Saturday, May 19, 2007

Original Sin

Original Sin is one of those concepts which few people really want to seriously address. It’s not surprising – those who believe we are sinful tend not to care too much about detailed histories and conjectures, because they really just want to be healed from sin, and those who do not believe we are sinful by nature reject the whole environment as invalid from the start. As a result, people tend to miss the intention of the concept, and to take the good news it offers.

The first thing I would say in addressing this phrase, is to remind the audience that God is indeed good and loving, and therefore, if Original Sin exists as a condition, it is there for a good reason and not to trip us up. Some of the weaker preachers out there try to scare folks into believing in God, by warning they will go to Hell if they do not surrender. And to that end, they sell Original Sin as a way to say ’It doesn’t matter if you do good and love everyone, you’re born condemned and you need Jesus – or else!’

I mean, sheesh, God as Tony Soprano? I don’t think so!

So what’s the deal? Well, I start from the fact that we all sin. We all sin, and that’s just a fact. So we have to do something about it, because sin is a poison, one which an eternal being cannot tolerate. And when I say ‘eternal being’, I’m not saying God has that problem, I mean that we are eternal beings, and the sins we commit in our lives must be addressed or we will forever be pained by them.

For here, I will leave off the importance of being Christian, because I think that’s another major issue which has gotten greatly misunderstood. But we do need to reconcile with God, not because He’s standing off somewhere with His back to us and His arms crossed, angry because we broke His precious rules, but because He is perfectly pure and holy, and we cannot be with Him unless and until our sin is removed.

Basically, we need three things with regard to Sin: We need to clear our souls of sin, we need to change our nature to a holy one, and we need to put our faith into action and produce good fruit. This is the common theme throughout the Bible. The forgiveness of Sin comes from God, who after all desires that we should be free of evil and the pain it brings. The production of faith into good works is the natural result of a grateful soul aligned with God, so the only missing piece is the change in nature. The concept of Original Sin is important to this part, because when properly understood it explains why that change is possible. It’s “Original Sin”, not “Eternal Sin”, meaning that while we must wrestle with moral and ethical questions throughout our lives, we can be comforted in the knowledge that just as our bodies will be left behind when we die, while we receive perfect bodies in the life to come, so too our nature for sinful behavior is also locked into the body, and no longer torments us when we pass over to God. Therefore, the concept of Original Sin should be seen as the promise of hope, not a threat or condemnation.

MLP Round 027

Game Scores:

Monroe at Washington, 36-30 Washington
Ford at Buchanan, 31-20 Ford
A Johnson at McKinley, 37-21 McKinley
Harding at GW Bush, 36-26 GW Bush
Carter at Lincoln, 37-22 Lincoln
Reagan at Fillmore, 32-31 Reagan
T Roosevelt at Taylor, 33-30 TR
JQ Adams at Polk, 32-27 Polk
Jefferson at Eisenhower, 31-30 Jefferson
Pierce at J Adams, 30-21 J Adams
Truman at Hoover, 28-26 Truman
Van Buren at F Roosevelt, 33-24 FDR
Kennedy at Wilson, 33-25 JFK
Cleveland at Arthur, 32-26 Cleveland
Taft at B Harrison, 31-22 Taft
W Harrison at Garfield, 29-25 Garfield
Tyler at Jackson, 28-24 Jackson
Nixon at Coolidge, 27-22 Nixon
Madison at Hayes, 28-25 Hayes
GH Bush at Grant, 28-25 GH Bush
L Johnson at Clinton, 25-24 Clinton

Four Presidents have one loss, another 1 has 2 losses, another 1 has 2 wins, and one President has one win.

Friday, May 18, 2007

What Is, Is What? Immigration Reform and Congress

There are some things that you just know are a bad idea. Leaving teenagers unsupervised on a weekend. Letting the neighbor who can’t even remember your name “borrow” your new rider mower. And trusting a “bipartisan” bill from Congress.

What a piece of work, this latest thing on “Immigration Reform”.

It’s got something for everyone, which is what usually happens when committees of poll-driven narcissists put out public policy. There are Republicans who like it, there are Republicans who hate it, there are Democrats who like it, there are Democrats who hate it, there are both Republicans and Democrats who won’t say whether they like it until they find out from their staff which position is more poll-popular in their state or district. The whole issue of Immigration Reform has been a total mess for years, and it’s not as if putting Pelosi and Reid in charge of the whorehouse has improved the character of the lineup.

As you might expect, I give President Bush a little slack for this. The GOP-controlled Congress sat on its hands rather than deal with this for years, so it’s not as if he could expect Donkey Kong to get it right. And like it or not, President Bush’s 2007 position on Immigration Reform is the same as it was in 2000 when he first ran for President.

On the other hand, I have to say this bill will hurt Bush in the long term. Most of his decisions were made with a proper attention to the ethical results, doing what was right rather than what was easy or popular. I think that in this case, however, the results as time passes will be disappointing, because of one critical flaw in the bill.

Oh, the bill has more than one flaw in it. As self-serving political postures go, this one actually has some good points, but also more than a few warts. But there is one aspect to it, which is so serious that even if the rest of the bill was perfect in its intent and design, would doom it to failure.


People who work with Immigration and who know the issues first-hand, have always said that a lot of the problems we face could be solved by simply enforcing the laws which are already on the books. There are a number of reasons why this has not happened, including friction between local and federal law enforcement agencies, politics played by local governments which do not wish to obey the law themselves, and gaps in the legislation which need to be fixed. Congress, as you might guess, is not in the habit of going back and fixing its mistakes, and the Pelosi/Reid team is not about to show the maturity and diligence needed to address the matter in depth now. And the present bill demonstrates that fact. There is no mention about how the fence being built will be repaired when, as is inevitable, ‘coyotes’ and leftist activists cut into it. There is no mention about who will prosecute the businesses caught hiring illegals, or how they will be caught (It’s already illegal now, you know, just not enforced). And so on.

The Senate ought to vote this bill down, but it will not. Bush ought to veto this bill, but he won’t. And we ought to know better than to believe that this Congress would seriously try to address the flood of illegals crossing the border, but you know Katie Couric, Brian Williams, and Charles Gibson will sing the praises of Senora Pelosi for a long time on this.

At least with the teenagers, you could ground them.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

MLP Round 026

Game Scores:

Washington at Jefferson, 35-34 Washington
Fillmore at Ford, 35-33 Ford
McKinley at Quincy Adams, 39-27 McKinley
GW Bush at Truman, 35-32 GW Bush
Lincoln at GH Bush, 36-28 Lincoln
Taylor at Reagan, 31-28 Reagan
W Harrison at T Roosevelt, 33-28 TR
Polk at Van Buren, 27-23 Polk
J Adams at Cleveland, 31-30 Cleveland
F Roosevelt at Pierce, 30-22 FDR
Eisenhower at L Johnson, 32-21 Ike
Grant at Monroe, 30-27 Monroe
Coolidge at Kennedy, 32-30 JFK
Hoover at Taft, 30-25 Taft
Garfield at Jackson, 31-28 Garfield
Clinton at Nixon, 30-23 Nixon
Hayes at Carter, 26-24 Carter
Arthur at Tyler, 32-30 Tyler
Buchanan at Madison, 26-25 Buchanan
Wilson at Harding, 27-23 Harding
B Harrison at A Johnson, 20-19 B Harrison

Four Presidents have one loss, another 1 has 2 losses, another 1 has 2 wins, and one President has one win.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Dubya Standard

I watched the Republicans debate in South Carolina on Tuesday, and I noticed how many of them tried to compare themselves to Ronald Reagan. It was, frankly, laughable. The Reagan Aura has grown far beyond anything a mortal man could hope to claim, but even the real Reagan was much more than any of these yokels could hope to compare.

I happen to think that the Republicans in the race would be very wise to try to show how much they are like our current President, George W. Bush. Yep, that’s right. For all the conventional wisdom that folks should try to avoid being seen with Dubya, I argue that anyone who wants to get elected in 2008 had better start moving towards him, not away.

There are many reasons why I believe this. Let’s start with the obvious fact that somehow got lost; Dubya collected more than 62 million votes in 2004. And at that time, his Job Approval, the number most media hacks were noting, was floating around 50 percent. The present media number is an average Job Approval of 34%, according to Real Clear Politics, which by simple math means that President Bush still has over 42 million people who vote by the Bush Standard. Not that 42 million would be enough to win, but only a complete moron would drive away 42 million or think that they could win without them.

Before I continue, I should be careful to say that I am not looking for a Bush clone. Much as I admire Dubya, the man has made mistakes, not least in ignoring the political consequences of a decision. It’s laughable, how many Democrats accuse the President of politicizing a decision when it is plain that he does nothing of the sort; after all, a man who wanted to play politics would have timed the ‘Fort Dix’ story to break last fall, or would have spun the capture of key Al Qaeda operatives for maximum press, or might have ignored the welfare of two Middle East countries in a bombastic effort to produce the corpse of Osama as some kind of bloody trophy, rather than let the military do their job and keep his mouth shut for the most part. Not that I want a Macchiavellian type of politician, but that Bush most definitely has steered clear of deceit and hype, and a successful politician, like it or not, has to consider how to build that political capital. James Carville may be a soulless monster, but he is popular in D.C. for a reason. Any successful President, like it or not, is probably going to need something of that killer instinct, or to trust an advisor who has it.

The next reason for would-be Presidents to consider Dubya, is the accomplishments he has made. I know it’s quite the fashion to tab Bush as a “failed” President somehow, but in reality his work has been effective. His tax cuts unquestionably eased the 2001 recession which followed the 9/11 attacks, his Supreme Court and Federal Judiciary nominations have been superb from the perspective of judicial reform (rolling back the tide of activist judges who ignore the Constitution), his National Security doctrine has prevented another major terrorist attack on U.S. soil, and has severely damaged the capabilities of Al Qaeda and other Islamogfascist organizations (far too many people judge the war in Iraq and Afghanistan on the peculiar assumption that terrorists would have stayed home and been peaceful, rather than grown in ambition and violence, if we had just let Saddam go on in his murderous ways). And yeah, Dubya has done a pretty good job of helping Americans understand the signature differences between a Republican President and a Democrat President.

Folks also forget how Bush got elected. Every President has a certain element which makes the difference in election, and for many that difference comes down to, well, likeability. People like Dubya, and always have. Next to him, Kerry and Gore were stone-faced goons. And we’ve seen that before. Republicans should remember that Bill Clinton worked hard to show himself as relaxed and comfortable, a nice guy, while Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush came off as stuffy and self-absorbed. And yet “Poppy” Bush was a heckuva lot more likeable than Mike “mechanitron” Dukakis. And do I need to remind you how much more Ronald Reagan was, than Walter “Sourpuss” Mondale or Jimmy Carter? Sure, it’s not everything, but time and time again we see Presidents win in part because they just come across as a good guy. Shewt, remember “I like Ike”?

By now, you can see where I am going. Hillary, McCain, bye-bye, thanks for playing, but you’re both outta-there. I will keep up the suspense somewhat by not going further here, but it’s not that hard to understand, that the person with the “right stuff” to be the next President of the United States, ought to be studying George W. Bush.

With attention and respect.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

MLP Round 025

Game Scores:

L Johnson at Washington, 36-28 Washington
Ford at Taylor, 32-30 Ford
Van Buren at McKinley, 37-25 McKinley
Taft at GW Bush, 36-26 GW Bush
Monroe at Lincoln, 37-33 Lincoln
Reagan at W Harrison, 37-35 Reagan
T Roosevelt at Garfield, 31-29 TR
Pierce at Polk, 32-21 Polk
Madison at Fillmore, 31-21 Fillmore
Jefferson at Grant, 31-25 Jefferson
Tyler at J Adams, 30-28 J Adams
Truman at Wilson, 30-25 Truman
Cleveland at F Roosevelt, 33-29 FDR
Nixon at Eisenhower, 31-30 Nixon
Kennedy at Clinton, 31-25 JFK
Quincy Adams at B Harrison, 31-22 JQA
Jackson at Arthur, 29-26 Jackson
GH Bush at Hayes, 28-25 Hayes
Carter at Buchanan, 22-20 Carter
Harding at Coolidge, 27-22 Harding
A Johnson at Hoover, 29-21 Hoover

Four Presidents have one loss, another 1 has 2 losses, another 1 has 2 wins, and one President has one win.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

MLP Round 024

Game Scores:

Washington at Nixon, 36-30 Washington
Ford at W Harrison, 33-25 Ford
McKinley at Pierce, 35-18 McKinley
GW Bush at A Johnson, 35-19 GW Bush
Jefferson at Lincoln, 37-31 Lincoln
Reagan at T Roosevelt, 37-33 Reagan
Cleveland at Polk, 32-29 Polk
Carter at Fillmore, 31-19 Fillmore
J Adams at Jackson, 29-28 J Adams
Coolidge at Truman, 32-28 Truman
Madison at Taylor, 30-21 Taylor
Eisenhower at Kennedy, 33-32 Ike
Tyler at F Roosevelt, 33-30 FDR
Monroe at Hayes, 29-28 Monroe
Wilson at Taft, 30-23 Taft
Hoover at JQ Adams, 27-23 JQA
Garfield at Arthur, 29-26 Garfield
GH Bush at Buchanan, 31-20 GH Bush
L Johnson at Grant, 25-22 Grant
Clinton at Harding, 28-27 Clinton
B Harrison at Van Buren, 26-23 B Harrison

Four Presidents have one loss, another 2 have 2 losses, another 2 have 2 wins, and one President has one win.

The new Rankings are as follows:

After Twenty-Four Rounds

.1. Washington (23-1) beats Truman, Harding, JFK, Nixon
.2. Ford (23-1) beats Garfield, Reagan, TR, W Harrison
.3. McKinley (23-1) beats Jackson, Tyler, Cleveland, Pierce
.4. GW Bush (23-1) beats Pierce, Van Buren, JQA, A Johnson
.5. Lincoln (22-2) beats JFK, Nixon, LBJ, Jefferson
.6. Reagan (21-3) beats Madison, TR, loses to Ford, Garfield
.7. Teddy Roosevelt (21-2) beats Carter, Mad, loses to Ford, Reagan
.8. Polk (18-6) beats Arthur, Jackson, Tyler, Cleveland
.9. Fillmore (18-6) beats Monroe, GHB, Carter, loses to Jefferson
.10. Jefferson (19-5) beats Fillmore, Buchanan, Hayes, loses to Lincoln

.11. J Adams (17-7) beats Garfield, Arthur, Jackson, loses to FDR
.12. Truman (17-7) beats Ike, Clinton, Coolidge, loses to Washington
.13. Taylor (16-8) beats GH Bush, Carter, Madison, loses to Monroe
.14. FDR (15-9) beats J Adams, Arthur, Jackson, Tyler
.15. Eisenhower (15-9) beats Taft, Harding, JFK, loses to Truman
.16. Monroe (15-9) beats Taylor, Buchanan, Hayes, loses to Fillmore
.17. Kennedy (16-8) beats Grant, loses to Lincoln, Washington, Ike
.18. Cleveland (14-10) beats Hoover, B Harr, loses to McKinley, Polk
.19. Taft (12-12) beats Clinton, Coolidge, Wilson, loses to Ike
.20. Quincy Adams (11-13) beats Cool, Wilson, Hoover, loses to GWB

.21. Garfield (11-13) beats Arthur, loses to Ford, J Adams, Reagan
.22. Jackson (12-12) loses to McKinley, Polk, FDR, J Adams
.23. Nixon (11-13) beats Grant, loses to Hayes, Lincoln, Washington
.24. Hayes (11-13) beats Nixon, LBJ, loses to Jefferson, Monroe
.25. GH Bush (9-15) beats W Harr, Buchanan loses to Taylor, Fillmore
.26. Tyler (10-14) beats B Harrison, loses to McKinley, Polk, FDR
.27. Grant (8-16) Beats Harding, LBJ, loses to JFK, Nixon
.28. W Harrison (9-15) beats Carter, Madison, loses to GH Bush, Ford
.29. Arthur (9-15) loses to Polk, FDR, J Adams, Garfield
.30. Clinton (6-18) beats A Johnson, Harding, loses to Taft, Truman

.31. Madison (8-16) loses to Reagan, TR, W Harrison, Taylor
.32. Wilson (7-17) beats Van Buren, A Johnson, loses to JQA, Taft
.33. Carter (6-18) loses to TR, W Harrison, Taylor, Fillmore
.34. B Harrison (4-20) beats Pierce, Van Buren, loses to Tyler, Cleve
.35. Harding (5-19) loses to Grant, Washington, Ike, Clinton
.36. LBJ (4-20) beats Buchanan, loses to Hayes, Lincoln, Grant
.37. Buchanan (4-20) loses to LBJ, Jefferson, Monroe, GH Bush
.38. Van Buren (3-21) beats Hoov, loses to Wilson, GW Bush, B Harr
.39. Coolidge (3-21) loses to JQA, A Johnson, Taft, Truman
.40. Pierce (2-22) beats Hoover, loses to GWB, B Harr, McKinley
.41. Hoover (2-22) loses to Cleveland, Pierce, Van Buren, JQA
.42. A Johnson (1-23) beats Coolidge, loses to Clinton, Wilson, GWB