My own personal musings, wonderings, thoughts, and results of personal studies. Also, occasional comments on world events.

Powered by Blogger Pro™
Tuesday, April 30, 2002
InstaPundit reader Alex Bensky wrote in to question medical people's expertise on gun violence. I take his point, but I quibble with one bit:
And my friend the realtor has special insight into nuclear warfare because nuclear war would, after all, destroy real estate and reduce the value of what's left. Maybe he could form a group called Realtors for Social Responsibility.

My quibble? If a nuclear war destroyed real estate, the value of what's left would increase. (Unless of course the casualties killed off enough people to significantly reduce the demand for land.)

James Lileks has an interesting question about what he calls the, "Thor problem" problem. I've got some thoughts about this, but its taking me longer than I expected to pound them out. When I get it ready, it will go up. In the meantime, his bit is pretty interesting, especially if you loved your comic books as a child. has this story about a new version of volleyball. One catch though. Only short people allowed. I love this line.
But longtime volleyball players are skeptical and think Challenge Volleyball might be an example of political correctness run amok.

You think?

Monday, April 29, 2002
Psalms 3:6-8 WEB
I will not be afraid of tens of thousands of people Who have set themselves against me on every side. Arise, Yahweh! Save me, my God! For you have struck all of my enemies on the cheek bone. You have broken the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to Yahweh. Your blessing be on your people.

Lord God, Maker of the heavens and the earth. We thank you for sending your Son to die for us so that we could gain admittance into your kingdom. Lord, everyday it is obvious that this world has rebelled against you. May we be a light to this world exposing the evil and reconciling men to you. We know it will not be easy, but with you on our side, we do not fear our enemies. Be with us, guide us, and protects us. Lord forgive us of our sins and teach us to forgive those who sin against us. Lord teach us to avoid temptations and help us to flee when they cannot be avoided. You are the mighty and awesome God. May your name be praised forever. In your Son's name, Amen.

Normally, I'm a Drudge Report fan, but I don't get this headline. "JOHNNY CARSON BREAKS SILENCE" As though we were all sitting around with baited breath to find out what Johnny Carson thought about patriotism at the Superbowl and Enron. But since I've had to read the drivel, let me comment on something Carson said.

I do this because I've heard people make this argument before and its stupid. Carson comments on the fact that President Bush used to call Ken Lay, "Kenny Boy" and now calls him, "Mr. Lay." I've got a couple of angles on this. People actually use this change in nomenclature as some sort of evidence that Bush was involved in a cover-up. I still haven't figured out the logic behind this, but I think it goes something like this.

1. Bush used to be close to Ken Lay and had a knickname for him.
2. Lay got in trouble.
3. Bush now calls him by his last name.
4. Bush is obviously trying to distance himself from Lay.
5. Ohmygoodness, ohmygoodness, ohmygoodness, you know what this means, he must have something to hide.

I could be wrong, but if that's not what they're thinking I don't have a clue what it is. Anyway, here's a couple of theories on this.
1. Bush gives knicknames to people whose company he enjoys. (Yes he gives knicknames to political opponents and to combative journalists, but I've never seen anything to indicate that any of these names are used spitefully. They're playful.) It now looks like Ken Lay may be a crook who screwed his own employees (worst case) or an incompetent idiot who allowed someone else to screw his employees (best case). In short, he's no longer someone whose company the President enjoys.
2. Bush calls people by knicknames when they're around or when he's talking about them casually. (I'm not aware of him calling people by knicknames in press conferences, except for some of the reporters.) Press conferences is pretty much how he talks about Lay now. Formal setting, no informal names.

The point of this being that I don't see any evidence that this change is even a conscious one on his part. Consequently, I don't see anything insidious here. What really blows me away is that this is one of the best arguments I've heard to support the coverup theory. Basically what we're hearing here is, "There is absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing, therefore we must investigate."

David Carr, posting from London on Samizdata had this to say in response to an EUniks question about why many British prefer a relationship with America over the EU
Allow me to clue you in, Prodi: it's because the Channel is wider than the Atlantic. Across the Channel are friends, across the Atlantic is family.

And we aim to keep on being family for a long time.

This story from Electronic Media indicates that Saudi run Arabia is trying to purchase advertising time on major American television networks to try to beef up their image. Specifically, they are trying to push this line, "The People of Saudi Arabia -- Allies Against Terrorism." A couple of small observations. 15 of the 19 9/11 highjackers were from this benighted tyranny. In a recent telethon our "partners against terrorism" raised more than $55 million dollars to help Palestinian "martys." This term, as used by the Arab world means anyone killed by an Israeli OR anyone who kills himself while killing Israeli's. Thank you, but you don't become a partner in the fight against terrorism by giving money to the families of nhilistic-homicidal-suicidal maniacs with bombs. You become a partner in the fight against terrorism by finding all the nhilistic-homicidal-suicidal maniacs with bombs that you can and shooting them before they carry out their diabolical plans

Josh Chafetz thinks that we're seeing the beginning of the end for liberal domination of the academy.

The liberal takeover of the academy was a result of the excitement of rebellion against a dominant paradigm. It was a desire to change the world by changing the way in which future generations would interpret the world. But now they've done that. And now they're bored with academia. Most of the people on the left that I knew in college -- including many of the smartest people I've ever met -- couldn't wait to get out of college. They wanted to get out "into the real world" where they could change things. They went to work as union organizers or government staffers. When they wanted to change things about their universities, they never talked about educational reform. Instead, they wanted to reform things peripheral to the university's mission -- university logo licensing policies (the anti-sweatshop movement) or labor practices (graduate student unionization).

In contrast, almost all of the people I knew who wanted to go into academia were centrist or right-of-center. Now it's the conservatives who can really change things. And they're turning to the older generation of conservative professors -- the very people that the liberals in the academy were rebelling against -- for guidance. At Yale, Donald Kagan, Charles Hill, and John Gaddis have never been more popular; Samuel Huntington is the in guy at Harvard; and Princeton's Bernard Lewis has become a national celebrity.

Slowly, and quietly, young conservatives have been gaining a foothold in the academy. There is no better example than Berkeley's brilliant linguist and part-time commentator on racial matters, John McWhorter. If you haven't read his recent WSJ editorial on Cornel West, you absolutely must. The same goes for his "Against Reparations" piece in TNR. There are rumors that Lawrence Summers is looking to hire McWhorter to begin building a truly diverse Afro-American Studies department at Harvard.

And McWhorter is not alone. There is, of course, Glenn Reynolds, the University of Tennessee law professor who might bristle at being called conservative (I'm not sure I like the label for myself, by the way), but who certainly doesn't buy into liberal academic orthodoxy. And Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby is a rising star, as well. What's more, I was truly shocked to discover how many members of my Rhodes class were centrist or conservative (I won't name names).

Like it or not, the academy is slowly creeping rightward, and I think the trend is set to accelerate. As for what I think of all this ... I think it's about time the academy got something more than token diversity.

I don't know if he's right, but I hope so.

Sunday, April 28, 2002
Glen Reynolds has a picture up on his site. The big blob of light in the middle of the pic is South Korea. Note, you can't tell from this pic, but South Korea is NOT an island. There really is the rest of a peninsula connecting it to the mainland. Its just that there aren't enough lights in that part of the world to show up. The next time someone tries to tell you how great command economies are, this picture would be a great rebuttal.

Of course, that's not the only application. Jay Nordlinger pointed out that President Bush commented on this picture a few weeks ago when he was in South Korea. His quote from President Bush prompted me to write this.

A friend's father pointed me to this passage tonight.
Ecclesiastes 9:11 (Young's Literal Translation) I have turned so as to see under the sun, that not to the swift [is] the race, nor to the mighty the battle, nor even to the wise bread, nor even to the intelligent wealth, nor even to the skilful grace, for time and chance happen with them all.

Solomon, one of the richest and wisest men of all time wrote these words. They remind us that the world rarely works out how we expected, and certainly not as we planned. I am particularly struck by the wise and wealthy Solomon acknowledging that wisdom does not necessarily mean wealth. He realized that there is not a linear relationship between ability and success.

That should be a reminder to us. When we succeed, that does not, per se, mean that our ability created the success. This should prevent us from being proud and puffed up. It should also remind us that life, as Solomon said, is "meaningless." Which is to say, that if you put your hopes in this world, disappointment is inevitable.

If it is unwise to put our hopes in this world, what should we do? Fortunately, Solomon forces us to ask the question. More fortunate that he answers it. Ecclesiastes 12:13 WEB "This is the end of the matter. All has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man."

Well, somebody in the blogosphere noticed me.

I didn't start this blog in order to be noticed or read. I started it because writing gives me a chance to formulate my thoughts more systematically than I might otherwise do. My blog gives me a reason to write. That is to say that I don't always have time to write my thoughts out. This forum gives me a mental prod to make the time. However, because I wasn't doing this to be read, I didn't take any steps to publicize this site. That being said, it is gratifying that someone else actually found my site and felt it wasn't beneath the dignity of a link. So, a quick thanks to the Midwest Conservative Journal for putting a link here on their site. (I don't know if this means I'm being read, but at least I now know somebody found me.)

CAMERA Update describes some questionable reportage at Time Magazine. (Link via Tal G)

Glen Reynolds has a great comment about gun control:

SOME THOUGHTS ON GERMAN GUNS: Germany has strict gun control. Most of the stories I've seen say there are about 10 million legally-owned guns in a country of 82 million. The estimates on illegal guns tend to be about double that, or 20 million guns. That means with strict gun control -- far stricter than one could reasonably expect in the United States, where owning guns is a deeper-rooted tradition, and where obedience to authority is not -- there are about 3/8 as many firearms as there are people. In the United States the ration of guns to people is approximately one to one.

It's thus probably fair to take the 3/8 ratio as an upper bound for the effectiveness of gun control were it enacted in the United States. 3/8 of the U.S. population would be something over 90 million. So the most gun-controllers could hope for would be to reduce the number of guns in America to 90 million, which still sounds like a lot to me. And it could be accomplished only via a program that would be enormously polarizing politically, and sure to do immense damage to civil liberties -- if it didn't set off something like a civil war, which it very well might. All to produce a society that is not exactly disarmed, in which criminals (as in Germany) can still get guns easily.

Sounds like a dumb idea to me.

To me too.

Think about this the next time you here about someone "wounded" by one of those suicidal-homicidal maniacs with a bomb in his belt.
There are times on this bleeding planet when survivors must surely envy the dead. A pair of suicide bombings and a car bombing took place in Jerusalem only two days before Dr. Messing´s scheduled lectures. Most of the 180 wounded and eleven killed were young people. Here is part of the doctor´s report upon examining the radiographic images of one victim, a 24-year old male: “...approximately 300 individual fragments of metal, ranging in size from a few millimeters to whole nails, had imbedded themselves in his body, literally from head to foot. Many of the fragments are still recognizable as nails... I could actually feel several nails and other fragments that had burrowed and lodged under his skin.” Dr. Messing reports that in many cases nails were augmented by other nefariously added projectiles. Nuts, bolts and screws were the most typical. A second victim examined by him was a teenage girl who had sustained severe head injury when several kinds of fragments penetrated her skull and lodged in her brain. Metal, air and bone were evident on the CT scans. She was, of course, in critical condition and comatose. According to the newspaper and network accounts, she was ‘only’ wounded.

Habakkuk 1:2-4Yahweh, how long will I cry, and you will not hear? I cry out to you "Violence!" and will you not save? Why do you show me iniquity, and look at perversity? For destruction and violence are before me. There is strife, and contention rises up. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth; for the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice goes forth perverted.

I imagine most of us have probably felt as Habakkuk did. We cry out to God for justice because we see unchecked wickedness all around us. We should be aware of something. As Habakkuk discovered, the cry for justice is not a prayer God leaves eternally unanswered. However, we may not like the answer when we hear it. Habakkuk prayed that God would bring justice to Judah. God's response was that he was sending the Babylonians to subjugate the people of Judah until they learned to obey the laws of God. This was certainly not what the prophet had in mind when he cried out for justice.

When we cry out for justice, God's response may not always be so harsh. Ultimately, it will be though. Whatever else the Last Day may be, it will be the Day of Justice. Final justice. Are we really ready for it? When Habakkuk discovered God's plan of justice, he responded by praising God's wisdom and singing. If our cry for justice is answered by God bringing the world to an end tomorrow, would you be able to respond as the prophet did? Can you cry out with the apostle, "Amen, come Lord Jesus."? It is vital that we all know the answer to this question. Everything that means anything depends on it. Your eternal destiny is determined by the answer to the old Hymn,"Are you Ready for the Judgement Day?"

Saturday, April 27, 2002
Ok, this is a little tacky, but here goes, courtesy of Strategy Page

After getting nailed by a Daisy Cutter, Osama made his way to the pearly gates. There, he is greeted by George Washington.

"How dare you attack the nation I helped conceive!" yells Mr Washington, slapping Osama in the face.
Patrick Henry comes up from behind. "You wanted to end the Americans' liberty, so they gave you death!" Henry punches Osama on the nose.

James Madison comes up next, and says "This is why I allowed the Federal government to provide for the common defense!" He drops a large weight on Osama's knee.

Osama is subject to similar beatings from John Randolph of Roanoke, James Monroe, and 65 other people who have the same love for liberty and America. As he writhes on the ground, Thomas Jefferson picks him up to hurl him back toward the gate where he is to be judged. As Osama awaits his journey to his final very hot destination, he screams "This is not what I was promised!"

An angel replies " What did you think I said? I told you there would be 72 Virginians waiting for you."

David Limbaugh has an interesting point about campaign finance reform.
But these arguments were suspect for several reasons. First, when someone tells you that he has been corrupted by money (or anything else for that matter) and in the next breath tells you that you must trust him to solve your problems, you have to be crazy to believe him. Either he's been corrupted by money like he says and should not be trusted to handle anything, or he is lying about it for ulterior purposes, which means he's otherwise corrupt, and you shouldn't trust him anyway.

Friday, April 26, 2002
Go ahead and read this ad that I saw today. I'll tell you right now, this is NOT an endorsement. I'll tell you why not in a minute.

Are you frustrated by the number of emails that you receive each day? Does it feel like you're fighting an endless battle to get off email lists? Our mission at the Society for Responsible Email is to eliminate all unwanted email by working aggressively on your behalf to remove you from email lists. So how do you get yourself removed from all those annoying email lists?

STEP 1 - Sign up for our services by visiting The Society for Responsible Email

P 2 - Then ALL YOU DO is forward your unwanted email to


I won't even bother trying to analyze whether or not these people can actually prevent spam. I'm just going to tell you I question their motives considering I got this ad in an unsolicited e-mail. Doesn't that take the cake; a spam offering to prevent spam. Whatever.

Victor Davis Hanson has some reflections about a recent rally in D.C. His observations are certainly unsettling.
We have seen this all before. Think back to a Hitler, not in 1939 at the head of the German state and posed for world war — but rather in the late 1920s when he was an irrelevant firebrand trying to bully his way into the German national consciousness through poorly attended rallies and rag-tag marches. His message of victimhood was very similar to what we have been witnessing in the current ad hoc coalescence of " underdogs" that has sprung up to support Mr. Arafat and his campaign of terror. As a nationalist who alone represented the "Volk," Hitler ranted that a corrupt democracy had bypassed the "people," and that only radical change could "save Germany." Then the Jews and their all-reaching influence as capitalists, bankers, and international financiers — the old globalists, in other words — were likewise responsible for the world's ills. Conspiracies abounded that aimed to enrich a few at the expense of the common man.

USS Cluelesshas a great point about Arafat, bombers, and lies.

Since 3 Palestinian boys were shot dead by IDF forces on Tuesday while attempting to attack an Israeli settlement with knives and pipe bombs, Palestinian security forces have intercepted about 20 more kids trying to do the same thing, and have sent them home.

This according to Amin al-Hindi, the chief of Palestinian General Intelligence. Among other things, he's been talking to the militant groups and they've agreed to work together to try to discourage these kinds of attacks in future.

Which sort of begs the question: if they can detect and stop these kinds of attacks, why can't they stop the big ones? Arafat has been claiming for months that the Palestinian Authority was doing everything it possibly could to stop the bombings against Israel. Yet when they really got motivated, they managed to shut this particular form of attack down cold.
And it also indicates that the Palestinian Authority has always known who were behind the real bombings and were always able to communicate to them, another thing Arafat has denied.

Finally, it puts a lie to the claims made by some that the Israelis have now demolished so much of the infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority that it can no longer suppress the bombings even if it wanted to. Somehow they managed to stop these just fine.

Arafat has been caught in another lie. (Latest in a long series, collect 'em all!)

Thomas Sowell has a list of "random thoughts." Many of them are thought provoking. This one grabbed me.
Sometimes it seems as if I have spent the first half of my life refusing to let white people define me and the second half refusing to let black people define me.

Jonah Goldberg reminds us that the terrorist hate America in a piece about the "20th highjacker."
In his 50-minute peroration, Moussaoui explained that he prayed for the "destruction of the Jewish people and state." Note: that's both the destruction of the Jewish people and the destruction of the Jewish state.

But if you're saying, well at least I'm not Jewish, hold on a second. He also prays for "the destruction of Russia and ... the destruction of the United States of America" and for Muslims to regain control of Spain and Chechnya and to conquer India. In short, Moussaoui has a very comprehensive land-for-peace plan.

Yes he does. He's not the only one. Lets not forget this.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

One of the problems Christians face in the modern world is that when we start talking about concepts that annoy people (like sin, morality, ethics, anything else that might remind them of their duty to God), we get lots of flack about, "Imposing our morality" on others. That in itself is not the problem. The problem is, that when faced with these comments, we instinctively back down. We don't want to make people mad. And after all, they do have a point, if they don't believe in God, why should I be harrassing them about sin?

Here's why. It is NOT "our" morality. It is true that the exact framing of morality may not be the same across every culture, but throughout time, civilizations have agreed on a great many things about morality. This implies that morality is not a personal thing at all. It is universal. Whether you believe that a universal morality can be proven objectively or not does not, however, change what your stance should be on that issue. Scripture, particularly Paul, is very clear that the basic tenets of what we call morality are universal, and people really do know that they are whether they want to admit it or not.

If this is true, then there are several reasons why we should continue telling people about it whether they want to hear it or not. One reason we should continue talking about the basics (at least) of morality is that it is the truth. Truth has a certain value all by itself. The more important (and compelling) reason on insisting on the absoluteness of morality is that if the Moral Law is true, and people really have broken it (as Christian doctrine teaches), then the world is damned to eternal punishment. Its important that we keep that thought foremost in our minds. These people who don't want to hear about sin from us need to hear it whether they want to hear it or not. (Most of them assuredly do not.) They need to hear it because repentance of sins is one of the things necessary for salvation. It is plainly impossible for people to repent if they do not first acknowledge their sins. People learn to suppress their sense of sin. If they are to be saved, that stubborn refusal to admit their sins must be overcome. The only way to do that is to keep reminding people about the truth of their sins.

While necessary, this is not a strategy engineered to win us any popularity contests. Our job is not to win popularity contests. Our job is to bring people to God. This is a painful process to people. Most people who don't claim at least some allegiance to Christianity, when confronted with the truth of their sin will either admit it (at which point the door to salvation starts to open to them) or they will hate you violently (while all the time telling people how intolerant you are). This should not surprise us. Our Lord Himself said, to his brothers, "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil." (John 7:7 NRSV) Not only did they hate Him, remember they killed Him. Based on that alone, we should expect unfriendly reactions when we, following His example, remind the world that what it does is evil. But we have more than that. He warned us that the world would hate us. Jesus wasn't being metaphorical when he said we would be persecuted.

Persecution is not a pleasant thing, but we were never promised Heaven on earth. We have a job to do. Bring people back to God. It gets really ugly sometimes. We have to do it anyway.

Just stumbled across this sight. This joke's a little dated, but I laughed hard all the same.

Egypt ready to wage war on Israel ... for $US100 billion Now if the headline doesn't speak volumes to you, read the rest.

Mark Steyn makes a great point in a terrific article about coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian war.
Instead, we have the alleged Israeli massacre of civilians at Jenin. In Friday's London Telegraph, Terje Roed-Larsen, the "UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process", described the devastation at the refugee camp as "horrific beyond belief". It may yet prove the worst human-rights atrocity since, oh, the Dutch took charge at Srebrenica, but so far one can't help noticing a curious sameness about this week's fevered dispatches. All rely on the same couple of eyewitnesses - "Kamal Anis, a labourer" (Times), "Kamal Anis, 28" (Telegraph), "A quiet, sad-looking young man called Kamal Anis" (Independent) - and the same handful of victims - "A man named only as Bashar" (Telegraph), "the burned remains of a man, Bashar" (Evening Standard), "Bashir died in agony" (Times). You'd think with so many thousands massacred there'd be a bigger selection of victims and distraught loved ones, wouldn't you?

Why yes, now that you mention it, I would.

Radley Baldo has a good article about Tiger Woods. He also has an interesting remakr about the difference between sports and the "real world."
Ironic that when it comes to our second basemen and linebackers, we want nothing but the best, regardless of race, creed or color. But when choosing who builds our bridges or paves our highways, we factor in such un-bridge-building/un-highway paving criteria as whether the firm is a "member of a historically oppressed identity group," or "female-owned."

Very interesting indeed.

Fred Barnes has an interesting article on some Palestinian myths.

Robert Tracinski has an interesting question.
When a whole society lionizes terrorists, accepts them as its leaders, and rallies to cries to "write in blood the map of the one homeland and one nation" and send "a million martyrs marching on Jerusalem" -- what right do they have to complain when their wish for blood and death is granted?

Everyone Was Wrong About McCain-Feingold! Mickey Kaus argues that he was wrong n McCain-Fiengold. He still thinks its unconstitutional, but he says he's found a loop-hole that makes it ineffective.

The Jerusalem Post has some interesting insights about Israeli policy making. (Link via Tal G)

So, what is a Christian? As I mentioned, I'm going to start discussing this from to time to time. The first thing that you need to know about Christians is that they are sinners. Are you surprised that I started with that? You shouldn't be. If there was a person without sin, Christianity would be of no value to that person.

So, what is sin? The book of Ecclesiastes tells us to, "Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person." This statement is central to Christian thought. It is a recognition, that as the book of Genesis describes, mankind, in his innocence fulfilled his original purpose. That purpose was to obey the commands of God. I'm not going to describe why or how that could be our purpose right now. It is essential to understand though, that Christians believe that this is what we were created for. You must understand that concept, before you can fully grasp the magnitude of sin.

So then, Christians believe that humanity was created to obey God. Here is the rub. We constantly fail to perform the duty for which we were created. But the problem is not, as Christians see it, that we are unable to fulfill our duties. The problem is that we are unwilling to do so. We evaluate what we know to be right, compare it with what we really want to do, and opt for what we want to do at the expense of what we know to our duty. That is the essence of sin. Our race has rebelled against its purpose.

Additionally, the problem is not just that some of our race have rebelled against God. The problem is that all of us have sinned. This causes our race a serious problem. Not only were we designed to perform a specific obligation, we only work properly when fulfilling that obligation. C.S. Lewis once described the problem by saying that God was the fuel we were designed to run on. That is to say, we only work properly when in a right relationship with God. When we are not in a right relationship with him, which our sin (that is our rebellion) has made impossible, true fulfillment becomes a serious problem. For that reason, people look to other things to try to fill the void. Money, success, power, friendship, food. None of these things are bad by themselves. The problem is that our race, in our rebellion against our primary purpose then takes these other lesser things and tries to fill the void with them. For many people, this is not enough.

To further deal with this problem, people have to expand this reasoning a bit. They had tried substituting lesser things for the Main thing. The problem is that many people are aware that it is a substitute. This won't do. They then set out to convince themselves (and others because this is the kind of thinking that needs lots of company) that what they have really isn't a substitute. They do this by arguing that there is no Main thing. They may argue that there is no God. They may concede he exists, but deny that he has any plan for us. They may try some other argument. The thing all the approaches have in common is an effort to convince oneself that the Main thing is an illusion. It then follows that what we have isn't really a substitute. It can't be. If the plan is an illusion, then the tangible thing in hand must not really be a substitute for the illusion. It must actually be the real thing.

Many people are content with this. But many aren't. No matter how hard they try, some people know instinctively that the Main thing is not an illusion. It is real. Among them, some people go on to explore the idea of their actual purpose. Of those, some smaller percentage comes to grip with the idea that they really were created to obey God. A portion of them, then realize that they've failed to keep that obligation. It is only at that point does Christianity have any meaning to them.

So, before (chronologically speaking) a Christian is anything else, he or she is someone who has recognized that there is a plan for them to follow and that they have not followed it. To put it another way, a Christian is someone who has sinned, recognized they have sinned, and has begun to look for a way to rectify the situation. This must be the case, because as we'll see later, until someone has this understanding, the rest of Christianity will be meaningless to them.

Wednesday, April 24, 2002
Reason Express has some interesting comments on hate crime prosecution.
Besides, premeditated murders of strangers always involve hate--mindless and unfocused or laser-sharp and monomaniacal, it matters little. Prosecuting the hate seems beside the point.

I noted a few days ago an interesting trend I'd noticed while listening to the Rush Limbaugh show. Lots of callers are angry at Rush (and others) for criticizing the President. They are apparently afraid that a total lack of conformity will lead to lost elections. In contrast to Rush Limbaugh's wayward fans,Laura Ingraham thinks dissent among Republicans is a good thing. It means they actually have ideas to argue about; this is something noticeably absent from the Democratic party as of late.

Ken Adelman has some observations about the right questions to ask when evaluating responses to terrorism.

Brink Lindsey has a story that should remind us what it means to be a child. Read his piece, then think on this.
Matthew 18:2-3 WEB 2 Jesus called a little child to himself, and set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, "Most assuredly I tell you, unless you turn, and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

David Limbaugh on moral relativism;
If I were the author of evil and seeking recruits to implement my agenda, I would disguise my nature and try to maximize moral confusion. I would enlist my servant, moral relativism, to dupe the world into rejecting absolutes -- to erase God’s law from people’s hearts.

Don Feder asks an intriguing question:
Of course the Palestinians are suffering. But who's responsible?

You really ought to read his answer.

The Devil made me do it. The line is as old as Adam and Eve. However, the serpent didn't make Eve do anything. He prodded her own desires for good things, (in this case knowledge) and convinced her to sin. Two points here. The first, that the quest for knowledge itself isn't bad, but it can be perverted to serve evil. The second is that Eve was operating on her own steam the whole time. No one made her do anything. This point is important because it is imperative that we remember that the sin is our fault. We bear responsibility for our actions. That's both good and bad. Good because it means Satan can't force us to breach God's will. Bad, because it means we are without excuse when we do so.

We should take heart though. God knows that if Satan were allowed to pummel us mercilessly, we, in our weakened state would eventually succumb. That's why two promises he made to us are so wonderful.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 - WEB Therefore let him who thinks he stands be careful that he doesn't fall. No temptation has taken you but such as man can bear. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

The first promise is that God will not let Satan tempt us past our level of endurance. This is good, because it means there is always a rescue. It also means, however, that God has judged your ability to stand up to temptation and is providing a defense at that point. This means that when we sin, we are not living up to our potential. That God knows we can do better, but we aren't. That's why this other promise is so helpful.

Galatians 5:16-17 WEB But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you won't fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, that you may not do the things that you desire.

Paul tells us here, that if we allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, it will battle our desires and help us overcome our own desires. God, in his infinite wisdom, knowing that we are incapable of resisting temptation, sends us help.

Lord God, Maker of the Universe and Lord of the Earth, we are so grateful that you sent your Son to die for us. Lord, we look into this world and see much that is against your will. Worse, in looking at our own lives we find that even there, your will is not done. Lord, we ask that you forgive us of our sins. We also ask that you allow us to better understand how to "walk by the Spirit." What it means to let you help us battle our own desires. We know that only with this help is it possible to defeat temptation. We thank you again for your magnificent blessings and ask that you give us strength in the battles to come. In your Son's name, Amen.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002
Fox News has an interesting story.
Palestinian vigilantes killed three suspected informers Tuesday to avenge Israel's slaying of a militia leader, and a first round of negotiations was held in biblical Bethlehem to resolve the three-week standoff at the Church of the Nativity.

The killings came only a day after militiamen in the town of Ramallah, further north in the West Bank, fired on three alleged informers in a crowded downtown square, killing one and wounding two.

Ok, catch this, on two separate occasions Palestinians shot people suspected of "collaborating" with the IDF. What are the chances that Human Rights Watch or the UN condemn these executions without trial?
The vigilante attacks raised concern about growing lawlessness in the Palestinian areas following Israel's three-week military offensive, which has left the Palestinian security services largely in disarray.

Oh, I get it. It's not lawlessness when Palestinians walk into pizza parlors and kill Israelis. Its only lawlessness when they start shooting each other.
In Hebron, hundreds of bystanders, including children, gathered Tuesday around the three gagged and bound victims, who each had been shot in the head. One body was strung up on an electricity pylon, and bystanders kicked and spat at the other two.

Remember, these men's fate came because they were suspected of talking to the Israeli's. I will grant that in any war you cannot abide spies, however, civilized people have these things called trials. Any group of people who engage in summary executions with the accused having no right to confront the charges cast serious doubt on the idea that they are fighting for freedom.

Monday, April 22, 2002
Happy Fun Pundit is having WAY too much fun. This headline says it all: French Protest Selves

A religion of peace. Islamic protestors at the Israeli consulate in New York.
They shouted "Death to Israel and called on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, US President George W. Bush, US Middle East special envoy Anthony Zinni, and the United Nations to "Go to Hell" as police protected the demostrators.

The participants handed out flags emblazoned with the opening lines of the Koran and waved signs at the consulate that read, "Jihad: The only solution for Palestine," and "Islam came to dominate the world."

Larry Miller has a hilarious take on a usually very serious subject. That would be terrorism. Although he makes several good points, you can read the rest yourself. I just wanted to throw this bit out.
There's bad news on the losing moral weight front, and the signs are out there. Last week, the day after Secretary Powell left on his mission (whatever that was), the Los Angeles Times ran its lead editorial in one hundred percent support of the trip and the pressure he and President Bush were putting on Israel. Here's a good rule of thumb: If the Los Angeles Times thinks you're doing a great job, everything you're doing is wrong, stupid and mortally dangerous. If they think everything you're doing is wrong, stupid and mortally dangerous, you're doing a great job, and, in fact, your chances are probably very good for getting on the fast track for sainthood.

DENNIS PRAGER has some things to say about cheating. The whole article is pretty good, but I wanted to emphasize this:
A third and final reason is the death of the concept of sin, a product of the thoroughly secular education American high schools offer. As noted, far worse than the number of students who cheat is the number of students who think that there is nothing wrong with cheating. I can testify from my talks at high schools that the vast majority of students believe what they have been taught - that right and wrong are entirely subjective concepts. There is no morality higher than one's own; therefore, right and wrong are defined by the individual, who can rationalize any behavior.

Young people are adults' mirrors. If these data on cheating are accurate, that is a sobering thought.

Sobering doesn't even begin to cover it.

Update- I just wanted to come back and weigh in on this a little more. In several of his writings, C.S. Lewis commented that whenever people told him that England was becoming a pagan country, his response was,"Would that it were so!" His point being that pagans, as history has shown, are convertible to Christianity. This is in part because pagans have a sense of sin.

Lewis forsaw our present situation quite well. We live in a world in which people deny that there is a universal law of right and wrong. They have no sense of sin. They've been told to ignore their conscience and they've obeyed. That is the struggle we face as modern Christians. How do we preach redemption to people who have no concept of the Fall at all? I don't mean those that have never heard of the doctrine, either. I mean those that are incapable of understanding the concept.

David Limbaugh has some things to say about Palestinian "Liberation."
So, regardless of whatever else may drive Palestinian antipathy toward Israel, the immediate root cause is Israel's existence itself. Realization of this obvious truth has profound implications. It means that until the PLO rescinds its Charter, it remains dedicated to the violent extermination of Israel, not just the "occupied territories."
If you were Israel's prime minister, would you surrender the "occupied territories" to the Palestinians, knowing that they will use those strategically critical lands to launch further attacks against you until their complete goal is achieved?

If a gang of hoodlums attacked you with weapons, and in the process of beating their fannies you were able to confiscate their weapons, would you return those weapons so they could attack you again -- especially if you knew that their gang charter required them to continue attacking you until you existed no more?

Of course you wouldn't, unless you're a complete idiot. So it's a stupid question -- a no-brainer -- one for which the answer is embarrassingly obvious. Then, why is it, my fellow colleagues in discernment, that half the world apparently fails to grasp it?

Psalms 43 - WEB
Vindicate me, God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation. Oh, deliver me from deceitful and wicked men. For you are the God of my strength. Why have you rejected me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Oh, send out your light and your truth. Let them lead me. Let them bring me to your holy hill, To your tents. Then I will go to the altar of God, To God, my exceeding joy. I will praise you on the harp, God, my God. Why are you in despair, my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God! For I shall still praise him, The saving help of my face, and my God.

It is easy to look around us and see, as the psalmist did, an ungodly nation. When faced with the amorality of the present world it is easy to despair. It is vital that we not lose hope in God.

God our Father. We look around us and are disturbed by all the evil in this world. We know that we live among a fallen race. Lord, may we never despair. Help us to keep our minds on your grace that rescues us from our lost condition and your victory which assures that your justice will win in the end. We cry out with your apostle John, "Amen, Come Lord Jesus."

Sunday, April 21, 2002
The Midwest Conservative Journal has some ideas on why some conservatives are anti-Jew.
There seems to some kind of collective memory involved here. For almost 2,000 years, Jews, for lack of a better term, were the world's pets. They existed at the sufferance of the countries in which they lived and one could do whatever one liked with them. One could make money off of them, pen them up in ghettoes, blame them for diseases or poor harvests, drive them out, kill them, etc., whenever the mood struck. "Enlightened" people could attempt to alleviate their lot. One could feel sorry for them as they marched to the gas chambers or even cheer their shooting back, as long as they lost(see the Warsaw Ghetto).

But let Jews take control, let them successfully defend themselves, let them fight back and win, and there has been a serious violation of the natural order which must be accounted for. Crimes committed against Israel from its conception to the present day vanish from the public memory as if they had never happened. Histories are invented and instantly believed. Otherwise-rational people take refuge in black-helicopter stories of Jewish control of the media or the Jewish lobby that "everyone knows" controls the US Congress. Modern versions of ancient lies(and sometimes the ancient lies themselves) make the rounds among respectable people.

Unfortunately, this is a pretty good theory.

USS Clueless has some things to say about just war.
Sometimes killing someone who has just killed or who has the clear potential for killing is justified, not for revenge but to prevent him from killing. You kill to save lives; you fight for peace. That isn't an oxymoron.

In 1997 in North Hollywood, two men tried to rob a bank and botched it. They were wearing body armor and were armed with assault rifles, and as they emerged from the bank and were engaged by police, it rapidly became clear that the police were completely outgunned. And these men were totally ruthless; they may even have been crazy. There was no potential whatever, no possibility of negotiations with them; they had already opened fire before they knew the police were there and they were spraying bullets around like they were using firehoses. They appear to have brought an unbelievable arsenal with them; it's almost like they planned what ended up happening.

One of the two was taken down with a lucky shot, but the other one started moving down a street, shooting at anything that moved. The police tried to return fire with their pistols and shotguns and couldn't stop him. Then one of the police remembered that there was a gun store in the area, and they went to it. The owner gave them several AR-15's, the semi-automatic civilian version of the M-16 which were sufficiently powerful to penetrate body armor, and using those the police shot and killed the second robber. In the course of the gun battle, nine policemen and five civilians were wounded. Fortunately, the robbers didn't actually kill anyone else but it wasn't for lack of trying.

I put it to you that the police had no choice but to kill these men. Killing is bad, but in this case all the alternatives would have been far worse. There is reason to believe that these guys had robbed two previous banks and had every intention of continuing to do so until they were stopped. They don't seem to have been doing it primarily for money; they may have been motivated by the excitement. Under the circumstances, the police could either stand by and watch these two slaughter the people that the police had sworn to protect, or they could fight back and try to take them down. (Forget about "shoot to wound"; that only happens in the movies and on TV. If you're firing a gun at someone for real, you're trying to kill him.)

They weren't killed out of revenge; they were killed to keep them from killing. Someone was going to die; on that the police had no choice. It could be the robbers, or it could be civilians or police. It was going to be that day, or some later day. "No-one ever" wasn't a choice.

And that is also the situation we as a nation are facing. Despite what some might think, we didn't attack Afghanistan out of some sort of twisted sense of revenge, i.e. "OK, they killed some of ours, so we're d****d well going to kill some of them to make it even." That was not the point; it was never the point.

We attacked Afghanistan to try to keep our enemies from attacking us again and killing more of us. It's not that "death justifies death" so much as "killing to prevent killing can be justified." If we have no choice, if someone is going to die, then if by killing some we can save others then it might be the right thing to do.

al Qaeda is the international equivalent of those two robbers in LA. Negotiations aren't possible; the only thing they want from us is for us to die. Death of thousands is inevitable now; nothing can prevent that. The only choice that we have is who is going to do the dying.

We can kill or we can be killed. There is no third alternative. Which do you choose?

Which do you choose indeed?

Isaiah 1:16-18 - Wash yourselves, make yourself clean. Put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes; Cease to do evil. Learn to do well. Seek justice, Relieve the oppressed, Judge the fatherless, Plead for the widow."

Proverbs 31:8-9 - NAS Open your mouth for the mute, For the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.

Saturday, April 20, 2002
Revelation 22:20 - NLT
He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon!" Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

In times of trouble I sometimes find myself yearning for everything to just end. As John shows above, this can be a very noble desire. Unfortunately, sometimes Satan twists these thoughts. I find myself instead wishing that I could enter oblvion. That I will no longer be faced with the trials of this world. Its sort of the "I wish I'd never been born" syndrome that most of us probably feel from time to time. The danger of course is that this feeling leads us to despair, and even, in the last resort, suicide.

The only way I know to deal with this problem is to nip in the bud. Whenever I find myself in despair, I try to remember John's prayer, "Amen, Come Lord Jesus."

Psalms 46:1-3
1 <> God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will we not be afraid, though the earth changes, Though the mountains are shaken into the heart of the seas; 3 Though the waters of it roar and are troubled, Though the mountains tremble with the swelling of it.

God our Father, in these days of change and turmoil, may we too not be afraid. May we always remember that you are our strength and refuge. Amen.

Wobbly watch. Rather than the rope-a-dope everyone is obsessing about, the Weekly Standard seems to feel that Bush was genuinely offcourse, but that he's got it together again.
This past week, President Bush returned to his Axis of Evil rhetoric, and we were glad to hear it. But words aren't enough anymore. It's time to act. We need to begin right now taking practical and visible steps toward the removal of Saddam Hussein. It's surely time to order the Pentagon to prepare a battle plan that can be executed before the end of this year. Time to instruct the secretary of state that his top priority now is preparing allied support for action against Iraq. Time to begin the serious arming and training of the Iraqi opposition. Time to rid the Middle East of a vicious predator who is working full time to get a nuclear bomb.>

I hope they're right.

Larry Elder on taxes, the media, and "Federal" spending.

Lawrence Henry thinks that Colin Powell's actions in the mid-east and elsewhere are specifically tailored to bring abuse down on him, allow him to collect information, and draw attention away from our true goals. I sure hope he's right, but I'm growing less convinced everyday.

R. Emmet Tyrell has some interesting things to say about out of control Spanish Judges.
It is a distinguishing characteristic of the left to fasten upon a good principle and through moral one-upsmanship stretch that good principle into a monstrosity. Occasionally the sanctimonious leftist stretches the good principle into a monstrosity dangerous to all mankind. This a judge in Madrid has just done.

Friday, April 19, 2002
Neil Seeman with some thoughts about Israel and the media. You ought to read the setup, but the punchline is pretty good on its own.
So: Why is the international media so determined to invent a malaise that doesn't exist? Perhaps if Israel were less of a democracy, it might not get such bad press.

Ramesh Ponnuru isn't at all happy with the National Governor's Association:
Supporters of actual federalism should understand that these aren't the states that Jefferson had in mind. To a large extent, they're the states the modern federal government has created. Dependent on the federal government, they act toward it like any other interest group, seeking the most cash they can get with the fewest strings attached. That, and not Democratic leanings, is what's really wrong with the NGA. And plenty of Republican governors — such as NGA chairman John Engler of Michigan — are part of that problem.

Think Long and Hard About Tapping Your IRA Early Fox News.Com has a good bit on the dangers of early IRA withdrawals. has a story about the arrest of actor Robert Blake in the death of his wife. Its a really strange story.

"He's calm, he's collected. His main concern right now is his children," Braun said, asserting he has a strong defense but declining comment on the police case because he had not seen its details.

You've got to love lawyers. He has no idea what evidence the prosecution has, but he has a strong defense. Huh? How do you defend if you don't even know what kind of weapons the opponents have.

The attorney quoted Blake as saying: "I'm going to fight this, but I don't want my children's lives defined by this."

Hey, this is starting to sound familiar.

Braun said he believes Bakley's "real killer is still out there."

Now where have I heard that before? But for shear weirdness, the next piece takes the cake.

He said everyone "who ever came in contact with her had a motive" to kill her.

Cary Goldstein, attorney for Bakley's family, said they were pleased with the arrests. He warned against any attempt by Blake's lawyer to raise questions about Bakley's behavior.

"I've said from the very beginning, there's nothing that Bonny ever did in her lifetime that justifies her having been murdered. Her wrongdoings were picayune, at best," he said

So, we've got the lawyer for the accused and a lawyer for the victim's family trading shots over whether the victim deserved to die. Does this make sense to anyone else?

And another thing, he says nothing justifies her murder. This statement is either an assault on critical thinking skills or the English language. I can't decide which. Murder is, "The unlawful killing of one human by another, especially with premeditated malice." That unlawful part implies unjustified. Justified killings aren't considered unlawful. Therefore, there cannot be a justification for murder. Either he is saying there is nothing that justifies an unjustified killing (which is true, but a pointless thing to say), or he's referring not to murder, but to homicide.

Ok, that was my rant on language usage. Anyway, the whole story is pretty twisted.

Benyamin Netanyahu sure has a way with words:
Now, I don't want you to be fooled by the apologists of terror. They tell us that the way to end terror is to appease it, to meet or give in to the terrorists' demands -- because -- listen to their argument -- because, they tell us, the root cause of terrorism -- did you ever hear that? -- the root cause of terrorism is the deprivation of national and civic rights.

Well, let's examine that proposition. If that were the case, then in the thousands of conflicts and struggles for national and civil rights in modern times, we would expect to have found endless examples of terrorism. But guess what: We don't.

Mahatma Gandhi did not use terrorism in fighting for the independence of India. The peoples of Eastern Europe did not resort to terrorism to bring down the Berlin Wall. But one other example; one other example. Martin Luther King did not resort to terrorism in fighting for equal rights for all Americans. In fact, speaking in this city, in this very place, four decades ago, Martin Luther King preached a creed that was the very opposite of terrorism -- not violence, non-violence; completely the opposite.

So now we must ask ourselves, why did all these people pursue their cause without resorting to terror? Because they believed in the sanctity of each human life, because they were committed to the ideals of liberty, because they championed the values of democracy; simply put, because they were democrats, not terrorists. That's why.

'Nuff said.

What does it mean to be a Christian? I'm going to start exploring that from time to time. I will start out with an observation. offers several definitions. Unfortuanately, one of them is this, "One born in a Christian country or of Christian parents, and who has not definitely becomes [sic] an adherent of an opposing system."

Now whatever it may mean to be a Christian, I think I can say quite firmly that this doesn't cut it. If the word "Christian" is expanded to mean someone who hangs out near followers of Christ without actually denouncing them, it ceases to have meaning.

Recently I read a report about a man visting the Norwegian Parliament who was forced to remove a jacket because it had the Star of David on it. I was a little upset and fired off an email to the Norwegian embassy. Today, I got this:

Subj: Regarding your letter
Date: 4/19/2002 9:01:42 AM Central Daylight Time
From: (Scharlund, Karin)

The Royal Norwegian Embassy has taken due note of your comments to the
incident in the Norwegian Parliament last week, when a young man was
requested to leave his outer garment - displaying a small Israeli flag on
the chest pocket - in the cloak room before being re-admitted to the
Parliament restaurant.
The staff acted of the basis of administrative procedures of the Parliament,
which require that outer garments be checked in the cloak room.

It should be underlined that the incident was not politically motivated. Nor
does the incident reflect any change in Norway's position with regard to the
situation in the Middle East.

The Norwegian government has repeatedly given its full support to the U.S.
efforts to stop the violence and seek a negotiated solution to the conflict.
We share the objective of an immediate cease-fire, an end to all violence,
an Israeli retreat and a dialogue between Israel and the Palestine
Authorities. In a statement issued on April 17, Foreign Minister Jan
Petersen expresses his concern for the current situation, and calls on both
parties to implement recent resolutions by the U.N. Security Council.

Israel has many friends in Norway. The young man visiting the the Parliament
last week is only one of them. Their consititutional right to voice their
opinion has not been and will not be restricted.

Yours sincerely,

Jon-Åge Øyslebø
Counselor for Press and Cultural Affairs
Royal Norwegian Embassy
Washington, D.C.

The explanation that the reaction was to his jacket, not the Star of David, could I suppose, be true. On the other hand, it doesn't quite jive with the news story translation at Bjorn Staerk's blog:

"Tveitt went into the Parliament building dressed in a thin summer jacket with the Star of David on the chest pocket. But after he had talked in the Parliament restaurant with Parliament members from the Progress, Conservative, and Labor parties, he was sought out by two security guards who asked him to come with them 'because they had received reactions' to Tveitt’s flag symbol.

Granted, all the stories on this subject that I've found were in Norwegian and I've had to rely on translations and third hand reports, still, the embassy's response is a little odd. Especially since some people reported that Palestinian symbols were prevalent at Parliament that day.

Oliver North treats us to the words of a true American hero.
Lt. Tom Griffin served as navigator on the ninth B-25 off the Hornet's deck. Sixty years ago this week, he was evading Japanese patrols in China trying to get back to America. When he finally returned home, he volunteered with Doolittle in the European theater. He was shot down over Sicily in 1943 and spent the rest of the war in a German POW camp. I asked him how he wanted to be remembered. He said: "As a man who did his duty.

Jonah Goldberg has a great article about the UN and terrorism. Here's the wind-up:
The problem with the United Nations is that while democracy within nations is the best available form of government, democracy among nations can be a moral disaster - especially if some nations are not democracies.

You can read the pitch your self.

This Defense Central column on Fox News ties in to my comments yesterday about morality and facts. (Scroll down.) The article points out several of the outright lies being told about Israel by Arafat and friends.

This ties into my earlier comments about the death penalty, which was really more about our tendency to mistake people's understanding of facts for their actual morality. Its relevant in this context because if you believed what Arafat's associates constantly tell their people, you probably wouldn't feel any different then the Palestinians. (As an example consider the Blood Libel.)

The point of all this is to say, that to defeat the current enemy requires not just the force of military might, but the Sword of Truth.

Wobbly watch on NRO

Thursday, April 18, 2002
I was listening to Rush Limbaugh today and noted part of a growing phenomon. That is, people on the right becoming angry, (irrationally so as it seems to me) with conservative commentators (especially Rush) who dare to criticize the President. I think that this points out a major difference between "party" and ideology (aka, movements). A political party's foremost goal is to get in power and stay in power. It may have principles, but will sacrifice them to stay in power. A movement's overarching goal is to advance its agenda. Movement's have core principles and are willing to lose elections in order to stand up for those ideals.

It seems to me that those angry at Rush are Republicans first, conservatives second (if at all). Almost invariably, they will accuse him of helping the Democrats because he's criticizing Bush. This despite the fact our problem is not Rush moving towards Daschle, but that Bush is doing so. The main criticism as of late has been about Campaign Finance Reform, tarrifs, and the apparent abandoning of the Bush Doctrine in regards to Israel. On all these issues, Rush and other conservative commentators have been making conservative appeals, and Bush has acted contrary to conservative ideals.

Strangely, it is the commentators bearing the brunt of public opinion from what appears to be the right. The attackers are convinced that any criticism of Bush constitutes "bashing" and will lead to a brutal defeat in the next election. These people rarely say that the "Bush Bashers" are misinterpreting facts or that they are wrong. The argument seems to be that critiques, while true, shouldn't be said because they give comfort to the Democrats. One woman today explained that she was upset because she viewed Rush's job to be bashing Democrats.

I could be wrong, but I think these people's complaints are entirely political in nature. No regard for conservative ideology is present. "Party" takes precedent over "movement." This is sad. After all, what good is a party, if its not being used to advance an agenda. Political parties are means, not an end to themselves. At least, that's, The Way Things Ought to Be.

Dale Amon on Arab Nazis:
And we'd better support them because this time around the Nazis* have someone higher on their killing agenda than those of the Jewish faith.

*= Mein Kampf sales are said to be skyrocketing in Arab communities; Arab newspapers are pulling out 60 year old Nazi disinformation; Arab pundits are saying Hitler didn't finish the job of the Final Solution. I do not mean Nazi in a figurative term. I mean it absolutely and literally.(italics in original)

He's got a point here. Remember, Israel is just the "Little Satan." We're the "Great Satan."

Thursday, April 18, 2002

Samizdata has an excellent glimpse at the problems of understanding what is really going on in Israel.

Nothing like teenagers getting involved in politics. However someone might want to teach them about rhetoric though.

Israeli blogger Tal G. comments on U.N. envoy to Israel, Terje Roed-Larsen's comments in a TV interview:
Larsen's last remark about "the approach of putting security first has not been effective" riles me the most. Really what he means is that any approach which makes any requirements at all of the Palestinians will not be effective. So the only approach that will work for a while is one where Israelis make concrete concessions and get nothing in return.

I think this nicely wraps up the message we're hearing from Europe these days.

Glen Reynolds has an excellent suggestion on the language usage and the House of Saud.

Psalms 146 - WEB
1 Praise Yah! Praise Yahweh, my soul. 2 While I live, I will praise Yahweh. I will sing praises to my God as long as I exist. 3 Don't put your trust in princes, Each a son of man in whom there is no help. 4 His spirit departs, and he returns to the earth. In that very day, his thoughts perish.

5 Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in Yahweh, his God: 6 Who made heaven and earth, The sea, and all that is in them; Who keeps truth forever; 7 Who executes justice for the oppressed; Who gives food to the hungry. Yahweh frees the prisoners. 8 Yahweh opens the eyes of the blind. Yahweh raises up those who are bowed down. Yahweh loves the righteous. 9 Yahweh preserves the sojourners. He upholds the fatherless and widow, But the way of the wicked he turns upside down. 10 Yahweh will reign forever; Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise Yah!

Father, in these days of darkness, may we never forget all that you've done for us. May your creation, your love, your grace, your goodness, your justice, and especially the mercy you showed when you sacrificed your Son for our sins be always before us. We love you Father. Amen.

"Philip Ware at " has some good biblical priniciples on the appropriate and inappropriate uses of anger. This passage is particularly good:
Fourth, we need to acknowledge our anger and affirm it when it is directed toward appropriate objects of anger. Jesus’ anger in the Temple was appropriate and right. Our anger at violence, prejudice, hate, intolerance, injustice, murder, abuse of the weak, irreverence toward God is not only appropriate, but it is also necessary to motivate us to be salt and light in a world of decay and darkness. God does hate detestable things done in the name of religion. (Deuteronomy 12:31) God tells us that he despises the thoughts, schemes, and ways of the wicked; arrogant pride; social and judicial injustice; double standards and dishonest business practices; mockers; and those who are insolent to parents. (Proverbs 15:9,26; 16:5; 17:15; 20:10,23; 30:17) We are specifically told that the LORD hates seven things: ‘Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord among brothers.’ (Proverbs 6:17-19 NLT) Being motivated to change what is wrong in our world because of such godly anger is good and helps us channel anger toward appropriate action. We must be righteously angry at some things!

But anger definitely has its downside. Ware also warns:

Inappropriate anger is not only destructive toward those around us, it cuts short our own lives and ruins our witness to those who do not know Christ.

Read the whole thing. Its good stuff.

Suzanne Fields has a must read piece on Jewish and Palestinian mothers. This excerpt illustrates the cultural difference.

Mothers, according to Jewish tradition, are protective of their children. "No matter how many children parents have," according to a Yiddish folk saying, "each child is the only one they have."
Such attitudes may create pampered sons and Jewish princesses, but also mean that Jewish parents expect their children to live life to the fullest. It's inconceivable that suicide bombers could come out of such a culture.

Jay Nordlinger has some interesting comments on NRO, specifically about BIG LIES.

We have remarked, many, many times, on the horrible endurance of old lies about the Jews: Arabs (in high places) are still peddling the blood libel, and they’re doing it about every other day. The foreign minister of Syria, Mustafa Tlass, is the author of The Matza of Zion, for heaven’s sake, a pretty little volume that perpetuates the blood libel.

And Arabs are still talking about the Jews’ poisoning of the water supply! That is a lie dating from medieval times, when anti-Semites claimed that the Jews were “poisoning the well” (which is where we get the expression). This is a lie that both Arafats — Yasser and Suha (his wife) — champion. In fact, it is one of the lies that Mrs. Arafat advanced in the presence of First Lady Hillary Clinton. The world was startled for a second; then it turned away (until Sept. 11).

One question I have is: Can’t they think of any new lies? I mean, the blood one and the water one are so old. (Emphasis mine)

Unfortunately, they are thinking of new lies. What about the "Jenin Massacre?" I heard a guy two weeks ago claiming he'd just watched Israei tanks actually running over Palestinian ambulances for crying out loud. (I assume he was actually referring to stories about soldiers stopping ambulances. A far cry from crushing them. Besides, considering how Palestinians use ambulances, I don't think stopping them at checkpoints is unreasonable.) Its not that they don't think of new lies, they just keep the old reliable ones around to fall back on.

CCH had this quote from Gephardt in a story about a bill to extend last year's tax cuts and make them permanent.

"We are very strong for tax cuts, and I would be happy to vote to make tax cuts for the middle class and people trying to get into it permanent," said Gephardt.

The Democrats are very strong for tax cuts! Did I miss something?

Update: Also note that CCH reports that the House has passed a bill clarifying the clergy housing allowance. I'm not holding my breath because the chances of a tax bill getting by Tom Daschle right now look to be slim to none.

James Robbins thinks bin Laden is dead. Here's an excerpt:

Yet there is nothing in the compendium to indicate that bin Laden is still alive. In fact the recent "basement tapes" compilations that have been coming out — odds and ends thrown together in rough edits — argue that bin Laden is long gone. It's like when a musician dies and you begin to see CDs of demos, alternate takes, remixes, and so forth. There's no new material coming out so it's the only way to keep people interested. Same with Osama. Were he alive, he or someone in his organization would figure out a way to communicate it unambiguously. This new tape in particular, in which the al Qaeda leadership admits what it never admitted in public before (i.e., that they did it), seems to have the quality of a memorial, a tribute to the act that could never be revealed while bin Laden was alive.

FOXNews carries an opinion column by the CATO institute exposing idiotic discretion in handing out gun permits.

In New York City, for example, the people who seem most often to have both "good moral character" and "proper cause" to carry (besides those whose work requires them to carry) are celebrities, such as Howard Stern, or persons who have wealth, political influence or connections. Meanwhile, cab drivers — who are murdered or shot more frequently than police officers and far more frequently than celebrities — fail time and again to have "proper cause."
In this manner, discretionary licensing schemes reveal an ugly fact: the state that operates on the basis of such a law clearly believes that only certain of its citizens are important enough to warrant the right of self-protection; the rest can just take their chances.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

In his book "Mere Christianity" C.S. Lewis stated, "You would not call a man humane for ceasing to set mousetraps if he did so because he believed there were no mice in the house." He made this statement in reference to the idea that morality changes greatly over time. Lewis stated that he had been confronted by people who pointed to the fact England no longer executed witches as an example of a huge shift in national morality. Lewis contended that it was no such thing. England no longer executed witches because nobody believed they existed. The point being that if you believe that there are people who have sold their souls to the devil in order gain great powers which they use to kill and torture their neighbors, and further believe that you can only stop them by killing them, and that death by fire will purify their souls, then plainly, burning that person at the stake is a perfectly rational thing to do.

The point of all this was that what is frequently seen as a difference of morality, is actually a difference of opinion about fact. This started me thinking about the modern death penalty debate. Many modern death penalty opponents see themselves as occupying the moral high ground. It occurs to me that what really may be going on is a difference of opinion about the underlying facts. When push comes to shove in individual death penalty cases, it seems that a rather large portion of the time, the death penalty opponents change tactics. Instead of arguing that the death penalty is immoral, they argue, even when the overt criminal act has been confessed to, that the accused is not responsible.

I had always assumed, without thinking on it too deeply, that this was only a choice of tactics. After all, who would support executing someone who wasn't actually responsible for their actions? But on closer reflection, it occurs to me that in making this argument, the death penalty opponents have ceded a point. By trying to convince advocates of the death penalty that it should not be imposed in a specific case, they argue the accused wasn't responsible for their actions. By making this argument, they confess that if the accused really were responsible for their acts, then death would be deserved.

So, both sides implicitly argue from a position, whether they mean to or not, that those responsible for committing certain acts deserve to die, but if someone commits a criminal act and is for some reason not actually responsible, they should not die.

The difference here is not one of morality at all, but one of fact. Most opponents of the death penalty don't believe anyone is sufficiently responsible for their actions to be subject to the death penalty. They don't commit crimes because they are evil. They commit crimes because someone was mean to them, or they were poor, or society is a racist quagmire. Anyone and everyone is more responsible then the accused, ergo death is not deserved. You even see this thinking go so far that objects get blamed.

You can see this thinking in newspaper stories that report that an SUV killed someone and when psychologists say that "The finger pulls the trigger, but the trigger may also be pulling the finger." The implication here is clear. No, Johnny didn't shoot him. The gun did it.

In fact, this whole line of thinking reminds me of a conversation in Pride and Predjudice. After meeting Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham, Jane and Elizabeth had believed Wickham's story about how horribly he had been treated by Darcy. Jane, committed to good will, was desperate to find out that Darcy wasn't as bad as he appeared. When her hopes were justified, she was dealt a new blow. The same information that vindicated Darcy showed Wickham to be a scoundrel of the lowest order. In her desperation, Jane concoted a theory that some "interested persons" had inteverned to cause trouble between the two and they were both blameless. On hearing this, Lizzy asked Jane to then go on and clear the "interested persons" or they might be forced to think ill of someone. This , I think, illustrates another principle as well, that even things normally considered a virtue (like a deep and abiding sense of goodwill to all humanity), when taken to extremes, leads to a moral vacuum. In this case, Jane's desire to have a good opinion of everyone made her good opinion worthless. (Who cares if their actions are approved by someone incapable of censoring anyone?) Likewise, what good is it to have someone say that you weren't responsible for killing those 3,000 people in the building, if that person doesn't believe anyone is ever responsible for anything? It may provide you a short term ally, but no real justification.

So, my preliminary thoughts on this matter tell me that the death penalty debate isn't about morality at all. Its actually how the facts are interpreted. Instead of asking, "Is the death penalty moral?" the real question is, "What causes crime?" If you believe criminals cause crime, the death penalty is much more palatable then if you believe that to some extent society causes crime.

Israel has been on the short end of another BIG LIE as people like to say. This one about a huge massacre at Jenin. The New York Post has a good article rebutting this lie. I particularly want to point out this passage:

About 40 bodies were discovered, all but three of them men - ammunition belts strapped to their bodies - who quite clearly were engaged in armed combat with the Israelis.

Indeed, it was precisely because Israel refused to conduct indiscriminate bombing attacks - preferring the more dangerous course of house-to-house searches - that 13 of its troops were killed at a booby-trapped house.

As the Israeli corps commander noted, "I could have finished it all with a whistle. Full-corps fire on the center of the camp and the whole thing would have been over. But we behave differently."

Keep this in mind, the Israeli's go to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties, even if it puts themselves in danger. The Palestinians sacrifice their lives to the GOAL of killing civilians. That is the difference here. One of the things that demonstrates the Israeli's moral superiority in this fight.

Victor Hanson has a great parody on NRO of a Powell-Sharon conference in reverse. Best bit is probably this:

Mr. Sharon: Maybe. But after the last war, Saddam was bound to do something to recapture his prestige. After all, what could you expect when he was humiliated and shut up in his palaces? How could you expect him to be a real head of state or to rein in his extremists when you were occupying the country? If he dared criticize you, he might have been assassinated.

Remember, you controlled one third of his airspace and de facto are right now occupying the skies of Iraq. How can he create order when F-16s and Apaches are flying over Iraq — humiliating him in a so-called time of peace? With your gun at his head, if he negotiates with you, he's seen as weak on the street; if he's defiant, he's history. What options have you given him?

Seriously, I'm surprised Israel hasn't told us to go take a flying leap rather than actually sit there listening to Powell drone on about the "peace process."

BNA has a quick analysis of the most recent tax act. You should be aware of something. Some of these provisions are pretty radical departures from standard practices. (Especially the 30% bonus depreciation on practically all personal property) Some states may not follow these provisions causing headaches between state and federal returns. In Oklahoma this shouldn't be a big problem because the Oklahoma statutes pretty much piggyback federal law.

A good article about the risks involved in the home office deduction.

One thing the article doesn't mention is that some preparers have proposed moving your office to another room every two years to help minimize these tax traps. Note, I said minimize, not avoid.

Tax Planet has an article about a proposal by Treasury Sec. Paul O'Neil. O'Neil wants to amend the tax code to include only one definition of a child. I applaud any effort, but when it comes to tax simplification, this is just peanuts.

Bruce Bartlett is advocating tax reform. I don't know that I entirely agree with him about tax shelters, but his summary is great:

George W. Bush should follow Ronald Reagan's lead and initiate another Treasury study of the tax system. And he should plan on sending a detailed tax-reform proposal to Congress early next year. If Democrats block action, they are implicitly defending the status quo, which is untenable. That will give Mr. Bush the best issue he could hope for in 2004.

Fox News is reporting that the House is debating a bill that would make it illegal to transport a minor across state lines to get an abortion without the parents' consent. The idea is to prevent people from circumventing parental consent laws by crossing the state line. While I don't have a problem with this idea in principle, don't we already have Federal laws against this. Last time I checked, taking a minor across state lines without parental consent often falls under the Federal kidnapping laws. Haven't checked that out, so I could be wrong.

Something a little light.
Late one night a mugger wearing a ski mask jumped into a path of a well-dressed man and stuck a gun in his ribs "give me your money," he demanded. Indignant, the affluent man replied, "you can't do this – I am a United States congressman!" "In that case," replied the mugger, "give me MY money."

CCH reports that Senators Grassley and Baucus are once again trying to rid the world of tax shelters. They are proposing "Reversing the Expatriation of Profits Offshore Bill (Sen 2119)." The gist of this is that the esteemed Senators believe too many companies are setting up off shore subsidiaries and partnerships in order to shift income to other jurisdictions. Ones that are, somewhat, shall we say, less taxing. Their answer is to make a lot of current corporate tax strategies illegal. They apparently never considered the possibility that they could "Reverse Expatriation of Profits Offshore" by reducing tax rates and simplifying the tax code at home. Any time companies start making decisions that are purely tax motivated, it could be a sign that taxes are too high. Unfortunately, in this area, many politicians are willfully illiterate.

Philip Murphy has begun tracking Palestinian statements about Jews and Israel.

Let’s begin right here with our friends at Fatah. Their website declares their goals as being “Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.” Hey if you can’t believe Fatah, who can you believe?

How about a sermon from the prominent Palestinian Imam Sheikh Ibrahim Madhi first posted on Little Green Footballs? According to this man of peace, “we will enter Jerusalem as conquerors, enter Jaffa as conquerors, enter Haifa as conquerors.” I’m sure he said it in a gentle, lilting tone but still, words are words.

I finally get it! NOW I understand how the Palestinians are "partners in peace." Once they drive the Jews into the sea, we all have peace. How stupid of me.

Jos 24:14 (World English Bible) Now therefore fear Yahweh, and serve him in sincerity and in truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt; and serve you Yahweh.

Walter Williams has a quick summary of government misdirection.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002
I've forgotten most of what I ever knew about HTML. If someone can tell me how to get an email address on this page, I'd appreciate it. Until then, email me at

Update: Looks like I figured it out, at the moment, my address is at the bottom of the links.

Our reluctance to sacrifice human lives is laudable. However, sometimes, risks must be taken; even if lives are on the line we must be willing to do what is necessary. The military's reluctance to commit troops to a necessary task may have allowed Osama bin Laden to escape.

I'll work on trying to figure out the bells and whistles. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the following. Its the remarks I gave the last time I presided at the Lord's Supper.

Living in the light

A few weeks ago, columnist Jay Nordlinger wrote this on National Review Online
about President Bush's visit to Korea:
In South Korea, Bush did something that sent shivers down my spine. He mentioned seeing a nighttime satellite photo of the Korean peninsula, which showed the South "awash with light" and the North completely dark. Said Bush, "We want all Koreans to live in the light. . . . My vision is clear. I see a peninsula that is one day united in commerce and cooperation, instead of divided by barbed wire and fear. Korean grandparents should be free to spend their final years with those they love. Korean children should never starve while a massive army is fed. No nation should be a prison for its own people."

Like Nordlinger, the President's word's sent chills down my spine. But his comment about wanting all Koreans to live in the light started me thinking about something else. And my new thoughts also gave me chills.

A long time ago, Someone else was looking down on our planet. But He wasn't a president, a king, or a dictator. His name is Yahweh, and He was looking at our planet because He made it. He too, saw darkness, but unlike President Bush, what he saw was a world almost completely dark. It wasn't always like this.

John tells us that:(John 1:1-4 ISV) In the beginning, the Word existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. Through him all things were made, and apart from him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life brought light to humanity.

But humanity rejected the light. In order to return light to the world, God decided to send His Son, the Source of the Light to earth in the form of a man. When His Son came, he fulfilled the prophecy:

The Father and the Son though, both knew something about the Light. As much as the world needs light, the world doesn't want it. That is why the Son said: (John 3:19 (ESV) )
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.

The world LIKES the darkness. The actions of men cause them to live in a world of hunger, barbed wire, and fear. But as long as its dark, we don't have to admit that our sins have created a prison for us to live in. When Jesus came, He shined a light in the darkness. People could no longer pretend. But people didn't want to change. Instead of accepting the light and repenting, they tried to extinguish the light and go back to pretending. That is what they were trying to do when they put Jesus on a cross. They were trying to put out the light. But, as John says, "the light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out." (John 1:5 ISV)

That is why Jesus rose from the grave, because the world is incapable of putting out the Light of God. The interesting thing though, is that Jesus KNEW ahead of time that we would try to extinguish his flame. He knew we would reject Him. He knew that humanity doesn't want to admit its sins. He knew that we would hate Him. He knew all of that, and He came anyway. He came because He loved us. It was His will that we not live in a world of hunger and barbed wire and fear. He came because He wanted us to live in the Light.

Living in the light is something special. It also has consequences. John tells us:

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. [6] If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. [7] But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. [8] If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:5-9 (ESV)

But in addition to the faithfulness John calls us too, walking in the light also means remembering that our ability to live in the light was bought at a price. That price was the body and the blood of God's Son. It's vital that we remember that, but God knows that we have a poor memory. That is why, on the night Jesus was betrayed, He, "took a loaf of bread,gave thanks for it, and broke it in pieces, saying, "This is my body that is for you. Keep doing this in memory of me."
He did the same with the cup after the supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. As often as you drink from it, keep doing this in memory of me." (1 Cor 11:23b-25)

At this time, we will do as the Lord commanded. We will take this bread and this cup. We will do it in memory of the body that was bruised and the blood that was shed so we could live in the light.