code” enacted in 1977, and to make sure there was no confusion, the words "between a man and a woman” were added to the California Civil Code in 1994. To further solidify the matter, four years later, Prop 22 added that the union of a man and a woman is the only valid or recognizable form of marriage in the state. Prop. 22 passed 61.4 % to 38 % on March 7, 2000. So by nearly a 2 to 1 margin, the voters of California upheld the long-standing definition of marriage. (Nationally, the figure is 68%.)

The vote was legal. The vote was clear. So what happened?

In the past four years in California, the state legislature twice ignored the will of the people and tried to pass a bill extending the term marriage to same-sex unions already allowed by the state. Twice the Governor vetoed the bill on the basis of Prop 22’s clear outcome.

In fall 2007, initiated a proposition that would amend the California State Constitution to include, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." A few months later in May of 2008, the State Supreme Court narrowly voted (4-3) to overturn Prop 22's ban on same-sex marriage. Thus legislating from the bench against the will of the people in an effort to change both public opinion and the burden of proof.

To further entrench the social coup, 18,000 gay couples “got married” in California last summer, and the liberal legislature changed the wording of Prop 8 from a neutral-sounding "Limit on Marriage Act" to “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry Act.” So you see the difference? The latter elevates "marriage" to a right and claims a "YES" vote will take it away. No one wants to take away someone's rights so surely the "NO" votes would win. Right? Wrong, because this vote was not about a "right;" it was about a "rite," and let's not forget whose "rite" it rightfully is.

This battle is over a word, a word established and defined not by the state but by scripture and all the churches that follow it: MARRIAGE. This is not a case of the Church (or churches or the Mormons, or the “Religious Right”) trying to impose its will on those who don’t care about traditional religious values; it’s a case of activist homosexual groups trying to claim a sacrament of the church that has been so commonly accepted as morally right and good and “ideal” that virtually all Western civil law shared it for centuries.

Marriage was not a secular term adopted by the church, it was church-sanctioned ritual borrowed by (and sometimes performed by) the State for the good of society. That “good” being the assumption that marriage is the best beginning for the most important institution on earth, the family. Every person reading this article is the product of a union between a man and a woman, while that union may or may not have been in the bonds of marriage, most would agree that traditional family order (man and wife who become husband and wife who become father and mother) is still most ideal for the order and perpetuation of society.

It is only when the God-ordained purpose of marriage is abandoned that the term gets thrown up for grabs like beads at Mardi Gras.

After the vote, singer Elton John confirmed my point and said that fighting over the word marriage was a critical mistake. "I don't want to be married. I'm very happy with a civil partnership. If gay people want to get married, or get together, they should have a civil partnership," said John. "The word marriage, I think, puts a lot of people off. You get the same equal rights that we do when we have a civil partnership. Heterosexual people get married. We can have civil partnerships." I think he is right. The vast majority of voters--including those who have Biblical issues against homosexuality--consider monogamous, long-term commitment healthier than promiscuity, and it's reasonable that all people in such relationships should be granted some privileges (e.g. hospital visiting, joint ownership, etc.).

On November 4, 2008, against all odds (and with the help of 70% of the black vote--though the protestors will likely spare those churches from their attacks), Prop 8 passed as decisively as Obama's winning popular vote.

Unless all principles of common sense and democracy or ignored, California will now join the other 29 states that have a constitutional “one man one woman” definition of marriage. Those who voted "YES" are not filled with hate--they did not mean to upset the fruit basket. They simply held their ground and used the dents in the carpet to set things straight. . . . For how long nobody knows.

Update November 19, 2008: If eight homosexuals met on a corner in a straight part of town, would all the non-homosexuals be allowed to violently march them out of town? Hardly. And yet a small group of Christians gathered to pray in San Fancisco's Castro District, and had to be escorted away by police--not because they were gathering unlawfully but because their lives were in danger from the "straightophobes."

TOLERANCE Has Become a One-way Street

It seems that this street mob seems to be advocating the colonization of homosexuals, a world in which they get to live freely in certain cities or neighborhoods, doing as they please with whomever they please. Non-homosexuals stay out of their neighborhood and they'll stay out of "straight" neighborhoods. Sure. That'll work. The courts will support that. Not on your life! The one-way tolerance street will simply grow and spread as the "straightophobes" keep insisting they're victims of intolerance.

Six days after this post, as protests and mob reactions like that seen in the video above continued across the country, the California Supreme Court agreed to hear three cases testing the constitutionality of Prop 8. Will that left-coast bench have the courage to say, "No rights have been deprived of any group. This is about the meaning of a word that has been in tact for thousands of years. That definition does not fit your chosen relationship. Get over it"? I wouldn't count on it. And if Prop 8 is deemed "wrong" in California, what will become of all 30 states with a constituional one-man-one-woman definition of marriage?

And so begins the "San Francisconization" of the nation, just part of the coming CHANGE we can look forward to.

Links to further articles on this subject:
Two weeks later, the Califonia vote continues to spark nation-wide protests, as the homosexual marchers continue to interpret this issue as an attack on them when it is actually a vote in favor of the status quo definition of marriage as "one man one woman." How long before Obama appeases them?
Gay activitist disrupt church service in Lansing, MI.
Additional defense of traditional marriage in Michigan
Whether or not you agree with this group...interesting reading
Why the same-sex marriage mob wants to call it hate.
Here's a quote from a book I may have to read: "The Marketing of Evil reveals how much of what Americans once almost universally abhorred has been packaged, perfumed, gift-wrapped and sold to them as though it had great value. Highly skilled marketers, playing on our deeply felt national values of fairness, generosity and tolerance, have persuaded us to embrace as enlightened and noble that which all previous generations since America’s founding regarded as grossly self-destructive..."
Even though Elton John suggested "...If gay people want to get married, or get together, they should have a civil partnership," many of the protestors sided against their knighted advocate.]

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day 2008

There are two things I have not heard talked about for a long, long time. The first is the horrors of September 11, 2001. Oh, I know we saw the candidates place flowers at ground zero two months ago, but when is the last time you actually remembered that day and the fear we all had that it may happen again? Montage of 9-11. Second hit.

The second thing we've seen less of--and praise God for that-- is endless footage of violent battles in Iraq. Make no mistake. The war there is not over, but it is being won, and last month saw less casualties than any month since fighting in Iraq began. On this day of honoring our men and women in the armed forces, I thought I'd pull up one of the first posts I ever wrote back in 2004, the week after Veteran's Day. The story will remind you of the progress we've made in Iraq and the brave soldiers who have made it happen.

The Marine Did His Job

Last week in honor of Veteran’s Day, ABC aired Saving Private Ryan, the first Hollywood movie ever to cause me to grieve. It’s a film that earned is strong "viewer discretion" warning, but it's also one that should be seen by every American old enough to understand the words “freedom” and "cost." War, accurately portrayed, is hard on the eyes and harder on the stomach, but to the post WWII generations, Saving Private Ryan gives new meaning to five words:
Duty, Honor, Country... Thank you.

Monday night and again tonight, I saw a similar film. It was shorter—not shot by Spielberg but by an NBC imbedded cameraman in Iraq. I hope you have not seen this footage, and I hope it soon fades into the fog of "news that isn't news." But if this story has legs, I fear that a young marine may be in trouble for actions that should never have been seen in our living rooms. Allow me to describe what I saw, taking a few liberties afforded a typical screenplay:

Roll camera: A handful of marines are seen crossing an iron bridge in Fallujah, Iraq. As they approach the road ahead, they look up at the empty green girders of the bridge. The frame freezes and dissolves into a Flashback of the same image—this time with two charred bodies of American contractors hanging overhead with a throng of laughing thugs dancing below, firing rifle shots in the air. The gun bursts snap us back to “real time” and our marines take cover at the foot of the empty bridge. They trace the fire to a nest of remnant insurgents about 100 yards away, hit it with a small missile, and all is quiet but the sounds of war in the distance.

As they move along the rubble, they meet up with part of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment with an imbedded NBC cameraman. They exchange wary glances, and the newcomers are warned that the mosque they're approaching had been raining “AK-47 fire from Ala” down on them for two days, but it was finally put out of business yesterday just before the main wave of fighting moved north. As they cautiously advance, they give a wide birth to the strewn bodies of masked enemy soldiers along the road. The camera guy gets some shots of the carnage. “Don’t touch the bodies,” one grunt warns. “Some of them are booby trapped. One went off on our buddy yesterday. Killed him.” Another marine, whose face is still bloody from what looks like a bullet graze, adds, “And shoot anything that moves. Yesterday I nearly got my head blown off from one of 'em who didn’t want to die alone.”

Suddenly, the boots stop at the base of a minaret, which the day before was illegally used as a machine-gun nest. They quietly enter the shattered sanctity of the mosque. Camera rolling.
The distant popping of gunfire fades. “It’s too quiet,” a voice whispers. Each trigger feels a tremulous finger, poised. Sunshine streaks in through high windows. The Marine’s eyes adjust to the light and each pulse quickens as the shapes of bodies on the floor emerge from the shadows. The marine with the wounded face cautiously steps toward one of them. The body is on its side; his hand is out of sight. Is he alive? Is he hiding something? “Why risk it again,” he thinks, remembering yesterday’s stinging blast to his face. And with little thought he fires a shot into the heap on the floor. Camera rolling. Cut.
End of screenplay.

On the big screen, that scene in the mosque would run about 30 seconds, but unfortunately the incident was real, and the wounded marine who fired the gun may face criminal charges for shooting an unarmed “prisoner of war.” That’s the story. I don’t know every rule of the Geneva Accord; I don't know this marine (and hope that his name is never released). I don’t know every detail of this incident (though all but the dialogue and part about the infamous bridge is in the reports). But I do know this: that battle-weary marine was doing his job. Most soldiers in this unconventional war of human bombs and desperate terrorists would have done the same.

War should never be reduced to “reality TV.” There are no commercial breaks; no game-over buzzer at the end of each battle; no getting voted off the island. War is a mangle of man and machines where things blow up and people die. The horrific images should not be casually viewed and second-guessed from a living-room couch. I suggest a new rule for our military and our imbedded media:

Whenever an imbed's footage can help prove the facts of this war on terror, use the footage, but never should an imbedded camera be used to subject a fighting marine to criminal charges for pro-active self-defense in a time of war. Soldiers live between frenzied snaps of time, and he who hesitates is lost.

Update: in May of 2005, well after this post was first written, the marine (who remained un-named) was cleared of misconduct. His actions were deemed proper in the realities of war.
Three years later the city was rebounding as one of the success stories of the surge that helped win the hearts of those liberated from Saddam Hussein.
Now let us pray for continued progress toward victory and the safe return home of those who represent all we honor today. May their sacrifice never be tarnished by lesser men and women.
(Here are more positive stories from Iraq. Scroll down to video from 10 months ago).

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dents in the Carpet

The Power of Status Quo and The Burden of Proof

On occasion it’s helpful to know a dead language, and most of us know a little Latin whether we think so or not. We all use the term status quo, which basically means “the way things are,” but it‘s often used negatively by advocates of change to mean “the way things have been for too long.”

I’ll begin with a simple example. How often do you rearrange the furniture in your most static room? [Static is a form of the word status and, in this usage, means the room that changes the least in your house, not the room with the most static electricity.] If you consider why you set that room up the way it is in the first place, you may find the reasons remain compelling through time. If you try to change things around, you may end up putting things right back where they were. (which is easy to do because of the dents in the carpet).

This is not always true, sometimes you can rearrange things in a room, step back, and really like it. [And you put ice chips in the carpet dents to help them bounce back overnight.]

The difference between men and women when it comes to rearranging furniture, is that (typically) men can live with the status quo of any room. They set up a TV room, for instance, and it can stay that way for all eternity. There is a reason for this (beyond the fact that he thought it through the first time): By age forty, the typical man has helped friends move in and out of apartments and homes so often that they forever hate to pick up the phone for fear it's a friend whose wife just bought a piano. Men loath the thought of moving furniture—even if it's within the same room.

This is less true for the ladies, who by the age of forty, have watched guys heft sleeper-sofas up and down flights of stairs, wrestle them through narrow doorways, and levitate them in mid-air while the supervising female decides where it goes. I know I have just offended the many ladies who, like my wife, have done more than their fair share of grunt work when it comes to such things. But I still contend that women get the urge to rearrange rooms more often than do men.

Before getting off the couch to move it, men are far more likely to challenge the idea, because they understand that, while change is not wrong, the burden of proof rests firmly on those who which to change the status quo. Not only do women sometimes forget CHANGE bears the burden of proof, they seem to forget the fundamental rules of furniture inertia: the heavier the piece, the more indelible the dents, the less often it should be moved. Or as the Romans said in Latin, Quieta non movere, meaning "Do not move settled things."

In other words, it is safe to assume that there is a reason for the status quo and CHANGE has the burden of proof that it will indeed be better, if implemented, than the way things are. Some changes are good and long overdue, but this merely eases the burden of proof; it does not eliminate it.

This topic is far more important that this furniture example suggests. It becomes strategic in matters of law, morality, and politics, all of which come into play in the issue of same-sex marriage now “boiling over” in California. This battle in the culture war was created by the liberal courts who, as if by fiat, changed the status quo (and the definition of marriage), thereby shifting the burden of proof, resulting in the current upheaval of the success of Proposition 8, which reclaimed the status quo that was in place for all time until four months ago.

To be continued. The beauty of a blog-essay as opposed to say an op-ed piece in the local paper, is that the writing is not static; it can still develop after post time. If you are new to my blog. Here's how posts typically evolve. First, I write a post. Second, I step away from it for several hours (or I sleep on it overnight). Third, I tweak it, sometimes clarifying or adding points as a result of the discussion in the comments, etc. And finally, I continue to add links to the text as more information becomes available. So if you re-read a post after a week after its date, it will typically be more informative than the first-posted draft. In fact, in this case, the most important part of this topic is yet to come.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Now That Our Election's Sure

The verb elect means “to choose"; The adjective elect, used with hyphenation means “chosen but waiting,” as in President-elect; and the plural noun the elect is a Biblical term meaning “those chosen by God to follow Christ” (or as Arminianism puts it “those who choose of their own accord to follow Him”). So on this the day after the election, some may be wondering how that portion of the electorate [56 million people, 48%] who did not vote to elect President-elect Obama feel about the election outcome. Fair question.

I can't speak for others, but before I attempt to answer for myself, let me say that I love this picture on the left. I love the earnest smiles, the held hands, the prominent flags. I love the color--every inch of tone and color--in this frozen moment in time. I love seeing this marriage, this man and woman, with the two precious lives they brought into this world standing happily between them. It gives me hope in the enduring tradition of family that leaps out from this photo. I look forward to watching this family in the years ahead. I also share the collective pride that wells up inside each time Obama reminds us that only in America could his story lead to the White House.

So how do I feel? Like millions of others who did not vote for Obama, I can share in this day's jubilation in much the same way my foot taps when I watch a dance from a distance. Make no mistake--part of me recognizes the immeasurable significance of this moment. At a level that transcends politics and ideology, I am smiling with the country and the world as this initial celebration settles in.

You may be thinking to yourself, "Tom, scroll down to the posts you've written about this campaign. Are you now trying to tell us that you're letting go of all the caution you've been crankin' out about the kind of "change" Obama may bring? About the doubts you have about the rungs of his ladder to power and the wall it's leaning on. About the emptiness of words that once appealed to you? You expect us to believe you're now okay with this outcome?"

First, let me clarify that I haven't 'let go of my caution.' I still have deep concerns about what lies ahead. I stand by everything I've written here and believe time will bear my caution out. I would love to be wrong, but I suspect that once this wonderful celebration turns again to non-stop partisan gloating in the House and Senate, I may be tempted to change this conciliatory tone (because I doubt Frank, Schumer, Reid, Pelosi, Emanuel, et al will return the favor). But this isn't about how the other side will act; it's about how I elect to respond now that our election's sure.

As I've said previously, seeing America's first black president-elect is not only watching history in the making... it's watching His story in the making. In case you're new to the way people like me write, that capital "H" in His story refers to God not Obama.

A friend sent me this quotation today from Ambassador Robert Strauss: "Everybody in government is like a bunch of ants on a log, floating down a river. Each one thinks he is guiding the log, but it's really just going with the flow." Strauss was making a political statement about the flow of public opinion and “the State," but most Christians consider the statement true on a different level.

Regardless of how we voted, I and many millions like me see last night's outcome as part of an unfolding story, an EPIC if you will in which good and evil clash and pawns and kings are often confused until their paths are rightly lit. A tale in which the "unalienable rights" and freedoms known in America are not guaranteed for all time. Our forefathers said they were "endowed by our Creator," and they were--for His purposes--but they are as unique as the story of America itself and have not always characterized life for those who follow Him. The liberty America has known during its breif 200+ years on God's timeline hangs by a thread we don't fully understand. The prevailing assumption of this election is that fundamental "CHANGE" [so far largely undefined] will do no harm to that fiber, but in truth there are countless reasons, lurking behind the jubilation of the moment, to believe that thin strand will soon be under more strain than ever from without and within. We do not know the future, but come what may, each turning page is HIStory, His epic story, written and unfolding according to His sovereign plan.

With that in mind, we take both comfort and direction in I Peter 2: 11-17: "Dear friends, you are outsiders and strangers in this world.... People who don't believe might say you are doing wrong. But lead good lives among them. Then they will see your good works. And they will give glory to God on the day he comes to judge. Obey Your Rulers and Masters. Follow the lead of every human authority. Do it because the Lord wants you to. Obey the king [President?]. He is the highest authority. Obey the governors....By doing good you will put a stop to the talk of foolish people. They don't know what they are saying. God wants you to stop them. Live like free people. But don't use your freedom to cover up evil. Live like people who serve God. Show proper respect to everyone. Love the community of believers. Have respect for God. Honor the king [President?]." Even when you have deep concerns about his ideology, agenda, bi-partisanship, and military insight. [That last part's not in First Peter 2, but since we know of Peter's death, we know "agreement" was not a condition of living under authority.]

It is out of respect to the office of President and to the significance of this moment, that I'm temporarily suspending my discussion of these issues. I plan to create a different blog for the occasional thoughts I may have as "CHANGE" or related world events play out in the weeks and months ahead. [Patronus Incognitus is that new blog.] The past weeks' partisan posts (and accompanying comments) from before the election, will be relocated to that new blog. I think our dialogue will remain as important as ever, but it's my desire to return Patterns of Ink to less issue-prompted writing. I hope that makes sense. I'll let you know when the "current events" counterpart to POI is up and running.

In the meantime, recognize why this moment matters, why it means so much to so many, "Rejoice with those who rejoice," and...
Be Still and know that He is God.

Be still and know that he is God...Be still and know that he is holy...Be still oh restless soul of mine...Bow before the Prince of Peace...Let the noise and clamor cease...Be still and know that he is God...Be still and know that he is faithful...Consider all that he has done...Stand in awe and be amazed...And know that he will never change....Be still. Be still and know that he is God. [repeat twice] Be still...Be speechless...Be still and know that he is God...Be still and know he is our father...Come rest your head upon his breast...Listen to the rhythm of His unfailing heart of love...Beating for his little ones...Calling each of us to come...Be still...Be still...
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Nothing Like Us Ever Was

I went for a bike ride tonight. The weather was perfect. The bike trail and sides of the road were covered in yellow maple leaves that were not "crisp" enough to make much sound. I began reciting in my head Robert Frost's "Nothing Gold Can Stay."

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
................Robert Frost

I have a strange memory. That poem (if I'm not mistaken) was at the bottom of the left column on the left page of the textbook I taught from for many years. I have not seen that book for over a decade, but I tend to remember where things are on pages. Do you do that? What does that mean?

So I was riding my bike through fallen leaves quoting one of my favorite poets to myself and remembering the joy of teaching poetry for about seventeen years. I went to a dock where I like to "think" (no I do not sing "Sittin' at the Dock of the Bay" when I go there). From there I watched the sun set and then rode home in the twilight. Frost's poem made me think of another poem I studied each year with my students in the 80's and 90's.

Maybe it was the fallen leaves whispering under my tires; maybe it was the sunset; maybe it was the knowledge that I'd be watching election results when I got home... I'm not sure why, but Sandburg's "Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind" kept warbling in my mind.

Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind
by Carl Sandburg

“The past is a bucket of ashes.”

THE WOMAN named To-morrow
sits with a hairpin in her teeth
and takes her time
and does her hair the way she wants it
and fastens at last the last braid and coil
and puts the hairpin where it belongs
and turns and drawls: Well, what of it?
My grandmother, Yesterday, is gone.
What of it? Let the dead be dead.

The doors were cedar
and the panels strips of gold
and the girls were golden girls
and the panels read and the girls chanted:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.

The doors are twisted on broken hinges.
Sheets of rain swish through on the wind
where the golden girls ran and the panels read:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation,
nothing like us ever was.

It has happened before.
Strong men put up a city and got
a nation together,
And paid singers to sing and women
to warble: We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation,
nothing like us ever was.

And while the singers sang
and the strong men listened
and paid the singers well
and felt good about it all,
there were rats and lizards who listened
… and the only listeners left now
… are … the rats … and the lizards.

And there are black crows
crying, “Caw, caw,”
bringing mud and sticks
building a nest
over the words carved
on the doors where the panels were cedar
and the strips on the panels were gold
and the golden girls came singing:
We are the greatest city,
the greatest nation:
nothing like us ever was.

The only singers now are crows crying, “Caw, caw,”
And the sheets of rain whine in the wind and doorways.
And the only listeners now are … the rats … and the lizards.

The feet of the rats
scribble on the door sills;
the hieroglyphs of the rat footprints
chatter the pedigrees of the rats
and babble of the blood
and gabble of the breed
of the grandfathers and the great-grandfathers
of the rats.

And the wind shifts
and the dust on a door sill shifts
and even the writing of the rat footprints
tells us nothing, nothing at all
about the greatest city, the greatest nation
where the strong men listened
and the women warbled: Nothing like us ever was.

On a lighter note: I found my car keys tonight in a kitchen drawer with pot holders (where someone else not me put them a week ago).
Life's good!
This Just In...
Don't Worry. He's Not "THE ONE" After All

Please don't take offense at these irreverent parodies (the words were offensive enough), but the clips are a good reminder that maybe... just maybe... Obama has been over-rated (even by me). Here's part II, further proof that he falls short of being "THE ONE." If you'd prefer a less messianic and more presidential motif, here's another "profound" Obama moment at Mt. Rushmore.

I'm not saying he won't continue to fool voters long enough to win Tuesday; I'm just saying that apart from a teleprompter, he may lack the lucidity to be "THE ONE" (in spite of the recent prophecies, infatuated voters, zealous followers (fraudulent .hired .hands), blind banking allies, vulgar celebrities, marching youth, swooning throngs, global enchantment, and singing children.)

Bright and early tomorrow, I'll be voting for McCain/Palin. Here's a funny true story about the last time I voted for a long-shot from Arizona back in '64. I was only 8 at the time, but it's true, I went with Goldwater in that year's presidential race.

Knowing McCain has the best chance of bringing about the pending victory in Iraq, it would be a shame to elect an appeaser while so many nefarious eyes anticipate the "international crisis" Joe Biden has promised. One more spoof. This one's about world leader endorsements. Just doing my part to provide a little levity as we watch the last 24 hours play out and then head to the polls.

[Not so funny UPDATE added early Tuesday AM: I don't know about you, but where I voted early this morning, there were official representatives from both parties. It's unbelievable that in many Philadelphia wards the Democrats have kicked out the Republican officials assigned to monitor polls. Also in PA was this case of reverse intimidation.]

Think, talk, pray, vote, pray some more, and remember:
what's in the making is not only history... but His story.
P.S. The day before the election, this Chicago zine decides it's safe to tell us about William Ayers. The post below about Obama's aunt and his "give aways" to illegal aliens has been updated with this shocking explanation from Lou Dobbs on CNN. This response to Obama's anti-coal agenda was also added at the end.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Auntie Em. You're Not in Kansas Kenya Anymore?

The following post is not about Obama's recently discovered Kenyan aunt who lives in public housing in Boston. Nor is it about the donations she was making to her nephew's campaign. It's about the fact that today Obama sent the $260 back to his aunt since it is illegal to accept donations from foreigners--much less illegal aliens.

So as you read this, understand that I'm not picking on his poor 56-year-old "Auntie Zeituni," his Kenyan father's half-sister, whom he included affectionately in his book, Dreams of My Fathers. "She was the first person to greet him when he stepped off a plane and arrived for the first time in Kenya. 'Welcome home,' Zeituni said, kissing me on both cheeks," Obama wrote." I don't think undue attention should be paid to Obama's aunt--no more than is paid to the other 10,000,000 illegal aliens living here--except perhaps in that she filed paperwork to stay but was denied and court-ordered to return to Kenya in 2004, an order she has defied for four years and counting.
I have no issue with Obama's alien aunt, and in fact, I Peter 2:11-13 gives Christians reason to relate to aliens in this world. I have addressed what might be a Christ-like approach to illegal aliens in this retelling of the Good Samaritan. The following thoughts are not about the aunt. The Republicans had nothing to do with this story, and like the Republicans, who have called this a "family matter," I'll steer clear of this touchy development... as it pertains to her. But as it pertains to Obama's pattern of denials... that's a different matter.
It should be noted that Obama cared enough about his sweet aunt back in the 80's to visit her in Kenya; he cared enough in 1992 to visit there again and introduce her to his wife-to-be; he cared enough about her in 1999 to fly her to Chicago for a visit while he served in the Illinois Senate; he cared enough about her in 2004 to fly her from Kenya (with only a temporary tourist visa) to D.C. for his induction into the U.S. Senate; he cared enough to take her call when she told him in 2006 that she never returned to Kenya after she came to see him sworn in. It was then she told him she was living in Boston. I think it's great that he has cared enough about this lady for 20 years. I just think it's strange that he hasn't cared enough for her.

Yesterday the "illegal alien" part of the story broke (Or did it break? I've not seen it on TV. Nor have I seen it--but for this puff piece-- in the Boston Globe that smeared Romney during the primaries for hiring "illegals.") And how did Obama respond? He did it again. He claimed to know everything but the inconvenient, controversial information about the person. He did it with Wright, with Ayers, with Rezko, with Khalidi, and now he's doing the same thing with his aunt; Obama claims he didn't know she had not gained citizenship or legal status.

Oh, really? The same sweet "Auntie Zeituni," you flew in on "visiting visas" for two events in your life? You didn't care enough to send her a card when she gained legal status through the INS (or to be present at her ceremony had she been sworn in as an American citizen)? We either have to believe you didn't care about the moment she became "legal" or that you knew she was illegal but you didn't care enough to intervene.

Again, I'm not raising questions about this sweet lady. I don't want her deported. If Obama gets elected, it would be wonderful if she has a seat of honor. Speaking of wonder...
I do wonder 'why Boston and not Chicago?' (Did she get work and housing with some help from Obama's Harvard-years network?) I do wonder how it is that an illegal alien qualifies to live in "public housing" underwritten by U.S. taxpayers. I do wonder how without a green card she is employed by the Boston Housing Authority. I do wonder how it is that not her but other foreign sources give money (large and small amounts) undetected. I do wonder how many other illegal foreign contributions were in Obama's $600,000,000 stash of cash. I do wonder if she or any of the other 10,000,000 illegal aliens have managed to find fake IDs and an address (or park bench to claim as their address) so they can vote.

I do wonder how much his aunt's living here affected his answer in this debate. Or if it helped motivate him during this speech at NCLR. Or if it affected his objectivity as he "played a key role in the crafting of the immigration reform bill.

Even more troubling are the many other unbelievable provisions Obama put in his bill that will give illegals the EITC, yes that's the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is the money taken from people who pay taxes given to those who do not in Obama's "Spread the Wealth" plan. Listen to the whole clip, and understand that it pertains to both Obama’s illegal immigration “give aways” and his future promise to spend your money to help Auntie Zeituni and the millions like her living here in defiance of our laws.

I'm wondering a lot of things about this overnight story, but I'm not going to touch it. I'm not going to do to Auntie Zeituni what the Dems and the media did to "Joe the Plumber." Hear that? Leave the poor lady alone, but feel free to shout a big "YEAH, RIGHT!" at Obama as you ponder this most recent denial of yet another inconvenient detail about someone near and dear to him. [Update Monday: Maybe "near and dear" was a stretch. When asked about his aunt by Katie Couric, Obama said, yes, she should be deported. Ouch! That's harsher treatment than he suggests for the other 10,000,000 for whom he supports amnesty. Poor Auntie Zeituni. No ticket to the inauguration for you. You better go hide with Uncle Omar. Although, I'm confident you have nothing to fear--your nephew will reverse his statement AFTER the election.]

The above topic is very important to most voters, but since that story cannot be talked about, let me change the subject to something the media may be less afraid to touch: Here is some new audio that should be a HUGE concern to every voter in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia, and every other state that like 50% of the country produces or uses coal for energy. This interview was conducted last January in San Francisco, but the idea of "bankrupting coal plants" was left out of the printed article: Quoting Obama: "So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It's just that [my plan] will bankrupt them."

If the above screen does not open, it’s because the link is getting too many hits per minute. Here is video of the interview. Listen to what he says after the first 1.5 minutes. It's basicly this: "I'm not dumb enough to come right out and say I'll shut down coal; I'll just fine the coal users so many billions of dollars each year that they will go bankrupt." Now it makes sense that Biden insisted we will not invest further in domestic coal under Obama's plan. Yet when his unequivocal statement came out, Obama said his running mate misspoke. Now we know he didn't. I think this no-to-coal shoe might--just might-- leave a mark in swing states during the next 24 hours. Here's proof that it might.

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Here's a little encouragement as we go into the homestretch of this race which we will all admit has been two months of liberals looking down their noses at Sarah Palin (who even her supporters will admit has not always been on her game). But polls say those giving her a second look this week are seeing something new, something real, something stronger and more confident, something all the talking heads hoped we'd never notice: Beauty may be skin deep, but this lady has thick skin.

Now that you can imagine the symbolic nature of Maria Sharapova, see the original Nike commercial at this link. It's still a good metaphor for Govenor Palin and her snobby detractors.

Never underestimate a point guard
who took her team to state.
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