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Thursday, February 28, 2008
Not All are Reagan Disciples
I know the election cycle is just getting organized for most political races lower down on the ticket, but even before the filing deadline for the June Primary Election, I am getting tired of RINOs invoking the claim that they are Reagan Republicans. The most recent example that I saw was earlier this week when a candidate dropped in to a meeting that I was attending. She had really slick literature and a boatload of endorsements. It even said that she was a Reagan Republican. As proof she even managed to have a photo of her shaking the Gipper’s hand.
However, her presentation let you know that she was cozy with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bob Dole. In fact she even got Dole’s endorsement for a California Assembly seat!? Go figure! In addition, it was clear that she had insider ties to the “bill mill” in Sacramento.
A friend of mine looked over her endorsement list and was convinced that every Republican leader in the San Francisco Eastbay that tried to thwart Conservatives was on the endorsement list. He then asked her the only question worth asking a Republican legislative candidate in California. There are slight variations but the question goes like this; “If elected, you will be a member of the minority party in Sacramento. What will you be able to accomplish in the midst of an overwhelmingly Democrat majority?” One implication of this question is will you be the weak knee Republican that sells us out and sides with Democrats to get the budget passed in exchange for some pork in your district? Will you crack under pressure or stand for fiscal responsibility in light of the 16 billion dollar budget shortfall?
Her response was that due to her extensive federal experience, she wanted to make smart cuts so she would not cause the state of California to loose matching federal funds. She assured us that she could win the game because she knew how the game was played.
I was disappointed at this response because she was already giving away the premise that the government should be involved in all these programs to start with. If she was truly a Reagan disciple, she was want the government out of many of the things that it has injected itself into that are not proper areas of jurisdiction. Where was the application of smaller government and more individual freedom? If a politician starts advocating “smarter government” or “more efficient government” then you’d better hold on to your wallet.
Within the next two weeks I will be seeing this woman again at another function that should be more interesting. This more conservative group will get to ask her about social issues and that will prove to be fun.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Larry Norman 1947-2008
I just read on WorldNetDaily that Larry Norman had died. I will miss Larry and wanted to reflect on his music and influence on my life.
In the mid 1970’s, I made my peace with God. I had been looking hard for Him in fifth and sixth grade. I went from being a “good Catholic boy” to an agnostic and then began reading the Bible. I knew there was more to knowing God than what the nuns at my Catholic school were teaching to me.
At the end of seventh grade, I began attending a Baptist church in the town where I lived. The youth program was full of people with a living faith. They were really a breath of fresh air to my soul. (To this day I still see some of that group from time to time.) At church camp I walked forward and began my walk with Christ. While God has led me in other directions, I have continued to walk with Him.
At the Baptist church youth group we sang many songs each Wednesday night. Unknown to me at the time, Larry Norman had penned at least a third of the songs that we were singing. I remember being terrified by many of the songs and the fervor created by Hal Lindsey and The Late, Great Planet Earth. The church was full of “rapture fever.”
We loved to sing, “Life was filled with guns and war, and everyone got trampled to the floor, I wish we’d all been ready…”
Dispensationalist and Pre-Millennial theology were the tenants of orthodoxy at the church. This was the type of church that defined itself by what its members didn’t do. “I don’t smoke, drink or chew; and I don’t go with girls that do.” Another thing we didn’t do was listening to that “evil” Christian rock n’ roll. As far as I know, no one in the youth program ever mentioned Larry Norman.If the pastor had known, I’m sure there would have been hell to pay.
It wasn’t until college that I learned that Larry Norman had written those songs we were singing at church many years before. It was at this time that I realized that Larry Norman had been one of the earliest artists to blaze a trail for Contemporary Christian Music.
Norman also helped others to follow his lead in singing for God in a way that was uncompromising. Larry Norman was followed by Keith Green, Randy Stonehill, Michael Omartian, Gary S Paxton and others. These musicians helped to create a market for Christian music with a popular beat.
Larry voiced this idea when he song. “I don’t want any of those funeral marches, I aint dead yet. All I’m really tryin’ to say is why should the devil have all the good music?”
A few years later, I joined the Navy and had a chance to see Larry Norman in concert. I took the photo for this article in the early 1980’s.
Larry Norman had been in poor health for the last several years but is now at rest and with the Jesus that he loved so dearly. Maybe it is time for me to start buying all those Larry Norman CDs that I failed to get for Christmas last year.
Related Web Sites
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Free Christian Music from the 1970’s and 80’s is available for download at http://mp3.one-way.org/mp3/ . The music found on this site is mostly stuff that was never issued on compact disk. They are listed by artist (alpha by first name) and each subdirectory has from one to six LPs per artist. They are taken from vinyl but many have been professionally done with new LPs and great cleaning software. A few are not cleaned-up at all but the quality is great when compared to my scratchy, cue burned music—much of which survived my disc jockey days at WDDT and KJBU.
Artists listed include: All Saved Freak Band, Bash n the Code, Cruise Family, Darrell Mansfield, Denny Correll, Ed Raetzloff, Fireworks, Michael Omartian, Prodigal, Servant and Wall Brothers Band.
I found the site purely by accident when I did my periodic Google search on Ed Raetzloff. In the past, I have spent lots of time on the one-way.org site but never seen any link or mention of this download area before. I’m not sure if the site owner intended for this stuff to be public or plans some profit making way of using these at a later date but the proverbial “barn door” is open for interested parties.
Oh, in case you were wondering, most of what I am interested in on this site is the stuff I already own on vinyl but cannot buy on CD or digital download. I still have more than a hundred albums that I cannot buy in a digital format. The less I have to convert on my still to be purchased USB turntable the better. I hope I will be able to do as good a job as the person at one-way that is working hard to preserve the Christian music experience of the 70’s and 80’s.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Wendy’s & Rhapsody
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.
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.
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.