Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 13 August 2015

‘Cheap Garbage’ and ‘Low Level Crap’


 
I thoroughly enjoy participating in civil, stimulating, intelligent exchanges of views, when they do not descend into personal attacks on the participants. My own honesty, values, and character have been called into question after one such exchange, and so I am responding here in order that there be no confusion about what I said or why.

Yesterday I posted on Facebook the following quotes and question, along with the familiar historic photograph you see below. In less than an hour I received a message from a long-time friend and colleague, casting aspersions on my ethics and my integrity for having written it.

I sent him a short, private reply, telling him what my motives were for writing it — which I assumed were not what he thought they were. For this essay, I have greatly fleshed-out those ideas, to give the reader more of my thoughts about the state of American politics today, as well as a sense of the type of attack my friend made.

(My apologies to all of you of good breeding, culture, and taste for my use of the crude language from my friend’s message in the title of this essay.)


 

Former Secretary Clinton and former President Clinton, in unhappier times.

My post, in its entirety:

 
Former Secretary Clinton: “I never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received.” (25 July 2015)

President Clinton: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” (26 January 1998)

I wonder if she will come to regret her words as much as he did his.

I guess “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” (17 August 1998)
 


 
I just had a good friend privately message me, to express his surprise and to take me to task severely for the “cheap garbage” and “low level crap” he felt my post above comprised.

He broke his complaints down into roughly four areas: (1) what I posted didn’t live up to his expectations of me; (2) because Republican leaders have been known to violate the public’s trust, one shouldn’t point the finger at members of the other Party; (3) I should only post about what he considers to be “real issues”; and (4) my post, as he read it, barely rose to the level of ‘vulgar refuse’ and ‘inconsequential excrement’ (my translation of his actual words).

1. You’re Better Than That.   My friend attempted to show the worthlessness of what I wrote by noting his own cognitive dissonance. By that I mean he asserted that the content of my post was diametrically opposite to qualities he attributed to me. “I thought I knew you as a logical, intelligent, well read person,” he harrumphed.

Surely, my friend seemed to be saying, someone of my ilk would never point out the above ethical, moral, and honesty violations (a) in this way, or (b) at all.

2. Look Over There! GOP Sleaze!   My friend went on to say that, because there have been Republican public officials who have “cheated on their wives” (his words) and “cheated on their voters” (again, his words), the quotes I gave and the question I asked were somehow “cheap sensationalism” and were not “real issues.” While indicting the entire GOP for harboring “so many” such miscreants, he gave as example only one Republican leader caught with his pants down. I’m not certain why he thought that would, should, or could either shame me or rebut my post.

Since my friend’s rebuttal only referenced the Republican Party, I wonder if he thinks that these character flaws are found in greater numbers inside the GOP than elsewhere. Would it help his perspective, I wondered, to note other non-Republican philanderers? Huma’s Wiener? NC’s own John Edwards? Eliot Spitzer? Jesse Jackson? Kwame Kilpatrick? Gary Hart? Wilbur Mills? Charles Robb? the Kennedy brothers? LBJ? FDR?

I trust he and I agree on this underlying truth: that lapses (or lack) of character transcend party affiliation. Maybe our difference is in whether we should hold those moral lapses up for scrutiny of people of both Parties, or neither Party, or only the Party with which we disagree.

Did he, in fact, think the reason behind my post was purely partisan? If so, then he does not know me as well as I thought he did. Simply put, I believe we must view moral and character issues in the context of the entirety of American leadership, inclusive of all political persuasions. If we hold to a high moral standard those politicians with whom we disagree, while giving a pass to our personal favorites, by definition our arguments cannot be said to be character-driven.

3. Leaders’ Lies and What They Lie About Are Not “Real Issues.”   If we as Americans do not believe that values, honesty, fidelity, truthfulness, humility, trustworthiness, morals, and sterling character are “real issues” — and by that I mean huge, preeminent, over-arching issues — in this (or any) election, then America has sunk even lower into an abyss than I feared. I was both surprised and alarmed that my thoughtful, intelligent, and highly creative friend chose not to see my post as having been framed from this perspective, and that he apparently assumed it merely arose from “party politics as usual.”

The answer to the unasked question at this point is, Yes I believe we must hold accountable (and I have done so) any public official, of any Party, for violations of trust with the American people. Period. Full stop.

4. Inconsequential Excrement, etc.   Just a reminder to my friend: I didn’t start this. It was the the former Secretary and the former President who seasoned the public discourse with their own “cheap garbage” and “low level crap,” thereby making them into “real issues.” I merely raised a question (with civility, tinged with an appropriate modicum of sarcasm) concerning what they have asked us to believe.

I didn’t make either of them look directly into the camera and fiercely say what they said to the American people. I didn’t make either of them do what they did and then lie about it.

What then are we supposed to think about a leader who had impeachment proceedings begun and a Special Prosecutor investigate, which proved he lied to us about his pants being down? Or a leader who has an FBI criminal investigation underway, which almost immediately produced documents that demonstrate she lied to us about national security?

Low level crap? It is coming from them, my friend — not me.


 

Post Script: My friend’s reply? “You are better than that.” His final decision? “Sorry but goodbye. I have no need to read such shallow thinking and writing.”

I wrote back to assure him I will always be here as his friend who admires him for all he has accomplished. But I doubt he will ever read it, because by that time he had already unfriended me. (sigh)

 

Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 15 May 2015

The King of the Blues (1925-2015)


 
I have been dreading this day for months, because I knew that when I heard that legendary bluesman B.B. King had died, it would hit me almost as hard as if I had lost a member of my family. He has long been one of my musical heroes, and when Adrianne and I first saw him perform live, I knew instantly we were in the presence of towering genius.

BB King and Lucille

What is it about B.B. King that has drawn me so close to him, and causes me to grieve his loss so deeply?

Well, of course, there was his artistry. His rich, earthy, truth-telling, commanding voice couldn’t be mistaken for anyone else. He not only had the ability to make us care about the stories he was singing, but he also made us feel the depths and heights of their emotions — whether it was lost love (“The Thrill is Gone”); deep down Memphis blues (“It’s three o’clock in the morning, can’t even close my eyes; I can’t find my baby, and I can’t be satisfied.”); jamming with the greats (Eric Clapton, U2, Bonnie Raitt, the Rolling Stones, even Luciano Pavarotti) or the deeply devoted and repentant spiritual (“I was there when they crucified my Lord. I held the scabbard when the soldier drew his sword.”).

And then there’s B.B. King, the greatest blues guitarist of them all. He named his guitars Lucille, and with “her” he had the ability to paint more colors in your heart and mind than any other guitarist I’ve ever heard. I’ve put two videos below (a trailer for the documentary film made about him, and the original studio version of his greatest hit, “The Thrill is Gone”), and if what you hear in his playing doesn’t send chills up your spine, sit down and check to see if you’re still breathing.

But for all that, I think finding out who the true man was gave me the secret to how I’m feeling about his death. As great a talent, artist, singer, songwriter, and guitarist as he was, he was a consummately humble man. His humility in spite of his great gifts made you realize how gently strong and mightily gentle his spirit was. I never met him, but I get the feeling he was an easy human being to love as well as admire.

In a 1986 interview, here’s how King treated the adulation and fame:

“When people give me all these great compliments, I thank them, but still go back to my room and practice.
And a lot of times I say to myself, ‘I wish I could be worthy of all the compliments that people give me sometime.’ I am not inventing anything that’s gonna stop cancer or muscular dystrophy or anything, but I like to feel that my time and talent is always there for the people that need it.
And when someone do say something negative, most times I think about it but it don’t bother me that much.”

The praise and gratitude have already begun to pour in from all of the greats in modern music who were so very influenced by him. Rolling Stone magazine has already posted today an article about the “10 Legendary Acts That Wouldn’t Exist Without B.B. King,” which included The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream (Eric Clapton has called King “without a doubt the most important artist the blues has ever produced”), Santana, The Allman Brothers Band, and more. And all the while that influence was happening, King was blithely unaware of it, and greatly surprised when he found out:

“Some of my friends will tell me from time to time, Eric Clapton said this or Jimi Hendrix said this. I spoke with John Lennon once, after I had seen in I believe it was Life magazine where people were asking him questions, saying ‘What is it you would like to do?’ and one of his things was to play guitar like B.B. King.
That’s when I started to find that a lot of the young musicians had been listening to me. I didn’t know, and for the life of me sometimes I still wonder why! (laughs)
I’ve had my feelings of doubt, I think, in music. To think that there are people that learned to play by listening to my music, those dark days wasn’t dark after all.”

So now it’s time to put your headphones on, click these two videos, and let B.B. King — “The King of the Blues” — sing directly to you.


B.B. King – Life Of Riley (trailer)



The Thrill is Gone (1967)



The obituaries and tributes are flooding in, but I think the best one I’ve read so far today was that from The New York Times, which is what I’ll leave you with.

 

B. B. King album covers
 

Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 11 December 2014

Are You Planning to See the New ‘Exodus’ Movie?


I’m writing this on the day before the release of Exodus: Gods and Kings, the new Biblical blockbuster film by director/producer Ridley Scott, in order to give you a taste of what the critics are saying you should expect if you decide to see it.

By all accounts, the film is spectacular in its vision and effects, while reflecting the spiritual ambivalence of its atheist creator. As a result, there is much speculation as to whether traditional Christians and Jews will come out in great numbers to see the film.

Christians’ range of bewilderment-to-revulsion for Noah, contrasted with their overwhelming affection for such films as God’s Not Dead, Heaven Is For Real, and Alone but Not Alone, just to name three, suggest they may sit this one out. To whatever extent the film ignores and distances itself from the Biblical narrative, it’s entirely possible that Christians will ignore and distance themselves from the film.

Based on the opinions of 20 critics so far, the film has a scant 52 Metacritic rating (out of 100). Here are a few examples of what the early published critics have said so far, both positive and cautionary:

Exodus: Gods and Kings

  • Variety: “What’s remarkable about Scott’s genuinely imposing Old Testament psychodrama is the degree to which he succeeds in conjuring a mighty and momentous spectacle — one that, for sheer astonishment, rivals any of the lavish visions of ancient times the director has given us.” [This may be the factor that brings Christian and Jews to see the film, and not its theology.]
  • World Magazine: “Christian Bale seems to play Moses with multi-dimensional complexity, but God doesn’t get the same depth of character…. The buzz, hiss, and tsk-tsk among Christian circles over Darren Aronofsky’s Noah have only just hushed down. Now with the release of the trailer and a media preview of the next biblical epic, Exodus: Gods and Kings, the fire is slowly roaring back up again — though whether it will produce roars of applause or a cacophony of boos is still unclear. Given the controversy over Noah, probably both.”
  • Entertainment Weekly: “Is it possible to sit through a movie, mentally cataloging its absurdities, and still walk out dazzled? Because that pretty much sums up my experience watching Ridley Scott’s eye-candy spectacle Exodus: Gods and Kings, an over-the-top Old Testament epic that’s essentially Gladiator with God…. And yet, before you’re able to get too distracted by Exodus‘ flaws, Scott reaches back into his bag of pixie dust and whips up another grand illusion. These feats all climax with the parting of the Red Sea, the biggest special effect in the history of religion.”
  • Christianity Today: “For Christian audiences, one approach to Exodus: Gods and Kings would be to distrust and dismiss it at the outset, looking only for what it gets wrong, embellishes, excludes, or underemphasizes. This approach would call foul on all sorts of things: Moses wielding a sword but not a staff; Moses being chatty but Aaron having almost no lines; Moses killing lots of people and fighting in the Egyptian army; no “staff-to-snake” scene; no repeated utterances of “let my people go”; no “baby Moses in the Nile” scene; and every other deviation the film takes from the narrative in Exodus 1-14. This approach might balk at the problematic casting of white actors as Egyptians, non-white actors as slaves/servants, and the inexplicable preponderance of British accents. And most of all, this approach would complain about the depiction of God’s communication with Moses through a (spoiler alert!) zealous, wrathful 11-year-old British boy.”

All of this is in direct contrast to the classic 1956 Cecil B. DeMille film The Ten Commandments. DeMille’s movie, which clocked in at a staggering 3 hours 40 minutes (compared to tomorrow’s Exodus which will be over in 2 hours 30 minutes), took in $128 million. Adjusted for inflation, that would be a box-office take of over a billion dollars today.

Dr. Kyle Yates

Dr. Kyle Yates


DeMille wanted to make the biggest and best Biblical epic ever, but he also wanted the most accurate one as well. He talked Old Testament Biblical scholar Dr. Kyle Yates into consulting with him on the writing and making of the movie. Dr. Yates, a native of Apex, North Carolina (and, I am honored to say, distantly related to me by the marriage of my first cousin to Yates’ niece), was a highly acclaimed faculty member at Baylor University, lionized for his many years in the pulpit and his myriad books for preachers before his return to academic life. After the release of DeMille’s movie, Yates was interviewed and was quoted as praising the authenticity and Bible-accuracy of the project. “I consider the whole work a powerful depiction of truth,” he said, adding that he believes that everyone who reads and believes the Old Testament should see the filmed story.

An opening day update: the critic whose reviews I tend to rely on and agree with most often, Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal, has released his take on the new Exodus. Here’s a snippet:

The most damaging aspects of this Exodus are the pedestrian tone of the script, which is credited to four writers; the movie’s eccentric, and to my mind idiotic, visualization of God’s presence, about which you’ll learn no more here; and its insistence on ecological and environmental factors that deprive us of DeMille-era miraculousness — Charlton Heston transforming the Red Sea into a bone-dry canyon — without providing much drama in return. Thus it comes to pass that the waters in this version simply recede, ever so gradually and antidramatically; what turns the tide in favor of Moses and his followers is the tide, even though God may still be the waters’ prime mover — Exodus carries no disclaimer to the contrary.

Click here to read Morgenstern’s complete review.

 
For your reference, here are trailers for both films. I wonder: What would Dr. Yates say about the new one?

Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 2 December 2014

When the Bill Comes Due…


This past Friday, November 28,
the nation’s Total Public Debt Outstanding punched through the

$18 Trillion


level for the first time ever.

StatsWatch_2014-12-02

The Total Public Debt Outstanding during the Last Three Administrations

(Click on the graph to see a clearer, slightly larger version.)

$18 Trillion. Imagine 10 U.S. football fields (including end zones), placed side by side — that’s over 13 acres, folks! Now imagine every square inch of those 10 fields stacked as high as the Empire State Building with one dollar bills. That would be 18 Trillion dollars.

(When I say “national debt” here, I am referring to the Total Public Debt Outstanding, as defined and published by the U.S. Treasury Department.)

Here are a few interesting, if extremely worrying facts about our debt situation over last 22 years:

  • In 8 years of the Clinton administration, the Debt rose by $1.54 Trillion.
  • In 8 years of the Bush administration, the Debt rose by $4.9 Trillion.
  • In just under 6 years of the Obama administration, the Debt has risen by $7.38 Trillion.
  • If the Debt trend of the last 6 years continues until the end of the Obama administration, it will have risen by a total of $9.84 Trillion. That would be a whopping 93% increase — almost doubling the debt the administration inherited.

StatsWatch-Presidents

Now, stop and ask yourself: Where are we getting the cold hard cash to pay for all this excess spending? The Fed? China?

What happens when the Fed stops printing money? or when China refuses to loan us any more? Did you know that China has been quietly dumping its U.S. debt bonds for years now? That really doesn’t sound like a good thing to me.

What happens when the bill comes due??

NEVER vote for another politician who does not strongly support, and does not present in precise detail, a workable plan to lower our debt. Demand better!

I have no illusions that anyone will actually take them up on this, but did you know that the Treasury Department has created two easy ways for you to make a gift to the government, earmarked exclusively to reduce the debt? Yep.

  1. At Pay.gov, you can contribute online by credit card, debit card, PayPal, checking account, or savings account.
  2. You can write a check payable to the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, and, in the memo section, notate that it’s a gift to reduce the debt held by the public. Mail your check to:
    Attn Dept G
    Bureau of the Fiscal Service
    P. O. Box 2188
    Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188

Department ‘G’?
Does that stand for ‘gullible’? ‘gotcha’?

 

Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 21 November 2014

56 Years in the Making: The Embers Film


 
Adrianne and I really enjoy Carolina Beach Music. And what we enjoy almost as much as that is introducing it to our “out of state” friends. It’s so regionally specific, most Carolina-challenged folks have never heard of it. Adrianne once asked her brother (who lives and grew up in Maryland) if he knew Beach Music, and he said, “Well, of course! Who doesn’t know ‘Surfin’ USA’ and Jan and Dean?” She was talking to him on the phone, so I don’t think she actually hit him.

Beach Music began (as did all of Rock ‘n’ Roll) when white kids in the 50’s and 60’s discovered Black R&B on the AM radio stations. What made Beach Music different was that it comprised the songs which let Carolina kids dance their favorite dance, the Shag. (That’s the subject of a whole other post some day.)

And while Shaggin’ on the beach, they inadvertently knocked down musical segregation barriers, as they delightedly danced to great Black groups like the Drifters, the Clovers, the Tams, the Tymes, the Temptations, the Four Tops, the Showmen, and the Chairmen of the Board — interspersed with wonderful white (and integrated) bands like Bill Deal and the Rhondels, the Catalinas, the Monzas, and of course, Raleigh’s own The Embers.

Those of our family and friends in the Carolinas will be happy to know, I’m sure, that a two-hour documentary about that quintessential Beach Music band, The Embers (going back to their founding in Raleigh in 1958), has just been released and is available on DVD. From just viewing the trailer, I can already tell we’re going to enjoy it immensely.

So let me introduce all of you to this new film — and through the music of The Embers, to Carolina Beach Music! Click below to play the trailer.

The Embers banner

And here is one of my favorites of the songs of The Embers. The track is a skillfully harmonized and nicely arranged medley of Beach Music classics. Enjoy.

The Embers — I Love Beach Music (a 3-minute Beach Music medley):


North Hills Beach Music concert

Do people (of all ages) still love Carolina Beach Music? You be the judge. Every summer, North Hills Mall in Raleigh holds outdoor Beach Music concerts each Thursday night (see photo above), complete with large dance floor, and the place is packed every time. The bands are always great, and the Embers play there twice each year, the first and last concerts. Come on out and enjoy the music! You’ll often find Adrianne and me right there.

_____________________________________

 
And if you want to see the 1963 Shag/Beach Music culture, delightfully recreated in a cozy little film, this is it. Starring Phoebe Cates, Bridget Fonda, Annabeth Gish (she’ll steal your heart away), and Tyrone Power Jr., Shag the movie is sweet, authentic, musically rich, and joyously fun — and takes place in the capital city of Beach Music, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It’s one of Adrianne’s and my all-time favorite films. You should Netflix it!


 

Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 18 November 2014

More ‘King Rules’ Problems for Wake County Libraries


About three months ago, I wrote of my extreme disappointment that my local county library system had outright refused to purchase any copies of the latest book by the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — Dr. Alveda King’s book King Rules: Ten Truths for You, Your Family, and Our Nation to Prosper.

There’s actually a small follow up to that article, which was called “No ‘King Rules’ in Wake County Libraries“. (Click title to read the original, if you want to find out the reasons they gave me for not adding it to their collection.)

Library Extension app for ChromeToday I found a wonderful add-on app for my Chrome browser, called Library Extension. Here’s how it works. After you install the app and set it up with the name of your library (or library system), every time you look up a book on Amazon.com, the app appears on that page and does the following: (1) tells you if your library has bound or electronic copies of the book, (2) reports how many of each type the library has in total and how many are currently available for check-out, and (3) gives you a link back to your library’s website so that you put a reserve on the book.

How wonderful is that?!?! As one of my library system’s biggest supporters and most frequent users, I was thrilled — and I immediately downloaded and installed the app.

Because of my clash with the library over Dr. King’s book, and because I truly hope they reverse their decision one day, I decided to look up her book first. Imagine my surprise and delight when I saw this:

'King Rules' on Library Extension/Amazon

Wowzers! It wasn’t the 13 copies they often buy of new, “deserving” books — but there it was on the screen: the library system had purchased 2 copies of the book! Yippee!

Immediately, I clicked on the link that said “Place a hold.”

King Richard III by Gillian DayBut after that one click, I sat staring at the screen with a fallen crest (yes, crestfallen).

It took only a few seconds looking at the library web page to which I had been taken to figure out (1) that the book that the app took me to was not King Rules, but instead Gillian Day’s critical Stratford edition of Shakespeare’s play Richard III; (2) that, even if Richard III were a suitable substitute for King Rules (it, of course, was not), the Library has only one copy, not the two divined by the app; and (3) that therefore, it appears that the app has severe bugs in its search code, and the Wake County Library’s collection is far from accurately linked with Amazon.com’s inventory.

Phooey.

It’s a great idea for an app, folks. I’m sure in time you’ll get it all together, and make it work smoothly and correctly.

And Wake County Public Libraries — please buy Dr. King’s book!
 

Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 13 November 2014

Glenn, It’s Time For a Major Re-Think!


Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck

Let me see if this is as laughable, pathetic, blasphemous, silly, and obnoxious an idea as I thought it was when I first read it.

Talk show star and media entrepreneur Glenn Beck (with whom I share more than a few political views) has announced that he is writing a book and producing a movie called The Immortal — which “turns Santa Claus into the warrior protector of a young Jesus Christ.

Pardon me while I knock the side of my head a couple of times to make sure I’m reading that correctly.

With the goal of making Christmas more “Christian,” Beck said he came up with the brilliant idea of inserting the ( spoiler alert, kids ) fictional Santa Claus into an actual historical event. And not just any historical event, but the most profoundly sacred event in history — the life of Christ — according to the world’s 2.2 billion Christians. (That’s 1 out of every 3 people on the planet, by the way.)

Beck: “The premise behind it was how can I take a guy, Santa, and completely reshape him and make him into something even more magical than what we already think. How can I tell the story of Santa and place him into the actual first Christmas story without damaging the actual Christmas story?”

Glenn 'Santa' Beck“Magical”? No, Glenn, he’s fantasy. Every time you conflate the fictional Santa Claus with the immortal deity Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, you run the risk of giving kids a reason to put them both on the same level of (1) man-made unreality, (2) questionable moral equivalency, and (3) spiritual insignificance. Putting an imaginary elf and the Being Who created the entire universe (John 1:3) on the same plane, in addition to sounding like a blasphemous episode of South Park, is rather like comparing a hydrogen atom to the solar system.

“Tell the story of Santa” by “placing him into the actual first Christmas”? Whose story is important here, Glenn? That of Santa, or Jesus? It is true that there is a legitimate literary form of historical fiction that inserts real historical characters into a fictional setting. The Seven Percent Solution brought Sigmund Freud into the world of Sherlock Holmes, and (to borrow a phrase from Rumpole of the Bailey) it was a “rattling good yarn.”

Therefore I would find at least a small amount of precedent if I wanted to write a novel that explains that Paul’s seizure and blindness on the road to Damascus was in actuality merely a dinner invitation, delivered by thunderbolt, from Zeus. So the next time Paul was in Greece, he joined Zeus, Hera, and all the other Olympians for a feast, and ultimately came to agree with them that it doesn’t matter what religion you follow — they all take you to the same place in the end. What have I accomplished (other than wasting my time) by introducing fiction into a sacred reality? Answer — Not a thing.

And what will Beck’s mishmash of Hollywood action hero, Santa ex machina, childhood fantasy, and fictionalizing of the sacred, in the end, actually accomplish? Very likely the same answer.

Here’s what’s currently passing as a teaser for Beck’s film…

“Before he was Father Christmas … he was a Father.” Say what?

Beck justifies his anachronism of placing Santa at the time of the Nativity — even the legend of St. Nicholas, whose name the fictional Santa Claus has filched, only goes back to the 4th century — by saying, in essence, that Santa is Public Domain. He asserts that he’s allowed to change anything he wishes about the character of the jolly fat man, because after all, Clement Moore and Coca-Cola did it. No, Glenn, you are allowed to add anything you wish to the Santa legend because it is total, absolute, 100%, pure fiction — and no one owns a copyright on it.

And here’s the final bit of Beck’s what-the-heck-is-he-talking-about nonsense.
Beck: “It started two years ago when my kids were getting ready for Christmas, and all they could talk about was presents, toys, and Santa and elves. I kept trying to come up with some way to work Christ into it. You know, can we stop with the, you know, fat magic fairy that gives you everything you want for Christmas? Let’s actually talk about what it is.”

Yes, Glenn, why not actually talk about what it is?

Santa BeckAnd that’s the irony of Beck’s final miscalculation. He says that, as a father, he was frustrated with his children having no referent for Christmas other than Santa and getting presents. So he wanted to get “Christ back into Christmas.” Both of these are laudable goals for people who celebrate December 25 (or January 7). But awkwardly force-fitting Santa into a “warrior protector of the young Jesus Christ”? This solution seems as crazy and doomed to failure as someone who says, “I don’t like lemon in my iced tea, and so…” — rather than just taking the lemon wedge off the lip of the glass and discarding it — “…and so I think I’ll see if I can grow lemons that taste just like iced tea!”

You see, Beck admits that he can’t get past his own dubious lemon-wedge premise: “Santa is an important part of Christmas.”

No, Santa and tinsel and Rudolph and mistletoe and “a tree from the forest decorated with silver and gold” are no more parts of the birth of the Savior of all mankind than bunnies and painted eggs are part of His death and resurrection. Let all these human abstractions and traditions live isolated over there somewhere, and be enjoyed through heartwarming, thankful-to-God celebrations of family gatherings, gift giving, kids, toys, and candy.

It makes no sense, however, to festoon the life of Jesus the Messiah inside any of these trappings — especially if our goal is (as I sincerely believe Beck’s goal is) to teach the children how to worship the true God of the universe, and why it’s important. (Jeremiah 10:2-4, perhaps?)

Glenn, I pray for the quick and complete healing of your debilitating illness — but I suggest it’s time for a major re-think on this Santa thing.

 

Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 11 November 2014

My Father, My Hero


Remembering my hero, my father, on this Veterans Day.

He was a member of the 2nd Battalion, 345th Regiment, of the 87th Infantry Division in World War II, and fought with them during the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge) and Rhineland (Siegfried Line) Campaigns. Among the medals we was awarded were the Bronze Star (for “Heroic or Meritorious Achievement”) and the Purple Heart (for “Military Merit”). In addition, he and the entire 2nd Battalion were awarded the very rare Presidential Unit Citation by authorization of President Harry S Truman.

My Father, My Hero

Unit Citation

“In the Name of the President of the United States”
for the 2nd Battalion, 345th Infantry Regiment

The 2nd Battalion, 345th Infantry Regiment, 87th Infantry Division, distinguished itself by its extraordinary heroism, savage aggressiveness and indomitable spirit during its advance through the Siegfried Line and capture of Olzheim, Germany. From 5 through 9 February, 1945, the 2nd Battalion attacked violently and captured Olzheim in the face of extremely difficult terrain, fanatical enemy resistance, and devastating artillery fire. In this exemplary accomplishment, the battalion advanced 11,000 yards, smashing 6,000 yards through the Siegfried Line, neutralized many pillboxes and bunkers, and captured 366 enemy prisoners. The Brilliant tactical planning, rapid capture of assigned objectives and the conspicuous gallantry of each member of the 2nd Battalion, 345th Infantry Regiment, 87th Infantry Division, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.

The Presidential Unit Citation is equivalent in medal hierarchy to the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest military award that can be given to a member of the United States Army. In order to receive it, a unit must exhibit “extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy” by displaying “such gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions so as to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign.”

SiegfriedLineDaddy was a member of F Company of the 2nd Battalion / 345th Regiment, and on the morning of February 6, 1945 (my mother’s, his wife’s 20th birthday!), they were the first to break through the Line. The Company Historian summarized it this way: “They reached their objective a little before daylight. The company commander placed his men in positions to take the first pillbox by surprise. They were successful and before [the enemy] knew what was happening, the first pillbox was in ‘F’ Company’s hands.” A later Regimental History expanded on F Company’s attack this way: “Adverse weather conditions and unfavorable terrain made rapid progress difficult, but Company F put forth a vigorous effort to achieve the element of surprise. They confronted the first of the three pillboxes, which dominated an area that included the crossroads and Jagdhs, about 2000 yards southeast of Kobscheid. At dawn they worked to the rear of the pillbox and accepted the surrender of the occupants.”

One problem, though. In the U.S.Army’s 703-page book The Siegfried Line Campaign, they don’t give ANY mention WHATSOEVER to Daddy’s battalion, regiment, or division! But Company F of the 2nd Battalion was the first to break through the Line. And several of the men with whom my father served and with whom I spoke when I was researching his wartime experiences, were justifiably proud of that accomplishment and were hurt that the Army ignored them in this fashion. Nevertheless, Gentlemen, we all salute you.

Yes, my father was and is my hero — for this and many, many more reasons.

Daddy-in-WWII_dropshadow

(Click on above image to see my complete history
of my father’s wartime experiences.)
Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 3 November 2014

Predicting November 4: What Are They Saying?


They make their living predicting the future. So now, on Election Day, what is the “final word” from the political pollsters and polling analysts about the 2014 midterms? Lucky for you, I have collected all their major latest predictions here in one easy-to-read post. I invite you to jump in with both feet, and find out who’s saying what.
          You’ll find two types of predictions here: (1) polling data [P], from those who actually ask samples of people, tally up the responses, and make predictions; and (2) polling aggregations [A], from those who gather many different polls, weight them, and calculate probabilities of outcomes.
          I’ll deal primarily with the question of who will have control of the U.S. Senate next year, followed by what consensus says are the six closest Senate races, plus Louisiana and Kentucky (two high profile races). Finally, I will give data on just a few of the most closely followed races for Governor in the nation.
          Dive in, and have fun…

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C O N T R O L   O F   S E N A T E
[A] 76.2% chance for Republican takeover. (Nate Silver; Nov3)
[A] 75% chance for Republican takeover. (New York Times; Nov3)
[A] 97% chance of Republican takeover; prediction: 53-47 seats. (Washington Post; Nov3)
[A] 52-48 seat Republican takeover. (Real Clear Politics; Nov3)
[A] 95% chance for Republican takeover. (CNN; Nov3)

_______________________________________________

S E N A T E — N O R T H   C A R O L I N A
[A] 69% chance of win. 48.8% Hagan (D); 47.4% Tillis (R). (Nate Silver, Nov3)
[A] 71% chance of win for Hagan (D). (New York Times, Nov3)
[A] 44.1% Hagan (D); 43.4% Tillis (R). (Real Clear Politics, Nov3)
[A] 76% chance of win for Hagan (D). (Washington Post, Nov3)
[P] 48% Hagan (D); 44% Tillis (R). (Public Policy Polling, Nov2)
[P] 47% Tillis (R); 46% Hagan (D). (Gravis, Oct30)
[P] 43% Hagan (D); 42% Tillis (R). (Fox/Anderson-Robbins/Shaw, Oct30)
[P] 48% Hagan (D); 46% Tillis (R). (CNN/ORC, Oct30)
[P] 47% Hagan (D); 46% Tillis (R). (Rasmussen, Oct30)
[P] 48% Hagan (D); 46% Tillis (R). (Monmouth U., Oct26)
[P] 44% Hagan (D); 44% Tillis (R). (High Point U., Oct25)
[P] 43% Hagan (D); 43% Tillis (R). (NBC News/Marist, Oct23)
[P] 44% Hagan (D); 44% Tillis (R). (SurveyUSA, Oct23)
[P] 45% Hagan (D); 41% Tillis (R). (Elon U., Oct23)

S E N A T E — G E O R G I A
[A] 75% chance of win. 49.7% Perdue (R); 47.6% Nunn (D). (Nate Silver, Nov3)
[A] 67% chance of win for Perdue (R). (New York Times, Nov3)
[A] 47.2% Perdue (R); 44.3% Nunn (D). (Real Clear Politics, Nov3)
[A] 79% chance of win for Perdue (R). (Washington Post, Nov3)
[P] 49.8% Perdue (R); 45.6% Nunn (D); 2.4% Swafford (L). (Landmark/WSB-TV, Nov3)
[P] 50% Perdue (R); 46% Nunn (D). (Landmark, Nov2)
[P] 47% Perdue (R); 44% Nunn (D). (SurveyUSA/WXIA-TV, Nov2)
[P] 46% Perdue (R); 45% Nunn (D). (Public Policy Polling, Nov2)
[P] 48% Perdue (R); 44% Nunn (D). (NBC News/Marist, Oct30)
[P] 48% Perdue (R); 44% Nunn (D). (Marist, Oct29)
[P] 46% Perdue (R); 46% Nunn (D). (Rasmussen, Oct29)
[P] 49% Perdue (R); 41% Nunn (D). (Monmouth U., Oct28)

S E N A T E — C O L O R A D O
[A] 72% chance to win. 49.7% Gardner (R); 48.1% Udall (D). (Nate Silver, Nov3)
[A] 80% chance to win for Gardner (R). (New York Times, Nov3)
[A] 98% chance to win for Gardner (R). (Washington Post, Nov3)
[A] 46.5% Gardner (R); 44.0% Udall (D). (Real Clear Politics, Nov2)
[P] 45% Gardner (R); 43% Udall (D). (Quinnipiac U., Nov2)
[P] 48% Gardner (R); 45% Udall (D). (Public Policy Polling, Nov2)
[A] “Leans” to Gardner (R). (L.Sabato/Politico, Oct29)
[P] 46% Gardner (R); 44% Udall (D). (SurveyUSA/Denver Post, Oct27)
[P] 51% Gardner (R); 45% Udall (D). (Rasmussen, Oct27)
[P] 46% Gardner (R); 45% Udall (D). (NBC News/Marist, Oct22)
[P] 46% Gardner (R); 39% Udall (D). (Suffolk U., Nov2)

S E N A T E — K A N S A S
[A] 53% chance of win. 49.0% Orman (I); 48.6% Roberts (R). (Nate Silver, Nov3)
[A] 51% chance of win for Roberts (R). (New York Times, Nov3)
[A] 43.4% Orman (I); 42.6% Roberts (R). (Real Clear Politics, Nov3)
[A] 98% chance of win for Roberts (R). (Washington Post, Nov3)
[P] 47% Orman (I); 46% Roberts (R). (Public Policy Polling, Nov2)
[P] 44% Orman (I); 43% Roberts (R). (Fox/Anderson-Robbins/Shaw, Oct30)
[P] 44% Orman (I); 42% Roberts (R). (SurveyUSA/KSN News, Oct26)
[P] 49% Orman (I); 44% Roberts (R). (Rasmussen, Oct23)
[P] 45% Orman (I); 44% Roberts (R). (NBC News/Marist, Oct22)

S E N A T E — I O W A
[A] 70% chance of win. 49.8% Ernst (R); 48.3% Braley (D). (Nate Silver, Nov3)
[A] 69% chance of win for Ernst (R). (New York Times, Nov3)
[A] 47.1% Ernst (R); 45.3% Braley (D). (Real Clear Politics, Nov3)
[A] 89% chance of win for Ernst (R). (Washington Post, Nov3)
[A] 47% Ernst (R); 47% Braley (D). (Quinnipiac U., Nov2)
[P] 49% Ernst (R); 46% Braley (D). (Public Policy Polling, Nov2)
[P] 48% Ernst (R); 47% Braley (D). (Rasmussen, Oct31)
[P] 50% Ernst (R); 44% Braley (D). (Des Moines Register, Oct31)
[P] 45% Ernst (R); 44% Braley (D). (Fox/Anderson-Robbins/Shaw, Oct30)
[P] 49% Ernst (R); 47% Braley (D). (CNN/ORC, Oct30)
[P] 49% Ernst (R); 46% Braley (D). (NBC News/Marist, Oct22)
[P] 47% Ernst (R); 46% Braley (D). (Monmouth U., Oct21)

S E N A T E — A L A S K A
[A] 74% chance of win. 50.1% Sullivan (R); 47.8% Begich (D). (Nate Silver, Nov3)
[A] 66% chance of win for Sullivan (R). (New York Times, Nov3)
[A] 81% chance of win for Sullivan (R). (Washington Post, Nov3)
[A] 46.2% Sullivan (R); 43.8% Begich (D). (Real Clear Politics, Nov2)
[P] 47% Sullivan (R); 46% Begich (D). (Public Policy Polling, Nov2)
[P] 47% Sullivan (R); 42% Begich (D). (Rasmussen/Pulse, Oct31)
[A] “Leans” to Sullivan (R). (L.Sabato/Politico, Oct15)

S E N A T E — L O U I S I A N A
[A] 81% chance of win. 52.3% Cassidy (R); 47.7% Landrieu (D). (Nate Silver, Nov3)
[A] 85% chance of win for Cassidy (R). (New York Times, Nov3)
[A] 48.8% Cassidy (R); 44.0% Landrieu (D). (Real Clear Politics, Nov1)
[P] 43% Landrieu (D); 35% Cassidy (R); 15% Maness (R). (Public Policy Polling, Nov1)
[P] 50% Cassidy (R); 45% Landrieu (D). (NBC News/Marist, Oct30)
[P] 43% Landrieu (D); 36% Cassidy (R); 13% Maness (R). (Rasmussen, Oct28)
[P] 36% Landrieu (D); 35% Cassidy (R); 11% Maness (R). (Suffolk U., Oct26)

S E N A T E — K E N T U C K Y
[A] 98% chance of win. 51.8% McConnell (R); 46.1% Lundergan Grimes (D). (Nate Silver, Nov3)
[A] 98% chance of win for McConnell (R). (New York Times, Nov3)
[A] >99% chance of win for McConnell (R). (Washington Post, Nov3)
[P] 49% McConnell (R); 41.8% Lundergan Grimes (D). (Public Policy Polling, Nov1)
[P] 50% McConnell (R); 41% Lundergan Grimes (D). (Marist, Oct29)
[P] 48% McConnell (R); 43% Lundergan Grimes (D). (SurveyUSA, Oct27)
[P] 50% McConnell (R); 43% Lundergan Grimes (D). (Public Opinion Strategies, Oct26)

_______________________________________________

G O V E R N O R — W I S C O N S I N
[A] 47.5% Walker (R); 45.3% Burke (D). (Real Clear Politics, Oct31)
[P] 45% Walker (R); 43% Burke (D). (YouGov, Oct31)
[P] 50% Walker (R); 43% Burke (D). (Marquette U., Oct26)
[P] 49% Burke (D); 48% Walker (R). (Rasmussen, Oct22)

G O V E R N O R — T E X A S
[P] 52.3% Abbott (R); 36.8% Davis (D). (Rasmussen, Oct23)
[P] 57% Abbott (R); 37% Davis (D). (CBS/New York Times, Oct23)
[P] 54% Abbott (R); 38% Davis (D). (UT/Texas Tribute, Oct19)
[P] 51% Abbott (R); 40% Davis (D). (Rasmussen, Oct5)

G O V E R N O R — F L O R I D A
[A] 40.7% Crist (D); 40.3% Scott (R). (Real Clear Politics, Nov2)
[P] 42% Crist (D); 41% Scott (R). (Quinnipiac, Nov2)
[P] 44% Crist (D); 44% Scott (R). (Public Policy Polling, Nov2)
[P] 36% Crist (D); 36% Scott (R). (Tampa Bay Times, Oct28)

G O V E R N O R — G E O R G I A
[A] 47.5% Deal (R); 43% Carter (D). (Real Clear Politics, Nov3)
[A] “Leans” to Deal (R). (L.Sabato/Politico, Nov3)
[P] 47% Deal (R); 43% Carter (D). (Public Policy Polling, Nov3)
[P] 51% Deal (R); 45% Carter (D). (WSB-TV/Landmark, Nov2)
[P] 47% Deal (R); 42% Carter (D). (SurveyUSA/WXIA-TV, Nov2)
[P] 48% Deal (R); 43% Carter (D). (NBC/Marist, Oct30)
[P] 49% Deal (R); 43% Carter (D). (Rasmussen, Oct29)

G O V E R N O R — C O L O R A D O
[A] 45.3% Hickenlooper (D); 44.8% Beauprez (R). (Real Clear Politics, Nov2)
[P] 45% Beauprez (R); 43% Hickenlooper (D). (Quinnipiac, Nov2)
[P] 46% Beauprez (R); 46% Hickenlooper (D). (Public Policy Polling, Nov2)
[P] 46% Beauprez (R); 46% Hickenlooper (D). (Denver Post, Oct29)
[A] “Leans” to Hickenlooper (D). (L.Sabato/Politico, Oct29)
[P] 49% Beauprez (R); 47% Hickenlooper (D). (Rasmussen, Oct28)

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Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 31 October 2014

Silver’s Crystal Ball, Part 4


This is Part 4 of a weekly series of reports I am doing, tracking the 2014 political predictions of polling guru Nate Silver prior to Election Day. I will have a “How Did He Do?” report next week to close out this series. (This is a stand-alone essay, but it’s possible you may wish to look at Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.) Below are the most important bullet points in his predictions as of today.

Analysis and Graph by Nate Silver (24 Oct 2014)

Analysis and Graph by Nate Silver (31 Oct 2014)

  • National Senate Predictions.  Silver’s prediction concerning control of Congress’ upper chamber has moved to its highest probability level since he started assigning them: a 68.9% chance that Republicans will win a majority in the U.S. Senate. This equals The New York Times‘s 68% probability of a GOP takeover.
  • Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis

    Senator Kay Hagan and Speaker Thom Tillis

    North Carolina.  The NC Senate race, according to Silver, continues to tighten. As opposed to the 3-percentage-point margin he predicted 4 weeks ago, he has now shrunk Kay Hagan’s (D) margin over Thom Tillis (R) to 1.3 percentage points. He sees a 67% chance of a Hagan (D) win, which is down considerably from his 79% probability 4 weeks ago. The New York Times, Real Clear Politics, and Rasmussen are all leaning toward Hagan (D), and all currently see the gap at a whisker-thin 1 percentage point.
  • The Maroon 6.  Silver has switched his prediction in Georgia back to a win by David Perdue (R) over Michelle Nunn (D). This has significant ramifications for Silver’s “Maroon 6” concept. (See below.)The New York Times also now predicts this race is a 0.6 percentage point dead-heat, with a 57% chance of a Perdue (R) victory.

(Why keep an eye on Nate Silver? He’s the young probability/statistics guru who, unlike all of his peers in the business, correctly predicted the results of the 2008 Presidential race in 49 of 50 states, and the results of the 2012 Presidential race in all 50 states.)

10-31_NateSilver_NCPrediction10-31_NateSilver_Maroon6In his construct of the Maroon 6. Silver has identified six states with Senate races he says are key to watch: Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, and Louisiana. His calculations tell him that if Republicans win all 6, they have a 99% chance to take the Senate. If they win 5, their chance slips slightly to 84%. With anything less than 5 wins, however, Republicans’ chances to control the Senate drop precipitously, to levels that strongly predict Democrats’ keeping the Senate. Right now, on his state-by-state predictions, he is showing Republicans ahead in all 6 — though the races in Iowa and Georgia are currently extremely close.

(Please note that when I use the shorthand “Silver predicts victory…,” I am saying that, in that race, his percentage probability of victory for that candidate currently sits at greater than 50%.)

Other Predictions:

  • The New York Times‘ online page TheUpshot page currently predicts: “According to our statistical election-forecasting machine, the Republicans have a moderate edge, with about a 69% chance of gaining a majority.” They predict an 68% likelihood that Kay Hagan (D) will defeat Thom Tillis (R), and they predict that the margin will be +1.1 percentage points for her. [These are down appreciably from last week, when Hagan was 79% likely to win by a predicted 2.4 percentage points.]
  • The Washington Post’s Election Lab states: “Republicans are favored to control the Senate. 95% chance as of today.” Currently they predict the GOP will begin 2015 with 52 seats in the Senate. In North Carolina, the Post gives Kay Hagan (D) a 77% chance of keeping her seat, which is appreciably smaller than their 95% prediction last week.
  • When forced to make best current predictions for all Senate races (including those they now call “toss-ups”) Real Clear Politics predicts a 7-seat net pickup by the Republicans, giving them a 52-48 majority. RCP’s average of polls currently predicts the following for North Carolina: Hagan (D) 44.1%, Tillis (R) 43%, and Haugh (L) 4.7%
  • Rasmussen Results is now showing Hagan (D) 47% over Tillis (R) 46% in their most recent polling. Hagan (D), therefore, has lost a percentage point since their previous poll, where the gap was 48% to 46%.

    That’s all until after the election.

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