"Love! Do you know the meaning of the word?" 'How should I not?' said the Lady, 'I am in love...in Love Himself.'
~C.S. Lewis
The Great Divorce

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Electoral College Projection

While I've not had time to write as extensively on the election as I did in 2008, I have been following very closely. Below I would like to give my electoral college projections for tonight's election. I will start with the same phrase virtually every journalist has in the last week, I'm not sure who is going to win tonight. In 2008, my final projection was a "best case scenario" for John McCain, which still had him losing. I couldn't see a way to 270 votes for him. 2012 is very different. I still think Obama is the favorite to pull this out, but Romney created a path for himself in the first debate. Without further ado, here are the projections. Romney will win comfortably in the heartland, Big Sky country, and the Deep South. He will also claim Arizona and the Tennessee Valley states totaling 191 electoral votes. Obama will carry the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast (New Hampshire possibly excepted, see below), the west coast, New Mexico, Illinois, and Michigan. Bringing his total number of EV to 217. Obviously, this makes the road to 270 easier for the president, which is why I think he is still the favorite. I basically see 10 states in play. I do not buy any chance of a Romney win in Minnesota or Michigan. Nor do I see Obama picking off the 1 electoral vote from Nebraska's Omaha district. Here are my thoughts on the ten states below, with a winner picked in each one. North Carolina-From the beginning of this election, I thought Indiana and North Carolina would go solidly for the whomever the Republican candidate was. The states were too red in 2004 to support a democrat in a non-wave election. Obama carried both states by less than 1 percent in 2008. However, the president has had some impressive staying power in NC. While he will probably not win here (I think owing to tamped down enthusiasm among young voters at NC's expansive university system) the fact that he made Romney spend time and money here is strategically important. 15 votes for Romney. Florida-The state that so many predicted would slip the president's way after the Paul Ryan VP pick had other ideas. Florida was again a state that the president did not win definitively in 2008. Just 2.5 percentage points separated he and a very weak candidate, John McCain. Recent polling has been fairly consistent that Obama will lose this big prize. 29 votes to Romney Virginia-Several weeks ago there was a flurry of articles indicating that the Obama campaign was conceding losses in VA, NC, and FL. This meant a much closer race than prior to the first debate. Romney had a real shot at winning the electoral college. But while Bush won VA in 2008 by 8 percent and it is a traditionally red state, Obama has maintained a narrow advantage in state polling. He has lead in 9 of the last 10 polls of the state...albeit barely. However, that kind of consistency has to mean something. A number of columnists have pointed out to low early voter turnout in democratic strongholds of Northern Virginia. But I think that, while this might be the closest vote in the entire country tonight, Obama wins. 13 Votes for Obama. That would give Romney a 235-230 vote lead in the electoral college. New Hampshire-The one Northeast holdout (unless you count PA) is set to go Obama. Romney should be doing better here. This was his firewall in the primaries. He owns a house here. He spends his summers here. But he simply has never been able to close the deal. The polling here again shows a small but consistent lead for the president. 4 votes for Obama Iowa-This state has been a trap for Romney since 2008 when Mike Huckabee came out of nowhere, upsetting Romney's tremendous organization in the state in the GOP primary. Rick Santorum and Ron Paul again kept him from garnering all of the Iowa delegates in 2012. Along with New Mexico, Iowa was one of the traditional battleground states where everyone knew John McCain never had a chance. The state was Obama's then, I believe it is now also. 6 votes for Obama Ohio-Much ink has been spilled on the importance of this state. Republicans have never won the presidency without it. The auto bailout seems to have put Obama in position (possibly helped by Romney's 47% comment) to win Ohio. While I thought Catholics in Ohio would turn on Obama (and they have) and that white working class voters might think twice about pulling the lever for Obama, it has not been enough. Like New Hampshire and Virginia, the state is close but I think it's Obama's. 18 votes for Obama Colorado-This week's polling has shown Obama re-emerging with a very small lead. However, the president's team weeks ago wrote off Colorado as a sure thing. In fact, they seemed less certain of a win here than in any of the southern 3, FL, NC, or Virginia. Some of Romney's rallies here have also been overwhelming. I think Colorado will shift back to the red column for this year. 9 votes to Romney That would mean a 258-244 lead for the president in the electoral college. IT also means that Romney would have to win both Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Wisconsin-I think Romney pulls off the upset here. It's close. Romney's internals, released last night, show him tied with Obama. Paul Ryan represents a democratic district in a democratic state. If he can carry his district, I think Romney wins here. Wisconsin has certainly jerked rightward with Scott Walker winning his recall election and Russ Feingold being booted from the senate. It'll come down to the wire, but I predict a narrow win for Romney. 10 votes for Romney Nevada-Those afore mentioned Romney internals showed him trailing in Nevada. I'm not aware of any public polling showing Romney ahead and early voting in Clark County, the democratic stronghold has been on pace. The expansive Mormon vote in the state will keep it close, but I think Obama by 5 or 6 in Nevada. 6 votes for Obama Pennsylvania-Romney has been making a strong effort here in the closing days of this election. The race for these 20 votes has narrowed much in the last two weeks. Most public polling still shows this race as Obama's to lose and the fact that no Republican has won this state in the last 5 elections casts doubt on Romney's hopes. I believe that Romney knows that his chances in Ohio have waned. He needs another state. This seemed like the best shot. I would not be shocked if Romney wins, but I would be surprised. 20 votes for Obama 284-254 in favor of the president is my projection. I will point out, that of the 10 tossup states, I truly feel 100% confident in only North Carolina, Florida, and Nevada. The other 7 states could go either way. If Romney were going to win, the most likely paths would be a narrow win VA combined with a win in either NH or IA. I could actually see that. But I'm sticking with the 284-254 projection. Let me know your thoughts.

My Personal Thoughts on Voting

I will go to my polling place this morning and I will be voting on questions 4-7 here in Maryland. I will cast my vote for Rob Sobhani, the independent candidate for Senate. And, on the recommendation of my brother, vote to keep our current judges. What I will not be doing though is casting a vote for president. I've thought a good deal about this and have simply come to the conclusion that there is not a candidate on the ballot worth my vote. This is not because I'm too big of a purist. Many of you who will read this know that I have supported Ron Paul in the last two elections. This was despite the fact that I had disagreements with his positions on legalizing all drugs, prostitution, and his vision of a complete dismantling of all safety nets. (I do think we need to move a LOT closer in that direction, and very soon, for the sake of our economy, but not all the way.) But one thing I could always say about Ron Paul is this: his platform did not include any grave sins. This is a low bar for a candidate to have to clear, but unfortunately, all four candidates on my ballot include immorality in their party platforms. Dismissing the Greens, Libertarians, and Democrats is quite easy because of their embrace of abortion rights. See the post below this one if you want to see why I'm adamant about abortion. Barack Obama is also quite easy to ignore because of his appalling failures in Benghazi, and "judge, jury, executioner" mentality in drone strikes...particularly, the one against an American citizen. Romney is a little different, but equally bad. I will accept at face value his claim that he is now pro-life even though that didn't seem to happen until he decided to run for president. What bothers me about Romney, aside from his serial flip-flopping, is that during the foreign policy debate, there was not a substantive difference with the president. He would continue the same interventionist policies that lead to the consulate attack in Benghazi. If anything, Romney would pursue Obama's policies more harshly. As one commentator noted, Romney's foreign policy was Obama's, just screaming a little louder. With Iran on the horizon as a potential threat, the last thing I want is another president leading us into a middle eastern war. I fear that with Romney. So today I vote by abstaining from voting. It's not a waste, as some will say. It's a conscious choice to declare my independence and to say "enough is enough."

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Viability of a Fetus

Abortion is a hotly contested issue in the American political arena. On one side, you have those claiming that an individual's freedom is compromised if access to safe and legal abortions is terminated. On the other, those claiming that the freedom of the individual fetus is compromised if abortion is allowed to take place. I agree with the latter position and let me explain why. The pro-choice argument is obsessed with a woman's right to do what she wants with her own body. It is not willing, generally speaking, to address the real issue, but satisfied to cloak it in a constitutional debate over personal liberty. The heart of the matter is this: when does life begin? If it begins at conception, you can argue with all of your might that a woman has a right to choose (and, of course, she does!) but not without consequence. The position of the Scriptures and Church have been consistent-life begins at conception. Thus, any Christian supporting a woman's right to choose without consequence is enabling an act of violence on another human being. There can be little doubt that this is part of the reason our culture is obsessed with war, violent video games, and the like. But what of non-believers? What if you do not accept the teaching that human life begins at conception? To that argument, I offer this post. All who argue for abortion rights have to come back to the question of viability at some point. Can you abort a child at three months? Five? Seven? What's constitutes life? Having a discernable sex? Lung development? I suppose the pro-choice movement is filled with people who hold to varying beliefs as to when life becomes viable. But for any who stumble upon this blog who struggle with the question of viability, let me make this point. What infant can get a blanket when she's cold? What two year old is able to fend for himself? What three year old can find food to keep herself from starving? The truth is, a child outside the womb is no less dependent on his/her parents than inside the womb. Thus, if you are going to make an argument for abortion based on the non-viability of a fetus, you must also, in order to be consistent, believe that it is morally unobjectionable for a child to be abandoned or out-rightly murdered by his mother or father. "Similar to his argument for abortion, Singer argues that newborns lack the essential characteristics of personhood—"rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness"[20]—and therefore "killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living."[21] Peter Singer is a beast of a human-perhaps something less than human. But at least he's consistent. He's realized that it is not rational to argue along the lines of viability because the new-born and toddler possess no autonomy. You may not be willing to accept that life begins at conception. However, arguing at what point life begins opens you to the dreadful possibility that it might be alright to take innocent life outside the womb also. "Thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech" Lev. 18:21

Friday, March 23, 2012

Could Hell Be Temporary?

I tend to agree with traditional assessments of Hell as being a state of eternal deprivation of God's presence and love. Whether this manifests itself as utter darkness, gnashing of teeth, or fire is actually quite beside the point. There is no greater suffering than to be cut off from the Life himself.

But recently I have pondered a question, dear readers, which I don't believe contradicts what has just been said, but does cast it in a new light.

All but perhaps some Extremist Calvinists would agree that God does not (and cannot) by his nature cast a soul into Hell. God is Love, according to St. John, and is constantly drawing and alluring humanity back to the source of Life, Love Himself. His will is that all would be saved and share the life of the Blessed Trinity. Such a God can't be the cause of a soul's destruction in any way but at the last day, tearfully, consigning to Hell those who rejected his overtures to the last. Even then, the goats will depart into everlasting punishment knowing it was their wickedness and hardness of heart that caused it, not the Righteous Judge.

This brings up the question at the heart of this post: if God doesn't send anyone to Hell, would God actively work to keep someone there? Are all the passages of Scripture which point to Hell being eternal referring only to the place itself? Or to the last state of all who die outside of Christ?

If a man dies in his trespasses, outside of the grace of Christ, Christianity teaches that he will go to hell. But what if was not necessary to abandon all hope upon entrance through the dark gates? What if true contrition could take place? Would God, seeing the sorrow and penitence of a soul he created for communion with himself, turn it away?

It is at this point that one might call to remembrance our Lord's words from Luke's Gospel 16:19-31. There we see the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. As best we can tell, Hell and Abraham's Bosom (a place of rest and peace) were within seeing distance of each other. The Rich Man cried to have Lazarus bring water to cool his burning tongue. But Abraham informs the Rich man that no one can cross the gulf that has been fixed...in either direction. This would seem to nullify any argument on whether Hell might be temporary. But I would postulate that the Rich man was in no way contrite. He desired only relief of pain and not to truly see and serve God.

The evidence is limited but this passage, while it does not rule out that there could be a contrite person in Hell, does lend itself to the understanding of Hell put forth by C.S. Lewis. Dr. Lewis pointed out that Hell is a door locked from the inside. Those who are there all share what Milton observed as a stronger desire to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven. Since that is the case, it appears that the heart in Hell is hardened to an irreversible degree. Thus, the answer to the question of whether or not Hell is temporary has very little to do with whether God would keep someone there, but whether or not any person in such a state could ever want any more than the relief of pain sought by the Rich Man.

The evidence that God would be lenient to the soul in Hell is paltry...only that we know God's essence is Love and that his desire is for all to be saved. But if Hell were to be temporary, I don't believe it would be solely, or even primarily, an act of God which ended it. For if it was the sinful actions of a human which placed him in Hell, it would have to be that soul responding to God's overtures which caused the deliverance of said soul. It is this which seems highly unlikely and why I hold to a more traditional view of Hell.

Any thoughts?