Wheat and Chaff

he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.” Luke 3:17

We didn’t even make it to the conventions and the right wing smear machine has rolled back into the campaign. Right on cue, the lunatic swift boat author, Jerome Coursi, has a new attack book and conservative book clubs have made it a best seller. When he doesn’t have a democratic presidential candidate to slander, he spends his time writing books about the conspiracy to form a North American Union and eliminate our government and our currency. The problem is, that much of what he says will be repeated as fact by those looking for reasons to justify voting for McCain.

I’ve seen the effect in our own local newspaper where there are weekly letters to the editor advocating votes for McCain based repeating the same sort of mistaken information about Obama.

So what is a thoughtful voter to do?

How do you sift the chaff from the wheat?

I recommend a site called procon.org.

It is a not-for-profit unbiased site that attempts to compare the candidates positions side be side on key issues.

When you go through the site, you find some very interesting things.

First, there are many more things that both candidates agree on than they have in difference.

Even the differences are not nearly as stark as some may suggest.

Here are a couple of examples.

There was a recent letter to the editor suggesting that all Christians should vote for McCain because he is the only candidate who opposes abortion. When you read his position on the procon site, all he really advocates is that the decision be left to the states. This represents a move away from a pro-choice position he expressed two years ago.

Another letter writer complained that Obama has the most liberal voting record in the senate and then went on to quote a conservative magazine (National Review) to support his claim that liberal policies are bad for the country.

The problem is that it isn’t that simple. The same magazine that rated Obama as the most liberal senator did so with an incomplete set of votes. Because of campaign obligations, Obama came back to Washington to vote only on the most important issues which were generally party line commitments. McCain. on the other hand, missed so many votes that the magazine couldn’t rate him at all. Other sites that use other methods regard Obama as a liberal and McCain as a conservative, but neither as radicals.

We’ve already talked about abortion. What’s more interesting from ProCon is to examine their positions on other traditional liberal/conservative issues like taxes, religion, stem cells, social security, gun control, environment, and NAFTA.

One would think that the liberal candidate would be pro-labor/pro-government and the conservative candidate would be pro-business/anti-government, but it’s not that simple.

Taxes
Obama doesn’t want to extend the Bush tax cuts to the rich and McCain does. McCain, however, voted against the original bill and as recently as April of this year McCain opposed the plan because there was no balancing reduction in spending.

Religion
Neither candidate has expressed a clear position on federal funding of faith-based initiatives.

Stem Cells
Obama supports federal funding of Stem Cell research. McCain supported it too in the May 3, 2007 Republican debate but opposed it in a position paper issued on Nov 30, 2007.

Social Security
Obama opposes privatizing the system. McCain supports it.

Gun Control
Obama supports it, but also supported the recent Supreme Court decision rejecting the DC gun control laws. McCain opposes it.

Environment
Both candidates agree on global warming and increased fuel efficiency standards.

NAFTA
Obama opposes it. McCain supports it.

Even the war in Iraq is becoming more nuanced. Obama wants to shift forces from Iraq to Afghanistan based on a timetable. Now the Iraq government is on board too. McCain, on the other hand, finds himself in a strange position of staying until the Iraq’s can defend themselves, but rejecting the Iraqi claim that they are ready to do that.

It is tempting to become cynical about the whole process, but it is also an occasion for prayer. Truth is after all a quality of God. That quality is reflected in all of God’s creation. We are his highest creation and possess a natural hunger for Truth. So though we go through times when it is hard to find, Truth, just like the sun on a cloudy day, is always there and eventually shines through.

7 Responses to “Wheat and Chaff”

  1. Keith says:

    Good one Jeff!!!!!!!!

    The two sides can hardly be distingueshed on most things. Obama did define the rich the other night. That is something none of his predecessors has ever publicly done. They only talked about taxing the rich. Turns out to Gore the rich was somewhere arounf $80k a year for a family. Two teachers for example. Or a firefighter and a cleck at a story. Obama said for his tax policy that it would be $250k for a family. I’m not sure that is correct but it’s a reasonable thought. That’s 12K a month after taxes..(before deductions etc.) certainly shouldn’t be hurting. My arguement would be wealth not income.

    That guy who wrote that book is a quack. However there is usually some truth there. Quack or not doesn’t change some truth. But he should be generally disregarded and our election process would be better off without guys like him.

    Again, good one.

  2. keith says:

    The dems are in full force questioning the intergity of both McCain and Pastor Warren by sugesting that they cheated and that McCain heard Obama’s interview and therefore knew the questions beforehand. This because McCain seamed so prepared. Not sure this is a good stratigy to follow but to me seems beneith the level of intergity that you and I hope for. Agree?

    McCains comeback should be “Great lets do it again and I’ll go first this time.” Obama has not done so well in these debates and in a forum like this he is not well suited. His answer to the question of when human rights begin was difficult for him. McCain simply said “at conception” Obama reasoned outloud and then ended with, “thats above my paygrade” and never answered.

    For or against abortion that’s just not a good way to answer. But questions like that are just punishing for “liberal thinkers” as there is no correct answer. To say anything other the “at conception” doesn’t “play well,” but to say anything else is highly subjective. The problem is anyone in favor of abortion rights merely calls a child one they want and one they don’t want is a fetus and aborted.

    He has a big problem with his vote in the ill senate where a child survived the attemped abortion, somehow got out alive. The child was then disgarded in a bin to die. A nurse found the kid and held it for 45 mins until it died in her arms. Obama was the only one in his committee, dare i say in the whole world, who said, we can’t do anything. His quote was along the lines of, then abortion as a whole will be over turned.

  3. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith,

    I haven’t had a chance to actually look at the Rick Warren interviews. So I’m going to withhold comment until I’ve had a chance to see them myself.

    In general, though, I think it was a great idea to expose his congregation to both candidates. A good example of how church and state can interact in an unbiased way.

    As far as the tenor of the campaign, there is so much going back and forth that I’m afraid supporters of both McCain and Obama will have plenty of reasons for disliking the other.

    The problem is that when the campaign degrades to name calling and worse, issues get lost in an escalating shouting match. The stuff that I’ve seen in blogs is already way over the top and it hasn’t even officially started.

    The one that I saw today questioned whether the McCain “cross in the sand” story ever really happened. I guess, since it is something that is probably unprovable, it doesn’t really matter. But the intesity of those who felt McCain was lying was easily matched by those who feel Obama is untrustworthy for some similar sort of wacko internet spam.

    I just wonder how those who are honestly undecided are going to sort all of this out.

  4. Keith says:

    Jeff,
    Obama himslef started hittin gbelow the belt today in a very class warefare/envy way. Sat night one of the questions was “what is rich” Obama said making if you make $150k a year your middle class, 250k and your rich. (i mentioned this before) McCain said many things of which nothing spacific income of a dollar amount, then off the cuff siad something along the lines of rich, i don’t know $5 million. He immediately said boy that will get twisted out of context. If you watch this you’ll see that he was struggling to even give an amount then and it wasn’t relevent to his point. He also did not say $5 million a year in income, more like (i guessing) if you have $5 million. I don’t think I’m mis-representing the two guys here.

    Well Today McCain couldn’t tell a reporter how many homes he owned. Obama siad and he was yelling as he said it, “it’s understandable that McCain would think the economy is doing well when you have a bunch of houses and you’re make $5 million a year. What about the guy at $3 million?”

    I’m calling a class warefare wedgie here Jeff. 1)McCain didn’t say $5 million a year in income. Obama on Sat said $250k/yr McCain didn’t say per year. 2) $5 million in cash in 4% CD’s (lucky to get that rate today) is $200k in income…buy Obama’s own measure not rich….

    I prefer Solomans defintion of rich in the book of Ecclesiastes 2:24 “There is nothing better for a man then he should eat and drink, and the he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor.

    McCain upon your review i hope you agree was headed down this path.

  5. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith,

    Not sure where McCain was headed. I think that he was simply confused and caught off guard.

    This appears to be the campaign that McCain wants, so he is going to have to deal with these sorts of “gotcha” sound bites too.

    I’m really tired of the whole divisive thing.

    We aren’t talking about healthcare. We aren’t talking about the economy. We aren’t talking about energy. We aren’t talking about education. We aren’t talking about foreign policy.

    Instead we are encouraging two intelligent men to engage in a street brawl.

    We also appear willing to reward the one who proves to be the most adept and amoral in spinning the facts to his advantage. In other words, the one who is willing to tell the largest lies with the straightest face.

    It is already such an ugly campaign that I don’t see much value in any attempt to keep score.

  6. keith says:

    i agree. the only reason i suggested keeping score was to highlight to you this is not only something the reb’s do. you only/mostly point of the rub’s as the masters and perfectors of this when it is clearly two sided. you do it in your article posted today. rove the master spinner and you continue to call him a lier then bush and mccain liers also. you tie that with the lead verses to your post and call them the work of their father which is the devil…therfore i’m only throwing a few out to you which point out it goes both ways…your post today is disingenuos…obama said the surge would fail, he said bring the troops home now. then he said bring the troops home in 16 months. then he said something along the lines of lets do a timetable but monitor the action on the ground. he also talked in the interview with rich warren last sat the toughest decision he’s ever made as the one to oppose the war in iraq….jeff, he never had a vote and therefore never made a decision. his decision against the war is no different then the one you made. it was your belief we shouldn’t go to war but you didn’t make a decision to go to war.

  7. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith

    Not claiming that both sides are innocent. It is an ugly campaign.

    The difference, as far as I can see, is that this is the campaign that the republicans want, in part because it is working for them.

    As far as Karl Rove is concerned, I never claimed he invented spin – only that he has practiced it better than anyone else.

    Here’s a recent comment about his retirement, “Rove has done this very skillfully, he’s the master of spin,” said Louis Ureneck, chair of the journalism department at Boston University.

    As far as Iraq is concerned, the surge hasn’t won anything. The purpose was to create sufficient stability to allow the Iraqi government to begin the real work of building a governing coalition. We created stability by arming militias and paying off their leaders. The government did force the current administration to agree to timetable for withdrawal, but hasn’t made much progress internally.

    As far as Obama’s involvement. You are arguing at the margins rather than confronting the facts. Obama had the courage to call for withdrawal from Iraq on a firm timetable. Bush and McCain called him a coward, an appeaser, a defeatist, and said he wasn’t fit to lead because of this commitment. Then Bush does exactly what he had been attacking Obama for proposing.

    Sorry, whatever vascillating you feel Obama has displayed doesn’t even come close to this level of this slander.

    Jeff

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