Glenn Beck was having fun with this story on his radio show today. Apparently, Barack Obama could not say whom his favorite White Sox player was growing up. In fact, he could not name ANY White Sox player. Obviously, the fact that he can’t name a White Sox player shows that he is not really the White Sox fan that he has purported to be. This is a little silly, because this story is from 2010, Obama did not “grow up” in Chicago, and being a White Sox fan, or not, is not important to the job of President of the United States. But seriously, he couldn’t think of a single name?
I began to make a mental list of White Sox as I drove to work. Minnie Minoso is the first name that came to my mind. I had thought that Minoso was part of the 1959 Go-Go Sox who lost the 1959 World Series to the Dodgers. But he spent the 1958 and 1959 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, returning to the Sox in 1960. He was an eight-time all-star and had two at-bats with the Sox in 1980, when he was 54! Jack McDowell was on the Sox in the 1990′s; I remember him giving the bird to Yankee fans. But that was while he was a Yankee, not a Sock. And Frank Thomas. And Paul Konerko, whom the Dodgers traded for Jeff Freaking Shaw, and who has 431 career home runs. To be fair, though, let’s look at a few players who were active for the White Sox in 1985, when Wikipedia says that Obama arrived in Chicago.
Harold Baines had a career thought by some to be worthy of the Hall of Fame. His career spanned 21 years, with six all-star games and 384 home runs. He was drafted by the Sox in 1977. Who could forget Carlton Fisk (I almost did), who left the Red Sox in 1981 and was signed by the White Sox? While his best seasons were with the other Sox – he was a seven-time all-star from 1971 to 1980 – he did have some good seasons with the White Sox – he appeared on some MVP ballots in 1983, 1985, and 1990.
In my mind, the name that is associated most intimately with the mid-eighties White Sox is Ozzie Guillen. He was the Rookie of the Year with the Sox in 1985. The light-hitting shortstop also had recent fame as the manager of the Miami Marlins.
Even the most dispassionate White Sox observer could be expected to know one or two of these names. Maybe it is silly to make hay out of the fact that Barack Obama could not name any White Sox players. On the other hand, George Bush never claimed to be a basketball fan.
It was a relaxing morning. I was reading this story, linked by Drudgereport, in which John Dickerson, an Arizona pastor, reviewed “Zealot” by Reza Aslan. Dickerson wrote that, “in reality, it [the book] is a religious person’s opinion about Jesus—from an adherent to the religion that has been in violent opposition to Christ for 1,400 years.” So it was from this point of view that Lauren Green of Foxnews interviewed Reza Aslan. It was why she asked,”[as a muslim], why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?”
While I was reading this story, my wife was watching a video of the Foxnews-Aslan interview which had been linked on Facebook. The video had been posted by a person who has made anti-Christian statements. The poster, and other commenters, were clearly critical of the interview. I believe their criticisms were motivated only by their violent opposition to Christians like Dickerson who do not mince words about their faith. Furthermore, I believe that Reza’s credibility is in question since he has misrepresented his scholarly credentials. Not surprisingly, those who don’t like the lineup of conservative talk show hosts on Foxnews have used this episode to excoriate Foxnews for their anti-Muslim bias.
The above story rubs me the wrong way as a Christian and as a Conservative. But it is also funny for the predictability of the reactions from different communities. Maybe I would feel differently if I actually read the book.
The continuing national media attention to the George Zimmerman trial is an example of America’s obsession with race. In addition, we found out today that the Justice Department’s “Peacemakers” were deployed to Florida to “quell racial tensions” whatever that means. Perhaps the most insightful thing I’ve heard came from Rose Tennent, guest host of the Sean Hannity show. She said that the entire matter – the shooting through the trial – would be at most a local headline if not for the particular racial circumstances: that George Zimmerman is light-skinned and Trayvon Martin was black.
However, there is one thing I still don’t understand. What did Obama mean when he said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”? I think the President’s son would look more like Carlton.
I saw this post of a fried chicken restaurant in Thailand. The picture actually made the rounds on the internet a couple of years ago. Apparently, Hitler-chic is popular in Thailand, while other Southeast Asian countries like India and Indonesia are fascinated by the infamous dictator.
In the United States, we are fascinated by Che Guevara, second in command to Fidel Castro during and after the Cuban revolution, and Mao Zedong, former dictator of China. The Beatles sing about Chairman Mao, but Che has his own line of clothing. I even know a cat named Che! I suppose the fascination arises from the fact that these men were revolutionaries who threw off the chains of colonialism and capitalism. Hitler was a revolutionary, too. He revolted against the Western powers who had contrived to punish Germany through the Treaty of Versailles, but he also revolted against the liberal and elitist culture that pervaded Germany during the Weimar Republic. All three men were also strongly Nationalistic.
So why no Hitler-chic in the United States? People seem to have a visceral reaction to Hitler. I think perhaps this is because Hitler reminds us of the United States’ own struggle with racial bigotry. Also, perhaps popular perceptions lead people in the United States to believe that Hitler’s actions were much worse than those of the other two men. The 45 million killed during Mao’s reign were victims only of wrongheaded government policies, those killed by Che were traitors to the cause of freedom, while the 10-15 million killed during Hitler’s reign were victims of racial bigotry and genocide. That any of these people are lionized in popular culture, as Stalin was lionized in the 1930′s by America’s Elites, is beyond me.
Monday on Conan, the late night talk show host made the following comment:
“Some Republicans are saying that due to his current scandals, president Obama should be impeached. That’s what they’re saying, yeah. In response Obama laughed and said, ‘two words, fellows — President Biden’.”
I found this comment to be out-of-place compared to the political comments I’ve come to expect from the Late Night crowd. Furthermore, it is a stunning admission of two things:
- Obama is in trouble.
- Biden is incompetent.
See for yourselves:
AP Records Seizure
Private Tax Records Leaked
A remarkable thing about early American history is that the government was already somewhat divided into “parties”. I’ll call the first the party of Washington and Hamilton, and I’ll call the second the party of Jefferson and Jackson.
After the Revolutionary War, Alexander Hamilton, as George Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, established the financial machinery that helped America climb out of debt and return to a state of economic competitiveness. Hamilton also thought that America’s future depended on manufacturing and industry, and he worked to ensure that industry thrived.
Washington’s successor, John Adams appointed John Marshall as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Through his Court’s decisions, Marshall laid the legal foundation for the growth of industry and manufacturing in America.
Several prominent anti-federalist politicians, chief among them Thomas Jefferson, distrusted these new “monied interests”. Jefferson thought that real value was only produced by working the land. He was also against the establishment of a central bank. Later, Andrew Jackson (Old Hickory as he was called by his admirers) would be far more distrustful than Jefferson, and even reactionary. In fact, Jackson helped bring about the financial collapse by letting the charter of the Second Bank of the United States expire.
This battle of the monied interests versus agriculture was also prominent in the lead up to the Civil War. The South remained mostly agricultural while the North diversified into many areas of heavy industry.
Today, the major players are different – Labor plays the part of agriculture, while Wall Street plays the part of the monied interests. But the same divide that pitted Jeffersonians against Hamiltonians is certainly recognizable between the parties – let’s call the first the party of Coolidge and Reagan, and the second the party of Roosevelt, Johnson, and Obama.
I am a person of Faith. And I am also a scientist (well, almost – I’m an engineer). I’ve often tried to understand the Bible in the context of what we have learned through science. This is kind of like a science of the Bible. In contrast, sometimes it seems impossible to understand God’s Word in the context of scientific knowledge.
For example, Exodus tells us that God sent nine plagues to the Egyptians so that Pharoah could see God’s power. Were these plagues caused by something that can be explained by our scientific knowledge, like the plague of darkness by an eclipse, or the plague of blood by red tide? I find this to be an interesting question. Arguably the biggest question is how to reconcile the story of creation in Genesis with our scientific observations that, for one, date the earth at billions, not thousands, of years.
I suppose that one could put these inquiries and others on a firm scientific foundation by using God’s Word as an axiom. Thus, all scientific observations at odds with God’s Word would be either incorrect or incomplete. This seems like a difficult standard to me. I do believe in the scientific process. I’ve seen that some of our knowledge gained through this process has seemingly been at odds with God’s Word. However, I wouldn’t dismiss that knowledge as being false. There is a lot of activity in this area of science and God’s Word; the notion that science and Faith cannot coexist is anathema to me!
In contrast, who says that God has done everything in ways that humans can or do understand? For example, perhaps God simply made Egypt dark through his direct action. This is by definition incomprehensible and not really science.
Ultimately, it does not matter how God works. However, this seems to contradict the fact that we were made in God’s image as scientific, knowledge-seeking people. Science will never provide evidence of God, but maybe it can help us understand our relationship to him.