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

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Sunday, July 28, 2002
Well, I guess I'll try to give a quick update on my health. I'm still having very bad headaches along with some dizziness. A lot of my symptoms match up with a neurological disorder so I'm scheduled to see a neurologist. Unfortunately, I can't get in right away. I've spent a few minutes looking around and I say that several people have posted comments asking for people to pray for me. Thanks. That is certainly appreciated. At this point I still don't know when I'll feel like blogging again, but I'll be back as soon as I can.

Monday, July 22, 2002

Sorry for the lack of posts the last few days. My balance is still messed up. The doctors still don't know what's wrong. Now I'm having horrible headaches. I've got some medicine for the headaches now. If that gets them under control, then I'll be try to blog some tomorrow. Otherwise, it looks like I'm offline for a while again.

Friday, July 19, 2002
Please read. Joel Mowbry writes about an important decision.

Morocco v. Spain. I don't know that I agree with Mark Butterworth's take on the insignificant island problem. He does, however, have an interesting solution.

Here's somethiing that should make you sick:

The Taipei Times Online: Beijing orders Chinese women who are married to Taiwanese to have abortions

Chinese brides of Taiwanese men who went to China to visit their families were ordered by Beijing to have abortions or to undergo surgery to have their fallopian tubes tied. They were also fined and threatened with punishment under China's one-child policy if they had more children, a Taiwan official said yesterday.

Thursday, July 18, 2002
Well, here's a cynical look at sports: Criminal Sports:The home of sports prime time crime. Unfortunately, there's a lot of material there.

This is not from The Onion: French Navy Nabs Two Al Qaeda Suspects in Persian Gulf

Things that surprised me about this story;

France still has a navy.

The French captured the suspects rather then surrendering to them.

They immediately turned these guys over to US without trying to bargain for Mousaoui's life or lecturing us about protecting the prisoners' rights.

Note to HokiePundit: If you read this account, you'll see references to two aircraft carriers. Regrettably, neither are Spanish.

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 7:1-6 ISV "Stop judging, so that you won't be judged. For with the judgment you use, you will be judged. And with the measure you use, you will be measured. "Why do you see the speck in your brother's eye but fail to notice the beam in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when the beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother's eye." "Never give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs. Otherwise, they will trample them with their feet and then turn around and attack you."

This is a passage that many non-Christians can quote quite well. Those who don't want to be reminded of their sins often pull this passage out to try to stave off criticism. Some comments are in order. For starters, the first statement, taken by itself, appears to be an absolute. But as you continue to read, you see that Jesus is not laying down a firm rule against ever passing judgement. What he does say is that you cannot help others recognize their sins until you first recognize and deal with your own.

Secondly, repentance is a very important aspect of Christianity. When Jesus sent The Twelve out to preach, the message they carried was that people must repent. One of the commands Peter gave the people on Pentecost was to repent. This is important at the moment because inherent in any message of repentance is a judgement. Repentance is, at its heart, an admission that one has sinned and a pledge to "turn" back to God. Therefore, when you preach a message of repentance, inherent in this message is a judgement that the listener has committed sins from which they must repent.

When you combine the full context of Jesus's actual statement with the message of repentance he preached (and commissioned the apostles to preach) it is obvious that He was not absolutely prohibiting judgement of any kind. Instead He was cautioning us to be very careful about how those judgements are made. Most particularly, he was telling us to clean our own house first.

Matthew Henry's comments on this passage may also prove helpful:

We must judge ourselves, and judge of our own acts, but not make our word a law to everybody. We must not judge rashly, nor pass judgment upon our brother without any ground. We must not make the worst of people. Here is a just reproof to those who quarrel with their brethren for small faults, while they allow themselves in greater ones. Some sins are as motes, while others are as beams; some as a gnat, others as a camel. Not that there is any sin little; if it be a mote, or splinter, it is in the eye; if a gnat, it is in the throat; both are painful and dangerous, and we cannot be easy or well till they are got out. That which charity teaches us to call but a splinter in our brother's eye, true repentance and godly sorrow will teach us to call a beam in our own. It is as strange that a man can be in a sinful, miserable condition, and not be aware of it, as that a man should have a beam in his eye, and not consider it; but the god of this world blinds their minds. Here is a good rule for reprovers; first reform thyself.

In a July 18th post, William Holzer (no archive links) writes this:

MEDIA BIAS ALERT: "Rep. Jim Traficant guilty of ethics violations." Read the entire Associated Press article by Malia Rulon, read it top to bottom. You'll find no mention of the politician's party affiliation. Traficant is a Democrat, but we don't learn this until we go all of the way down to the bottom of the article, and click on "voting record," and read in little tiny writing: "9th-term Democrat from Ohio." Geeeezzz, journalists insert a politician's party affiliation in just about every mundane article they write - because it's useful and it fills up word space - but not here. Hmmmmm.

I have no doubt that there is a liberal bias in the press. However, I don't think he's got a good case on this one. It was amusing last year to note that the "D" mysteriously disappeared from Gary Condit's name after Chandra Levy disappeared. But in this case, there is actually a good reason not to identify Traficant as a Democrat. He was cast out of the Democratic caucus last year after he voted for Dennis Hastert as Speaker. It is true that Traficant still calls himself a Democrat, but the party no longer claims him.

Morocco v. Spain. I got an e-mail an e-mail from Jenni Taliaferro commenting on one of my posts. She sent me a link to her site so I cruised over there. I found out that I'm actually not the only blogger spending time talking about that insignificant island off Gibraltar.

Oh, you've got to love Reuters
Accused shoe-bomber loses bid to toss `confession'

Yes, those are sneer quotes around the word confesssion. However, there is nothing in the story that questions whether Reid actually confessed. The only question is whether he did so before invoking his Miranda rights.

Morocco v. Spain update. Glenn Reynolds pointed out the new site: Innocents Abroad. So I wandered over and found this story about the conflict. (Hint: Barney the Dinosaur is involved.)

If you wonder what's really behind Trafficant's flamboyant antics, consider this:

The nine-term congressman was abrasive to committee lawyers and panel members throughout three days of hearings, and became so enraged during Lewis' closing statement that he began to shout objections.

"This is not a time for objections, Mr. Traficant," House Ethics Chairman Joel Hefley said, pounding his gavel.

"I'm going to object, whether it's committee rules or not," Traficant said as he leapt out of his chair and stalked angrily toward the committee's lawyers. "I will not have him lie here!" he shouted.

Hefley, R-Colo., finally calmed Traficant down by threatening to take the hearing behind closed doors.

They calmed him down by threatening to take the hearing behind closed doors. Why, that would mean nobody in the press would get to see the rest of the show!


Morocco v. Spain update. The Moroccan government now calls the Spanish force which ousted them from the insignificant island of Perejil an "armada." For their purposes the gunships, aircraft, and special forces troops that Spain used were probably overkill. On the other hand, so is calling it an "armada.

In other news, Spain has increased its force on the island to a whole 50 men, and Kofi Annan has offered to mediate the dispute. (Presumably hoping to win another peace prize.)

And in related news, All Africa is either way ahead or way behind everyone else. According to this story, primarily about the recall of the Spanish ambassador, Moroccan soldiers hold the island. Now either they are a day behind and don't know that Spain has taken the island or they're ahead of everyone else and Morocco has retaken the island. (I'm betting on the former.)

Unfortunately none of these stories included information about the Spanish aircraft carrier.

Oh why not. I'll post this again. Please note that there is now a translation in Farsi. (Farsi translation by Kaveh. Found via Random Jottings.) You are encouraged to spread this letter or its message.


We are not politicians, nor are we generals. We hold no power to dispatch diplomats to negotiate; we can send no troops to defend those who choose to risk their lives in the cause of freedom.

What power we have is in our words, and in our thoughts. And it is that strength which we offer to the people of Iran on this day.

Across the diverse and often contentious world of weblogs, each of us has chosen to put aside our differences and come together today to declare our unanimity on the following simple principles:

- That the people of Iran are allies of free men and women everywhere in the world, and deserve to live under a government of their own choosing, which respects their own personal liberties

- That the current Iranian regime has failed to create a free and prosperous society, and attempts to mask its own failures by repression and tyranny

We do not presume to know what is best for the people of Iran; but we are firm in our conviction that the policies of the current government stand in the way of the Iranians ability to make those choices for themselves.

And so we urge our own governments to turn their attention to Iran. The leaders and diplomats of the world's democracies must be clear in their opposition to the repressive actions of the current Iranian regime, but even more importantly, must be clear in their support for the aspirations of the Iranian people.

And to the people of Iran, we say: You are not alone. We see your demonstrations in the streets; we hear of your newspapers falling to censorship; and we watch with anticipation as you join the community of the Internet in greater and greater numbers. Our hopes are with you in your struggle for freedom. We cannot and will not presume to tell you the correct path to freedom; that is for you to choose. But we look forward to the day when we can welcome your nation into the community of free societies of the world, for we know with deepest certainty that such a day will come.

MEMRI has an interesting report on Iran.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002
Recent searches which have brought people to this site:
Christian blog

atheist blog

Apparently, New Mexico has launched a pre-emptive strike against Texas. Never know when those Texans might invade.


The State Department is reprimanding two employees for making disparaging remarks about a Congressman in e-mails. Maybe this is why they've taken so long responding to requests for an explanation of the detention of Joel Mowbry.

Red Letter Edition
Matthew 6:25-34 ISV That's why I'm telling you to stop worrying about your life - what you will eat or what you will drink - or about your body - what you will wear. Life is more than food, isn't it, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky. They don't plant or harvest or gather food into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. You are more valuable than they are, aren't you? Can any of you add a single hour to your span of life by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Consider the lilies in the field and how they grow. They don't work or spin yarn, but I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. Now if that is the way God clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and thrown into an oven tomorrow, won't he clothe you much better - you who have little faith?"

"So don't ever worry by saying, 'What are we going to eat?' or 'What are we going to drink?' or 'What are we going to wear?' For it is the Gentiles who are eager for all those things. Surely your heavenly Father knows that you need all of them! But first be concerned about God's kingdom and his righteousness, and all of these things will be provided for you as well. So never worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Mark Butterworth speculates on why no one ever shows abortions on television.

Update-This one is busted too. Its currently the second post here.

Paul Cella has an essay about "compassion" that you ought to read.

Update-Argh-Busted link. Go here. Its currently the top post.

News from Britain (emphasis is mine)

Second trials in notorious cases such as the murders of Stephen Lawrence and Damilola Taylor could go ahead under a sweeping reform of the trial system announced by the Home Secretary today.

David Blunkett wants to dilute the 800-year-old principle of double jeopardy – which prevents anyone being tried twice for the same crime.

The change will be retrospective, so that suspects who have already been acquitted could find themselves back in the dock if there is “compelling new evidence”.

And it will apply to a far wider range of crimes than previously thought – not only murder but for armed robbery, rape and manslaughter.

It is part of a sweeping criminal justice White Paper which also said jurors should be allowed to be hear defendants’ previous convictions, previous acquittals and “hearsay” evidence.

And another report points out that they will be scrapping juries in fraud trials. The purported reason is to avoid jury intimidation. Giving them the benefit of the doubt here, it won't be long till people come up with reasons to dispense with juries in other cases.

This is one of the reasons I'm glad to be an American. Many of these changes, such as limiting double jeopardy, could simply never take place here. Those protections are hard-wired into our Constitution and can't be taken away just because a government official wants to do so.


It is always useful to read what your critics say. More specifically, it is useful as long as your critics approach the subject rationally. Steve den Beste is a rational critic. He believes that Christian fundamentalism is really a fight against the incomprehensible world that technology has brought us. In effect, he argues that religious fundamentalist of all stripes are really fighting to bring back an earlier time.

It is of course difficult to know exactly what he means my "fundamentalists." Certainly under some people's definition, I would be considered a fundamentalist. This is because I believe the Bible to be the Word of God. As such, I am uncompromising on the issue of the ultimate truthfulness of the Bible. Under some definitions, that is what makes a Christian a fundamentalist. Under some people's definition, fundamentalist are radicals with an agenda who take up arms to advance that agenda. Under that definition, I don't even come close.

For the moment, I'll assume he's talking about me. The purpose of that assumption is to analyze whether his criticisms apply to me. He writes:

With the accelerating pace of change in technology, and with increasing miracles caused by it, there is a sense of wonder among those who don't understand it except at the user level. But there's also a rising sense of fear. Technology gives us gimcracks which make our lives easier, but it also changes our society and forces us in directions some may not wish to go. It is changing our lives in ways few can predict.

Those who are technologically unsophisticated are not necessarily stupid. But they lack the knowledge and experience to even understand many of the issues. They feel like passengers in the back of a bus driven by a madman; it's a feeling of helplessness.

Religion provides a feeling of power, of control, of knowledge and understanding. It helps relieve feelings of victimization and helplessness and powerlessness and confusion. But that can become pathological, and I believe that the newfound power of fundamentalism (Christian as well as Muslim) is more a reaction to this feeling of being left behind, of being dealt out by the technological revolution. For them it is a way to recapture control of their lives from the technological juggernaut.

Here he says that fundamentalists cling to religion to relieve the feelings of powerlessness and helplessness brought on by technological advancement. This ties in to an earlier comment he made:

One of the problems with modern technology is that it is enormously complex. If the world of 2000 years ago was complicated because natural science was ill-understood, our modern world is much worse. Many of the questions of 2000 years ago have been answered now by science, but to many the answers are profoundly troubling and unsatisfying. The answers are often extremely complex and deeply confusing, and it takes a great deal of time and effort and study to even understand them well enough to ask questions about them, let alone knowing what the answers are.

If I understand den Beste properly, he is, in effect arguing, that science answers lots of questions, but that it has made the world more complex and poses more questions than it answers. As a result, fundamentalist feel lost and cling to their religion because it is simpler and more structured. In fact, he says, "Religion offers straightforward answers, a compact and easily understood synthesis about what this place is, what we're doing here, and what will happen to us."

Christianity does answer lots of questions with straightforward answers. However, like the advance of science. Those answers often pose more questions. Many of those are not at all straightforward. Many of them are, in fact, terribly confusing. I routinely bat these questions back and forth with Mark Byron, David Heddle, and others.

I find that Christianity makes the world very complex. If I had no religion, I personally would not spend a whole lot of time thinking about ethics or philosophy. I wouldn't see the point. Because I believe Christianity to be true, I spend quite a bit of time thinking about ethics, morality, philosophy, and salvation. This is because I believe there really is truth and order in the universe. I consequently am drawn to try to understand those issues better.

However, because God is unsearchable, I understand that as much as I try, I will never understand it all. This means that some things are simply beyond my control or comprehension. Does that mean that some things are beyond my control? Sure. But I've learned to deal with. I think, that in some respects, that has insulated me against the kind of fear and helplessness den Beste attributes to many religious peoples. It simply doesn't bother me to be helpless. At least, helplessness in the since that he means doesn't bother me.

What I'm trying to say is that technological mysteries are no different to me than philosophical and theological mysteries. To me, they are all part of the wonders of God. We can understand them in part, but we'll never be able to fully understand any of these mysteries. In the meantime, these mysteries show the greatness of God.

He also says:

"Family values" is one of those code words the fundamentalists throw around. It subsumes a lot of things such as the idea of the "core family" (with mother as child-rearer). Like all such reactions it is, to some extent, an exercise in nostalgia; a wish to return to "simpler times" when "everyone knew their place". In fact, though the means and goal are radically different, the sentiment and psychological motivation of Christian fundamentalists who push "family values" is very similar to the Islamic Fundamentalists who push the idea of the "Islamic Republic".

It's a wish to remove all the complication from the world, to reduce its complexity, to bring it back within reach of people who don't have advanced degrees in science or engineering. And if they can't do it by persuasion, they'll do it by force, by roaming the streets with canes beating heretics, or by firebombing abortion clinics.*

I think here he is mixing a lot of things together. However, one point cannot be denied. There are people who have taken Christian teachings and come to the conclusion that they ought to bomb abortion clinics or perform other violent acts. Is that a unstoppable consequence of our insistence on holding to moral absolutes. I don't believe so. I believe it signifies a failure to teach the complete message of Christ. The reactionaries are being filled with righteous indignation, but not being told what to do with it. We need to do a better job teaching the commands of Christ.

After a bit of self-examination, I find that I don't really have this nostalgic tendency or the fear of the unknown that den Beste attributes to Christian fundamentalists. I suspect that I'm not in a small minority. I think he is mistaking a sample (what I believe to be a very small sample) with the set. I do not doubt that there are people who are exactly as he describes. I seriously doubt that this is a good explanation of "Christian fundamentalists."

I think it is far more likely that most Christians cling to "traditional" values because they believe them to be true. That is certainly the case for the only one I can really examine: myself. Now for those who do react violently, we should be examining ways to help them cope in a more, well, Christian fashion.

This has been a bit of a ramble as I wasn't really sure where I was going when I started and I'm not sure where I ended up. Anyway, there are my thoughts for now.

*=As an interesting aside, I would point out that there must be more to violent reactionaries than their desire to return to a time before technology changed things so radically. The Amish have done just that and they live in peace with pretty much everyone. Even if I granted that this is their motivation, his theory does not explain this difference.

Update- Kevin Holtsberry has weighed in. Also, Mark Byron has some preliminary comments, but his archive links don't appear to be working correctly. Its the bottom post on July 18th.

Eugene Volokh got mail. His reader asks why Spain didn't take Morocco to court?


Powell may be crumbling. Arafat is apparently proposing that after he is "elected" President in January that a state be immediately set up for Palestine. He's indicating that he would have ultimate power but have a "prime minister" handle the day to day decisions of the new state.

According to this story, both Powell and Sharon are indicating this might be acceptable. How would this be substantially different than what we have now. Excpept, of course, that the Palestinians get a state without meaningful concessions.

Bill Quick describes the problems some people have with President Bush;

You'd think they'd eventually figure it out, wouldn't you? Bush says, "I won't negotiate as long as Arafat's there." Then the mediacrats and Eurowieners go to work on it, and decide that what he really meant was, "Well, maybe I would work with him if he had a different title...or office...or power level...or something..."

And then Bush says, "No, I won't negotiate as long as Arafat's there."

It must be driving them crazy. And you know, it's really not fair. Bush is causing a terrible amount of confusion by saying what he means, and then saying it again and again. How in the heck are they supposed to figure out what he's trying to say?

When will Bush stop being so confusing?

INS Stupidity Alert

Just heard this on the radio. A sheriff's deputy in the Tulsa area stopped a van for a traffic violation. He found 15 illegal aliens. The sheriff's office called INS. The INS said to hold them, but then called back and told the sheriff to let them all go. The sheriff did so, but he is not a happy camper.

Update-The local radio has named this event:Catch and Release. Nice isn't it.

Another Update-This story includes more details on the INS ordered release of illegal immigrants.

I just noticed that in a previous post, I called Morroco an "island nation." Stupid mistake. I don't know what I was thinking. Morocco is in fact in North Western Africa.

Spain has retaken the insignificant little island in the Mediterranean.

News reports said the Spanish operation to evict the Moroccans took place at about 6:15 a.m. Wednesday and involved naval units, special ground forces and combat aircraft. From the hills of Belyounech, a Moroccan coastal village about 200 yards from Perejil, two Spanish flags could be seen flying over the island by midmorning.

Stories I've seen placed the Moroccan force between 6 and 12 men. Given that, the Spanish force used to retake the island looks like overkill.

Anyway, both sides still claim the island. Both sides are still pissed. There are still about a dozen soldiers on the island. Only now, the dozen soldiers are Spanish.

Apologies again to HokiePundit. The Spanish apparently didn't whip out the aircraft carrier for this operation, although they did use aircraft. I guess that's a start.


The funny thing about shooting at someone in a metal room is that you never know who will get hit by the richocets. Something similar may be happening to Senator Corzine. In all fairness, I have no idea if Corzine has done anything wrong here or not. On the other hand, the Democrats have about this much on Cheney at Haliburton. (Not very much.) That hasn't stopped them from trying to paint him as an evil CEO out to cheat everyone under the sun.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

As if things weren't already interesting enough, the Prime Minister of Turkey has finally heeded calls to step down and hold new elections. Stories I've seen earlier indicated his health was terrible and that he was losing control of the government. On the other hand, if this story is accurate, new elections could result in an unfriendly government. Things seem to be dividing up between parties who want to move back to a more Islamic based government and those who want to join the EU. These are not equal evils, certainly, but I'd prefer neither.


C-Net News-Nextel turns profit on customer demand

Funny how that happens, isn't it.

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 6:22-24 ISV "The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. Therefore, if the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" "No one can serve two masters. For either he will hate one and love the other, or be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and riches!"

To the modern reader, these statements about good eyes and bad eyes can be very confusing. (Even disturbing. I have seen people question if Jesus was talking about witchcraft.) Our lack of understanding makes these statements seem out of place.

We must not forget that our Lord took on the form of a man. Specifically, he became a Jewish man. He lived among Jewish people. His audience was almost exclusively Jewish. Because of that is sometimes simply impossible to understand his teachings divorced from their Jewish background. (It is frequently dangerous as we may misinterpret what he was saying. In cases like this one, his words are almost indecipherable without the Jewish context.)

In his translation, The Complete Jewish Bible, David H. Stern includes parenthetical comments to explain these remarks. According to Stern, the phrase, "good eye" denotes generosity while and "evil eye" represents stinginess. With this explanation, I think it is easy to understand this passage in context. In verses 19 through 21 He warns us not to place our hopes in worldly wealth. Here, he goes on to tell us that generosity with what we have will brighten our lives while greed will destroy us. He then goes on to issue the warning that we cannot serve both God and wealth.

You can only love one. God or your wealth. Which is more important to you?

Morocco v. Spain in the matter of The Island Nobody Cares About Unless Somebody Else Is On It. They're still arguing. Although both sides insist the matter can be solved diplomatically. Maybe nobody else cares, but I find this interesting. (Apologies to HokiePundit, but there were no aircraft carrier updates in this story.)

Update-But just in case you can't wait to learn more about Spanish aircraft carriers, you could go here. They're even thinking of building a second one.


Somebody came to this site with the Google search, "summarize the screwtape letters ." I don't want to disappoint, so here goes:

This CS Lewis book is written as a series of letters from the demon "Screwtape" to his nephew "Wormwood." Wormwood is on his first assignment into the mortal realm and is trying to subvert a newly converted Christian back into the realm of Satan. Using this device, Lewis explores many of the techniques that Satan uses to try to trick men. The book is set in England during World War II so some of the references are a little dated. Nevertheless, it is a good read and provides an interesting perspective about things Christians should be aware of.

I hope this is helpful to someone, although the searcher in question is probably long gone.

Somebody at the US embassy in Riyadh doesn't think Juan-Non Volokh is playing nice. I thought he let them off too easy.

Howard Bashman points out this story. He said some might find it ironic. That's one word for it.


Josh Claybourn alerted me to this post by Rod Dreher at The Corner. The subject: The Dreaded Granola Conservative Debate. In his Corner post, Dreher says that he wasn't really complaining that most conservatives were actively against things like good tasting food and ugly architecture. (This in response to part of a Kevin Holtsberry post.) He says his real problem is with indifference.

The key issue is an indifference to aesthetic quality that, unfortunately, many on the Right seem to evidence -- you know, as if to pay attention to how food tasted or one's neighborhood looked were evidence of effeteness.

I've got four points.. First off, maybe I'm making to much of this, but Dreher launches his column with this exchange:

Talking with a conservative friend the other day, I mentioned that my wife and I were having a friend over to dinner, and were going to serve him all kinds of delicious vegetables from the organic food co-op to which we belong.

"Ewgh, That sounds so lefty," she said. And she's right.

Maybe I'm wrong, but since he started his column off addressing an instance where someone condemned his choice of food as, "lefty," I assumed that the thrust of his article was that lots of conservatives actively pigeonhole different eating, art, environmental, etc, tastes as being "left" or "right" and that this was not necessary and maybe even harmful. Now I've made the point earlier that I just don't see this happening a lot, but I'm not trying to rehash that right now. My gripe here is that he didn't appear to be complaining about conservatives being indifferent to granola and organically grown foods. He did appear to be complaining about conservatives casting many of his interests as "lefty." If the problem with his friend was really indifference, she would have been more likely to say, "Isn't that kinda pointless." People who are indifferent don't usually say, "Ewgh."

For my second point, lets look at part of Rod's Corner post again;

The key issue is an indifference to aesthetic quality that, unfortunately, many on the Right seem to evidence -- you know, as if to pay attention to how food tasted or one's neighborhood looked were evidence of effeteness.

My problem here is that Rod seems to view the indifference he is now complaining about as an affected one. I think this is unfair. I don't get worked up about restaurants as a general rule unless they're serving Bar-B-Cue. (Bar-B-Cue, mmmm.) Its not because I think paying attention to restaurants is liberal, effete, or anything else. Its just that for the most part, I really don't care. I didn't decide not to care at some point. I simply never have. I don't care about granola either. I eat it sometimes, but beyond the fact that I can get a good tasting low-fat (I have a cholesterol problem, my doctor tells me, so low fat it is) granola bar at Food Outlet, I just don't give a care. The reason isn't because I feel that thinking about these things makes me weak, liberal, or cool. Its just that I really don't care. I have more important things to think about in my life than granola and vegetables.

Same goes for architecture. I like buildings to serve the purpose they were designed for. If they happen to look nice and the looking nice doesn't cost much more, great. If not, its just wasting my time and money. (On the other hand, if a building is genuinely ugly, then I care. I live in a college town. College campuses are frequently the home of lots of ugly buildings. But I only actually notice the ugly ones long enough to say, "That's really ugly.")

I don't spend my time worrying about other people's taste (or what those tastes may or may not mean) either. If someone wants to dress like a hippy, eat granola, sit around in campfires, chant, and live in communes then I think that's just fine. For that matter, when I see people doing any or all of those things, my first thought isn't, "I bet I know what political party they belong to." It isn't my second, third, or fourth thought either. I just don't care. The only time any of these things (or any other cultural tastes) bother me is if the people involved:

a) think they can save the world by dressing like a hippy, eating granola, siting around campfires, and chanting, etc.,

b) insist I ought to do these things too,

c) tell me how unsophisticated I am because I don't care about the things they do, or worse, *

d) all of the above.

Which brings me to my third point. I originally thought that Rod was complaining about people who were mocking his interest. I thought the point was overblown, but then I'm not in his shoes and it may be a big deal in his circles. However, Rod's complaint about conservatives' indifference to aesthetics is walking dangerously close to item c listed above. There are, I imagine, a whole lot of things that I don't care a whit about that Rod likes very much. I imagine the reverse is also true. The thing is that these are all matters of individual choice. It doesn't mean anything. It doesn't make one a "real" conservative and the other less so. It doesn't eve mean that one of us cares about aesthetics and the other doesn't. It just means we have different tastes. Rod started out complaining that other people are trying to tell him what he ought to care about. (And if conservatives really are questioning his authenticity because his wife makes granola, then shame on them.) Now, he's turned around and is telling everyone else how terrible it is that they don't care about the things he cares about. This sounds, well, French.

Moving on to point number four. I still don't see how any of this relates to politics. As far as I can tell this is really about cultural tastes. I think that if someone's had the thought, "I like to eat organic foods. Does that mean my conservative credentials are at risk?" this may mean they're reading too much into, well, everything. Some personal choices are just that. Personal choices. They don't mean much of anything at all.

Now the question I still don't understand. Why does this whole discussion make me so irritated? So far, I still don't know.

*=It is entirely possible that the people Dreher references, the ones who do recoil against a lot of things he likes, do so because of this attitude. I say this because: If you don't like something, and someone keeps trying to convince you that you just don't understand, it is easy to suspect that they're not really talking about granola or whatever. Some people may suspect that those that go on and on about how wonderful something is, and how no one else understands, are really talking about how smart they are. If someone gets that feeling, they're likely to assume that the "highbrow" taste of the speaker is actually affected to prove the speaker's superiority. In that case, someone might recoil against the "taste" as well as the "taster." I'm not saying this is happening or that I approve, just that I think its possible.

Mark Butterworth takes on abortion, fetal stem cell research, and therapeutic cloning as part of a culture of death. I'm not sure I entirely agree with him, but it is compelling reading.

The IRA has apologized for killing civilians. Am I the only one in shock here?

Well, this is scary.

In reference to the State Department detaining Joel Mowbry, Orrin Judd has this to say:

While no fan of the State Department, here's the question I think we need to ask : Had a young Arab man revealed that he had seen a classified document and revealed this while he was on the grounds of the government building where it originated, would the National Review, Wall Street Journal and other voices of the Right be howling about the injustice of detaining him just long enough to see if it could be determined who'd leaked it to him?

It is an interesting question. On the other hand, I have my doubts that if a young Arab man was standing in the middle of a State Department press briefing screaming, "Death to America," that the State Department would have detained him. They'd be too worried about profiling.


We are not politicians, nor are we generals. We hold no power to dispatch diplomats to negotiate; we can send no troops to defend those who choose to risk their lives in the cause of freedom.

What power we have is in our words, and in our thoughts. And it is that strength which we offer to the people of Iran on this day.

Across the diverse and often contentious world of weblogs, each of us has chosen to put aside our differences and come together today to declare our unanimity on the following simple principles:

- That the people of Iran are allies of free men and women everywhere in the world, and deserve to live under a government of their own choosing, which respects their own personal liberties

- That the current Iranian regime has failed to create a free and prosperous society, and attempts to mask its own failures by repression and tyranny

We do not presume to know what is best for the people of Iran; but we are firm in our conviction that the policies of the current government stand in the way of the Iranians ability to make those choices for themselves.

And so we urge our own governments to turn their attention to Iran. The leaders and diplomats of the world's democracies must be clear in their opposition to the repressive actions of the current Iranian regime, but even more importantly, must be clear in their support for the aspirations of the Iranian people.

And to the people of Iran, we say: You are not alone. We see your demonstrations in the streets; we hear of your newspapers falling to censorship; and we watch with anticipation as you join the community of the Internet in greater and greater numbers. Our hopes are with you in your struggle for freedom. We cannot and will not presume to tell you the correct path to freedom; that is for you to choose. But we look forward to the day when we can welcome your nation into the community of free societies of the world, for we know with deepest certainty that such a day will come.


Mark Byron asks if you would trade your spiritual well-being for earthly riches. We are not, strictly speaking, having to choose between following the Lord and being wealthy. However, wealth can certainly be a major obstacle to many.

I remember someone telling me that he had met a minister from a small African village and told him, "We pray for you in your poverty." To which the African minister replied, "We pray for you in your wealth."

Monday, July 15, 2002
Is Congress bribing voters? Paul Cella makes the case and then has this to say:

State largess, distributed lavishly to those who vote the right way, inevitably, of course, assumes for its beneficiaries the mantle of entitlement; and then, to paraphrase Burke, the politicians and interest groups are driven to defend their error as if it were their inheritance. We should always remember as well that our regime of entitlements depends for its very existence on the confiscation of a portion of the property of our society’s most productive citizens. When the mob bribes someone, at least it uses its own money.

Too true,


HokiePundit comments on the nature of voting. I would tend to agree on his arguments about voting. However, he launched off of this Dog's Life post which he said he disagrees with "to some extent."

The thing is that the Gregory Hlatky post he references has nothing whatever to do with voting. The sole point there was that Senator Inhofe had said something stupid. (Inhofe is my senator, and I like him, but he's actually pretty good at saying stupid things.) He was specifically referencing a comment by Inhofe that he would not vote to confirm an atheist to the Supreme Court. (Hlatlky was referencing this page. In Inhofe's defense, the question was pretty loaded. Inhofe wasn't the only one to answer this way either, so singling Inhofe out may be a little unfair.)

Hlatkly correctly notes that Article VI of the Constitution prohibits the use of any religious test as a qualification for office. My gut feeling is that the founders had in view formally declared policies, but I don't think its a stretch to say that Senators voting for or against confirmation based on religious beliefs would at the very least violate the spirit of this Article. Now how you'd ever prove this is what happened is beyond me unless at least 50 Senators actually came out and announced, "I voted against this guy because he's an atheist" is another matter.

Now whatever you may think about Hlatkly's position, he didn't even express an opinion about what role religion should have in the decisions of individual voters.

BTW-I thought Hatch handled the question pretty well.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah): I think that it would be very hard to get an atheist through the system. But if the atheist was willing to abide by the law and really literally willing to do what’s right—you know, it would depend on what his attitude is about the law, what his attitude is about other people’s rights, what his attitude is about religious rights. . . . If that all fell together, sure.

We have some very decent atheists who respect the rights of others and who respect the rights of religion. So it depends on the person. It depends on . . . whether they’re in the mainstream of the law, whether they are honest and decent people. There are a hundred factors. Have to have good temperament and a hundred-and-one other things.

The Declaration of Independence says that our rights come from God. Can someone who rejects that premise still be able to—

Hatch: Well again, you can be an atheist without rejecting that premise. As an atheist, you might say well, I’m an atheist, but I do feel people have the right to believe the way they want to. And if that person is in the mainstream of the law . . . I would not disqualify anybody. I don’t think we should have a single litmus test on anything.

While I don't have any problem with individual voters making choices based on what they know of a candidates religious background, the idea of Senators doing so in confirmation votes is a different matter entirely. For one, as previously noted, doing so is probably unconstitutional.

Secondly, Senators are not charged with choosing who they believe the best person for an office is. Instead, they are charged with offering "Advice and Consent," regarding the person the President has nominated. As far as I can tell the purpose of this provision is to insure that those nominated are actually qualified to do the job and nothing else. For a Senator to refuse to confirm someone solely because they are an atheist is to say that all atheist are inherently unfit to hold public office. Not only is this not true, it is also dangerous.

Which brings me to my third point: In what meaningful way would a Senator refusing to confirm a Supreme Court nominee because he was an atheist differ from those Senators who voted against, or threatened to do so, John Ashcroft because he was an avowed Christian?

On another note, a lot of these answers sound like they grabbed Senators as they were running through the halls. Is that really the best way to get a Senator's opinion? Yes, its likely to be candid. But when it comes to issues like this, I'd prefer their answers to be reasoned rather than candid.


The family of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh say that he couldn't possibly have orchestrated the death of Danny Pearl because he pulled a teenager out of the way of a train ten years ago. Basically the argument is that no one who has ever saved a life could possibly take one. Ever. Does this make any sense?

Meanwhile the clearly innocent man threatened death to everyone involved in his conviction.

His own statements make attempts to explain how he could have possible changed from "life-saver to life-taker" unnecessary. Sheikh clearly sees himself as a soldier in a war"

The war between Islam and kafirs is going on and everybody should show whether he is in favour of Islam or in favour of kafirs."

Soldiers in wars break things and kill people. That is what soldiers do. Even soldiers who outside of the context of war would be willing to risk their lives to save a complete stranger. For that matter, lots of soldiers have been known to risk their lives to save strangers while they were breaking things and killing people. It is one of the many paradoxes of war.

Given Sheikh's overt declaration of war, it is not hard to understand how he could kill Danny Pearl: He believed Pearl to be the enemy. It is really that simple. The fact that his side of the war can't tell the difference between combatants and reporters makes them either stupid, morally bankrupt, or crazy. It is not, however, difficult to explain.

Update-Demonstrating one of the many differences between England and America, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw is now pleading for Sheikh's life.

Perhaps Uday Hussein knows something we don't know about regime change in Iran. While making statements about the need to prepare the Iraqi people for war with the US, he said this:

Uday said in the document he submitted to parliament that such an attack would be launched from neighbouring Iran and Turkey, "which have been, historically, the origin of attacks against Iraq."

We'll pass over the fact that as of late Iraq has been more likely to invade its neighbors then to be invaded by them. At the moment I'm interested in his observation that a US led attack might be launched from Iran. It seems highly unlikely that the current regime would allow their territory to be used by the US for any military campaign. So, is Uday blowing smoke, or does he know something about Iran that we don't know?

After writing this post and reading this at the Volokh Conspiracy, I began formulating a question. Can anyone name five things the State Department has gotten right in the last 5 years? Maybe I'm just mad, but I really can't think of anything that State has done right in the last few years that wasn't forced on them from above.

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 6:19-21 "Stop storing up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moths and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But keep on storing up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

What do you value? What things are important to you? Here Jesus tells us that the treasures we accumulate in this life can be dangerous. This is because will love those things and in doing so, we take our focus off God.

You really ought to check out Martin Roth's July 16th commentary.

I have said many times that in the extremely unlilkely event I ever became President (Yes, go ahead and laugh. I said it was extremely unlikely.) that one of my goals would be to accomplish 100% turnover in the State Department. Here's an example of why.

Update-There's also this and I certainly shouldn't leave out this.

Protests in Palestine

About 500 jobless people marched outside the U.N. headquarters building in Gaza City, and another 600 marched outside the Labor Ministry building in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.

Thousands of Palestinians have participated in recent rallies demanding international financial assistance. Many of them lost jobs when Israel closed its borders nearly two years ago to Palestinian workers and others, in response to the Palestinian uprising. U.N. and Palestinian officials recently placed the unemployment rate in the Palestinian territories at about 75 percent

Okay, we have Palestinians protesting because they are unemployed. What caused that unemployment? When Palestinians started blowing up pizza parlors and bat mitzahs, Israel closed the border. Woops. Because the Palestinians have virtually no economy of their own (living in a kleptocracy will do that), they were mostly reliant on travelling into Israel proper to get jobs. With the border closed, the jobs disappeared.

Are the protestors demanding an end to the intifada so Israel will let them back in to get jobs? No. Are they demanding constitutionally guaranteed private property rights so foreign investors would be willing to open up companies there when the intifada is over, thus beginning an economy of their own? No. Are they demanding the rest of the world send them money? Bingo!

The suffering of the Palestinian people is, I'm sure, extreme. However, it is the direct result of Arafat's thuggish ways and the ongoing attempts at genocide against Israel. Until they realize this and change their ways, any amount of aid would be a waste of money.

On another note, have those foaming at the mouth because they can't wait to push the Jews into the sea really thought this out? If they only jobs most Palestinians can get are those they get from Jewish businesses in Israel proper, where will they work if they succeed in killing the Jews and destroying Israel?

Lindh will plead guilty to two charges. That's an interesting development.

Sunday, July 14, 2002
I get the distinct impression that den Beste has trouble suspending disbelief. Made me laugh though.

Well, we've got another armed baby photo. Once again we're told it was a joke. A society that thinks this is an appropriate joke has got serious problems that cut very deep.


The Nando Times carries a story about abuses in accounting at the Federal government. Now I don't have any doubt that the Government routinely engages in accounting slight of hand. (For instance the "Social Security Trust Fund.") However, this part really chaps me:

On Friday, Bush's Office of Management and Budget offered its own restatement of earnings and expenses. The federal deficit for the current budget year, which ends in September, is now projected to be $165 billion, not the $106 billion deficit the administration projected in February.

Now what upsets me here is that what they describe is not a "restatement of earnings and expenses." First off, governments do not have, as a general rule, earnings and expenses. They have revenue and expenditures. The difference in an "expense" and an "expenditure" isn't enough to bother explaining. However the difference between earnings and revenue is very important. Governments do not generally earn anything at all. Their revenues are from taxes. The government doesn't earn, it takes.

However, that is not what upset me. What really upset me is that in the middle of a story about shoddy accounting, they insert as an example a budget revision. Not only that, but this budget revision is treated as being on par with revised financial statements. This is patently false. Financial statements record what did happen. Budgets predict what should happen. These are related concepts, but they are not the same.

The government's inability to accurately budget is a problem. It is not*, strictly speaking, an accounting problem. Treating it as such is either lazy or irresponsible.

*=For some strange reason, "not" was originally left out of this sentence. Sorry for any confusion.


I just found a very interesting site that is probably worth a visit: Facts of Israel

Check it out.

Dave Berry on spam:

What happened was, I was going through my work e-mail, by which I mean I was deleting it. As you Internet users know, most e-mail comes from ''spammers,'' who are the mutant spawn of a bizarre reproductive act involving a telemarketer, Larry Flynt, a tapeworm, and an executive of the Third Class mail industry. Every day I get dozens, sometimes hundreds, of e-mails from these people, almost always trying to sell me one of four things: (1) pornography; (2) Viagra; (3) a product for the man who is not satisfied with his natural self and would like to increase, by as much as three inches, the size of his endowment; or (4) a low-interest mortgage.

Why are there so many e-mail ads for these products? Does anybody buy them? Is there a town somewhere, called Spamville, where the men consume Viagra and pornography in bulk quantities, then lurch around in a lust-crazed frenzy, their huge artificially enhanced endowments knocking holes in their walls, so eventually their houses fall down, forcing them to purchase new ones, using low-interest mortgages?

I was reading this post at LGF and had a thought: What would people say if some university research project had fired two professors because they were Palestinians? Would the people who are not (rightly) angry at the firing of two Israelis react the same way? Would those who can't understand what the fuss is about now be angry if the tables were turned?

I guess one company thinks they see the handwriting on the wall. Congress has been threatening to force companies to treat stock options as an expense. (Current accounting principles allow, but do not require this treatment.) It looks as though Coca-Cola would rather make the change at a time and place of their choosing. They've announced that they will begin expensing stock options in the fourth quarter of this year. You might start seeing more of this.


A guy pulls a rifle out of a guitar case as the French President is passing by and fires at least one round. Strangely, the French police don't appear to be at all hesitant to call this an assassination attempt. Maybe (and it hurts to say this) we should ask the French to send some investigators out to LAX and see if they can figure out what happened there.


As silly as it sounds, war between Spain and Morocco may really be brewing. (Well, war may be overstating things. From descriptions I've read of both countries navies, they can probably only muster a lackluster battle.) I really don't have a clue what will happen over there, but Spain has already dropped the words "unfriendly act" which in diplo-speak is fighting terminology. Now both sides are turning up the rhetoric. They need to get a grip. It does look like Morocco is trying to seize Spanish property. On the other hand, it is an island that the Spanish didn't appear to care about until Morocco landed twelve soldiers on the island.

The following Headline is from a Guardian story and is exactly as it appeared on the website at the time I wrote this.
U.s., War Crimes Court Debate Ends

Notice anything odd here? Like for instance the "s" in "US" rather than an "S." I only mention it because I have noticed this on several Guardian headlines in the last couple of weeks. I find it odd.


Philip Murphy was shocked to discover that the Guardian had chosen his blog, The Invisible Hand, as a blog they like. Not one to waste an opportunity, he explains to (no doubt absolutely stunned) Guardian readers his view on Israel. Then he goes on to describe how he classifies politicians and political movements. It would probably be best described as the Martini Approach. Recommended reading.

I think we can call this test a failure.

Musings on the Constitution (And Other Things)

Article I, Section 1.

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Article I, Section 6, Clause 1

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place

Article II, Section 1, Clause 1 (in part)

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.

Article III, Section 1

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

The above statements constitute what we refer to as the Separation of Powers. It is one of the most brilliant concepts embedded in the Constitution. The Founders understand that democracies are predisposed towards excessive behavior. They created multiple bodies of government with completely separate powers so that excesses in one branch could be curbed by another. That separation of powers guarantees us that no one branch of government can never hold absolute power.

Congress can draft legislation, but not enforce it. The executive branch may enforce laws, but cannot make their own. Further, if Congress believes the executive branch is exceeding its authority, it can take steps (such as cutting off funding for enforcement, but note that they are not allowed to cut the President's salary) to put the President in his place. The judicial branch can determine that either branch has exceeded its authority and strike down actions of the other bodies, but can do no more.

Each branch has just enough power to perform the task set before it and to be able to curb excesses by the other branches. But the ability to curb the other branches excesses is negative in nature. That is to say that one branch may act to prevent actions by another branch, but no branch of government may force another branch to do anything. (At least not unless that other branch has previously agreed to such an action. There are some who would disagree one branch can force an action on another even if the other branch has previously agreed.)

The negative nature of these protections assures us that one branch cannot usurp the powers of another branch. Thus the Supreme Court can strike down a statute drafted by Congress and signed by the President. It can even strike down similar laws hundreds of times in succession. But no matter how much the courts may dislike the laws that are being passed, the courts cannot force the Legislative and Administrative branches to pass laws of which it approves.

And this brings me to the point I want to discuss. I was reading part of the recent case, Newdow v. United States Congress in which the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional. It wasn't till today that I knew that this was the short name of the case. If I'd known, I would have realized something was wrong. You see Newdow named both the President (Clinton at the time) and Congress as defendants in his suit. According to the 9th Circuit:
Newdow asks the district court to order the President of the United States("the President") to "alter, modify, or repeal" the Pledge by removing the words "under God"; and to order the United States Congress ("Congress") "immediately to act to remove the words 'under God' from the Pledge." (emphasis mine)

Newdow was actually asking the Court to force the Legislative and Executive branches to perform certain tasks. The Court (quite rightly) found that the Judiciary has no authority to compel the President to take any action in the administrative duties. The Court further found that it did not have the authority to compel any action by Congress, nor to question the actions of the Congress.

I bring this up because Newdow would have us believe that this was primarily about defending the Constitution:

It violates the establishment clause and it came from when I saw "In God We Trust" on all the coins and currency and it just hit me one day (when he was standing in line to buy soap from a shop) that it's not supposed to be there. So I decided to do some research and realized I was correct.

But if he was really so concerned with the Constitution, why did he so blatantly ask the courts to violate the Separation of Powers doctrine? Somehow, I question his motives.

Saturday, July 13, 2002
Side by side Christian blogging rankings at He Lives. (David, if I understand your system, you just scored a point.)


One of the largest egos in history may well have belonged to Hannibal. At the moment I am particularly concerned with events leading up to the first battle between Hannibal's army and that of Rome. The Roman army was commanded by Cornelius Scipio. Titus Livius records this about attitudes prior to the battle:

The rival armies were now almost within sight of each other. So far neither of the commanders fully knew the quality of his antagonist, yet they confronted each other not without a certain feeling of mutual respect. The name of Hannibal had been famous a one in Rome even before the destruction of Saguntum; and Hannibal for his part could not but believe in the genius of Scipio simply because he, of all men, had been chosen to oppose him.

I found this article via Right Wing News. It is an interesting piece on the effect Christianity is having on South Korean politics.

My page appears to be working fine. However, I've just tried several other blogs on blogspot and they are all down. Wonder what's up?

Update- They seem to be working now. Guess it was just a momentary glitch.

I'm not sure what to make of this. A weblog devoted entirely to tracking abuses by the clergy. The purported purpose of the site is to help young journalists learn how to cover a complicated issue.

HokiePundit is surprised to learn that Spain has an aircraft carrier. I've got to admit I was surprised by that as well. On the other hand, after reading the description of the Spanish fleet (carrier included), I'd admit that they outgun Morocco, but I'm not sure they could have even taken this Spanish fleet.

The head of German intelligence believes bin Laden is alive. However, he describes him as a "figurehead." He also claims that bin Laden only "blessed" the attacks last September, but was probably not aware of many of the details.


Spanish boxer Javier Castillejo has become the World Boxing Council's interim super-welterweight champion with a unanimous 12-round decision over Russian Roman Karmazine.

Interim champion? I admit I haven't watched boxing in a while, but what on earth is an interim champion? I understand interim presidents and interim commissioners. But this doesn't make any sense to me.

Well, there's been another attack against westerners in Pakistan. A grenade lobbed at tourists this time. Fortunately, the FBI does not have jurisdiction so there is a chance someone might decide this was an act of terror.

Well, this is interesting. Not to mention a little surprising. Oh, it is also refreshing.

Orrin Judd thinks Republicans are missing the boat on privatizing Social Security.


The way the media, especially in headlines, treats court decisions is very annoying.

The Boston Globe headline reads"Panel overturns judge's decision on Taliban suspect." This is accurate. The trial judge ruled he had a right to unfettered access to an attorney immediately. The appellant court overturned and remanded. The appeals court ruled that the trial judge had not given proper consideration to the government's finding that he was an illegal combatant. (After reading the appeals court ruling, I wonder if the trial court considered the issue at all.)

In the Miami Herald, the headline reads, "Court: American Taliban suspect can be held without an attorney." This is patently false. The court explicitly refused to rule on this issue directly. The only thing the court did was reverse and remand. When a decision is reversed, this does not mean that the appeals court has necessarily reached a decision on the issue at all. It only means that they believe the trial court was in error. That does not automatically mean that the appeals court has found in favor of an opposing position. This is especially true when an appeals court reverses and remands.

Now, to be fair, you might be able to tell most of this from the Herald's actual article, but the headline is misleading at best.

For more on the ruling, Eugene Volokh published a redacted version of the opinion here.

In this case, the trial court said this man had a right to immediate, unfettered access to an attorney. The appeals court reversed and remanded. In doing so the appeals court instructed the trial court to consider facts and arguments that it had not considered before. The court did not actually find that the decision of the trial court was in error. Instead, they found that the method the trial court used to reach the decision was incorrect. There is absolutely nothing in the decision that would preclude the district court judge from reaching the exact same ruling he did before. It just means he that if he does so, he has to do it after following all the instructions of the appellant court. This ruling was about the procedure followed in the lower court, not the substance of the court's decision.

Canadian diplomats are really starting to hack me off. Especially UN ambassador Paul Heinbecker. He's upset about the compromise giving US troops immunity from the ICC for one year.

Ambassador Heinbecker told reporters: "We think this is a sad day for the United Nations.

"We don't think it's in the mandate of the Security Council to interpret treaties that are negotiated somewhere else."

Okay, so let me get this straight. The UN modifying a treaty its not a party to: Bad. A treaty which attempts to enforce its terms over citizens of all nations in the world, whether their county is a party to the treaty or not: Good.

This is stupid. If the Rome statute hadn't been written so broadly as to give the ICC potential jurisdiction over the citizens of non-signatories, this entire circus in the UN could have been avoided completely.

Friend of dictators. Enemy of common sense.

Louis Farrakhan continues his tour of countries with iron-fisted rulers. Now he has moved on to Zimbabwe where he endorsed the seizure of farmland from whites.

The black American activist, who is on a three-day visit to Zimbabwe, told The Herald newspaper he was "in full support of President Mugabe's policies, especially the land issue, as it was aimed at correcting a historical injustice.''

Stealing people's land is okay because we're stealing it from whites to rectify injustice of the past. Sound familiar? Meanwhile, people are starving to death. Might that have somthing to do with the fact that they took the farmland away fromt the farmers?


Well this is encouraging. A new report shows that China has drastically improved its military capicity and is continuing to do so.

Realisitcally, I think the only real reason China has not invaded Taiwan is that they do not have the naval capacity to succeed in an amphibious assault. I have very little doubt that they would invade Taiwan if they had the ability to do so.

What really confuses me is the Russians. They keep selling China hardware. Russia has resources the Chinese would like to have. I fear that one day the Russians will see all that hardware pointed back at them.


More on Spain. All in one article. First off, Spain and Morocco are both taking a hard line on possession of a small, uninhabited island. (I think this article goes overboard on this issue. Calling twelve soldiers landing on an uninhabited island an invasion is a little over the top.) It seems incredible that a war might start over something so insignificant, but these things do happen. However, if this story is remotely accurate about the capabilities of the two nations' navies, it wouldn't be much of a battle. Morocco is severely outgunned.

And also on the Spain front, a large number of Parliament members have freaked out of Jack Straw's proposal of joint sovereingty (Joint sovereignty? Has this man read a dictionary?) with Spain over Gibraltar. I had a feeling this wouldn't go over well.


And if you weren't scared about the ICC before, I suggest you read den Beste's comments on proposed changes in British criminal law.

What a relief.
Reuters -| Hizbollah leader says group not linked to Al Qaeda

The leader of Lebanon's Hizbollah guerrillas said on Saturday the group was not connected to the al Qaeda network, blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks.

And I was worried. Well, I certainly feel better now.


Yesterday, Steve den Beste wrote a long piece on the difficulties of removing Arafat. He seems to think that Arafat is on his way out, but that it will take considerable time for his people to actually convince him to step down.

He also noted that it was still possible for Arafat to hang on to power. In his view, the most dangerous possibility would be for Colin Powell to wimp out and start talking to him again. Fortunately that does not appear to be a problem. Arafat sent Powell a letter telling him all the changes he was going to make if Powell would just pressure Israel to back off. Powell has said he won't answer the letter and that the US position to wait until the Palestinians choose new leaders is unchanged. (He got one right.)

I am totally lost here.

Rod Dreher writes this column about "granola conservatives." Basically the premise is that just be because your conservative doesn't mean you have to reject cultural trends primarily accepted by liberals. Personally, I thought this point was self-evident. I've simply never met people who hold the position he's arguing against. I also found it to be redudnant; he just kept making the same point over and over again.

What I really don't understand though is the effect it's having on people. In The Corner (click here and keep going up) they debated this point all day. I realize that the article was published by NRO and so is The Corner, but most NRO articles just rate two or three passing comments or clarifications. Meanwhile Joshua Claybourn acts as if this is one of the most profound things ever written. I just noticed Mark Byron getting in on the act as well, albeit he's not as enthusiastic.

I don't get it. What makes this so profound? I really don't know people who act as if cultural values are politically tied to certain political ideologies. About all I can say is that I have noticed that these things tend to converge in predictable fashions. I've always assumed that these were correlations that had nothing to do causation.

Further, some people are treating it as some sort of declaration of independence for conservatives who like fresh vegetables and clean water. For instance, Claybourn says:

The point is that I don't conform to some cookie-cutter stereotype of a conservative. I can favor smaller government, a stronger military, and be pro-life without it preventing me from hiking in the woods and enjoying nature. I can vote for Bush and eat organic food too.

Huh? I really don't understand this. Is there someone telling you that conservatism is antithetical to nature Josh? If so, is it really other conservatives who are doing it?. To me, the fact that some conservatives suddenly feel liberated when told its okay to be conservative and like organic foods is an indication that they've been listening to (and believing) liberal propaganda. Its the liberals, not the conservatives, that say conservatives oppose clean water.

This has turned into a bit of a rant. That's not what I intended, but I really am confused. I don't understand what is so profound about this article. Nor I have I met the conservatives who've been propagating the view Dreher is reacting against. Maybe its just the part of the country I live in, but I don't know people like the ones he's arguing against. It just doesn't seem to be a big deal.

Friday, July 12, 2002
This story from Voice of America is a little odd.
Spain Sends Gunboats in Island Dispute with Morocco

Spain has sent gunboats and troops to protect islands it claims near Morocco, after Moroccan soldiers were spotted setting up an observation post on one small, disputed island.

Spanish officials call the Moroccan action "an unfriendly act."

On Thursday, Morocco put 12 soldiers on the uninhabited island Spain calls Perejil in what it says is a mission to watch for illegal immigrants and terrorists.

Morocco has rejected Spanish demands that it withdraw from the rocky outcrop, which is just 200 meters from the Moroccan coast and a few kilometers from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta at the tip of North Africa.

In Brussels, the European Union condemned the Moroccan action as a violation of Spanish sovereignty, but urged the two countries to directly resolve the dispute.

The incident is the latest diplomatic dispute between the two countries since Morocco recalled its ambassador from Madrid unexpectedly last October.

Now normally a story like this would probably pass under my radar screen. This probably would too if it hadn't been for Spain's use of the word's "unfriendly act." The world of diplomacy is a place where understatement rules the day. In diplo-speak, "unfriendly act" is almost the equivalent of "draw." (Japan begin batting around this phrase two months before attacking Pearl Harbor.)

Now I don't know anything about this dispute between Morocco and Spain, but they're using fighting words here. It just seems bizarre to me that to countries would be willing to fight over this insignificant island. I also find it strange that Morocco would be willing to risk it. I mean we are talking an island nation here. Spain would certainly appear to have the upper hand.

I think its pretty clear that this was not intended to be enlightening commentary on the situation. Its really just my reflection on the power of those two little words: Unfriendly Act.

Correction. I don't know why I called Morocco an "island nation." They are small, but definitely continental.

Read this post by Christopher Johnson. Follow the link. Seriously consider doing as he Johnson says.

Here is a blog about a guy's ongoing problems with Dell's customer service. I find that curious. I've had several experiences with Dell's support myself and have always been amazed at how absolutely incredible the service was.

You simply must read this post by John Hawkins. ITS GREAAAAAAT!

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 6:16-18 "Whenever you fast, don't be gloomy like the hypocrites. For they put on sad faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have their full reward! But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting will not be noticed by others but by your Father who sees in secret. And your Father who is in secret will reward you."

I find it very interesting that Jesus did not say if you fast He said when you fast. Jesus apparently took it for granted that his followers would fast. He did not, however, lay down any rules about when to fast or why we should fast. He only covered how. Presumably that means that his listeners already had those angles covered.

His actual comments are interesting, and line up with his teachings on doing good and on praying. Don't brag about it. Don't do it for notice. If possible, don't let anyone even know your doing it. The reason is that these are activities designed to improve your relationship with God. If you are doing them for recognition it poisons the higher motive of communing with God.

As I noted above, Jesus obviously expected his followers to fast. However, this is not a subject most Christians talk about much. I suspect its not something we do much of. I know that I rarely fast. I certainly don't do it often enough for it to be considered an essential part of my life. I'm going to try to work on that and I would suggest others do the same.

One of the things I have discovered about fasting is that its best to plan it for a day that you don't plan on engaging in other activites. It should be a day that you give over to God pretty much entirely. Its hard, at least for me, to have a meaningful fast on a day that I'm working. Likewise, a busy day with lots of running around will detract from the purpose.

Fasting is not about taking on some elements of an ascetic life-style for a day (or days). That is to say that the benefit of fasting does not come from denying yourself food. The real benefit comes from devoting that time to God. Consequently, your likely to get the most out of fasting if its done on a day that you have been able to set aside a considerable amount of the day to prayer and to studying scriptures. I've also heard another suggestion that might prove helpful: Everytime you feel hungry, stop and pray.

Also, don't forget to keep Jesus's own advice on how to fast in mind.

Lest we forget, the United States isn't the only nation upset about their troops being subjected to proceedings under a treaty they are not a party to. India opposes ICC jurisdiction over its peacekeeping troops as well. However, I don't remember anyone calling them with being isolationists, unilateral, or cowboys. (By the way, the people batting these terms around say them as if they are inherently wrong. There is nothing inherently wrong about being isolationists, unilateralists, and most importantly, cowboys.)

I'm beginning to wonder if the InstaPundit got a special price from Sekimori in exchange for plugging them at least 3 times a week.

I keep see people complaining about Blogger's archive feature not working correctly. Everytime I see that, I go test some of my archive links. I don't seem to be having any trouble at all.


I've been wondering, if someone had absolutely no knowledge of Nazi Germany and was trying to learn about them, but the only thing they had to go by were modern day comparisons to Nazi's, what might they conclude constituted one of the greatest evils of our time. Apparently the Nazis were evil because they:

Forced people to wear identifying markers on their clothing.

Responded with force when their lands were attacked.

Threw people into concentration camps, killed them, and then stole their land.

Spread vicious lies about Jews to stir up anger against the Jews so people would kill them.

Were radical religious extremists (of the Christian variety) who hated abortion.

Sexually abused children in children's homes.

Were an evil empire with well disciplined soldiers.

Hated Jews.

Were a Seinfeld character.

Hated pornography, but were unable to rally any followers.

Were racist tyrannical thugs.

My admittedly non-scientific and pretty random experiment turned up, as you see, comparisons that range from the basically true, the absurd, to actually pretty funny. I of course found lots of sites accusing Israel of horrible atrocities or of having a Nazi government. Curiously, the atrocity comparisons I found weren't actually comparisons. They would accuse Israel of Nazi-like acts, but didn't mention a specific event. You can't analyze whether an event is Nazi-like unless your actually told what the event is so you can make an independent comparison. If you are wondering what the point of this is, there isn't one. Just something I was curious about.

Lectures from the Peanut Gallery

France urges swift action on Middle East - The Times of India

France Thursday urged the United States and others to move ahead swiftly with Middle East peace initiatives, saying a slow pace would create a vacuum in the region that would worsen the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

Well, if its so important, why don't you do something about it? Why is it always our job to rush in and fix the problem while the EUnuchs sit back and tell us what a bad job we're doing. I say the next time there's a major regional crisis founded in hundreds (if not thousands) of years of hatred that we send the French to fix it while the US State Department lectures them on what a bad job they're doing.

Jonah Goldberg points out that Yasser Arafat is a super-villain.

Victor Davis Hanson says that the EUrocrats should clean up their own backyard before lecturing the US about the ICC.


Kevin Holtsberry has added to his comments on Christianity's universal appeal. I think I understand what he's saying better now.

On this subject, I feel the need to reference CS Lewis. Lewis would laugh when people would try to argue that there was nothing special about Christianity by pointing out that Jesus didn't bring any new moral ideas into the world. That is, people would argue (and still do) that while Christ's teachings on many topics were more refined than those who preceded him, they weren't entirely new.

Lewis's response was that this didn't bother him at all. The reason for that was that morality is not Christian, it is universal. Christ did not come to teach people a new morality, but to redeem them from their failure to live up to the one they already had. As Lewis pointed out, it would have been absurd for Christ to come offering people forgiveness for breaking a law they didn't know existed. Instead, people already know, for the most part, what is right and what is wrong. From culture to culture some moral truths may be temporarily concealed, but in general morality is universal because it is written on our hearts.

Not only do people mostly know what is right, but they also have guilt when they do wrong. They have a sense of sin. Even if they don't call it that, they recognize that they are in the wrong. Because of that sense of sin, the redemptive message does have universal appeal because the need for redemption is universal.

This is also why the more extreme forms of post-modernism are so dangerous. When people are told that there is no such thing as universal truth, the implication is that there is no sin. People who have ben taught that there is no universal reality will fail to properly recognize their "sin sense" and thus not recognize the need for redemption. The most dangerous (or at least one of the most dangerous) lie Satan can tell you is that there is no sin.