Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The Real Threat of ACORN

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

acornKaren Heller, a columnist for the Inquirer, wrote about the evil, awful ACORN people conservatives keep attacking. (Inquirer, Saturday, October 3, 2009.) Of course, that line was only a setup, as she went on to describe the young, idealistic college graduates and the African American grandmothers and great-grandmothers who are making sure Latinos have a voice and that greedy banks don’t foreclose on good people who need homes. Wonderful stuff, indeed, but she comes to the conclusion that this work is being shutdown by vengeful conservatives afraid of minorities getting a voice. And she blames the subtly unnamed “right-wing conspiracy” for all of ACORN’s woes.

Never mind that ACORN affiliates all over the country are implicated in sketchy activities. Never mind that anybody in their right mind would have called the cops when that ridiculous pimp-n-ho duo walked in the door (thankfully, the Philly people did). Never mind that ACORN’s very corporate structuring is intended to obfuscate and hide funding and oversight, politicizing non-partisan activities (like voter registration) and using federal funds for illegitimate purposes. Think I’m exaggerating? Read their own lawyer’s internal investigation and strong-worded suggestions.

It’s time for the good people doing good work at ACORN to step out and say, “enough of the corruption, enough of the greed, we’ve got real work to do,” and start their own organizations, well purposed, well governed, transparent from the start. Moral high ground is only difficult to attain for those unwilling to give up their vices.

Anyway, here’s my letter to Ms. Heller:

Dear Ms. Heller,

I understand you’re an opinion columnist, so I don’t ever expect to agree with you.  I think you’re entirely missing the point with your ACORN article, and the comments from readers at the bottom are closer to the truth.  It’s not the fault of accusers that good people can’t continue their good work — it’s the fault of the bad apples and bad ideas that were tolerated too long by bad leadership.

In any case, if you feel ACORN, locally at least, is doing such good work, and that there is a mass of likeminded people that agree with you, why don’t you all fund ACORN yourselves?  Or is this a case where you think ACORN should get OPM (other people’s money)?  The reliance on “free” tax dollars and the distancing of funding decisions from the people most concerned about important issues causes an explosion of greed and corruption.

Sadly, a handful of good people get tarnished.  But maybe its time for them to leave and do their own thing — because surely ACORN can’t be the only organization doing any of this work, can it?

Blame the bad guys for the problems they cause, even to innocent people.  Don’t blame the messengers.

Sincerely,
Walt Rice

Gay mole!

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

So I bought The Unlikely Disciple, a new book by Kevin Roose about his semester at Liberty University. Not usually interesting, except that Roose is a liberal Ivy Leaguer from Brown. The result is intriguing, enlightening, and downright hilarious.

The biggest mix (for me) of sorrow and laughter comes from the rampant gay jokes that permeate the campus. At the end of the semester, Roose is on the verge of being found out by the local rebel (who happens to have a knack for recognizing other rebels). Here’s the exchange:

Joey glances up at the ceiling, then shoots me a suspicious, sideways glare. Oh no. I know that look. I’ve been afraid of that look since the day I got here. That’s the look of a guy who is putting together the pieces of a puzzle. Right now, Joey is thinking: student journalist . . . came to Liberty from secular school . . . scored an interview with Dr. Falwell . . . leaving after one semester . . .

“You know, Rooster,” he says, “I almost feel like you’re a mole, and when this semester’s over, you’re gonna go back and write an article in Rolling Stone about being different at Liberty.”

I laugh — an involuntary, nervous laugh — and stammer, “What do you mean . . . different?”

“You know,” Joey says. “Gay.”

This semester, Joey has called me gay approximately ten thousand times, but this time sounds different. . . 

“So . . . are you?” he asks.

“Gay?”

“Or a mole.”

We stare at each other for fifteen seconds, tension filling the space between us. Head spinning, gut churning, I spurt out the first thing that comes to mind.

“You got me Joey. I’m a gay mole. Actually, I work for Elton John. He sent me here to recruit innocent Christian kids for his army of homosexuals. He told me to become friends with the Liberty students who seemed like closeted gays, and I picked you. Want to join?”

Joey laughs. “Suck my balls.”

He turns back to our video game, chuckling, apparently convinced of my innocence for now. Five minutes later, he looks at me again, shaking his head.

“Man, Rooster, you are one weird bastard.”

Roose is, indeed, a “weird bastard,” but he gives an amazing outsider’s look at evangelical concepts of sin, perspectives on sex and dating, and culture wars (the “God Divide“). While we obviously disagree on core issues, it’s a great book. Buy it, borrow it, read it.

Corporate Inbreeding

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Nell Minow has an interesting commentary piece on CNN (“Boards are real culprits in AIG mess“) that looks at the equivalent of inbreeding among the boards of directors of the companies in the middle of the financial mess, and the effects of their serial failures. Turns out we’re really not focusing on the bodies that are supposed to provide effective oversight of corporate overstepping, and in the process to revamp, revise, and review corporate governance at failing companies, we tend to leave them in place.

Favorite quote:

People say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result. In this case, insanity is allowing the same people to continue to serve on the board after massive failure and expecting them to produce a different result.

Now, tell me, why do we keep re-electing the losers in Congress?

Bobby Jindal and the Volcano

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

So I think Bobby Jindal is a boob. Let’s just get that out there. But this post really isn’t about Bobby Jindal. It’s about something he said in his Obama rebuttal speech on Tuesday.

CNN has an article about people fuming over Jindal’s volcano comment. Seems he pointed out $140 million in USGS volcano monitoring funds that were included in the economic stimulus bill, and called it wasteful. CNN has quotes from the USGS and a bunch of people living in the shadows of volcanoes about how important it is, and claiming Jindal doesn’t understand the danger because he doesn’t have a volcano in his backyard.

But here’s the rub for me: if the USGS really needed $140 million more (they already get funding) to do a good job monitoring volcanoes, why don’t we give it to them in a normal spending bill?  Why shove it into a rush-job eco-stim bill that nobody gets to read before it gets passed and signed into law?

Even good programs and wise spending are sullied by association with this dastardly bill. Everything any Democrat wanted for the past 20 years got shoved in, and we’ll be paying the price for it for another 40 years.

Why do we pay people not to work?

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

So in pondering the rather large stimulus bill that is winding its way through Congress, and the long list of pet projects and crazy ideas that comprises the bill, I was wondering this: why do we pay people not to work?

The bill would extend unemployment benefits, and add a huge pot of money to the old-style welfare programs.  If these people want to work, but can’t find a job, why don’t we put them to work?

  • Unemployment: For those extra 13 weeks, why don’t we hire these people (for the same cost as unemployment) for a 3 days a week, with the extra 2 days for finding a job? What would they do? Tutoring students in the inner-city, anti-graffiti work, cleaning up parks and clearing paths, and repairing the homes of the elderly and poor. (Or this: senior centers are closing because they can’t afford to staff them. Anybody want to play bingo with old people and make them lunch?) Sure, you’d need supervision and materials, but isn’t it better to get something useful out of this money, rather than nothing?
  • Welfare: Many of the recipients are single parents with kids at home, so maybe it makes sense for them to stick around. But tell me why there should be any trash on their blocks or at their local parks? You want welfare?  Keep you block clean. (And then maybe you’ll stop your kids and your neighbors’ kids from throwing trash all over the place!) Volunteer in your kids’ schools. Make phone calls to parents of truant students.

I can’t be the only one who thinks this way. It seems to me to be common sense, that paying people to do nothing is a bad idea.  It discourages work, by letting people avoid the jobs they think are beneath them. It encourages laziness, by not requiring anything from those who are unemployed. Let’s have some responsibility and some accountability. If poverty and starvation were real risks, people would get off their asses, and the stuff that always needs doing, but nobody wants to do it, would start getting done.

Worldview Journalism

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

I am not a fan of American evangelical media.  I think the movies, with few exceptions, are cheese; Christian comedy isn’t; and most magazines should turn in their presses to the local media police. Not that the secular versions of these are morally satisfying fare, but rather they don’t pretend to mediocrity — their quality is not judged secondarily to their worldview.

When it comes to journalism, I appreciate honesty and objectivity. I used to like the New York Times, but their super-liberal bias clouds their ability to effectively relate the facts, and they’ve lost the ability to be honest about what they believe and who they are. The Wall Street Journal doesn’t pretend, and while I see a great failure to answer many pressing social issues, and a total lack of journalistic compassion, at least the WSJ doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not.

I liked Newsweek, until the December 15, 2009, issue that declared “The Religious Case for Gay Marriage.”  I’ve heard the same arguments before, but this article, and the editorial column that preceded it, claimed something that had heretofore not been part of the discussion: that those who believe otherwise are irrational, worthless fundamentalists who might as well give up.  “A mature view of scriptural authority requires us, as we have in the past, to move beyond literalism. The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it’s impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours.”  All this in the guise of journalistic objectivity.  

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The Questions are Rigged

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Whether conservative or liberal, it seems that most people in this world, including journalists, writers, and “researchers,” have a hard time constructing objective questions and answers.

Not so long ago there was the story of the John Ziegler, who started a website and is putting together a “documentary” called “How Obama Got Elected.”  The interviews are certainly fascinating material, but I’m not really sure how much the questions, and the offered choices for an answer, actually reveal.  Did people who know certain things about Obama vote based on that knowledge, or do they know the info because of their pre-existing choice of candidate or news source?  Is it causal or just collateral coincedence?

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Taking the High Road

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

A group of atheists in Washington state asked for and received permission to post a sign near a traditional nativity display “celebrating the Winter Solstice.”  But if you read the text, there’s nothing about celebration there.

Some idiots stole the sign and it was quickly recovered and replaced — whatever my thoughts about the message, stealing is wrong and free speech is a decent right to protect.

[UPDATE: Turns out some people don’t like the baby Jesus either.  A life-size figure was stolen from a manger scene setup near Independence Hall.]

Dan Barker, a former pastor and co-founder of the atheist group, insists that the sign was never intended to attack anyone.  But in the same breath, he’s saying things like this:

“It’s not that we are trying to coerce anyone; in a way our sign is a signal of protest,” Barker said. “If there can be a Nativity scene saying that we are all going to hell if we don’t bow down to Jesus, we should be at the table to share our views.”

“When people ask us, ‘Why are you hateful? Why are you putting up something critical of people’s holidays? — we respond that we kind of feel that the Christian message is the hate message,” he said. “On that Nativity scene, there is this threat of internal violence if we don’t submit to that master. Hate speech goes both ways.

Whatever your thoughts about Christianity or Christmas displays, is it reasonable to respond to what you think is (perceived) hate speech with more (self-admitted) hate speech?  I’m glad the un-emotional rationalists (“may reason prevail”) resort to name calling because they think Christians do it.  That sure is taking the high road.

As for the Nativity, I’m glad he gets the message — every knee will bow, and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord.  The incarnate Savior demands worship.

A Matter of Principle

Friday, December 5th, 2008

I was reading an article from the Charlotte Observer about UNC forgoing Christmas trees or any other Christmas decorations in their libraries this year, ostensibly because some staff were offended by the display.

So I have two questions:

  1. What particular religion claims the Christmas tree as a sacred part of its religious observance of Christmas?  Seems to me like a Christmas tree is an entirely secular celebration.  So shouldn’t it be equally offensive to Christians that it becomes the focus of the holiday?  Or should we all just realize that it’s part of our “American culture” and go with the flow?
  2. As a matter of principle, shouldn’t the people who are offended by Christmas and Christmas-related displays, decorations, and parties, also be offended at the vacation day provided on Christmas?  If you’re honestly offended, I’d expect that you would refuse to take the day off, because in so doing, you’re selling out to “the man” who’s pushing Christmas down our throats.

What to do now?

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Obama won the election, mostly fair and square, and is obviously the choice of the people.  So what do reasonable Christians do now?  (Fleeing to Canada, or any other place, was never really a reasonable option!)  Says Doug Wilson on BLOG and MABLOG:

Christians should pray for the new president (1 Tim. 2:1-2), giving thanks for him. We should speak of him respectfully, rendering true honor as we do (1 Pet. 2:17; Rom. 13:7). We should pray for his true conversion to Christ (1 Tim. 2:1-2), wishing him the best as we do so (1 Tim. 2:4). At the same time, we must oppose the very bloody idolatries he will seek to advance, and we must do so with clarity and outspoken courage (Acts 26:29). We must identify all lawless thrones for what they are (Ps. 94:20). Only the grace of God can teach Christians how to honor the emperor, while at the same time considering him as one of the heads of the beast (Rev. 13:4). This is what the first century Christians had to do with Nero, one of history’s great lowlifes, and this is the kind of thing we obviously need to learn how to do.

Comment by Michael Hutton on the same post:

Where we go wrong is in thinking that any system, any institution, any bunch of laws can uphold godliness when the people no longer want it… What Americans have now is the will of the people. Christians need to preach and pray that that will might be submitted to the gospel of Christ. Only when the people are regenerate will the government be reformed.

Doug Wilson also has a great list of Ten Things to Keep in Mind After the Election, written before the results started coming in.