New “Stones Cry Out” Contributors

Back when we moved over to the new WordPress version of “Stones Cry Out”, we made mention that we were looking for some new contributors.  Well, we’d like to finally announce that we have two new voices to add to the current set of stones; Rusty Lopez and Mark Olson.  You can click on the “Bios” link to the right to read up on their backgrounds, and what they bring to the blog.

Rusty has blogs for both culture and photography, and is now our official West Coast Stone.  Mark comes to us with a stint on World Magazine’s BlogWatch under his belt (which is, unfortunately, no longer active).  They still, of course, have their own personal blogs as well (links in the Bios) but we’re glad to have both of them to add to the voices at “Stones Cry Out”.

Welcome Rusty and Mark!

The 2008 campaign for president has gone on way, way too long.  And now the decision for the Republican nominee is going to be made much too fast.  For us political junkies, it’s just getting interesting.  The Democratic race may hold some interest, too, if Obama can win somewhere other than Iowa.   Why did the two best public speakers, Obama and Huckabee, win Iowa and now can’t win anywhere else?  Obama, by the way, is the best by far.   The problem is, he’s wrong on just about everything politically–except on the importance of being nice.

But since the Republicans are the only candidates that reflect the majority of my own values, I’ll keep my eye on them.  All of the remaining candidates, except Ron Paul, hold most of the same values as I do–with a few exceptions.  I don’t dread the prospect of Romney, McCain, Huckabee, or Guiliani winning the nomination.

But these thoughts on the morning after McCain won the South Carolina primary.  I’m snowed-in (or iced in) in Atlanta–the churches are all closed–which may be why McCain eked out the SC win over Huckabee.  Huckabee’s camp was fearing snow in the upstate, and it came; so the Huckabee turnout may not have been what they could have expected otherwise.

But the real story is McCain winning in SC, where his 2000 candidacy was torpedoed.  If McCain can make his final SC campaign appearance in Charleston Harbor–in view of Ft. Sumter–in perhaps the most states-right, conservative state in the nation, and go on to beat an evangelical pastor and a conservative former Senator/TV actor from a neighboring state–then he’s convinced a fair number of conservatives that he is not evil.

McCain is going to be formidable and he is certainly the frontrunner now for the nomination.

The second story really is Huckabee’s inability to capture South Carolina.  The state was tailor made for him, with half the state evangelical Christians.  Thompson is probably the reason.  He woke up in time to attack Huckabee in the last debate and showed some life in the last week.  I doubt that he did this for McCain; politicians almost always do things for themselves.  But the result is that it is likely that Thompson’s final hurrah will launch McCain to the nomination.

Some say Thompson reminds them of Reagan.  Well maybe, but I’d say Thompson’s performance in this campaign is reminiscent of the final days of Reagan’s presidency, when he could hardly answer questions at press conferences, with the ravages of age and perhaps alzheimers taking their toll.

I loved it when Thompson jumped into the race.  But come to find out he does need a script.  And now Jack McCoy has his job as the DA on Law and Order.  What’s next for Thompson?

Back to Huckabee.  As I’ve written before, I like him very much and support so much of what he stands for and most of his policies.  But I think he’s probably finished.  He needed SC more than McCain or Romney did.  With four contenders in Florida the vote may be split enough to give any of them a chance, including Huckabee.  But after that its hard to see a path to victory.  I appreciate so much about Huckabee, but I don’t think he can beat Hillary because he looks like an foreign policy lightweight.  Back to:  Huckabee for VP.

I’ve also written about Romney, as far back as two years ago.  Unfortunately, I liked him a bit more when he was a creative governor of Massachusetts than I do with him as a doctrinaire conservative candidate with only a little more fluidity than Al Gore as a candidate.

Guiliani has spent so many days out of the media spotlight, it is hard to see him coming back.  I don’t know if he had any choice, but his strategy to wait until Florida looks like the wrong strategy.  Could he really not have competed in New Hampshire; wouldn’t he have had the same appeal as McCain to NH independents.  Guiliani has little margin of error with liberal positions on abortion and same sex marriage; he may have already gone outside the margins.

I’ve been a McCain fan for some time (to the chagrin of many close to me), and I supported him in 2000.  He may be better for America than for the Republican party, but I like his independence and integrity and his strength.  I don’t think you can discount his heroism as a POW, and I like his balanced and positive approach to climate change.  I’m amazed that in all of his years in the Senate he has never asked for an earmark.  Not too many examples of that.   I do wish he was 10 years younger.

I hate that Rush trashed both McCain and Huckabee this week.  I was also surprised by it, because he’s usually friendly to all Republicans.   While Sean Hannity clearly admires Thompson and Guiliani, he’s said consistently that he likes all of the Republican presidential candidates.  I agree with him, but today I think McCain is the man with momentum, and the candidate most likely to beat the Democrat.

Evangelical Diversity, not Disarray

The mainstream media are working hard to characterize evangelical involvement in 2008 politics as disarray and disfunction because the community is not behind a single candidate.  Sorry, there isn’t any disarray.  Evangelicals aren’t cracked-up, as the New York Times suggested recently.  The misleading characterizaiton is partially because, in public and political discourse, evangelical is now considered a political voting bloc rather than a theological distinction.  Evangelical Christians share spiritual beliefs, almost all are social conservatives, and most are defense and economic conservatives.  But their priorities differ, and the younger generation is concerned about issues that haven’t been particularly important to their parents. 

So it isn’t suprising that some evangelicals like a candidate such as Mike Huckabee because he is evangelical and because he’s a social conservative.  It isn’t surprising that some support Mitt Romney, an economic conservative, or John McCain, a defense conservative.  That’s not disarray, its diversity.  And it is further evidence that evangelicals are not monolithic and easily pegged.

We won’t be seeing the split support by evangelicals in the general election.  Although Obama and Clinton have been trying to speak evangelicalese from time to time,  evangelicals aren’t fooled, and very few of them share the liberal political philosophy of the Democratic frontrunners.

Why I Hate Polls

Alert: Dead Horse Being Beaten!

I just wanted to reiterate that I’m no big fan of polls, and Mark Alexander, writing for this week’s Patriot Post, puts it well.

[I]t is worth familiarizing oneself with the practice of Pollaganda, a propagandistic disinformation technique where political polling masquerades as “objective journalism” and instead advances a liberal bias.

Americans who participate in public-opinion polls about political performance are not political analysts, national-security specialists, economists or policy experts. They are folks who hold common labor and professional jobs in order to support their families and make ends meet. They are thus the backbone of our nation. Unfortunately, a large measure of their perspective on politics, national security, the economy and public policy is shaped by the MSM.

Pollaganda uses outcome-based opinion samples (polling instruments designed to generate a preferential outcome) reflecting prior-opinion indoctrination or cultivation by the media. The results are then used to manipulate public opinion further by advancing the perception that a particular opinion on an issue enjoys majority support. The MSM then presents this “data” as if it were “news.”

I say “outcome based” because most polls reflect intentional propagation of a particular bias by Leftmedia television and print outlets to manipulate public opinion. They accomplish this by first indoctrinating viewers with “reporting” that reflects a particular bias, then conducting “opinion polls” which, of course, reflect that indoctrination.

Then the media uses poll results to proselytize further by treating the results as “news,” which, in turn, induces “bandwagon” psychology—the human tendency of those who do not have a strong ideological foundation to aspire to the side perceived to be in the majority—and thus further drives public opinion toward the original media bias, ad infinitum.

Pollaganda, then, is self-perpetuating.

What he said.

[tags]polls,The Patriot Post,Mark Alexander,pollaganda,news media[/tags]

Abortions Down, Way Down

Abortions are down to the lowest level in decades.

A new report by an organization affiliated with Planned Parenthood finds that the number of abortions nationwide have fallen to their lowest point in 30 years and have declined 25 percent since 1990. Pro-life groups point to laws limiting abortions, the effectiveness of pregnancy centers and abstinence education as the reason why.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute report finds just over 1.2 million abortions in the United States in 2005, down nearly 25% from their high of 1.6 million in 1990.

The number of abortions are now at their lowest point since 1.179 million in 1976.

Additionally, the report shows the abortion rate (the number of abortions per 1,000 women age 15-44) down to 19.4 per thousand — the lowest since 1974. That was the first full year following the Roe v. Wade decision.

The Guttmacher report speculates that the lower abortion rates may be due to “more women carrying unintended pregnancies to term,” implicitly acknowledging that attitudes toward abortion and pregnancy may have substantially changed.

When Planned Parenthood opposes any and all restrictions on abortion, you just gotta follow the money. A more informed public is their worst nightmare, in spite of their PR to the contrary.

Dr. Randall O’Bannon, the director of research and education for National Right to Life, told the new figures are welcome news.

“Today’s numbers confirm what we have known for years — if women seeking abortion are fully informed about the risks surrounding abortion, the development of their unborn child, and public and private assistance available in their area, they are more likely to reject the idea of abortion,” he said.

“Women’s Right to Know laws, parental involvement laws, bans on partial-birth abortion — all of which continue to be enacted by the states — not only help women facing crisis pregnancies, they also raise the public’s awareness about abortion and the humanity of the unborn child,” he said.

“What the pro-life movement has done, and continues to do, has saved hundreds of thousands of lives,” O’Bannon concluded.

There’s some good news for ya’.

[tags]abortion,Planned Parenthood,Alan Guttmacher Institute,Dr. Randall O’Bannon[/tags]

A Brokered Convention?

Huckabee, McCain and now Romney have all taken 1st place in a primary or caucus. Does this mean the Republicans are headed for a brokered convention? The Moderate Voice thinks so. Donklephant is wondering. John Gizzi at Human Events hopes so (it’s good for business; he’s political reporter).

What do you think? And would this be a good thing or a bad thing for Republicans? Would a moving target for Democrats give them less of a chance to do opposition research, or do you think they’ve got a dossier on the whole GOP field already?

[tags]US president,brokered convention,Republicans,The Moderate Voice,Donklephant,John Gizzi,Human Events[/tags]

The Islamic “DaVinci Code”?

A very interesting article in Asia Times about 60-year-old documents, hidden away for all that time, that could shake Islam to its core. If it can be proved that the Koran’s origins are not what is claimed, it would be monumental. First, some background on why it would be so.

No one is going to produce proof that Jesus Christ did not rise from the grave three days after the Crucifixion, of course. Humankind will choose to believe or not that God revealed Himself in this fashion. But Islam stands at risk of a Da Vinci Code effect, for in Islam, God’s self-revelation took the form not of the Exodus, nor the revelation at Mount Sinai, nor the Resurrection, but rather a book, namely the Koran. The Encyclopaedia of Islam (1982) observes, “The closest analogue in Christian belief to the role of the Koran in Muslim belief is not the Bible, but Christ.” The Koran alone is the revelatory event in Islam.

The Koran is Islam. The question then is…

What if scholars can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Koran was not dictated by the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Mohammad during the 7th century, but rather was redacted by later writers drawing on a variety of extant Christian and Jewish sources? That would be the precise equivalent of proving that the Jesus Christ of the Gospels really was a composite of several individuals, some of whom lived a century or two apart.

The documents in question, hidden by the Nazis, and who’s photographs are now in a Berlin vault, do exist. That’s apparently not in question.

It has long been known that variant copies of the Koran exist, including some found in 1972 in a paper grave at Sa’na in Yemen, the subject of a cover story in the January 1999 Atlantic Monthly. Before the Yemeni authorities shut the door to Western scholars, two German academics, Gerhard R Puin and H C Graf von Bothmer, made 35,000 microfilm copies, which remain at the University of the Saarland. Many scholars believe that the German archive, which includes photocopies of manuscripts as old as 700 AD, will provide more evidence of variation in the Koran.

The question is, do they damage the Koran’s authenticity or claim of origin? That’s a question that may not be answered soon, as access to the photographs is being heavily restricted. And then there’s always the reluctance on the part of Muslims.

Apart from the little group at the University of the Saarland and a handful of others, though, the Western Academy is loathe to go near the issue. In the United States, where Arab and Islamic Studies rely on funding from the Gulf States, an interest in Koranic criticism is a failsafe way to commit career suicide.

And perhaps, not just their career, either.

[tags]Islam,Koran,DaVinci Code,Mohammad,Berlin,Yemen,Gerhard Puin,H C Graf von Bothmer,University of the Saarland[/tags]


It doesn’t get any more blatant than this. Here’s Hillary Clinton talking to people in a Las Vegas neighborhood.

A man shouted through an opening in the wall that his wife was illegal.

“No woman is illegal,” Clinton said, to cheers.

Ever, or just where border crossings are concerned? Just wondering.

[tags]Hillary Clinton,politics,presidential election,pandering,Las Vegas,Nevada,illegal immigration[/tags]


Mark Earley on “The Heroes of 2007”, and what it says about atheism.

[tags]Mark Earley,Breakpoint,atheism,Christopher Hitchens,Richard Dawkins[/tags]

Bible Quizzing Weekend

3 of my kids, some more from our church, and a bunch more from homeschool classes that meet at our church, have formed 4 teams of Bible quizzers. These kids read and study the year’s text from which questions will be asked (this season it’s Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians), and compete with teams from other CMA churches in our zone in monthly quiz meets.

This weekend is the Southeast District Bible Quiz Invitational. It’ll be a great time for all the kids to really see what they know. The zone to our northeast, the Tri-State zone, has some really serious competition for us, and since many of the kids on our teams are new, this’ll be an eye opener. Some of those Tri-State kid can answer questions after little more than a burp from the Quizmaster.

Scripture memorization is a great way for kids (and adults) to get the Word in their hearts. My family has a number of passages we’ve memorized around the dinner table, but add a little friendly competition and some recognition, and the kids can really get motivated. (And really show up the adults.)

I’d recommend it if it’s available in your denomination. There are a number (Christian Missionary Alliance, Salvation Army, Nazarene to name a few) that offer it, so see if yours does. The Bible Quiz News website, sponsored by a quiz materials supplier Acme, is a good site for news and schedules.

[tags]Bible quizzing,scripture memorization[/tags]

The Polls Before the Polls

Against all polling data, Hillary Clinton barely topped the New Hampshire Democratic primary. The Clinton supporters are cheering, and the Obama supporters are a bit surprised. As I’ve said numerous times, I’m not a big fan of polling, mostly because emotional responses or answer to questions the respondents know little about are quite useless bits of data. However, how you plan to vote the next day or within the next week is something that people would know about themselves. Last minute changes of heart considered, the numbers should be close.

ABC News’ polling unit, however, is calling this a polling fiasco.

There will be a serious, critical look at the final pre-election polls in the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire; that is essential. It is simply unprecedented for so many polls to have been so wrong. We need to know why.

But we need to know it through careful, empirically based analysis. There will be a lot of claims about what happened – about respondents who reputedly lied, about alleged difficulties polling in biracial contests. That may be so. It also may be a smokescreen – a convenient foil for pollsters who’d rather fault their respondents than own up to other possibilities – such as their own failings in sampling and likely voter modeling.

Fair enough. But there’s something I’m not hearing that, were this sort of polling fiasco to happen, say, next November, the cry would be deafening. Basil notes it at “Stop the ACLU”.

The polls were wrong. Very wrong.

And all the Democrats seem okay with that.

But I wonder …

Suppose it was November. And suppose the Democratic nominee was leading the Republican nominee in all the polls. And suppose the Republican ended up winning.

What would happen?

I think you’d hear all the Dems calling “fraud” and saying all those polls couldn’t have been wrong, so the election must have been stolen.

Today, though, the silence is deafening.

The evil Diebold machines of 2004’s Bush re-election suddenly became as innocent as doves come the 2006 Democratic sweep into Congress, and they could have been a factor in the NH primary. And yet, not a peep from the Democratic establishment. Now, for my part, I’m no fan of electronic voting machines; there just too many ways for things to go wrong and lose a boatload of votes. However, if the Democrats are OK with them today, and were OK with them in 2006, there is absolutely no excuse for any bellyaching if the Republican wins in November. It’ll be too little, way too late.

The pre-primary polls were way off, some say that Diebold could have influenced the outcome, and no outrage at all from the Democratic party. Quite a 180 from 2004, eh?

[tags]elections,Diebold,polling,Hillary Clinton,Barack Obama,Democrats,New Hampshire[/tags]

“I Want More Abortions Than You Do”

That’s an odd line for a presidential candidate, but that’s the message in my ears from this article about Hillary Clinton trying to bounce back from Iowa’s 3rd place showing.

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire, January 7, 2008 ( – Following her crushing defeat in Iowa, Hillary Clinton has decided to attack Barack Obama on different ground: she is claiming that he is not as committed to abortion as she is, hoping to cast doubt that Obama is pro-abortion enough to make an acceptable Democratic president.

In a recent mailing to voters in New Hampshire, Hillary criticizes Obama for voting “present” instead of in favor of pro-abortion legislature on seven occasions. The mailer claims Clinton is a person who will “stand up for women’s right to choose.”

I read this and hear her say, “More babies allowed to live? Not on my watch!” Just remember this when she tries to reach across the aisle on this issue, a move she’s feigned before.

But regarding being more pro-abortion than Obama, that may be hard to do.

Obama has received a rating of 100% from Planned Parenthood, based on his voting record as an Illinois senator.

Maybe Hillary should demand a recount.

[tags]Hillary Clinton,abortion,Barack Obama,Iowa caucus,New Hampshire primary[/tags]

The Iowa Caucuses

The next phase of the presidential campaign season began yesterday as Iowans held their respective caucuses (caucii?). Some surprises, and some expected results


This is the “surprise” category. While only 1% behind the guy in front of her, and while getting 29% of the vote, Hillary Clinton (The Inevitable One(tm)) placed a disappointing 3rd behind Obama and Edwards. For a campaign machine that has been essentially running non-stop since 1992, this must be a serious blow. I heard on the radio this morning that she arrived in New Hampshire at 5am, apparently bailing out of Iowa as soon as she could. It ain’t over by any stretch of the imagination, but this is an upset.

As a blow against identity politics, which I’ve covered before, Barack Obama’s 38% victory shows that white folks will indeed vote for a black man with whom they agree. I think this goes for members of either party frankly. (I personally wished J. C. Watts had decided to run when I watched him during the Bill Clinton impeachment debate.) Iowa has a lower percentage of blacks than in the country in general, and yet Obama won handily. I don’t agree with Obama’s policies, but I’m glad to see this result. Hope the girls at Spelman College take a lesson from this and vote policy and position rather than color.


Huckabee picked up the win here, as expected. Well, as most recently expected, not as anyone expected 4 months ago, which points out that polls really are just barometers of how people think or feel now. Iowa GOPers are 60% evangelical, so quite likely identity politics did play a part here. See Bryan at Hot Air, who notes that this is “a reversal in the way the two parties tend to think and choose their respective leader”. Indeed, and I really hope this isn’t a new trend. I do generally want a candidate that shares my values, but I’m not necessarily going to get hung up on their religion. However, religion tracks quite closely with positions I want to see, so it does play a large part.

I don’t agree with the Article VI blog that evangelicals will never vote for a Mormon. Some won’t, I’m sure, but one caucus does not a trend make, and Romney’s flip-flopping on hot-button issues like abortion and gay rights likely have more to do with his 2nd place finish than his religion. He was only 9% behind Huckabee, so this isn’t quite the blow they’re making it sound like. While Iowans, according to a poll noted on Article VI, generally do consider religious belief high on the list, I think (and I hope) that identity politics play less of a role as time goes on.

Read the whole Article VI post. Even though I disagree with the thrust of the post, it has a lot of good information on this identity issue with Republicans. Includes this from Albert Mohler being interviewed by Hugh Hewitt:

AM: Well, let’s put it this way. Evangelical Christians are very much committed to a Christian worldview that reaches every aspect of life. But there really isn’t an Evangelical foreign policy. There’s really not an Evangelical tariff or tax policy. And I think when everything’s identified that way, well, I’m going to be honest, there’s a bit of self-protectionism here.

HH: Yup.

AM: I don’t want to get blamed for everything that a supposedly Evangelical president might do that in terms of policy would be disagreeable.

[tags]Iowa Caucuses,Barack Obama,John Edwards,Hillary Clinton,Bill Clinton,J. C. Watts,Mike Huckabee,Mitt Romney,identity politics[/tags]

You Cry Out

Happy New Year from all of us here. We’re still getting back to business after the holidays. In the meantime, I figured it was a good time to let you post your thoughts on anything going on in the news: Pakistan, Iowa Caucuses, Presidential Election, NFL playoffs, New Year’s Resolutions or whatever else is on your mind. So join in and we’ll chat about it.

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who recently returned to Pakistan to run for Prime Minister in next week’s election, was assassinated this morning:

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan —  Pakistan’s paramilitary forces were on red alert Thursday following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

The former prime minister was murdered by an attacker who shot her in the neck and chest after a campaign rally and then blew himself up. Her death stoked new chaos across the nuclear-armed nation, an important U.S. ally in the war on terrorism.

At least 20 others were also killed in the homicide bombing that immediately followed Bhutto’s shooting.

Bhutto’s supporters erupted in anger and grief after her killing, attacking police and burning tires and election campaign posters in several cities. At the hospital where she died, some smashed glass and wailed, chanting slogans against President Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf blamed Islamic extremists for Bhutto’s death and said he would redouble his efforts to fight them.

“This is the work of those terrorists with whom we are engaged in war,” he said in a nationally televised speech. “I have been saying that the nation faces the greatest threats from these terrorists. … We will not rest until we eliminate these terrorists and root them out.”

In the U.S., President Bush strongly condemned the attack “by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy.”

Terrorism, which had been downplayed as an issue in the current presidential campaign, has once again come to the forefront and candidates are naturally scrambling to respond.

But the bigger concern is what’s next for Pakistan. Do elections go forward as planned or does President Musharraf declare a state of emergency again and postpone the elections? Given the fact that Pakistan is a nuclear nation, their stability is of prime importance if there is to be any hope of peace in the Middle East.

Benazir Bhutto will be remembered for her courage as she returned to Pakistan knowing there was a very good chance that she would be assassinated. She was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice – her life – in order to give her country a chance to move towards a more stable democracy. It will be up to President Musharraf and the other leaders of Pakistan to determine whether Ms. Bhutto’s dream will become a reality.

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