Tom Archives

Geithner Must Go

National Review’s Larry Kudlow says it’s time for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to resign:

For all of Mr. Geithner’s apparent skills and knowledge and other professional qualifications, he still has a tremendous ethical problem. Pres. Obama has made much of the need for a new era of responsibility and ethics. Obama is right. But Mr. Geithner is wrong. He should follow Daschle and Killefer by submitting his resignation.

This is a matter of personal character and accountability. It is a matter of honesty. Too many of our leaders suffer big deficits in these areas.

As Kudlow points out, the fact that President Obama has made ethics a central part of his administration makes the Geithner problem more acute. In addition, with the focus of the administration’s energies on the economy, it is going to be difficult for Geithner to be the face of economic policy for the administration. In a separate post, Kudlow made this point:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stood alongside President Obama in a White House press briefing yesterday. Obama talked about bank compensation limits and Geithner spoke about the need for trust, confidence, and faith in our leaders to get the job done. Only a day earlier, Pres. Obama said there should be no double standard when it comes to paying taxes.

However, Mr. Geithner is guilty of a double standard. He dodged his taxes. We know that. The only reason he eventually paid his taxes is because he was nominated to the Treasury. He has never gotten honest about his tax dodge. He never answered the key question of whether he would have paid his back-taxes had he not been nominated to the Treasury. And the result is that Mr. Geithner has lost the trust and confidence of the American people.

It’s time for Mr. Geithner to go.

The New Deal Didn’t Work (And Won’t Work Again)

President Barack Obama has made no secret of the fact that he considers Franklin D. Roosevelt as one of his role models. President Obama’s economic plans are very similar to those of FDR: increased government spending and intervention in markets to try to spur economic growth. Amity Shales, author of the excellent book The Forgotten Man, offers a terrific summary of why the New Deal didn’t work. (hat tip: Nota Bennett)

The fundamental problem with President Obama’s economic policies is the underlying assumption that government action can solve problems that can be more effectively and efficiently dealt with by market forces. The only guarantee with the President’s proposals is that the economy will be no better off and in fact probably be in much worse shape no matter how much new spending is dressed up as “stimulus”.

If the President’s program actually helps the economy recover it will be the first time that increased government spending has spurred economic growth. History (and particularly the New Deal) suggest that the President’s stimulus is doomed to fail.

Bush’s Legacy and Obama’s Burden

As we approach the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, many postmortems will be written to explain how horrible or wonderful the President performed depending on point of view. No doubt many liberals will be quick to proclaim Bush as the worst president ever. But he did in fact have many achievements.

I believe that history is likely to judge him far more kindly as time passes. President Bush’s lasting legacy will be the War on Terror. His response to the 9/11 attacks reset forever our approach to terrorism. Unless President-elect Barack Obama totally dismantles the anti-terrorism measures adopted under President Bush (and I don’t think he will), President Bush will long be remembered as the President who forever changed America’s approach to terrorism.

But there are those critics of President Bush who will bring up the economy as evidence of malfeasance on the part of the outgoing President. A couple of factors to consider: (1) the foundation for the economic collapse was laid back during President Clinton’s time in office when regulations restricting lending practices at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and (2) the financial crisis occurred so late in President Bush’s term that there was not time for him to see the crisis to a conclusion.

Come January 20th, the economy will be Obama’s problem. It will be the issue most likely to dominate his presidency much as the Great Depression did for most of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s time in office. The best way that President-elect Obama can succeed is to realize first that blaming President Bush will get him nowhere.

Mr. Obama has stated on several occassions that FDR has been a role model for him as he prepares for the presidency. He would do well to remember that Roosevelt’s economic policies did more to prolong the Great Depression that to relieve it. Unfortunately for him, Democrats have never met a government program that they didn’t like. Unless Mr. Obama can demonstrate a willingness to stand up to his party and try to relieve the economy through other means besides more spending we may be in for tough economic times for many years to come. That will  be the legacy that will dog President Obama, not President Bush.

Kids With Intact Families Who Go To Church Most Likely To Do Best

In a case where social science once again affirms common sense, a new study shows that kids who grow up in two parent homes and also go to church have the fewest behavioral problems (Hat tip: Gene Veith):

Children living with both biological parents or adoptive parents who attend religious services regularly are less likely to exhibit problems at school or at home, a new analysis of national data shows.

The study by psychologist Nicholas Zill, the founder of Child Trends, and statistician Philip Fletcher found that children in such a situation — when compared to children not living with both parents and not attending religious services regularly — are 5.5 times less likely to have repeated a grade and 2.5 less likely to have had their parents contacted by the school because of a conduct or achievement problem.

Additionally, intact families who have regular religious participation (defined as at least weekly or monthly) are less likely to report parental stress and more likely to report a “better parent-child relationship,” the analysis, which focused on families with children ages 6-17, says.

The study, co-released by the Family Research Council and more than 30 state family councils as part of FRC’s Mapping America project, was based on interviews in 2003 with parents of more than 100,000 children and teens by the National Center for Health Statistics for the National Survey of Children’s Health.

The data “hold[s] up after controlling for family income and poverty, low parent education levels, and race and ethnicity.”

“An intact two-parent family and regular church attendance are each associated with fewer problem behaviors, more positive social development, and fewer parental concerns about the child’s learning and achievement,” Zill and Fletcher wrote. “Taken together, the two home-environment factors have an additive relationship with child well-being. That is, children who live in an intact family and attend religious services regularly generally come out best on child development measures, while children who do neither come out worst. Children with one factor in their favor, but not the other, fall in between ….”

The authors said that children in an intact religious family “are more likely to exhibit positive social behavior, including showing respect for teachers and neighbors, getting along with other children, understanding other people’s feelings, and trying to resolve conflicts with classmates, family, or friends.”

Pat Fagan, the director of FRC’s Center for Family and Religion, said the study should impact social policy.

“Social science data continue to demonstrate overwhelmingly that the intact married family that worships weekly is the greatest generator of human goods and social benefits and is the core strength of the United States,” he said in a statement. “Policy makers should strongly consider whether their policy proposals give support to such a family structure. Children are not the only beneficiaries but also their parents, families, communities, and all of society.”

Prayer, Politics, and Rick Warren

Much has been written about Pastor Rick Warren’s invitation to give the invocation at President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration in just a few weeks. Many on the left have been upset about the selection of Pastor Warren because of his stance against homosexual marriage. Some on the right are suggesting that he may be compromising the gospel for the sake of political influence.

Pastor Warren is symbolic of what’s happened to evangelicals over the past 30 or so years. The church has forsaken the gospel in favor of gaining political and cultural influence. As a result, principles have been compromised.

If Pastor Warren truly wants to be effective, then he should take Cal Thomas’ advice and be more like the prophet Nathan:

If Obama plans on having Warren as a presence in his presidency, Warren should seek to model himself more after Nathan the prophet. Nathan confronted King David over his affair with Bathsheba, whose husband, Uriah the Hittite, David sent to the front lines to ensure he would be killed so that David could have his wife. God sent Nathan to David. Nathan told David a story about a rich man who stole a poor man’s lamb rather than take one from his own flock to feed a visitor. Nathan asked David what should happen to such a man. David replied, “that man should surely die.” To which Nathan replied, “You are the man.” (2 Samuel 12) Blockquote

Nathan’s confrontation led to David’s repentance and one of the most beautiful Psalms ever written (Psalm 51). The point is that Nathan did not compromise Truth, but confronted David with what he had done wrong. How many modern preachers would confront a president like that? Probably not many if they wanted to maintain access.

Former Governor Mike Huckabee wrote this in his book Do The Right Thing quoting his mentor James Robison:

The prophets of old were rarely invited back for a return engagement. In fact, most of them were never invited the first time. They came to speak truth to power regardless of the consequences.

Governor Huckabee goes on to note that one can be a politician or a prophet but never both. My hope is that Pastor Warren will take this opportunity to be a prophet and not worry about being invited by President Obama for another speaking engagement.

Revamping History

After being closed to the public for more than two years, The National Museum of American History has reopened after an extensive renovation. The Weekly Standard’s Andrew Ferguson has a detailed account of how the renovation came about and how the curators view history. It sounds like from his account that the new version of the museum is a vast improvement over the old with a lot of work still to be done. If you’re ever in Washington, a few hours at the museum would be a worthwhile endeavor.

Ten Trends Evangelicalism Could Do Without

Joe Carter of Culture11 and formerly of The Evangelical Outpost has compiled a list of the Ten Deadly Trappings of Evangelicalism. These are ten trends that Joe has identified that evangelicalism could just as well do without. All I can say is a hearty “Amen” to Joe’s remarks. Take time to read through each post as there is a lot of great food for thought.

#1 The Sinner’s Prayer and #2 Making Converts

#3 “Do You Know Jesus As….”

#4 Tribulationism and #5 Testimonies

#6 The Altar Call

#7 Witnessing and #8 Protestant Prayers

#9 The Church Growth Movement and #10 Chick Tracts

“I’ll trust in Him that I’ll make the most of it”

That’s the attitude of Liberty University kicker Ben Shipps talking about overcoming his physical deformities to be able to play college football (hat tip: Tim Ellsworth):

Liberty University quarterback Brock Smith admits he was taken aback the first time Ben Shipps approached him.

Shipps, a prospective student, walked up to Smith in his Liberty University dorm last year and asked who he needed to talk to about trying out for the football team.

Smith looked at Shipps and noticed he had had a wisp of flesh and bone for a left arm, and a right arm that ended at the elbow.

Be sure to read the entire article to find out Shipps’ amazing story. Also don’t miss the video linked at the end of the article. As Philippians 4:13 states, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

A Display of Integrity

That’s the title of my first column for BP Sports. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Behind the Scenes with Third Day

Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with Third Day and their road pastor, Nigel James, while they were on tour. My article about the band and their pastor was published this morning in the Bristol Herald Courier. Check out the article and leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Recommended resource:

068489: Lesson From The Road: Devotions With Third Day Lesson From The Road: Devotions With Third Day
By Nigel James / Authentic Books

A Conversation with Peter Kreeft

834800: Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley
By Peter Kreeft / Inter-varsity Press

Back when I was in college, Peter Kreeft’s book Between Heaven and Hell was essential reading for anyone interested in apologetics. Now the book has been reissued in an expanded format. National Review’s John J. Miller has a fascinating conversation with the author on his book, how it was written, and why it’s just as revelevant today as when he first wrote it. Check it out.

“Never Allow A Crisis To Go To Waste”

The top issue on President-Elect Barack Obama’s agenda on January 20 will no doubt be the economy. Over the weekend, Mr. Obama gave a hint of who he was looking for as a role model in an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes:

(CBS) Kroft: Have you been reading anything about the Depression? Anything about FDR?
Mr. Obama: You know, I have actually. There’s a new book out about FDR’s first 100 days and what you see in FDR that I hope my team can–emulate, is not always getting it right, but projecting a sense of confidence, and a willingness to try things. And experiment in order to get people working again.

The problem is that such experimenting that Mr. Obama is referring to could very well be rehashing old liberal ideas. Ironically, FDR did the same thing according to Amity Shlaes:

The trouble with new financial crises is that they provide pretexts for implementing old social agendas. As the president-elect’s new chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said recently, “never allow a crisis to go to waste.”

Consider President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, which President-elect Barack Obama invokes when he talks of “a defining moment.” Like Obama today, FDR was inaugurated into trouble. He wisely addressed the financial crisis through the steps that we learned about in school. He signed deposit insurance into law, reassuring savers. He created the Securities and Exchange Commission, making the stock market more transparent and consistent. He soothed our grandparents via his radio Fireside Chats. This was the FDR we love.

But FDR also used the crisis mood to push through an unprecedented program of reforms that progressives had been hoping to put in place for years. Sen. George Norris of Nebraska, for example, had for decades argued that utilities should be in the public, not the private, sector. As far back as the early ’20s, Norris wanted to build a big power project on Tennessee River. He wanted the government – and not the Ford Motor Company, which was drawing up such plans – to be in charge. FDR made Norris’ progressive dream a reality by creating the publicly owned Tennessee Valley Authority. Washington won out, but it wasn’t clear its power served the South down the decades.

Miss Shlaes goes on in the column to document other spectacular failures of experimentation in the New Deal including the NRA. The entire column is, of course, worth reading.
I’ve just started reading Miss Shlaes’ book The Forgotten Man: A New History of The Great Depression. Perhaps Mr. Obama would be well served to also read it before he takes office. While some of FDR’s experiments were huge successes, many were not. President-Elect Obama should be careful to not experiment with solutions simply for the sake of experimentation. Yes, voters asked for change but more importantly they want governmeent to deliver solutions and not create more problems. FDR’s legacy was one of creating as many economic problems as he did solutions. Perhaps Obama can avoid repeating that legacy.

Another New Deal? Let’s Hope Not

President-elect Barack Obama frequently referred to the state of the economy as the worst since the Great Depression during the most recent campaign. But adopting New Deal policies like those imposed by Franklin Roosevelt would be a mistake according to author Amity Shlaes (The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression):

The historical model that the Democrats are choosing to hold up as they ponder our financial crisis isn’t Harry Truman’s Fair Deal or Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. It is Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. At least three economic reforms under discussion now were also central in the New Deal package. Trouble is, these reforms didn’t necessarily work well when they were first tried – and some failed outright.

Roosevelt tried a stimulus package and investment in infrastructure both of which are being considered under the incoming Obama administration. But Roosevelt’s leadership style was also a huge liability:

Even more than specific New Deal projects, Obama and his fellow Democrats are evoking Roosevelt’s leadership style. In school, we learned that it was FDR’s personality that pulled the country through the Depression. If only, the suggestion is, we can have a strong enough leader, Americans will also find recovery again. We need some “bold persistent experimentation” of the Roosevelt variety.

There is evidence, however, that FDR’s very strength was a negative, because he used it to give himself a license to do true experimenting. In his second inaugural address, FDR said that he sought “an instrument of unimagined power for the establishment of a morally better world.”
No one knew what it meant, and markets were terrified. Everyone feared FDR would regulate or prosecute them next. Businesses refused to invest. The 1930s’ second half proved frustrating for the country: The economy was always recovering but never quite recovered. The Dow didn’t get back to its 1929 level until the mid-’50s.

President-elect Obama will be under tremendous pressure come Inauguration Day to do something to fix the economy if it isn’t already back on track by then. If history is any guide, repeating the failed policies of FDR is not the answer that America needs.

A Historic Election

After many, many months of grueling campaigning this election is over. Congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama. He ran a spectacular campaign from beginning to end. It’s been said many other places but let me add that this is proud moment for America. Even though I didn’t vote for him, I do take pride in the fact that my country has elected an African-American as its president. It’s an accomplishment that we can all take pride in as Americans even if we didn’t all vote for him.

What If The Polls Are Wrong?

Polling has been conducted at an unprecedented level during this election cycle. As of today, margins between the two presidential candidates are anywhere from two to sixteen points depending on which survey you read. But what if we’re heading for another election where the polls are totally wrong? I’m not referring to 2000 or 2004 where there were most famously problems with the exit polls. I’m talking about 1980.
Time Magazine conducted a lengthy analysis of the opinion polls following Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory over President Jimmy Carter. (Hat tip: The Corner) Two trends jump out from this analysis. First, there were estimates that many voters changed their minds in the last 48 hours. These voters broke towards Reagan because they were unsure about how the Iranian hostage crisis was being handled. As a result, they changed their minds late and affected the outcome of the election.
The other trend they noted then is one that certainly seems to fit today: pollsters oversampled Democrats. My guess is that’s exactly what’s happening now as pollsters have been guessing that turnout will be higher among Democrats but fail to take into account other factors that can affect how they vote.
Making matters worse is that current polls have had a tendency to overstate support for Senator Obama. This is because he draws a lot of younger voters but they tend to be notoriously unreliable in showing up at the polls on Election Day. Also, blue collar voters that make up substantial portions of the electorate in key states are very difficult to poll because they don’t respond to pollsters.
The bottom line is this: go out and vote today. Don’t let the pollsters or the media or anyone else tell you that this election is over. We could have a long night ahead of us and some very surprising results in the end.
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