Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Obama: Champion of the Gays

Complete story here.

On Tuesday, our president spoke to a group of "gay leaders" at the White House. As I mentioned last week, the gay community is upset that their agenda is not being implemented quickly enough by the president.

President Obama's remarks to this group included this disturbing quote: "I will not only be your friend, I will continue to be an ally and a champion and a president who fights with you and for you." There were also these remarks:

"I know many in this room don't believe that progress has come fast enough. And I understand that," Obama said. But he added: "I expect and hope to be judged not by words, not by promises I've made, but by promises that my administration keeps."

By the time he leaves office, the president said, "I think you guys will have pretty good feelings about the Obama administration."

Some points to note here:
  • Homosexuality is a sin. It is morally wrong, and this is clearly taught in the Bible. To be the "champion" of those who openly and proudly display their sinfulness, and to actively pursue goals which enable this sinfulness and reward those who do it, is wrong.
  • Imagine this quote, in a new context: Speaking to a group of Christians! "I will not only be your friend, I will continue to be an ally and a champion and a president who fights with you and for you." Wouldn't that be wonderful? Why can't we see this instead? Why not have our president work toward goals like strengthening families and eliminating abortions? Why does he instead pander toward homosexuals while offending Christians?
  • His last sentence is telling: He wants to be judged by kept promises. He does NOT want to be judged by words or promises made in the past. Does this sound hypocritical to anyone other than me?
What is sad here is that the president prefers those who sin over those who disapprove of this sin. This is not the change or hope I was awaiting.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Kalamazoo Discrimination Ordinance Passes 7-0

As expected, the Kalamazoo City Commission voted unanimously this evening to force residents and businesses in the city to grant special "protections" to those describing themselves as part of the "GLBT community."

I believe that to discriminate on the basis of skin color, age, or gender is inappropriate. These are factors that are beyond a person's ability to control. As a Christian, I am to show love to all—and that is certainly a non-discriminatory statement.

What I object to is being pushed to acknowledge a lifestyle choice which I find sinful and repugnant. God made man and woman, established monogamous marriage, and gave mankind clear commands about physical intimacy. Homosexuality is against God's commands. It is sin.

So now what? Stay tuned for the petition drive, and if you live in the Kalamazoo area and/or know voters in the city of Kalamazoo, get to work! Details to come....

Kalamazoo Discrimination Ordinance to be Voted On Tonight!

The title above is my own, as the ordinance will discriminate against those who live or operate a business in the city of Kalamazoo by forcing them to accept homosexuals (or anyone in the "GLBT" group) in housing, employment, and "access to public accommodations."

According to the Kalamazoo Gazette and widely reported elsewhere, the ordinance is likely to pass, and in fact could be unanimously passed. A similar ordinance passed the City Commission unanimously in December, but was then rescinded in January after an unprecedented number of signatures were turned in for a ballot referendum on the matter. Some minor changes have since been made granting more "protections" to religious groups. Fines for violating the ordinance will be $500 a day plus expenses.

The American Family Association intends to begin circulating petitions Tuesday morning if the measure passes the commission, as most expect it will. Given the fact that no commission members have given any indication of a change of heart on the matter, we need to prepare for this. The previous petition drive was only granted 20 days to collect over a thousand signatures (over the Christmas holiday season, no less), and was successful by a comfortable margin. If you are a registered voter of Michigan and know registered voters in Kalamazoo, you can help in the petition drive. Pay attention to the AFA website and stayed tuned for further developments.

The homosexual movement wants to win as many of these local battles as they can before the inevitable day when their agenda will be placed before Congress. Do your part to promote what is right and godly in your area!

Taking Names....Then What?

The U.S. House voted 219-212 to approve the contemptible "American Clean Energy and Security Act" (a.k.a. "The Job-Killing Act" or the "Plow our Economy Into the Ground Act").

It was widely reported that Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI 3rd District) was considering voting in favor of the bill. He did not vote in favor of the bill.

In the end, eight (8) Republicans voted in favor of the bill. Forty-four (44) Democrats voted against it. You can find the complete Congressional roll call for the vote here. The eight Republicans who voted for the bill should be losers in the 2010 primary elections, as they clearly do not stand for conservative principles or for the principles of the Republican party.

Taking Names? Here are some to consider:

All seven Michigan Republicans in Congress voted "No" on the bill.

All eight Michigan Democrats in Congress voted "Yes" on the bill.

The eight GOP traitors on this vote were:

  • Mary Bono Mack (CA 45th District)
  • Michael Castle (DE)
  • Mark Kirk (IL 10th District)
  • Leonard Lance (NJ 7th District)
  • Frank LoBiondo (NJ 2nd District)
  • John McHugh (NY 23rd District)
  • David Reichert (WA 8th District)
  • Chris Smith (NJ 4th District)
I hope the Republicans in New Jersey, in particular, are mad.

There is a lesson here: Keep your memory. Remember who voted to raise your taxes (regardless of whatever misnomer they may invent for it), usurp more power, and drive a stake into the heart of the American economy. And when you enter that polling place next year, vote them out.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hymn of the Week Top Ten Countdown

The wealth of hymns in the English language is a great musical treasure. I have been thinking for some time about this question: If a "greatest English-language hymns of all time" list were compiled, which hymns would be on it?

Picking a "Top Ten" list must of necessity leave out some absolutely wonderful pieces of music, so I came up with a list of criteria for consideration:

  • The hymn must be well known (and loved) across a wide swath of American denominations.
  • The hymn must have both an easily recognizable melody (or melodies, as some hymn lyrics are sung to multiple tunes) and doctrinally accurate lyrics.
  • The hymn must have been around for some length of time.
I gave this some thought and put a list together. I will unveil the list, in the traditional tenth-to-first order, on Wednesdays and Sundays beginning July 1.

My list is still open to revision, however, so if you would like to make some input, feel free to leave a comment. If you are a lover of hymns and know a little of their history, speak up!

In the meantime, let me leave you with one verse of a hymn:

Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart,
Draw me, my Savior—so precious Thou art!
Fold me, oh, fold me close to Thy breast.
Shelter me safe in that “Haven of Rest”;
Shelter me safe in that “Haven of Rest.”

Soccer, America, and South Africa

Today the American soccer team, after some surprising and unexpected outcomes, is going to play in the championship game of the Confederations Cup against highly esteemed Brazil. A victory here would be on par with the "Miracle on Ice" hockey game at the 1980 Olympics, as Brazil has traditionally been a world powerhouse in soccer. The U.S.A. has never been a powerhouse in soccer internationally.

It surprised me this morning to read this article about Americans in South Africa and their excitement about the game:

JOHANNESBURG -- It is a grand old flag -- a gift from a family friend -- but for 11 years as an American living in South Africa, private equity investor Greg Durst has not dared wave his impressive 9-foot-by-5-foot Old Glory farther than his own porch on the Fourth of July. Like many expatriates overseas, he's been laying low in the face of anti-American sentiment.

But for Yanks in these parts, the spirit of Independence Day has come early in this age of Obama with the U.S. soccer team's improbable "miracle on grass" win leading to Sunday night's upcoming sold-out Confederations Cup final against the fancy-footed Brazilian powerhouse.

"Suddenly, we're all Americans again," says Durst, who hopes to wave his Stars and Stripes -- a newly hot commodity -- at Coca-Cola Park stadium (formerly Ellis Park) if he can scrounge up tickets for the game.

Perhaps Greg's sentiments were taken out of context by the reporter—I don't know—but I was a bit disturbed by one phrase in each paragraph. Specifically:

"He's been laying low in the face of anti-American sentiment." Laying low? Why would anyone want to live and work in a place where they have to "lay low" because they are American? I can understand the desire not to be thought of as a stereotypical pushy American, but there's a wide and happy medium between these.

"...has come early in this age of Obama..." What, pray tell, does he have to do with this?!?!? More than anything else in the story, this tells you something about the reporter's political proclivities. Espn.com reporters typically do a good job of keeping politics out of sports reporting, but the editors dropped the ball badly here.

"Suddenly, we're all Americans again." Coupled with a later sentence, "It's good to be an American again, but it's even better to know someone with tickets," I had the thought, Since when was it ever bad to be an American? Unlike certain people I could mention in the entertainment media and the left-wing political establishment, I am not, and never have been, embarassed to be an American, or desirous to hide that fact. Even with its flaws (and there are enough of them), this is the greatest nation on earth! I should be thankful and proud to be an American, no matter where I am or what I am doing!

And, of course, I hope that the U.S.A. beats Brazil soundly.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Biden Reaches Out to Gay Community

Thus reads the title of an article on the Kalamazoo Gazette's website (originally from politico.com). Speaking at a "LGBT fundraiser" that brought in about a million dollars for the Democratic National Committee, the vice-president acknowledged that the Obama administration had not been moving as fast as many in the homosexual community had desired in implementing their agenda.

Although those of us who believe that homosexuality is an abomination (because that's what the Bible calls it) find the "homosexual agenda" disturbing, we are comforted slightly that our president has not simply done everything they want. Yet. Perhaps even more disturbing is the knowledge that some homosexuals boycotted the event—to protest that Obama isn't doing everything they want, fast enough!

The vice-president tried to smooth ruffled feathers by pointing out what the Obama administration has already done for them, and how many homosexuals he has appointed to office already. He even said,

Biden said the administration is committed to "the unfinished business of true equality."

"I promise you with your help we'll get there in this administration," he said, going as far as to add that if the country achieves gender equality, "I will have marked my term as vice president as being truly worthwhile."

Disgraceful. But consider this scenario:

The president or vice-president comes to speak at a fundraiser dinner organized by Christians to support candidates who cherish traditional family values. He apologizes for not implementing the "Christian agenda" quickly enough and promises that by the time his current term ends, progress will be made. Meanwhile, outside the venue, a group of protesters hold pickets and decry the administration for not making greater progress when the opportunity arose.

Do you think you will ever see this?

Prioritizing the News of the Day

Here are some headlines that you may or may not learn about in today's news:

  • Approximately 3,000 children murdered in their mothers' wombs today.
  • Congress soon to vote on one of the largest tax increases in American history, under the poor disguise of something called "cap and trade."
  • American soldiers involved in conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Some calling for the resignation of a governor of a state containing 4.5 million people.
  • An over-the-hill rock star who has been in trouble for doing unspeakable, perverse things with children and whose music grates on the ears of millions of Americans died yesterday.
The first four are significant things going on today that will affect (or even end!) the lives of Americans for some time to come. The fifth item, though sad, is not going to affect most of us, and certainly not in a life-changing way.

We are going to be better citizens if we deal with those first four matters properly...so let's get to work.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Not-So-Bright Criminal of the Day

In the previous post, I alluded to (see comments) the fact that sin can often cause one "to lose all sense of equilibrium when it comes to issues of right and wrong." Apparently that happened here, but in a different way.

According to the Kalamazoo Gazette, a 27-year-old man...

"...walked into the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety substation on North Park Street at about 4 a.m., bleeding from cuts on his arms and hands and apparently drunk, and told officers he had seen someone breaking into a building in the 600 block of North Rose Street, according to a news release.

"The release said the Kalamazoo resident told police he wanted to stop the crime, so he climbed into the building and scuffled with the other person but lost his grip."

Upon further review of the crime scene, the police determined that the criminal was in fact this man, who after being stitched up at a local hospital, was arrested and jailed for breaking and entering.

And to show that Kalamazoo Public Safety does have at least a little sense of humor, their news release contained this sentence:

"Kalamazoo Public Safety cannot always count on suspects to report their own criminal activity."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Adultery and Forgiveness

It was with sadness that I learned about Gov. Sanford's admission of immorality today. This has nothing to do with his politics. His sin—not to mention the now-public nature of that sin—has brought grief, tension, and shame to his marriage and family.

Gov. Sanford "apologized profusely" to his wife, sons, staff, and fellow South Carolinians today for what he had done and how he had hurt these people. He specifically asked for forgiveness.

I sincerely hope that the governor was sincere about that.


But how should a Christian react when he finds out that another believer has sinned in such a way?

The governor has apologized publicly for what has become a public sin. This is the first and most appropriate thing to do. If a fellow Christian has sinned in a way that has become public, it is appropriate to lovingly and prayerfully encourage him to confess that sin publicly and ask forgiveness of those whom he has sinned against.

If a Christian has sinned but will not apologize, and loving encouragement coupled with biblical admonition still does not have the needed effect, then the Christian must pray for that person. One who will not repent and apologize for sin is treading on dangerous spiritual ground, and the judgment of God will be in his future.

Unless a person is directly affected by the sin, there is little else he can do. If the person is the one (or one of a group) sinned against, then the admonitions of Matthew 18:15-17—so routinely ignored in our day and age—must be followed.

Once forgiveness and reconciliation have occurred, then we must encourage and edify the one who has sinned. There will be scars, of course—sin always bring scars, and some deeper than others. There will be consequences to every sin. Mark Sanford will have to live with the regrets of this experience, even if he achieves a full reconciliation with his family, to his dying day. His political future is probably going to be brief. For these reasons and many others, not the least of which being the biblical admonition to "edify one another" (I Thess. 5:11), he needs our prayers and encouragement to do what is right.


You can view the video of his press conference here. Notice in particular these opening lines from Governor Sanford:

"There are moral absolutes, and God's law indeed is there to protect you from yourself, and there are consequences if you breach that. This press conference is a consequence."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Government Intervention Goes "Out to c!"

At least it's in the U.K., and not here. Here's the summary of the foxnews.com article:

LONDON — It's a spelling mantra that generations of schoolchildren have learned — "i before e, except after c."

But new British government guidance tells teachers not to pass on the rule to students, because there are too many exceptions.

The "Support For Spelling" document, which is being sent to thousands of primary schools, says the rule "is not worth teaching" because it doesn't account for words like 'sufficient,' 'veil' and 'their.'

Yes, the government of Britain is giving guidance on how teachers ought to teach spelling to their students. Apparently some in government view themselves as pedagogues.

As with so many other things, it is ridiculous for government to assume a primacy of wisdom when it comes to fields where some of us have trained for years: Education, medicine, scientific philosophy, finance, and more. Consider this: I have a classroom of students whom I must teach, say, geometry. Two sets of lesson plans are devised—one by me, the guy who spends the time in the classroom getting to know these students; and another by a committee in Washington D.C. Whose lesson plans are most likely to be successful with my classroom of students?

Government, in general, does a lousy job running the private sector in a fair-handed and profitable manner. Please remember this.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hymn of the Week: Faith Of Our Fathers

Given that today is Father's Day, it seems appropriate to choose a hymn that speaks highly of "fathers." Indeed, one of the Ten Commandments tells us to "honor thy father," which speaks to the importance of doing just that.

The "fathers" in this hymn, however, are not necessarily our fathers by flesh and blood. They are those who carried the Word of God to the nations and fought His battles. The first verse reminds us that their faith lives on. The second verse reminds us of our responsibility, carried out before by these fathers, to spread the Gospel message throughout the world. The third verse remind us to preach in love—reminding us that winning souls includes our "kindly words and virtuous life."

Although the hymn is common in Baptist and Protestant hymnals, it was written by an English Catholic, Frederick W. Faber. Its original third stanza, which you can view here, speaks of Mary's prayers winning England back to God. Nevertheless, the words of the stanzas below should echo in the hearts of any Christian.

Faith Of Our Fathers

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whenever we hear that glorious Word!

Refrain

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto Thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.

Refrain

Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach Thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.

Refrain

Friday, June 19, 2009

How Does Michigan's Unemployment Rate Stack Up Historically?

Those of us who find statistics an enjoyable and insightful pursuit might wonder, "Our unemployment here in Michigan is 14.1% now. How does that compare to everyone else?" Glad you asked.

Statistics Related to May 2009 Unemployment

Michigan has lost 302,800 jobs from May 2008 (4,180,400) to May 2009 (3,877,600). That's 7.2% of all the jobs recorded in May 2008—gone!

Michigan's closest "challenger" for the top spot is Oregon, at 12.4%. Rhode Island and South Carolina are tied for third at 12.1%.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have topped 10% unemployment this month.

Six states have unemployment rates below 6%: Iowa (5.8%), Nebraska (4.4%), North Dakota (4.4%), South Dakota (5.0%), Utah (5.4%), and Wyoming (5.0%).

Eleven states have unemployment rates that are less than half of Michigan's.

Michigan registered the single largest unemployment rate increase over the previous month (1.2% over April 2009). Michigan's was the second-largest jobless rate increase in the last twelve months (5.9%); Oregon's increased by 6.7%.

Historical Comparisons

The data I have been citing comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (your tax dollars at work!). The chart of data gives both this month's data plus the highest and lowest unemployment rates for any month since 1976; apparently there are differences in how unemployment rates were computed prior to that date which make comparisons less valid. Additional data is available here. Here are some notable facts:

Michigan's highest unemployment rate during this period was 16.9%, in November 1982.

Only two other states have ever had unemployment rates higher than Michigan's current rate in the past 33 years: Alabama (highest was 14.4% in Dec. 1982) and West Virginia (highest was 18.2% in March 1983).

Twenty states have never had a monthly unemployment rate of at least 10% since 1976.

Eight states had a higher unemployment rate in May 2009 than any month since 1976. All of them had unemployment rates of at least 9.7%.

Michigan's lowest unemployment rate since 1976 was 3.2% in March 2000...less than one-fourth of our current rate.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why Do I Blog?

I have had this blog for over two years and have made over 600 entries. Why? What would possess me to develop such a habit?

I offer the following reasons:

1. I enjoy it. Really, I do. This blog deals with three topics near and dear to my heart: The Word of God, the greatest of academic subjects, and politics (national, state, and local—I find them all fascinating).

2. It is intellectually cathartic. Considering a position on an issue and then composing something affirming that position is itself a worthwhile activity.

3. I like to share my opinions. Those who have known me for a long time should already be aware of this.

4. It is a form of teaching, and I love teaching. Sadly today, many people are unlearned in the three topics this blog focuses upon. Ignorance about politics is dangerous, and ignorance about mathematics is crippling. Ignorance about the Bible is the saddest of all, as there are eternal consequences involved.

It gives me joy to consider that someone may read my blog and learn something, not just about current events or my opinions, but about something that will benefit them and make them wiser. Which brings me to....

5. It is an opportunity to share truth. "Truth" here begs for definition. I believe the Bible is truth (John 17:17; 2 Tim. 2:15), so to share the Bible is, quite literally, to share the Truth. In mathematics, the subject matter itself reflects truth (consider, for instance, the common acceptance of facts like 5 + 6 = 11). Politics, as a subject, does not seem to have the "truth content" of the other topics, but there are certainly things that are true about government, liberty, law, and economy that ought to be shared.

Some observant folks will see that I share both opinion and truth in my blog. There is a difference. That I thought the "stimulus bill" passed in February was disastrous is an opinion. That all of us are created by a Creator, and that it is He Who has given us what rights and liberties we have, is a fact. Some disagree with me. This is my blog, not theirs.

As the title bar at the top of my blog states, Psalm 19:14 should describe what I do here.

Michigan Unemployment Skyrockets!

As if it weren't bad enough already....

While the national unemployment rate jumped from 8.9% to 9.4% (an increase of 5.6%) from April to May, Michigan's unemployment rate leaped from 12.9% to 14.1% (an increase of 9.3%). Unemployment here in Michigan, viewed in terms of percent of increase, streaked ahead of the national rate. In absolute terms, we not only retain the highest unemployment rate in the nation, but expand our lead over the other 49 states.

Difficulties in the auto industry (were there any auto plants operating last month?) headline the increase. While company leadership (GM, Chrysler) deserves a share of the blame, many of these difficulties are tied mostly to the unions and to the government....and which party controls those right now?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hymn of the Week: My Savior First of All

I had this hymn on my mind last weekend while I was on vacation. It is a great one to meditate upon.

My Savior First of All

When my life work is ended, and I cross the swelling tide,
When the bright and glorious morning I shall see;
I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side,
And His smile will be the first to welcome me.

Refrain

I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
And redeemed by His side I shall stand,
I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
By the print of the nails in His hand.

Oh, the soul thrilling rapture when I view His bless├Ęd face,
And the luster of His kindly beaming eye;
How my full heart will praise Him for the mercy, love and grace,
That prepare for me a mansion in the sky.

Refrain

Oh, the dear ones in glory, how they beckon me to come,
And our parting at the river I recall;
To the sweet vales of Eden they will sing my welcome home;
But I long to meet my Savior first of all.

Refrain

Through the gates to the city in a robe of spotless white,
He will lead me where no tears will ever fall;
In the glad song of ages I shall mingle with delight;
But I long to meet my Savior first of all.

Refrain

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Christian and Politics

The myths are widespread: Politics is not a proper topic for civil Christian discussion. It is beneath Christians to get their hands dirty in politics. There is to be separation between....

I disagree with the myths. On the contrary, I believe that the Bible teaches principles that not only allow the Christian to participate in the political process, but encourage him to participate in order that God be glorified and that civil government functions in the best manner possible.

Disclaimer: I am a Baptist. Proud of it. These principles, however, are appropriate for anyone who believes that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God and who wishes that government would function well in doing things like "insuring domestic tranquility," "providing for the common defense," and "securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."

Entire books and debates by minds far superior to mine have already been recorded. Let me give a trio of the most important reasons.

I. God frequently called His children to participate in politics.

The list of Bible characters who played a role in politics—often without taking the initiative to do so—is quite lengthy. Joseph became second in command to Pharoah (Gen. 41). Moses was placed in the ruling house as a child and appeared to have some level of authority at the age of forty (Ex. 2); forty years later (Ex. 3), he is called to lead the entire people of Israel. Saul was called from obscurity to be the first king of Israel (1 Sam. 9-10); David, a shepherd, was called to replace him (1 Sam. 16).

Perhaps the most obvious example of this is Daniel. Taken from his home when Jerusalem was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, he became part of a "class" of young Jewish men who were trained for positions in the kingdom (Dan. 1). With God's help he translates a dream for Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2), beginning a career spanning at least seventy years serving in high positions under Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar (Dan. 5—a brief period of leadership, to be sure), and Darius (Dan. 6).

I find it interesting also that in the New Testament, Jesus never condemns tax collectors (such as Matthew, one of the Twelve) for being tax collectors. Only their corruption is addressed.

II. God calls His children to influence the world.

Matthew 5:13-16 sums up this principle:

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

The passage clearly has a spiritual component regarding the spread of the Gospel message, but it is also one of a host of passages that emphasize the Christian's responsibility to impact his world. I want others to learn about the Gospel message through me, of course; but I also want to impact my community, state, and country by what I do.

And if that involves politics, whether as officeholder, candidate, activist, or blogger, so be it. I would be wrong to avoid an opportunity God wants me to seize.

III. Good government gives opportunity to glorify God.

The entire "separation of church and state" discussion is grossly misunderstood by most people. God certainly never commanded the government (a God-ordained institution) to dictate to the church (a God-ordained institution); nor did He command the church to run the government. Each has its own sphere of authority, and when properly supervised by man, each complements the other.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism's first Question and Answer sum up one of the great truths of all Scripture: The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. In heaven, we who have placed our faith in God for salvation will indeed glorify Him and will indeed enjoy Him forever. In the meantime, on this earth, we are all responsible to glorify God.

Governments such as we see in many nations both today and throughout history have demonstrated that the ability to openly glorify God—in worship, culture, economy, and law—can be taken from people. In America we were bequeathed the most free and blessed country on this earth. Without Christian influence—the "salt" and "light" described in Matthew 5:13-16—the day will come when those hostile to God and Scripture will use the government to impair our ability to glorify God in all areas of our lives.

We see this today in various manifestations, both political and private. A careful reading of the news yields this and that from here or there about government encroachment on our freedoms. Various political candidates and officials have hinted or said that they favor such encroachments, as well as additional ones.

If I can bring glory to God by involving myself in the political arena when He wants me to do so, than I am wrong not to do so.

A Great Posting About Parents and Schools

Over at the blog Michigan Blogger I read this great post this evening about how "Parents Need To Step It Up To Help Schools." Here are a couple of its excerpts:

I encourage you to read the entire post; it's a great one!

More days and longer hours seem like a good idea but it won't help until we fix the biggest problem with the schools.


The biggest problem with schools is parents. Yes, parents. Ask any educator and he or she will tell you - for the most part - that the best students have parents interested in their childrens' education.

There are too many parents letting their kids get away with too much by not disciplining them. Why should a kid behave in school when there is not only no punishment for bad behavior but the kid gets a sense of encouragement when the parent defends the improper actions.


That's not to say there aren't other problems with the school because there are. I will get into those issues another time. For now, we need parents to get behind the teachers and put the proverbial foot in the proverbial behind of their kids to make sure they get an education.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Q&A With Rep. Larry DeShazor (R-61st District, Kalamazoo County)

Rep. Larry DeShazor is a first-term Republican representative from the western side of Kalamazoo County. He won the seat formerly held by Jack Hoogendyk. He graciously agreed to take some time to answer some questions for this blog.

1) You are new to the legislature this year, and in the minority party. What have you been able to accomplish so far?

First off, the pace of the legislature to this point has been slow. Unfortunately, this is not under my control as a member of the Republican minority. So far, the issues that have come up before the legislature are not focusing on the key issues that I feel Michigan needs to work on most. These issues are jobs, jobs and more jobs.

As for my accomplishments so far, I have continued to reach out to my constituents and keep a pulse on what their concerns are. Property Taxes and declining values will continue to be an important issue for the next few years. In response, I hosted 2 town hall meetings to inform my constituents about their options to appeal their property tax assessments. On the policy front, I have introduced legislation to address another major issue in Michigan, unemployment. The bill I introduced would eliminate the state income tax requirement for individuals receiving unemployment benefits. In my opinion, it doesn't make sense to tax families during one of the most difficult times in their lives.

2) The budget of the state of Michigan requires change, and soon. What areas of the budget do you think most deserve to be cut? Should the per-pupil school funding monies be cut?

The budget is, and will continue to be, the biggest issue in Michigan for years to come if true reforms are not implemented to deal with our structural deficit. Simple reforms, such as privatizing food services in our prisons, could save the state up to $40 million per year.

As for per-pupil school funding, the allotment amount cannot be cut if the state wants to accept millions of dollars in stimulus money. Maintaining our state's investment in education is important, but I think the main focus for funding in schools needs be how that money is spent. Ensuring that more money reaches the classroom is vital to our children's futures.

3) Is there any type of tax increase that you would support this year to balance the state budget? Or do you oppose all attempts at increasing taxes?

This year is going to be tough when you consider the $1 billion hole we need to plug before October 1st. However, increasing taxes will not solve Michigan's problems. The general tax increases that were passed in 2007 have obviously not had the impact their proponents had hoped. At this point, I think all taxes, tax incentives, tax abatements and spending needs to be considered. The problems Michigan is facing aren't new and won't be solved overnight. Now is the time for lawmakers to come together and examine all these issues to come up with a fair and equitable tax system to all of Michigan's families and businesses.

4) As a state representative with its unique perspective, how do you see Gov. Granholm's policies and decisions affecting your own district?

Overall, I think the piecemeal approach to attracting businesses and job providers to this state simply isn't working. The government's job isn't to pick winners and losers with tax policy. Focusing on a strong infrastructure, a great quality of life and reasonable across the board tax policy will help create and retain jobs. I served as a Portage City Councilman for 6 years, and this was our formula for combating many of the negative trends throughout other parts of Michigan.

5) Is there any particular tidbit about yourself that you would like the people of your district to know?

I would like to express what an honor it is to serve the people of the 61st House District in Lansing. The citizens of our state need to remain hopeful during this difficult time. We need to learn from our past mistakes and work to ensure that we have a productive future. I know that Michigan will emerge from this challenging economic environment, and I look forward to being a part of the transformation.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New York Senate Flips to GOP!

In a stunning procedural move, two democratic NY senators flipped sides and gave the GOP a 32-30 majority in the state's upper chamber. [Graphic below from the New York Post website]

The move came as the most surprising of surprises to the Senate democrats (and governor, and pretty much everyone else). The democrats refuse to recognize what happened, even after their abrupt adjournment without counting the votes.

This will be extremely interesting to watch today.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Jobs "Saved or Created"? Pure Fiction!

I read an excellent opinion article today in the Wall Street Journal online. The thesis of the article is found here:

"Saved or created" has become the signature phrase for Barack Obama as he describes what his stimulus is doing for American jobs. His latest invocation came yesterday, when the president declared that the stimulus had already saved or created at least 150,000 American jobs -- and announced he was ramping up some of the stimulus spending so he could "save or create" an additional 600,000 jobs this summer. These numbers come in the context of an earlier Obama promise that his recovery plan will "save or create three to four million jobs over the next two years." [Emphasis mine]
It is not too difficult either to understand the concept of, or to measure, job creation. We have government departments that track job creation, and there are monthly reports of this data. But what does it mean to "save a job"? How is this measured? And if a job can indeed be "saved," how can the credit be objectively placed?

There are a few forces at work here:
  1. First and foremost, "saved jobs" is nothing more than fiction. Or fantasy. There is no objective way whatsoever, short of omniscience (which the President most assuredly does not have), to credit anything the government has done with saving any number of jobs. This is simply a made-up figure that makes a good talking point.
  2. The Obama Administration is, at best, misleading us; and at worst, they are lying through their teeth. They know that there is no data to back up their claims. Which brings us to...
  3. The press would never, ever have let Bush get away with such foolishness. And quite frankly, had Bush been so foolish as to try to sucker the American people with this sort of baloney, they would have been right to jump all over him for it. So, um, why aren't they jumping all over Obama right now? [Moment of silence to ponder the question.]
Sadly, many of the American people are not paying attention like they should to the propaganda coming their way. On the other hand, at some point, reality should strike them in the head. That will probably be blamed on Bush, too.

Words of Wisdom from Rush Limbaugh

This excerpt was brought to my attention on Monday...some great insights here!

Read the entire portion here.

RUSH: It's a big day today if you have an Apple iPhone. It's also a big day today if you're unemployed. If you're unemployed President Barack Obama says that the fastest way to get you a job is to nationalize health care, single-payer health care. Now, let me ask those of you who are unemployed. Let me amend that. Those of you who are unemployed who don't want to be, those of you who are unemployed who want a job and you turn on the television or the radio and you hear President Obama says he's thinking about you. The recession is a bit worse than what he knew because he inherited such a mess, but there's a fast fix for this, and that is health care. We gotta get health care spending in line; that will enable you to find a job.

Is that going to make you confident? How soon do you think national health care is going to happen, even if they succeed in passing it? How soon will it be implemented? Do you want to wait a year for a job? And, by the way, the dirty little secret: if they succeed with national health care as Obama and the Democrats want it, you face the prospect of being joined on the unemployment line by even more people because the incentive for businesses that will be mandated with providing it will be to fire people in order stay in business, in order to stay in business, they're going to have to lay off more people. Now, anybody with a brain knows this. It's time to start asking, what does Obama really want with all of these programs of his?

What is he really trying to accomplish? Is he really trying to put you back to work? Is he really trying to create jobs in a thriving, growing private sector economy? Because if he is, he's the biggest idiot on the face of the earth. Because this is not how you do it. If he is trying to do it and he's not a big idiot, he's doing it on purpose. And if he's doing it on purpose, we need to then ask: Why? For what purpose would President Obama want to destroy the private sector economy? For what purpose would Barack Obama want to destroy free market economics. Well, there's always the old saw that he wants to return the nation's wealth to its "rightful owners." Some have speculated he wants an ever-expanding welfare state with more and more average, middle-class people on the government dole because that's government dominance. That's control. That's statism. I, for one, don't think he's stupid.

I think he's been poorly educated, I think he's angry and cold. But IQ-wise he's not stupid. He's been told. He has been told things as he's grown up and been educated, that make the difference between him and Mikhail Gorbachev scant. They both believe in command-control economies, because capitalism is unfair. It's unjust. It's immoral. And he's going to straighten that out. Folks, this is dire, what is happening here. We are down to the wire on stopping this. I'm not saying it can't be rolled back at some point down the road but if they get national health care that's going to be tough to undo -- and national health care is the single biggest intervention in liberty this government could conceive. Because every aspect of your life can be regulated on the theory that it will control costs of health care.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Q&A with Sen. Cameron Brown (R-16th District)

Sen. Cameron Brown is currently a candidate to replace Sec. of State Terry Lynn Land, who cannot run for the office again due to term limits. Sen. Brown represents the 16th District in southcentral Michigan. He graciously took the time to answer some questions about his candidacy.

1) What unique strengths do you feel you would bring to the office of Secretary of State?

Ken, I think my greatest strength as a candidate for Secretary of State is my dedication to my conservative values through thick and thin. I've passed a long list of bills during my time in the legislature - everything from a ban on partial birth abortions to tax credits that will attract logistical and warehousing facilities to our state. But my greatest accomplishment has been earning a reputation in the legislature as a defender of Republican principles whether politically popular or not.

For example, when Gov. Granholm tried to reward big campaign donors with a no-bid contract to build an ill-equipped, $90 million State Police headquarters, I was one of only a few Republicans willing to stand up and oppose this gross waste of taxpayer dollars. There was intense pressure to compromise our core conservative principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility, but I refused to do so. Now, 100 State Police troopers are on the verge of being laid off while a lavish new headquarters is being completed in Lansing for those who remain on the job. This is simply irresponsible.

I've taken tough stands on tough issues like this throughout my career. My conservative values aren't just bullet points on a campaign brochure - they're my guiding principles, and they will continue to guide me as Secretary of State.

2) What are the one or two most important issues facing the Secretary of State over the next five years?

For many Michigan residents, their interaction with the Secretary of State is limited to renewing their driver's or boat license at their local branch office. Certainly, continuing the outstanding efforts of Candice Miller and Terri Lynn Land to improve customer service and capitalize on new technologies will be among my top priorities. However, the greatest challenge facing the next Secretary of State will be the tremendous responsibility of protecting one of our most sacred rights - the right to vote.

We only need to look back to the elections of 2008 for a reminder that this right is constantly at risk from groups like A.C.O.R.N. who would bend, if not break, election law if not for strong, vigilant secretaries of state. Protecting our state and nation's principle of "one person, one vote" will be my top priority as Secretary of State.

3) You are generally considered a pretty conservative member of the legislature, while the Secretary of State's office is viewed by some as "almost" non-partisan. Why should we look at whether a person is conservative or not, when voting on a Secretary of State candidate?

Last year's election is a reminder of the vital role secretaries of state play in our democracy. Some secretaries looked the other way when groups like A.C.O.R.N. attempted to compromise election law. Others, such as Terri Lynn Land, defended the sanctity of our ballot box.

A conservative secretary of state is one that will strictly enforce the letter of state and federal election law, and who will defend our right to vote at all costs. I believe my record of defending conservative values no matter the circumstances has prepared me for this important role.

4) Terry Lynn Land has overseen a number of changes during her time as Secretary of State. Do you expect to retain most of these changes? Are there some you would like to undo? Are there any you would like to take further?

Terri Lynn Land and Candice Miller have done a tremendous job capitalizing on advancements in technology during their time in office. The Secretary of State customer experience is substantially better today than it was decades ago. I will build on their accomplishments and continue to explore ways to make your interaction with the Secretary of State as simple and efficient as possible. I'm eager to explore improvements in internet transactions, as well as bringing branch offices to places you frequent on a regular basis - such as grocery stores or shopping malls.

5) Is there any personal tidbit about yourself that you would want people to know?

When I meet with young people, I often share with them the fact that I attended T.C. Williams High School, depicted in the popular Disney movie "Remember the Titans" starring Denzel Washington. It was a time of great challenges, but entrenched differences were set aside for the common good. Exceptional teamwork led to incredible accomplishments.

The story of my high school's football team is a reminder to young and old alike that to be an American is to be a team player. Citizenship requires participation - it is not a spectator sport. Now, more than ever, we must pull together - like the T.C. Williams Titans did - to meet the challenge of a common goal. This goes for Republicans and for our state as a whole. You can read much more about my background, my wife Helen, and my campaign on my website, at: www.cameronsbrown.com.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hymn of the Week: Give of Your Best to the Master

Many Christians today—not to mention many others—labor under the misconception that God will be satisfied with some "token" or some "percentage" of our efforts. Nothing could be further from the truth.

God wants all that we are and have. He wants us to live every moment of every day for His glory and not our own. He wants us to give our every effort for pursuing His will.

He deserves it (and more). He has given us life and breath, and has offered us eternal salvation if only we repent and accept His gift by faith. Eternity in heaven in the presence of God is a thing far greater than 10,000 times what we could ever do.

The song reminds us, too, that He is our Master. We are the servants. We owe Him our very best in everything. Let us be reminded of that today.

Give of Your Best to the Master

Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth.
Throw your soul’s fresh, glowing ardor
Into the battle for truth.
Jesus has set the example,
Dauntless was He, young and brave.
Give Him your loyal devotion;
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain

Give of your best to the Master;
Give of the strength of your youth.
Clad in salvation’s full armor,
Join in the battle for truth.

Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart.
Give Him first place in your service;
Consecrate every part.
Give, and to you will be given;
God His beloved Son gave.
Gratefully seeking to serve Him,
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain

Give of your best to the Master;
Naught else is worthy His love.
He gave Himself for your ransom,
Gave up His glory above.
Laid down His life without murmur,
You from sin’s ruin to save.
Give Him your heart’s adoration;
Give Him the best that you have.

Refrain

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Ohio School District Catches Cheaters, Cancels Graduation

Ohio School District Catches Cheaters, Cancels Graduation - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News - FOXNews.com

Here's the start of the article:

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio school district says it uncovered a cheating scheme so pervasive that it had to cancel graduation ceremonies for its 60 seniors — but will still mail their diplomas.

A senior at Centerburg High School accessed teachers' computers, found tests, printed them and distributed them to classmates, administrators said.

Graduation was canceled because so many seniors either cheated or knew about the cheating but failed to report it, said officials of the Centerburg School District.

Superintendent Dorothy Holden said the district had to take a stand and let students know that cheating can't be tolerated.

"I am alarmed that our kids can think that in society it's OK to cheat, it's a big prank, it's OK to turn away and not be a whistle-blower, not come forth," Holden said.

The district says it has identified a student who apparently accessed shared file folders on teachers' computers.

Officials believe the cheating involved at least five tests in a senior World Studies class dating to early January.

Surprisingly, one student who cheated still failed the class anyway. Or is it really that surprising?

The Road to Hell?

I found this photo in the most recent issue of Acts & Facts, a monthly magazine from the Institute for Creation Research. I recommend the magazine highly. It is one of the best, sharpest, most accurate and fundamental publications the Christian world puts out. One of its readers sent in this photo:



I trust you can read the little green sign in the background.

Friday, June 5, 2009

One-Sixth of EVERY Income Dollar?

According to this report I read in the USA Today online, and rapidly circulating elsewhere, one out of every six dollars of American income comes in the form of a federal or state check or voucher of one sort or another—more specifically, 16.2%. This is a stunning amount of money. Let's see how it breaks down:

According to the article, the total amount of money exceeds $2 trillion, or about $17,000 per household. Broken down further, $2 trillion+ amounts to approximately $6700 for every living person in this country.

If my family got our share of that (me, wife, 4 kids), that would be just over $40,000. We could live a modest middle-class existence on that much money!

Jon & Kate's clan would see $67,000. The Duggars of Arkansas: About $134,000.

Much of this federal and state largess is Social Security and unemployment benefits. Then there's food stamps, Medicaid and other health programs, prescription drug benefits, and a host of other things that, quite simply, put money in the pockets of those whom the government has selected to receive those benefits.

We should be outraged. I am outraged...until the government sends me my $40,000, that is.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Q&A with Sen. Ron Jelinek (R-Three Oaks, 21st District)

State Senator Ron Jelinek has represented the 21st District in the Michigan Senate for the past six years. He is the current chairman of the Appropriations Committee and therefore is in the middle of the budget cut discussions of recent days. He graciously consented to answer some questions I posed to him about his work in the Senate.

1) As chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, you currently have the uneviable task of helping to determine what areas of the state budget will see cuts. What areas of the budget do you think should be first in line for cuts? Why? What areas of the budget, if any, should not be cut, and why?

Sen. Jelinek: As I write this, we are in the process of coming to agreement in our caucus of what our budget priorities are. That does not mean they won’t be cut, but the reduction may be less at the expense of other programs that feel larger reductions or total elimination. We have agreed that health, safety and education need to be preserved as much as possible. We do need to look at specific program spending however, and not just general categories. For example: We should try to preserve the basic foundation per-pupil grant, but individual programs such as bus inspections or some early childhood programs may need to be eliminated or reduced.

2) Why did you choose to give up six days of your Senate pay?

Sen. Jelinek: I gave up 6 days pay because we required it of all state employees as a budget balancing tool. I am no different, I should participate. My 6 days alone will not make very much of a difference, but added to the other state employees and legislators, it does make a difference. I would much rather give up some days than see layoffs.

3) After your term ends in 2010, how do you anticipate remaining involved in Michigan politics?

Sen. Jelinek: I am not sure of my future; I will try to make myself available to my party and its candidates in anyway I can serve them best.

4) Looking back over your time in the legislature, of what achievements are you the most pleased?

Sen. Jelinek: No one can say that they accomplished things alone – it takes an entire legislature. I have tried to personally speak for education and its funding to the best levels possible. I have also tried to maintain a balanced budget with common sense and recognize the wishes and needs of the people of this state. Also, everyday I am contacted by a constituent who has a personal dilemma that is of great importance to them. If I can help solve their problem satisfactorily, I consider that to be my greatest achievement.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Word From Rep. John Proos (R-St. Joseph, 79th District)

State Rep. John Proos is one of those people whom I have come to know by being involved in local politics. Even though he is not my state representative, I have been impressed with his stands on the issues that face Michigan. At my request, he sent me this information about the new Strategic Task Force on Jobs. If anyone in state government can do a good job on this front, it is Rep. Proos.

Do you have any thoughts you'd like to share with him? Contact Rep. Proos here.

APPOINTED TO JOBS TASK FORCE

June 2009

We are all feeling the effects of Michigan's struggling economy and we must continue to be proactive in creating solutions. If we want to move our state forward, let's get the momentum started.

I have always believed in the potential of Michigan's citizens to bring jobs to our great state. This is why I am proud to announce that I have been appointed as chair of the newly-created Strategic Task Force on Jobs. This committee will hold hearings across the state, talking to business owners, employees, experts and officials on how to create and improve Michigan's jobs situation. We will strive to find new ideas and new concepts to help implement a long-term and strategic policy solution.

Since our goal is to enact real reform, we want to learn from the true experts on Michigan's economy - citizens, teachers, businessmen, farmers - who every day see opportunities for change.

This will not be yet another dust-gathering report from Lansing. Rather, we will take your ideas and suggestions to heart, while working to make our state a better place to live, work and raise a family.

We're all in this together, and we can restore vitality to our great state's economy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Utility Rates on the Rise—Ouch!

First, I drive home this afternoon, appalled that gas prices along the 15-mile drive from work to home jerked upward by sixteen cents. That's going to hurt my wallet.

But when I get home, I read this story about utility customers in nearby South Haven:

The City Council has been asked to approve a 16 percent overall increase in utilities, including a 29 percent increase in water rates.
Electricity and sewer rates are going up, too. The water rate rise is due primarily to debt service, and the sewer rate rise (a mere 7%) is primarily to fund some studies and upgrade some lift stations.

It's the electricity rate increases (12% for residential customers), however, that caught my eye:
The increases -- expected to generate $800,000 -- are costs being passed on by American Electric Power.
It seems to me that I remember legislation passed several months back (my memory was aided here and here) that would, as predicted ahead of time, raise residential electricity rates.

The people of South Haven will be upset about the rate increases. I don't blame them. But this could be a very instructive lesson for Van Buren County's largest concentration of Democrats—allowing the Dems to pass legislation that reduces competition and mandates economically unrealistic (and not free market-driven) "renewable energy" production will hit them in the pocketbook.

There is a better way. Shrewd companies know that whoever develops, patents, and produces the next generation of affordable energy-saving devices—whether electrical, such as lighting, or gasoline-based, such as cars—stands to make a great deal of money. Many companies even now are working on R&D to do just that in a variety of fields. Let's let them, and let us reward with our pocketbooks those who succeed in producing a better product at a better price.

I don't expect GM or Chrysler to be doing that anytime soon, though. Which brings me back to that first observation....

Monday, June 1, 2009

I Call Thee, Chryslergate!

In the time-honored (and horrifically uncreative) fashion of appending -gate to Washington D.C. scandals, I give it this name.

Here are some current updates on the state of affairs with the data analysis of the Chrysler dealer closings:

On the "No, really, it's just coincidence" side, we have....
The McComb Daily, which in essence said their analysis of 10 McComb County dealers (of which 3 were closed) proved that there was no bias nationwide. Such extrapolation is ridiculous. Their "statistical analysis," to put it politely, is slipshod and essentially anecdotal.

They did have this little quote, though:

According to the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, the National Auto Dealers Association membership gives 69 percent of its contributions to Republicans. Some calculations indicate that the tilt toward the GOP is even more pronounced among all auto dealers.
See my previous post on this topic.

Gateway Pundit reports that a letter in support of the closings, signed by some Chrysler dealers, has a majority of Democratic contributors among them (note that quote above). You can read the whole letter here.

The New York Times has a roster and map of closed dealerships here.

On the "We think something smells stinky" side, we have....
Directorblue points out several anecdotal examples of Democrat-supporting dealerships remaining unscathed, with their competitors eliminated, but also has this quote from WND [World Net Daily] that:
The listed franchise owners [The 789 Chrysler dealers to be closed] contributed at least $450,000 to Republican presidential candidates and the GOP, while only $7,970 was donated to Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign and $2,200 was given to Sen. John Edwards' campaign.
Any mathematician worth diddly can tell you that's statistically significant.

They also have a clever analysis (but still not statistically airtight) of ratios of dealers contributing to whom here.

Red State has a nice summary here, including a link to this Mark Levin quote:
Notice, Mark didn’t compare Obama to any notorious dictators of the past. Let’s hope and pray that there is never a justification to do so. But, the potential is right there staring us in the face. Some choose not to see it. They need to open their eyes real fast!
Ain't that the truth! See my review of Levin's latest book here.

Gateway Pundit has maps and a bunch of interesting links here. See this link also.

That should keep us all busy reading for awhile. More to come.