Monday, July 30, 2007

Knuckleheads

Just Drill, Baby by Pete Du Pont.

Selected excerpts:
First, we are not running out of oil. In 1920 it was estimated that the world supply of oil was 60 billion barrels. By 1950 it was up to 600 billion, and by 1990 to two trillion. In 2000 the world supply of oil was estimated to be three trillion barrels.
...
But ethanol is not a good gasoline substitute. It takes some seven gallons of oil to produce eight gallons of corn-based ethanol--diesel fuel for the tractors to plant and harvest the corn, pesticides to protect it, and fuel for trucks to transport the ethanol around the country. So there is not much energy gain, nor with all the gasoline involved does it help with global warming by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. And ethanol yields one-third less energy per gallon than gasoline, so that mileage per gallon of ethanol-blended auto fuel is less than gasoline mileage.

Sometimes it is hard for me to believe how incompetent our Federal Government has become. Oil, Nuclear Power, and even coal can solve all of the energy needs of America, but our elected representatives are choosing to use tax money to promote ethanol production. What absolute knuckleheads!

The Tide (of opinion) Has Turned

From A War We Just Might Win at the New York Times.
Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

I wonder if any of the editors at the New York times ever read any of their own editorials.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mayor Fiscal Conservative?

Pundits keep claiming that while Mayor Giuliani is not a social conservative, he is most certainly a fiscal conservative. Perhaps, Mayor Giuliani, writing at RCP, could change a few of their minds.

America needs to become energy independent.

Why? Do we also need to become textile, agriculture, manufacturing, IT, and service independent? What is unique about energy? Wouldn’t most fiscal conservatives be in favor of purchasing goods and services from where each can be produced with the most value?

Presidents Nixon and Carter talked about energy independence, but not a lot got done.

Great, President Nixon and Carter were two of the least fiscally conservative Presidents of my lifetime and now Mayor Giuliani is referencing them as reliable authorities.

It will require setting goals, sticking to them and energizing the American people to achieve them. It will require expanding our reliance on a much more diverse range of energy sources that America can control.

Soviet style fiscal conservatism is not fiscal conservatism to most real fiscal conservatives.

But it is embarrassing that Brazil is so far ahead of America in the use of ethanol.

Why? Does America have to always lead? Don’t fiscal conservatives believe lots of small experiments are superior to national directives? If Brazil is successful, can’t America copy their success or purchase ethanol from them? Are we sure we want to use food for fuel? Do we want or need more corn fields instead of drilling holes?

The government needs to help business establish competitive, cost-effective technologies in the short-run.

President Nixon and Carter might even know this sounds a lot more like Lenin than it sounds like Reagan.

We can sell our advances to countries like China and India.

Just like we used to buy from China and India when each of those two countries were centrally controlled. Oh wait, we didn’t buy from them when they were centrally controlled; we started buying from them when they started allowing entrepreneurs to individually make economic decisions.

Mayor Giuliani may be right about the war on terror, but when he pens a piece like this, he is only going to get support from those who think Nixon and Carter were good Presidents.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Influence

Disney stubs out smoking from its films
Walt Disney on Wednesday became the first Hollywood studio to phase out cigarette smoking in its films, saying smoking scenes in future Disney-branded movies would be “non-existent”.

Mr Markey, who has called for tougher action to stop children from smoking, said it was “time for other media companies to similarly kick the habit and follow Disney’s lead”.

“We know that the presence of smoking in a movie significantly influences a child’s decision to start,” he said. “This is troubling given the fact that a vast majority of smokers begin smoking before their 18th birthday. I am pleased that Disney is embracing a policy that is consistent with the long-term public health of the nation.”

Wouldn’t the Hollywood depiction of any behavior be a significant influence on a child’s decision to start or stop the depicted behavior? Bad behavior portrayed in a positive way could influence a child to behave badly and good behavior portrayed in a negative way could influence a child to abandon or reject good behavior.

Could you ever imagine any of the following headlines?
Walt Disney on Wednesday became the first Hollywood studio to phase out premarital sex in its films, saying premarital sex scenes in future Disney-branded movies would be “non-existent”.

or
Walt Disney on Wednesday became the first Hollywood studio to phase out lying to parents in its films, saying lying to parent scenes in future Disney-branded movies would be “non-existent”.

or
Walt Disney on Wednesday became the first Hollywood studio to phase out religious bigotry in its films, saying religious bigotry scenes in future Disney-branded movies would be “non-existent”.

I don’t think so. Disney and congress aren’t really interested in promoting good behavior and discouraging bad behavior; both are only interested in the politically correct influence on their bottom lines.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

More God is not...

Joe Carter on Politically Correct Politics

From this truism, though, some people derive the false assumption that since God does not provide his imprimatur for a particular party platform that the choice between voting for a Democrat or a Republican is morally neutral. This is almost certainly false. Political choices are almost always moral choices. Such decisions are fraught with moral danger and each Christian, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, must determine for themselves how best to follow their conscience.

Obviously some decisions are easier than others. Despite the excuses we may make for our historical-cultural setting, no Biblically oriented evangelical should ever support a candidate who condones such evils as "outrages against human dignity" (i.e., slavery, racial segregation, torture, abortion). Other times the options may force a choice among the lesser of two or more evils (pro-abortion candidate Hillary Clinton, pro-abortion candidate Rudy Giuliani, or a pro-life third party candidate?). In each case, though, the choice should be to follow one's conscience in applying Biblical principles to political decisions.

Unfortunately, some Christians wish to maintain the illusion of political neutrality even when it conflicts with our moral obligations.

Monday, July 23, 2007

In the name of Christ

Affirming and defending the truth of the Gospel narratives in the Bible is practically a no-brainer. Affirming and defending the actions of professing Christians is a whole different matter. Hugh Hewitt links to an essay by Bill Lobdell in the L.A. Times about his journey from unbeliever, to believer, to Religion writer, to loss of faith.

Selected excerpts:

On wanting to become a Religion writer:
I wanted to report objectively and respectfully about how belief shapes people's lives. Along the way, I believed, my own faith would grow deeper and sturdier.

My desire to be a religion reporter grew as I read stories about faith in the mainstream media. Spiritual people often appeared as nuts or simpletons.

In one of the most famous examples, the Washington Post ran a news story in 1993 that referred to evangelical Christians as "largely poor, uneducated and easy to command."


On the Catholic Priest sex scandal:
At the time, I never imagined Catholic leaders would engage in a widespread practice that protected alleged child molesters and belittled the victims. I latched onto the explanation that was least damaging to my belief in the Catholic Church — that this was an isolated case of a morally corrupt administration.

But then I began going over the documents. And interviewing the victims, scores of them. I discovered that the term "sexual abuse" is a euphemism. Most of these children were raped and sodomized by someone they and their family believed was Christ's representative on Earth. That's not something an 8-year-old's mind can process; it forever warps a person's sexuality and spirituality.

Many of these victims were molested by priests with a history of abusing children. But the bishops routinely sent these clerics to another parish, and bullied or conned the victims and their families into silence. The police were almost never called. In at least a few instances, bishops encouraged molesting priests to flee the country to escape prosecution.

The judge ruled in the favor of Uribe, then pastor of a large parish in Whittier. After the hearing, when the priest's attorney discovered I had been there, she ran back into the courtroom and unsuccessfully tried to get the judge to seal the case. I could see why the priest's lawyer would try to cover it up. People would be shocked at how callously the church dealt with a priest's illegitimate son who needed money for food and medicine.


On the lack of grace by Mormons towards ex-Mormons:
The people at the conference were an eclectic bunch: novelists and stay-at-home moms, entrepreneurs and cartoonists, sex addicts and alcoholics. Some were depressed, others angry, and a few had successfully moved on. But they shared a common thread: They wanted to be honest about their lack of faith and still be loved.

In most pockets of Mormon culture, that wasn't going to happen.

Part of what drew me to Christianity were the radical teachings of Jesus — to love your enemy, to protect the vulnerable and to lovingly bring lost sheep back into the fold.

As I reported the story, I wondered how faithful Mormons — many of whom rigorously follow other biblical commands such as giving 10% of their income to the church — could miss so badly on one of Jesus' primary lessons?


On TBN:
SOME of the nation's most powerful pastors — including Billy Graham, Robert H. Schuller and Greg Laurie — appear on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, benefiting from TBN's worldwide reach while looking past the network's reliance on the "prosperity gospel" to fuel its growth.

TBN's creed is that if viewers send money to the network, God will repay them with great riches and good health. Even people deeply in debt are encouraged to put donations on credit cards.

"If you have been healed or saved or blessed through TBN and have not contributed … you are robbing God and will lose your reward in heaven," Paul Crouch, co-founder of the Orange County-based network, once told viewers. Meanwhile, Crouch and his wife, Jan, live like tycoons.

I began looking into TBN after receiving some e-mails from former devotees of the network. Those people had given money to the network in hopes of getting a financial windfall from God. That didn't work.

I spent several years investigating TBN and pored through stacks of documents — some made available by appalled employees — showing the Crouches eating $180-per-person meals; flying in a $21-million corporate jet; having access to 30 TBN-owned homes across the country, among them a pair of Newport Beach mansions and a ranch in Texas. All paid for with tax-free donor money.

He was thrilled to tell me that he had stopped getting dialysis because Hinn had said people are cured only when they "step out in faith." The decision enraged his doctors, but made perfect sense to Gibson. Despite risking his life as a show of faith, he wasn't cured in Anaheim. He returned to Canada and went back on dialysis. The crowd was filled with desperate believers like Gibson.


It’s hard for me to blame non-believers for a lack of faith when a believer can lose his faith and when so much evil is done in the name of Christ. Oh well, perhaps we can revive our image by being strong on anti-Global Warming proposals and by insisting tax payers foot the bill for all of the corruption in Africa.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

No Difference?

Some professing Christians maintain that God is not a Republican or a Democrat. These professing Christians must also believe that God approves of a woman’s right to kill her unborn baby. At least two, and probably all three, leading Democrats believe abortion should be a covered expense in their universal health care proposal.
Speaking on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards before the family planning and abortion-rights group Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Edwards lauded her husband's health-care proposal as "a true universal health-care plan" that would cover "all reproductive health services, including pregnancy termination," referring to abortion.

Asked about his proposal for expanded access to health insurance, Obama said it would cover "reproductive-health services." Contacted afterward, an Obama spokesman said that included abortions.

Clinton has not yet released her health-care proposal. She provided a bruising critique of Bush administration policies and Republican conservatives on abortion rights and contraception policy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Leader we need is the Leader we've got

President Bush, the leader we would never reelect, is the leader we need, and thankfully, the leader we’ve got.

Rich Lowry has the details.

Selected excerpts:
Bush is as confident and upbeat as ever. Even once-friendly commentators like the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan wish he'd show some strain and worry as the war drags into its fifth year. But Bush must have confidence and optimism written into his DNA. As leaks, GOP defections and plummeting approval ratings swirl all around him, he remains resolute: The Iraq war must, and can, be won.

He curtly rejects the suggestion that he will be forced by troop constraints to pull back the surge come next spring, no matter what. "I'm sure that in the bowels of the Pentagon, people are looking at troop rotations and troop movements," he says. "That is not the primary objective of our commander on the ground -- next question."

Nor will Bush allow the political environment to constrain his policy. He cites his decision to go forward with the surge in January, even though the "outcry was quite significant." He knew what people were thinking: "How can he possibly do this? Didn't he see, didn't he hear?"

What he saw was a war effort that was stumbling, so he removed his top generals and brought in Gen. Petraeus and his surge plan. His confidence in Petraeus is total: "My job ... is to say to David Petraeus, 'I trust your judgment, I trusted you going in and I trust you now.'" He calls Petraeus "the most credible person in the fight at this moment."

Bush says that one of his most important audiences is not just the American public, but the enemy, who "thinks we're weak." He says "these are sophisticated people and they listen to the debate." They doubt "that we're going to be tough enough. I really believe that the additional forces into Iraq surprised them -- a lot."

In trying to game out the future U.S. policy in Iraq, there is an intense focus on the periphery -- what is Defense Secretary Robert Gates thinking, what's the Lugar-Warner plan? But what's still most important is the center of this storm, where President Bush sits, apparently in no mood whatsoever to budge.

On the Run

I’ve noticed over the years how the major networks and newspapers are very good at uncovering and reporting about corruption in government and business, but completely derelict at uncovering and reporting about corruption within their own news industry.

Jack Kelly writes a good piece today about progress in Iraq that starts with a refutation of CNN reporting.
CNN's Michael Ware said in a broadcast Jan. 30 that Ramadi is "the true al Qaida national headquarters." If that were true, al Qaida is in bigger trouble in Iraq than most of us realize.

Radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt devoted his show last Wednesday to the (overwhelmingly negative) opinions of Iraq war veterans on the demands of Democrats that U.S. troops be pulled out. One call was from "Bruce in Upland," whose son is a soldier currently serving in Iraq.

"I will speak for my son who right now is bored out of his mind in Ramadi, because he hasn't heard a shot fired in combat now in about six or seven weeks," Bruce said.

I am encouraged to see this specific critique of mainstream media.

Mr. Kelly then goes on to describe a dynamic taking place among the Iraqi people.
U.S. intelligence thought there were about 1,000 al Qaida in Baquba when Operation Arrowhead Ripper began June 19. Those who haven't fled have been killed or captured.

The smaller part of the reason for the dramatic improvement in Ramadi and Baquba is the change in strategy embodied by the surge. The larger part is the change of heart of most of al Qaida's former allies.

Mr. Yon was with U.S. troops in the Spring of 2005, when they fought insurgents in the Baquba suburb of Buhritz. Among "the most proficient at killing our people," he said, were the 1920s Revolution Brigades.

In April the 1920s Revolution Brigades attacked al Qaida and asked for U.S. help. Last week Mr. Yon returned to Buhritz with a leader of the group, "Abu Ali."
Mr. Yon asked Abu Ali why his group switched sides. "Al Qaida is an abomination of Islam," he replied. "Cutting off heads, stealing peoples money, kidnapping...every type of torture they have done."

Sheikh Abdul Sattar al Rishawi, founder of the Anbar Salvation Council, gave similar reasons for his change of allegiance.

When al Qaida ran Baquba, it would amputate the two fingers used to hold a cigarette of any Iraqi caught smoking. Men who refused to grow beards were beaten, as were women for the "sexually suggestive" behavior of carrying tomatoes and cucumbers in the same bag, Mr. Yon said. He recounted finding the bodies of beheaded children.

Al Qaida's brutality has alienated the overwhelming majority of Sunnis as well as the Shias who were the primary targets of its attacks. When the U.S. can provide them with protection, ordinary people are turning on al Qaida with a vengeance.

Most of al Qaida's leaders and many of its foot soldiers escaped from Baquba, and probably will try to establish another "capital" elsewhere. But they're running out of places to go.

The U.S. Senate is debating today about a proposal to require withdrawal of American troops. Some of our politicians are either clueless or actually want al Qaida to win in Iraq.

Joe's EO 100

Imagine my surprise at being listed in Joe Carter’s EO 100 list of Christian blogs.

Joe has once again displayed uncommon grace and graciousness by including microbes [like me] on his list.

He listed some really great blogs and writers. I have no illusion that I belong on such a list other than to know there is room in Christian blogging for someone who doesn’t belong with the big guys, but can still sometimes bring a unique perspective to Christian thinking.

I am also encouraged that so many of the sites I visit and include in my sidebar are included in Joe’s list.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Courage

When I wrote my recent piece on President Throwback, I didn’t mean to imply that I think President Bush is courageous or that he is a hero. Political courage, while rare, is not the same as real courage.

In our present age, when political courage is practically nonexistent, real courage is abundant. The real heroes, the ones with genuine courage, are the men and women of the United States military, who have volunteered to serve since 9/11. These men and women who volunteer for an unpopular war, who endure hardship in the desert heat and other extreme conditions, who risk their lives bringing murderers to justice, who sometimes return home without some of their body parts, who sometimes return home in caskets, who always return home changed, are the ones exhibiting true courage. These men and women are the heroes who are truly courageous in what they are doing.

Soldiers are different from politicians. Soldiers don’t avoid a fight when the cause is noble. Politicians only fight for money and votes; avoiding all other confrontations, including noble causes. Soldiers risk their lives while performing their duty. Politicians won’t even risk reelection, as they avoid their duty.

The United States may become the first country in history where the government has twice voted to lose a just war that the soldiers have won. What a striking contrast between the soldiers with courage and the powerful without it.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Should we...because we can?

Rusty links and then comments on a couple of news articles chronicling the cost and experience of a modern day prom night. He then finishes his piece by asking, “Do Christians think, by mimicking such a culture's every move, that they are evangelizing to them?”

I often tell my daughters that just because they can [mimic others] doesn’t mean they should [mimic others]. Of course my admonition is often the exact opposite of what they are hoping to hear because it is usually in response to them asking if they can do something I am less than enthusiastic about. Hopefully, this is a lesson my daughters are learning even as my point goes in one ear and out the other when they hear it.

This principle of purposeful behavior is not only applicable when deciding against bad behavior. Sometimes, even good behavior shouldn’t be mimicked. Just because Saddleback has been successful with a certain Church model doesn’t mean other Churches should automatically copy what they are doing there. Just because one person is successful at personal evangelism doesn’t mean God expects all of us to be personal evangelists. It’s sad how many people define success in terms of what they are good at doing.

In order to salt the earth, believers must be in the world, but not of the world. Of course Rusty is asking a rhetorical question where the obvious answer is “no” because mimicking the world is being of the world. As Rusty implies, most of what passes for Christianity nowadays, is indistinguishable from modern culture. Christians should be noticeably different. Believers in Christ have to offer an alternative to the world focus on self. Followers of Christ should be directing focus away from self and onto the purposes of God.

Just because we can follow others doesn’t mean we should always follow others. It is perfectly OK with God for each of us to be unique. After all, he created each and every one of us as an individual. It is just as OK for our group and our group focus to be unique as long as our purpose conforms to God’s leadership. Along the way, we may attract a few converts who need to break the shackles of modern culture.

Friday, July 13, 2007

President Throwback

Modern leaders are the men and women who are first to get out in front of a parade. Throughout government, politics, business, and the Church, these modern leaders have become masters at spotting trends and then adopting policies and positions that reflect the trend. Perhaps it has always been this way since most people desire acceptance as much or more than they desire righteousness. Probably, periods of relativism, like nowadays, adds to this dynamic.

When we read biographies and auto-biographies of great leaders of the past, we never read about how these leaders distinguished themselves by following or getting out in front of the pack. Stories of great leaders of the past are usually stories about how these leaders battled conventional wisdom, sometimes at great personal sacrifice, in an attempt to counter and change conventional wisdom.

President Bush is a throwback to the past. He just doesn’t fit the profile of a modern leader. Peggy Noonan, and other pundits, seem to think leadership means acting and thinking in ways that please the masses and those who already agree with you. President Bush, like other modern leaders, could achieve high approval ratings by taking and following polls instead of taking and maintaining unpopular stands. He could easily rally conservatives by being more combative with his opponents. Instead, he has chosen to stick to his convictions.

The next President of the United States will be much more popular than the current one. He or she will say most of the things voters want to hear and do most of the things voters want done as America becomes more and more like the rest of the world. Cheerful, positive, and confident, even in defeat, will once again become leadership traits of the past. Someday, my great grandchildren will be inspired by the biography of President Bush.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Consequences of withdrawal

Marine on the Hilltop

Selected Excerpts:
Also, if we withdraw in the face of the enemy (or set a date for withdrawal), al Qaeda will claim a huge victory — and make no mistake, our withdrawing won’t be a hollow victory for al Qaeda: It will be an enormous and very real triumph for the terrorist network.

Finally, with so much at stake, and no one left except the bad guys to fill any vacuum left by withdrawing U.S. forces (before the bad guys are soundly defeated), the region will become far more unstable than it is now. And I cannot begin to imagine the horrors the Iraqi people who voted in free elections, who supported us, who provided intelligence to us, and whose kids were photographed with us, would be subjected to (and believe me, the Iraqis know that too).

Progress is being made in Iraq. Successful counterinsurgencies take years. Failure or retreat — including withdrawal before the work is finished — is not a reasonable option (I am constantly amazed that it is even a consideration). The soldiers in Iraq — every bit as book-smart and street-savvy as that young Marine in Korea years ago — understand this. Why Congress doesn’t, is beyond me. Or perhaps they really do, but they also know that it is not politically expedient to support an effort that has been so-maligned in the public eye. And there is no doubt in my mind that some would sell their very souls to save their elected skins.

God is not...or is He?

One of the most nonsensical, overused, and silly clich├ęs I’ve ever heard is the statement, “God is not a Democrat or a Republican.” Literally, this statement is true, but so is the statement, “God is not a baseball bat.” I could just as easily make the statement, “God is not a Catholic or a Hindu”, and be just as assured I am making a true statement. However, we would never hear such a statement because a Catholic wouldn’t dare claim God is as much Hindu as Catholic and a Hindu wouldn’t dare claim God is as much Catholic as Hindu.

People may want a God created in their own image, but God’s attributes are immutable (fixed and eternal). Holiness, goodness, and righteousness are what God defines these to be, and evil is what God defines it to be; not what voters, and politicians define these to be. I doubt God is perfectly aligned with either major political party in America, but unless God is completely amoral, which from a Christian point of view is inconceivable, God is either more in line with Republican philosophy and policies, or more in line with the philosophy and policies of the Democrats. He can’t be both and it is highly unlikely he is exactly in between the two.

Just as God is not amoral, Disciples of Christ are not amoral either. Since our primary objective as followers of Christ is to become Disciples and to make Disciples, we are obligated to take a stand on the moral issues of our time. Disciples of Christ act in ways that are consistent with their beliefs. We cannot claim abortion is the taking of an innocent human life without acting to stop these immoral acts anymore than we can claim the Church is the body of Christ without supporting the Church.

Every government policy has a moral component. Every change to government policy has a moral consequence. With humility, every Disciple of Christ must take a stand and support the political party which most represents their understanding of God.

What good is Christianity, and what good is being a Disciple of Christ, if our beliefs do not influence our actions?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Withdraw the Troops?

It seems to me that those in politics and the media who keep calling the problems in Iraq a civil war are reading from last years script. The enemy in Iraq is al Qaeda and the only way Iraq, America, or the world could lose is to abandon the Iraqi’s.



Michael Yon
In the more than two years since that awful day in May 2005, I’ve witnessed innumerable instances of the work of terrorists of many stripes. One clear indicator of just how bad a terrorist group is, is when battle-hardened soldiers—and writers like me who travel with them—don’t find it hard to believe a story which purports that al Qaeda had baked a child and set his roasted body out as the main course at a lunch for his parents.

People at home might find it incredible, improbable, even impossible. Yet here in combat with al Qaeda, the idea is no more improbable-sounding than someone saying “The chicken crossed the road.” Maybe the chicken crossed the road. Maybe not. The veterans I’ve been talking with here have no difficulty imagining the chicken crossing the road, or al Qaeda roasting kids. Sickening, yes. Improbable, no.

Withholding Support

I voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor in the Gray Davis recall election because the L.A. Times published a hit piece on him a couple of days before the election. The L.A. Times is at it again by publishing a hit piece on Fred Thompson just before he announces his candidacy for President. The L.A. Times article makes me want to start supporting Fred Thompson.

However, Governor Schwarzenegger has turned out to be a horrible, horrible, governor. [I didn’t vote for him when he ran for reelection.] Therefore, while Senator Thompson gets kudos for being the subject of an L.A. Times hit piece, I will be withholding my support for him, and all of the other candidates, until I have seen how they deal with the press over an extended period of time through a few up and down periods in their campaigns.

Monday, July 09, 2007

8 Things

Rusty at New Covenant has tagged me with a meme to write 8 things you don’t know about me.

I can’t believe you don’t know this stuff, but here goes:
  1. I filmed a United States Marine Corp recruiting commercial in 1978 with Francis Cherry, former Governor of Arkansas from 1953 to 1955.
  2. While in High School, I once drove my 1969 Plymouth GTX at 150 miles an hour.
  3. Before becoming a Christian in 1989, I loved arguing with Christians about their silly beliefs, and I still do.
  4. I have never broken 80 in a round of golf, but I still believe, someday I will.
  5. I have four bothers and four sisters.
  6. I completed the 1995 LA marathon as my future wife waited for me in some very bad weather.
  7. I won the Crane Industries Ping Pong championship in 1977.
  8. I once worked for Tucker, Duck, and Rubber company in Fort Smith Arkansas.

Don’t forget to register your vote on my Presidential poll.

Friday, July 06, 2007

What Bono doesn't say about Africa


Celebrities like to portray Africa as a basket case, but they ignore very real progress.


Bottom Line:

Why do aid organizations and their celebrity backers want to make African successes look like failures? One can only speculate, but it certainly helps aid agencies get more publicity and more money if problems seem greater than they are. As for the stars — well, could Africa be saving celebrity careers more than celebrities are saving Africa?

In truth, Africans are and will be escaping poverty the same way everybody else did: through the efforts of resourceful entrepreneurs, democratic reformers and ordinary citizens at home, not through PR extravaganzas of ill-informed outsiders.

The real Africa needs increased trade from the West more than it needs more aid handouts. A respected Ugandan journalist, Andrew Mwenda, made this point at a recent African conference despite the fact that the world's most famous celebrity activist — Bono — was attempting to shout him down. Mwenda was suffering from too much reality for Bono's taste: "What man or nation has ever become rich by holding out a begging bowl?" asked Mwenda.

Perhaps Bono was grouchy because his celebrity-laden "Red" campaign to promote Western brands to finance begging bowls for Africa has spent $100 million on marketing and generated sales of only $18 million, according to a recent report. But the fact remains that the West shows a lot more interest in begging bowls than in, say, letting African cotton growers compete fairly in Western markets (see the recent collapse of world trade talks).

Today, as I sip my Rwandan gourmet coffee and wear my Nigerian shirt here in New York, and as European men eat fresh Ghanaian pineapple for breakfast and bring Kenyan flowers home to their wives, I wonder what it will take for Western consumers to learn even more about the products of self-sufficient, hardworking, dignified Africans. Perhaps they should spend less time consuming Africa disaster stereotypes from television and Vanity Fair.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tough or Kind Parenting Dilemma

A dilemma I sometimes face as a parent is trying to teach my children to be both tough and kind. Someone who is tough is able to ignore the physical and emotional pain that prevents softer individuals from accomplishing worthwhile goals. Someone who is kind is able to understand and then relieve the physical or emotional pain of others, or avoid causing others to feel pain.

I don’t want my daughters to find a balance between “tough” and “kind” which leaves them a little bit tough and a little bit kind. I want them to understand how to be both extremely tough and extremely kind. When I punish them based on their behavior, I am teaching them a lesson in toughness, but I worry that they will learn a lesson in [the lack of] kindness that I don’t want them to learn. When I allow them to make bad decisions and not suffer the consequences, I am teaching them a lesson in kindness, but I worry that they will learn a lesson in [the lack of] toughness that I don’t want them to learn.

I always try to model the behavior I expect from my daughters and I also try my best to explain to them the concepts behind why I behave the way I do, but I don’t have a tool for measuring the results of my modeling and explanations. I hope and pray [a lot] that they are learning both.