Monday, December 31, 2007

Endorsement Watch 12-31-07

The former head of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Dr. Robert Wolgemuth endorsed Mitt Romney on Friday, per the press release from the Romney campaign:

"Governor Romney has demonstrated that he is the one candidate in both parties who can represent the three pillars of the Reagan coalition – a strong military, a strong economy and stronger families. Most importantly, he has laid out a vision for strengthening American families through championing a Federal Marriage Amendment and defending the sanctity of human life. Governor Romney has the experience, vision and personal values to lead our county as we face ongoing and new domestic and global challenges, and I am proud to support his candidacy."

Even Though

"Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;

Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;

Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls --

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer's feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills."

-- Habakkuk 3:17-19

Sunday, December 30, 2007

"Documentaries Matter"

Jay Richards, the director of Acton Media and research fellow at the Acton Institute, writes in the New York Sun about the difficulty faced when a conservative think tank embarks on a film project:

A filmmaker's commitment to the artistic merits of a film can sometimes override his commitment to the truth of its message. Whereas, in making films, our commitment to our message might lead us merely to transliterate our arguments into video, rather than to translate them into an entirely different medium of communication.

At the extreme is [one director] who said: "All documentaries are propaganda … There is no such thing as objective truth, only point of view." Unfortunately, this is a common conviction among those on the far left. You tell your lies. I tell mine. May the better propagandist win. This is not a conviction we should entertain ever. We should tell the truth, insofar as we are able.

That doesn't mean we can't try to persuade and entertain. It doesn't mean we can't appeal to sentiments and emotion. It means that we must do so with good arguments and evidence, and without trying to manipulate the emotions of viewers. What we want to create are products with high artistic merit that also make our points. The best productions, I would argue, are those that best balance and integrate these competing tendencies, which best combine metaphor and message.

See the trailer for Acton's documentary The Call of the Entrepreneur here.

The Problem and The Solution

Rock of Ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and pow'r.

Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfil thy law's demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears for ever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress,
Helpless, look to thee for grace;
Foul, I to the Fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.

-- Trinity Hymnal, no. 421

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Publications in 2007

Here's my wrap up of published articles for the year. I had a number of articles and reviews in Carolina Journal, including one front page feature and four exclusives which also went online. The online edition provoked the most immediate responses, including one that was republished by a local paper before CJ even hit the street, and another that jarred loose a return phone call from an organization accused of unethical conduct -- too late, of course.

A couple of stories seemed to have a positive impact as well. The story about misuse of Wake County school buses prompted an immediate change in their rental policies. My interview with officials at College Board may have alerted them to a problem in the Advanced Placement audit program.

While Carolina Journal is my major publisher, I also had articles published or referenced in Conservative Citizen, The Wilson Daily Times, the NCHE Greenhouse Report, and The Inner Banks Eagle; I was also an invited journalist to cover the 2nd N.C. Conservative Leadership Conference, blogging on my political journal Five Points.


Charter Uses Travel to Educate (Carolina Journal, Jan '07; Wilson Daily Times, 12/30/06) Sallie B. Howard School of the Arts and Education is a charter school in Wilson, serving a majority of African American students challenged both economically and academically. From its inception in 1997, Sallie B. Howard has placed educational travel as the centerpiece of its programs. ... While other schools may sponsor trips to Florida, New York City, or even a senior cruise for their high school students, Sallie B. Howard School just took 10 middle-school students and six chaperones 7,000 miles to China. ...

Federal Survey Doesn't Concern Homeschool Parent (Carolina Journal, Mar '07)
When Joyce and Ron Smith of Concord received a letter from the U.S. Department of Education asking them to respond to a survey about their children’s homeschooling, they contacted their state organization before they agreed to participate. “I’ve never been contacted for something like this before,” Joyce said. “I just wanted to be sure this wasn’t an attempt to increase regulations against home schoolers.”

Smithfield man scours Pacific for Buffalo Soldier legacy (Carolina Journal, Apr '07)
Joseph Avery's great grandfather still bore the scars of beatings received as a slave when in 1913, he purchased land along the dirt road from Smithfield to Raleigh. Avery moved his family 400 miles to live on part of the land his ancestor purchased with bales of cotton, and he now crosses the Pacific to help strangers reclaim part of their own heritage -- the legacy of American "Buffalo Soldiers" who stayed in the Phillippines after serving in the Spanish-American War.

Public Schools Could Start Earlier If State Senate Agrees (Carolina Journal, May '07)
Public schools might once again open as early as Aug. 8 if the N.C. Senate agrees to a bill passed by the House. It won’t happen without a fight, though, as grass-roots organizers plan to continue their efforts to preserve a traditional summer break for students.

The Message (Conservative Citizen, Summer '07)
There are the official topics, and [then] there are the issues, which show up more pervasively than the agenda suggests. At last year’s Conservative Leadership Conference, it was the need to do something about illegal immigration. From many of the featured speakers, this year’s theme would have been, "Get over it and get to work."

Program Teaches Studens the Work of Historians (Carolina Journal, Jun '07)

School teachers complain that "No Child Left Behind" places all the attention on math and reading scores, pushing other subjects to the side. However, a program outside the Department of Public Instruction, run largely with volunteers and private donations, is a exciting and effective promotion of the subject of history -- by teaching young students the tools and processes of academic historians. Tar Heel Junior Historians is a project of the N. C. Museum of History, and it has been growing for more than 54 years.

Wake School Buses Used For Lobbying Trip (Carolina Journal, Jul '07)

When a bill that would “restore flexibility to the school calendar” went before the House Education Committee in March, opponents of the measure were surprised to find more than 200 public school administrators from around the state in the committee room. Opponents were even more surprised to learn the school officials had been ferried from a convention in Durham County in a convoy of Wake County school buses.

Families Using Non-Public Schools Save Taxpayers Money (Carolina Journal, Aug '07)

N. C. parents who teach their children at home or use privately-funded schools are saving the state's taxpayers significant money each year -- as much as $1 billion annually, according to some estimates.

Colleges Assess Changes in SAT (Carolina Journal, Oct '07)
The SAT was changed in 2005 to add an essay section. While it is now a required part of the college entrance exam, North Carolina colleges and universities differ on the significance of the new scores.

Less May Be More (Carolina Journal, Nov '07)
A recent report by the John Locke Foundation's Dr. Terry Stoops found that simply adding instructional time does not guarantee better educational results. In fact, some international data suggests the opposite may be true in some places.

Historical Presentations Change At National Parks (Carolina Journal, Nov '07)
Heard something strange at your last visit to a National Park? It may be because the Park Service is highly dependent on volunteers and temporary rangers, and those rangers are expected to develop their own presentations from just a short list of bullet points. Chief rangers admit that sometimes very peculiar interpretations make it into the tour experience before supervisors discover it.

New AP Course Audit Adds Burdens (Carolina Journal, Dec '07)
In an attempt to control unauthorized use of the "Advanced Placement" name on transcripts, College Board now requires prior approval of the syllabus used by each individual AP teacher. Besides creating a paperwork burden, the new audit program is having trouble dealing with homeschoolers and private tutors, and the question is raised whether the approval process will lead to a national curriculum as college admissions officers place increasing emphasis on AP coursework.

Book Reviews

A Mormon in the White House? 10 Things Every American Needs To Know About Mitt Romney by Hugh Hewitt (Carolina Journal, May '07)
Hugh Hewitt makes a strong case that Mitt Romney has the experience and the skills needed to be an effective chief executive. However, Hewitt completely loses his cool over the fear that evangelicals might not embrace a prominent member of a religious movement they find antithetical to their own deepest beliefs, calling them un-American, un-Christian, and bigots.

Michael Beschloss, Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989 (Carolina Journal, Jul '07)
Many presidents have grappled with depression, self-doubt, abandonment, and isolation when dealing with the critical issues of their administration. Washington limited himself to two terms because he was sick of dealing with the infighting in his administration; Truman offered to run as Eisenhower's vice president rather than face his own re-election campaign. Beschloss shows that such feelings are common to high leadership, and the most successful presidents find their way through it, often with no one's knowledge.

Ronald Reagan (Donald Brinkley, ed.), The Reagan Diaries (Carolina Journal, Aug '07)
The very personal and highly readable memoir of a man with nothing to hide. The Reagan sitting alone at his desk jotting in his journal was the same one we saw on television. Inspiring, enlightening, entertaining; I was captured by the end papers, which duplicated Reagan's handwritten account of his attempted assassination experience.

Steve Gill, The Fred Factor: How Fred Thompson May Change The Face of the '08 Campaign (Carolina Journal, Dec '07)
A book being quickly overtaken by events, as election-year biographies will. The former senator may well be the most consistent conservative in the '08 election but if things don't heat up with Team Thompson soon he'll be back on Law and Order in a few months.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Endorsement Watch 12-28-07

It's been quiet the last few weeks so I haven't been posting on this thread. However, Robert Novak's column on Huckabee's mixed reception among fellow Southern Baptists pointed out one I missed: Judge Paul Pressler, a conservative leader among Texas Baptists, endorsed Fred Thompson on December 7.

The former Texas Court of Appeals judge said he believes Thompson is a true conservative and can win.

"Fred Thompson has the experience, convictions and dedication to make him a great candidate and a great president," Pressler said in a statement released by the Thompson campaign. "He knows Washington but is not part of the Washington system. Fred is the consistent conservative in the presidential race and is the most electable."

Meanwhile, an op-ed from months ago, lauding the death of the Religious Right, is still being published as current, most recently on December 26 in the Westminster, MD Community News:
Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee, the only ordained Baptist minister in the race, is
almost totally ignored by his fellow Christians .... Huckabee’s only evangelical
endorsement comes from Tim LaHaye, co-author of the “Left Behind” novels — which may be the appropriate title for Huckabee’s campaign.
This has been decidedly untrue for at least six weeks, as I reported a month and a half ago. I'm surprised any news editor is so unaware of the current situation that he would run this column without at least editing that paragraph.

Ron Paul on evolution: "I don't accept it as a theory"

Ron Paul was asked to clarify his views on evolution, as a follow-on to the question posed to GOP candidates recently. This is his reply, as nearly as I get it from the video:
“Well, first, I thought it was very inappropriate question, you know, for the presidency to be decided on a scientific matter ...

And I think it’s a theory, the theory of evolution, and I don’t accept it as a theory. The Creator that I know created us, every one of us, and created the universe, and the precise time and manner and all, I just don’t think we’re at a point that anybody has absolute truth on either side …”

I'm not sure what to make of Paul's reply, and not knowing where the exchange took place doesn't help. The hesitancy of his answer makes me wonder if it was an ad hoc statement rather than a conviction, and if the former, there's little point in dissecting his comment pro or con.

Incidentally, I have not heard of any prominent evangelical leaders who have endorsed Paul's candidacy, but I do know he's got serious support in some evangelical and conservative Catholic circles. He also has a contingent of homeschool supporters, including Isabel Lyman, but I'm not sure how many of them would identify themselves as "evangelical" for political purposes.

Domesticity saving the planet

A study reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that divorce is bad for the planet. According to researchers in Michigan,

In the United States (U.S.) in 2005, divorced households spent 46% and 56% more on electricity and water per person than married households. ... Furthermore, U.S. households that experienced divorce used 42–61% more resources per person than before their dissolution.
The study said if divorcees in the U.S. were as resource-efficient as married households, they would have saved over 627 billion gallons of water in 2005 alone. I bet that's more than hotels save by skimping on bath towel exchanges.

No word yet if conserving marriage will be promoted as an environmentally virtuous act.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Surprised? Why?

It's not supposed to happen at the zoo, and regardless of what may have prompted it, this week's fatal attack by a tiger at the San Francisco Zoo is tragic.

However, there is a fact that apparently people overlook:
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, [zoo director Manuel Mollinedo] was asked about an incident last year, in which Tatiana chewed flesh off a keeper's arm during a public feeding demonstration. Mollinedo said that Tatiana "was acting like a normal tiger" at the time, and that the zoo modified procedures to increase safety.

This is same level of denial we hear all the time -- the mobilizing recruit who pleads that he didn't join the Army to fight, officials at failing schools who complain that they lose per-pupil funding when parents send their students to a more successful charter school nearby, unionized workers when labor costs prompt employers to move manufacturing overseas, homeowners whose houses on the beach, floodplain, or chapparel-covered hillside are consumed by natural disasters.

There are certain consequences built into the natural order and design of things, and we can't afford to lose sight of those facts as we construct our view of reality. It's irrelevant how we feel about it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

N.C. one of top 10 Baptist news stories, 2007

According to the survey by the Associated Baptist Press, "Turmoil" in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is one of the top ten Baptist news stories for 2007:

Years of pro-SBC conservatives consolidating their grip on the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s leadership led most of the state convention’s affiliated agencies -- including three colleges and the state’s Woman’s Missionary Union -- to distance themselves from the convention. In response, messengers to the annual meeting voted to defund WMU. They also expelled a prominent and historic Charlotte congregation, Myers Park Baptist Church, for its stance on accepting gays and lesbians, prompting national headlines in the secular press.
I remember a conversation I had with an SBC pastor prior to our move back to North Carolina in 1996. The region of Louisiana where we lived was full of Reformed, Baptist churches (punctuation is intentional) -- at least five congregations within a reasonable drive of our home, both independent and SBC-affiliated. I was trying to reconnoiter the church situation back in the Carolinas and called a few pastors in the area we were contemplating, hoping to find if there were any like-minded churches there (remember, this is pre-Web for most of us, and the Founders Conference was trying hard not to look like a sub-denomination within the SBC).

I asked the pastor of a moderately large church whether he knew of any Baptist churches that were teaching "the doctrines of grace", and there was a pause, almost a sigh, on his end of the line, before he said, "You have to understand; here in North Carolina, Baptists are still debating whether the Bible is literally true or not. They're not to that level of theological sophistication yet."

I think I've seen the larger N.C. association continue to move to the conservative side since then, and the moderate party consolidating itself as a subset group (subsitute "fundamentalist" and "liberal" if you feel led). Our congregation, South Smithfield Baptist Church, is not currently a member of either the BSCNC or the Southern Baptist Convention; neither are we hostile toward either. I just mention this as an interesting FYI.

Of course, as I had occasion to mention in my sermon last week, there are sometimes good and Godly reasons that churches -- and I suppose, affiliated ministries -- may find it expedient to separate from organizations.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Midwestern Tour 2007

John Calvin and I just returned from our whirlwind tour of the midwest. A quick run down --

  • Three nights
  • Nine states
  • 1853 miles - 596 miles the longest day
  • Three customer visits
  • Five phone interviews
  • Two books on tape
  • One and a half inches of snow
  • Not a whole lot of sleep
As always, there were a few side visits - stops at the Louisville Water Tower; the Gateway Arch; the former location of John's ancestor's home and office in Nashville; and the William Howard Taft National Historic Site, such as it is, in Cincinnati. We got our picture made in St. Louis by a deputy sheriff who was amused by our efforts with a tripod on the hood of the Jeep.

Famous river crossings included the Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland, Kanahwa, and Wabash; we were close to the mouth of the Missouri but didn't spend the extra couple of hours it likely would have meant to drive out and back. I-64 crosses the Kanahwa four times near Charleston, WV.

The culinary highlight was a stop at Skyline Chili for a plate of "Four Way with beans" since neither of us care for raw onions.

Most interesting signs: Coming around a curve, we encountered "Bellshire Church of God", which looked for an instant just like Hellfire Church of God. Well, we know what they're preaching.

Several towns in West Virginia (amazingly enough, not named for Senator Robert Byrd) carried signs that said "Certified Business Location"; coming into the state, a large sign that said "West Virginia is Open for Business" (John asked if we came another day, would it read "Closed for Remodeling"?).

The last day, a billboard with a plush chair advertising a comfortable church; my thought - "I can't believe a church would do that to itself."

Most impossible route: A stretch of Interstate that runs simultaneously north and south while actually oriented east/west (a personally infamous segment near Wytheville, VA, where I-77 and I-81 share a roadbed with US 52 and US 11 for eight miles). At this point, I-77 N goes to Charleston WV, while I-81 N goes to the Shennandoah Valley. Beware ...


UPDATE: A commenter asked which books we listened to. We finished up Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky and the Making of a City. This is the story of two rival architects, estranged partners, who ended up constructing competing "world's tallest building" designs - the Chrysler Building and the Bank of the Manhattan Co. Building -- just before the 1929 crash. The Empire State Building shot up a year later and eclipsed them both.

The other was The Burma Road: The Epic Story of the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II, an account of the fight to keep a route open to re-supply free China, defend India, liberate Burma, and most importantly, provide a land route to push Japan back to the Pacific ... a strategic consideration that was bypassed by the island-hopping route eventually implemented. A tremendous story I knew little about before.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Unintentional Humor

My son, talking about an experience with a hotel room in China:

The big thing was it was miniscule.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Let them eat cake, 2007

From The Economist:
Since the spring, wheat prices have doubled and almost every crop under the sun — maize, milk, oilseeds, you name it—is at or near a peak in nominal terms. ... Even in real terms, prices have jumped by 75% since 2005. ...

But the rise in prices is also the self-inflicted result of America's reckless ethanol subsidies. This year biofuels will take a third of America's (record) maize harvest. That affects food markets directly:
fill up an SUV's fuel tank with ethanol and you have used enough maize to feed a person for a year.
Congressman Etheridge, are you listening?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Historical Linkage

In the year 1548,

Catherine Parr, wife of Henry VIII, died

The Ming Dynasty banned all foreign trade

Mary Queen of Scots was betrothed to the future Francis II of France - at the age of five

A long leaf pine near Southern Pines, NC, began growing

Endorsement Watch 12-10-07

Theologian Wayne Grudem endorses Mitt Romney as the conservative candidate most likely to beat Giuliani.

"I strongly disagree with a significant number of Mormon theological beliefs, which I find to be inconsistent with the Bible and with historic Christian teachings. But many Mormon teachings on ethics and values are similar to those in the Bible, and those teachings support Romney’s conservative political values," says Grudem.

Friday, December 07, 2007

" A Distinctly American Character"

On the death of George Washington, 1799:

Federalists were on the way out then and Republicans ascendant, but neither would survive by the time party politics really took hold – and yet in the end they both proved to be right. Just as the Federalists feared, Americans turned out to be almost ungovernably licentious, as licentious as any relatively law-abiding people can be; and as Republicans feared, America became the most capital- and market-driven nation on earth, a raw frenzy of commercialism. Maybe Washington would not have liked what he saw, but more than two hundred years later these traits were recognized (and caricatured) around the world as an important part of the distinctly American character, which was what Washington wanted for the United States most of all.

-- James R. Gaines, For Liberty and Glory: Washington, Lafayette, and Their Revolutions (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2007), p. 417

Thursday, December 06, 2007

All They Wanted ...

By the midpoint of the seventeenth century, however, the attitudes of many of the Indians and English had begun to change. With only a fraction of their original homeland remaining, more and more young Pokanokets claimed it was time to rid themselves of the English. The Pilgrims' children, on the other hand, coveted what territory the Pokanokets still possessed and were already anticipating the day when the Indians had, through the continued effects of disease and poverty, ceased to exist. Both sides had begun to envision a future that did not include the other.

For years Philip [the son of Massasoit] had used the promise of war as a way to appease his increasingly indignant warriors. Whenever pushed to an actual confrontation, however, he had always backed down, and it appears that as late as June 23, 1675, he held out hope that war might once again be averted. But instead of providing Philip with the support he so desparately needed to control his warriors, Governor Winslow [the son of Edward Winslow] only made matters worse. Indeed, it was his callous prosecution of Tobias and the others, for Sassamon's murder, that triggered the outbreak of violence. By refusing to acknowledge that Philip's troubles were also his troubles, Winslow was as responsible as anyone for King Philip's War.

In the end, both sides wanted what the Pilgrims had been looking for in 1620: a place unfettered by obligations to others. But from the moment Massasoit decided to become the Pilgrims' ally, New England belonged to no single group. For peace and for survival, others must be accommodated. The moment any of them gave up on the difficult work of living with their neighbors -- and all of the compromise, frustration, and delay that inevitably entailed -- they risked losing everything. It was a lesson that Bradford and Massasoit had learned over the course of more than three long decades. That it could be so quickly forgotten by their children remains a lesson for us today.

-- Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower (pp. 347-348)

Conservatism defined

Fred Thompson was asked by PBS's Charlie Rose what "conservative" means today. Thompson's reply was right on the money:

"It means things that are consistent with God's design for man. It's consistent with human nature. It's consistent with the lessons of history and the lessons of the ages. They found form in the Constitution, I think, and what our Founding Fathers believed. They understand that man can do great and wonderful things, but man is prone to err and times do terrible things, that too much power in too few hands is a dangerous thing. That power is a corrupting thing."

HT: Rush Limbaugh

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Evangelical Endorsement Update 12/07/07

Presidential candidate endorsements from evangelical leaders in the news, as of Friday December 7, 2007:

For Rudy Giuliani:
Pat Robertson (Founder, Christian Broadcasting Network)

For Mitt Romney:
Paul Weyrich, (Co-founder, The Moral Majority)
Dr. Bob Jones III (Former president, Bob Jones University)
Dr. John Willke (Founder, National Right To Life)
Jay Sekulow (American Center for Law and Justice)
Mark DeMoss (Political strategist)
Dr. Wayne Grudem (Professor of Biblical Research and Theology, Phoenix Seminary)
Hugh Hewitt (Political commentator)

For Fred Thompson:
National Right To Life Committee
West Virginians for Life
Rhode Island Right to Life Committee

For John McCain:
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS)

For Mike Huckabee:
Dr. Daniel Akin (President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Randy Alcorn (Author, founder of Eternal Perspective Ministries)

Dr. Mark Bailey (President, Dallas Theological Seminary)
Phil Burress (President, Citizens for Community Values)
Rev. Keith Butler (Founding Pastor, Word of Faith International Christian Center Church)
Jerry Cox (President, Arkansas Family Council)

Rev. Jimmy Draper (Former president, Southern Baptist Convention)
Jerry Falwell Jr. (Chancellor, Liberty University)
Michael Farris (Founder, Home School Legal Defense Association)
Dr. Ronnie Floyd (Former Chair, Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention)
Janet Folger (President, Faith2Action)
Dr. Joe Fuiten (Founder, Positive Christian Agenda)

Georgia Right To Life PAC
Rev. Jack Graham (Former president, Southern Baptist Convention)
Bishop John Gimenez (International Overseer, Rock Ministerial Family)
Pastor Anne Gimenez (Co-founder and pastor of Rock Church, Virginia Beach, VA)
Thomas Glessner (Founder/President, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates)
Michael Heath (Executive Director, Christian Civic League of Maine)
Home School Legal Defense Association PAC

Dr. Jerry Jenkins (Co-author, Left Behind series)
Dr. Billy McCormack (Founding National Board Member, Christian Coalition)
William J. Murray (Chair, Religious Freedom Coalition)
Star Parker (Founder and president of CURE)
Jim Pfaff (President and CEO, Colorado Family Action)
Rick Scarborough (Founder and President, Vision America)
Kelly Shackelford (Chief Counsel, Liberty Legal Institute)
Mathew Staver (Dean, Liberty University Law School)
Dr. Jay Strack (President/ Founder, Student Leadership University)
Stephen Strang (Founder, Charisma magazine)

Karen Testerman (Founder and Executive Director, Cornerstone Policy Research)
Rev. Jerry Vines (Former president, Southern Baptist Convention)
Rev. Donald Wildmon (President, American Family Association)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Endorsement Watch 12/04/07

Mention made in this story that Mark DeMoss has endorsed Mitt Romney.

Mark DeMoss, a strategist for evangelicals who strongly endorsed Romney in an October letter to conservative leaders, said he believes the speech will help, and said he still believes born-again Christians would overwhelmingly favor Romney over Giuliani, who remains more liberal on social issues.

“Let’s say by late January or Feb. 6, it’s clearly a race between him and Giuliani,” DeMoss said. “I think there would a tidal wave of evangelical support to Mitt Romney, including countless numbers of evangelicals who would have told you before they weren’t comfortable voting for a Mormon. Suddenly, they’d be very comfortable.”

Another endorsement I just located: Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, for Romney.

Kitchen dialog

My eldest son, getting ice: "Why are there blue jeans in the freezer?"

Me: "Because somebody gave Seth chewing gum."

A parent will immediately understand.


For those who don't, the explanation was that someone in the van gave Seth some chewing gum, with which he tried (unsuccessfully) to blow a bubble, which resulted instead in blowing the whole wad out of his mouth, which then was lost from view (Me: "How do you lose chewing gum?") until long after he was home and noticed this odd accretion about ankle-high on his new blue jeans. Heloise says freeze it, ipso facto giving gum to a seven-year-old results in blue jeans in the freezer compartment. Makes perfect sense.

UPDATE: They never got really stiff like I expected, but the gum did get tough enough to scrape off with a kitchen knife.

Think really big Venus flytraps

From today:

Detectives to Hunt, Kill Deer Eating Flowers

UPDATE: The family is making a punctuation exercise out of this headline.

Detectives to Hunt, Kill Deer-Eating Flowers
Detectives to Hunt Killdeer Eating Flowers
Detectives to Hunt, Kill Deer, Eating Flowers

No one is asking why criminal investigators are hunting deer anyway. Our azaleas (thought to be victims of said deer) weren't that valuable, really.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Fat Envelopes

It's been a while since I applied to college, and I had forgotten the popular rule of thumb - fat envelopes carry acceptance letters, thin ones are rejections. Now I have an impending high school graduate, and fat envelopes are arriving. Today he got his acceptance from my alma mater, Clemson, and a waiver of out-of-state tuition and $2000 on top of that. Very nice.

Campbell University's came yesterday; they have rolling admissions so we weren't surprised to hear from them this soon. Clemson's early reply was a pleasant and unexpected welcome to December, though.

Presidential Candidates on Homeschooling

First and foremost, this is not a federal issue. I took issue with Rudy Giuliani earlier this year because he dwelt on educational solutions which he supported as mayor but which are not proper distribution of powers if carried on at the federal level. In this, I have to agree somewhat in principle with my liberal/libertarian counterparts in the homeschooling movement who bristle at any federal mention of home education for good or for ill. It's not the federal government's business. (I use italics, somewhat, because I also agree somewhat with HSLDA's position, that if the federal government is going to involve itself in this issue, at least let's make sure they are not undermining or denegrating homeschoolers in the process.)

However, a candidate's statements relating to homeschooling can indicate their commitment to federalism, individual liberty, and parental rights issues. It also shows who they're listening to, and whose support they are actively pursuing. In this case, even if the best thing they can do for homeschoolers is leave them alone, it is worth asking what their administration's position would be.

Fred Thompson includes homeschooling in his white paper on education. He says he intends to "Give parents the ability to choose the best setting situation to meet the needs of their children--whether in a public, private, religious, home or charter school setting." He supports vouchers and tax credits as a means to give parents that ability. While he doesn't say so explicitly, it might be assumed these programs would include homeschoolers. In another place (s.v. "Education") he supports "empowering parents by promoting voucher programs, charter schools, and other innovations that enhance education excellence through competition and choice". Would this include virtual school programs? Probably, though not mentioned here.

Overall, his statements on education call for reducing the federal government's involvement in education while promoting parental choice, local control of schools, and increased accountability for any funding decisions -- both in awarding funding, and in the results obtained from it.

Mike Huckabee is the only Republican candidate who spoke to the National Education Association convention this year and told them his children attended public schools from grades 1 to 12. That said, Huckabee picked up the enthusiastic endorsement of Home School Legal Defense Association's PAC early in the campaign; HSLDA's founder and chairman Michael Farris has actively campaigned for Huckabee in Iowa and is a founding member of his Faith and Family Values Coalition.

Huckabee says on his website "I have been a strong, consistent supporter of the rights of parents to home school their children, of creating more charter schools, and of public school choice. ... As Governor, I fought hard for more charter schools, with their strong parental involvement and their unique ability to serve as laboratories for education reform, and for the rights of parents to home school their children."

Arkansas' homeschool law (HSLDA summary here) is similar to North Carolina's in some respects. Parents file a notice of intent, not an application for permission; while testing is required, there are no rules about minimum acceptable scores. Record keeping is actually less in Arkansas, since there is not a requirement to keep attendance nor a records inspection clause. On the other hand, standardized testing must utilize the state's achievement tests (provided at no cost), and the NOI requires not only children's names but also the curriculum planned and parents' qualifications to teach ("for statistical purposes only"). The NOI is submitted to local public school officials, who may choose to waive certain requirements and deadlines.

There was a sharp reaction in some circles to HSLDA's early endorsement, such as several postings on a grassroots blog promoting Duncan Hunter, suggesting that Huckabee's interest in homeschooling is purely political. Well, maybe that's no surprise, if true.

Mitt Romney specifically proposes a federal homeschooling tax credit in his position statement. "Governor Romney believes that parents who want to home school their kids should be able to do so. To help them, he will provide a tax credit to help defray the educational expenses of parents who home school their kids." He recently promoted the idea campaigning in South Carolina.

This support is in addition to his position that "when parents and kids are free to choose their school, everyone benefits. That's because competition and choice in educational opportunities – whether it comes from private schools, charter schools, or home schooling – makes traditional public schools better and improves the quality of education for all of America's kids." (Link)

Rudy Giuliani website seems sketchy on details, at least when it comes to education. He states strongly a preference to follow the wishes of parents over school bureaucrats. He supports "empowering parents"

John McCain says nearly nothing about education policy on his 2008 campaign website. In the 2000 campaign he proposed a voucher program. UPDATE 6/10/08: His website says a lot about educational choice now, and homeschooling is specifically supported. See my post elsewhere in this blog for details.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton established her legal reputation as a child advocate, and on the "Issues" section on her website, education is subsumed under "Supporting Parents and Caring For Children". She would support programs to train and support new parents to help them give developmental help to their children; whether this would include homeschooling is debateable but not unthinkable. There is no mention here of parental rights or educational choice.

Clinton proposes federal matching funds to provide pre-kindergarten programs. "As President, I will establish universal pre-kindergarten education through a federal-state partnership, based on state flexibility that ensures every four-year-old child in America has access to a high-quality pre-kindergarten program." Education officials and teachers' unions are praising her call for "highly trained" teachers in programs for 4-year-olds. Her proposal is built to expand to younger ages as well, meaning federal funding for classes for three-year-olds and, perhaps, even younger children.

The only references to homeschooling on the Clinton website are occasional comments from supporters in the blog and forum sections. However, the expansion of federal programs for new parents and educational programs for children four and under does not augur well for the freedom of individual choice and responsibility represented by homeschooling.


I plan to update this section as time and announcements permit. One other resource with numerous historical positions and quotations from candidates on educational issues appears on the website, On The Issues.