Presidential Actions, Week 1

I’m going to keep saying this so that I remember; “Obama is my President.” It’s important to remember we are called to be good citizens.

But that doesn’t mean we check our beliefs and feelings at the door and blindly follow our new Dear Leader. In one week –

He reestablished federal funding for overseas abortions. Why in the heck are we paying for that, anyway? Are we trying to control the population of future enemies? Is our top priority in economic uncertainty to abort unborn children of foreigners?

He reestablished embryonic stem cell research. Might as well start planning ahead for harvesting fetuses if we need unborn children for medical purposes.

He stopped military tribunals in Guantanamo and ordered the facility closed in a year. Nobody knows what to do with the 250+ terrorists held there. Send them to other countries? They end up back on the battlefield. Bring them to US soil? A writ of “habeas corpus” will have them released as they have not been charged with violating US criminal law.

He’s urging nearly a trillion dollars of spending to stimulate the economy. Who gets this money? Some of it goes to taxpayers. Where did they get this money? Er, taxpayers. And there are some hideous things in the bill, like spending on contraceptives, polishing tombstones, educating Americans about the benefits of government-sponsored healthcare. How in the heck will that stimulate the economy?

Obama’s bipartisan approach so far seems to consist of, “I won.”

Go help us all.

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Not on Anybody's Diet

Baskin-Robbins Heath ShakeFeed a small country. Buy this shake from Baskin-Robbins. Only 166% of your daily fat (320% of your daily saturated fat). But hey, it also has 120% of your recommended calcium, so it could be considered a health drink. Especially for women; not only will it fight osteoporosis, but it’ll also lower your center of gravity, making it harder to tip you over.

I’m impressed that a single shake can deliver *all* your daily calories in a single serving.

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FAA Strands Thousands of Passengers

FAA Logo
You’ve probably read that American Airlines cancelled thousands of flights. I blame the government for a combination of ineptitude and heavyhandedness.

From what I can tell, inspections of Southwest Airlines and others like American Airlines were light. Things were allowed to be “good enough.”

The some FAA official was criticized. Southwest Airlines had to cancel flights. And all of a sudden, American Airlines got caught up in the rigamarole because they fly MD-80 jets with this wiring problem that everybody seems to agree is not a flight hazard.

The FAA, in trying not to look laisy, came down hard like a hammer on the only nail they could fine. American Airlines took the brunt. You know they didn’t cancel thousands of flights because they wanted to. No, all of a sudden “good enough” wasn’t good enough, and every plane had to be inspected immediately, and whatever happens to all those passenger, well, the big and overbearing impersonal government doesn’t care. Sit in your little terminal and rot, you stinkin’ taxpayer.

Sort of makes me pine for government run healthcare.Related articles

Categorizing People

I was idly going through the contacts on my handheld PDA the other day while returning from a business trip, and I decided I needed a better system to file people. I have roughly 400 people in my PDA under the following categories:

  • 65 “Business – Home”
  • 130 “Business – Work”
  • 30 “Faith”
  • 150 “Personal”

I decided to rename “Business – Home” to “Residential” for contacts like Comcast, and AT&T, North China Retaurant. I have enough to make another category, “Health Care,” and that’ll give me roughly 30 contacts per category.

Then I can rename “Business – Work” back to just “Business” again. There are so many in that category, though, I can separate them into “Travel,” “Clients,” and “Vendors.”

“Personal” needs work. I can separate them into “Friends,” “Family,” and I dunno what else. “Faith” was originally for contacts at the church like pastors and bible study friends, but they all sort of blur together at this point. What to do with somebody you originally worked with but became good friends with and you rely on his Christian counsel? What to do with people in bible study that you became good friends with? What to do with a friend with great faith who you hired to do work around the house?

And what about somebody you don’t particularly care for but you need to keep their contact information for some reason? Do you still file them under “friends?” I don’t really want to make a category for, say, “Irritating people” that only has a couple of names in it.

Surely somebody reading this blog organizes their information like me. Ok, maybe not like me, but how do you organize your contacts?

One Less Bad Candidate to Vote For

I think I keep hoping for some unknown conservative candidate to suddenly appear and give me somebody to vote for. Like the ghost of Ronald Reagan, perhaps.

What I want is a candidate that is socially and fiscally conservative. Socially conservative because, like it or not, the President sets an example for the morals of this country. Bill Clinton taught millions of middle schoolers that oral sex isn’t really sex, and an outbreak of oral sexual diseases broke out. He taught us that it’s ok to stretch the truth, it’s ok to lie by omission. I think a generation of dishonest youngsters are on the way. George Bush didn’t do that, but I feel misled; I thought “compassionate conservatism” was still conservatism. Under his leadership, Republicans spent money like drunken sailors. Whee!

When the Republican National Committe send their fundraising letters, I trash them. If they were conservative, I’d support them.

Duncan Hunter was my early favorite, but his campaign never got traction, and he’s dropped out. That left me choosing between Huckabee and Romney.

Huckabee is socially conservative. But is he fiscally conservative? His record as Arkansas governor doesn’t appear so. He’s all for mandating health goals. I don’t want the government involved to that level in my life. I also don’t think he has enough international experience. But I like him socially. I just can’t figure out why the second choice of Huckabee supporters is McCain.

And Romney is socially conservative. But fiscally, he too spends more than I’d like. But now he’s dropped out.

That leaves McCain, an unstable “maverick” that has done significant harm to conservatives. He dislikes evangelicals, he’s soft on border control, he co-sponsored that McCain-Feingold usurping of the First Amendment, he voted against tax cuts, and he was part of that group that unblocked the stalemate on judicial nominees. I *wanted* the stalemate; I disliked the fact the judicial committee could derail a nomimation and keep the full Senate from voting. McCain is a pain.

Look, a campaign slogan. McCain is a pain.

As of now, I don’t think Huckabee can make a comeback, and I’m not sure I’m sold out for him anyway. That leaves McCain.

Will I support him? McCain’s strongest suit is he is very strong on defense. To me, he’s weak on everything else. But compared to the socialist, defeatest Democrats, McCain looks comparitively good. Comparitively.

So when Romney dropped out earlier this week, there’s one less bad candidate to vote for. Now I only have to choose between three bad candidates: McCain, Clinton, Obama. With that poor selection, I’ll go with McCain.

I’m going to have to hold my nose and remember the alternatives are worse.

Jesus and Money

Jesus and Money

Recently in a comment, I was challenged regarding posting my stock selections; the concern from Chris was that such financial considerations were incongruous with the teachings of Jesus.

Chris Says:
September 18th, 2007 at 11:03 am
I find it somewhat ironic and mildly amusing that your blog contains articles of spirituality along with your market trading activity, especially since the Bible states that Jesus suggested we should exercise caution in mixing the two. That said, you may be on to something. Perhaps church attendence would increase if the priests set up some of those red flashing LED signs with messages such as “The Holy Father recommends a buy today on Goldman Sachs at $192.50/share.”

First, I want to make something perfectly clear – I’m not hyping any particular stock. I’m tracking by own personal stock trades publicly based on a Mechanical Investing forum at the Motley Fool. If I buy something, feel free to sell it. Or buy it, makes no difference to me. I had been doing something similar on the Motley Fool forum but then I thought, hey, I have a blog. Shouldn’t I blog on my blog?
🙂

I challenged Chris to give me some scripture he was concerned about, and Chris brought up 3 perfect examples:

Chris Says:
September 18th, 2007 at 9:58 pm e
I offer these passages:

“Jesus entered the Temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer but you are making it a den of robbers.’” Matt. 21:12-13 (see similar Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-46, John 2:13-16)

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt. 6:19-21 (see similar Luke 12:33-4)

Also the parable in Luke 12:16-21, which is portrays a prosperous farmer who wishes to tear down his barns and build bigger ones but is warned by God: “You fool…”, and is concluded by Jesus saying: “This is how it is with those who pile up riches for themselves but are not rich in God’s sight.”

Absolutely perfect choices; I’m going to add one more, Matthew 19:24, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Let’s tackle each of those and see how it applies.

  • Matthew 21:12-13

This passage has a lot of lessons in it; for instance, it shows Jesus being angry and having a temper. Aren’t Christians supposed to be peaceful and bland? Jesus shows that there is a place for anger and we can learn from how he expressed it. Jesus was angry that religious leaders were standing between God and His people; the people could only use certain currency sold at the temple at very high exchange rates, and they could only sacrifice certain unblemished doves sold at high prices inside the temple, one couldn’t bring their own dove. Jesus was angry at those who would make money and put a barrier in front of people trying to worship God.

But… what about the money? Is Jesus somehow saying money and Christians don’t go together? I don’t see that in this passage. There *may* be some application to those who are selling Christian books, but even that’s a stretch unless you’re required to buy the book to worship inside. Don’t get between people and God and attempt to make money; don’t charge for church parking or charge an admission or sell church clothing required to enter a sanctuary, stuff like that. But in this example at least, Jesus is not saying anything about Christians making money.

  • Matthew 6:19-21

This is far more applicable to Christians making money. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.” Jesus says you can’t take it with you; if your “treasure” is money, it’s lost when you die. If your “treasure” is the eternal presence of God, that’s far more lasting. Where is your treasure? Do you value the commands of Jesus more than the commands of your job? This is related to the commandment, “Thou shalt worship no false idols.” Some people worship money. They will run over people, be ruthless in their business dealings. Is it ok to lie, cheat and steal to make money? After all, it’s only business, not church, right? Jesus is shedding light on this fallacy; don’t make money your idol.

Does Jesus say not to make money at all? Some people certainly interpret it this way, but I think that flies in the face of examples of wealth in the bible. David and Solomon, for instance, were both incredibly wealthy, yet were also favored by God. Job was wealthy, then destitute, then wealthy again, all while being in God’s favor. I think this has to be balanced against passages like Matthew 25:14-28, the parable of the talents. Are we being good stewards of the talents God has provided? Everything comes from God; our intellect, our food, our health, our homes, everything. If we understand that our wealth, too, comes from God, we are called to use it for His glory and purposes. If we do that, we are good stewards. If we do not, but make the money itself the goal, then we are storing up treasures on earth.

So how does posting my Mechanical Investing strategy fit into this? I am showing my strategy for making money, but I haven’t shown what I’m doing with the money I’m making (or losing, as the case may be.) What am I doing with it? I appreciate the concern, but that’s between me and God. I believe I’m being faithful with what He has provided and being a good steward, but I’m not going to share the details. Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus says, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

  • Luke 12:16-21

This is a stern warning to those who are storing up treasures on earth. In this parable, a rich man has an abundance. Instead of sharing, the rich man builds even bigger storage sheds so he can keep it all for himself. We are cautioned again that greed and the accumulation of wealth for its own sake offends God; we are to use what He has provided wisely, to love our neighbors as ourselves. There may be some application here to excessive saving; I’ve heard it said that millionaires feel rich if they could just have $1 million more. It’s never enough; greed corrupts and leads one to idolize money.

But notice the judgment is primarily against the second barn in the parable, not the first. Was it ok for the rich man to store up crops for himself? Jesus doesn’t address that; Jesus instead condemns the building of a bigger barn to store even more crops. This leads me to believe that as long as one is faithful with our possessions, Jesus does not condemn. Sharing our homes, contributing to charity, taking care of neighbors, serving with our time, and tithing to our church are all good uses of our money.

But making money? It doesn’t appear God condemns that. Instead, God condemns hoarding money.

  • Matthew 19:24

Apparently it’s a huge balancing act. How much money is too much money? The bible doesn’t say; whether you are rich or poor, the hoarding of money is a bad thing. Even the poor widow that tithed her two pennies; if she kept the money for herself, would Jesus condemn her? I don’t know, but I do know that God looks at the heart, not the external actions or appearances. If the poor widow wanted to keep the pennies for herself but a neighbor needed one of them, I think the bible gives ample examples that we are to trust God to provide and we should be faithful with his gifts. I think it’s easier for the poor widow, though, than for the rich man; Jesus says that’s “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Ideally, when I die, I’ll have two pennies left. I’ll spend one penny on the funeral and give the other penny to charity. I don’t know what God’s plans are for me, but I’ll take this warning to heart; don’t idolize money, don’t be greedy, and that wealth has serious temptations to resist.

I was about to say something like, “See? My mechanical investing strategy is ok,” but I don’t think I’ll do that. Instead, I’ll ask you to share your thoughts. What do you think Jesus would say about investing in the stock market?

Name One Thing the Government Does Well

Name one thing the US Government does exceptionally well.

Pass legislation? Pork barrel politics, anyone?

Hurricane Katrina recovery?

Issue passports in time for your vacation?

Assess property values?

Public schooling?

Social Security?

IRS?

Oversee accounting irregularities like Enron?

Prosecute O.J Simpson and keep him in jail?

Border security?

Then why oh why would anybody possibly think the latest revision of HillaryCare, US health industry regulated by the US Government, could possibility be an improvement over our current situation? And speaking of border security, why doesn’t HillaryCare address how illegal aliens are to receive their free mandated emergency room care?
HillaryCare
This is like asking the US government to be your dentist.