Religion, Politics, Culture: Defined & Explained

Friday, February 15, 2008

Wendy’s & Rhapsody

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I have some old friends back in my life thanks to Wendy’s. Here’s the story.

I’m always buying ice tea from the Wendy’s around the corner from where I work. The cups are so ugly that I used to just toss ‘em but finally one day I read the stuff on their cups. They claimed that I could get free music downloads from Rhapsody. I’m always suspicious about things that claim to be free but I decided to investigate.

I collect obscure Christian Rock music—most of which seems to have never made it from vinyl to compact disk—so hoping for the best I went ahead and installed Rhapsody. (The frustrating thing about all these music sites except Amazon is that they won’t tell you what titles they carry unless you install their software first. There are certain titles that I look for or it won’t last ten minutes on my hard drive.) Anyway, I got Rhapsody installed on one of my computers.

My first reaction was disappointment. The interface is clunky. iTunes does a much better job of letting you do music searches. However, I was able to locate some titles that I was interested in downloading.

The other thing I don’t like about many music sites is their stupid encrypting of music. Rhapsody and iTunes both do this and it’s stupid. I only use Windows Media Player to listen to music so I have to waste a CD to get the music into Media Player. I have to take my songs and make a compact disk and then rip the songs using Media Player so I can listen to them. This creates music without the stupid copy protection. However, sometimes I must then manually enter all album and artist information and then find a copy of the album art and insert that also. What a waste of time. Thankfully Amazon is offering music that works as it should without all these other obstacles to enjoying a song. Anyway, I was talking about my free songs from Rhapsody.

Recently Servant has jumped from vinyl to digital and is now on many sites. I was able to get Rockin’ Revival and most of Shallow Water for free. The last track of Shallow Water is not available for individual download on Rhapsody so I had to buy it from iTunes. As I found out, Rhapsody and Real Player will not work on any 64-bit operating systems. Hey guys I’ve been running 64-bit operating systems now for over two years, lets get into the 21st Century. I also was able to get an old Benny Hester disk and a Wiggles Christmas album. Lastly I got the Stryper live album. That’s a lot of ice tea!

Oh the free downloads end on February 28th. Since Real Networks products don’t support any 64-bit OS, Rhapsody will come off my computer shortly after that date.

Thanks to Wendy’s for the free music.

Posted by william on 02/15 at 10:49 AM
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Friday, February 08, 2008

Conservatives in the Wilderness

Conservative Republicans are now consigned to wander in the wilderness for several years. John McCain has achieved the disaster that we were hoping to avoid. Instead of dwelling on McCain however, I would like to examine the much broader question of what is structurally wrong with the Republican Party.

Since the 1980’s both here in California and on a national scale there has been no “farm club” for training and screening local candidates. For a brief time in the 80’s, Republicans had what amounted to a “farm club” for entry-level local candidates. Many in the private sector were inspired to serve their fellow citizens by running for public office. Those that were able to keep their conservative principles and succeed were then helped to regional office. The voters then evaluated those candidates and many advanced to Congress. Many of these candidates were elected in 1994.

However, even as these were working their way up the ladder, the system behind them was collapsing. George Bush was elected in 1988 and began replacing conservatives with moderates. Also, many that helped with the Reagan Revolution returned to private sector businesses. Meanwhile, trends were happening simultaneously that tore the fabric of the Reagan Republicans.

In California, Pete Wilson was elected governor. Wilson, Schwarzenegger and others were a new category of moderate Republicans that were elected in Liberal states. These men had similar politics. They campaigned as fiscal conservatives and social liberals (moderates). One defining characteristic of these men was that they were not into party building but clearing the deck of potential opposition within their party. They purposely killed the “farm team” and placed tight reigns on the campaign funding of seats lower down on the ticket. Thus they would fund moderates—even those with no hope of winning—while denying viable conservatives funding to win seats. These governors often adopted campaign finance reforms that defunded candidates in their party while empowering traditions campaign money for democrats. This happened nationally under George Bush (43) when he signed McCain-Feingold. The direct result of this “reform” was that Bush almost lost re-election and two years later the Republicans lost both Houses of Congress.

Another trend from the 1980’s to present is the rise in the cost of elections. In California, there is a rather static pool of consultants. These guys loose elections every two years and then get rewarded by doing the same thing for the next candidate two years later. Some campaign activities result in commissions to consultants, thus they encourage candidates in these areas, while others result in no payment to consultants. This is one reason that most candidates run media centered campaigns while you rarely see bumper stickers, yard signs and more “grassroots” campaign techniques. Elected officials usually control campaign contributions and funnel money only to a few select candidates. Most challengers to Democrat incumbents are given no financial support from the state party. This frees the Democrats to funnel money to other campaigns to get more Democrats elected because they have unfunded opposition. For a challenger to have a chance against an incumbent, they historically must collect 1/3 to 1/2 of the amount the Democrat will spend against them and have better than a 37% Republican registration in the district.

Democrats have always had to work harder to get their folks to the polls but recently solid Republicans that used to vote in every election have started to vote by staying home. As the quality of candidates has decreased and the performance of elected Republicans has begun to mirror policies of Democrats, voter participation has declined. This was true in 2006 and even truer in this presidential primary season. In 2008, twice as many Democrats have voted in primaries thru “Super Tuesday” as Republicans. Voters are tired of picking the lesser of two evils and are either staying home or switching to “independent”—thus not identifying themselves with either party.

In summary, Republicans suffer a lack of qualified candidates, an inability to fundraise and an increasing dissatisfied and disillusioned electorate.

In contrast, men like Ronald Reagan had deeply rooted principles and values. All that they did grew out of these values. Like him or not, everyone knew where Reagan stood on any issue because his beliefs never waivered. Because his policies grew out of his belief, Reagan’s policies were logical and consistent. With his skills as a communicator, he could speak to any issue from the heart and persuade others that he was correct. He succeeded not by compromise but by being right and bringing others to his cause.

Many that associated themselves with Reagan both past and present do not have any anchor or internal compass to guide them through the issues of their day or ours. They claim the name of Reagan but often act contrary to the values that he espoused. You cannot be a Reagan Conservative if you favor bigger government to solve our problems, think we can tax and regulate ourselves into prosperity or think abortion or euthanasia are good public policy.

In our political system there are two types that identify themselves as Conservative. One group bases its views on their ideology of a limited federal government that should be limited to those things enumerated in the Constitution. This is a small subset of the Conservatives. There is also a group that chooses to preserve the status quo. They are satisfied to tweak the national government in certain areas but have no desire to roll back the intrusiveness of governmental reach or return power to the people they claim to represent. They favor more efficient government, not less of it.

The Republican Party lacks leadership but mostly it lacks a vision for the future. This was the element that has set Reagan apart from all others. Ronald Reagan was optimistic about America—its future and potential were both great and ahead of us. Reagan inspired people to believe in themselves and their country. Reagan never doubted that America is great because America is good. This belief was the catalyst of the Reagan Revolution.

Ronald Reagan is gone. It is our turn to carry on the work that he started. It is our job to leave the country a better place than we found it. He pointed the way. The reward is great and the cost is high. Each of us must decide what kind of America our children and grand children will inherit. The future doesn’t just happen we must work for it.

The first thing we need to do is to apply our conservative principles to state and national issues and decide what direction that we wish to move the country. The Contract with America that was put forth in 1994 was a good idea but it was all short-term ideas. Once the Republican Congress dealt with the ten items of the contract, they had no direction, goals or anything to work towards. The whole coalition fell apart within the first few months of the new Congress. We need a mixture of short, intermediate and long-term goals for both our state and nation. We must keep in mind the idea that government needs to get out of the way. Lasting solutions result from private sector creativity and competition.

In short, have a vision for the country; get candidates to implement the ideas and others will want to help once they see our success.

Posted by william on 02/08 at 02:40 PM
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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Mitt Romney is Our Guy

I have never given a dime to any Presidential candidate until last week.

With both Thompson and Giuliani dropping out of the Republican primary, the field got much smaller. The only man on the ticket that I can’t bring myself to vote for is John McCain. I will do whatever I can to prevent him from winning our party’s nomination.

The Republican Party is about to rid itself of the legacy of Ronald Reagan and start wandering in the wilderness. In California, the pro-life plank of the party will almost certainly be deleted this year and traditional marriage is also about to be dropped from the platform. If McCain is the nominee, the same will likely happen to the national platform.

If the liberals in the Republican Party get their way, we are on the verge of a Stalinist purge of Conservatives. McCain and his ilk will try to trade those pesky conservatives for moderates in the “independent” or “decline to state” category.

Is Mitt Romney the savior of the Reagan Republicans? No! But he will be a candidate that we can get behind. Romney has been willing to embrace us and stand for our values. Hugh Hewitt has been proved right. Romney has emerged as the only clear choice for Republicans.

This epiphany gained lots of steam last Thursday and Friday in the talk radio world and it is clear from both polling over this weekend and the Maine Caucus yesterday that McCain stands a real chance of being buried on Tuesday.

The states up on Tuesday are the most liberal ones voting. If Romney can survive and get his delegate count near 500 he will be in good shape to win the nomination even if McCain gets more delegates. The longer the process goes the better for Romney. The better you know John McCain the more you will want someone else to be the nominee.

Posted by william on 02/03 at 05:09 PM
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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Top Ten Reasons to Support John McCain

10. One Term President
9. Strict Constructionist judges like Justice David Souter
8. What border fence?
7. 30-days of silence before election
6. Carbon tax
5. Favored tax cuts before he voted against them
4. Foot soldier in Reagan Revolutionadvance to general via Republican maneuver called Circular Firing Squad. *
3. McCain exists only to torment Rush Limbaugh
2. Makes me miss Bob Dole
1. Thinks Hilary Clinton would make a good president.


* Circular Firing Squad is moderate Republican formation where you wound or damage as many fellow Republicans as possible before unilaterally surrendering republican values and joining with Liberal Democrats for sake of bipartisanship.

Posted by william on 01/31 at 03:35 PM
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Friday, January 11, 2008

Democrats Michigan Dilemma

The Michigan Secretary of State website has a document that summarizes the state’s legislative history and laws governing presidential primaries. In 1995, the highlights of the changes to primary voting include the following two paragraphs:

This action returned Michigan to an “open” primary system whereby a registered voter would be issued the ballots of both parties and the voter would select the party primary in which he or she wished to participate in the privacy of the voting station.

The potential candidates’ names on the combined lists prepared by the Secretary of State and the political parties would automatically have their names printed on the ballot under the designated party heading unless the named individual filed an affidavit indicating that he or she did not wish to have his or her name printed on the ballot or wished to be printed on the ballot under a different party heading.

This gives Michigan voters a free hand to vote for any candidate from any party in the primaries. Thus, in theory, Republicans can select the Democrat nominee while Democrats can help select the Republican nominee. This is one of the results when liberals run the show; anything to dilute the vote.


The Michigan sample ballot lists all Republican candidates but only a few Democrats.  Hillary Clinton is the only top tier candidate listed. Other Democrats include Chris Dodd, Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich. If you support Barack Obama, you won’t even find him listed on the ballot! Obama is telling supporters to vote Uncommitted. Uncommitted is Michigan’s choice for those wishing to vote for none of the above.

The Democrats are on the horns of several dilemmas. First, they are crosswise with their national party. The official position of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is that any states holding a primary prior to February fifth will not have its delegates seated at the summer convention. Lucky for Michigan, this same threat also applies to the Florida primary. Michigan is rightly asserting that after the Bush v Gore fiasco of 2000, there is no way in hell that Florida won’t have their votes counted by Democrats. They assert that if Florida must be counted then their votes must be included also.

Ironically, it is due to the conflict with the national party that Obama asked to have is name taken off of the ballot! He followed the rules but Hillary decided that she was exempt.

Another dilemma is that it appears that in order to neutralize Clinton, the choice of Uncommitted must get more votes than she does. Should Uncommitted win, not only would this allow Michigan a way out of sanctions by the national party but it would be viewed as a victory by Obama. Delegates to the national convention would then likely be selected by the Michigan Democratic Party at a later date.

The third Democrat dilemma is the chance to tamper in the Republican primary. Democrats could cast votes for such Republican luminaries as John McCain or Mike Huckabee since they would be easiest to beat in November. Yeah, choose your opponent. What a country!

It is curious that no third party candidates are listed on the sample ballot. Where are the Greens, Constitution Party and all the rest? Apparently, they can be ignored because they don’t get a big enough percentage of the vote or they are chosen via a method other than a primary election.

Democrats have a mess on their hands. It may be the only thing that keeps Michigan in play for Republicans like Mitt Romney.

Posted by william on 01/11 at 02:35 PM
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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Iowa

Iowa

Wow! The Huckster scored big tonight. I am surprised that he did so well. The question is was a vote for Huckabee really a vote for him or a protest vote against the elites in the Party telling us to pick Rudy or Mitt?

Huckabee has repeatedly demonstrated his ignorance of foreign affairs and economics. Evangelicals seem to be ignoring policy for values. As Rush Limbaugh calls it “identity politics.” This was the same irrational logic that gave Jimmy Carter the evangelical vote in 1976. Both 1976 and the current campaign were preceded by Republican failure inside the “beltway”—especially domestically.

Voters in both parties seem to be favoring Washington outsiders. (Yeah, Obama is a Senator but two years in DC is more of an outsider than Hillary Clinton. Ditto for Edwards.) I think the voters are sick of the gridlock in Congress. Can you say “where’s the Federal budget?”

Romney seems to have buried folks in Iowa with media and mail and a few folks that Fox News aired tonight said they we tired of the blitz by such a well funded campaign. I think Mitt is still stuck with a believability gap. His record does not match his rhetoric however well-crafted or targeted his message may be. Until Mitt can have a convincing story of why he had a change of heart on virtually every social issue and many fiscal ones as well, he will not win many evangelicals.

This leaves Fred Thompson and Huckabee to fight over most of the evangelicals and Rudy, Mitt and McCain to fight over the rest.

Rudy did worse than I thought he would. I thought he would at least score in low double digits. Rudy needs to show better in the next few contests or he may not survive until February.

McCain will start fading after New Hampshire. His support is not from the Republican base but independents. The real question is will anti-Hillary voting move people to boost Obama and end Hillary’s presidential aspirations. Such a move would hurt McCain. If McCain can’t deliver up to his expectations via many independent voters going for him, he will find his last ride on the “straight talk express” to be a short one.

The concept of a brokered convention has inched closer to reality; however remote.

Posted by william on 01/03 at 10:48 PM
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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Fox News Publishes Mormon Questions

Today on the Fox News website, Fox posted answers to questions about Mormonism that the church chose to answer. Which ones were left out was not stated.


Of the 21 questions that the Salt Lake church chose to answer, most are misleading and purposeful distortions of their beliefs. One problem is that the church does not see itself as bound to the teaching of either Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. Mormon doctrine is not once and for all time delivered to the saints. It is a moving target. Mormon theology is like a cafeteria meal where you pick and choose what you like and ignore the rest.

For example:

Q: What specifically does the Mormon Church say about African-Americans and Native Americans?
A: Mormons believe that all mankind are sons and daughters of God and should be loved and respected as such. The blessings of the gospel are available to all.

Well actually, this was not the case until 1978, when Blacks were allowed full membership in the church. Prior to that time, Blacks were regarded as cursed by God and unable to enjoy his full blessing and fellowship just because of their skin color. Only in the midst of Jimmy Carter’s human rights campaign was church doctrine revived.

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe that women must serve men on both Earth and in heaven?
A: Absolutely not. Mormons believe that women and men are complete equals before God and in relation to the blessings available in the Church.

This is another distortion of their teaching. I did a college paper on this exact subject in 1980 and it was clear from multiple official Mormon sources that a woman’s salvation was directly tied to her husband’s performance of the priesthood within the church. A woman could not make it without a man.

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe that God and Mary had physical sex to conceive Jesus?
A: The Church does not claim to know how Jesus was conceived but believes the Bible and Book of Mormon references to Jesus being born of the Virgin Mary.

This is a lie. Brigham Young taught extensively about the doctrine of Adam-god and the folks in Salt Lake simply were uncomfortable about this idea and revised many of their church doctrines to make it go away. It is not just the evangelical Christians that criticize Brigham for teaching Adam-god but other Mormon groups like the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (they now call themselves the Community of Christ).

The frustrating thing about Mormon doctrine is that the Mormons want it both ways. On one hand, they want the foundation of a restored church via Joseph Smith and on the other, the ability to revise beliefs to fit modern contexts.

Mormons claim that Joseph Smith had a series of special encounters with God. Joseph single-handedly did not reform but restored to true gospel, which had been lost to the world since the end of the early church. Mormons contend that what Joseph taught was superior to the Bible because the Bible was only correct “in so far as it was translated correctly.” Therefore we could not use the Bible to evaluate the Prophetic word of Joseph Smith, but could only use Smith’s word to interpret the Bible. This is the basis of why the Mormon church—however large—is called a cult.

Joseph Smith launched the attack on Christianity

I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt see Joseph Smith History 1:18,19

All we are doing is defending the faith of our fathers.
At the same time Smith gets credit for restoring correct doctrine, the Salt Lake church has not spared any effort trying to make changes small and great to make Smith’s teaching more marketable to the masses. There have been hundreds of changes to the Mormon Scriptures since Smith first published them. Mormon doctrine has undergone significant rewrites over the years. The church has morphed Adam-god, polygamy, race relations and many other things over the years. It is Orwellian how easily the church can shift its beliefs.

The problem is that if God truly spoke to Smith then what he taught must be fixed and immutable. Like Moses and the Ten Commandments, God’s teaching should be etched in stone. Smith claims he wrote it down exactly as he was commanded. Smith personally took it to the publisher. How could there be any error?

Yet the LDS church has taken many liberties to correct, amplify and even outright change church doctrine. This creates a big problem. Either God spoke to Smith and he got it wrong and therefore is a false prophet or the church has purposely departed from the teachings of Smith and is apostate. The whole structure of the LDS church is built on the foundation that Smith and Brigham laid. Either way the church is wrong. Clearly this is the case.

What should be done when we are confronted with the claims of the LDS church is to evaluate them on the basis of the Bible. We know God spoke through the Bible, if what Joseph and Brigham taught is contrary to this revelation then they are wrong and should be rejected.

Posted by william on 12/18 at 11:29 AM
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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Huckabee on Jesus and Satan

Recently, Mike Huckabee did the candidate’s equivalent of asking one of those dreaded marital questions, “Honey does this dress make me look fat?” Once the question is on the table, you find yourself in a box that only Solomon could get out of and Huckabee is clearly not Solomon.

The issue has blown-up one two fronts. First is what Huckabee said true and second why did he say it?

Both Scripture and life experience tell us to watch what we say. This is doubly true for Presidential candidates. Below are some Scriptural admonitions that are very familiar to Governor Huckabee and most Christians.

If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. James 1:26

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. James 3:5, 6

During an interview with a reporter writing for the New York Times Magazine, Mike Huckabee recently asked, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?”

The quick and dirty answer to the question is ‘yes’.

This statement was widely introduced into evangelical circles by Dr. Walter Martin.

Martin was a prolific author, lecturer and pastor that specialized in Christian apologetics. Apologetics is the defense of the faith and has its basis in the scriptural admonition to “. . . be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” I Peter 3:15.

The two best-known works by Dr. Martin on Mormon theology are Kingdom of the Cults and Maze of Mormonism. Martin concentrates on the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the core theology of the nature and work of Jesus Christ and compares this teaching to historic Christianity.

Clearly the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has a colorful and problematic history. However, both Dr. Martin and the Mormon church agree that the LDS church teaches that Jesus and Satan are brothers.

The following quotes are from the official LDS website (emphasis added)

On first hearing, the doctrine that Lucifer and our Lord, Jesus Christ, are brothers may seem surprising to some—especially to those unacquainted with latter-day revelations. But both the scriptures and the prophets affirm that Jesus Christ and Lucifer are indeed offspring of our Heavenly Father and, therefore, spirit brothers. Jesus Christ was with the Father from the beginning. Lucifer, too, was an angel “who was in authority in the presence of God,” a “son of the morning.” (See Isa. 14:12; D&C 76:25–27.) Both Jesus and Lucifer were strong leaders with great knowledge and influence. But as the Firstborn of the Father, Jesus was Lucifer’s older brother. (See Col. 1:15; D&C 93:21.)
When our Father in Heaven presented his plan of salvation, Jesus sustained the plan and his part in it, giving the glory to God, to whom it properly belonged. Lucifer, on the other hand, sought power, honor, and glory only for himself. (See Isa. 14:13–14; Moses 4:1–2.) When his modification of the Father’s plan was rejected, he rebelled against God and was subsequently cast out of heaven with those who had sided with him. (See Rev. 12:7–9; D&C 29:36–37.)

Some Mormons are not comfortable that their views are discussed in formats that they don’t control and some damage control was needed in this situation.

Stirred by the debate, the Associated Press sought clarification from Kim Farah, a spokeswoman from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

She said the question is usually raised by those who wish to smear the Mormon faith, but she evaded a direct answer to the question: “We believe, as other Christians believe and as Paul wrote, that God is the father of all. That means that all beings were created by God and are his spirit children. Christ, on the other hand, was the only begotten in the flesh and we worship him as the son of God and the savior of mankind. Satan is the exact opposite of who Christ is and what he stands for.”

Kim Farah’s statement is a distortion of LDS doctrine designed to deflect a meaningful understanding of what Mormons really believe.

Joseph Smith rejected any claim of being a Christian or part of a Christian denomination.

My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” Joseph Smith History 1:18,19

Mormons are polytheistic not monotheists.

In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 349

Historic Christianity teaches that Christ was begotten not created. The Mormon definition of “Father” is that God had sex with one of his wives and she gave birth to spirit children, and they are all waiting to come here to have physical bodies in the hope that they too can become gods. By not defining terms, Kim is trying not to disclose what her church really teaches.

While Jesus and Satan were spirit brothers, they offered two competing ideas for salvation of mankind, Jesus’ proposal was accepted and Satan’s was rejected. This rejection caused him to rebel and become the opposite what of Jesus stands for.

And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor. But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever. Moses 4:1,2

Clearly it is established that Huckabee’s question to the reporter is really the teaching of Mitt Romney’s church, the next question to ask is more troubling.

As other bloggers have pointed-out, when the Southern Baptist Convention had their conference in Salt Lake City in 1998, Huckabee was a speaker at the event. The SBC was pushing videos and books that highlighted differences between their theology and the LDS church. For a preacher and speaker at such an event to later claim that he couldn’t recall what Mormons believe is a real stretch to me. I read Martin’s book thirty-five years ago and can recite much of it from memory.

I am uncomfortable going there but it is a possibility that Huckabee setup this whole thing on purpose.

Speaking on this subject, Laura Ingraham used the analogy of a lawyer during a court case purposely asking a question the he knew was impermissible and then withdrawing it once an objection was raised. This gets the issue out in public and into the minds of the jury even if it is not “on the record.”

Is Huckabee a “bomb thrower” or just tone deaf?

It appears that Mike Huckabee is staking-out territory as the anti-Mormon candidate. As a Baptist minister this might be a good position to occupy but as a Presidential candidate it seems like jousting with windmills. On one hand this is probably his “jump the shark moment” but on the other, why did the New York Times and Associated Press decide to hype this particular comment?

Whether Huckabee’s question was a deftly placed dagger in Romney’s back or a dumb redneck comment, he said something that was out-of-bounds in the minds of many people. His comment will not hurt him in evangelical circles but it will impair his ability to expand his base of support to include fiscal and defense minded conservatives.

Any time you asked, “Honey, does this dress make me look fat” it’s going to end badly. Moral of the story, for a happy marriage watch your tongue.


*********
One last thing we learned from this exchange is that Hillary and Huckabee have something in common besides being from Arkansas.

Hillary Clinton claims that much of her leadership experience comes from her time with Bill in the White House. However, if you want proof you can’t get it because all of her papers are sealed in the Clinton Presidential Library until after the election is over.

Similarly, Mike Huckabee is advertising himself as a Christian Leader in his Iowa television spots. His “Christian Leader” status is part of what qualifies him to be president, however, all sermons either printed or on tape are unavailable from any of his former churches. In effect all his records are sealed until after the election too!

Posted by william on 12/13 at 04:05 PM
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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mike Huckabee and Tookie Williams

While no analogy is perfect, enough of the facts are the same to compare the cases of Stanley “Tookie” Williams and Wayne DuMond.

First, Stanley “Tookie” Williams was a street gang member who was convicted of multiple murders and sentenced to death. While in prison, he had a born again experience and gave his life to Christ. As a result of his conversion, he began writing various articles and tried to encourage young people to avoid street gangs. Because of his anti-gang advocacy, many people thought that his sentence should be commuted and the death penalty should not be carried-out. Even many people that normally support capital punishment thought that the governor—Arnold Schwarzenegger—should pardon “Tookie”.

“Tookie” was finally executed about two years ago.

In 1985 Wayne DuMond was convicted of raping Ashley Stevens.

DuMond said that, while he was awaiting trial, masked men burst into his home, tied him up with fishing line and cut out his testicles. By the time Mr Huckabee became governor in 1996, he had met DuMond’s wife and was promising to release him. After advice from medical experts — thought to have told him that DuMond was still capable of rape — Mr Huckabee allowed the decision to be taken by the parole board, which released DuMond in September 1999.

In 2001 DuMond raped and killed Carol Sue Shields, 39, in Missouri and is also said to have been responsible for the rape and murder of Sara Andrasek, 23, who was pregnant. He died in prison two years ago of natural causes.

While the media doesn’t pay much attention to religion, Mike Huckabee’s faith was understood to be an issue in the decision to release DuMond. Many have speculated that Huckabee was convinced that DuMond had a conversion experience in jail and that facts surrounding his rape conviction were politically motivated. (Ashley Stevens-the victim of the rape-was a distant cousin of Bill Clinton.) The conversion, castration and Clinton connection were enough that many pushed for DuMond’s pardon.

The common thread in both cases is the claim of religious conversion as the basis for some type of preferential treatment for those convicted of crime.

I don’t fault the criminals for wanting to get out of incarceration. I do have a problem with ignorant but well meaning Christians that don’t understand the proper role of church and state. Below is a portion of an article that explorers these roles:

Forgiveness Requires Restitution
by David Chilton

The condemned man sat in his cell awaiting execution. James Morgan had been convicted of murder and sentenced to death under the justice system of 17th-century Massachusetts—the Puritan Colony par excellence.

The Puritans have often been stigmatized as narrow-minded legalists, unconcerned about the plight of “sinners” in their midst. To the contrary, the Puritans, as good Calvinists, believed that all people—themselves included—are depraved and sinful, in need of the grace of God and the mercy of fellow men.

Accordingly, the Rev. Cotton Mather and other ministers visited Morgan in his cell and urged him to pray for repentance and forgiveness. To their delight, Morgan heard them and soon gave evidence of a sound, sincere conversion.

The whole Puritan colony joyously responded to Morgan’s change of heart. They held a special worship service, where Morgan testified to his newfound faith. He was embraced and received as a brother in Christ, with all the rights and privileges of a citizen of the heavenly kingdom.

The congregation sang a psalm of praise, thanking God for His goodness to James Morgan, the sinner who had become a saint.

Then they took him to the gallows and hanged him.

Here is link to the whole article. http://www.reallyright.com/index.php/weblog/comments/tookie_penance_of_restitution/

Clearly Huckabee has either confused the roles of church and state or doesn’t know the difference. As a former minister, Huckabee clearly has the credentials of being an expert in the role of church in our society. Based on his actions in this case and statements that he has made during the campaign on other public policy issues one can only conclude that Huckabee lacks a core of conservative principles.

Posted by william on 12/12 at 03:57 PM
News & PoliticsPermalink

Friday, December 07, 2007

Can Evangelicals Trust Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney finally gave “The Speech” about his religious views. I read the transcript and thought it was a wonderful speech. The best line in it was:

Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.

This is the same view expressed in the Declaration of Independence where we are reminded that our rights come from God not government.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . .

This is the watershed issue in our culture. Those that agree with the Founders are Conservative. Those who believe rights come from government are Liberals.

I think this speech will help Romney with evangelicals but I’m not sure that it will be enough. I think evangelicals are haunted by Jimmy Carter, George H Bush and Bill Clinton. We remember “reading my lips” and “never worked so hard for the American people” as preludes to broken promises and tax hikes. We remember Carter and Clinton gutting our military and trying to peacefully co-exist with terrorists.

Romney’s problems with evangelicals are not really theological but ethical. We are asked to trust that he is a conservative—one of us—but his track record as a politician and his words as a presidential candidate do not agree. What is his epiphany? What caused the change? Evangelicals happily acknowledge that God has the power to do this in the hearts of men but Romney does not credit God with the change. According to Romney he has been consistent the whole time to his faith in God. Both he and Harry Reid are LDS and they are polar opposites on political and social issues yet both in good standing with the folks in Salt Lake City.

Another reason that trust in Romney is thin is our experience in California with Arnold Schwarzenegger. We threw a known conservative—Tom McClintock—under the bus and went with Arnold because Arnold was a fiscal conservative that told us he could work with Democrats. Now Arnold is counted as the eighth most influential Liberal in the United States and has sold-out to the homosexuals and environmental extremists. Arnold has papered over the debt in California by transferring obligations to 30-year bond measures instead of correcting the structural issues that created the deficit spending. Furthermore, while Arnold Schwarzenegger has raised over 120 million dollars for his campaign coffers the Republican Party in California is bankrupt and two million dollars in debt!

Conservatives want to be charitable with Romney. We need converts to our cause to change the direction of our country. We need the children of the ‘60s to embrace the values of their fathers. Jesus told us to forgive our brother if he offends us even seven times seventy times. Conservatives went way beyond that number a decade ago and still we want to forgive. We just want a measure of assurance that Romney will govern with the same values he wants to campaign on.

Posted by william on 12/07 at 04:42 PM
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Gary S Paxton

Gary S Paxton may not be a household name but his work is widely known. He has produced a variety of musical hits since the 1960’s. His music hits span Top 40, Country and Gospel. Today, his best know hit is probably the Monster Mash, which was recorded in 1962.

He has won Grammy Awards and hits that he has produced have sold tens of millions of copies. He was inducted into the Country Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1999.

His personal life has been a roller coaster of substance abuse. Paxton has a history of drug and alcohol abuse. In 1973, he converted to Christianity. In 1975 he started his own recording label and he did very well until 1985 when he lost the business due to bad business decisions and problems with drugs.

In 1980, he was shot five times in the head by hitmen hired by a country musician that Paxton was producing. Amazingly, he survived the attack.

Paxton has started his life over again in Branson Missouri.

Gary S Paxton sees the world differently than most folks. Like many artists, he can see the wonder of mundane everyday things and he also can glimpse into the future and see what’s lurking just over the horizon. Some of his songs are serious and sober and others are satirical and fun. Paxton’s music, like Bob Dylan, is and acquired taste. His songs will stick in your head and rattle around long after you’ve shut off the music.

What makes his music stand apart from that performed by others is that each song that he writes has a little piece of himself in it. From what I know of his life, it is safe to say there are two Gary S Paxtons. One is the partying hell raiser and the other is the saint touched by God. Much of his music is one Gary looking at the other.

There are pieces of Gary S Paxton all over the Internet but not in one central location. Even his entry on wikipedia is spotty. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_S._Paxton


Gary has two different websites that each host unique content. Each is incomplete but overlapping.

The main page at http://www.GarySPaxton.net and http://www.GarySPaxton.org are the same but as you drill down each menu item you will find differences. The music link on each page goes to different music offerings. These choices are not duplicated.

If you follow this link and click of CD covers, you hear samples of songs offered on these CDs. http://www.garyspaxton.org/Music/index.htm

His new wife Vickie has two sites
http://www.TimeForJoy.com was used at one time but now just links to the .org site mentioned above. Paxton’s e-mail is listed as garyspaxton@timeforjoy.com
More recent activity and biographical information can be found at http://www.urban.ne.jp/home/koa7/newsletter.htm

Discography http://www.ymg.urban.ne.jp/home/koa7/garpax.htm
Discography of NewPax Records http://www.bsnpubs.com/word/newpax.html

Posted by william on 12/07 at 03:44 PM
BloggingPermalink

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Matthew Ward: Toward Eternity

Matthew Ward is best known for his part of the 1970’s trio known as The 2nd Chapter of Acts. The group often toured with Keith Green, Phil Keaggy and Barry McGuire. During his time with 2nd Chapter, Ward released his first solo album, Toward Eternity. Toward Eternity was one of the best Christian rock albums of the period. I have many fond memories of hanging out at the campus radio station play cuts off this LP on Friday nights.

I have been checking periodically for many years to see if Toward Eternity would ever be released on CD. I’m still waiting. On the Matthew Ward website, there is no mention of Toward Eternity on the Store page on his site. However, on the Music page you will find a list of all the solo projects that Matthew Ward has done. On this page is a box that looks like an ad. It lists many songs in alphabetical order. If you play around with this box you will find that it is in fact a way to play and download mp3 files of songs by Matthew Ward.

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Songs that have been purchased previously appear in italics. Note that songs are not listed by original LP or CD. By scrolling up and down on the music page you can figure-out which songs belong to which recording. Setting-up an account on Snocap is easy and doesn’t require selecting the songs over again. Be warned that there is no confirmation screen prior to purchasing the songs. Once purchased you need to either install a download manager from Snocap or right-click each song title and select save to download.

Matthew has a great duel on the Donna Summer album She Works Hard for the Money. Look for the track called Love has a Mind of It’s Own. He also has a great duet with Leslie (Sam) Phillips on her Dancing with Danger CD called By My Spirit.

Matthew Ward’s music is a real treasure. I’m glad he has found his way into the digital age.

Posted by william on 12/05 at 04:35 PM
Christianity & ReligionPermalink

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Halting Hillary & Huckabee

I was browsing the Internet last night and happened to be at the main page of the Drudge Report when my three year old jumped into my lap. He asked me who was that lady in the photo. I answered that she wants to be President of our country. He then responded, “I don’t like her.” Wow! No wonder his middle name is Reagan.
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As we enter the final stretch to Iowa, Mrs. Clinton is blasting Barack Obama on the wedge issue of how long Obama has wanted to be president. Why a kindergarten class in Indonesia counts I really don’t know. I bet there was a time when he wanted to be an astronaut too.

In the last several weeks, Hilary has repeatedly stated that she wants to be President again.

Meanwhile Obama is campaigning with all the enthusiasm of a child that is overmedicated with Ritalin. He doesn’t seem to want the nomination very badly.

On the Republican side, Mike I need a miracleHuckabee is being touted by the media as the new maverick of the party. I think the media really views him as a spoiler that is undercutting serious candidates that might have a chance of beating their favorite Democrat.

I have heard comparisons of Huckabee to candidate Jimmy Carter in 1976. Many evangelicals voted for this southern governor because he was a “born again” Christian. As we later found out with Carter, Baptists are notoriously antinomian and their faith rarely influences their views of government and public policy.

If elected, Huckabee would drift aimlessly from issue to issue buffeted by the trials and tribulations of a Democrat controller legislative branch until he was swamped by the maelstrom and had his administration smashed on the rocks. In other words, without core values and conservative principles Huckabee can never be an effective President because the Democrats will roll him at every opportunity and render him ineffective.

Posted by william on 12/04 at 03:04 PM
News & PoliticsPermalink

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Obama and Huckabee Iowa Surge Dubious

In the latest polling for the Iowa caucus, both Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee are moving ahead of the pack and challenging the long-standing front-runners in their respective parties. This sounds really interesting but is it hype or reality?

I think that polling is not the “science” that it used to be. Consider the obstacles to the modern day pollster.

First, most polling is done by telephone. It is the cheapest way to have two-way conversations with potential voters. From voter data such as that available from your county clerk, a pollster can know how often that you have voted in past elections and want your party affiliation is. This information coupled with the demographics of your neighborhood can give them a good idea of who you voted for in the past. There are many questions that they ask in the course of a poll to verify their guesses by comparing actual answers with their predictions.

Part of the challenge to pollsters is to get a statistical cross-section of the electorate. Their model assumptions about voters are important to the accuracy of the result that they get. Have you ever wondered how 1,200 people are polled and in a headline the next day we are told with certainty what 300 million Americans think about presidential popularity or Hillary’s latest healthcare idea?

The biggest challenge to this model is technology. A large percentage of people under age thirty have only cellular phones and not a landline. These folks are not listed in Ma Bell’s directory. People also have IP telephony and other means of communicating that are not listed. This coupled with traditional unlisted phone numbers on landlines makes contacting a cross-section of voters even more difficult. The only thing that is saving their models of the electorate is that many in this age group are not high propensity voters. Older, high propensity voters tend to have traditional phones.

Another challenge is who is actually answering the phone? Most times that a telemarketer calls my phone, we hang-up on them. Due to the number of polls done in modern political campaigns and the small population of a state like Iowa, I think many folks are burned-out answering their phones too. Are the results showing shifts in the candidate preferences of Iowa voters accurate or are the number on non-responding folks causing results to be weighted differently to keep the pollsters in business?

Most people made up their minds months ago and it would take a big event to change their preference. Neither Obama nor Huckabee can point to such an event. (Yes, some might argue that Hillary and driver licenses for illegals qualify but we will have to see.)

If given my assumption about the lack of a big event, the logical place to go to explain any shift in voter preferences is that the “undecided” are finally settling on their choice. My problem with this is two-fold. First we must ask is this “undecided” voter who up ‘til now has not been paying attention really firm in their commitment to a candidate and second, will they actually go to the polls and vote?

Lastly, going into the holidays will detract from campaigning. This is a season for family and the sacred not secular. This will result in committed people voting and those with little interested getting distracted and not making the extra effort to vote. I doubt anyone knows how to model this because it has never happened before. The timing of Iowa is an unquantifiable variable that should not be minimized.

I could go on but I think I have made my point. The polls are entertaining but should not be trusted. There are too many variables that make Iowa difficult to call prior to January third.

Posted by william on 11/28 at 04:46 PM
News & PoliticsPermalink

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

MPEG2 Error C00D11B1 in Windows Media Player

My three-year-old abuses to heck out of our family’s DVD collection. After he handles them a few times, they won’t play. The disks are covered in yogurt, fingerprints, apple juice and who knows what else. Anyway, the poor lasers in the players don’t stand a chance against him. I frequently have to wash the DVDs with soap and water to clean them before he can watch them. Many are also accumulating scratches and it is only a matter of time before they will be unusable.

As a result, I have decided to download as many of his favorites as I can into my computer for him to watch. This will allow us to watch a copy of the disk and reduce the abuse to which they are subjected. I also am doing this because the wife and I are considering purchasing an XBOX 360 for the kids’ big Christmas gift. With the XBOX, they can watch the movies on my computer—via the Windows Media Center—on their television. (I wired the house for computers and the eventual purchase of the XBOX last year.)

As an experiment, I ripped a few DVDs using the Roxio Easy Media software. I selected the MPEG2 format. I tried to play the resulting files with Windows Media Player and got an error.

The same file plays fine using Media Center and several other software applications in my computer. I was determined to find a solution. Media Player has never been able to play an MPEG file from any source on my Vista computer.

I started at the beginning. Did I have the proper codec to play this file format? I thought so but my research found that support for MPEG files is only partially supported natively by Microsoft. They support MPEG1 but not MPEG2. MPEG2 is the format used on DVDs and requires a third party solution. I downloaded and installed the software at a cost of about $15. As I found out later, I already had the codec and this was a waste of money.

I searched on the Roxio support forum and found a thread that seemed to hold some promise.

There were all sorts of great sounding ideas. These included codec diagnostic programs, quotes allegedly from Microsoft TechNet and purchasing new codec packages. None of these worked.
I tried the Microsoft website and found a thread on error C00D11B1.

This tread starts out poorly with a bunch of BS about Samsung software for cell phones causing this problem and then goes on to suggest changes to settings in Media Player and even registry hacks. My experience with this is that it is nonsense, not troubleshooting. However, on the fourth page of this thread you get to the payoff. Buried in the bottom one post you will find the following nugget:

Anyway, while i was typing that essay, i found a solution!

http://www.codecguide.com I simply download that codec pack, and everything worked perfectly. It installs another media player called Windows Media Player Classic, but i checked, and the files work using the regular media player too.

The codecs on this page are free. I tried the full package and took most of the default settings. However, I kept the MPEG2 codecs that I already purchased and told the install program to replace my DIVX codecs, and on the bottom of the second screen, I checked to box to create a setpoint before installing.

As I was researching this problem, I had seen many comments that blamed newer DIVX codecs as the likely cause of the problem. Strictly speaking I know that trying two different repairs at once is not proper troubleshooting technique but by the time I got to this point in the process I wanted results and a good night’s sleep. The bottom line is that it worked.

I hope my experience will save others some heartache. Happy computing.

Posted by william on 11/21 at 04:42 PM
TechnologyPermalink
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