Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We Interrupt This Series

I have one more post-election post to make. I had intended to make it many days ago, but life got in the way.

First there was babysitting grandsons. Ephraim and Ezra were with us for a few days while their parents got away. I took the vacation days from work and helped Lynda out with them. It was a great time. A couple of those days I rose early and wrote before the boys were up. I worked on my novel, however, not on a blog post.

Then, Wednesday before Thanksgiving our refrigerator went out. It was on borrowed time, having shown distress in September but then working fine. We decided to get by while we could. Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m., with Thanksgiving meal looming and desserts requiring refrigeration being prepared is perhaps the most inopportune time for the thing to finally say "Twenty-five years is enough. Goodbye." This fridge was original to the house, we think; it was there when we bought it. At that time there was no going out and getting another one. Nor on Thursday. Friday might have been a possibility, but we were tied up with company until about 7 p.m., and Saturday I couldn't get the other half of the team moving very early.

We finally got in to Sears around 3:00 in the afternoon. We found some things we wanted, but weren't clear that it was the right way to go. I should add that we have a second fridge in the garage, an older one. When the inside fridge went out, we crammed that as full as we could, then bought ice and tried to keep the dead fridge somewhat cool. Every day I bought ice and changed out containers. It was tiring. We didn't buy at Sears, even though the sale on the model we liked would be up the next day.

Sunday we decided to go a couple of other places before going back to Sears. The local appliance store (not a chain) that everyone speak highly of was closed on Sunday. We went to a couple of the chain stores, and found what we really wanted at Lowe's. The problem was it wasn't quite right. Our wall oven is also on it's last legs, the lower heating element being out. Our built-in microwave and our dishwasher are also showing signs of distress. They had a sale on a package of all of those, but they wouldn't fit. The Lowe's department manager, after we waited an hour for him to break free from another customer, said he couldn't do any swap outs of one model for another. We either bought the package or the individual units we wanted at the price listed, either the regular or sale price.

So we bought nothing, and I hauled some more ice. The sale at Lowe's on the fridge model we wanted went through Monday. They also had a sale on a wall oven up the same day. It would require a little modification to our cabinetry to make it work, but it would work. I went in the middle of the afternoon and learned 1) they had sold the last of that fridge in the store and to order it would take a week or more for delivery (I immediately had ice visions), and 2) they really couldn't sell me the wall oven without first sending out a man to measure for it, and they couldn't get a man out for a couple of days. Or, I could buy the oven at my own risk. Since I had to go to another Lowe's store to get the fridge, I told them what they could do with their wall oven (okay, not really) and left.

I'm sure this story isn't all that interesting, so I'll make it short. At the other Lowe's I bought the fridge. They put it on emergency delivery for Tuesday evening. It arrived at the house at 5:30 p.m. We had to cut back some carpet to remove the old and install the new, but it was in place by 6:30 and for sure cooling within an hour. How good it was to hear the first ice cubes tumble down from the maker.

I'll find an oven repair man over the next couple of days, and get that taken care of. Then there's the master bedroom mattress to replace, the microwave, the dishwasher, the furnace services, and a couple of other things. But just having the fridge in place has allowed me to relax for the first time in a week. Maybe tonight I can write a little.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Just How Post-Christian Are We?

I never meant to take so long to come back to this series. My how the time swirls by when you're busy.

One thing that seems obvious to me, from watching not only the run-up to the election but also the election itself, is that we are for sure in a post-Christian world. Pundits argue about whether we were ever a Christian nation. I say we never were, because we never were a theocracy. We have always had a secular government. And our Constitution expressly forbids applying a religious test to Federal positions.

However, we were once a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles. That's much different than being a Christian nation, but it's an important part of our history. Public records from our founding era are full of references to Judeo-Christian principles. The records from today, not so much.

My observations are that we (the collective we meaning the nation as a whole) are no longer comfortable with public officials speaking about Christianity, or even about God. An example is the Republican candidate for senate from Indiana, who said something about a pregnancy resulting from a rape was a child that was willed by God, or something like that. The quote attributed to him by the press didn't make a whole lot of sense, but what I took from it was if a woman was raped and a pregnancy was the result that child was the will of God.

I believe this one comment ended any chance he had to win that election. People just don't want to hear about God any more. References to God were removed from the Democratic Party's platform, and attempts to put those references back in were actually voted down. Only through the bad decision of the chairman were they restored. I predict they won't be in the future.

In small pieces of evidence across my TV screen I see that references to God, or any concern for His agenda, are disappearing. As they are from American life. I think we are close to a tipping point along a path that began in the post-war world (World War 2, I mean), that was resisted in the 1950s by a drive to increase/enhance Christianity, then began rolling in the 1960s and really hasn't stopped. In politics, in culture, in arts, in just about everything the number of Americans who want to hear about God, as Father, Son, or Holy Spirit, are dwindling. That was painfully evident in this election.

In my next post, which will be the last in the post-election series, I'm going to discuss a possible alternative way for devout Christians to engage in the political process. I say it will be the last post, but it's possible it will be so long that I'll have to split it into two posts.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Senate Moves by Personalities

In my last post I sort of patted myself on the back for having made accurate predictions of how this election would go. My predictions were in my book The Candy Store Generation, published in July 2012. They were based on my belief that the Baby Boomers, the generation now in control of almost everything in America, was addicted to candy from the candy store and would vote for whoever promised them the most goodies from the government.

I predicted Barack Obama would narrowly win re-election, which he did. I predicted the House would remain in Republican control, though with a lower margin, which it did. The Republicans lost a net of six seats, retaining what could be called a comfortable majority.

It was in the Senate where I missed. My prediction was that the Republicans would gain ground, and possibly, though not probably, take it over, or that it would be evenly divided. Before the election the Democratic-Independent coalition had a 53-47 seat edge over the Republicans. I expected that to become either 50-50 or 51-49 one way of the other. Instead, the Democrats increased their majority to 55-45.

So where did I miss it? First of all, maybe I shouldn't be terribly concerned about missing one out of three when I was so exact on the other two. Still, I missed it. The Republican losses in Missouri and Indiana are, it seems to me, the key to what happened in the Senate races.

The Republican candidates in those two states were ahead in their races in the spring and early summer. McKaskill (D) in Missouri seemed particularly vulnerable and the most likely incumbent Democratic senator to be defeated. But then the idiot Republican made his statement about "legitimate rape", and the party was over. From that moment on he was a goner.

In Indiana, the race turned from the Republican's to lose to a sure Democratic victory when the idiot Republican candidate made his statement that a pregnancy resulting from a rape was God's will. From that point on, he was a goner too.

Then, I think these two statements dragged down Republican candidates elsewhere. The media reported them so widely, with disdain to the max, that voters in Montana and North Dakota thought, perhaps subconsciously, that the Republicans were the party of legitimate rape and rape-caused pregnancies, and turned away from them in sufficient numbers that the Democrats won those seats.

Let's be clear about one thing: There's no such thing as a rape that is legitimate. Trying to figure out what Aiken meant, all I can assume is that he meant "actual rape" rather than sex that was acquiesced to but really wasn't wanted, but which later the woman said was rape. I don't know if that's what he meant or not. But if that's what he meant, it's still a stupid comment. Rape is a serious matter, as is men forcing themselves on women. Our over-sexualized culture and media is doing its best to get women to give in to sexual urges rather than retain their natural reticence. Given all that, male candidates just need to shut up about those issues. Rape is rape.

Part of Aiken's comments was about the stress of a rape causing a woman's body to do something—maybe secrete a hormone?—that would prevent a pregnancy from happening. I had actually seen something written on that long before Bozo Aiken made his remark, but have never researched it. I don't know where it was I read that, if it was a medical piece backed up by research or a fluff piece, if it was speculation or science. But it doesn't matter. It was a stupid remark to make in any context, it didn't need to be made, and it sunk Aiken and helped to sink at least two other of his party's candidates.

Concerning rape-caused pregnancies being God's will, or, that wasn't the exact remark. It was more that the fetus conceived and growing as a result of a rape was a life created and thus was God's will. Actually, I need to research the exact quote. Plus, that is a different issue that I want to spend the next post on. Plus, this post is long enough already.

I'll just conclude that it seems to me that senatorial races turn more on personalities than on issues. House races, for the most part, are settled on issues. Senate races are settled with personalities making much more of an impact. That's something for me to consider in future election predictions—if I ever make any more.

P.S. This morning The Candy Store Generation is #99 in its genre list at the Kindle store. Woo hoo!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Being Right and Wishing You Were Wrong

When I published The Candy Store Generation in July, 2012, I included in Chapter 13 this prediction for the USA general election just concluded.

In the Senate, the Republicans will pick up some seats, and may take control. I anticipate the Senate will be close to equally divided, closer than it is now. The number of seats being defended by the Democrats almost guarantees Republican gains. However, Boomer push back against the drastic action needed to right our economic ship will mitigate this, as I explain in the next paragraph.


In the House, where the Republicans currently have a 49 seat edge, I expect the Democrats to pick up seats. This is where we see the main push back against drastic actions needed for fiscal responsibility. Boomers will vote in force, trying to reclaim the candy store that started to slip away in 2010. They see the drastic action required and will recoil. Cut entitlements? No way. Repeal Obama Care? No way. Use the debt ceiling as a weapon against over-spending? No way. The Boomers will vote, and will vote for the old ways. Districts that were traditionally Democratic, but which went Republican in 2010, will flip back in 2012. Not all of them, but enough to reduce the Republican majority.

For the presidency, it's a close call. However, I believe that, in the absence of some kind of major news—a domestic or international disaster—President Obama will be returned for a second term. Again, the Boomers see him as being the one who will keep the candy store open, and enough of them will vote for him to give him victory. It will be considerably closer than his win in 2008, perhaps even similar to 2000, but it will be Obama's year.

Obviously I was wrong in the Senate. It looks like the Democrats successfully held onto the gains of six years ago and added to them. The races weren't really that close. Some of this may be due to personalities (which I'll get to in a future post), but for whatever reason the Democrats held on here, and proved me wrong.

On the House, it looks like I was dead on. The Republicans retain control, with a slightly diminished majority. That's exactly what I saw happening and predicted, based on my analytical methodology.

In the presidential race, again I was dead on, the fourth straight presidential election I called. I'll quit patting myself on the back now. How I wish I had been wrong! Some have told me it's not the Boomers, it's their offspring. For sure, the youth vote was for Obama. But so many Boomers want the candy store to stay open, that this tipped the scale. The Obama edge in the youth vote is meaningless without major Boomer leading.

Also in The Candy Store Generation is an update concerning the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election, which had just concluded. Here's what I had in that update, which I got in just before publication.
Based on the Wisconsin results, the Candy Store Generation now knows how hard they have to campaign to protect their candy store. Will they fight that hard? The election is only months away.
They did fight that hard, and they won.

I wish I had been wrong in the presidential race. I was no fan of Romney, but I believe he would have been orders of magnitude better than Obama.

And that's the view tonight from flyover country.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Basis for Voting

It's election day in the United States of America. Here in Arkansas we have the presidential election, a congressional election, a number of local offices (though some in my district are uncontested), and four ballot initiatives. These initiatives range from state and local tax issues to making medical marijuana legal to validating a zoning ordinance of our City Council. It's a big election.

I have come to embrace the James Otis Test as a means of evaluating candidates for office. I described that test in my book Documenting America. Here it is again.
The only principles of public conduct that are worthy of a gentleman are to sacrifice estate, ease, health, and applause, and even life, to the sacred calls of his country. These...sentiments in private life make the good citizen; in public life the patriot and the hero.

That's easier said than followed. How can we tell if a candidate for any office—president, representative, city council—is willing to sacrifice estate, ease, health, applause, and life to the sacred calls of his country? That's not an easy determination. However, I think I can tell which candidate considers serving in the office to be a sacred call. If that's all I can fathom, that will have to suffice as a basis for decision making.

The other principal that guides me is to put aside the politics of personal gain. I don't want to consider what's best for me, but what's best for my city, county, state, and nation. Maybe I'd be better off with the cost of my health care shared among three hundred million people, and have someone from the government watch after every aspect of my life. But I cannot believe that's better for America.

So I will be voting for initiatives that will lead us toward a more sober view of the world around us, that will keep us on the march toward economic freedom, which is what most set America apart from all other nations. I will vote for those who I believe will rein in uncontrolled spending, who will steer our people away from a sense of entitlement rather than toward it and thus toward a sense of personal responsibility, who will make reversing our plunge into unpayable debt a priority, and who will take a hundred year vision to their office, not just to the next election, and won't ask that future generations pay so that no one in this generation will be in want.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Book Review: "The Nature Of The Book"

The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the MakingThe Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making by Adrian Johns
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I picked this book up four or five years ago while on vacation, but just got around to reading it in the last month. I want to like this and recommend it, I really do. But alas, I cannot. It's 650 pages of small font text, very difficult to read. I love books about books and printing (my dad was a printer), but this is so difficult I can't read it. I struggled through to page 46 before quitting. On page 45, in close proximity, were the words interlocutors, prolix, and otiose. I'm not stupid, but I only knew one of those words without looking it up. And other pages are pretty much the same.

The introduction runs through page 58. I'm stopping at page 46. I read the words, try hard to concentrate, but the writing is so involved and the concepts so difficult to grasp, that I'm not comprehending.

I shall put this on the shelf, and revisit it in my retirement, when, hopefully, my mind will be able to concentrate and, with The Nature of the Book and a good dictionary in the other, and with my mind less cluttered than it is now, I'll be able to make more sense of this. On to something else.

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