Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sucky Pro-Life Rhetoric

I just read the following exchange:

MR. RUSSERT: But you said you would ban all abortions.

GOV. HUCKABEE: Well, that's not just because I'm a Christian, that's because I'm an American. Our founding fathers said that we're all created equal. I think every person has intrinsic worth and value...

Now, I'm pleased that Mr. Huckabee is pro-life. And I'm not ragging on him, I'm ragging on every Republican politician within living memory.

Let's make one thing very clear: I am not pro-life because I am a Christian. Christianity is a religion that places ethical demands upon Christians. Pro-life politicians are NOT running for Preacher, Priest, or Pope. Politicians, particularly Republican presidential candidates are not and shall not be in a position to extend any ethical demands of Christianity to the general populace. CHRISTIANITY SHOULD NOT EVEN BE MENTIONED IN THIS CONTEXT.

Several Republican presidential candidates say that they are pro-life. Mr. Bush says he is pro-life. This is good. WHY are these people pro-life? Simply stated, abortion is a procedure for terminating a pregnancy without producing a live birth. This procedure is legal by judicial fiat. Pro-life politicians say they want to change this. Why? Tell us why you think so.

I am pro-life and I'm pro-life for reasons I'll not rehearse here. I'm sick of fellows like Mr. Bush talking about "the sanctity of life" which is code for something, but it isn't a straight reason.

The trouble with talking in code is that all the pro-lifers will recognize the code as will the pro-choicers. Great, we can choose up sides and throw rocks at each other. That's all. Nobody needs think at all, just just have to follow.

Let's suppose Mr. Huckabee has some absolutely killer reasons for being pro-life, trot them out, tell them to Mr. Russert. And let's suppose Mrs. Clinton trots out her reasons for being pro-choice. With the reasons available for everyone to examine, we'll know who's a "true" pro-lifer or pro-choicer and who's just mouthing codewords to get votes.

And if we have the arguments out there duking it out, people will be thinking about these things. I believe in this thing called Democracy and that demands an informed electorate. I believe in reason and the ability of people of good will to discuss disagreements and come to whatever compromises are possible. Generally, we think no compromise is possible in the pro-life vs pro-choice argument. Yes, abortion or not is either killing the unborn or not. But perhaps some accommodation can be made for the unwilling mother? Can nothing be done to avoid unwanted pregnancies altogether?

I don't think pro-life voters are idiots, and I wish Republican politicians would quit treating us like it.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Southern Baptists and Liberalism

I've said before that I'm a Fundamentalist. Sometimes I'll say I'm an Evangelical and blur that distinction that I want to draw into tight focus now. Fundamentalist, like Puritan is a demon-term that is applied to behaviors and attitudes no self-respecting Puritan or Fundamentalist would identify with. So, when I say Fundamentalist, I mean to say that there are certain key ideas that are "fundamental" to Christianity. Did Adam have a navel? I don't care. It's not a "fundamental" of the Christian faith. Did Christ rise from the dead? I do care. You have a right to deny this. But if your religion denies it, it isn't Christianity. If you agree that similar non-negotiables exist in the Christian faith, you are to that extent a Fundamentalist, too.

Over a century ago German rationalism re-examined Christian dogma and rejected certain supernatural elements of the religion, while retaining certain moralistic teachings and rites and forms of Christianity. This redefinition of Christianity is either a rearrangement of trivialities OR constitutes a heretical poseur that's no more Christianity than Islam or Judaism is. Fundamentalism claimed the latter and Theological Liberalism claimed the former. The institutional machinery of a number of Protestant denominations embraced Theological Liberalism and in response the Fundamentalists dropped out. I am a member of a Baptist association that dropped out of the Northern Baptist Convention very early and has historically been somewhat militant and defensive about its Fundamentalism.

The Southern Baptist Convention also saw inroads of Theological Liberalism and many Baptists dropped out, too. Jerry Falwell and the Bible Baptists of the south came out and were separate from a Southern Baptist Convention that was "going liberal." However, something significant happened in the 1970s: The Southern Baptist Convention reversed this trend. Theological Conservatives were able to wrest control of the Southern Baptist Convention from the Theological Liberals. This did not happen without a fight and many Southern Baptists lined up on opposite sides of this conflict. The educational institutions of the Southern Baptist Convention remained solidly within the Liberal camp so that my alma mater, Cedarville University, was asked by the Southern Baptist Convention to serve as a conservative alternative.

Southern Baptists have been active and prominent in Democrat politics for a long time. Mr. Jimmy Carter was a Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher. Mr. Bill Clinton sang in a Southern Baptist choir. Mr. Albert Gore attended a Southern Baptist seminary. Nevertheless, these men have not participated in the resurgence of orthodoxy within the Southern Baptist convention.

So then, it was with interest that I learned that Mr. Paul Pressler claimed that Mr. Huckabee had been a slacker in the war against secularists within the Baptist church. Very interesting. Is Mr. Huckabee one of those Southern Baptists?

Mr. Huckabee has been playing a game of "identity politics" that I strongly dislike. I'd prefer a politician who articulates political positions congruent with my own to a politician who goes to my church. However, if Mr. Huckabee is going to play the game of identity politics, he'd better be the RIGHT KIND OF BAPTIST. Because if he isn't, Republican Primary voters may say "Die Heretic!" and push him off the bridge.

Friday, December 21, 2007

McCain’s starting to look better to than this guy

I am an Evangelical Christian. I have identified with the Religious Right from the late 1970s. I have consistently voted and supported candidates congruent with the aims of the Religious Right AND the Religious Right has heretofore been identified as Conservative in its orientation. I am a Fundamentalist Baptist.

Last year I declared that John McCain is a media hoax and I've thought Mr. McCain's only strength in Republican primary elections came from Democrat crossovers. We saw that in 2000 and we're going to see that again next month, bringing us to Mike Huckabee. I predict Mr. Huckabee will draw a lot of CROSSOVER Democrat votes in the Michigan primary election to throw sand in the works of the Republican presidential selection machinery.

I don't like the Arkansas school of Politics. Today my wife got a push-poll robocall from what seems to be the Huckabee campaign misrepresenting Mr. Thompson's position on abortion. (My phone number is well known to Conservative/Republican databases, and I wasn't surprised by such.) I think it is OK for a politician to truthfully say, "I'm against X and my opponent is for X." This is just truth in advertising, not negative campaigning. You might like X and this information will help you vote for the other guy. It's a completely different thing to apply Arkansas spin: "I'm against abortion and my opponent once helped abortionists!" It's sleazy politics to distort an opponent's record in this fashion. If Mr. Thompson is for abortion, show me his votes, quote his words endorsing the practice. Don't repeat agitprop of the pro-abortion activists who dug this up during opposition research. For heaven's sake, don't lie (or say Clintonian half-truths) about the other guy.

Update: I am told that an independent group supporting Mr. Huckabee is responsible for similar calls in other states (NH, SC) and that Mr. Huckabee's campaign has asked them to stop. I am unaware of Mr. Huckabee doing anything to repair this group's damage to the body politic. Political lies damage more than any one candidate, they sew cynicism through the entire electorate. Mr. Huckabee owes it to the Republican party to denounce Common Sense Issues of Colorado, aka Trust Huckabee.

(All candidates who are pro-life should demonstrate how strongly they support this position by stating their reasons for it. Saying, "I was pro-life before he was," is useless.)

Mr. Huckabee has a record as governor that, though pro-life, does not demonstrate much adherence to Conservative principles. It is good to be pro-life, but pro-life politics is painless when you can say Washington won't let you DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. The politician can mouth pro-life platitudes to keep the Republican base on board while ruling like a Liberal. If I'm tired of Arkansas politics, I'm dead-tired of the Bush school of politics. Mr. Huckabee seems to capture that infuriate-the-Left plus dishearten-the-Right combination of religious platitudes plus free spending that made me hate Mr. Bush.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has expressed his disbelief in the Virgin Birth of Christ and other miraculous claims of Christianity. He has every right to to hold and express this opinion. But he has no right to call it Christianity. Similarly, no Republican candidate has any right to redefine Conservatism in his own image. Mr. Huckabee has every right to be a pro-life liberal. If that is who he is, he should embrace that identification.

Several prominent Conservative voices have pointed out that Mr. Huckabee is no Conservative and has less than impressive foreign policy positions. Mr. Huckabee's campaign has interpreted this as a personal attack. Then his campaign gone on to counter-attack with falsehoods. (Did he learn this tactic in the from another Arkansas governor?) When Mr. Huckabee's operatives say that Mr. Rush Limbaugh just repeats the New York-Washington elite's talking-points, they misrepresent Mr. Limbaugh's record in a fashion that no one who listens to Mr. Limbaugh can believe. Did he learn this tactic from Nevada Senator, Harry Reid? Even if you think Mr. Limbaugh is the anti-christ (he's not) this is stupid politics.

Mike Huckabee is to Evangelical Republicans as Jesse Jackson is to Black Democrats. He has played a divisive game of identify politics. Vote for me because you share the color of my skin or my religion is sucky politics. When Mr. Bush nominated Ms. Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, the White House used identity politics to hide her lack of judicial gravitas and liberal background. Written large between the lines was the message, "You Evangelical rubes should get on board because she's an Evangelical, too." I didn't buy it and the Republican base didn't buy it, either.

I will not get behind the Mike Huckabee campaign for these reasons.

Update: I have recently learned some more things that I don't like about Mr. Huckabee.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Modest Proposal

This week at a time when nobody was watching, the Republican Presidential candidates had a debate. I did not see this debate. I've been following this debate season second-hand. We've had talking snowmen and sappy crooning posing questions that Democrats might like to hear of the Republicans, and that the newsies running the debates find interesting. Indeed, in the debate prior to that, questions of no interest to the Republican primary voter, were posed by operatives of the Clinton campaign.

The problem is that the news media does not share the interests of the Republican primary voter. It's my opinion that the Republican primary candidates should route around damage. There's no reason why the respective state Republican Parties should conduct the debates themselves. The video can be distributed via YouTube or some other internet mechanism. If the candidates want to make snarky comments dissing their competitors, they can post them to Scrappleface.

If the drive-by media wants to attend , let them sit in the back and after everyone's discussed the substance of interest to Republican voters, they can ask the respective candidates to repeat their Scrappleface snarks.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Christmas Music

I like to listen to Jazz Brunch on the local radio station. It's a Sunday morning thing to return from church and listen to tunes that I don't generally hear. Sadly, this ritual works only 11 months of the year. After Thanksgiving, the DJ picks non-stop Christmas Jazz tunes. And it's a lot better to hear Larry Carlton do "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" than someone else.

My problem is that today's date is December 2nd. Christmas is 23 days from now. Even if I love a genre of music, being force-fed it for three weeks suffices to turn me into a Grinch or a Scrooge or whatever term signifies "zeitgeist non-participant." I remarked to my beloved wife moments ago that I appreciate Christmas songs on the weekend-of Christmas. Then they make sense and I rather enjoy them. But by that time, all the radio stations are utterly burned out on the subject and can only play zombie-like the most shopworn of the standards.

My thought, unspoken, was "Why can't they wait until the weekend of?" And the answer came to mind with the wings of Mercury, shocking in its immediacy. All the Christmas shopping has been completed by that point. There's the rub.

Consider the Peanuts TV special with its "Christmas ought not be commercial" message, but it mere presence reminds us to go shopping. Anti-commercial "meaning of Christmas" message is all good and fine, but that should not get in the way of our shopping. If radio stations were serious about the "meaning of Christmas" message, they wouldn't run Christmas carols non-stop until everyone's sick of them and, coincidentally, all opportunities for shopping are exhausted.