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Archive for October, 2007

Evangelicals of Little Faith

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Kathleen Parker wrote a blog article for entitled “Christians for Self-Defeat.” I fully expected her to chide the evangelical leadership for their hand-wringing over their choices for the 2008 Presidential election, and she did that – sort of. Her opening statement, however, made me blanch:

“Evangelical Christians never had it so good, but they seem not to know it. Instead of supporting the candidate who most shares their values — Mitt Romney — they seem hell-bent for the proverbial cliff.”

I like Kathleen Parker from her days as a local columnist with the Orlando Sentinel, but I disagree with the statement she makes about Governor Romney.

Let’s set aside his Mormonism for a moment, although I’ll acknowledge right up front that his religious denomination is a deal-breaker for many evangelicals. His compatibility on values is questionable to me because it appears contrived. I’ve no doubt that he believes in them personally because of his faith, but for me, the number and nature of the conversions Governor Romney has made in his public life are too much for me to overcome. He comes across as opportunistic and inauthentic as a result.

Further in her column, Ms. Parker writes:

“And then there’s Mike Huckabee. If Dobson really meant what he said in his op-ed — that winnability shouldn’t be the deciding factor in supporting a candidate — then Huckabee should be receiving bouquets of Ben Franklins with his morning beignets. A southern Baptist preacher, the former Arkansas governor is a human checklist of conservative values, as well as being personable, likable and funny. What Huckabee doesn’t have is the golden coffer, which means that electability is, in fact, a Christian concern.”

This is where Ms. Parker speaks the unvarnished truth. The evangelical leadership betrays us with their dishonesty and fear. By elevating electability over principle, they put their trust in the world and not in the Lord. If they lined up as one behind Governor Huckabee, who is making a slow and steady rise in the polls even without their help, his fortunes would skyrocket overnight. Not only is he consistent in his values, he is eloquent and not angry or strident in communicating them, and as a person from a modest background who pastored in and eventually governed a poor state, he has genuine empathy for the working poor, and he’s demonstrated it in his statements and policies.

He not only cares about the sanctity of life and marriage, he cares about children’s health, education in the arts and families battered by the pace of change and globalization. He was one of five governors, only two of which were Republicans, to be named among the best governors in America by Time Magazine. He was the overwhelming winner of the straw poll taken at the Values Voters Debate with 64 percent of the vote.

His only liability is that he doesn’t have a national network or the name recognition to raise copious amounts of cash. I admire that he is competitive in the polls in spite of that fact. His campaign is being very judicious with the money they have raised, and I believe the way he gets maximum value out of every dollar is reflective of how he’d manage the federal budget. If the evangelical community, which comprises a third of the Republican base, put their weight behind his candidacy, his money woes would disappear.

I’m reminded of the old joke about the man trapped on the roof of his flooded home who repeatedly refuses help because he declares the Lord will save him, only to drown when the waters rise too high. When he’s in heaven and asks the Lord why He didn’t save him, the Lord replies, “What are you talking about? I sent you two boats and a helicopter.”

The evangelical community doesn’t need a third-party candidate, nor do they need to compromise their beliefs for electability. They need to open their eyes and see what’s right in front of them, waiting for them to agree to be rescued. They need to trust in their own beliefs and bestow electability on Mike Huckabee with their time, talent and treasure.

Black September, Part Two: My Thoughts on Jena, Louisiana

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

There’s perhaps no other state in the union where the paradox of race in America is so vivid than in Louisiana. I was born in Louisiana and my family’s roots go deep into its marshy soil. My great-great-great grandfather on my mother’s side was a white slaveowner of French-Swiss and German descent. According to family legend, my great-great-great grandmother, one of his slaves with whom he eventually consorted and had nine children, was at least part Native American and her name suggests the possibility of Italian descent as well. My great-great grandfather, great grandfather and grandfather on my mother’s side were all black.

My genealogy mirrors the unique racial and ethnic mix in that state – African, Caribbean, French, Spanish, German, and Native American, just to name the ones that are most prevalent in Louisiana’s history – which could be cleverly described as a “gumbo.” That gumbo’s taste, however, has always been sour rather than scrumptious and I honestly don’t understand how that can be in such a diverse state. Much of the ignorance in this nation about race stems from a lack of contact with different kinds of people on a daily basis, but Louisiana has no such excuse. To use a term from the Harry Potter children’s series, there’s too many “mudbloods” in Louisiana for them to get all uptight over race, but they do it anyway.


Is Greed the Conservative Creed?

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

As the tax debate in Maryland heats up, one of the more persistent stereotypes about conservatives that’s being dragged out of the mud by the liberal tax-and-spend crowd is that conservatives are greedy and only want to keep the money they make for themselves. This is why liberals believe in income redistribution by the government through taxation and entitlement programs; if the government doesn’t take it and do the right thing with it, their logic goes, those greedy conservatives certainly won’t.

The book, “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism,” by Syracuse University professor Arthur C. Brooks, blows this stereotype to pieces, and no one was more surprised by its findings than the author. Brooks is a behavioral economist, a child of academics who was raised in a liberal home and educated in the liberal arts.  He has served as the director of nonprofit studies for Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs since 2003. He has no political affiliation, declaring “I have no comfortable political home.”

Professor Brooks took ten years of data primarily from ten databases and adjusted the data for variables such as age, gender, race and income. His research is carefully documented to stand up under scrutiny from other academics.

His conclusions? Religious conservatives donate far more money than secular liberals to all sorts of charitable activities irrespective of income.


Who’s working?

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

I’m annoyed at a particular phrase that seems to be a favorite of liberals, and our Governor is no exception. Let me give you some background.

Governor O’Malley is proposing an increase in the state’s top income tax rate from 4.75 percent to six percent for individuals making $150,000 or more a year and families making $200,000 or more annually. This is what liberals call a “progressive” tax code, one that punishes you for being successful, growing our economy and creating jobs for others. But that’s not what got me going.

My ire is aimed the following statement from the Governor: (more…)

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