Thursday, November 08, 2012

Big Bird, Binders, Bayonets, and Bain

I admit, I was shocked by the election result on November6.  Although the polls showed PresidentObama with a lead, I did not think the voter samples in those polls wereaccurate.  I thought there would be noway that Democratic turnout in 2012 would be equivalent to 2008, and I alsothought that Republican turnout would be higher.  After all, hadn’t people been payingattention the last 4 years to higher unemployment, lower wages, exploding debt,more expensive health care, a debacle in Libya, Obama’s lack of leadership,etc.?  I was wrong, and still a littlebaffled – but watching “Idiocracy” the other night has helped.  Here were the popular vote totals from 2008: 

Obama – 69.2 million votes (53%)
McCain – 59.6 million votes (46%) 

In 2012, these are the results: 

Obama 60.6 million (50.4%)
Romney 57.8 million (48%) 

If someone told me the President would receive 9 millionfewer votes on 2012 than in 2008, I would assume Romney won; however, Romneyreceived 2 million fewer votes than McCain! This is what baffled me the most – how could 2 million people who votedfor McCain in 2008 not come back plus some in 2012 for Romney?  But then I remembered Jose Canseco….
When Jose Canseco played for the Oakland A’s, I couldn’tstand him.  I hated the A’s and all theirplayers, maybe Canseco the most.  Butthen, Canseco joined the Rangers, and I became a fan.  Suddenly, I rooted for Canseco and was gladhe was a Ranger.  Same with Deion Sandersand the Cowboys.  As I thought aboutthat, I wondered if my desire for Romney to win overshadowed my former dislikeof him.  In 2008 and through much of the2011-12 primary, I couldn’t stand Mitt – I didn’t like his past flip flops, his“rich guy” persona, his robotic mannerisms, etc.  He only won one election, lost his others,and instituted Romneycare while in office. I flirted with Pawlenty, Gingrich, Santorum, Cain, and even briefly Perry (I hadto take a long shower after that brief encounter – not my finest moment – I haven’teven voted for him for Governor and suddenly I found myself testing the watersbecause of Mitt) before I finally settled for Mitt.  Mainly because Mitt won and no one was left.  As the election went on, I grew to like Romneyand really hoped he would win.  But ittook me 5 years to like the Governor. Could the American public warm to him in 2 months?  Apparently not.  The President’s campaign to paint Romney asan out-of-touch-mushy-rich-guy worked. Maybe it worked because it was partly true and I was just blinded by mydesire to win?  I don’t know.  I do think he is a good man and has a nicefamily, but I also know that this time last year I couldn’t stand him.   

The President also lost 9 million votes due to his recordthrough 4 years in office, but he could afford that due to the large amount ofhis supporters who would vote for him even if he went on a murder spree; Romneycouldn’t afford his loss of 2 million.  Soturn out, as it always is, was critical. The President had the organization and enough of a motivated base to pull outthe win. This is the first time a President has been re-elected while receivingless votes than the first time.  But hiscampaign against Romney convinced enough people to stay home rather than tovote for either.  Negative advertising,particularly when unanswered, works.
Of course, it cannot be ignored that the Republican Party has donenothing to reach out to Hispanic voters, and in fact has done quite a bit toalienate them, but that needs to be a post all on its own.  Add to that, the Republicans nominated a fewidiots for the Senate. And, Hurricane Sandy turned out to be a time for the Presidentto actually act like a President for a photo op, get to third base with Gov.Christie, and sway last minute voters his way. But organization, dividing-and-conquering, turnout, small-mindedpolitics, fear, and negative advertising are what ultimately won this for the President.  The Republicans contributed by ignoringHispanics, nominating a rich guy who may just be unlikeable to most(although hewas the best available at the time), and hoping for a different turnout.  This has to change by 2016.  (Marco Rubio, please study up on foreignpolicy and keep yourself out of any scandals or gaffes.)

Monday, November 05, 2012

2012 Presidential Prediction

Tomorrow brings this seemingly eternal Presidential race to a close.  While there is talk of vote counting potentially lasting for days, I believe by late tomorrow night or early morning Wednesday we will have a clear winner.  If we only look at polls as reported on RealClearPolitics, then it would seem that Obama is coasting to a fairly easy victory tomorrow night.  However, predicting a presidential contest by merely looking at polls is a lazy and faulty approach.  One must also examine the demographics of the polls, the candidates’ personas in the closing moments, and the crowds at the rallies.  In 2008, Obama led in the polls, the crowd size, and the positive demeanor.  He clearly was coasting to victory over Sen. McCain.  But what about this year?  The polls are tied, Romney has the more enthusiastic crowds and the positive message, and the President is focusing on small, petty issues with no unifying theme for a second term.  For the past month, Obama has attempted to motivate his base.  Whether it is talking about contraception, binders, gay marriage, or the latest “revenge” comment, the President clearly finds himself in the same position as McCain/Palin in 2008 – trying to simply motivate the base.  Meanwhile, Romney has secured his base, even among evangelicals, while reaching out strong to independents.  The fact that Michigan and Minnesota are in play demonstrates this. 

Here is where the polls are flawed – the numbers used in many of the polls show a more enthusiastic Democratic base, something that is just not a reality this year like it was in 2008.  Additionally, Romney has passed the “Presidential Test” by performing well in the debates and establishing himself as a competent leader.  The President’s campaign was to make Romney out to be a scary radical.  That strategy failed.  Independents are breaking for Romney, the base is energized, and the President is madly negative.
Hurricane Sandy blunted the momentum that Romney had; however, people in Ohio aren’t voting on how the President handled Sandy, so I don’t know how much it helps the President.  But it did hurt Romney due to attention being taken off the campaign (and the make-out session with Christie and Obama hurt Romney as well).  Even still, taking all of this into consideration, I predict Romney wins the election with a 296-242 electoral vote and a popular vote majority of 51% to 48.5%.  I believe this is a conservative prediction.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Romney win Minnesota, Michigan, or Pennsylvania as well; however, those have been such Democratic strongholds that I wouldn’t put much faith in any of those three turning red.  But, I am convinced that tomorrow we will elect the 45th President of the United States – Mitt Romney.

Here's my prediction:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Obadiah: 1998-2012

In December 1999, Jessica and I went to the city pound to adopt our first pet as a married couple. As we went down the row of dogs, we stopped in front of a beautiful Golden Retriever mix. We opened the door to let him out into the play area. The first thing he did was stand up on his back legs and place his front paws on Jessica’s shoulders. This was the beginning of 13 years with a wonderful dog, Obadiah.

We spent the drive home thinking about a good name, considering Jeremiah until settling on Obadiah. At this point, Obadiah was about 18 months old. He was a stray that was picked up in a field somewhere in Arlington, no tags or collar. Obadiah was big – not fat, but big – 80 lbs. His hair made him look big, but under that thick coat was really a pretty skinny dog. But, I always wondered if he got too big for his owners and they just let him go, or if he was always a stray. However, he never had an issue with being house broken, so my guess is he had an original owner. Whoever it was missed out on a majestic dog that created so many memories and gave so much love to our family.

We always called him a Golden Retriever mix, but one vet thought he might have some Chow in him while another suspected wolf. Obadiah had long legs like a wolf, and some grey hairs under his thick red coat. Of course, we never shared the wolf part with the groomers, because many have a policy against wolf mixes.

Our first house was very small and had no fence. So we had to walk him on a leash in the back yard for him to use the restroom. In hindsight, this was probably a great bonding time, as we spent countless hours in the morning, afternoon, night, middle of the night, in the backyard with him saying, “Outside Obe, Outside.” “Good boy, Obadiah!” For the first 11 years of his life with us, I do not remember any accidents in the house with him, even if he was in the house for over 12 hours.

Another thing about our first house. When Obe was neutered, he immediately tore out his stitches, so he had to wear a cone. Here was this giant dog with a giant cone on his head banging into door frames and walls in a very small house. Also, although Obe never had an accident in the house, he was far from perfect. I never will forget coming home one afternoon to a ransacked house. Every magazine was shredded and spread across the entire house. A large candle was in tiny pieces all over the house. And, our wedding pictures were gnawed and chewed through. While Obadiah spent a lot of time by himself at home, he would get lonely. Early in his life, he rectified this by destroying things! But even through this adolescent behavior, our love for Obadiah continued to grow. He would also demonstrate his loneliness by making it very difficult for anyone who was charged with taking care of him at our home while we were out of town. On more than one occasion, Kathy had to physically wrestle Obadiah away from the back door just so she could exit. He was so lonely, he didn’t want her to leave.

Our first home was in a pocket of country in the midst of an expanding suburb. Our neighbors were cows. One of my favorite pictures is Obe nose-to-nose with a cow through the barbed-wire fence. As big as Obadiah was, he was a fairly timid dog – definitely not an alpha dog at all. I don’t remember him ever being aggressive toward another human, but I am confident he made a fine, intimidating watch dog to strangers.

Obadiah had other companions. Macie, a stray that came to our home during a storm, lived with us for a year, but was given away before we moved to Florida. Maggie, a beautiful dog we adopted in Tampa, had to go away once Grant was born, since Maggie was just too crazy. But not Obe. Ranger loved Obadiah. Ranger would often use Obadiah as his own personal sofa. Prim and Obe made fast friends. We were concerned with how Obe would take to a cat, but he and Prim were quickly comfortable with each other. He would even let Prim drink out of his water bowl, which is a big deal since Obadiah always remained territorial around his food and water. He was always gentle around our kids. But more on that later.

Obadiah was a fence destroyer. If he was left in a backyard too long, he would find a way under a fence, or simply through a fence. We have replaced many pickets over the last 13 years due to him. He has also busted through screens. Anytime he ever escaped, he always came back, sometimes through the same hole he created, other times by showing up at the front door.

Obadiah has lived in every house we have lived in. He traveled in my backseat to Tampa. And two years later, he traveled in the back seat back to Texas. While in Tampa, the boys who came to our house always feared and loved him. They would be in the game room, which was in a sunken patio in our house. Obadiah would come to the entry door at the top of the steps and look down at the boys. They would all exclaim, “Mufasa!” when he would do this.

Obadiah was terrified of storms. During storms he would pace all night. Or stick his nose in my back in the middle of the night as if to say, “Don’t you realize it’s storming!” I haven’t slept through a storm in 13 years as a result. This anxiety got worse as he aged.

Obadiah has always been a gentle dog, unless another unknown animal came into his area. Our house in Tampa had a crawl space, where Obe would go to stay cool. One night, he was outside and we were inside watching TV. We suddenly heard loud banging, scuffling, barking, and screeching under our floor. I ran out the back door, and out from under the house came two cats followed by Obadiah. One cat got away from him. The other cat…

Obadiah loved our kids. As a baby, Grant would pull Obe’s hair, crawl on him, sit on him, etc. Obadiah would calmly lie on the floor and let him do whatever he wanted. “Diah” was one of Grant’s first words. When Claire was born, one afternoon she was lying in her bouncy seat and some neighbors with kids came over. Obadiah kept herding the kids away from Claire. He did not trust the kids to get too close to the new baby in the family. Tessa also deeply loved Obadiah. She would use him as a pillow and was always interested in his health as he aged. Tessa also had the most disgusting experience with Obadiah. All I’ll say is, Tessa was sleeping on the floor and Obadiah got sick on the floor. That was definitely a middle-of-the-night bath to remember – just ask Jessica.

Obadiah loved to go on walks. If we said the word “walk” or if we picked up his leash, he was ready to go. And if we didn’t walk fast enough, he would pull us. One of the sad moments of his aging life was the realization that he couldn’t go on walks anymore. The last walk we took him on, Jessica had to go back and get the car just to get him home. It was tragic as we realized it was his last walk.

For almost 13 years, Obadiah brought us joy. However, as a large dog, his arthritis in his back hips became more severe and also was unresponsive to medication. We made and canceled at least four appointments with the vet as a result. However, the realization that he could no longer do the things he loved, as well as the knowledge that his condition would only continue to deteriorate, led us to decide for his sake that the time had come. For all the love he had given us as well as the wonderful memories, I hope his last vision of me petting him and looking at him as he went to sleep was a pleasant one. He looked calm and happy. Like he knew he lived a good, long life.

It is strange to see his bowls by the back door. Every day for 13 years those had been filled with food and water. Now, they are empty. I still hear him bark at night. And the first morning without him, I woke to thunder and lightning outside. I missed his nose in my back and his pacing. He was the first member of the family for Jessica and me. And the kids miss him too. When we told them, we all cried for a while. And we shared memories. Obadiah will always hold a special place in our family. And should God’s care for his creation extend into eternity for domesticated animals as well, as C. S. Lewis contends, we just may see Obadiah again someday.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Politically Taking God's Name in Vain

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” Deuteronomy 5:11

Nothing frustrates me more than arguments made by Christians that we are somehow an oppressed group in the United States. Rick Perry’s latest ad is an example of what drives me so crazy about a politician pandering to some Christian voters who are ignorant enough about the facts to believe him. Oftentimes when discussing taking God’s name in vain, people are referring to those who use “God” or “Jesus Christ” as a curse word. However, I would submit that attempting to use God to falsely represent facts and to fake rage for a political argument is just as sinful. Worse, it creates an environment where actually sharing the Gospel becomes more difficult, because many people’s ideas about Christians come from people who argue as Perry does in this ad.

Myth: Obama is Waging a War on Religion
Seriously? Does Perry really think Obama is waging a war against religion? Never mistake a difference in political views as a war on religion. In America, we have no idea what a "war on religion" looks like. This charge by Perry is laughable if I didn't think many people will believe it. For anyone who questions Obama's Christian faith or his respect for religion, listen to Obama's "Call to Renewal" Speech given in 2006. Or see his White House celebrations of religious traditions, like Hanukkah, Easter and other celebrations. Christians can disagree with each other politically without accusing each other of "waging war." Perry references prayer in school (decided in 1962 by the Supreme Court when Obama was 1) as an example of Obama's war on religion. He also cites allowing homosexuals in the military as an assault on religion. These are political differences, not a war on faith. It's a shame that Perry has become so desperate as to resort to these accusations.

Myth: Kids can’t celebrate Christmas.
Where are kids not celebrating Christmas? Are students in school on Christmas day this year? No? You mean they’re off for two weeks to celebrate Christmas? This can’t be! Perry said we can’t celebrate Christmas. Oh, it’s described as a “Winter Break” so therefore they can’t celebrate Christmas? Calling it a winter break forces kids not to celebrate Christmas? That’s so ridiculous. And what are all these kids giving their teachers as presents this time of year? Winter presents? What are all the food drives and toy drives held by schools and organizations for? Winter Preparedness? Has Obama blocked "all-Christmas" radio waves from entering the schools? In order to avoid lawsuits and to include other Americans such as Jewish-Americans, Muslim-Americans, and others, school districts may refer to Christmas with the more generic “Winter” term, but why do some overreact and say that is somehow a war on religion? It's simply being respectful. When Perry says that kids can’t celebrate Christmas, he is either lying or ignorant. He’s also misrepresenting history and attempting to divide the American public.

Myth: Kids can’t pray in school
The Supreme Court ruled in Engel v Vitale that schools could not lead a compulsory prayer. It says nothing about children not being allowed to pray. Children pray in school every day - just show up on a test day. Or during the week when students gather during off-times to pray. Teachers pray in school every day. There are many teachers of faith who pray for their students by name every day. No one can stop a teacher from being in prayer for their students. Since when did Jesus require Christians to pray out loud over a speaker at the beginning of the school day? I seem to remember Jesus talking about entering a closet to pray. It is simply false to say that kids can’t pray in school. It’s a shame this falsehood continues to be told by Christians who should know better. One who believes God can be “taken out of school” or any other public place simply believes in a small god. One who is upset that a formal prayer can't be said at the beginning of the class day by the entire class misses the purpose of prayer in the first place. The moral decay in our society has no connection to whether students are led in a prayer before the school day. Instead of fighting for symbolic political victories, Christians should exert Christ’s love through their communities.

As a Christian myself, commercials like Perry’s make me sick to my stomach. It’s an attempt to falsely enrage a group for a political vote, and unfortunately, for some it will work. Perry’s ad misuses God’s name for political purposes. He cheapens Christian faith in the process. Hopefully, Christians will reject the false premises in the commercial and instead allow their words and actions to be a testimony to the love, mercy, and grace found in Jesus Christ.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Election 2012 - The Republican Field

In less than 14 months, the vote for the 2012 election will occur. In less than 4 months, the primaries will begin. With the economic conditions worse than 2008, President Obama appears to be very beatable. He is searching for any reason he can claim to be re-elected. It wouldn’t surprise me if one or two Democrats challenge him in the primary. But for right now, he is unopposed. So it’s time to turn attention to the challengers within the Republican primary. Much can change between now and January, but positions are beginning to solidify; however, I am reminded of my previous post here from 2007. On to the current participants:

Rick Perry (“The Aggie”) – Perry entered the debate the front-runner; however, his last debate performance was weak, so he needed a good showing tonight. He has a number of qualities going for him, but he seems to be weak in articulating his ideas. (It may be the Aggie in him). I have never been a Rick Perry fan. I did not support him for Governor, and I don’t care too much for his personality. But in a weird turn of events, I found myself supporting his candidacy for president over the others running. I admire Perry for defending his position on immigration, and I think he’s right. The Republican Party cannot continue to bash illegal immigration without continuing to lose the Hispanic vote. If the party loses the Hispanic vote, then welcome to becoming a minority party in the US. So, while Perry’s position is considered “soft” in a Republican primary, his position will play well among independents. However, he stumbled badly in saying that people who disagreed with him were “heartless.” Bad move – his campaign staff had to cringe at that point. In speeches, Perry seems to be adequate; however, he struggles with his words in debates, channeling Bush at times with the way he stumbles over words. While being a good debater is not a requirement to win an election, at this point in the campaign, these debates are the only chance many voters have to see the candidates. So as Perry struggles to articulate his positions, stumbles over a prepared attack on Romney, and wobbles on questions concerning foreign policy (see his answer on Pakistan), the momentum of his campaign halts and doubt enters into the minds of the voters as to how strong a candidate he is. It is evident that running for president was a recent decision, as he appears to still be trying to wing it in the debates. This has to change or he will fizzle out. In fact, he may already be fizzling. Another obstacle he faces involves convincing others that as another Texas governor who stylistically sounds like W, he will somehow be different. Of course, candidates need to earn trust of the voters. However, as an aggie, Perry must convince others that his promises and commitments will last longer than 10 months. Because, as we have learned about aggies, what they promise today may change tomorrow.

Mitt Romney (“The Overly Robotic One”) – I don’t get Mitt Romney. He’s trying way too hard to channel Reagan. But he is keeping some hair gel company in business. He gives very good answers and is extremely comfortable discussing a variety of issues. He appears to be sharp, but I get the impression that he has never struggled in life. Not that one has to, but I just wonder if he understands what people go through on a daily basis. Many of his answers seem cold. He’s polished, but he should be, he’s been running for president for over five years. However, fifteen years ago, he ran to the left of Ted Kennedy for Senate. He passed Romneycare which became the blueprint for Obamacare. As he began to run for president five years ago, he realized he had to change all his views. No matter how well he answers questions, I never really believe that he believes what he is saying. I think he knows what he needs to say and articulates it well, but he is very Dukakis like in his passion. He will probably be the nominee, but I just don’t get the appeal.

Michelle Bachmann (“Ms. Annoying”) – Bachmann has become insignificant. Stylistically, I cannot stand the end of Bachmann’s answers. After every answer, she squints her eyes, purses her lips, and smirks. On substance, she misrepresented history, taking the exchange between the Danbury Baptists and Thomas Jefferson completely out of context. She tried to act like her accusation concerning Perry and HPV and harmful side-effects was never said. She tries to include the words “Tea Party” in every answer, and apparently she loves to say “innocent little girls” over and over. When she completes her answer, it seems like she says to herself, “Wow, that was really good. I’m proud of myself, people like me. By the way, does everyone remember that I created the Tea Party caucus in the House?”

Ron Paul (“The Crazy Uncle”) – I’m not going to waste much time on Paul. His supporters love him, but they aren’t many in number. For every good point he makes, he follows it up with an off-the-wall comment. He was strong in the debate last night, but he was not asked any foreign policy questions. Unlike Romney, I believe Paul believes every word he says.

Newt Gingrich (“The Professor”) – Newt is the smartest guy on the stage. He is articulate. And he is completely unelectable. It’s why Perry said that he wished he could mate Cain and Gingrich together to make a VP. Gingrich will find his way into the cabinet as Secretary of State in the next administration.

Herman Cain (“The-Guy-Everybody-Likes-But-Nobody-Thinks-Can-Win”) – The most confident, comfortable, articulate candidate on the stage. But when the moniker explains who he is, it reads “Former CEO of Godfather Pizza.” It is practically impossible for someone to go from a CEO of a company to the Presidency without any prior elected office experience. At the same time, everyone loves him. But since everyone also thinks he won’t win, he gets overlooked. Potentially a good VP candidate.

Rick Santorum (“The Guy Most Likely to Slash Someone’s Throat on Stage”) – Someone needs to buy a massage for Santorum. Or a drink. Or give him an aspirin so his pain goes away. He always looks angry. Relax, Rick. Take it easy. I know you have spent four years running for president and are frustrated that you are at one percent, but being angry isn’t helping you.

Jon Huntsman (“The Worst Joke Teller”) – Huntsman hopes his moderate appeal will help him in New Hampshire, which he hopes will propel him to the upper-tier. But Huntsman has hurt himself early on by attacking conservatives within the party. I like many of his positions on science and foreign policy, but he comes off as disingenuous much of the time. He is also really bad a trying to be funny as his attempts at humor always fall flat.

Gary Johnson (“The Stage Crasher”) – Did anyone know Gary Johnson was running for president? Did anyone know he was a former governor of New Mexico? I kept thinking that security accidentally let someone in last night, or that perhaps SNL had infiltrated the stage. But basically, Johnson is a younger Ron Paul. Not sure why he was included. But he had one of the best jabs of the night: “My neighbors two dogs have created more shovel ready jobs that Obama has.”

The Moderators: The job of a moderator should be clear – it’s your job to ask questions and moderate the debate. That’s it. I don’t care about word clouds, I am tired of YouTube questions, I’m not interested in how you decided the sound signal for the time limit. Just ask the questions. The less we see you, the better. You shouldn’t be so casual. Cut out the jokes. Stop giggling over your mistakes. Again, just ask the questions. You’re not running for president.

Conclusion: Romney won the debate, Perry lost. The others hope to be in the top three. Meanwhile, every day the pressure mounts on Chris Christie to get into the race. I don’t see anybody else who can shake up the field at this point.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Huckabee vs Padme and Her Young Skywalker

“One of the most troubling things is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet that boasts of, hey look, we’re having children, we’re not married, but we’re having children and they’re doing just fine…” - Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee waded into some difficult political/cultural waters last week in questioning Natalie Portman’s pregnancy. Since she is engaged and not yet married, Huckabee felt the example she was setting of having a baby before marriage was troubling. His point was the fact that a leading indicator of poverty is single parenthood. However, he confuses his point by saying, “There aren’t really a lot of single moms out there that are making millions of dollars each year…Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job, and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and would not get healthcare.” He’s a little off on his statement. Most single moms are not poor. What he probably meant to say is that a higher percentage of single moms are in poverty (29%) than the national average (14%). So, a single mom is more likely to be in poverty than a married mom or a single dad, but “most” are not poor. So he exaggerated his argument a bit, but I understand the point he was trying to make. However, when a pro-lifer discusses pregnancy and bad examples, he or she must be very careful with the words chosen.

I wish Huckabee would have responded differently. The radio interviewer brought up Portman and mentioned that he thought it was a bad example. Then Huckabee responded with the quote at the top of this post. He could have responded more lovingly and positively. By doing so, his general point could have perhaps been better communicated to his audience. I wish he would have responded as follows:

“I would like to congratulate Natalie Portman on her engagement to her fiancĂ© and their baby. I hope all is well and that the baby is healthy and that the delivery goes smoothly for her and the baby. This is definitely an exciting time for her. I am sure she would say the Academy Award pales in comparison to becoming a parent. Being a parent is a blessing; I wish her and her fiancĂ© the best as they love and nurture their child and grow in their relationship as well.

“I am sure Natalie would also say how fortunate she is to be in a position where she can raise her child and not worry about finances, health care, or education. Because that is not always the case for new parents. And it is an issue our communities must address. Unfortunately, in our society, a single mom is twice as likely to live in poverty as a married mom. So we need to be mindful of the difficulties that single moms face. As someone who believes every life is of value, even life in the womb, I am grateful when women choose to give birth. Because, just as Natalie’s baby is a blessing, so is every child. So if we want to go a political route here, I think we as a society, in order to be truly pro-life, must address situations both pre-pregnancy and post-birth. We need to discuss sexuality with our children both in our churches and our schools, including sex education classes. We need to foster healthy marriages and set good examples for our children and others. We need to encourage adoption in certain circumstances and make the process more welcoming without compromising safety. We need to help poor single mothers acquire an education and develop skills that will allow them to support themselves and their families. And we need to hold the men accountable to support the children they bring into this world as well. Hopefully, with a holistic approach to this issue, we will not only lower the poverty level for single moms, but we will lower the rate of pregnancies for those not yet ready to be parents. Additionally, our overall economy will be strengthened and strains on our government will be lessened.”

I am not meaning to pick on Huckabee alone. I think he would agree with this criticism for the most part. Too often I hear people advocate for the pro-life position, only to criticize those who choose life. After all, Huckabee wouldn’t have complained about Portman’s single parenthood if she had an abortion seven months ago. But which would have been the larger tragedy? There’s just a slight disconnect there that needs to be addressed. As Christians, our reaction to single parenthood in general should be more loving and less condemning.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Significant Birthdays

There are various birthdays that are symbolic of aging/maturing/growing up. While no one ever pines for their 11th or 27th or 36th birthdays (these simply are “just another birthday” years), others are more significant. This has caused me to ponder which birthdays are the most symbolic and special. While I have experienced some of these myself, others I have to just conjecture as to their greatness. But I hope to celebrate all of these birthdays one day. Here are my Top 10 birthdays an individual can experience:

1. Sixteen – nothing compares to one’s 16th birthday. No one ever anticipates their "Sweet 32." No one ever sang “I am 28 going on 29.” Sweet Sixteen is the best birthday – the ability to have a driver’s license brings about the most freedom from one year to the next than any other birthday ever will. One goes from dependent on others for travel, to freely traveling. (Way too young, in my opinion.)

2. Twenty-one – this birthday signifies arrival to adulthood without the responsibilities of adulthood. Since one is usually still in college, this birthday allows the individual to feel like an adult without having to actually act like one. While I believe driver’s licenses are printed differently now, when I was 21, the “Under 21” stamp was officially null and void, adding to the perks of this birthday.

3. Fifty – half a century ranks as the 3rd greatest birthday year. A person can celebrate being alive for half a century, and, if in shape, can still feel young, yet can begin to get all the benefits of the elderly through AARP, discounts on meals, etc. At 50, one suddenly seems wiser than everyone 49 and younger.

4. Thirty-five – I could easily flip 50 and 35 in the rankings, but will choose to keep 35 here at #4. Our Founding Fathers, in crafting the Constitution, deemed 35 as the appropriate age for a President of the United States. I figure if Ben Franklin and James Madison thought 35 was a good age, then it must be a good age. At 35, one can run the country. To me, that is quite significant and special. A landmark birthday for sure.

5. Eighteen – It surprised me that 18 fell so low on my rankings. We do receive the right to vote at age 18, which to me is a very big deal; however, so few 18 year olds vote, so this must not be quite the perk that I think it is. It may be that being able to purchase tobacco outranks voting for many 18 year olds. I know one graduates from high school typically at age 18, but not on one’s birthday, so graduation from high school cannot contribute to the 18th birthday ranking. It is still significant though, as 18 is the unrecognized age of adulthood. Everyone over 55 considers 18 to be an adult, while everyone under 55 knows that 18 is far from adulthood.

6. One-hundred – This ranking definitely is dependent on one’s health, but to live a century is surely significant. Plus, Smuckers wishes you a happy birthday when you turn 100. However, turning 100 represents just 1% of one’s birthdays, so perhaps it falls lower on the birthday rankings. Still, a landmark that cannot be ignored.

7. Seventy-eight point four. The current life expectancy in the US is 78.4. When one reaches that age, there must be a feeling of accomplishment. However, it is difficult on a 12 month calendar to celebrate a .4 birthday. But still, if I reach my life-expectancy birthday, it will be a day of celebration that will rank in my top 10.

8. One – While a 1 year old will not remember his/her birthday, this remains the only birthday where it is cute to smash an entire cake all over your face and body. For that alone, it makes the Top 10.

9. Seventeen – One can purchase a ticket to a rated R movie. As a 17 year old, this was a big deal.

10. Whatever one’s current birthday is – While it makes little statistical sense, every birthday has to be on the Top 10 list. Being alive is a pretty good thing. I’m sure every year has its benefits and significance – 25 and car insurance(for guys), 30 and leaving the Twentysomethings, 10 and double digits, 65 and retirement, 29 and being a prime number, etc. So I’ll reserve the tenth spot for every birthday. It’s good to be alive.