America: Where A Kid Can Be A Kid

I don't know everything there is to know about this health care bill Congress is trying to pass in the next week (of course, many of these congressmen/congresswomen have no idea what's in this bill either). But one thing I was reading this morning reinforced my irritation towards this bill, suggesting that we're cutting corners in a process that will affect our entire country's population. Part of the proposed health care bill is a requirement that dependent children will be allowed to stay on their parent's health care plan until the age of 26. Even though there are already similar laws on the books of some states (Illinois, I believe, allows this) this is not a good idea.

Think about it: we already recognize that delayed adulthood is an issue in our country but this federal law would practically endorse it. I'm not out of touch: I fully understand that these are harsh economic times and many recent college grads are struggling to find employment opportunities, but why do we have to legislate a quick fix that will not solve the issue? Merely looking at language of the law— basically, calling a 26 year-old a child— highlights the ridiculousness of our society. There are psychological effects to this that I'm not convinced our Congress has explored.

Our problem is that we don't know how to deal with twenty-somethings. We will give them all the rights of adulthood (tobacco, alcohol, gambling, sex) and expect little to nothing in return; this, friends, is how we arrive at The Jersey Shore and every VH1 reality show. Allowing a person in the mid-twenties to be classified as a child/dependent will have repercussions throughout our society, causing us to marginalize these young adults as almost grown-up. Instead of expecting less of them, we should demand more. When we treat them like grown-children, we do them (and us) a great disservice. Ultimately, America suffers when we don't let people become adults.

At age twenty-two, I was out of my parents house, employed, married, living in an apartment, and already saving for retirement. I'm not saying this is the best plan for everyone but I knew that, when college was over, it was my time to step up and be a man.

I know this is just one facet of the health care bill, but the lack of attention to detail here demonstrates that Congress should call a do-over; we do need reform, but not this. They can still improve the lives of millions of Americans without demeaning the lives of millions of others.

Politics As Usual

In what some have commented is the greatest political upset of this generation, Republican Scott Brown tonight laid claim to the U.S. Senate seat occupied fir decades by the late-Ted Kennedy. I could not help but remember something I wrote the night of Barack Obama's election to the Presidency. Here I gave some counsel to both political parties:

For those Republican supporters: Don’t fret. While the internet and certain television networks [well, all of them] are saying that this is the end of the G.O.P., realize that this is part of the ebb and flow of the American electorate. The Democrats seem to forget that they most recently experienced this feeling in the late 1990’s. But it is again the Democrats’ time and now the Republican Party will be in a position to freely to criticize big government, its most comfortable posture.

For those Democratic supporters: Good luck. Hope is a most beautiful thing because it’s directed towards something that very well could be. The problem is that unrealized hope is a venomous creature. With full control of two branches of government, nothing should be impossible for the Dems to accomplish. Unless the next few years are fruitful, matching the high levels of hope that now exist, things will revert back to the G.O.P. in eight years.

That's about right.

Looking back on this post, the big thing I might end up missing on was my prediction that Obama would be a two-term president. I have my doubts now. He's a better campaigner than governor, so maybe he'll still hold on to the White House. It'll ultimately depend on who the G.O.P. runs against him.

The lesson for all is to understand that the reality of politics is found in the word's etymology:

"Poly" = many, "Tics" = blood sucking insects

Definitely Not The Messiah

I have yet to mention the media's Obamagasm on Tuesday here on the blog*

True, it's an excited time for this country and I witnessed many, many people locally who were living it up as if it was the greatest day in world history. I'll admit to having the TV on while working, although I always try to catch portions of the inauguration no matter who won the election. It's always a great day for our country as it reaffirms the ideal that violence need not be associated with the transfer of power.

As for our new President's speech, I wasn't really impressed. He employed the same old political rhetoric that accompanies such a victory, which Jon Stewart pointed out mimicked material that George W. Bush used to drop. I still hold that Obama has yet to rise to the occasion as he did in his speech on race at Philadelphia last year.

These first two paragraphs may come off as sour grapes from me, something rather peculiar as I really didn't have a horse in last year's election [I voted 3rd party, thank you]. I obviously have some differences with our current President on certain political issues which affords me the opportunity to keep a well-balanced perspective on his actions. Whereas some will claim he's the anti-Christ [wrong] still others will anoint him as Messiah [wrong, wrong]. Since I've heard much more of the latter as of late from my vantage point, I thought I'd acknowedge our President's first official lapse of reason in his short term.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the Roe vs Wade ruling which legalized abortion in our country. While I acknowledge that there are many different perspectives held by readers of this blog on the subject, understand that I believe abortion to be wrong, among other reasons, that it is an infringement on the rights of the unborn for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, our new President chose his first days in office to overturn a Bush adminstration policy on American funding for abortions in foreign countries. I fully understand that this pro-choice view is one that Mr Obama held while campaiging, so I can't say that I was surprised by it. What truly shocked me, however, was the apology he offered for such a move.

In order to seize the moment, Obama issued a release highlighting the important need for women to have the right to choose to abort their fetus. The full-statment can be found here, but allow me to quote from the concluding paragraph of his statement:

"On this anniversary, we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere."

And right there, friends, is a sad, sad statement.

Read between the lines here and discern what he is really saying: if he wants to ensure "that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons" what are the rights and opportunities to which he's referring? What rights do women gain with the ability to abort that put them on equal footing with their male counterparts?

Rather simply, it's the right to walk away from a sexual experience with absolutely no responsibility. So the goal, if you believe what is written, is to allow women to partake in the abhorant practice of absentee parentism that many males already practice. This is ironic as Mr Obama decried absentee fatherhood as a reason for the deteriorating inner-city.

And this is even more ironic as the overarching theme of the inaugural speech was that we Americans need to reclaim the responsibility for our country that was seemingly abandoned during the Bush administration. You cannot challenge people towards a heightened patriotic responsibility while condoning irresponsibility in their private lives.

I'm not going to sit on the perch for the next eight years and judge every move that our leader makes.* But it is worth noting here at the beginning that, while the euphoria has yet to wear off, this guy is very human. He is flawed. He will make mistakes. In short, even though the packaging is different, he's really not that different at all. To quote the Who (and a line I've been singing all week), "meet the new boss, same as the old boss."


*I realize that this term "Obamagasm" [which I haven't heard yet, but I doubt is original with me] that I used might seem to denegrate the idea that we should be proud of our country at this time. I do not think so. I love living in a country where there is now verifiable truth that anyone can be elected to our highest office. But I believe that the mainstream media went above and beyond this truth to virtual deification. One small item proving this is the greatly inflated attendance numbers of the event. Trust me: in eight years when Obama leaves office, the inaugaration of the next President will receive nowhere near the same amount of press as this past week.

**I continue to say eight years with the understanding that, unless the economy stays at the current level for four years [which I cannot envision happening], our current President will be a two-termer.

Simmer Down Now

Allow me to be the voice of reason: let's all get a hold of ourselves and our fears about the economy.

Look, I fully acknowledge that our country's economic situation is worsening, but the sky is not falling. Friends, this is not the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. We are just too young to understand the broader context of America's economy. Part of my masters thesis has been/will be studying the economic climate in 19th century America. There was usually a depression in our country every 10 to 15 years. We are in better structured today to deal with a faltering economic situation than we ever have in our country's history.

The fundamental change in our present economy is that there is no fast money to be made right now. For an instant-gratification culture, this is being interpreted as the end of the world. There are tons of numbers flying around right now designed to strike fear in the heart of Americans, but don't believe the hype.

The irony of this time of recession is that it's still not being understood in the context of America's newly-imagined cost of living. How many people do you know that are cutting back— I mean really cutting back? The early Christmas shopping season was better than the expected gloom and doom. People are still traveling, watching satellite television, and indulging their consumer-driven ideals. So even though American claim they are struggling, I suggest that it's being measured to higher standards than mere survivability.

I'm calling it like I see it: this is just even more spin by people looking to secure that our President-elect looks good in his first 100 days. For some reason, there are people insinuating that it's critical for our country that Bush pack up his junk, back up the U-Haul and get out of Dodge tonight. Democratic leadership is pressuring Obama to step up and lead now even though he lacks the Constitutional authority to do so. Succumbing to this pressure, he made an announcement Saturday morning outlining his big ideas to right the economy. This is somewhat unfortunate as, I believe, Obama has now prematurely released some ideas that are not fully thought out.

For example, the big news from Saturday is that the President-elect will propose a public works project on the scale of Eisenhower's establishment of the interstate system. This, he suggests, will create new jobs and spur economic growth. I am a fiscal conservative at heart and do not buy into this theory of economic stimulation. Sure, you create temporary jobs, but you also cripple the ability of the private sector to emerge and create their own. Let's not forget that the New Deal was not the solvent of the Great Depression; rather, it was "the ultimate stimulus package" of World War 2. But, hey,Obama will be in charge and he's going a different direction. I'm OK with that.

But my gripe with Obama's declaration is his overlooking of history in the process. Sure, you can observe that Eisenhower's works program was a boom to our country, but you cannot neglect to admit that it came with a price— the decimation of urban America. The building of the freeways was the beginning of suburban sprawl which left our cities in ruins. So while overall our nation benefited, we are still dealing with the negatives of that decision. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have built those interstates; I've been rekindling my fondness for our highways recently. But when it is done with just the dollar [or job] in mind, the negatives our ignored.

Hence, my ministry is now dealing with the residual effects of America's boom.

I'm just suggesting that our President-elect slow down and take the time to fully consider the ramifications of these suggested actions. No one's expecting him to turn this thing around in a matter of weeks, so he has the time.

It's not as bad as you think.

Election Night Lessons

Barack Obama is the President-Elect.

I wish I could simply refer to my prediction from more than two years ago when I said Obama would win tonight. Unfortunately, I changed my mind in February, thinking that John McCain would pull this thing out. The flaws behind my thinking: 1) I couldn't believe that the Democratic Party would heal as well as it did following a bitter primary season. Their unified front set the tone for victory. 2) I still hold that if it hadn't been for the economic downturn in the past month or so, we'd be waiting for days for them to sort out the vote. Still not sure McCain could've won [the Obama ground-game/money coffers were just too powerful] but it would've been incredibly close.

So before I retire for the night, just a few words for those on either side of the aisle.

For those Republican supporters: Don't fret. While the internet and certain television networks [well, all of them] are saying that this is the end of the G.O.P., realize that this is part of the ebb and flow of the American electorate. The Democrats seem to forget that they most recently experienced this feeling in the late 1990's. But it is again the Democrats' time and now the Republican Party will be in a position to freely to criticize big government, its most comfortable posture.

For those Democratic supporters: Good luck. Hope is a most beautiful thing because it's directed towards something that very well could be. The problem is that unrealized hope is a venomous creature. With full control of two branches of government, nothing should be impossible for the Dems to accomplish. Unless the next few years are fruitful, matching the high levels of hope that now exist, things will revert back to the G.O.P. in eight years.

Notice that I said "eight years." My next political prediction is that Obama is easily a two-term President. The economy can go nowhere but up [eventually] and we should be out of Iraq by the next election. That will give him plenty of fodder in order to beat Mitt Romney in 2012. And then we'll get the great 2016 face-off: Hillary Clinton verses Sarah Palin. By then, Hillary would be 70 and Sarah would be 53, so that'll be interesting, eh?

But as I sit here tonight, putting aside my ideological misgivings and fear of the cult of personality, I will admit to being incredibly proud of my country for what happened today. In no other country in the world could a minority candidate be elected to their nation's highest office. The United States still bears the scars of legalized slavery and is just one generation removed from the institution of the Civil Rights act. We have not fully atoned for those sins, but perhaps we are getting there, finally becoming color blind. So if our country is more comfortable with race, this is a good thing. And if something like this inspires an impoverished black neighborhood like ours onto greater heights, then this is a good thing.

This republic shall endure.

How Much This Means To Some

I was in a dialogue with someone in the comments section of my last post about local issues in tomorrow's election. This person was most interested in Ohio's Issue 5 that would regulate the APR the PayDay loan industry is allowed to charge. I was getting a tad annoyed because he presented a list of "facts" that are statistics offered up by the PayDay industry, taking them at their word.

I decided to check the IP address [note: if you want to anonymously leave a rude comment for me, you should hide your IP] and this guy I've been conversing with is actually an employee of Fleishman Hillard, a PR firm located in New York City, that was hired by the PayDay lobby to help them pass the issue.

So it's not like this guy just stumbled on my blog. He lives in NYC [shout out to the Dale and Audrey] and gets paid to spam blogs and leave comments like this. What's sad is that even as PR goes, these arguments aren't substantive or compelling.

You know there's a lot at stake with an issue if someone is actually getting paid to read my blog.

I've Got Issues

Just thought I'd help out my fellow Ohioans and Cincinnatians wade through the local issues they'll encounter on Tuesday's ballot.

Ohio Issue One: Attempt to reform various election issues. No big deal here.

Ohio Issue Two: Continuation of Clean Ohio program that will not increase taxes. How you see this depends on how cheap you are and whether or not you slow down when a squirrel crosses the road.

Ohio Issue Three: Gives landowners the rights to the reasonable use of natural water on their own property. I prefer that landowners can use their own land how they want.

Ohio Issue Five: The Payday Loan issue. I've written about this topic before and it rears its head again. Unfortunately, our Secretary of State allowed the Payday Loan Industry some favorable language on the ballot [not referencing the current 300+% that predatory lenders can reap from these unfortunate souls] which could affect the outcome. A "yes" vote reigns in these lenders and their [IMHO] immoral actions.

Ohio Issue Six: Casino Measure. Just know that, regardless of how you feel about gambling, this deal would screw over the state of Ohio, benefiting one business group and giving them unparalleled power. Sure, Indiana's Argosy Casino is pouring millions to stop this issue, but anyone can see that it's a bad deal for our state.

Cincinnati Issue Seven: Outlawing Red Light Cameras. I'm a little torn here. While I'm against this form of government fundraising, I'm wondering if there needs to be a charter amendment to stop it. City Council already yielded to the heat and voted down these cameras earlier in the year. Instead of constantly burdening the city charter, I prefer to keep the pressure on the politicians. Not sure that his will matter because it's certain to pass.

Cincinnati Issue Eight: Adopting the proportional representation method for electing city council.  This is a method of election that is only present in one municipality in the US [Cambridge, Mass]. While it is advocated as a way of helping minorities get into office, I cannot see the benefit here. This system previously existed in the city and helped elect blacks when Cincinnati had a white majority. But the city has changed since those days. There's a lot I could say in recommending the rejection of this amendment, but the most compelling example I can offer is this: Last year it took 20,000 votes to get elected to Council. Under this method, you would only need 7,001 votes to win a seat. In our city, such a system could be easily manipulated to shut out minorities even more. Bad idea.


TAKE NOTE: Even though everyone is obsessed with the presidential race, make sure to take some time on Monday to look at the "smaller" offices you'll be voting for.

The Wasted Vote Myth

Remember the [somewhat horrible] Richard Pryor movie Brewster's Millions? A little plot refresher for those of you not fortunate enough to live through the 1980's:

Monty Brewster [Pryor's character] is given the opportunity to inherit his dead uncle's $300million estate. First, however, he must spend $30million in 30 days without retaining any assets. In the end, he decides the best way to waste the money is through politics [is there a lesson here?] by running a mayoral campaign, encouraging the masses vote "none of the above." Ironically, that's how some people I've talked recently wish they could vote for this presidential election.

A somewhat popular evangelical Christian author claims that since he cannot support either of the major party candidate he will simply keep his vote to himself. He states that he has moral objections of both candidates and, therefore, he'll not participate in this year's election. In defense of his inaction, he quotes Dazed and Confused director Richard Linklater saying, "Withdrawing in disgust is not the same thing as apathy." That could possibly be a true statement, especially when it comes to voting on propositions or head-to-head contests. But I'm not sure this has to apply to the Presidential election because, even if you don't realize it South Park kids, there are more than two choices in this contest.

There is a myth that is prevalent among many Americans which states that a vote for a third-party candidate is a wasted vote. The idea stems from the fact that you don't just voting for someone, but that you are also voting against someone. So, for example, if I'm divided between the candidates, only sure of the fact that I hate McCain, then I should vote for Obama, regardless of whether or not I agree with his policies. This might make perfect sense for some of you, but I'd argue that it makes no more sense than not voting at all. Why reward a candidate with your vote when they haven't earned it? In my mind, that is surrendering your vote which is much worse than "wasting" one any day.

What if you're a Republican living in California or a Democrat living in Texas? Those states are not up for grabs and are already decided; you can cast your vote with your party and it won't make a difference at all. So is your vote wasted then? Hardly, because you're still voicing your opinion on whom you support. How then is a dissenting vote to a third-party any different? In that same vein, I hear people who object to third-party voting because their candidates have no chance of winning. So does your vote only count if you back the winning party? If so, our nation is full of wasted votes, and I have a personal history of them.

Despite what you've heard, a vote for a third party can definitely make a difference, perhaps even more than you realize. Even though none of these third party candidates will win the White House this year, a good turnout on election day can help them to do so in the future. The FEC bi-laws state that, "a third-party Presidential candidate may qualify for some public funds after the general election if he or she receives at least five percent of the popular vote." So if a third-party candidate can manage to capture 5% of the national vote, they are then entitled to some of the federal election funds that are so valuable for viability. This last person to do so was Ross Perot, who's Reform Party gained almost 19% of the popular vote in 1992. If there is ever going to be a significant alternative to the Republicans or Democrats in this country, then it will begin with the presidential election.

So for your viewing pleasure, here is the list of major third party candidates running for the Presidency this year. There are even more than this, but I wanted to at least give you the names that will appear on practically every state ballot:


CONSTITUTION PARTY: Charles "Chuck" Baldwin

GREEN PARTY: Cynthia McKinney







Look, I'm not necessarily encouraging you to vote for any of these people; in fact, there's some here that are far worse options than the two major candidates. But if you're still uncomfortable with your choices this year (and even if you're not) you should investigate what all these candidates stand for as well. Voting outside the two parties is not a waste; it's just as viable a vote as one for McCain or Obama.

In the end, it would make you the most informed at the polls and you could more confidently defend your decision to back your chosen candidate.

One Week To Go

Can you feel it? We're almost at the finish line of this epic electoral journey. With this in mind, I'd like to offer up my last round of pre-Presidential election thoughts. Consume at will.

1. While the fat lady is warming up, her voice is iffy. Friends [how McCain is that?], this election is a lot closer than people think. Those expecting an Obama landslide will be surprised; I do not trust the huge gap these polls are projecting. As I looking to someone to summarize my argument, the case was made by . . . *gulp* . . . Ann Coulter. In short, her research concluded, "since 1976 . . . the polls were never wrong in a friendly way to Republicans. When the polls were wrong, which was often, they overestimated support for the Democrat, usually by about 6 to 10 points." I'm not saying this means a McCain victory, but rumors of a landslide should not be believed. That said . . .

2. I think I'm now hoping for an Obama victory. Even though I'm still partisan, I'm afraid of the reaction should McCain "come from behind" to win. Now that the media has basically guarenteed an Obama victory, should he lose, there could be substantive rioting in urban areas. There will be feelings of disenfranchisement that will be perceived as another case of "the rich white man putting down blacks." This analysis may seem uncouth, but I really believe these feelings exist and would come to the forefront should McCain win now. The vibe in our neighborhood is that an Obama victory is validation for African Americans. I just hope that I am wrong about these polls. Otherwise we could be in store for even more turbulent times.

3. Voting irregularities will be massive. In both the 2000 and 2004 elections, ones that certain groups believe were stolen, there has been mass suspicion of people messing with votes. My take on this is: so what, it's happened for years and will likely continue. Before people wax on about the evils of a particular party, note that this happens on both sides of the issue and no party is totally blameless. In the end, I believe that the two equal each other out and that the electoral process works as it was intended. In the end, the winner will be selected according to the constitutional guidelines. Whether or not the electoral college should be abolished, that's a different story.

4. The money made the difference. Say what you will about the mandate for change, it was Obama's decision to reject public financing that put him in the position to win. He's been able to outspend McCain three-to-one in many battleground states, and has enough left over to buy almost every major channel tomorrow night. I imagine if this was a Republican outspending a Democrat by the same percentage, the media would be ceaselessly criticizing. Since it's an upstart Democrat, I really do believe he's getting a pass. That said, Obama's campaign has revolutionized the way the funds are raised and political science professors will be studying this (and other campaigns emulating this) for years to come.

5. McCain's campaign cost him the election. People need to look at this campaign realistically. Despite the financial disparity, an embarrassing same-party administration, and the "sexiness" of the young newcomer, McCain very well could have won this thing easily. But McCain's handlers let him down at every turn. I'm of the opinion that the decision to add Sarah Palin to the ticket was actually a good decision; don't forget that McCain didn't even have his own party's support until he named her. No, the turning point of the campaign was the decision to "suspend it" because of the economic crisis. If McCain merely voiced opposition to the first bailout plan that failed, he would have retained his maverick status and, most likely, wins the White House. Additionally, the "I'm not George Bush" refrain McCain tried to introduce should've been a drum beat as soon as he won the nomination. In the end, McCain's campaign failed him. It goes to show you that, no matter how much he is hated, Karl Rove was a brilliant strategist.

6. It was disheartening to see how Sarah Palin was attacked. The jabs at Hillary Clinton were child's play compared to what was lobbed at Palin. The media was merciless towards her. While she was ill-prepared for the onslaught, I'm not sure any amount of preparation could have saved her. And I'm not saying that Palin was the most qualified person for the job, but if you know anything about American political history, you realize that qualification mean nothing. She opened herself up with some of her gaffs, but I would suggest that Joe Biden's gaffs were just as glaring. No, liberal feminists have showed that they are freely willing to swallow their values and sacrifice one of their own in order to get what they want. It'll be interesting to see what becomes of her political future.

7. In the end, our country will be just fine. Even though people are calling for gloom and doom, our nation will continue to exist. We are unique among the other countries in the world as we continue to assimilate the world's cultures into one. There have been even more devisive campaigns and there will be in the future. But on November 5th, people will wake up, throw away their campaign signs, and go back to normal living . . . for at least a couple of years before this whole process begins again.

When all is said and done, I'm still expecting an Obama presidency. It should be fascinating to say the least. Will hope transition into reality?


In the next day or so, I'll be outlining the local issues and my thoughts on them.

On Life

As election day nears, the frenzy grows. It's difficult to find "normal commercials" on television anymore, and I'm prepared to go on a Facebook hiatus as it has become a cavalcade of spin for their candidates and causes.

Anyone who reads my blog understands that I've held a lifelong fascination with politics. I remember election night in 1984 as Ronald Reagan's blue wave [yes, back then the colors of the states were switched] ushered in his re-election. I can name my congressional representatives [both national and state] and know the names of all of our city council people. For the longest time I assumed my life would be engulfed in the political realm but I guess that wasn't God's plan for my life.

That said, I do not make endorsements as that is the lot I chose in life with my vocation as a minister. As our church has yet to get our 501c3 status, I could legally come out in the pulpit and tell our people who to vote for and face no repercussions from the IRS. But I have family, friends, and parishioners on both sides of the aisle and I prefer to wield my influence in more productive ways.

Still, I feel compelled before our election to discuss what is perhaps the most divisive issue in this country: abortion. I realize that many of you who read this blog are incredibly passionate about this issue, but I will proceed nonetheless, keeping comments open on this post, pleading for maturity in dialogue about a controversial issue. And I realize that there might very well be women reading this who have had an abortion and my heart goes out to you. This is not meant to be a treatise of judgement of the past. Rather, it is meant to project to the future and the implications of this issue on this and generations to come.


Yes, abortion is wrong. I can say this confidently as a man of faith because it is part of my Christian heritage. The church arrived at this conclusion by virtue of systematics [i.e., these is no "Thou Shalt Not Abort" verse in the Bible, but we can construct a solid theology that states as much through a careful examination of the Scriptures]. This position also matches early church tradition. Throughout the Roman world, in the days of the early church, children were seen as less than human. Therefore, if a child was born with any kind of defect [including the child's sex], then there were usually hillsides or dumps were they could be deposited. Christians, however, were notorious for going to these places, rescuing the babies, and adopting them as their own. That's why many conclude that Paul's diatribe in Ephesians 1:5 ["In love (God) predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ"] does not reference Calvinistic theology, but rather this practice of saving discarded children. Despite times when the church hasn't lived up to it, a theology of life is present in Christian theology throughout history.

I should note that one could also show that abortion is wrong without using a Judeo-Christian ethic. We can cite Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative and propose that abortion creates a moral law that creates a negative universal precedent. Abortion is also a rejection of Thomas Jefferson's great plea for humanity's unalienable rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Humans have the freedom to do what they want in this world so long as it does not violate the freedoms of others.* The right of "choice," when it comes to abortion, is a violation of the rights of the unborn. While at one time, the polemic against this was to a scientific discussion concerning when life begins, this is hardly a matter of contention anymore because science has shown us that there is life at contention. So even people who care nothing about faith and the Bible should be concerned about this issue.**


And now to the issue at hand: there are many Christians [Protestant and Catholic, orthodox and liberal] who have grown tired of the issue of abortion and its dominance in the American political arena. These folks are looking to either reframe the abortion arguments or dismiss the topic altogether. Some of the statements that have emerged as a result of this seem to be consistent with a theology of life, but I would argue that they are actually red herrings that need to be confronted. Here are some of the ones I hear the most lately:

1. If you were really about life, you wouldn't support the death penalty. This statement can be easily deconstructed through a Biblical hermeneutic by contrasting the two lives in question: that of a baby and a murderer. I really have no desire to do so now, but I will opine that if you cannot see the difference between the termination of the life of a condemned killer to that of an unborn child then you need to reevaluate your ethical priorities. Also, many people use a similar line concerning the war in Iraq and the civilian casualties there. Whether or not the conflict can be declared a "just war" is debatable, but it still doesn't deny the fact that abortion is the willful termination of innocent life and such a comparison is "apples to oranges."

2. We don't need to be one-issue voters. The point here is that if you reject a candidate based on merely only one issue then you are acting irresponsibly. This is a naive statement. First, every one one of us has a hierarchy of issues that determines our voting preferences. For some, it's simple party affiliation. For others it's the war, or the economy, or abortion. So even though we claim to be even-keeled, we are actually predisposed towards certain issues more than others. Second, what if that "one-issue" was the subtraction of over 40 million people from our society?***  Tell me what other political issues has such a deep impact. There is none. So demeaning those who vote using the abortion stance as their litmus test is a perfectly acceptable practice.

3. We need to concentrate more on the issues that lead to abortion. This is the most persuasive of them all because it's actually true. Americans have been woefully ignorant of the economic/social issues that lead to abortion. Hamilton County, Ohio [the county in which I live] has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the country. Pregnant mothers often feel helpless and need guidance to seek out the many avenues of support that are available to them. But even though there's a long way to go in fixing the situation, this does not entitle a person to end the life of a child— these concepts are not mutually exclusive. I agree that people who wave the banner of life need to explore the many different aspects of it, but that does not negate the tragedy of baby genocide.


It's my opinion that these arguments have emerged because Christians want to feel justified in voting for pro-abortion candidates. But do not deceive yourself into believing that the issue of abortion does not matter. If you are a Christian, it is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest issue. If you are not a Christian, then I would argue that it still matters. When you enter the voting booth, you need to consider the implications of the abortion issue. Try as you may, you cannot ignore that this is still the preeminent issue of our time. It depends our attention and our thoughtful consideration.

For some of you, the preceding thoughts have brought you to the following conclusion: "HA! This is how the Republicans understand the issue of abortion, so you're telling me to vote the G.O.P.!" And to that I would respond, "not really." Just four years ago, all three branches of the federal government were dominated by the Republican Party; this happened for the first time since the Roe Vs. Wade decision in 1973. If there was ever an opportunity for the Republican Party to make a move, this was it. Their response: silence. So even though this has been a political issue that the G.O.P. has embraced, I really wonder if their actions rivaled their words.

Sounds like I'm straddling both sides of the fence here, but I promise I'm not. What I want to urge you to do is not to cop out. Don't opt for the easy excuses I listed above. Explore your electoral options and develop a reasoning behind your decision.

In the end, respect life.


A National Review and Wall Street Journal article that resonates with this post.

* The most perplexing issue of the Libertarian Party platform is that of abortion. Basically the party passes on the issue, saying government should not be involved in such matters. This has spawned the group Libertarians for Life which argues the very point that I was trying to make here.

** It is interesting that some of the more "liberal" lobbies out there still support abortion rights when it actually harms their constituencies. For instance, feminist rights groups such as the N.O.W. think that women's rights is furthered by permitting abortions. But one can assume that half on the aborted pregnancies in America would have resulted in the birth of more women. So the argument appears to be that we're for women who want to terminate women. Additionally, the vast amount of selective abortions in China are done to girl babies.

Another group that has supported abortion rights is the NAACP. Ironically, abortion is the highest killer among African Americans.

*** Although the exact number of abortions since the judgement of Roe vs. Wade in 1973 is placed as high as 50 million, 40 million is likely a safe estimate.

Whom Do You Trust?

So the bail-out of the financial industry failed in the House. Republicans and Democrats are blaming each other. The Dow is flaming. Interesting afternoon.

As many of our leading politicians passionately plead for support, there were massive objections coming from their constituents. It's not surprising that House Republicans fled from this deal: it's politics, plain and simple. By objecting to a bill connected to both the President and the Democratic leadership, they've probably secured for themselves more congressional seats this November. What's truly remarkable here is the large numbers of Democrats that rejected it. For the majority party to sponsor a bill and not get the votes to pass it shows just how political this situation has become.

This flop doesn't help McCain in the least; his handling of the economic situation has been lacking; but this was even more disastrous for House Democrats who have projected their discontinuity for the country to see.

Ignoring for a moment the specifics, the fascinating observation I claim here is the overwhelming distrust in our national government right now. Our country is facing a crisis and who do Americans look to in order to solve the problem? Obviously, President Bush has lost his influence, and his administration's plan garnered instant mistrust. McCain tried to step up and show leadership in this crisis, but nothing came from it. Obama chose to sit this one out, opting instead to win the White House with the hope he can lead in January. And neither of the two major parties were capable of commanding the leadership to provide a solution.

I'm not sure if this leadership vacuum can be blamed on a volatile election year or if it truly proves that there are no selfless political leaders in our time.

Still, doesn't it seem that this country has absolutely no faith in its political leaders?

24 Important Hours

On a national level, I'd say that time from tomorrow afternoon through Friday evening has the potential to be the most important hours in our country since September 11, 2001.*

First, I suspect that in that time frame, Congress will either pass or set the foundation for a $1Trillion bail-out. I'm not sure I've had anything to say about this on the blog, but even though I am more libertarian in my view of government, I believe that letting these institutions bite it would prove more harmful to the country than if the government stepped in. Sure, blame here can be levied equally to the industry and foolish home-buyers, but without the bail-out many people who have practiced fiscal responsibility throughout these times could be harmed in the process.

Even though we Generation Xers and Millenials have never witnessed the American economy in such dire straits, our nation's economy has tended to fluctuate like this every twenty years or so. Four years before I was born, the US economy was in the crapper to the extent that Nixon attempted to manhandle it into submission. He instituted price controls and eliminated our country's connection to the gold standard. While it temporarily worked, it helped create the inflationary struggles that we always associate the 1970's. Additionally, study American economic history throughout the 18th century until the Great Depression, and you'll understand that amount of fluctuation that accompanies our economic system.

I guess what I'm saying is that no matter how bad this gets, our country has seen worse [and more than just the Great Depression]. The congress will get this things passed, and historians will debate it for decades to come. My opinion: if this bail-out goes through, there will be ripples, but we'll be OK.

Second, even though McCain is trying to get it rescheduled, I'm assuming that the first Presidential debate will go off as planned Friday night. This has been a rough week for the McCain campaign (which I think is one of the reasons they decided to "take a break"), and some of the polls have him losing distance between Obama. Personally, I think the 9-point separation is a little suspect. I lean to believe those that still claim that the race is within the margin of error. Regardless, Obama definitely has the momentum and this is why this debate is critical.

I predicted earlier that McCain would be the better debater, and he needs to be more than ever. He doesn't need to dominate Friday night; a draw would be sufficient. But if he's not on his game and comes off as confused or uninformed, it could cement an Obama White House.

I think that by the end of the weekend, both the economic and political picture will be much clearer.

*True, the time I'm referencing is more than 24 hours, but it's the only way I could use the pop-culture tie-in.

Getting Dirty

From an objective observer: the Democrats are getting brutal with this Sarah Palin stuff.

I can understand calling her a country bumpkin and bringing attention to her obvious inexperience [which, ironically, draws attention to Obama's inexperience] but this stuff about her family is getting dirty. A widely-read pro-Dem blog [no link] published that the youngest Palin child was not actually Sarah's but the child of her eldest daughter. This eventually brought forth news of the daughter's unplanned pregnancy, but many are still not backing off. Politics is a full-contact sport, but this is downright hateful.

As I wondered why Obama supporters are going pit-bull on Palin, I couldn't get it. Was it the woman fact— that Hillary supporters can't stand that someone like Palin will beat her to an historic moment? Is it that they now have to wave the banner of family values, claiming Palin is ignoring her family for professional accolades? Is it her conservative stance, especially when compared to McCain, something they can't stomach?

While all this may exacerbate the situation, I think the motivating factor is much more simple: fear.

As I've written before, a Democratic presidency in 2008 should have been a slam dunk. The bitter primary battle between Hillary and Obama derailed this somewhat. But McCain's image as a prototypical Republican [old, wealthy, white guy] still should have made this contest rather easy. And remember that, until this past week, many G.O.P.'ers didn't even like McCain. But with the announcement of Palin, the Republican base is solidifying. And this has made the Democrats fearful. And [forgive the metaphor] when you corner a frightened wild animal, it starts to bite.*

The Dems understand the importance of this election to their party. If they can't win with the most charismatic American politician in twenty years, following up a two-term administration with abysmal approval ratings, then you're in bad shape. For many, this isn't just AN election, this is THE election. And facing an opponent who has absolutely nothing to lose [why else does McCain chose Palin] the playbook is out the window. But it's a catch-22 because the more that the Dems spur the mainstream media to get personal with Palin, the more likely a backlash will develop. And even though it's the 21st century, I'm not sure you can get away with playing that kind of hardball with a lady.

I do have to give it up to Obama for saying that candidate's family lives should be off-limits, but I would be more impressed if he more vociferously publicly scolded those people for their stances.

Regardless, this thing will play out like the last two Presidential elections: neck and neck to the finish line.

*I can't believe I'm finally admitting this but, as a result of the Palin pick, the only way for a clear Dem victory would've been with Hillary on the ticket. You have to wonder how things would have gone down if McCain had to pick his running mate before Obama.

It's On Like Donkey Kong


I didn't think they could do it, but the McCain campaign figured out how to counter the amazing spectacle that was Barack Obama's convention speech.

Even though Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin is a virtual unknown, McCain tabbed her as his running-mate. She is against abortion [to the extent that she gave birth to a Down-Syndrome child in April], the oldest of her five children is in the Army [and he's headed to Iraq in December], she's a lifelong NRA member [bringing back the gun vote McCain probably lost to Libertarian Bob Barr], her husband is a union member, and she's the only candidate that has executive experience.

Oh yeah, and SHE's a woman.

Now, regardless of what happens in November, our country will smash a barrier. I am telling you: this is now the most compelling Presidential election in US history.

Really quick analysis: I listened to Obama last night, and that was not the caliber of speech I expected. There will be plenty of time to go after McCain on specifics, but he decided to go after him last night. Obama had the most electrifying crowd in US political history and, basically, played it safe; he relied a little too much on the scene and not on visionary words [it was a mash-up of stump-speech material]. The football analogy would be that Obama ran the ball up the middle three-times in a row, content to punt and challenge McCain to out-do him. Of course, McCain can't out-do him as an orator. But he could pick a "veep" to steal his thunder. And, even though it's soon after the fact, I'm thinking he might have succeeded.

I would hope that the next few months will actually focus on the differences in ideology that make these tickets so incredibly different. But, instead, expect the same old crap, of pointless bickering over verbal gaffs because the media sucks.

It Is Certain

Objective observation here as I'm watching the Democratic Convention tonight:

Obama introduced a new mantra with which to nail McCain and relate his potential presidency to that of W.'s. This new catch-phrase: "Eight is Enough."

I'm shocked the Dem's were able to wait so long before pulling this one out. Get ready to hear this screamed by crowds from now until November.

And Dick Van Patten will start to wonder why his website traffic has increased.

What A Waste

Although I'm not a hyper-megachurch kind of guy, I really like Rick Warren. He's had ever opportunity to take advantage of his Christian celebrity status for personal gain and continually refuses to do so. Also, he's using his large church's influence to support issues like poverty and AIDS, so even though his congregation is large, it's influence is not intentionally introverted.

And I can understand why he thought it would be a great idea to get the two Presidential candidates together this past weekend for an interview at his church. Warren was trying to give both men the opportunity to answer questions on faith and morality so the people could see for themselves, as well as highlighting the importance of the evangelical vote. But even though he had good intentions, I wasn't convinced this was a good idea. True, Warren will not endorse any one candidate and maintain objectivity throughout the election season[which will keep his church from the wrath of the IRS], but the American political arena is a sewage pit. And you cannot dwell near sewage and leave untainted.

The example of this is the controversy surrounding McCain's decent performance at the forum. After a coin flip, it was deemed that Obama would go first and McCain would be in a "cone of silence" [Warren's words] until his turn. My observation after viewing much of the exchange online: Obama was mediocre and McCain came off much better than expected. But apparently McCain was still en route to the venue during Obama's time, allowing for the possibility that he might have heard the questions, and giving his detractors plenty of ammunition with which to attack both McCain AND WARREN HIMSELF.

My opinion: Warren didn't lie about thinking McCain was sequestered, trusting that McCain would abide by his word. Now whether or not the McCain campaign actually did this, I can't say. I wouldn't even imagine to try and vouch for them on this issue. But here on Monday, it's a controversy. And I wouldn't be surprised if it led tonight's evening news.

So now, Warren is under scrutiny for something ridiculous, and his church is going to be called to defend him. Despite all the amazing things that he's done for people around the country and around the world, the general public will begin to associate him with helping John McCain look better than Barack Obama— whether it's the truth or not.

Like I've said here before, I love to watch politics. But I observe as if it's a sporting event, not really caring who wins or loses. When the church gets involved in the political arena, there is little chance that anything good can come out of it.

And I prefer not to smell like sewage.

Obama VS McCain

Thinking politics this Friday afternoon. Apologies if it seems like all I talk about lately, but I am very much into the culture that shapes our society, and from now to November it's politics. This presidential election will be epic. It's going to be more revealing than any election in my lifetime. It will expose a cacophony of issues that will be weighed against each other and whatever emerges as the foremost one has the potential to shape our country's future more than the Iraqi War, perhaps even more than 9/11.

Back in February I called that John McCain will be President while recognizing that I had called Obama almost a year and a half before. I acknowledged that the landscape had changed significantly: McCain was a surprise nominee and Hillary hung on long enough to damage Obama's chances to the point that he won't win in November [ultimately, getting what she wants so she can run again in 2012]. While the internet is teeming with young people and pundits claiming Obama is polling incredibly against McCain, it's a smokescreen.

Take, for instance, McCain's speech on Tuesday when Obama clinched. His campaign advisers wanted him to get some pub and scheduled an appearance earlier in the night. McCain was very obviously off, the crowd was apathetic— a pretty embarrassing scene. Juxtapose that with Obama's impassioned speech, working the crowd into a delirious frezy and it appeared like the changing of the guard. Some people see this as an indication of things to come, but what people have overstated since JFK vs Nixon is that personality wins out in the television age.

Remember this: while Obama nails prepared speeches, he struggled in debates. And even though McCain struggles through his speeches with a certain awkwardness, he's at his best when speaking off the cuff. Don't be surprised if the debates swing the Republican's way.

Despite Obamamania, the real issue will probably not be change. In the end, it will come down to two things: race and policy position.

While Hillary's campaign continued to the end to see that Obama had a problem with white, working people, I'm not convinced this will fully transition to the primary. There are still pockets of racism in our country and, when joined together with the charges of Obama's connection to Islam [which you think would have been erased with the Reverend Wright controversy but hasn't] will lose him so votes in a few states. But I'm not convinced that race is enough alone to do Obama in.

What will really determine things is Obama's liberal stances. The thing that hasn't been discussed is that, if elected, Obama would be the most liberal President this country has ever had [more so than Bill or Hillary Clinton]. Regardless of party affiliation, most Americans are decidedly moderate. Too much of a swing towards either extreme will turn people off. Even with their differences on the war, Obama's views on foreign policy and health care are not necessarily main stream. So people will look twice before voting. Then, as the fall approaches, prejudices will work their own way out, McCain will exploit the issues that make Obama less desirable towards the moderates, and the Republicans will win the White House.

But the biggest issue will come to light after November. An Obama loss will bring the issue of race to the forefront of American conversation. Obama backers, regardless of their own race, will cry out that ours is a racist country that will never elect a black man, let alone a minority. Those who disagree will deny that this charge is unvalidated, claiming it was Obama's liberality that really brought on his defeat.

And the truth will be somewhere in the middle. But levels of distrust will grow and America will be more divided than it was after the 2000 election.

That's why I'm tracking this election closely. It's going to change our country, no matter who wins.

Can't Stop

Sorry, two more political thoughts this evening. First, if McCain picks Louisiana governor, Indian-American Bobby Jindal and Obama picks Kansas' woman governor Kathleen Sebelius, the diversity of the ticket would be overwhelming. Who would young/middle-aged white men vote for? Don't answer.

Second, still reflecting on the Wayne's World reunion from the MTV Movie Awards [of course, no video available], I laughed to myself tonight as a web commentator [apologies, no link] likened Hillary Clinton, who rumors say now wants to be Obama's running mate, to Wayne's ex-girlfriend Stacey [yes, video].

I never saw it before, but there is a resemblance.

Let's Get Ready To Rumble!

As if up till now wasn't enough, now it's really on. Even though Obama has enough delegates for the Democratic nomination, Hillary gave her speech tonight without officially conceding. Like I said this morning, I still think it'll happen on Thursday. And as for the Hillary as VP scenario, I would be absolutely shocked if she was on the ticket.

Regardless, we're now set up for the Obama/McCain showdown that will be absolutely fascinating [especially if McCain selects Bobby Jindal as his running mate]. The next few months will be an incredibly polarizing time but hopefully, somewhere in the middle of the mayhem, actual issues will be discussed.

Before we get too far removed, I have to mention a well-publicized sermon from over a week ago. Catholic priest Michael Pfleger insulted Hillary from the Trinity United Church of Christ pulpit, ultimately forcing Obama to sever ties with the congregation.

I was familiar with Pfleger, a hard-working priest serving neglected urban parishes on Chicago's southside. A few months ago he rather articulately and intelligently pwnd a Fox News reporter trying to rip Reverend Wright. His appearance at Trinity did not come across as either articulate or intelligent, but more like cheap entertainment Watch the two videos and see how is pulpit demeanor makes him seem like a totally different person. It's sad because Pfleger's unheralded pastoral ministry to impoverished Chicagoans is now completely overlooked because he was caught up in a moment. It's a good reminder as a preacher that I need to be very careful of the words I utter from the pulpit.

Additionally, as my friend Aaron and I were discussing this situation, he made an observation concerning Christianity in America. He stated that the media used to think that only conservative Christians made controversial, incendiary statements. This presidential campaign has shown that both liberal and conservative Christians will profess views that the general public find offensive.

Anyway, the reason I brought all this up was something I discovered in my class at Xavier last night. Apparently our professor admitted that he actually taught Pfleger in seminary; so the guy who taught him is now teaching me.

Not sure if any of my sermons will factor into this year's presidential campaign. I'm going to try to stay out of it.

Lower Your Pitchfork

So the Dems are seating half the delegates from Michigan and Florida at their convention. Now there can be peace, eh? No way.

Many Floridians and Michiganders Floridians and Michiganders who support Hillary are still ticked that their votes won't be fully counted. Continued references to the 2000 election and even the recent Zimbabwe election can appear to be apt, but they actually are not.

First, this is a party issue. If Hillary supporters really want to take out their anger, it shouldn't be directed toward Obama. It should vented towards Howard Dean and party leadership. Additionally, vent some of that frustration towards your candidate as she figured out how to come-from-ahead and lose a dominating lead. And he hypocrisy concerning the Florida/Michigan elections the first time around didn't help her today.

Second, these people complaining that they didn't even want an early election are responsible even if they don't think they are. They're living in a representative-democratic state and selected the men and women who decided on this early primary. That's America. If you haven't gotten used to it yet, there are a couple hundred other countries you could choose from.

Additionally, I would be shocked if this proportioned delegate/superdelegate system still exists in 2012. It's once again made the Democratic party look ridiculous. In what should be an absolute lay-up election, they're giving the Republicans a head-start towards the White House.

I'm still not convinced Obama will be able to beat McCain.