Jim Bunning still knows a doctored pitch and Henry Paulson just threw one.

Hall of Fame Pitcher Jim Bunning

Hall of Fame Pitcher Jim Bunning

Back when I was a kid living outside of Baltimore, my dad, from time-to-time, would take me to see the Orioles play at the old Memorial Stadium.  One night game I remember very well.  That night the Orioles were playing the Detroit Tigers and the starting pitcher was Jim Bunning.  Bunning would later be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  At any rate, during the game, while Bunning was pitching, Oriole manager Billy Hitchcock came out of the dugout and ran toward the homeplate umpire.  After a brief conversation, the umpire, Detroit manager Bob Scheffing, and the Tiger catcher walked toward the pitching mound where Jim Bunning was standing.  As the tree men approached the mound, the umpire reached his hand out toward Bunning in a gesture that revealed he was asking for the baseball Bunning was holding.  After a momentary hesitation by Bunning the ball was given to umpire.  Then, after only a couple of seconds, the umpire motioned that Bunning was being thrown out of the game.  For the thousands fo fans in the stadium, they had no clue what was going on, but later the news got around that Bunning was “doctoring the baseball” by cutting it with his belt buckle.  That is against the rules and that’s why Bunning was thrown out of the game.  Nevertheless, when I finally learned what happened, I began to quiz my dad on how and why pitchers would do such a thing.  He said pitchers were always looking for ways to sneak a bad ball into a situation that gave them an advantage without the batter knowing it.  Plain-and-simple it was cheating.

So, today while watching the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearings on the proposed $700 Billion bailout of Wall Street and the credit markets, it was no surprise to me to see Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky taking to task the architect of the plan, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.  You see,

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson

Bunning can not only throw a doctored baseball, but he also knows when one has been thrown at the American people.  Today he, along with others in Congress (see the Forbes article) who have great reservations about the details of Paulson’s plan leveled a flury of attacks aimed at demanding that individual American taxpayers don’t get holding the bag.  As economist  Willaim Greider stated in a Nation Magazine article, “If Wall Street gets away with this, it will represent an historic swindle of the American public–all sugar for the villains, lasting pain and damage for the victims.”  Bunning called the plan “financial socialism” and “unAmerican.”  Although I agree with both of these men, I do not necessarily agree with Bunning’s last characterization.  The fact is, greed, corruption, and stealing from the poor to give to the rich is hardly “unAmerican.”  It is, all to often, the American way.

Related Articles:

Sen. Jim Bunning’s Statement

Paulson Plan a Historic Swindle – William Greider

Administration Seeking $700 Billion for Wall Street – New York Times

What We Need to Know About the Bailout Plan – Forbes

Congress Tries to Fix What it Broke – Investor’s Business Daily

Dirty Secret of the Bailout – Huffington Post

How We Became the United States of France – TIME

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Buyer’s Remorse in Selling Jesus

One of my favorite laugh-out-loud movies of all times is the Coen Brothers film. “O Brother Where Art Thou?”, a story based loosely on Homer’s The Odyssey, set in the Deep South during the Depression. Suave and fancy-talking Everett Ulysses McGill (George Clooney), dim-witted Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson), and easily-excitable Pete (John Turturro) are serving time together on a prison chain gang. Everett knows where $1.2 million is hidden that’s theirs for the taking, and the three manage to escape; however, a stranger soon warns them that they’ll find treasure, but not the sort they’re looking for. As Everett and his partners hit the road, they happen upon a gluttonous, one-eyed bible salesman, Big Dan Teague (John Goodman); meet up with Baby Face Nelson (Michael Badalucco) as he robs a bank; encounter three Sirens doing their washing; run into Everett’s estranged wife Penny (Holly Hunter), who has told everyone her husband was killed in a train wreck; find themselves in the middle of a heated campaign between political boss Pappy O’Daniel (Charles Durning), and reformist candidate Homer Stokes (Wayne Duvall); and even find time to make a hit record as The Soggy Bottom Boys.

In the meeting with Big Dan Teague, there’s this bit of dialogue:

What kind of work you do, Big Dan?

Sales, Mr McGill, sales! What do I sell? The truth, every blessed word of it. From Genesis down to Revelations. Yes, the word of God, which, let me say,there’s damn good money in during these times of woe and want. People want answers, and Big Dan sells the only book that’s got ‘em. And what do you do, you and your, uh, tongue-tied friend?

We, uh…We’re adventurers, sir,pursuing an opportunity, but we’re open to others as well.

I like you. I’m gonna propose you a proposition. You cover my bill for now, get your dinner wrapped picnic-style and we’ll retire to more private environs, where I’ll reveal how to make vast amounts of money in the service of God Almighty.

Jesus Cleanses the TempleThis conversation could have taken place in any of the many presidential campaign staff planning meetings in the recent contest. Selling Jesus has been good business and politically expedient. But many Christians have seen through the facade and don’t appreciate the blatant money-changing in the temple. I think it’s time to clear the air and let both campaigns know, enough is enough.

In a Christian Science Monitor article by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, he warn the candidates to “Stop Misusing Religion.” Here’s the rest of the article:

Americans will choose a new president in less than five months, but the losers of this election are already clear – the sanctity of religion and the integrity of democracy.

The latest evidence came late last month, when Sen. Barack Obama announced his resignation from his home church. Such an important decision should have been made purely for personal or religious reasons. Instead, it was apparently driven by political considerations.

As a practicing minister, I understand how painful it is for him to leave a church that has been an important part of his life for many years. It is the church in which Senator Obama was married, and it is the church in which his children were baptized. It is a place where he apparently found a community with his neighbors and with his God.

But as president of the Interfaith Alliance, I also understand why Obama found himself in this situation. During the primary campaign, the major presidential candidates engaged in a frenzied rush to prove their religious bona fides.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign went on a self-described “faith tour” of South Carolina, based explicitly upon a verse from the Book of Esther. Senator John McCain got off the Straight Talk Express to pander to the religious right when he gave the commencement address at the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.

And Obama is equally at fault. Early in the race, his campaign set up a website to feature endorsements from clergy, despite the fact that tax law prohibits religious leaders from making candidate endorsements in their official capacities as men and women of God.

Last fall, he asked a South Carolina congregation to help him “become an instrument of God,” despite the fact that the Constitution says no such thing.

The candidates have sought the endorsements of clergy, and both Senator McCain and Obama are now having some buyer’s remorse. But candidates cannot have it both ways. They cannot continue to use clergy for political gain and then discard them when it no longer fits their agenda.

The problem is not that these presidential candidates incorporated religion into their campaigns. The problem is that the candidates have used religion as a divisive tool, instead of a unifying power.

Rather than printing campaign brochures featuring a picture of Obama in front of a giant cross with the words “committed Christian,” as Obama did, candidates should tell the American people why, how, or if faith informs their policy positions.

Rather than declaring the United States to be a Christian nation, as McCain did, candidates should outline what steps they would take to respect the vast diversity of religious beliefs (and nonbeliefs) in this country.

Rather than asking the candidates to talk about when they have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit – as CNN did during a “faith forum” for Democrats earlier this year – the media should instead ask the candidates to outline their views on the First Amendment’s guarantees of religious freedom.

If the Liberty Bell had not cracked in 1846, it most surely would have done so in 2008 thanks to the US presidential candidates.

If the meaning of the Liberty Bell’s biblical inscription – “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” – is to ring true in America today, no candidate for the presidency should ever have to resign from or join a particular house of worship in order to be a viable candidate for that high office.

To make such a decision for political reasons dishonors religion and disrespects the Constitution. It makes a sad statement about American politics and an even sadder one about American religion.

Obama is at the center of the storm, but all who wed religion to partisan politics share responsibility for this tragic development.

For the sake of both religion and democracy, we must do better. Our country deserves an electoral campaign which treats religion with the same respect held by those who built the Liberty Bell.

Obama-Clinton. “Yeahhh! That’s the ticket!”

Tommy Flanagan, president of Pathological Liars Anonymous, a character created and portrayed by Jon Lovitz of Saturday Night Live would tell the most amazing lies to show his importance. He would end many of his outlandish prevarications with the perfidious summation, “Yeahhh! That’s the ticket!” With the latest talk of a “dream team” composed of Barak Obama for president and Hillary Clinton for vice-president, Tommy Flanagan would surely have a field day with Obama’s campaign slogan, “Change We Can Believe In.” With Hillary Clinton on the ticket, I can hear him say, yeahhh, that’s the ticket.

Although I know quite a few friends and associates of mine who voted for Obama just to cast a vote against Hillary Clinton, I chose not to go down that road. In fact, after I had taken ABC’s really cool Match-O-Matic political quiz to fit me with the candidate who’s positions are most like my own, the candidate I was matched with was none other than…Hillary Clinton. I was a bit surprised and curious, but nevertheless, I was not persuaded at all to throw my support behind her. For me, Hillary Clinton is a master of sleaze politics and reminds me too much of the Nixon-Agnew days. There was no way I was going to vote for her. She’s just too dirty and often reminds me of that oft repeated saying,

“Know when a politician is lying? When their lips are moving!”

Hillary Clinton’s political life has been an iconic collage of one lie and broken promise after another. Sadly, when Hillary Clinton says “let the conversation begin,” you can bet the truth will be measured against political expediency and self-promotion, smothered in exaggerated puffery. Her recent “misstatement” and “minor blip” describing her harrowing “foreign affairs” adventure in Bosnia in March 1996 was such a case. According to Clinton’s account of the Bosnia trip, she reported: “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.” Take note of the picture below and how cool Hillary is under sniper fire. She’s the picture of composure and quiet resolve. I can just imagine Hillary Clinton saying something to this little girl like, “Don’t worry about the sniper fire, Darling. Your village will raise you to become the first woman president of Bosnia, breaking the gender-biased glass ceiling into a million pieces. No, not a million! I misspoke. I meant eighteen million pieces. Yeahhh. That’s the ticket! You don’t have to stay home and bake cookies and have teas. And by the way, don’t forget the value of claiming that accusations against you are merely part of a right-wing conspiracy!”

Check out these two versions of the same event. Hillary Under Fire & Hillary Not

Of course there’s a lot more. Check this sampling of related articles:

Blizzard of Lies – William Safire

Hillary Clinton: A Pathological Liar – Dana Pico

Things Worth Knowing about Hillary Clinton

As I said in the introductory paragraph, the idea that you can have “change you can believe in” with Hillary Clinton on the ticket is a falsehood. It would be one of the greatest tragedies in modern political history to see so many people rally around a cause so noble as real political change, only to see it sink in a cesspool of inner Beltway mechanics. If Barak Obama is to move the country into a new culture of positive politics, he cannot compromise with the sleaze politics most Americans abhor. Hillary Clinton is wrong for Obama’s message, his legacy, and his country.

For those advocating that Hillary Clinton become the vice president, you’re dream is already fulfilled. She is by all means, a VICE* president. “Yeahhh. That’s the ticket!”

*Vice is a practice or habit that is considered immoral, depraved, and/or degrading in the associated society. In more minor usage, vice can refer to a fault, a defect, an infirmity, or merely a bad habit. Synonyms for vice include fault, depravity, sin, iniquity, wickedness and corruption.

Here’s the transcript of a typical Weekend Update, starring Dennis Miller and Jon Lovitz (as Tommy Flanagan) Enjoy!

The Iran-Contra Hearings this week concluded tsestimony by several witnesses, all of whom continued to incriminate Lt. Col. Oliver North. Here to respond to this testimony, is Col. North’s attorney, Mr. Thomas Flanagan, Esq.
Tommy Flanagan: Hello. I’m Tommy Flanagan. And I’m here to tell you that my client, Oliver North, is completely innocent. You know how I know? Because it was.. it was me! Yeah, that’s the tic-.. uh.. isn’t that special! [ smiles ]
See, I was working for the CIA with my wife, Morgan Fairchild.. whom I’ve slept with. And we were spies. Yeah! She was on the cover, and I was under-.. water! Yeah, that’s it! I was disguised as a fish in the Hudson River! Yeah! And I was about to bite into a worm when I was caught. Yeah! And they dsold me to the Russian Tea Room, where I was filleted and eaten. And the next thing you know, I was.. I was back in the Hudson! [ shifts eyes ]
So I got on a jet, and I flew to Switzerland with my wife, Morgan Fairchild – whom I’ve slept with. And we were gonna hide.. deposit the money, when my plane crashed in the Himalyas. Yeah, that’s it! And to stay alive, we ate the survivors. ‘Cause the dead ones were rotten! Yeah! So there I was, fighting over the tall co-pilot, with my wife, Morgan Fairchild – whom I’ve seen naked! When suddenly, the co-pilot woke up, and he kicked me in the head, and I blacked out! And the next thing you know –
Dennis Miller: Wait a minute, Tommy. What does this have to do with Col. North?
Uh…n-n-nothing! You see, that’s my point! He had nothing to do with it! Yeah, that’s the ticket!

The Audacity of Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton’s waterboy, Lanny Davis was on CNN after the South Dakota-Montana Democratic primaries, putting everybody straight regarding another guest’s accusation that Hillary Clinton did not congratulate Barak Obama on winning the required delegates for nomination. Although I think Lanny Davis is mostly fair in his representations, I think his loyalty to Hillary Clinton has given him a bit of tone-deafness and a case of “you only hear what you want to hear.”

Case in point…If you listen to Hillary Clinton’s speech in New York City on the final night of the Democratic Party primaries, you will indeed hear Senator Clinton congratulate Barak Obama. She said,

“I want to start tonight by congratulating Senator Obama and his supporters on the extraordinary race that they have run. Senator Obama has inspired so many Americans to care about politics and empowered so many more to get involved, and our party and our democracy is stronger and more vibrant as a result. So, we are grateful, and it has been an honor to contest these primaries with him, just as it is an honor to call him my friend. And tonight, I would like all of us to take a moment to recognize him and his supporters for all they have accomplished.” (Read it here)

That piece of boilerplate could have been delivered on each and every primary night since the beginning of the the year. It would have been appropriate for any state contest, whether Obama had won or lost. But on one of the most significant nights in US history, Hillary Clinton profaned the moment by serving up an officious and tarnished puff piece in place of a genuine and appropriate tribute. On a night when the Democratic Party should have been popping champagne over the historic accomplishment of Obama’s campaign, Hillary Clinton couldn’t find the class to do what well-mannered, and decent people do under the circumstances. Give honest, praise to the victor. Heck, even George W. Bush knows how to do that. (read...)

For Lanny Davis, he may be able to explain what Bill Clinton meant when he questioned what the meaning of the word is is, but when it comes to defending Hillary Clinton’s lack of genuine tribute toward Barak Obama for his historical win in the Democratic presidential sweepstakes, Lanny has no play. It’s not about her psyche or her supposed commitment to her supporters. It’s still about her character.

As a life-long Democrat, I’m tired of the brand of politics the Clintons represent. Their’s reminds me of a roller derby game. Its a game with real rules, but a game where bending and breaking the rules, as well as brutality are winked at and encouraged. We need leaders who are humble in their winning and gracious in their losing.

Voting for Saul

Tanks

At the commencement of the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Shield/Storm (1990-1991), I spent some serious time praying. At that time I was assigned to the 126 MI (Military Intelligence) Battalion (Army Reserve), stationed in East Windsor, Connecticut. When the Iraqis invaded Kuwait in the late summer of 1990, my battalion was one of the first called up. We had interpreters, analysts, communications specialist, and the like making up our unit. Within three week of the invasion, better than half of my unit was in Saudi Arabia. For the next four months I watched more and more of my comrades leaving for the Gulf, and by the time the bombs started falling in Baghdad I was on a very short list to go over. As luck and a lot of prayer would have it, I ended up with an assignment that was mostly stateside, and didn’t take me directly into the war zone. (That’s all I’m going to tell you. I’d have to shoot you otherwise.)

With events changing by the hour, things were tense around our house. My family, as you could imagine, was nervous about what may happen if the war didn’t end quickly and I might be gone overseas for awhile. Fortunately, the war lasted only a little more than six weeks and things soon began to return to some form of normalcy.

As I said before, I spent some time in prayer. Not just for myself, but for some of my colleagues who were in harm’s way, and more broadly, our country. A couple of weeks after the war began (Jan. 17, 1991) I was in my office just trying to chill out after a very stressful day at work. Within a few moments I fell asleep and began to dream a very strange dream. In it I saw a couple moving vans sitting in front of the White House and the movers were taking boxes out of the White House and putting them in the trucks. As I watched the movers placing various items in the vans, my focus was directed to a license plate. There, I saw an expiration sticker that said JAN 93. After that frame, it seemed that I was lifted to the Oval Office and there I saw President Bush (41) placing some books and pictures in a box sitting on his desk. His face was forlorn and somber. After witnessing this part of the dream, I was “whisked away” (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase) and found myself standing in a crowd of people in a place I didn’t recognize at all. It was a sunny and warm day and there was a man speaking in front of an old white, Greek Revival building. I first thought it was someplace in New England. That idea changed however, after I began to detect a southern accent coming from the man speaking to the crowd. In short order I could clearly hear the man announcing that he was running for president of the United States. After that scene, I woke up from my dream. It wasn’t a long, protracted dream, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. It was weird, as many dreams are, and it bothered me.

About two weeks after the war ended, Newsweek Magazine announced that President Bush’s approval rating was at 89%. When I got to my office the next day, Bill Basade, a coworker and a die-hard Republican announced to the office that you could bet on another term for Bush. “He is a shoe-in,” Bill asserted. Most of the guys in the office agreed. After a few minutes passed, and with everyone talking about the war and President Bush’s likely reelection, a very strange thing happened that was in my estimation, akin to a fart in church. Amidst all the conversation, a voice erupted saying, “George Bush is going to lose the race and some Southerner is going to beat him!” It was my voice and every eye in the place was glued on me. It seemed as if time stood still. I guess that if it were possible, I would have most likely been starring at me as well. It was like one of those Southwest Airlines moments when you just wanted to get away. Obviously, everyone thoughtI was nuts. (the jury is still out…I think)

After I left the office, Bill tracked me down and began to do what good politically-oriented Christians do. He tried to exorcise those evil “liberal” demons from my mind, reminding me of the math in the poll and other elements of political science. My reply was to ask him if he really relied on the Newsweek poll as the final determining statistic for his assumption about Bush’s career. He said he was pretty sure he was right. I then reminded him of two very important things. First, there was over a year and-a-half to go before the election, and anything could happen between now and then. He nodded in guarded agreement. The second thing I did was to remind him that he was a Red Sox fan and at that time, hadn’t won a world series in over 70 years. I asked him if past statistics were any guarantee of future results. He raised his hands and walked off. (I would think that now, after the Red Sox have won the World Series twice, he had to believe that current statistic are hardly a promise of future results.) As he was walking away, something really beyond imagination welled up in my mind and I blurted out, “I’ll bet you a year’s salary Bush will lose!” He looked over his shoulder towards me without a word and without breaking stride. At that, I thought it might be a good time to duck out of sight before something else came out of my mouth without my conscious consent.

When I got home that night, I decided to call my brother and tell him about my dream. After a little time on the phone, it seemed that he wanted to redirect the conversation to another subject. Poor guy. He was probably wanting to chill out himself, but instead had to listen to his crazy brother talking politics. For the next few months I didn’t say a word about my dream, but my friend Bill made sure I kept up with all the news lauding George Bush and his handling of the war. I just took it.

 

Then in October 1991, while watching CNN I heard the voice I had heard in my dream. The voice belonged to Bill Clinton, governor of Arkansas. There he stood in front of a white Greek Revival building, the Old State house of Arkansas, announcing his decision to run for the presidency. The next day, I got bold and start telling others about my dream. They still thought I was nuts.

92

Just before Thanksgiving, I called my folks who live in Fayetteville, Pennsylvania. Typically, we would try to go to my parent’s house for the holiday, but for that year, other commitments precluded us from going. I had to let them know. While talking to my dad I decided to broach the subject of my dream and what I thought was going to happen. Like my friend Bill Basade, Dad wanted to remind me of the math and he didn’t see my scenario playing out. I countered by asking him what the odds where that I would hear “the voice” in my dream and that voice was Bill Clinton. Dad still didn’t bite. After some time trying to convince others of my beliefs about the upcoming election I realized that it would be best for me to just shut up. I had tried to convince others of what I believed, but everyone wanted to let me know my theory was just plain wrong. With all the resistance from friend and family, I never changed my mind.

For the next few months after Clinton’s announcement, it seemed that most of those I had spoken to were convinced that Clinton was a nonstarter and had no chance. When Clinton’s background became public, it seemed logical to conclude how people could assume that he had no chance. He definitely had some character flaws.

Gennifer FlowersThen there was the Gennifer Flowers ordeal. She publically revealed that she had had a twelve year affair with Bill Clinton and was suing members of his staff for defamation. Of course this wasn’t good news for Clinton’s campaign but nevertheless Clinton came in second place in the New Hampshire Democratic primary which followed shortly after the Flower’s announcement. He finished behind Paul Tsongas, the former Senator from nearby Massachusetts. For many in the press and in the general public, Clinton’s infidelity, accusations of draft-dodging during the Vietnam War, and his dope smoking (or not), were enough to write him off. For me however, it made me wonder what God was up to. Why would God allow a guy like this to be our nation’s head of state and commander-in-chief? Those answers would come in due time, although for me, not quick enough.

By the time the Democratic convention was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and Bill Clinton was nominated as the candidate for president, I wasn’t backing down to anyone about my “predictions.” Unlike the time before the convention was held, people started to press the question, why? Why Bill Clinton. My answer was simply this. God gives us the leaders we deserve and need.

Throughout history God has used, but not manipulated the character and tendencies of men and women to affect His will in the world. He used the likes of Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, Herod, and Pilate to work his will in the nation of Israel. These were all bad guys, and God’s servants. He also used Hitler to get His chosen people back into the promise land after being scattered throughout the earth for over 1800 years. Being that God has both the long and short view of history, as well as the future, He knows how to manipulate events to affect salvation for those that seek deliverance. He will move mountains if need be. There are a number of scriptures that support the theology that God is the one who determines who will lead a nation. For instance:

Psalm 75:7 “But God is the judge: he puts down one, and sets up another.”

Daniel 4:35 “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say to him, What are you doing?” Daniel 2:21 “And he changes the times and the seasons: he removes kings, and sets up kings:…”

What I see in these scriptures is the real notion that even though Americans vote to elect leaders, it is ultimately God who sanctions that vote for His will to be carried out. Essentially, God has everything under control and His will is to see all men come to salvation. Because He has a long view to history, He allows the will of men to affect His plan for the world. God is not shocked or worried about who may be elected. He merely uses those leaders to be accomplices to His will.

 

Of course there are others who believe that the world is controlled by Satan and mankind is merely a casualty of the big war between good and evil. Once again, I have to remind you that God uses the nature and character of all His creation to effectuate His will. That includes Satan. The Scripture concludes that “the thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I (Jesus) am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” (John 10:10-11) Now that’s a great contrast and comparison of the nature and character of Satan and Jesus (God). God used the nature and character of Satan to kill Jesus, resulting in the salvation of mankind. That act of murder on Calvary was hatched by Satan from the beginning of man’s time on the earth and carried out by men. There was even a vote to sanction the deed when Pilate asked what those in Jerusalem would have him to do with Jesus. Their vote was to “Crucify Him!” There you have it. Satan, who seeks to kill and destroy, finds human accomplices to democratically execute the destruction of Jesus Christ. Instead, after three days in the grave, Jesus is resurrected to bring life versus death, restoration versus destruction, and abundance versus loss.

The second thing I came to realize is that God often gives us national leaders who reflect the spiritual character of our nation. I know that doesn’t play well for a lot of partisan, patriotic folk, but as I have observed over a lifetime, more frequently than not, those who raise the loudest voices against politicians are often themselves suffering from a blight of personal righteousness. This is not to say that complaints about corruption in government and politics should be discounted or ignored due to the personal character flaw of a complainant, but we should never use the faults of another to be used as a whipping boy for our own. It is sad to see how much of a blind spot we have about our own character when we speak of the character flaws of our politicians. It’s easy to see a person’s faults and sins when they are reviewed over and over on the television. But what about the sins we ignore in ourselves. I’m not talking about things like murder, theft, adultery and the like, but things like jealousy, gossip, pride, bitterness, unforgiveness, hostility, outbursts of anger, lying, greed, or having a party spirit. According to scripture, these things will keep you from inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven. Apparently these are sins that carry just as much weight in God’s eyes as bribery, theft, and infidelity, common criticisms against politicians. The truth of the matter is that the personal characteristics we despise in political figures are generally the same belonging to the person reflected in our own mirror.

It is typical of human nature to focus on the faults and sins of others in a way to deflect our attention from our own imperfection and guilt. We need scapegoats, and the world of politics provides a perpetual marketplace for casting stones. When we are confronted with our own faults, trespasses, and sins, we are far less likely to judge another without righteous judgment, the kind you give with a huge serving of mercy and love.

For many people, including Christians, politicians like Bill Clinton provided a contrast in character which fed the sin of self-righteousness. Unfortunately, when you look at the character of Bill Clinton, you find that he’s really like most Americans. From numerous surveys conducted by Christian and other polling organizations, it is clear that we as a nation are a bunch of liars, cheats, and will cut corners if we can get away with it. It is disheartening to see in these surveys that a large number of Christians are hardly better than their “heathen” neighbors when it comes to ethics and character. For matters such as divorce and remarriage, polls conducted over a fairly long period of time suggest there are real discrepancies between what religious people say about themselves against what they actually do.

 

This brings me to another issue, the issue of telling the truth. It seems to me that many Christians on both sides of the political spectrum have a very jaundiced view toward handling untruths told by their brand of politician. It seems that if their politician tells a lie, they tend to remain silent. If the other guy’s politician tells a lie, they rant like a mad man, demanding an independent investigation, impeachment or even death. I find it hypocritical to have such righteous indignation toward liar versus another. Is truth to be balanced by political loyalty? Some believe so. I don’t.

When it comes to the falsehoods of Bill Clinton, he had a few doosies. They were very public and provided considerable fodder for his opponents. However, when you look at the record of falsehoods by recent presidents, Bill Clinton wasn’t any worse at lying than Reagan, Bush (41) and Bush (42). Many actually believe that George W. Bush, the “faith president,” may be the most dishonest president in modern history.

Later on this year (2008), Christian Americans will cast their vote to elect a new president. When they do, if they expect the new president to determine the course of the nation, they will be fooled again. It’s not the president we choose that leads us to justice and righteousness or corruption. It’s not the Congress or the Supreme Court either. It has always been the righteousness of those who claim to be saved that determines the directions of a nation. Christians can curse the darkness all they want, but in the end it isn’t the state of the wicked that determine the health of a nation, it’s the spiritual health of the believer that determines it. The formula hasn’t changed. As II Chronicles 7:14 says, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; THEN will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Notice that it didn’t say that you need to overturn Roe v. Wade, or end same-sex marriages, or get rid of illegal aliens to bring healing to the land. It won’t come by name-it, claim-it either. It will only come when those who are called by His name make a serious commitment to personal holiness, rejecting tman’s ways, and seeking His face will there ever be healing in the nation.

The real problem is that we have our own ways and ideas about how to save the nation. Unfortunately, by employing the strategies and tactics of man, we go against God’s ways and come to waste. The scripture implores us to not be fooled by man’s devices. In Isaiah 55:2 it says, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” Later in the same chapter God declares, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God will not change a nation by voter guides and political action committees. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and still responds to the prayerful cries of those who seek after His kingdom and righteousness.

If we want justice, mercy, righteousness, and real change in our homes, neighborhoods and our nation, then we need to spend more time on our knees and less time watching Hannity, Ingraham, and Limbaugh. They may be good people, but they promote man’s ways and man’s thoughts, and are way off-based from God’s ways. Unfortunately, too many Christians have taken the wide road of human endeavor to bring “revival” to the nation. They need to be careful that they don’t fall into the trap of expecting man to provide the answer. Israel fell into the same trap and God called it what it is. When Israel looked for a king (Saul) to lead them, God allowed them to have what they wanted. They wanted a man and not an invisible god. In 1 Samuel 8:7 we read, “And Jehovah said unto Samuel, hearken unto the voiceof the people in all that they say unto you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should not be king over them.”

On the morning of November 5th, 1992 I received a phone call from my father. This was the second call I had with him in the previous 24 hours. In the first conversation he stated that despite what the polls were saying about Clinton being ahead in the count, he felt that Bush was going to pull it out and be reelected. He said that he and my mother had been praying. I thought that it was good to pray on election day for God’s will to done, but obviously, I disagreed with his belief that Bush would pull it out. When the second call came, after the election results were in and Clinton declared, president-elect, my father asked me straightaway, “What happened?” My response was equally straightforward. “We have rejected God as a nation, looking for a man to solve our problems. We got someone just like us.”

As long as Christians look for a redeemer and savior that has a heartbeat, we will live in a land with no prospects of peace, reconciliation, or wholeness. Seeking God with our whole heart and the welfare of His kingdom is the only way to REAL CHANGE!

Peace,

Steve

Jesus ‘08