April 2009 - Posts
... that Wesley plays tennis?
On the 15th of April I tuned in to the Fox News Channel only to confirm my doubts about the legitimacy of the 2009 Tax Day Tea Parties (BTW, what is the difference between a Tea Party and a T.E.A. Party?). And, today, I'm inclined to say that they were a fizzle -- or, worse, an epic failure.
First, let me get this out of my system. Every time I hear "Tea Party," I think of this video -- "Tea Partay." Good. Now I can continue.
My initial impression of the tea parties was that they were parodies of outrage. After about fifteen minutes into the Fox News coverage, I saw someone pouring a gallon jug of AriZona tea into a puddle. Seriously? Stopping by the Quickie Mart on the way to a rally, paying full price plus tax for a gallon of tea just to pour it on the ground in front of a bunch of Ron Paul supporters isn't exactly revolutionary. In fact, it sounds more like one of the "Real Men of Genius" Budweiser commercials.
And then there was Glenn Beck standing in front of the Alamo with approximately 15,000 people behind him. Only 15,000? The seventh most populous city in the nation can only gather 15,000 to demonstrate against our nation's most irresponsible fiscal policies ever? It doesn't sound like there's much outrage. But, to their credit, they did have Ted Nugent rocking so it wasn't a total loss.
The original Boston Tea Party of the 18th century was revolutionary. Somewhere between 30 to 130 men stormed three ships in the Boston Harbor to protest taxation without representation and the British Parlaiment's authority in the colonies. From that, we got the American Revolutionary War.
Fast forward almost 240 years and our tea parties aren't even slightly creative. Sure, it's only symbolic. But what is the end game? We have taxation with representation. We picked the man in the White House. We picked the men and women in Congress. And these people have approval ratings well north of 50%. In fact, President Obama has a 90% approval rating by Democrats. So, again, I ask what is the end game of the protests?
And I'm not the only one asking. Check out the "official" web page of the Tax Day Tea Party. They need to know "what's next" and need "your suggestions."
In the meantime, President Obama and his economic advisors can "stretch what is left of the $700 billion financial bailout fund further than they had expected a few months ago, simply by converting the government’s existing loans to the nation’s 19 biggest banks into common stock" (NYTimes.com, April 20). That's right. The government will own equity in the nation's largest banks. I'm sure parodies of outrage will ensue.
Last weekend, as we were gathered around my folk's dinner table for the usual Sunday afternoon meal, we asked my
three four-year-old niece to pray. She was to my immediate left. We bowed our heads and waited. She opened with, "In Jesus' name" and then looked up and sheepishly said that she had messed up. We encouraged her to continue or to start over. Slightly embarrassed, she initially refused but her father, BJ, gave her the opening words: "Dear Jesus...."
So with renewed confidence we bowed our heads again to pray. She started, "Door Jesus..." and then looked up, grinned, rolled her eyes and said, "I said, 'Door.'"
We all fell out in the floor laughing. It was adorably cute and something we'll all remember. Since then my niece has garnered the confidence to pray again despite our laughter.
"'Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by
God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in
your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death....'" (Acts 2:22-23,NKJV)
No other event in the history of the world has impacted my life more than the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Nothing even comes close. Nearly every day of my new life I have prayed a prayer of thanksgiving. But to have one day that every Christian sets aside to celebrate God's magnum opus is a moment of sheer joy for me. No words can describe the joy that I have for the Christ's willful sacrifice for my sins and the collective praise that is raised up on this holy day.
Not everyone is excited. Although, I'm not surprised because that is how it has been since the very day of Jesus' crucifixion:
And when they came to the place that is called The Skull ["Golgotha" from Aramaic, "Calvary" from Latin], there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.
And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews."
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" (Luke 23:33, 35-39, ESV)
In these brief passages we find all but one possible response to Jesus' sacrifice: apathy, scorn and unrepentance to name a few. They just didn't get it.
It isn't until the next four verses in Luke's account that we find someone who is excited. And the irony is that it is a criminal hanged beside Jesus.
But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:40-43, ESV)
We all have an opportunity to respond. What is your response this year?
Last Wednesday, I shared my opinions about debt and the potential for tyrannical rule. So, today, I was not surprised to find a similar -- although better researched -- article in Saturday's Wall Street Journal. Stuart Varney writes a very eye-opening article about the politics of the bank TARP money. He connects the dots which I suspected were present, but like him was too callow to consider seriously. Read the opening paragraphs:
I must be naive. I really thought the administration would welcome the return of bank bailout money. Some $340 million in TARP cash flowed back this week from four small banks in Louisiana, New York, Indiana and California. This isn't much when we routinely talk in trillions, but clearly that money has not been wasted or otherwise sunk down Wall Street's black hole. So why no cheering as the cash comes back?
My answer: The government wants to control the banks, just as it now controls GM and Chrysler, and will surely control the health industry in the not-too-distant future. Keeping them TARP-stuffed is the key to control. And for this intensely political president, mere influence is not enough. The White House wants to tell 'em what to do. Control. Direct. Command.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is not the America that I read about in the history books and learned to love.
Update: Here's a similar article at Gateway Pundit: Obama Proves He's Not Only the Anti-Reagan ... He's Also the Anti-Lincoln.
Joe Napalm does not bow before foreign monarchs.
This message was brought to you by a little thing called the Revolutionary War. Thank you and carry on.
Every day I learn something new about a subject. I don't set out with the intention of learning. Nevertheless, I pay attention as events and discussions pan out and learn something. And today I discovered why I hate divorce. Sure, I hate divorce because it's biblically -- and, therefore, morally -- wrong. I hate it because it hurts innocent children. I hate it because it hurts people I love. And I'm sure there are more reasons, but those, I've discovered, are secondary reasons. The primary reason I hate divorce is because it's an inconvenience to me.
People I know -- or people I could potentially know in the future -- should immediately stop divorcing out of consideration of my convenience.
I'm a conversational person. I talk to complete strangers and usually find myself directing the conversation. During the conversations, it's not about me; it's about making the other person comfortable. And, to make someone comfortable, what better way is there than to get them to talk about themselves? That is where the inconvenience is.
Take the lunchtime discussion today as an example. I ate lunch with four coworkers and a coworker's wife. I had never met her and only knew her husband in passing. I've heard him talk about his kids at work. And I know they're married. So, pulling from my past experience with marriage and kids, I assume that they have been married for a while and have had the kids. As it turns out, that's not the case. The kids are his from a previous marriage and he and his new bride have only been married for about six months. It's foreign to me! It's a completely different culture! So immediately the conversation gets awkward. I mean, what else have I assumed that is wrong?
Nearly everyone I know is married to their first spouse and have been -- and plan to be -- married for years. So I can't really relate to divorce. Do you want to talk about hunting? I've done it. Fishing? Been there. Heck, I've even been skydiving. I've traveled to foreign lands. I've watched NASCAR and tried most sports. I've tasted dog biscuits and had rhubarb pie. I've seen 26 of the 50 states and been to the District of Columbia twice. But I know nothing of divorce and have nothing but blank stares of ignorance as a reply.
So, please, in consideration of my convenience, stop divorcing. It's conversationally awkward. Thank you.
I can only describe this as the most totally awesome sleeping bag ever conceived. I say "conceived" because this isn't an actual product and may have been an April Fool's joke that backfired. But, the coolness that this sleeping bag exudes is epic and the outcry by Star Wars fanatics may require Think Geek to actually manufacture it. Just check out the description from Think Geek and then I dare you to look me in the eye and tell me you don't want one:
This high-quality sleeping bag looks just like a Tauntaun, complete with saddle, internal intestines and glowing lightsaber zipper pull. Now when your kids tell you their favorite Star Wars movie is "Attack of the Clones" you can nestle the wee-ones snug in simulated Tauntaun fur while regaling them with the amazing tale of "Empire Strikes Back".
Use the glowing lightsaber zipper pull on the Tauntaun sleeping bag to illustrate how Han Solo saved Luke Skywalker from certain death in the freezing climate of Hoth by slitting open the belly of a dead Tauntaun and placing Luke inside the stinking (but warm) carcass. If your kids don't change their tune on which Star Wars film is the greatest ever, you can do your best Jar Jar impression until they repent.
So, you're up to your eyeballs in debt. How else did you expect things to turn out?
Because of low interest rates and the boom in the housing market, you live in a house that requires you and your wife to work full-time to pay the mortgage that is more than 30 per cent of your combined take-home pay. But, because of the bubble burst and sagging economy, you or your wife is unemployed and you're struggling to make a payment on a house that you had hoped to flip but is now worth less than the purchase price.
On top of this, 43% of you spend more than you make. Not including your mortgage, you are $19,000 in debt. Of that, $8,000 is credit card debt across seven or eight bank, retail or debit cards.
What is life without debt like? You don't know. You either attended a public college or university and graduated with $16,000 in student loan debt; or you went to a private institution and graduated with $18,000 in debt. And you began your career with three credit cards.
I don't have a crystal ball or special insight. The information is readily available from the Federal Reserve. Try out this intriguing interactive website detailing American debt since the 1920s. Take special note of the average household savings per year. It's eyepopping.
While the management of your personal finances won't play out in the public arena, many people's finances have very much in common with the likes of General Motors, AIG and others. All of those companies had an insane amount of debt. Depending on who you ask, General Motors has between $28 billion to $45 billion in unsecured debt. AIG's debt is more than double. These companies had their heads below water and some analysts suggested that the bankruptcy of such large companies would have a terrible impact on the US economy. So, when the Federal Government with its nearly limitless supply of money (remember, it can print more!) offered to step in and buy the debt, nearly all (except Ford, which I hope everyone takes notice) agreed to take the money. But here is where the real problem begins.
Proverbs 22:7 says, "the borrower is the slave of the lender" (ESV). Mark that down somewhere. Put it in your wallet. Post it on your computer screen at work. Shoot, make it your bathroom wallpaper so you and the fam have to see it every day -- multiple times a day if you're as regular as the Napalm crew.
But I digress. What we're seeing play out in the news now is Big Brother lording over companies and being a tyrant slave holder. You've heard it on the radio or seen it on TV: The common person on the street is outraged by the losses, debt and bonuses of these companies. Why? Because the common person now "owns" the companies. It's our money. Right? And if we own it, we should have a say in how much an executive earns. We should have a say in who keeps their job and who loses their job. And in the end, we discover that capitalism is dead and Rush Limbaugh is right: Americans love a soft tyranny.
Look, this has become a rant. But if you take anything away from my meandering, take this away: Save money. Don't spend more than you make. Avoid debt at all costs. Reduce your debt. Eliminate it if possible. Otherwise you'll find yourself slave to a soft tyranny -- or worse, a full-blown tyrant. It's simple economics.