Archive | October, 2012

An “October Surprise” Yet to Come?

29 Oct

I suppose I am among those cynics who believe that we are likely to see another rabbit pulled out of Obama’s hat in the last several days leading up to the election.  I hate to feel that way, but Democrats have done that leading up to other presidential elections (maybe Republicans, too, but I have no specifics on that).

For that matter, I still haven’t gotten a good explanation of how the unemployment rate could have come down so dramatically last month on the strength of such a lackluster number of new jobs.

It has been suggested that Obama will claim a major step forward in negotiations with Iran.  I might also expect an announcement of some sort of domestic “deal”.  Opening the floodgates for oil and natural gas?  Release oil from the reserve to drive the price down suddenly?  Announce a new forgiveness program for student loans?  Some supposed “dirt” they are holding regarding Romney and/or Ryan — whether true or not?

What is your thought?

26 Oct

26 Oct

“Random Thoughts” from Thomas Sowell

23 Oct

Every now and then, Thomas Sowell publishes a “Random Thoughts” column.  Some of his thoughts from his latest follow, in case you haven’t seen it.  The entire column can be found at http://www.creators.com/opinion/thomas-sowell/random-thoughts-12-10-16.html

Excerpts:

1.  Economist Edward Lazear has cut through all of Barack Obama’s claims about “creating jobs” with one plain and inescapable fact — “there hasn’t been one day during the entire Obama presidency when as many Americans were working as on the day President Bush left office.” Whatever number of jobs were created during the Obama administration, more have been lost.

2.  How are children supposed to learn to act like adults, when so much of what they see on television shows adults acting like children?

3.  Whenever you hear people talking about “a living Constitution,” almost invariably they are people who are in the process of slowly killing it by “interpreting” its restrictions on government out of existence.

4.  Do either Barack Obama or his followers have any idea how many countries during the 20th century set out to “spread the wealth” — and ended up spreading poverty instead? At some point, you have to turn from rhetoric, theories and ideologies to facts.

5.  People who complain about “negative” campaign ads miss the point. It is perfectly legitimate to criticize your opponent. The question is whether the ads are about serious things that matter to the future of this country, and whether they are telling the truth or lying.

6.  I have never known a word to become absolute dogma, without a speck of evidence, the way “diversity” has.

Lies and Fallout re: Obamacare and Medicare

23 Oct

In a recent column titled “Companies Are Evil, So It’s OK to Lie about Them”, Mona Charen focuses some well-deserved attention on Obamacare.  Excerpts from her piece follow.  The entire column can be found at http://www.creators.com/opinion/mona-charen/companies-are-evil-so-it-s-ok-to-lie-about-them.html

Excerpts:   [Emphasis is mine]

Obamacare was designed by people who believe passionately that private companies must be strictly controlled and regulated by Washington bureaucrats, who will run things far more humanely and even more efficiently. Mr. Obama cited the bogus statistic that Medicare has “lower administrative costs” than the private sector. This is specious. Medicare’s administrative costs are spread over several different agencies. The IRS collects the taxes that fund the program, the Social Security Administration collects some of the premiums paid by beneficiaries, and the Department of Health and Human Services handles accounting, auditing, fraud and other issues.

Additionally, Medicare’s population is older and sicker than the typical insurance pool. Their medical costs are accordingly higher, so as a percentage of total spending on the patient, Medicare’s per patient administrative costs will be smaller. But that isn’t because Medicare is more efficient.

This is not to say that insurance companies are virtuous. They are simply businesses, doing what makes sense for their customers and shareholders. It would never occur to Barack Obama that the best way to go after insurance companies whose behavior you dislike is to provide competitors. .  .  .

Any first-year economics student could have predicted what happened last week in response to one feature of the law. Obamacare requires that companies with 50 or more full-time employees provide health insurance or pay a fine. A restaurant chain that includes Olive Garden and Red Lobster (not one of the 1200 well-connected companies and unions who’ve received waivers) announced that it will be placing more of its 180,000 employees on part-time status — thereby diminishing the salaries of thousands of people.

The Obama Administration will perhaps regard this utterly predictable response (and this is just the beginning) as “jerking people around,” and may, if reelected, issue regulations making it illegal to change an employee’s status from full-time to part-time. That’s how statists operate. Try firing someone in France — which is why jobs are so scarce in France.

And so it will go, with the federal government chasing after private industry with more and more restrictions and penalties — never seeing that they are circling the drain.

[End of excerpt]

Well said.

Do I Have to Declare a Church/Denomination to Be a Christian?

11 Oct

A recent headline has been that a new survey concludes that avowed Protestants now make up less than half of the U.S. population – for the first time ever.  This got me thinking a little bit.

I must confess that I am one of the [now] millions of non-aligned Christians, having been counted among the unchurched for close to thirty years now.  I believe that it is through God’s grace and inspiration that I continue to seek further enlightenment and purpose.

But I’d be less than truthful if I didn’t admit that I feel, from time to time, the loss that comes from not having a supportive church family, and the fear that going it alone can easily lead to a weakening of faith over time.

My basic problem is that I find too many faults with the beliefs or practices of the denominations I visit or research, too much fear of dissenting interpretations and questions, and too much intolerance of those outside their denomination.  Yet one could ask, Who am I to expect any denomination to conform to my personal beliefs, as opposed to the other way around?

The other day I was re-reading portions of C. S. Lewis’s God in the Dock.  Probably now most famous for having written the Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis wrote many books on theological issues (my favorite is Mere Christianity), being one of the twentieth century’s most effective and prolific Christian apologists.  God in the Dock is a collection of many of Lewis’s essays on theology.

One of the sections of this book is a series of questions posed to Lewis, and his responses to them, at a “One Man Brains Trust” in April 1944.  The following caught my eye, and I was moved to consider its importance and truth.  Food for thought.

Excerpt:    [Emphasis is mine; content in brackets [ ] is mine]

Question:  Is attendance at a place of worship or membership with a Christian community necessary to a Christian way of life?

Lewis:  That’s a question which I cannot answer.  My own experience is that when I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago [he was 33 at the time of conversion], I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn’t go to the churches and Gospel Halls; and then later I found that it was the only way of flying your flag; and, of course, I found that this meant being a target. . . . If there is anything in the teaching of the New Testament which is in the nature of a command, it is that you are obliged to take the sacrament, and you can’t do it without going to church.  I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music.  But as I went on I saw the great merit of it.  I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off.  I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots.  It gets you out of your solitary conceit.

[End of Excerpt]

I think Lewis made a great point, but I will dissent on part of his observation.

I do not have the super-intellect of Lewis, nor his superb educational credentials, nor his ability to rate poetry and music against a professional standard.  However, I will say that, although I do not very much care for most hymn-singing myself, when I have removed the “sixth-rate” music and awkward line breaks, I have found some of the “fifth rate” poetry of the hymns to be quite beautiful and meaningful.  Also, when I have isolated the music from the poetry, and let the wordless harmonic tones of a quality organ flow over me, I have also found both inspiration and inner peace.   But put the words and music together, and most of the time it leaves me rather cold.

But I’m rambling — again.  I would be interested, though, in your own view of, or experience with, the ease or difficulty of going it alone in a world containing literally hundreds of Christian denominations.

Do you agree that if there actually is a denomination that has everything right, only one of the hundreds can fit this description?

 

 

 

 

On the Imaginary Man — Barack Obama

9 Oct

Andrew Klaran recently wrote an excellent essay titled “A Fantasy Election, an Imaginary Man”, in which he exposes the persona built up around Obama by the news media and rabid followers.  Klaran is a novelist and a contributing editor of City Journal.  The entire essay can be read at  

http://www.city-journal.org/2012/eon1005ak.html

An excerpt:  [Bolding is mine]

The mystery Obama—the hollow receptacle of out-sized fantasies left and right—is not a creation of his own making, political chameleon though he may well be. It emanates instead from a journalistic community that no longer in any way fulfills its designated function, that no longer even attempts the fair presentation of facts and current events aimed at helping the American electorate make up its mind according to its own lights. Rather, left-wing outlets like the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington PostTime,Newsweek, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, and the like have now devoted themselves to fashioning an image of the world they think their audiences ought to believe in—that they may guide us toward voting as they think we should. They have fallen prey to that ideological corruption that sees lies as a kind of virtue, as a noble deception in service to a greater good.

Theirs are largely passive lies and lies of omission. The active frauds—NBC’s dishonest editing of videos to reflect a leftist worldview, ABC’s allowing Democratic operative George Stephanopoulos to masquerade as a newsman, the Los Angeles Times’ suppressing even the transcript of the video in their possession that shows candidate Barack Obama at a meeting with a PLO-supporting sheik—these are only egregious salients of the more consistent, underlying dishonesty. The real steady-state corruption is revealed in the way Obama scandals like Fast and Furious, Benghazi-gate, and the repeated breaking of federal campaign laws have been wildly underplayed, while George W. Bush’s non-scandals, like the naming of Valerie Plame and the firings of several U.S. attorneys at the start of his second term, were blown out of all proportion.

And it is revealed in Obama’s blankness, his make-believe greatness, and the suppression, ridicule, and dismissal of any evidence that he is not the man this powerful media faction once wanted so badly for him to be. No other modern president could have associated so intimately with lowlifes like Wright and Ayers and the now-imprisoned Tony Rezko and not had those associations exposed in every detail. No other president could have made the radical remarks he’s made—about wealth redistribution, religion, and the federal government’s alleged ill-treatment of blacks—and not had them headlined all over for weeks. No other could have presided over such a crippled economy and such universal failures at war and in foreign policy and escaped almost without mainstream blame.

[End of excerpt]