A digital commonplace for a Regular Guy called Charlie Pharis

Category: Politics (page 1 of 3)

Starting a New Streak…

Photo: Joestpierrephoto.com via Flickr

It’s now been more than two weeks since my everyday blogging streak ended. That didn’t take   long, did it? Time to start a new streak. Not because I have anything particularly interesting to say, and not because I have to follow some rule. But maybe it’s because when I was consciously writing something in this space every day, it gave a sense of purpose to the early mornings. It helped me feel more on-target. And I enjoyed the practice of writing.

Maybe the practice is the most important part.

Anyway, let’s begin again, shall we? A great place to start a new streak would be to unpack those links I began saving here in anticipation of having a daily store of prompts. In a way, the very collecting of the links for later reminds me of how some animals start hoarding food for the long winter ahead, as Bradley Birzer reminds us in this paean to October:

Understood properly, October purges us of our follies and reminds us that death hovers just in front of us. It reminds us that we always stand in time, but at the very edge of eternity. Sometimes, we peer over the edge into the abyss, and sometimes we glimpse the glories of the heavenly realm. But, we always stand on the precipice of eternity, moments and steps away from true reality. Any moment and any step can lead to eternal glory or eternal damnation.

Take a break, idiot.

I know the cure: work less! Take a break! Stop doing things and do even fewer things than you think you ought to! Take a week! Take two! Stop all forms of work, go exercise and write, go learn how to do something entirely else. But each time I forget my own advice until I’m at this point, where I am now: basically useless.

Who needs fairy tales? 

Don’t be fooled about who needs fairy tales: every adult who has forgotten what real things are like, who has been a tad snappish lately, who has felt faith slip. Every one of them needs fairy tales—I do, certainly.

Hobgoblins of the extreme left: On “climate change”, “racism”…the whole lot.

It’s all part of the rich comedy of American political life, to be sure, but when the media, instead of reporting on that comedy, lends itself to the propaganda effort of the state by exaggerating the dangers that only the state is supposed to be able to save us from, we are well on our way to a much more serious danger than anything that either the climate or viruses can throw at us: that of a tyrannical one-party state.

Seven fears that kill your joy.

Leaders and Ambition…


I read yesterday where someone wrote that we are penalizing Hillary Clinton for being ambitious. The writer says a person must have ambition to even want to run for President. Up until now, the author argues, that has been a positive trait.

I would agree, to a certain extent. We do want our Presidents to be ambitious: ambitious enough to lead well, to faithfully execute their office, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, to make the tough decisions on our behalf, and to represent our nation to the best of their ability. After all, that’s what they swear to do when they assume the office. We want them to live up to their word.

But we also expect our leaders to temper their ambition with humility. We give them a lot of leeway to do the job we elected them to do. We give them the benefit of the doubt most of the time, because we presume that they know things we don’t know, that they are privy to information we don’t have, and that they really do have the best interests of the nation at heart.

We want our leaders to be servant leaders. Until recently, we never elected Presidents to rule over us. We elected them to serve us. We want them to be shining, noble examples of all that is good and right. All the while, we know they are flawed, imperfect humans. We want them to remember that, and act accordingly.

We want them to have bold ideas, dream big dreams, and do big things. But when they fail – as they all do – we want them to acknowledge it and take responsibility for it. We don’t want them to blame their predecessors or external factors. We don’t want them to cover up their flaws and foibles with misdirection or outright lies.

We want them to be ambitious, sure. But we expect their ambition to be directed toward the greater good, not their personal agendas or power or gain. We want them to recognize and navigate the tension between personal preference and public responsibility. We trust them to keep our national ideals and preserve the things we cherish, not to sacrifice them on the altar of momentary political expediency.

We want our leaders to value the great privilege we entrust to them. And we want them to live in the awareness of the awesome responsibility that comes with such privilege.

We want them to lift us up, not beat us down. We want them to bring us together around noble purposes, not tear us apart into selfish factions. We want them to put the nation’s good ahead of their own.

We don’t want them to blame us when their ideas fail. We want them to be people of their word. We want them to demonstrate honesty, integrity, and character. We don’t want them to have one face in public and another in private. Although we don’t really know them, we want to perceive them as familiar faces, intimate friends, and effective leaders who bring out the best our nation has to offer.

When they fall, or when they fail, we give them a great deal of grace. We offer our forgiveness. When they are threatened, we want to unite behind them. When they speak, we hope they speak for us. We hope they don’t apologize for the things that make our nation our nation. When they die, we mourn as one people.

All we ask in return is that they do the best they can, so help them God, to faithfully lead.

And so, back to the premise of yesterday’s article.

Let’s be brutally honest here: these two major candidates for the highest office in the land are perhaps the least popular ever to be nominated for the Presidency. Much of that they have brought upon themselves, and much has been foisted upon them by media and our own sense of expectation. A disinterested observer might note that these people are driven by ambition. That same observer might also discern theirs is a personal ambition: for power, for fame, for notoriety. And that observer might conclude that ambition is not the kind that best suits the leaders we want for the present and future of our Republic.

I refuse to concede the original writer’s premise. It’s not Mrs. Clinton’s ambition we fear. It’s that her ambition seems to be wholly aimed at her personal power and the advancement of her personal agenda. And some think that ambition comes at great cost to our identity as a nation.

From this observer’s vantage point, no one is penalizing Mrs. Clinton for her ambition. Rather, it appears her ambition is the only factor that matters to a less-than-skeptical press. We want better from those who presume to lead us. We’d rather she – or anyone whose ambition is to lead this great nation – put our interests first. We’d rather be confident that they are shooting straight with us, and that when they speak, we can trust what they say.

It’s not her ambition we don’t like. It’s that it’s her ambition above anything else.

And that deserves to be scrutinized and eliminated. It would be better if she realized it and fixed it before it gets the best of her and those she intends to serve.


In simpler times, this image might have elicited a response like, “Wait…you mean there are cops in that picture? I never noticed!”

While that response might have been appropriate (or not) under normal circumstances, these times are not simple, and these circumstances are not normal.

UPDATE: The woman in the picture is Ieshia Evans.


Sunday Night Unwind, 02.08.09…

Welcome back, Sunday Night Unwind! Where have you been? This is the first Sunday Night Unwind of 2009. Not that there hasn’t been any Sunday Night Unwinding going on, but just not a lot of posting. So, anyway, without further ado, here we go!

  • I got an earworm for that song on the TomTom radio ads. For the record, that song is “In a Persian Market” and it comes from some album of circus music. Circus music! Shazam!
  • My ability to count is slipping away. I thought we had more people in our service today than the “official” counters counted. Go figure….
  • We’re in the middle of a series called Constant Contact, and we’re focusing on how to listen to God. I think some people are getting uncomfortable with it. Which is good.
  • I was as tired as I’ve ever been after preaching today. I don’t know why. It’s a good tired, but tired nonetheless.
  • My TomTom earworm isn’t the only one I’ve had today! I woke up with The Spinners“It’s a Shame” in my head. That led me to set up a Spinners channel on Pandora. Still haven’t heard “It’s a Shame” yet, but in the process I discovered Slacker Radio.
  • Slacker is cooler than Pandora for one good reason: It plays on my CrackBerry! Yes!
  • Starting a new workout from Turbulence Training tomorrow.
  • It’s a case of “Physician, heal thyself” for me lately. Starting to put back on a little of the weight I lost. Not much, but enough to make me know I’ve got to get re-focused on health. Especially since I spend  the first part of most of my days tying to help folks develop healthy habits.
  • I’m also becoming more convinced of Charlie’s Undeniable Exercise Truth #1: “You can’t ever out-exercise bad nutrition.” I’m no expert personal trainer or anything, I don’t play one on TV, and I didn’t stay in a Holiday Inn last night, but that seems to be so basic that it’s not even funny! And so simple that it seems to be pretty profound! Your mileage may – but probably won’t – vary. Whatever….
  • I’m becoming more and more convinced that this so-called “economic stimulus” is a really crappy idea. The Congressional Budget Office now says it’s not only unnecessary, but probably detrimental in the short- and long- terms.
  • And what is the stinkin’ attraction of socialism, anyway? Quick, name an instance in history where it’s led to a better quality of life, more freedom and liberty, and prosperity. Still waiting….
  • I liked Starbucks a lot better when you never knew what kind of great coffee awaited you until you walked in the door. In the pre-Pike Place days, going to Starbucks was somewhat of an adventure. You got to try different blends, different tastes, and it was good. Now you get Pike Place. Or decaf Pike Place. That tastes like soap. And you might as well be drinking coffee from MickeyD’s, Waffle House, or the Patel Kwik Sack at the corner. Rant off….
  • I still don’t think there’s ever been a better movie than Casablanca. Please, God, don’t let anybody get the bright idea of remaking it!
  • One last thing: Do you hear that sound? The crack of the bat, the pop of a fastball hitting a leather catcher’s mitt, chatter from the dugouts…spring training is almost here! Yea, baseball! here’s hoping the crybabies will just get down to playing this season!

I hope you have a great Sunday evening, whatever’s left of it. Make your week count! It’s the only second full week of February you’re going to get this year! Peace!

Go Figure…

What He said: “Change.” What He did: Same old tired political hacks to fill His administration.

What He said: “No lobbyists.” What He did: At least 17 lobbyists in key positions.

What He said: “Bi- and Post-partisanship.” What He did: “I won.”

And on, and on, and on…

Great Quote Related to Government “Stimulus”…

I’m re-reading Tom Peters’s little Reinventing Work series. The first book in the series, The Brand You 50, includes this great quote that should be required reading for every American in the face of the mentality that has led to the socialistic government power grab, euphemistically known as the “stimulus package”…

America has always been the Self-Help Nation. Bootstrap Nation. Pioneer Nation. In the early years of our democracy, everybody provided for themselves and their families (and their neighbors in time of need). Nobody expected to be taken care of. Self-reliance, independence, and the freedom that goes with them were what we stood for, what defined us. And then, about 150 years ago, when Giant Corp. arrived on the scene (Giant Govt. came about 75 years later), we started to lose “it.” Our Franklinian “it.” Our Emersonian “it.” We succumbed — exactly the right word — to Babbittry. To Big Corp.-That-Will-Be-Mummy-and-Daddy-for-Life.

My take (redux): It stunk (and stinks) to high heaven.

But … Gloria, Gloria, Gloria … It Is Over!

Oh, that Tom Peters would be heard loud and clear by our alleged “leaders” at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue! Oh, that his manifesto would once again become the watchword of Americans of all stripes! And, oh that it would be before we sink further into the abyss of socialism!

One Last Post-Election Post…

…then I’m done. Life is way too short to keep focusing on the negative! Here goes…

  • I think it’s very, very sad – and shows a real lack of character – when politicians who create the division and rancor in the country, try to appeal to unity after they win elections.
  • I think it’s very interesting – and very telling – that the silly political pundits who as recently as this week, told us over and over and over that the economic crisis is all because of George Bush, now suddenly start tamping down the hype and the expectations by saying the President really has very limited effect on the state of the economy. It really must be the world’s “suckiest” job to have to lie with a straight face every day of your life!
  • I think it’s disingenuous and downright dishonest for people who actively sought to paint John McCain as the worst possible candidate for President now try to paint him as an honorable man, blah, blah, blah! They’re lying one of those times…which time?
  • I think it’s laughable that a candidate whose whole spiel was “change” can only find Clinton administration retreads for his administration.
  • I think if the country is really in such economic crisis times, we don’t have the money for lavish Inaugural parties, balls, and other assorted shindigs. Let’s get to work fulfilling all the campaign promises. No time for partying! Shut the heck up and get on with it!
  • I think the sad saga of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens may just illustrate part of the real problem with politics in our country. He’s way past retirement age, and he’s now a convicted felon. Yet, he’s determined to go back to Washington. Whoever said that power corrupts was probably right on the money. I’m not sure the Founders intended for politicians to become a permanent power elite in Washington, DC.
  • I think Oprah has cried and bloviated quite enough, thank you. And not just about this election.
  • I think we don’t need any outsiders to tell us how to vote for our Senator in Georgia over the next month. Stay home and keep your money!
  • I think part of the genius of America is that we can disagree with a person’s ideas and still like them, if we are honest and respectful.
  • I think we have a duty when “our guy” loses to be the “loyal opposition.” “Loyal,” because the “other guy” is now all of “our guy.” And “opposition,” because winning an election still does not make the winner always right. And we have the responsibility to hold our public servants accountable to the people they serve.

All right! That’s it! Thanks for playing! And unless something else stupid comes up about this historic election, that’s all I’ve got to say about that!

One Slightly Bitter Post to Clear Out My System…

Now that this loooooooooonnnnnnnggggg election cycle is finally coming to an end, I’ve got a couple of thoughts and observations. (Note: These are the ponderings of a disappointed, slightly cynical, slightly bitter American. I’ll be OK…just let me process these things a minute.)

  • Funny, how our nation has been in existence over 232 years, and for the most part, the mainstream media is telling us that we have never had a President until this very day!
  • I hope that same media will now be as diligent in telling us how rotten, awful, corrupt, stupid, and whatever negative adjectives you can think of this new administration is as they have been in telling us every single day those things about the current administration. (BTW, I’m not holding my breath!)
  • In fact, I really don’t wish that kind of treatment on anybody. President Bush has not been perfect, but I believe he is a good man, with noble intentions and a fairly reasonable intellect, who has always had the best interests of our nation at heart. President-elect Obama, I believe, is the same kind of man, and I hope no one tries to smear his character like the unprecedented smearing of President Bush’s.
  • I wish all those suddenly-spiritual folks calling for unity behind, support for, and prayers for President-elect Obama will remember they need to be doing the same for President Bush for the next couple of months. (Hmmmm….funny, isn’t it, that they should have been doing that all along, but weren’t.)
  • Funny – not “funny ha-ha”, but funny tragic – comment from an Obama-maniac at the YMCA this morning: “I think it’s wonderful that we elected that nice little ni**er boy to be our President! He’s the best!”
  • Where do I send my change of address forms for my gas bill, mortgage, etc.? After all if we elect Senator Obama, we’ll never have to worry about paying those things again, right?
  • Some change! I paid two cents more for gas this morning, and the stock market is down. Silly me…I thought everything was going to be immediately better?
  • Oh, somebody somewhere in the world is blaming the United States for every problem in the whole wide world. I thought they were supposed to like us now?
  • I’m not really crazy about President-elect Obama, but I sure nothing untoward happens to him. Vice-President-elect Biden scares me a lot!

OK, I think that just about does it…feeling much better now! The sun came up in the east this morning. I had a great workout already, and I’ve got great things to do for the Kingdom of God. Oh, and I’ve prayed for President-elect Obama already.

I’ve got one more post-election post, but it’ll be some time later today!