Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Going Home

Next Thursday, December 7, I have the pleasure of doing a book signing at Jennie's Flowers & Gifts in Holly Springs, MS. Holly Springs is in Marshall County, MS, which is where I was reared--in the community of Mt. Pleasant. I look forward to going. The local newspaper has an article in this week's edition about The Election. I appreciate the editors mentioning my book and it will be good to see friends and family next week. It's always nice to go home.

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Frist Not Running for President in 2008

I'm somewhat--but not completely--surprised by this, but Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has decided that he will not run for president in 2008. He released this statement.

Indications had been in recent years that Frist would seek the nomination although he hadn't said anything publicly. I suspect with McCain and Guiliani in the mix, Frist and his advisors felt as though the moderate wing of the party is covered. I'm still hoping that a strong, truly conservative candidate emerges in time to secure the nomination and hopefully the White House.

I read some on-line chatter yesterday that Frist might run for governor in Tennessee in 2010. His statement indicates a return to his professional and private life. Honestly, it is much too early to predict what might shake out in the race for the governor's house in four years.

We'll see more statements of who's in and who's out over the next few months. It'll be interesting to watch as the campaign unfolds. It has been a long time (if ever?) that neither a sitting president nor a vice president ran for the white house. That makes the race wide open.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Oath of Office

Keith Ellison is the first muslim elected to congress in the history of our great country. That speaks volumes about the diversity of our culture and about the people in the congressional district who would elect a muslim during this period of great strife between radical muslims throughout the world and America. But that is only the beginning of the story. Now we hear that Mr. Ellison has stated he will not take his oath of office by swearing on the Bible, but rather by placing his hand on the koran. Surely he will not be allowed to do so!

I haven't researched the constitution to see if placing one's hand on the Bible is a required part of the oath of office or only traditional. But as the writer in the article above argues, Ellison shouldn't be allowed to use the koran for his oath. To do so would be to undermine one of the very foundations of American civilization. For 230 years elected officials, judges and presidents have been taking the oath of office by placing their hand on the Bible.

Allowing Ellison to use the koran for his oath of office will not be a symbolic olive branch to the muslim world. Rather, as the writer suggests, it will embolden radical muslims. They will be convinced that if they continue to terrorize the world, bomb westerners (including Americans) then we will succomb to their continued demands--just like allowing Keith Ellison to use the koran for his oath rather than the Bible.

If Keith Ellison is to serve in congress then he must take the oath of office on the Bible. Otherwise, he simply shouldn't serve.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Republican Presidential Field Expanding

Senator John McCain and former Mayor Rudy Guiliani have already announced the creation of exploratory committees for potential campaigns for the republican nomination in the 2008 presidential election. Now we see that Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is eyeing a bid. Romney is trying to position himself to the right of McCain and Guiliani in hopes of establishing himself early in the process as the only real conservative in the field. There is already a blog for Mitt Romney 2008. Romney is certainly to the right of both McCain and Guiliani. Guiliani is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost has already taken the position that Guiliani is not the right man for the republicans in 2008.

The problem we've discussed on this blog in the past is that Romney is a Mormon. Will evangelical conservatives support a Mormon for president? We'll see. But that brings me to another potential candidate who is evaluating a run. Sam Brownback. Brownback is Roman Catholic, pro-life, anti-gay marriage and here is his position on stem cell research. Brownback's problem is that he lacks name recognition and will have to spend a ton of money to catch up with McCain & Guiliani. And Romney is already trying to fill the void to the right of McCain & Guiliani. Even if he decides to get in, Brownback may get squeezed out early. We'll see before year-end whether Brownback decides to test the waters or not.

BTW, this is my 100th post on the Christian Political Fiction blog. I hope you've enjoyed this look at faith, politics and the publishing industry over the last 3 months or so.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

The Religious Divide

Is there room in America for dialogue between the religious right and "secular progressives"? There have been several non-fiction books written on both sides and they are summarized in this article by Cathy Young.

I've mentioned Heather McDonald in previous posts and her argument that a person doesn't have to be religious to be conservative. I understand her position and others have dissect her opinions. Certainly I think one can be politically conservative without being a Christian. But I think it is nearly impossible to be a Christian without being politically conservative. Whether one is republican or democrat (and there were some moderate democrats elected during the mid-term elections) isn't necessarily the point. Although liberal interest groups primarily control the democratic party and more conservative groups are at play in the republican party. And typically the republican party promotes social conservative positions moreso than the democrat party. I would hope that socially conservative democrats can begin to exert some influence in that party as well.

The disagreements (some would say battles) between people of faith and those without faith has been going on for centuries. And I suspect there is no workable resolution. How can the different sides reach a "happy medium" on issues like abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research? I don't think one can be reached. Are Christians going to suddenly compromise and say that abortion is okay; that gay marriage should be condoned; and that embryos should be destroyed for medical research? I don't see that happening.

If a compromise is impossible, then how do we resolve the bitter disagreements between people of faith and those that are anti-religious? It's a question that has remained unanswered for generations.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Conservatives Give More Than Liberals

Arthur C. Brooks, a Syracuse University professor, has a new book coming out titled Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism. Here is an article about the forthcoming book.

I haven't read this book, but it looks like one I might pick up. Brooks has researched and has reached the conclusion that conservatives give more generously than liberals. The article states: The book's basic findings are that conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure.

Anybody surprised by this finding? I'm certainly not. When you have a Christian worldview, then you believe that we, not the government, should be helping take care of our fellow man.

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The Democratic Pledge

I'm certain some political pundits will dissect this piece in the LA Times by Michael Moore, but I couldn't let it pass. It purports to be an olive branch to conservatives but is awash with sarcasm and an affront to very basic Christian beliefs. Here are a couple of quotes from his pledge:

"We will let you marry whomever you want."

"We will continue to count your age from the moment you were born, not the moment you were conceived."

And then to top it off, in pledge number 11 he ridicules scripture as "radical religious beliefs."

As Christians in America, and with Democrats in leadership positions, we are in for an extrememly difficult few years.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bestseller List

Writers always wonder (and hope) that their books will reach the bestseller list--particularly the New York Times. But nobody really understands how those list are created. Daily I get this question from someone: "How are book sales going?" And the honest answer is "I don't know." That's because--like bestseller list--there is no way (for me at least) to accurately count the number of books that have actually been purchased by a consumer. Some stores report sales to Neilsen's Bookscan. Others (mostly Christian retailers) to the CBA's Crosscan or STATS.

Brandilyn Collins has a four part series this week on her Forensics & Faith blog about how the Christian book industry and the secular book industry create bestseller lists. The bottom line is that nobody really knows and the bestseller lists are not necessarily an accurate representation of which books are selling better than others.

Here is a link to the New York Times list. Here is a link to the USA Today list. And then this one to the Christian Book Association bestseller fiction list. You can readily see the noticeable differences between all three.

The publishing industry is both interesting and mysterious. It is difficult (perhaps impossible) to understand the bestseller lists or even readily calculate at any one point in time the number of copies a book has sold.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Political Business Never Ends

You would think that with the mid-term elections over that the political industry would slow down a bit. Not so. In the last week, both Senator John McCain and former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani (I amended this post to provide this link to evangelical outpost where Joe Carter takes the position that Rudy Guilania is unelectable as a republican candidate)have officially formed exploratory committees to look at the possibility of running for president in 2008. Others will soon follow suit.

With the loss of both houses of congress by the republicans, there is a split among some as to which direction the republican party should move. Some, like Senator Arlen Specter, believe that the party should move more toward the left and pick up the "vital center" as he calls it. Others, like former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, argue that the party should become more conservative, not less. Gingrich is correct. The republican party must return to being the party of small government, not "big government conservativism." It needs to reinforce its position of protecting the unborn and defending traditional marriage. Unless leaders arise within the party who not only share these views with conservatives but will actually take action on these issues, the republican party will languish through several elections.

I have also discovered a new website in Tennessee called Volunteer Voters. This site is an aggregate of many other political blogs throughout the state.

Lastly, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Rene Gutteridge's new book, Scoop. You can read a review on the blog alliance website.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Media Coverage for The Election

The Jackson Sun had a nice article about my novel, The Election, in today's issue. The Tennessee state baptist newspaper, the Baptist & Reflector has an article in this week's edition about The Election as well. I have several hard copies of this paper and when the online version is available, I'll provide a link.

Also, C.J. Darlington has written a very nice review of The Election at Title Trakk.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Tennessee Marriage Amendment

One good thing that did happen this past Tuesday was the adoption of a constitutional amendment in the State of Tennessee that clarified that we will only recognize a marriage as being between a man and a woman. The Tennessean had an article in today's edition pointing out the fact that two-thirds of the people who voted for the amendment also voted for the republican candidate, Bob Corker. It probably put Corker over-the-top in this senate race.

A similar amendment was on the ballot in seven other states and I believe it passed everywhere except Arizona. I'm not exactly sure why it failed there. I haven't researched the language in the proposed amendment or the history of the vote although it was very close.

I was somewhat surprised that voters in South Dakota rejected a ban on abortion. The state legislature had previously enacted legislation creating the ban and the voters overturned the legislation. It was thought that this S.D. law would make it to the supreme court as a test case to overturning Roe v. Wade. That won't happen now and although the law was the most restrictive one ever passed by a state legislature, I think even some pro-life S.D. residents voted against the law because it still allowed for some abortions. It was an interesting dynamic that people on both sides of the abortion issue opposed this law.

The political battles involving a Christian worldview continue. We'll see where these issues of traditional marriage and abortion go from here.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Christians Respond to Election Results

I mentioned yesterday my thoughts about the mid-term election results. Here are some links to evangelical articles that express similar thoughts. Matt Friedeman. Mark Creech. (Creech's article was written pre-election but the issues he raised are extremely relevant).

The question that remains is how will republicans--and more importantly Christians--respond to Tuesday's sound defeat.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wake-up Call for Republicans

The mid-term elections are over and the republicans suffered significant damage. The majority party in the house of representatives is now the democrats and will presumptively be lead by Nancy Pelosi. The democrats also now control a majority of the governships. The only thing hanging in the balance now is the senate and it appears to me that when all the recounts are over and the lawsuits end the democrats will control the senate too by a majority of one.

Even locally I was surprised that the incumbent state senator lost re-election to the democratic challenger. That election will impact control of the Tennessee senate for at least the next two years.

Today is a very bad day for republicans. My question is whether the republican leadership will learn anything from it. I've talked to many republicans who simply said they could not get excited about the elections this year and I think I know why. The republican party moved away from its conservative Christian base. Republican leaders in the house, senate and even President Bush talked about being fiscal conservatives but spending is out of control. And we don't like our leaders being involved in political scandals: Abramoff; Foley. Lastly, I think there is a sense among many republicans that although the war on terrorism is necessary it is being handled poorly, particularly in Iraq. That may or may not be true but the mainstream media has at least done a good job of convincing the country that it is true.

I hope that republicans will wake-up and a new generation of leaders will emerge. Leaders who not only give lip service to conservative issues but actually operate with a Christian worldview.

Also, the mid-term elections have had a tremendous impact on the 2008 presidential election. Many (perhaps most) of the democrats who won house seats over republicans lean more toward the moderate wing of the party rather than the left. One example is Heath Shuler in west North Carolina. On the democrat side, can Hillary Clinton convince the party faithful that she is moderate? On the republican side, I think that George Allen and Bill Frist are likely now out of the picture. Even if Allen holds on to his senate seat in Virginia, he is too damaged for a run at the presidency. And as senate majority leader, Bill Frist's leadership has to be questioned now with these mounting loses. Will a guy like Mike Huckabe or Sam Brownback emerge or will it be someone like Mitt Romney or John McCain? Or someone we are not even talking about yet? Will see over the next year to 18 months.

Another interesting thing is that overnight and this morning I've had several hits on my blog by people running a search on whether Nancy Pelosi is a Christian or not. I don't know the answer (and hope that she is) but I find it interesting that people are researching that issue.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Mid-Term Elections Tomorrow

Important mid-term elections are tomorrow. Traditionally, the mid-term elections that take place during the 6th year of a two-term presidency are bad for the party in power. Many pundits anticipate the same thing happening this year. Most are of the opinion that the republicans will at least loose the house of representatives and many believe that the senate will switch control as well.

In recent days there seems to be some trending in favor of the republicans in the polling data. The statement from John Kerry that many have interpreted to be derogatory of those in uniform seems to have been a catalyst that has helped republicans. The conviction yesterday of Saddam Hussein has been another.

The Mason Dixon poll shows Bob Corker with a 12 point lead over the democratic candidate for the senate seat from Tennessee. Polls are hard to figure out but if that poll is even close to being accurate then Bob Corker should coast to victory. Other polls have the race closer but all show Bob Corker leading.

The Gallup poll has the Corker race within 3 points but here is a comparison of the accuracy of the Gallup poll versus the Mason Dixon poll from the 2004 presidential election. (scroll down some to see the comparison). At least this one analysis indicates that the Mason Dixon poll is a more accurate prediction than the Gallup poll. Personally, I hope Mason Dixon is closer to accurate than Gallup.

Early voting where I live ended last Thursday. Although the votes won't be tallied until tomorrow night, we did have 25% of the registered voters in the county vote during the early period. Of those, a higher percentage of voters from the traditionally republican parts of the county voted early than did those from the traditionally democratic areas of the county. We'll see if that means anything or not and whether that is a statewide or nationwide trend.

I think one thing we learned from the 2004 presidential election is that typically conservatives (and conservative Christians) don't participate in pre-election polls or exit polls in as large a percentage as more moderate or liberal voters do. That played out with early exit polls indicating a huge win for John Kerry when in fact President Bush won.

I mentioned early in October that the Mark Foley scandal would not help democrats much because it occurred too long before the elections. I think my prediction held true and in fact, the republican candidate (whose name isn't even on the ballot) in the race to replace Mark Foley as a chance of winning as does the republican candidate for Tom Foley's seat. Both still extremely long shots for the GOP though.

I also mentioned that I thought last Thursday would be the day that if anything was going to break that would change the outcome of the elections then it would happen that day. I didn't really see anything. Perhaps there were things in local races but nothing of note nationwide. The John Kerry statement and the Saddam Hussein conviction appear to be the two big news stories over the last several days that might have an impact.

The bottom line is that everyone needs to get out and vote. In the last two years of President Bush's administration, he needs to be able to nominate and have confirmed more conservative judges to the federal bench. As proof, on Wednesday of this week the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003. Would Justice Roberts or Justice Alito be on the Supreme Court if democrats were in control of the senate when their nominations came up? I think the answer to that question is an obvious "no".

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Black Eye for Christians

With only a few days before the mid-term elections, there are news stories about the leader of the National Association of Evangelicals, Ted Haggard. The allegations are from a gay man who claims to have been paid by Haggard for sex. There are also allegations from the same man that Haggard used illicit drugs. One spokesperson for Haggard's church is quoted as saying that Haggard admits to some--but not all--of the allegations. Haggard has resigned his position with the church and with the National Association of Evangelicals. The website indicates that it is being updated.

The accuser admits that the timing of his accusations were motivated by the impending vote on same-sex marriage. There is also an indication that the accuser failed a lie detector test.

It is sad if any part of these allegations are true. This is not the first time that evangelical leaders have fallen--and it won't be the last. But it certainly gives a black eye to Christianity as a whole when its leaders are accused of these types of events. It is hard for society to believe us when we talk in terms of a Christian worldview when Christian leaders are caught up in things we denounce.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Thank You, John Kerry?

Has John Kerry provided the news story that will give the republicans the ammunition necessary to retain control of congress? I hope so but this story may be a little too early.

The story started with this foot-in-the-mouth statement from Senator Kerry. (Scroll down some and play the video then read the posts above it). On Monday, Senator Kerry insinuated that our military is full of individuals who could not get a college or graduate degree. Here it is Wednesday--less than a week before the mid-term elections--and the story's legs continue to grow (Real Clear Politics has several articles on this page) but we'll see whether it continues to play through the weekend. Can the man not simply say he was wrong and apologize? That would have nipped the issue in the bud quickly.

I like reading Dick Morris' columns because I think he has some insight (and wit) from his time at the White House. He thinks that the republicans are making strides with independents in the closing days but is having trouble hanging on to its base. Morris attributes this to the Mark Foley scandal. No doubt the republican leadership fumbled the ball where Mark Foley was concerned. I'm angry about it too, but not angry enough to vote for a democrat. If the republicans can shore up their base, perhaps they can surprise the mainstream media on November 7.

Then there's the important senate race in Tennessee. It appears that Harold Ford, Jr.'s campaign is imploding. Recent polling indicates that Bob Corker is opening a significant lead over Ford. And Ford's claim that his is pro-life is being exposed as a lie.

Another important senate race I haven't mentioned before is the one between Mike Steele and Ben Cardin in Maryland. This race is for an open seat that was previously held by a democrat. Mike Steele is an African-American republican and picked up huge endorsements this week. It would be a real big deal if Steele won this race--and it is very close.

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