Archived Posts November 2006 - Page 5 of 7 | Acton PowerBlog

Blog author: dwbosch
Thursday, November 9, 2006
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Prior to yesterday’s vote, Republicans for Environmental Protection had announced its slate of endorsed candidates for U.S. Congress.

‘Each of these candidates is a conservation-minded Republican dedicated to responsible environmental stewardship,’ said REP President Martha Marks. ‘While our party as a whole is not where it should be when it comes to environmental stewardship, electing this slate of Republican candidates would represent a giant stride toward changing that.’

Thought it might be interesting to see how they did in the election. Did being green garner them any turn-out-the-vote support?

Here’s how things shaped up. Incumbents are denoted with an asterisk. Info in [ ]’s is their League of Conservation Voters Environmental Score and whether they featured the environment prominently in their campaign platform based on Google hits and my review of campaign websites. Click the name for their REP endorsement (in .pdf form) if one was available. Other notes are in ( )’s.

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Blog author: jarmstrong
Thursday, November 9, 2006
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I am spending a twenty-four hour sabbath, after a busy six weeks of travel and speaking, at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois. Frankly, this 80 acre campus is one of the most gorgeous places in all of Illinois. It is about an hour’s drive north of my home. Last evening I had a lovely dinner, in a very wonderful Sicilian restaurant, with my good friend Rev. Dr. Thomas A. Baima, the provost of Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary. Tom and I met about four years ago when a group of evangelicals in Naperville, Illinois, arranged a Catholic and evangelical dialogue for us. It was well-attended and well done. We formed a friendship through that evening and have since explored ideas that will lead, we trust, to a larger Catholic/evangelical forum in Chicago in 2007. (Stay tuned for details!) Tom is also a contributor to my forthcoming Zondervan book on four views of the Lord’s Supper (It has a late 2007 release date, with the corresponding book on Baptism due out in January of 2007.)

I asked Tom, as we drove back to the seminary last evening, “How do you explain the growth of your student body to its present high of 260 students after it hit rock bottom in 1991-92?” (The school was even larger, like all Catholic seminaries, in the 1950s, following world War II.) After the 1960s, and the turn to the left in the American Catholic Church, the number of priests, and thus the number of students preparing for the priesthood, declined sharply. I thought I knew the answer to my question but I wanted to hear Tom’s answer. Without hesitation he said, “John Paul II.” Tom then added that John Paul II pulled this renewal effort off not only because of his commitment to a more orthodox and robust Christian position but because he lived the Christian faith and incarnated the graces of Christ in ways that made him so fruitful in demonstrating the love of Christ. Tom went on to say that even the “priest scandals” of the 1990s had not slowed this growth. Why? Truth lived, and resolutely applied, makes a difference. Humility and courage go together. Standing for something is very important but how you stand is even more important! As evangelicals sort out the Ted Haggard scenario I pray to God this very day that they will more fully understand this same point. We need to stand for something orthodox and we need to do it with courage and humility.

John H. Armstrong is founder and director of ACT 3, a ministry aimed at "encouraging the church, through its leadership, to pursue doctrinal and ethical reformation and to foster spiritual awakening."

One thing that President Bush’s formation of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives did was lead the way for the formation of similar offices at various other levels of government.

For example, in Michigan, Gov. Granholm formed the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives by means of an executive order in March, 2005. And the city government in Lansing also has such an office, formed in August of this year, and has recently announced the agenda for the effort (HT: Religion Clause).

If David Kuo wants to portray the president’s faith-based initiative as nothing more than a political ploy with no substance, he’s going to have to account for all the work that is potentially being done at all these other levels of government. (I say potentially because there are of course questions about how these efforts have been implemented and what sort of work they are actually doing.)

Perhaps the formation of such community and faith-based offices at other levels were unintended by the Bush campaign, but even so they now mean that the work of governmental faith-based initiatives is no longer simply identical and coextensive with that of the White House office.

Blog author: jspalink
Wednesday, November 8, 2006
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How can developing countries best compete in a global economy? Humberto Belli, president of Ave Maria College of the Americas in Nicaragua, points to the power of education and human resources. In many cases, poorer countries have a long way to go. “This imbalance in the development of human resources, if not corrected, will negatively impact many countries, impeding them from enjoying the benefits of globalization,” Belli writes.

Read the commentary here.

Was anyone else thinking of this when they voted yesterday?

The most memorable quote? “Go ahead, throw your vote away!” Second best? “These candidates make me want to vomit in terror.”

The episode “Treehouse of Horror VII” originally aired on October 27, 1996. Some things are just perennially true.

Blog author: jballor
Wednesday, November 8, 2006
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Strong claims coming from Sam at the Philanthropy in Culture, Education, Entrepreneurship blog:

The Charity model does not work – Fact. Time to move on. Responsible, accountable, dignified, respectable investment will liberate the developing world. Inventing a new model for the philanthropic space is not necessary. There is one already in existence – the business model. Change comes about through those who are bold and fearless, constantly innovating on a daily basis, questioning, re-inventing out dated methodologies. Trends suggest partnerships between business and NGO, sharing expertise to deliver lasting, viable solutions – a potent combination.

I guess it depends on what you mean by “the charity model,” but this strikes me as a false dichotomy. Why not both vibrant charity and vigorous commercial investment? Or is that what Sam is arguing for?

Blog author: jcouretas
Tuesday, November 7, 2006
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Over at NRO, Jerry Bowyer looks at the left’s use of Scripture and Biblical history in making its case for higher taxes.

It’s hard to believe that recent attacks on the religious right in America are attacks on wealth itself. Where would the Left be if George Soros had sold all his possessions and given those proceeds to the poor? Where would John Kerry be if Henry John Heinz had done the same a hundred years ago?

It seems more likely that many of Bush’s American critics are not really calling for the elimination of all wealth accumulation, but more likely using (or misusing) these passages for their rhetorical value in a battle over the president’s tax cuts. I’m afraid, however, that the Biblical tradition offers no more succor to opponents of tax cuts than it does to opponents of wealth in general.

Read “The Gospel According to St. Marx.”

Blog author: kwoods
Tuesday, November 7, 2006
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If David Kuo is disillusioned about the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives — or about anything else, really — he’ll need to stand in line. And I say that with no malice toward him or suspicion about his sincerity. Disillusion is part of the human condition. Yes, we’re created in the image likeness of God. Yet we are all people who by commission or omission disappoint our fellow human beings.

Kuo states: “I don’t know how anyone could be a Christian in politics and not be moved to think about matters of economic justice and social justice and racial justice.” A key error here is to equate keen Christian concern with government solutions for all of these problems. For all the flurry surrounding Kuo’s book, though, his isn’t a new observation. In 1999, Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson wrote Blinded by Might. They make this piercing statement in the epilogue: “Our primary problems are not economic and political. They are moral and spiritual and cannot be resolved solely through politics.” Perhaps the source of Kuo’s disillusion is not so much failure to honor the faith while doing the politics but the failure to realistically understand the people who work in both fields.

People who work in the West Wing, in Congress, in the media, in churches, anywhere — down to our own families and neighbors — ALL will eventually be the SOURCE of another’s disillusionment. Some just get more press than the rest of us.

Some work against it more than others; many make no pretense of caring. Even those who strive for the honorable still fall. Ted Haggard’s friends and flock are no more disappointed than King David’s subjects were when his immoral choices were revealed (2 Samuel, chapters 11 and 12).

The issue is not IF we will disappoint and suffer the same, but rather how and when — great men and women included. The issue is what will we do subsequent to such failings. David Kuo recommended a “two year fast from politics.” The impact of that recommendation in times of national and worldwide upheaval is at the least irresponsible. As Marvin Olasky noted, “… the irony of Kuo’s critique of political idolatry is that, if followed fully, it would increase the power of those who are the most idolatrous. If the saints go marching out, others will march in unimpeded.”

Political idolatry and the risk that people of faith have of being used by politicians is a non-partisan phenomenon; since the so-called values vote was underscored in the 2004 election, both parties have been scrambling to attract followers of the Faith-Based Initiatives. But there just isn’t enough righteous rhetoric to avoid disillusion.

Mark Early, president of Prison Fellowship, provided a realistic alternative to the political fast. His “Purists and Politics” commentary encouraged all voters to look for the best candidate among the field. Do your homework to make that choice responsibly. Look for the honorable leader, not the perfect one.

Dr. Evan Offstein’s new book, Stand Your Ground argues that honorable leaders don’t search for excuses. Instead, they search for more responsibility. They want to be held accountable for their decisions and actions.

November 7, 2006, presents us with a good opportunity for a fast — but not the reclusive one that Kuo and now others have latched on to for yet another round of political one-upsmanship. Instead of taking time for food today, take that time to do what you can to elect honorable leaders, those who have worked to make themselves accountable in their actions before they asked for your vote.

Blog author: jspalink
Tuesday, November 7, 2006
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In response to Sir Nicholas Stern’s cost/benefit analysis of dealing with climate change, Christopher Monckton, former adviser to Margaret Thatcher and journalist, has published an article (a second will be published next week) and what looks like a very long, researched and documented paper [pdf] explaining why the “consensus” regarding global warming is not correct. Here is a summary of his argument:

All ten of the propositions listed below must be proven true if the climate-change “consensus” is to be proven true. The first article considers the first six of the listed propositions and draws the conclusions shown. The second article will consider the remaining four propositions.

  1. That the debate is over and all credible climate scientists are agreed. False
  2. That temperature has risen above millennial variability and is exceptional. Very unlikely
  3. That changes in solar irradiance are an insignificant forcing mechanism. False
  4. That the last century’s increases in temperature are correctly measured. Unlikely
  5. That greenhouse-gas increase is the main forcing agent of temperature. Not proven
  6. That temperature will rise far enough to do more harm than good. Very unlikely
  7. That continuing greenhouse-gas emissions will be very harmful to life. Unlikely
  8. That proposed carbon-emission limits would make a definite difference. Very unlikely
  9. That the environmental benefits of remediation will be cost-effective. Very unlikely
  10. That taking precautions, just in case, would be the responsible course. False

While I tend to disbelieve the general “consensus” that our world is warming at exceptional rates, sea levels will rise twenty feet, and we’re all going to die in 50 years because we didn’t ratify Kyoto, I do think it’s generally good stewardship to try not to pollute and to take responsibility for the pollution that we put into the air, water and land.

Anyhow, read the article, and let us know if you share Monckton’s skepticism, or if you are unpersuaded by his analysis.

According to a superficial view of politics held by some, “conservative” tends to imply “pro-business.” This identification conceals a number of crucial distinctions. In my view, one essential component of conservatism is advocacy of limited government. And genuine advocates of limited government do not embrace “pro-business” policies if that means government intervention in the market to aid particular companies or industries or to penalize others.

Burton Folsom, in his important 1987 book (reprinted at least twice since), The Myth of the Robber Barons, applied this insight to the history of American business, distinguishing between real entrepreneurs and business executives who used state power to promote their interests.

The distinction is given a contemporary treatment in a new book, The Big Ripoff, by Timothy Carney. “This book shows,” he writes in the book’s first chapter, “that the two most powerful characters in America—big business and big government—are in cahoots. You are their target.” Sounds as though it might provide some thrills to those for whom expanding government is as scary as any horror flick.