Sorry Pastor Mike. . .

but I now know you’re not my guy. It’s not even close.

I have several friends and acquaintances–smart, savvy, Christian folks–who are quite gung ho about Mike Huckabee. That’s one of several reasons I have been diligent to find out more about the Governor’s positions and political philosophy. The more I have listened to and read Huckabee’s own words, the the less favorably disposed I’ve become.

This week’s position paper in Foreign Affairs magazine was the clincher for me. More on that in a moment.

I, like a lot of people I think, made a lot of assumptions based purely upon the knowledge that Huckabee is an strong evangelical Christian. For most of us, the term “evangelical conservative” is almost redundant–the terms are so closely identified.

But that is no longer as safe assumption. There is a growing Evangelical Left in this country. Jim “Why the Right is Wrong” Wallis”, Brian McClaren, Tony Campolo, Ron Sider and even Rick Warren are some of its most visible spokesmen. And Huckabee’s rhetoric is very consistent with the way these guys talk.

In the latest issue of Foreign Affairsmagazine, Mike Huckabee presents a position paper that could just as easily have been written by Sen. Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi. I found this opening section particularly obnoxious:

The United States, as the world’s only superpower, is less vulnerable to military defeat. But it is more vulnerable to the animosity of other countries. Much like a top high school student, if it is modest about its abilities and achievements, if it is generous in helping others, it is loved. But if it attempts to dominate others, it is despised.

American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out. The Bush administration’s arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad. My administration will recognize that the United States’ main fight today does not pit us against the world but pits the world against the terrorists.

More prescient and credentialed people than I have given this nonsense the thrashing it deserves, so I’ll just point you here, here, here and then there is this from Peter Wehner:

. . . the belief that if we are modest and generous we will be “loved” by other nations, and that anger at America is based on our attempts to “dominate,” is both naive and foolish. Some nations (like Cuba, Syria, Iran, North Korea, and others) will oppose us because they are totalitarian states that hate our efforts to curb their ambitions and advance freedom and self-determination.

They are not the loving kind.

Other nations (like France under Jacques Chirac) will oppose us because they can’t stand the idea of a unipolar world and want to counterbalance it. And other nations (like China and Russia) will oppose our efforts to end genocide in Darfur and keep Iran from gaining nuclear weapons because of their economic interests.

Memo to Mike Huckabee: Sometimes we are despised for all the right reasons.

I am still nowhere close to knowing who I am rooting for in the primaries. But I do know who I have ruled out. I started out with “Anyone but McCain.” Then it became “Anyone but McCain or Ron Paul.” Now, Pastor Mike has been added to that formulation.

Like Brian McClaren, Tony Campolo, Ron Sider and others of the Christian Left, and like President Bush in some respects, Huckabee loves Jesus but is profoundly wrong about how the Christian faith ought to be applied in the public policy arena.

Christians are clearly commanded to operate in compassion within their culture. Government cannot. When it tries, it becomes a destructive false messiah. And the law of unintended consequences kicks in with a brutal and unrelenting vengeance. (Just ask the inner city family structure–if you can find it.) We have 43 years of bitter lessons from our well-intentioned “war on poverty”–lessons some influential believers have not bothered to learn. 

For a crash course, I recommend:

The Tragedy of American Compassion by Charles Murray and Marvin Olasky

Productive Christians in the Age of Guilt Manipulators by David Chilton

Freedom, Justice and Hope: Toward a Strategy for the Poor and Oppressedby Marvin Olasky

Do World Leaders Have Good Information?

Apparently not, based upon comments by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair the other day.

According to this article in the Jerusalem Post, spending some time in Israel has opened his eyes to some things he didn’t know when he was PM. Things that make him more sympathetic to Israel’s situation.

As Tom Gross over at NRO’s Media Blog noted:

Now that the new Mideast peace envoy Tony Blair has spent a bit of time in Israel and the Palestinian-run areas since he stepped down as British Prime Minister last summer, he says he has gained a better understanding of the threat Israel is under.

“For people on the outside it is hard to understand the problems that the [Israelis] are having. Today I understand more than when I was the prime minister the difficulties here,” he said yesterday in Jerusalem. (For starters, Blair doesn’t have to rely anymore on the lies about Israel by the BBC and British newspapers, but can see the situation for himself.)

Yesterday alone the supposedly cash-strapped Palestinians fired 37 missiles on the southern Israeli working class town of Sderot – a record number for a single day. Five Israeli civilians were injured.

Given the massive anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian bias of the British news media, particularly the BBC, it’s to be expected that the average British citizen is in the dark about the reality of the situation there. But I had assumed (or at least hoped) that the guy who been the leader of one of the most powerful and influential nations on earth might have had a little more of a clue. After all, the average evangelical Christian on the Texas street has known for years what the former PM just discovered.

It’s not like you actually have to hang out there for several months to get the picture—though that is what it took for Blair. So one wonders: what else are world leaders in the dark about that the rest of us here in fly-over country know?

Ending a 20 Year Relationship


I cancelled a credit card account last week. It was gasoline credit card the wife and I had opened nearly 20 years ago. In fact, we’ll celebrate our 20th anniversary next week and it was the first credit card we got as a married couple.

It started out as a Texaco card. A few years ago it magically became a Shell card for some corporate merger reason. And I noticed a few months ago, it had morphed again into a Shell-Citibank card.

We hardly used the card at all for many years, but when Female Offspring Unit #1 started driving a few years ago, I gave her one to carry for when she needed to fill up. When FOU #2 turned 16, I gave her one, too.

We paid the balance in full every month. But one month a while back the bill must have gotten thrown away in the junk mail sorting exercise we do over the wastebasket. A $45 dollar balance with a minimum payment of around $7 carried over to the next month. Shortly thereafter, I noticed that the interest rate on the card had been raised to. . . wait for it. . . 31.5%.

Now because we pay the balance in full every month, the interest rate is not really that big of a deal. What was a big deal to me was the principle of the thing. So I waited a couple of days so I could cool off, and then called the customer service number on the back of the card.

I ended up talking to “Todd” who chipperly asked how he could be of service.

“Hi Todd. Can you tell me what your records show as the interest rate for charges on our account?”

“Sure, hold on. . .let’s see. . .I’m showing 31.5% Mr. Holland.”

“Hmmm. Okay. And can you tell me how long this account has been active?”

“Let me see. . .[keyboard tapping]. . .wow. . .it shows the account was established in 1988.”

“Almost 20 years then. Hmmm. Todd, do you see anything odd or incongruent about those two statistics?”

“I’m sorry?”

“We’ve carried this account for two decades. And our interest rate was recently raised to north of 30% because a $7 minimum payment was missed? Really?

“Well sir, the card agreement clearly states that the company has the right. . .uh,. . .under these circumstances. . .”

“Yes, and technically I can divorce my wife if she burns my eggs, but I’m not going to try it and then expect her to continue cuddling with me at night and doing my laundry.”

“Well, the card agreement. . .”

“Excuse me, Todd. I’m going to need you to close this account for me.”

“Are you sure, Mr. Holland.”

“Oh, yes. Quite.”

While my daughters carried that card, Shell/Texaco had a monopoly on their (my)  gasoline purchasing business. But Texaco-Shell-Citibank forfeited the right to any rational expectation of keeping me as a customer the moment they exercised their fine-print rights on a 20-year customer.

As I mentioned several weeks back, the Hollands, like a lot of other people we know, are in the process of getting companies like Citibank out of our lives completely and for all time.

Credit card companies really are quite wicked. And I don’t use that term cavalierly. My question is, why would anyone voluntarily do business with any entity that treats it customers the way these companies do?

I won’t. I’m done. If 20 years doesn’t mean anything to them, why should it to me? 

"U.S. Intelligence"—Politicized, Stupid, an Oxymoron

How bad are things when the British and even the French are scolding us for being naive about Islamic terror? And the Israelis? They think we’ve lost it.

I’m referring, of course, to the recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report that was published recently declaring that new intelligence suggests Iran halted its nuclear program back in 2003.

This report is the latest and most compelling evidence that the U.S. intelligence services have become highly politicized. For most of the last 7 years, officials in the CIA have been selectively leaking information to organs like the New York Times with the intent of undermining the Bush Administration.

We now have intelligence services that see their role as not just providing accurate information to policy makers, but rather as influencing policy. 

It’s very long and sobering, but I encourage you to check out this post by Tom Gross about the NIE over at NRO’s “Media Blog”. And excerpt:

Today marks a week since the release of one of the most unintelligent – and dangerous – intelligence reports in history.

Already, as a result, the Chinese are backing away from whatever support they might have provided for tougher sanctions against Iran, while Russia has used the report as another reason to oppose them. Behind the scenes, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, now fearful that America will not be able to stop Iran going nuclear, have each decided in the last week to expand their own efforts to gain a nuclear capability.

It’s a dangerous time to attempt it, but it may be that our entire intelligence apparatus needs to be dismantled and depoliticized. Otherwise we may find ourselves depending on the Israelis and the French (the French!) for economic survival.

Sorry Solomon. . .

. . .But I’ve discovered something new under the sun.

It’s an internet radio station that plays nothing but the theme songs from television shows. When I launched it, the first four tunes I heard were the themes from:

The Courtship of Eddie’s Father; Frasier; Charlie’s Angels; Seinfeld.

It’s TV106.7!

Don't Tell Me Their Names

Dear News Media,

Tell me all you want about the innocent victims that died in Colorado over the weekend. But I don’t want to know the names of the persons who showed up at YWAM or New Life with guns in their hands and murder in their hearts. I don’t want to know details of their troubled past. I don’t want to hear their former landlords, neighbors and teachers talk about how “quiet” they were.

I don’t want to see their faces on television.

Right after the shootings at Virginia Tech, your colleagues at NBC News found that the killer had mailed them what amounts to a “Press Kit” complete with video, photos and background information. It was clear that part of this nut’s motivation was to be a media star. And, in spite of pleas from numerous quarters, NBC obliged him. And all the other news organizations quickly followed suit.

At that time, many warned that giving a mass murderer that kind of publicity would inspire others. We are, after all, in an era in which everyone’s highest aspiration seems to be to “become famous”– a reality television star.  For example, Hugh Hewitt predicted that NBC’s decision would incentivize copycats. Columnist Jack Kelly wrote: “For the sake of a few dollars more, NBC has brought closer the day of the next public mass killing in America.”

So when a “troubled” kid shot a bunch of strangers in an Omaha shopping mall a few weeks ago, he left a note behind saying, “I will be (expletive) famous.” And he told a friend he “wanted to go out like a star.”

I wonder where he got such an idea?

New Life Travesty

It’s a little surreal to be watching Fox News and seeing a friend conducting a press conference under a banner that reads “Breaking News.” Brady is doing an awesome job too, and under insane circumstance.

Faith (Literally) Under Fire

As I write, the news reports coming out of New Life Church in Colorado Springs are still sketchy and confusing. But clearly some demonized person or persons has opened fire upon church-goers as the left services around noon.

This comes 12 hours after two YWAM workers were murdered in Denver. Whether the two shootings were connected is currently a matter of speculation.

 New Life has a fairly new senior pastor in my friend Brady Boyd, who was an associate pastor at my home church in Southlake, Texas—Gateway Church. I’m told that Brady has been in touch by phone with my pastor and has indicated that he and many church members are still in lockdown in the church’s basement.

Huck Gets Religion (on Immigration)

This appears to me to be a very smart move by candidate Huckabee. Today the campaign unveiled a “9-Point Strategy for Immigration Enforcement and Border Security.”  

Immigration was the major issue in which Huckabee seemed to be out of step with other cultural conservatives. Of course, it is impossible to say whether this represents a true Damascus Road conversion based-upon having talked with hundreds of ordinary citizens while campaigning; or is just a campaign strategists calculation.

 I would wager a lot that he’s been getting an earful from guys like me wherever he’s been, though.

Here’s NRO’s resident immigration hawk Mark Krikorian on the plan. He seems favorably impressed.