Monthly Archives: July 2009

Coulter, Malkin, Dobbs, and Conspiracy Fantasyland

Fox News darlings Ann Coulter and Michele Malkin insist that Obama planted the question about Henry Gates at last weeks’ news conference. Coulter even said on Fox, “I do have proof.” And Malkin says she “absolutely” believes it was planted.

Lynn Sweet, who asked the question, begs to differ in an article on Politics Daily. “If they had, my story would have been about their effort to plant a question,” says Sweet who, unlike Coulter and Malkin, is a real journalist with truth standards.

Sweet writes about how she came up with the question, and says Obama had no idea what she would ask. And why would they plant a question like that? It took them off-message (from healthcare), and caused Obama to speak stupidly. I saw the tail end of that press conference, and was astounded when Obama addressed it the way he did. Totally inappropriate.

Speaking of nutty conspiracies: Joe Klein weighs in about Lou Dobbs and the silly birth certificate controversy.

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Sex Scandals: Democrats vs. Republicans

While with my parents recently, the subject of sex scandals came up. There had been three involving Republicans right in a row–Mark Sanford, John Ensign, and Charles Pickering. It does sometimes seem that more sex scandals involve Republicans.

But I said I suspected that, if you go back over time, it all evens out. Sex scandals are a human issue, not a political issue. While Republicans seemed to be having a bad run, I figured Democrats had just as many scandals in their, uh, closet.

Today I came across an article on “Politics Daily” by Emily Miller, in which she argues convincingly that Democrats have the immoral edge. “Summer 2009 may go down as the season of Republican sex scandals. But if you look at the long history of political sex scandals, I think Democrats win both in quantity and (low) quality.” Then she starts naming names: the Kennedys, Clinton, Spitzer, Edwards, McGreevey, Condit, Hart, FDR.

Having worked in Congress, she talks about the overall sexual environment, but concludes that it’s not much different from anywhere else she has worked. She concludes:

“The worst sex scandals, in my view, involved Democrats. But, that said, all sex scandals taint our country and negatively affect our culture, so we lose every time another allegation surfaces.”

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Colin Powell — A Better Republican than Rush

Listened to Larry King’s full-hour interview with Colin Powell tonite (half of it on the way home from the table tennis club). Though Powell (like me) voted for Obama (and for pretty much the same reasons as I did, as he explained it), he still calls himself a Republican. He says he’s economically conservative and socially moderate. That’s how I would describe myself. 

Powell touched on a number of issues, and I agreed with him right down the line.

  • He favored talking to Iran and North Korea. 
  • He felt Obama was trying to do too much too fast.
  • He was disturbed by the amount of money being spent in Washington.
  • He is against torture. 
  • He thought Henry Gates went overboard and should have cooperated with the police, but that the police should have probably just walked away without arresting him.
On issue after issue, I resonated with Powell. He represents me. 

Rush Limbaugh continually criticizes Powell, and wants him out of the Republican Party, along with John McCain, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter (got his wish there), and anyone else who doesn’t meet his definition of a Republican. So Rush obviously has no room for the likes of me in the GOP. I would just as soon not have an irreligious, drug-addicted, obese, intolerant, multiple divorc√© calling the shots in the Republican Party. But hey, he’s got a bully pulpit which gives him a stranglehold on ideological purity. If anyone raises a contrary voice, he can lambast them for several hours every day. So Republicans suck up to him, wanting his favor. Woe unto the moderate who disagrees with Rush.

And so, to the Republican far-right base, Powell is a turncoat liberal. Which is a travesty. Powell is an amazingly gifted American, a man we should all look up to and admire. And not too long ago, we did. He was the darling in the GOP. But moderates like him are being chased out of the party. And to me, that spells doom. 

If they don’t enlarge the tent, there is no future for the Republican Party. Not in a country which is increasingly ethnic in complexion and moderate-to-liberal in outlook. Rush, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Fred Barnes, Bill Kristol–they are killing the Republican Party.

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Books: Before the Frost, Without Fail

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I read three books, and most of a fourth, on vacation last week. 

You can’t peck away at a Henning Mankell book. You need a big block of time so you can dive in and stay submerged until you’re done. 

So last week’s vacation started with Mankell’s “Before the Frost,” the last of the Kurt Wallander books currently available (I’ve read all the others). This one is actually billed as a “Kurt and Linda Wallander Mystery,” and daughter Linda is, in fact, the main character. 

Linda is within days of joining the police force where her father, Kurt, is an ace investigator. A murder occurs, and because of some relationships, she gets involved. It’s another excellent book. This one features some interesting religious themes.

This is the last Wallander book I have (3 other Mankell books sit on my shelf, unread). A collection of several short stories starring Wallander will be released by Vintage/Black Lizard in October, and there’s another book out there called “The Troubled Man” which I don’t think is available yet in English, and which supposedly brings the career (though not the life) of Wallander to an end. 

“Without Fail” is my fifth Lee Child book starring tough-guy Jack Reacher. These have all been tremendous books, and I think “Without Fail” may be the best (it’s between “Without Fail” and “Echo Burning”). In this book, the Secret Service invites Reacher’s help to foil a plot to assassinate the vice president. The Reacher books are pretty straightforward, with lots of action, though this one has a more intricate plot and less action than the other books. 

We have all but one (the first) of the Jack Reacher books. Pam has read all 11 of the books we own. It’ll take me a while to catch up.

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Coolest Wedding Procession Ever

You’ve gotta watch this Youtube video. It’s from a wedding in Minnesota. It’ll definitely make you smile. They got very creative with the procession. (Thanks, Evan McBroom, for finding this.)

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Erin Andrews and Fox & Friends Hypocrisy

I was amazed at the way Fox & Friends repeatedly showed still photos from the Erin Andrews peephole video. While expressing their shock and outrage that anyone would secretly film Andrews in that way, the F&F anchors–whom I refer to as Gomer, Legs, and Squirrelly–kept showing a number of photos with lacy ribbon barely covering strategic parts of her body, leaving little to the imagination. I can’t imagine Ms. Andrews was happy about being exploited in this additional way.

This self-righteous indignation was incredibly hypocritical of those Fox & Friends lightweights, whose main schtick is to repeat the talking points which come down from Fox Central Command. It must have especially been a stretch for Legs, who sits right there in the middle, camera pulled back for a full view, legs crossed, wearing an extremely short skirt which I can’t imagine she chose. The same attire is worn by every blonde who fills the Legs spot, whether it’s the weekday or weekend edition. Can their motives be any more obvious? While expressing outrage at the objectification of Erin Andrews, they objectify their female anchor for several hours every morning.

You have to remember where Fox News comes from: Rupert Murdoch, who grew his fortune through tabloid sensationalism. Fox just specializes in a different kind of sensationalism.

CBS also ran those photos. Other networks didn’t. Good for them. They have some standards.

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Celebrating Our 20th…in Michigan?

It has been six days since my last blog post.

Last Tuesday, Pam and I headed up to Mackinaw City, Mich., where we decided to celebrate our 20th anniversary. It seemed good to flaunt our discretionary income in a state with 15 percent unemployment.

We found a lake-front room at the Hamilton Inn, where we stayed last Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. On Wednesday, I complained to the hotel front-desk people that I couldn’t get a wireless signal for my laptop in our room. They insisted we were the only ones in the hotel having problems. I doubted that, but had no grounds for arguing. Nevertheless, I persisted. Wireless internet access was, after all, part of the very high price we were paying for our room. Plus, if there’s anything I should be doing more of on my 20th wedding anniversary, it is surfing the internet and ignoring my wife.

The result of my kind persistence–and of getting connected to Michelle, a most accommodating young lady from Jamaica–was getting moved to a much nicer room. Larger, newer, more expensive. I still couldn’t get good internet access (I got a better signal from the neighboring Comfort Inn), but I decided against complaining. I did approve of the new room. So did Pam.

On Wednesday, our anniversary, we took Shepler’s Ferry out to Mackinac Island. We ended up spending most of our time at the fort, which was far more interesting than I expected. We were there several hours. Later, as we ordered pizza in a little restaurant in the village, the heavens let loose with a downpour. So much for the idea of renting bicycles. We boarded the ferry and headed back to the mainland.

On Friday morning, we left town (with plenty of Mackinac fudge!) and drove to Pentwater, where Pam’s Dad and stepmom have a house along Lake Michigan. We always enjoy staying there; go once each summer.

Yesterday morning (Saturday), we took a 3.5 mile hike on trails through a state park. That was very nice. In the afternoon, we walked 2.5 miles along the beach, barefoot. That was nice. We woke up this morning with stiff legs and sore feet. Not so nice.

Anyway, it was a wonderful vacation. Short, but refreshing.

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Book: Less Clutter, Less Noise

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Let me recommend “Less Clutter, Less Noise,” by Kem Meyer. It deals with local church communication, but probably not in a way you would expect. There is some strategy, some technique, some do’s and don’ts, some philosophy. But more than anything, I came away with an attitude. An attitude toward everything we do in communicating in the local church. 

Kem Meyer is the Communications Director at Granger Community Church near South Bend, Ind. It’s a fast-growing church with a laser focus on reaching lost people. A very innovative place. And Kem Meyer is a very innovative person who enjoys the cutting edge. She is doing some original (at least it seems that way) thinking about how we communicate in the church. 

I’ve been familiar with Kem for several years now. I attended her seminar at MinistryCOM 2006, heard her keynote address at MinistryCOM 2007, and attended a full-day seminar by her at Granger. And I’ve been reading her blog for several years. 

The book resembles her blog in ways–a bunch of short pieces, most of which can stand on their own. In fact, I recognized some of the content from her blog. 

In 1995, I wrote “A Plain and Simple Guide to Church Promotion” as my project in completing a Masters in Public Relations at Ball State U. I gathered absolutely everything I could find about any aspect of local church promotion–newsletters, advertising, branding, design, printing, Powerpoint, font usage, and much more. In all, over 100 individual topics. Each topic filled a single page, and I mostly just gave bullet points–simple tips, do’s and don’ts. 

Kem’s book is similar. She doesn’t go in-depth into anything, but hits a lot of different areas. If you want direction, she gives you more than enough to work with, but she doesn’t overload you. Which is part of the book’s point–that we need to make life easier for people by lessening the clutter and noise.

People today are barraged with information and choices. Kem writes, “People who live in today’s world respond in one of three ways: they become overwhelmed and shut down, they labor over whether they’re making the right decisions, or they just ignore you and move on.”

So that’s important to keep in mind as we communicate in the local church–between ourselves, and with outsiders (or, in PR-speak, with our internal and external constituencies). She emphasizes keeping it simple. Don’t complicate people’s lives. Help them sort through the clutter. And don’t add to the clutter with stuff you think is important, but which they couldn’t care less about.

That’s an overview of the book. Follow the link below for some quotes.

Read more »

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From Walk-a-Thon to Run-a-Thon

The last time I ran a long distance was during the 1976 Huntington College Walk-a-thon. I was on the planning committee, and was up around 4 a.m. driving along the route (which started in Fort Wayne) putting in signs. We returned to Huntington in time to board the bus with other students for Lindenwood Park in Fort Wayne, the starting point. I probably slept most of the way.

As we exited the bus, a couple friends told me they were going to run for a while. Did I want to join them? It was a totally spur-of-the-moment thing. In fact, they were already taking off. Sure, I’d run with them. 

We didn’t stop running until we reached Roanoke. That was 14 miles later. Most of that time, I was running with Sam Ristow. I think Ray Faber was in that group. Don’t remember the others. Sam and I stopped running in Roanoke, and walked the remaining 10 miles or so to Huntington. 

The next day, I could hardly move.

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Strength Doesn’t Need to be Flaunted

I love this quote from Barack Obama, which shows a fundamental difference between him and the Bush administration:

A great power does not show strength by dominating or demonizing other countries.

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