Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Why the Christian Right Detests Barak Obama

An article by J. Matt Barber entitled “The Gods of Liberalism” on a Republican website represents the mindset that is held by a large number of Fundamentalists and Evangelicals and explains why supporting most Democratic officeholders. To do so is an anathema as it would be the equivalent of idolatry.

Following in red are quotes from Barber’s article, followed by an observation:

Modern-day liberals – or "progressives" as they more discreetly prefer – labor under an awkward misconception; namely, that there is anything remotely "progressive" about the fundamental canons of their blind, secular-humanist faith. Holding humanism is a religion is a typical Fundamentalist and Evangelical mindset. Barber’s dismissive stance of humanism is prototypical of the Christian right. It affirms the dignity of each human being and that humanity needs to work together in a cooperative manner to seek truth. Though humanism does not accept the existence of supernatural, it does accept that there are profound truths and inspirational stories in religious literature.

In fact, today's liberalism is largely a sanitized retread of an antiquated mythology – one that significantly predates the only truly progressive movement: biblical Christianity. Barber takes the view that Christianity has a superior point of few not just on issues of faith but at every point. His dismissive position holds that Christians can learn little from other belief systems and philosophies. Some adherents of his position hold that Humanists and other faiths are demonic. Such an argument is undermined by a host of examples where the Christianity over the centuries has held widely divergent views, has been blatantly and egregious wrong while affirming that it was correct in its position, and has been deeply involved in committing atrocities in the name of God, or has looked the other way while atrocity was being committed. Those who hold such views steadfastly hold that the invasion of Iraq and torture of prisoners and life-time detainment of “enemy combatants” are righteous acts.

Baal worship….its present-day progeny: liberalism. Barber clearly holds that liberal thinking is the same as Baal worship. In a sermon comparisons like those that follow sound good and true but a critical thinker realizes the comparisons are superficial.

Baal, the half-bull, half-man god of fertility, was the focal point of pagan idolatry in Semitic Israel until God revealed His monotheistic nature to Judaism's forebears…..The principal pillars of Baalism were child sacrifice, sexual immorality (both heterosexual and homosexual) and pantheism (reverence of creation over the Creator)……congregants – men and women alike – would engage in bisexual orgies. The ritual of convenience was intended to produce economic prosperity by prompting Baal to bring rain for the fertility of "mother earth." Barber overlooks that in the Bible a baby is the womb is not deemed to be a child and as having rights until it is born. The argument of the fetus having legal standing and rights that trump the legal standing and rights of all others is a legal argument that has emerged only in the last century. I have been puzzled why the Christian right has been so resistant to clean water and air, efforts to protect and maintain a healthy animal world, and protecting the environment. Though I think they are grossly wrong, viewing environmentalism as pantheism helps me to end my puzzlement.

The worship of "fertility" has been replaced with worship of "reproductive freedom" or "choice." Child sacrifice via burnt offering has been updated, ever so slightly, to become child sacrifice by way of abortion. The ritualistic promotion, practice and celebration of both heterosexual and homosexual immorality and promiscuity have been carefully whitewashed – yet wholeheartedly embraced – by the cults of radical feminism, militant "gay rights" and "comprehensive sex education." And the pantheistic worship of "mother earth" has been substituted – in name only – for radical environmentalism. Barber has oversimplified Canaanite and other ancient religions and their annual fertility rights. Child sacrifice was not as dominant an element as Barber makes it out to be. What Barber overlooks is that the Israelite sacrificial system was similar, albeit simplified, to the Baal sacrificial system.

In these postmodern times, we've also been graced, regrettably, by the advent of counter-biblical "emergent Christianity" or "quasi-Christianity," as I prefer to call it. The emergent church is much more conservative than the mainstream and Catholic churches. Hence, evangelicals like Barber view the bulk of the Church (those are not Fundamentalists or Evangelical) are false Christians.

Emergent Christianity fails the authenticity test whenever subjected to even the most perfunctory biblical scrutiny…. It's not a matter of right versus left; it's a matter of right versus wrong – of biblical versus non-biblical. Here it is clear that the emergent churches are not authentic Christians. If they are not authentic, then there is little hope for the mainstream churches.

The gods of liberalism have a new high priest in Barack Obama. With such viewpoints we can understand why many Evangelicals and Fundamentalists describe Obama in anti-Christ language.

The post is not from a religious site. Barber's article is found on "Renew America", a Republican political web site that commingles politics with conservative Protestant Christianity. It is articles such a Barber's that provides the basis for secular liberals and liberal Christians to believe that if the evangelical church had its way it would transform the United States into a conservative evangelical state, and have America become the Christian equivalent of Iran or worse, the Christian equivalent of Afghanistan under the Taliban.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Obama Cell Makeover

Following is a picture that is part of the Obama cell phone makeover. Ahead of the Inauguration Weekend and event cell companies and civil authorities are upgrading the quality and number of cell phone towers in Washington DC's federal downtown and around party sites.

During 9-11 the cell system crashed due to the traffic of several hundreds of thousands of people calling each other at the same time. Following 9-11 cell phone towers were added to the level that in Washington they are able to handle nearly the whole residential and working population on their cells at the same time. Though the system is robust authorities realize that with millions coming into the city for the Inauguration taking pictures and videos from their cell phones and other such devices that the system would be overwhelmed. Hence, new towers are being added and exisiting towers enhanced, and a host of temporary towers errected like the ones pictured here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I Did It Again

Last night once again I did what I did in December 1977 in Los Angeles ....I slept through an earthquake. In 1977 I was the only one of my friends to sleep through the small earthquake that hit in the middle of the night.

Evie, Josh and I are visiting in Leola where just after midnight midnight a 3.3 earthquake struck the area. I awoke Josh and Evie's mother, but not me. At least I am not alone in missing the excitment. Evie too slept through this minor event.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Photos - Blog Challenge

Before heading to the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service I am posting a few pictures of the season. The first our family photo that we took following last Sunday's service. For the last three years just before Christmas I have been taking photos of Corps families at Arlington.

Next are a series of pictures taken Christmas Eve afternoon after I left the office at noon. As you can see there is no snow on the Mall or around the Capitol. We have yet to have a snow. The reflection pool in front of Capitol Hill is starting to freeze.

The closest we will come to Canadian soil is driving past the Canadian Embassy.

The last picture in the series, that is not snow on the side of the road...that is salt. On 19 December with the temperature was around 40F (5C) in the afternoon it started to ran. Since the temperatures late that night could get close to freezing the ice trucks hit the roads at 2 PM. When salt goes onto roads they put it on very thick. This is what is still left on the roadside.

The close of Capitol Hill shows stands being installed for Obama's inauguration.

Merry Christmas one and all. May your gathering and celebration be filled with joy and blessings. May the joy and love of your family warm your heart.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Great Cornetist

Following is a solo by one of the best cornetists in the world, Philip Sparke. Note who with little effort he plays in the upper register. The solo ends on a high C.

Shortly after this performance at the European Brass Band Championship (this band won the championship) Mr. Sparke retired.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Screaming Past Each Other

As noted in Saturday’s blog, there is great anger from various groups such as People For the American Way, and Gay and Lesbian organizations for Obama asking Rick Warren to pray at his inauguration because he supported Proposition 8. Warren supported Proposition 8 “if [Proposition 8] did not pass, then any pastor could be considered doing hate speech if he shared his views that he didn’t think homosexuality was the most natural way relationships, that that would be hate speech.”

Those who are against Proposition 8 argue that Warren’s claims are preposterous. Frankly unless the matter is clearly defined in various legislations neither side knows one way or the other how courts could rule ten or twenty years in the future. It is not uncommon for a court ruling turn out to be contrary to how legislation was first understood decades before.

One author on CBN wrote, “The tolerance crowd [liberals] has tolerance only for people who agree with them. They are blindly and hypocritically intolerant to the point of tyranny towards advocates of the Judeo-Christian tradition.” The CBN author has rightly noted an issue. That said his argument vanishes when one examines the history of the church. What the author has overlooked and left unstated for his faith community audience is that the conservative, evangelical and fundamentalist branches of the church have again and again lacked tolerance.

Going back to the Middle Ages the Church has attempted to impose its will upon civil matters. Though John Calvin felt many in Geneva were predestined to hell, he forced residents of Geneva to live by Christian precepts, including mandating everyone attend church on Sunday morning. As late as the late 1970s, Ocean Grove NJ prohibited its residents from driving cars on Sunday as it was a violation of keeping the Sabbath holy. Residents who had to travel outside Ocean Grove on Sunday had to part their vehicle in a lot outside town and beyond its locked gates.

While both side cry for tolerance and understanding from the other on a host of civil rights issues, rarely does either side grant it to the other. Instead each side screams at the other saying that the other side is out to silence the other and to dictate how the other side should believe/live. Each decries the other as being a hatemonger. Lack of such a tolerant dialogue on civil matters is a shame. Rather than acting like two pit bulls trained to attack each other with vengeance, it is time to tone down the rhetoric, sincerely listen to the other and their concerns, attempt to understand the other’s pains, concerns and fears.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Obama Angers the Democrat Left

Barak Obama is being criticized by many of the left of the Democratic Party for inviting Rick Warren to give one of the two prayers at his inauguration. Meanwhile, Warren has received calls from some evangelical and fundamentalist leaders asking him to decline because of Obama’s support for abortion as well as his position on gay rights and gay marriage.

Joe Solmonese, President of Human Rights Campaign has stated that inviting Warren has tarnished the view that “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your (Obama’s) table.” Solmones goes on to state that the selection of Warren shows deep respect for homosexuals.

For that last twelve years America has been increasingly been torn apart by divisive fighting between the extremes, with each side not being willing to build from the common ground. Bush claimed he was the President of all Americans and he would bring people together. Yet, his choices for his cabinet was heavily weighted with those who were far from being centrists. His choice for Vice-President signaled what was to come. Bush’s view was that he won the election and he would govern from the right (interestingly, with the collapse of the economy the right now claims Bush has not been governing from the right and he was not their man). What Bush meant by building a common ground was that others were expected to capitulate to his position.

Solonese and others who are deeply angered by the selection of Warren are not far essentially in agreement with George Bush’s view of governing. The only difference is that while Bush governed for the most part from the far right they want their man to govern from the far right. They want Obama to use the language of being the President for the whole nation and seeking common ground but not to follow-through on that language. They do not want to have Obama reaching out and conversing with those on the political right. They want Obama to be the left version of Bush.

Like Bush Obama says he is the President of all Americans. Unlike Bush, he is bringing into his administration and cabinet strong people with diverse views. He is taking steps to reach out to all. He wants to have strong views argued within his Cabinet. He wants ideas to be challenged and sifted. I hope that he will help end the politics of polarities and divisiveness.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Blog Challenge

The challenge to the family is to post between December 24th and 2 PM eastern on the 26th at least two pictures from the holiday season. The pictures could range from decorations, lights on the house or in the neighborhood, gift exchange, family posing for the camera or family gathering. For those of us at a distance from each other it is a way for us to share elments of Christmas with one another.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Santa and His Reindeer

Both male and female reindeer grow antlers each summer. The older males drop their antlers between late November and mid December. Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in spring. This means that Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid and Blitzen, as well as Rudolph, are females.

We should’ve known….ONLY women would be able to drag a big-butt man in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night and not get lost.

Josh is Home

After a weekend in San Antonio with the Crossmen and for the Crossmen’s banquet, Josh arrived home late Monday afternoon from Baton Rouge. The night was spent eating pizza, visiting and watching the Crossmen’s 2008 Tour DVD.

Josh has been telling us about his time at LSU. It is clear that he loves the LSU program and the university as a whole….and the weather too.

Today the last Josh’s final grades were posted. He achieved in his first semester something he did not achieve once in high school….straight As. Congratulations to Josh. With his course selection, the next semester will be more demanding but he is looking forward to the challenge.

He leaves for the bowl game on the 28th. He will return for one more week at home on New Years day.

As a side note, because of the timing of the banquet Josh had to stay overnight in a motel. A number of vets were in the same situation and pooled their resources. Apparently Josh’s share was just over $6 for the one night as there were 12 of them in the two room hotel suite. Twelve left little room for walking around.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Jon Stewart Pokes Fun at Canadian Politics

In the last weeks Canada has reached the big leagues of the political game. You know you have arrived when Jon Stewart makes fun of you or your party. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Time to Leave Afghanistan

It is long overdue for the coalition of countries that disposed the Taliban to leave Afghanistan. Going back to the Mongols over the centuries the country has been invaded and somewhat conquered again and again. Each invader has discovered that the country is problematic and in the traditional sense, ultimately ungovernable. Afghanistan’s history is filled with government instability and bloody coups as independent overloads battle with each other.

Its time for coalition nations to recognize Afghanistan's social and political history. Afghanistan will continue to have a turbulent future. Ruthless violent prawn parties will battle against their neighbors for independence from their neighbors areas while seeking to dominate their neighboring areas or region. The military, coalition and central government, will continue to battle local overlords and their militia year after year after year.

It is better for the governments involved to judiciously leave Afghanistan to the Afghans to govern with the understanding that if Afghanistan or areas of Afghanistan again becomes a haven for international terrorism, those camps and areas will be attacked with vigor.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Posting Challenge Update

How are we doing on the challenge issued at the beginning of November. As a whole we are doing very well.

Barb – challenge to surpass 360. Congratulations to Barb as she is now at 362 and likely to go well beyond 365 by year end.

Evie – challenge to surpass 370, now 366 and quickly closing in on challenge.

Jenn – challenge to surpass 370, now at 372 and likely to hit 377 by Christmas. Way to go Jenn.

Josh – challenge to surpass 20, now at 24. He could easily go over 27 by the end of the year. Kudos to Josh.

Jonathan – challenge to surpass 20, now at 17. I am confident he will go over 20. Lately he has posted several humorous items. Thanks for the laughs.

Cathy – challenge to surpass 75. She is at 69 at the time. Two posts a week and she will be over.

Stephen – challenge to surpass 100…10 November was at 101, he is now at 105. Stephen by the end of the year I challenge you to hit 108. A blog done by the kids can also count.

Christian – was at 136 on Nov 4, now at 138. As like Stephen he is deep into kettles, holiday distributions and programs, I will only challenge him to hit 140 by the end of the year.

Joanne - I do not know her total to date. Hopefully she will add two to three more to her total by the end of the year.

Myself – goal to surpass 350, with this post I am at 353 with a revised goal to hit 360.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

White Christmas

Thank you Cathy for your comment on my prior post which gave me the idea for this post.

Many people dream of a white Christmas. If you want a 100% chance of having a white Christmas, without going to Alaska, the place to be in the United States is Stampede Pass, Washington is the place to be: it has the greatest statistical probability in the lower 48 states for having at least 5 inches of snow on December 25 (a 100 percent chance) and also the greatest chances for being snowed-in with at least 10 inches (a 96 percent chance).

There are other extreme places in the mountains, including in the mountains of Arizona where you will have snow each year at Christmas.

Without going to extreme mountain heights, other safe bets of a white Christmas in the United States include, any major town in Alaska, Marquette and Sault Saint Marie in Michigan; and Hibbing and International Falls and Minnesota. Each has a 100 percent statistical chance of having at least one inch on snow on the ground Christmas day.

Interestingly Flagstaff Arizona has a higher chance of snow (56%) than either Denver (50%) or Chicago (40%). The chances of us having snow on the ground for Christmas in Washington DC stands at 13%. When we lived in Iowa City we had a 50% chance. Louisville Kentucky has a 13% chance of snow which is about what it would be for Lexington and Wilmore.

In Canada, almost all of northern Canada can count on a white Christmas every year. This would include Nunavut, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, as well as the northern portions of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia. Quebec City is one city where the chances of a white Christmas is 100%.

As for regions, southern Ontario, six to eight of 10 Christmas are white. There is a 40 percent chance along the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia of a white Christmas and less than the 20 percent chance in the southwestern mainland of British Columbia and on Vancouver Island.

Those dreaming of a white Christmas might consider not only moving to Quebec City but also Thunder Bay where there is a 100 percent chance that the ground will be white during the holidays. Those two cities have had a perfect record for the past thirty years.

Winnipeg and Saskatoon have a 98 percent chance of having at least one inch of snow on the ground Christmas day. Ottawa has a 83% chance, Calgary has a 59% chance, Montreal 80% and Toronto is at 57%.

Of all our expended family is currently living, Denise and Erma in Portland have the highest chance of having a white Christmas year over year. Their chance of having a White Christmas is 83%.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Temperature Snapshot

This morning when we awoke in Fairfax the temperature was 23 F, which is for this area, very cold. Cold is relative in that for Winnipeg we would be viewing today as a warm day. Though the weather is warmer for most of us then this morning I wondered how our temperatures compare.

As I write this, following are the temperatures in F (and C) for various places where our various members of our extended family have lived over the years.

30 (-1) Fairfax, VA (Dave, Evie, Jonathan and Josh)
26 (-3) Brampton, ON (host of Sears)
25 (-4) North York/Scarborough (host of Sears)
26 (-3) Oakville, ON (Barb, John and sons)
45 (7) Wilmore, KY (Dave and Evie, Dottie)
46 (8) Danville, KY (Steve, Dottie, Krista, Adam and Campbell)
48 (8) New Glasgow, KY (Steve, Dottie and Krista)
27 (-2) St. Marys, ON (Dave, Evie, Jonathan)
27 (-2) London, ON (Joe, Grace, Barb, John and Matthew)
79 (26) Barbados (Barb, John and sons)
25 (-4) Simcoe, ON (Stephen, Gayle and children)
16 (-9) Peterborough, ON (Stephen)
27 (-2) Philadelphia, PA(various Camuti)
26 (-3) Harrisburg, PA (various Camuti)
24 (-4) Wilkes-Barre, PA (various Camuti)
11 (-12) Waterbury, CT (Dennis, Erma, Chris and Tracy)
19 (-7) Norwich, CT (Chris, Elaine and children)
8 (-13) Sanford, ME (Chris, Elaine and children)
12 (-11) Portland, ME (Dennis, Erma and Tracy)
24 (-4) Leola, PA (Paul and Dorothy)
26 (-3) Chillicothe, OH (Dorothy, Dottie, Dennis, Evie)
34 (1) Iowa City, IA (Dave, Evie and sons)
1 (-17) Winnipeg, MB (Dave, Evie and sons)
23 (-5) Calgary, AB (Stephen, Gayle and children, Joanne and Bruce)
12 (-11) Kingston, ON (Bruce and Joanne)
28(-2) Erie, PA (Dennis, Erma, Chris and Tracy)
25 (-4) Suffern, NY (Dennis, Erma, Tracy, Chris and Elaine)
24 (-4) Altoona, PA (Dennis, Erma, Chris and Tracy)
25 (-4) Punxsutawney, PA (Dennis, Erma, Chris and Tracy)
62 (17) Baton Rouge, LA (Josh)

At the moment I hit post, Dennis, Erma and Tracy as well as Joanne and Bruce have the coldest temperatures. The warmest family member is Josh....where he is not even needing to wear a winter coat.

I may well do this again during another cold snap in January or February.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Blog Award Goes To...

I was given the following award by Jenn, my niece. Today she hit the challenge I gave her to surpass publish her 370th blog by the end of the year (with this post I too have reached my goal of 350…now I am hoping to hit 360 by the end of the year). Jenn has posted more than anyone else in the family.

Evie and I got to really know Jenn the summer she flew out to Winnipeg and traveled with us for six weeks as we traveled from Winnipeg to Ohio to New Jersey to Boston to the Maritimes to Newfoundland to Ontario. With that history I greatly enjoy following her posts that touch upon common issues she has experienced in her daily life. The family life stages through which she is passing reminds me of where Evie and I were some twenty or so years ago.

Though it took him some time to get started Josh has been posting since August. While a good number of his experiences at LSU have similarities to those Evie and I had at Asbury College, most of them are significantly different. Besides LSU being a much larger institution, LSU’s campus life, Tiger band and the culture in general is much different. Added to that is his love for Crossmen and DCI. I love reading both Jonathan and Josh’s blogs as they give me insight into what is happening in their lives and their thought processes. As Josh posts more often, he just published his 20th post, I am giving the nod to him. Congratulations Josh…and now you have the challenge of awarding the award to another (and it may go to someone outside the family).

Friday, December 05, 2008

Hoard Mentality and Seed of Evil Acts

The day after American Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday is the kick-off to the holiday shopping season. Stores open extra early with deep discounts on dated items and good discounts on many current items. People line-up two or three hours before the doors open to buy the deeply discounted items. When doors open there can be for some box stores a thousand to two-thousand people in line. For the Canadian reader, Black Friday rush is similar to the Boxing Day rush and sales.

This year, one week ago today, a Wal-Mart employee on Long Island was trampled to death. I do not know how widely the story has been covered so let me give a quick synopsis. When the doors open one of the employees who was assigned to the doors was knocked down by the frenzied crowd out to fight each other for the bargain items inside. No one stopped to help him up. No one stopped to guide others around him to allow him to have an opportunity to right himself. Instead, as the employee lay on the floor, the heard kept pushing forward over him to literally trample him to death.

In the coming weeks lawsuits will be filed against Wal-Mart…and rightly so for not giving the proper training and having employees work in pairs. There is some general faulting in the press of the nebulous “hoard” and how shameful that group of people acted. That said, what bothers me the most is that little attention is being given to taken moving beyond the general group.

This group of people, the hoard, are not rabble rousers. They are our neighbors, those we worship with on Sunday, our family and co-workers. They are me. They are you. Our press and our society not willing to acknowledge that reality scars me as it is a failure to recognize the acts to which each of us is capable. In a sense, this event in New York, we see dynamics at play that have put in place the foundation for normal good natured individuals to behave differently in a crowd and thereby engage in destructive acts. It reminds us that within each of us rests selfishness, greed and a mindlessness that can cause us to turn a blind eye to cruelty or to helping one who is need.

It reminds us that when a Good Samaritan is needed most that such a compassionate individual is not as common as we would think. It reminds those who like to think they would be a Good Samaritan and love their neighbor that they may not act that way if they allow themselves to be carried along by the crowd. They too could readily be carried along by their own selfish goals or acquiesce to the hoard mentality.

I like to think I would stop to help, that I would break with the hoard to help my neighbor. Yet this incident causes me to wonder, to look inward and question. I am forced to conclude that the seed of what happened at the Wal-Mart does not rest in the distant “out there” or with the nebulous “them.” Rather, it rests in me…that is sobering to say the least.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Wisdom, Harper and Prorogue

I was going to give a short comment on Stephen’s blog and post of 2 December, but my thoughts kept going and going so I am posting the following. See Stephen’s post at http://searsfamilyhappenings.blogspot.com/.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has found himself in a mess of his choosing. It seems that he is governing as if he has a solid majority. If that it was the Conservative attitude prior to this crisis then they did recall the lessons learned from what happened to Joe Clark.

There is little doubt that the 27 November fiscal update/pre-budget statement is designed to be provocative and possibly draconian. In light of the international financial crisis, the government not putting forth a new budget until late February is a significant error. Not putting forth plans to help move the country forward and to shore up the economy is a mistake. The country is looking for leadership, not silence.

When the markets crashed in 1929, President Hoover too hoped everything would work itself out in four to six months. People looked to the government for leadership and action but none was forth coming from Hoover. His lack of leadership and taking no action to help stabilize matters helped to deepen the crash’s impact. Is Harper going down the same road as Hoover?

It seems to me Harper’s pre-budget statement is intended to challenge the opposition to acquiesce to its will or face the public wrath of forcing an election. He has proposed changes, to be followed with a full budget, that if one of the other parties acquiesced, which he may well have counted upon, will dramatically turn Canadian politics strongly to the right, and mirror much of the positions of the Republican right in the USA. Harper is playing a dangerous game of brinkmanship.

The elimination of the $1.95 subsidy/grant for each vote received increases the opportunity for the large parties to push aside the smaller parties. It seems to me that Harper is targeting the BQ and is an effort to turn them into a rump party. It also is an effort to decrease the power of the NDP. The proposal allows the major party to become more beholding to special interest groups and other major contributors.

In 1980 when Joe Clark’s minority government fell when it brought forth a budget that was too aggressive, which Crosby called “short term pain, for long term gain.” A friend of mine who was in the Clark government admitted later the PCs were too aggressive with that budget. He admitted that governing as if they had a majority government was also a mistake. They thought that if they were defeated on the budget the people would support them and return them with a majority. The miscalculated and misread the mood of the nation as Trudeau’s Liberals returned to power with a majority. I suspect that Harper has gone down the same road as Clark.

I like the idea of the Governor General not dissolving Parliament and instead giving a Liberal/NDP coalition government an opportunity to govern. Did Harper consider this likelihood? He had to given that he was willing to form such a coalition in 2003. If he did not think it would happen, then he has been injudicious and should find himself stewing as leader of the opposition while the other two parties outflank him with populist legislation.

Harper’s back-tracking and the possibility of asking the Governor General for a prorogue are signs that he and his government have miscalculated badly. Though a prorogue could last for a year, anything more than a month would be disastrous for Canada, particularly during an economic crisis since not orders-in-council or major policy initiatives could be undertaken. In essence, the government would be powerless to respond to a fluid economic period. Even a prorogation of more than four to six weeks could be putting the nation’s health at risk.

A prorogation that lasts more than a month starts to become a means for the Prime Minister and the government to avoid answering to the will and vote of Parliament, which a most dangerous road for a democracy to take. Though it such a vote is unpleasant, no government should ever unduly delay on a pending vote of non-confidence. To delay undermines the democratic process. Hence, when facing such a vote a request for a prorogue should be used sparingly.

By running ads attacking the idea of a coalition government, the Conservatives are being reactionary and suggesting that they are fighting to stay in power by any means. What is most interesting is that Harper was willing to form with the NDP just such a coalition government if Martin’s minority government fell within a few months if the 2004 election. He supported the concept then, but is strongly against it now that he is Prime Minister.

If there is an election in the coming months, the ads against a coalition government will shift the blame for a new election solely upon his shoulders. The other parties came up with a reasonable option to avoid an election but Harper and his team fought the idea.

A minority government that rules as if it had a strong majority has acted unwisely. In Westminster democracies, a Governor General inviting the opposition leader to form a coalition government after the fall of the government shortly after an election is not unreasonable or unheard of. Often the coalition will not be formed as there are too many differences, and when they are formed, most only live less than a year. Yet when they do work, the legislative course is thoughtful and balanced as the bills tend to have broad consensus.

If Harper and his team have calculated this badly, what does that then say about their judgment in an age when our nations need cool thoughtful reflective leadership.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Bowling Season

College football bowl season will soon upon us. Once the BCS selections take place Sunday, the non-BCS bowls will quickly start picking their teams. Most bowls have agreements with particular conferences to select a bowl eligible team from their conference. The non-BCS bowls pick in a sequence…for example the Capital One by agreement gets the strongest Big Ten team that does not go to a BSC. Once the Capital One bowl makes its choice, the Outback Bowl makes it choice followed by the Alamo Bowl making its choice of the remaining Big Ten teams.

For the SEC (Southeast Conference) once the BSC selection is done, the next highest team goes to the Capital One Bowl. Once Capital One Bowl is settled, the Cotton makes its selection, followed by the Outback and then the Chick-fil-A bowl in Atlanta makes its choice from the remainder. Then the other SEC bowls follow as per their agreements with the SEC.

If Boston College beats Virginia Tech (Atlantic Coast Championship game) on Saturday, Virginia Tech will likely go to the Chick-fil-A bowl.

If Ohio State is selected to go into a BSC bowl, the Capital One will take Michigan State which will likely mean Iowa will go to the Outback bowl.

As for LSU, the opinions are that the Tigers will be going to the Chick-fil-A bowl. If so Josh will have a good number of friends on the other side of the field, several of whom will be in VA Tech’s marching band. That said, the Outback bowl could elect to invite LSU instead of South Carolina (which would then go to the Chick-fil-A).

If LSU goes against Iowa, as Evie has said to her son, at half-time she will be cheering for the LSU band to do well. But for the rest of the game she will be for Iowa. I will be conflicted…at the moment I would side with Iowa but then I may end up cheering for of LSU.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I Have a Psychological Disorder

Do you have a neurosis?

A certified psychiatrist claims that if you are neurotic if you are a liberal. During the American primary Dr Rossiter, a psychiatrist, out promoting his book said on national television stated that, “The kind of liberalism being displayed by both Barack Obama and his Democratic primary opponent Hillary Clinton can only be understood as a psychological disorder.”

He went on to explain, "The roots of liberalism – and its associated madness – can be clearly identified by understanding how children develop from infancy to adulthood and how distorted development produces the irrational beliefs of the liberal mind," he says. "When the modern liberal mind whines about imaginary victims, rages against imaginary villains and seeks above all else to run the lives of persons competent to run their own lives, the neurosis of the liberal mind becomes painfully obvious."

During the political talk show, the good doctor’s views where affirmed by the conservative host. Granted the interview was during an election and the man was trying to pump sales with a targeted audience, but by engaging in political sensationalism he ceased functioning as a balanced psychiatrist. He admitted to being a life-long Republican.

Dr. Rossiter feels that liberal thinking is grounded in the faulty manner in which parents have raised their children. For the learned doctor, the neurosis of the liberal mind is grounded in a distorted child development process. Parents have not encouraged their children to accept responsibility. They have not disciplined their children correctly. They have coddled their children and given them too many things. When things have gone wrong in the lives of their children these parents have faulted not the child but others…their child is a victim. There is an escape clause for parents who did teach “the right” values, the faulty child development is blamed on the teachers and the schools.

Such thinking is flawed as it does not account for sincere convictions and cogent thinking. It does not account for how conservatives and liberals emerge from the same families and after being exposed to the same schools.

I also take issue with the underlying assumption, if you do not think like me and believe like me than you must be ill or evil. Such thinking is what ultimately lies behind many of the greatest evils humanity has inflicted upon others.

Clearly, those who would agree with Dr. Rossiter have a bias that read insidious meaning into the words of liberals. Obama and Clinton hold that government should be involved in helping to address social justice issues. They hold that government has an important role in supporting the poor and disadvantaged, and that government must be involved in health care, one of the nation’s more troublesome social justice issues. That said, and regardless of what the Republicans and the biased psychiatrist claims, their positions do not negate individual responsibility or participation in their own emotional health and advancement, and for their lives in general.

Dr. Rossiter may call liberalism desire to care and help all, particularly the poor, as madness. Those who agree with Rossiter need to step back and take a deep breath. The Bible teaches that it is importance for community leader/rulers and the community as a whole to carry for the poor. In his charge Rossiter is implying the Bible’s teachings in this area are mad and that Jesus, who too upheld a liberal social agenda, is psychologically imbalanced.

If helping the poor is viewed as madness and a neurosis, then I am mad as a hatter and very neurotic. So be it.