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

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Monday, September 30, 2002
No Mark, there is not a "dearth" of place kickers. As far as I can remember (let's call that about 20 years) this is the way its always been. At any given time there are roughly 4 to 8 really good kickers. Then you have 30 to 35 moderately good kickers. Do the math. At any given time several of the moderately good kickers are out of work. If anybody gets in a slump, you cut them and hire someone else. Except for those few really good kickers the rest have always been interchangeable. Part of the reason for a lack of good kickers is probably the salary (and now salary cap) implications of trying to keep more than one kicker. Since no one will try to keep more than one kicker, a lot of guys no that even one good game can mean they're out of work. Only a few guys are willing to just sit around waiting for the phone call that means somebody else missed a game winning kick or got hurt trying to make a tackle on a kick off. The rest of them go out and get real jobs, that while less glamorous and certainly lower paying, are at least consistent payers.

Then of course there's the fact that it really isn't as easy as it looks. You mention college players Mark, but in my observation, most of them aren't very good. Only a handful of kickers coming out of college every year have what it takes to cut it in the NFL. When a good one comes along, they end up pushing someone else out. That brings us back to the one team, one kicker problem.

I do it too.

We bloggers really do have a vain streak running through us. At the moment, 7 of the last 20 people to follow a hyperlink to this site came here from the hit counters on their own sites. I guess Solomon was right.

Andrew Stuttaford wants to know why children are hanging around in bars.

Jonah Goldberg feels vindicated by Torricelli.

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 9:1-8 ESV And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

I have heard people say that Jesus never claimed to be God. Leaving aside some more direct passages, I'd like to point out how Jesus's claim to deity is shown here. The scribes who where present accused Jesus of blasphemy. Why? Because he claimed the ability to forgive sins. The scribes understood very well that only God could forgive sins. When Jesus forgave this man's sins he was implicitly claiming to be God. Because the scribes disbelieved this claim they accused him of blasphemy. However, the subsequent miracle showed that Jesus had power which they could not explain.

How to rob a bank:

1. Point gun at teller until she gives you money.

2. Shoot self with gun.

3. Get hit by van while exiting bank.

4. Make your escape.

I'm guessing someone spots this guy when he shows up at a hospital.

Jonah Goldberg is compiling a list of potential jobs for Jim Jeffords should Republicans retake the Senate.

John Fund thinks Schroeder underestimated how his campaign would sour US-German relations, on both sides of the Atlantic.

James Robbins makes the surprising claim that Gore's recent speech on Iraq was brilliant politics. This is in stark contrast to much of the analysis I've seen on the web which boils down to things like, "Al Gore is on crack." Now I've got to admit I'm of a mind to agree with the latter, Robbins makes a decent case for the former. (Hint: think green.)

Joel Mowray says Winona Ryder is being railroaded. He makes a pretty good case.

Bill Quick has some comments on the Democrats. I'm not sure I know where he stands.

Sunday, September 29, 2002
I don't usually quote comments off other people's sites, but comment #14 (R. McLeod) on this LGF post was just too good. In response to another comment indicating implying that knowledge of history was not as important as understanding the fat content of food (no, seriously, check out comments 5 and 6 for better background), McLeod offered this reply:

That's quite a rejoinder. Apparently you think that being ignorant of history is less important (and useful) than being ignorant of fat content in food?

Being ignorant of what's in your food might cause YOU to die younger.

Being ignorant of history might cause ALL of us to die younger.

Red Letter Edition

I'd like to have something profound to say about this passage, but this is one whose import I don't understand very well.

Matthew 8:28-34 And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.

Anytime the bible discusses angels and demons I'm left with more questions than answers. Why did the the demons want to be sent into the pigs? It is obvious that they found this to be some kind of merciful act, but why was being sent into pigs merciful? Why was Jesus predisposed to be merciful to demons? What allow the pigs to be destroyed?

This is one of many passages that I fail to understand. I'd like to know the answers someday. Oddly though, I suspect that by the time I'm in a position to ask, I'll be to happy to care.

The Junkyard Blog asks a question and would like suggestions:

Also, a question occurred to me today that I found puzzling: Why do people from the left have a tendency to train their rhetorical guns on their own countrymen much more quickly and passionately than on dictators seeking the power to level an American city? Since 9-11, from Barbara Kingslover to Noam Chomsky to Robert Fisk to Ted Rall and on and on and on, this pattern has played out over and over--lefties rise up to denounce whatever response the US is planning to deal with murderers, but raise barely a whisper against the murderers themselves. If someone has a plausible answer to this question, I'd love to hear it.

Good question.

It scares me that people have to be told things like this:
My point is that honesty and integrity are fundamental values, and deserve primary consideration before evaluating other issues.

In the previous post I pointed out some analysis by Martin Devon. He finishes up by suggesting that Zell Miller might be one of the only Democrats who have a chance to unseat Bush. I can tell you right now that he's one of the few Democrats that I could vote for. I don't say this because of his politics. Well, not entirely because of his politics. Yes, it is true that I agree with him on many issues, but I also disagree with him on many others. The reason I believe I could vote for Zell Miller is primarily because I believe him to be a man of integrity. He takes the stands he does, popular or not, because he believe they are right for his country and for his state.

The thing that impresses me the most is that despite much wooing by the Republican party, he refuses to switch parties. Don't get me wrong, I don't think politicians are bound to the same party forever once they get into public office. I do believe that when a politician is elected, or in Miller's case appointed, to fill an office one of the reasons is because people believe they are getting someone of a particular party. For a politician to switch parties while in office is to lie to the people who put him there.

I was disgusted last year when I saw the reactions of many Republicans to the defection of Jim Jeffords. At the same time people were arguing that it was immoral, unethical, and probably fattening for Jeffords to leave the party mid-term. At the very same time many of the same people were trying to convince Zell Miller to switch parties. I remember thinking, "What is this, two wrongs make a right month?"

Despite the fact that his resolve to remain a Democrat hurt my party politically, I gained a tremendous amount of respect for Sen. Miller when he made that decision. He showed character. That's something you don't see in a politician now. That's one of the reasons I say Miller is one of the few Democrats I could vote for; I trust him. There are very few Democrats I've seen at any level of government who were trustworthy. That's not to say that I think Republicans are pure as the driven snow. I think a lot of Republicans, at least the ones who run for public office, are opportunistic slime. Its just that, on the whole, I trust Republicans more than I trust Democrats. That's just a broad characterization. There has been at least one Republican I voted against because of bad character. As I said, I believe in some circumstances I could vote for Miller for President, despite that annoying "D" after his name. The reason I could do so is that he has shown himself to be a man of character and even when I disagree with his politics I know that he is doing what he honestly believes is best for the country.

I'll take an honest man I disagree with over a slimebag I agree with any day.

Martin Devon analyzes what it would take for a Democrat to beat Bush and comes to some surprising answers.

Christopher Johnson has this to say about David Bonior and Jim McDermott's appearance on "This Week."

Two Democrats convince me to vote straight Republican for the foreseeable future.

I don't think he was impressed.

Isaiah 53

Who has believed what they heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Terefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.


Instapundit and GreatestJeneration both said the Silent Fisking was something that had to be seen. They are right. Go read it now.

Just to make sure everyone understands what they're reading. A fisking is a type of analysis whereing someone takes a particularly stupid opinion piece and responds to it sentence by sentence or paragraph by paragraph refuting each one. This particular fisking relates to a piece about the prisoners the US holds in Cuba and tries to make us feel sorry for them. The "Silent Fisking" is accomplished by responding to each piece of drivel with pictures to put everything in perspective.

I did want to add one thing. The article in question repeatedly makes a point that these guys haven't been allowed to see lawyers. None of those guys has been charged with a crime. They are combat detainees. They don't fit the normal definition of a POW because most were wearing no uniforms which under the Geneva Convention means they're not POW's. Regardless, they're situation is similar to that of a POW. They are being held because they were engaged in hostilities, not because they committed crimes. Until and unless they are charged with a crime they do not need lawyers.

Steve den Beste is worried about the state of our collegiate education. So am I. You should definitely read the whole article. Make sure you have some time as it is quite long. I did have to pull a few paragraphs out though. They brought tears to my eyes.
American blacks make up 12% of our population. I brood about the fact that 12% of our best minds are going to waste, being directed away from useful study and productive contribution in science and engineering and business and law and medicine, instead to bury themselves in ideologically-warped anthropological and sociological studies of race, because they will somehow feel that they have a racial obligation to major in "Black Studies" instead of chemical engineering -- or computer engineering, where I might have been able to hire them. I think about all the miracles they would be creating, all the advances they'd produce. I think of all the fantastic work I've seen done by Chinese men and Indian women, and I know that blacks would be just as valuable. I brood over the lost opportunity, the resource wasted, the opportunity lost.

I'd like to see more blacks follow in the footsteps of Thurgood Marshall, one of the finest men this nation has ever produced, and a jurist of towering stature who may have done more to liberate blacks in America than any other man besides Lincoln. Before he became a Supreme Court Justice, he argued "Brown versus Board of Education" in front of the Court and won a unanimous decision. I've heard a recording of his argument; he was an unbelievable orator with an amazing and stirring voice, a conviction in the validity of his case, and an amazing ability to convince others. It gave me goosebumps. We need more like him.

I'd like to see fewer following Cornel West, about whom the less said the better. But I want more: I don't just want more Marshall's. I want to see a black Feynman, brilliant and irreverent, looking at everything sideways. I know he or she is out there somewhere. I want to see an American black win a Nobel Prize in Physics. Chinese Americans have done it, Indians have done it; Japanese Americans have done it; Hispanics have done it; Jews have done it; why not an American black?

But I fear I shall wait a long time. And I fear that the existence of Black Studies departments will prolong the wait, as they divert many of the best young black minds into an intellectually sterile dead end, designed to make them feel proud of their racial group, instead of giving them the mental tools to actually do things worthy of pride in themselves as individuals.

Saturday, September 28, 2002
Red Letter Edition

ESV Bible Online: Matthew 8:23-27 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

Dr. Weevil has a theory.

Is anybody else worried that Blogger Pro's spell checker doesn't recognize the word "blog?"


Reader and frequent e-mailer Joel Fuhrman has set up his own blog, Religious Left Watch. Joel has himself come out of the background which he describes as the religious left. Interestingly, he found that while many in liberal theological circles ranted and ranted against the religious right, they did not even recognize the existence of a religious left:

At a dinner *discussion* with my Unitarian friends (disclosure: I used to be a Unitarian Universalist. I was married in one, so even though I disagree with almost everything they say, I will always disagree with them respectfully), one of them said to me this little joke I've heard a lot "The religious right is neither". I've heard it's a popular bumper sticker. My response? "What do you call the religious left?" He couldn't answer the question. There is no concept of the "religious left" in leftist circles, there is only the dreaded "religious right".

Recognizing that many people spend a great deal of time deriding conservative Christians while failing to even recognize the existence of liberal theology Joel set up this blog to focus the light of the truth on the religious left. It should be interesting.

P.S. Does this mean I have a blogchild?

Have you ever been so annoyed by census takers that you considered taking a space ship into orbit? It won't work.

I just noticed this interesting post by Eric Raymond in which he attempts to reconcile his anarchist tendencies (real anarchism, not the garbage spewing from those idiot protestors in DC) with the problems presented by state sponsored terrorism.

Rachel Lucas explains why criminals will always have guns. (Hint: It has something to do with the fact that they're criminals.)

Here is an interesting suggestion.

Instapundit points out this story. It seems the police in Turkey have arrested men smuggling 33 pounds of uranium. Any guesses where this was going?


Jesse's little tantrum about "Barber Shop" doesn't seem to be hurting the film. It may even be helping.


This post by Mark Byron got me thinking. It is absolutely true that God is omnipresent and omniscient. However, that is not the reason we shouldn't sin. Unfortunately, the knowledge that God will know is the only thing that stops us frequently. In fact, as Mark pointed out, even that is not always enough. But I don't think saying "Don't sin because God is watching," quite covers it. Don't you think that God would want us to do the right thing even if he wasn't watching? Don't you think he would want us to do the right thing just because it is the right thing?

We know that sin carries with it punishment, so we try to avoid sin. It seems to me that God would prefer us to avoid sin whether we would risk punishment or not. Einstein once said something to this effect, "If we avoid what is wrong just to avoid punishment and do what is right solely to receive reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed." Indeed we are. So sorry that God had to send his Son to die in order to fix things.

Friday, September 27, 2002
Red Letter Edition

ESV Bible Online: Matthew 8:18-22 Now when Jesus saw a great crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

This is one of many times that Jesus goes to great links to stress that a life as his disciple is not easy. It requires sacrifice. The question that is always posed to the Christian is, "Are you ready to give up everything to follow him?"

Jesse Jackson Backs Brazil Candidate

So, Jesse is now on the campaign trail in Brazil. What are the chances we can convince them to keep him?

Indepundit examines, "The Life of a Serial Protestor."

From Fox News:

The U.S. and Britain are proposing that the United Nations set a seven-day deadline for the Iraqi President to agree to disarm and open his palaces for searches of hidden weapons, U.N. diplomats and a Bush administration official said Friday.

I don't know what to make of this. Either:

1. Bush and Blair are playing chicken with the Security Council to demonstrate the UN's ineptitude,

2. They're setting up an ultimatum Hussein will never consent to, ala the Taliban, or

3. They've made and incredibly stupid mistake.

Unfortunately, I don't know which.

Update-Steve den Beste has his analysis. He's got three options for how this plays out. Each of them lead to war before year end.

You should really read this excellent article about morality, last chances, and the war with Iraq by Andy Ho.

The Swimmer has a few things to say about war with Iraq:

"I have come here today to express my view that America should not go to war against Iraq unless and until other reasonable alternatives are exhausted," Kennedy said in a speech before the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.(Emphasis added.)

Until all other alternatives are exhausted? Hello! 10 years? More than a dozen security council resolutions? Inspectors kicked out 4 years ago? Where have you been?

This set me off
Madeleine Albright, the US secretary of state under Bill Clinton, on Thursday accused some members of the Bush administration of an "irrational exuberance for this conflict" with Iraq.

Speaking before the Senate committee on foreign relations, Ms Albright said: "It is not an American trait to want war.

In the movie Crimson Tide Gene Hackman's character asks Denzell Washington, "What did you think son? I was just some crazy old coot putting everyone in danger as I yelled, "Yee-ha?'"

Frequently when I hear people questioning the "hawks" they act as if they believe that those people advocating war are doing so because they think it will be fun or a good adventure. That we're just running around yelling, "Yee-ha." Let me be perfectly clear: We do not advocate war because we think its fun; we advocate war because we've analyzed the consequences of not going to war and we believe they are worse than the consequences of acting. Its not that we like war. We just believe it is necessary.

(Yes, I realize that Albright went on to say that she supports a resolution authorizing force in Iraq, but the condescending attitude was the same as many in the peacenik crowd.)

Update-Michael Ledeen wasn't impressed with Madeline either.


Did you know that the Bible records a single instance of a human being sacrificed to Yahweh?

Judges 11:30-40 WEBJephthah vowed a vow to Yahweh, and said, If you will indeed deliver the children of Ammon into my hand,then it shall be, that whatever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, it shall be Yahweh's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. So Jephthah passed over to the children of Ammon to fight against them; and Yahweh delivered them into his hand. He struck them from Aroer until you come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and to Abelcheramim, with a very great slaughter. So the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel. Jephthah came to Mizpah to his house; and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances: and she was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter. It happened, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! you have brought me very low, and you are one of those who trouble me; for I have opened my mouth to Yahweh, and I can't go back. She said to him, My father, you have opened your mouth to Yahweh; do to me according to that which has proceeded out of your mouth, because Yahweh has taken vengeance for you on your enemies, even on the children of Ammon. She said to her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may depart and go down on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my companions. He said, Go. He sent her away for two months: and she departed, she and her companions, and mourned her virginity on the mountains. It happened at the end of two months, that she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she was a virgin. It was a custom in Israel, that the daughters of Israel went yearly to celebrate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.

It is important to note that God did not require this sacrifice of Jephthah. (I'm passing over for the sake of brevity why the sacrifice was allowed.) Jephthah made this vow of his own free will. It was a foolish thing to do. I've often heard people ask, "What did he expect? Was he expecting a goat to come to meet him? Jephthah's vow was placed him in a terrible predicament, but it was one entirely of his own making. Nevertheless, he followed through on his vow.

Its too bad for Jephthah's daughter that Robert Tancredo wasn't her father. Tancredo is the former term limits enthusiast who just announced that he was backing out of his pledge to serve only three terms in Congress. Tancredo say that term limits are no longer as popular as they once were. He says that there's so much important work he needs to do. Those things, he seems to think, justify him breaking his word.

I'm not sure where I come down on the term limits thing, but I doubt it will ever happen. The reason is that the ones who are really serious about it will leave Congress of their own free will to make a moral point long before they have enough influence in Congress to make it stick. The one's who don't want it will hang around forever and gain seniority. Advantage status quo.

In some respects Tancredo's pledge was a foolish one. He certainly seems to think it put him in an awkward situation. That bad situation, however, was one entirely of his own making.

I've always believed that character was more important in a politician than policy. Many people voted for him because of this promise. Tancredo says he hasn't decided yet if he will run for re-election in 2004. (If he won in 2004 that would extend his term beyond his original pledge.) I know he's a Republican and things are tight, but I hope this November his constituents make that decision for him 2 years early.

Whew! Federal Election Commission begins spellings out new political ad restrictions

Jay Leno and David Letterman still will be able to joke about federal political candidates in the weeks before an election. The Federal Election Commission says comments like theirs are not covered by the new campaign finance law.

Anybody else worried that we now live in a country where the the government now has to tell comedians that they are allowed to make jokes about politicians?

Just to be fair, stars who speak out for the war don't affect me any more than those who protest it. (Not much.)

Jane Galt posted this idea sent in from a reader which has at least as much chance of solving the Hussein problem as inspections.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

I did find this line in the Streisand fax amusing:

As you know, Barbra Streisand is busy in rehearsals for the performance she's giving on Sunday for the DCCC, so she asked me convey to you her feeling that it is time for the Democrats to get off the defensive and go on the offensive. (Emphasis added.)

As it would happen, I too feel that, "it is time for the Democrats to get off the defensive and go on the offensive." There is really only one small difference really: I want them to attack one of the greatest threats to the free world while she wants them to attack the leader of the free world. Just a small difference really.

Uh, Scott, I think that's the wrong Buffet.

Normally I don't link to anything Instapundit points out (What's the point? Seriously, what are the chances that someone is reading this site and not reading Instapundit.), but in this case, I'll make an exception. Go read Stuart Buck's idea about judicial nominations.

If Bush actually did this we could sell tickets and finance the entire war with Iraq.

Here's some friendly facts about the Hamas charter.

Roger Scruton says its all the EU's fault. Not really. It did feel good to say that though. Actually this is a good analysis of how Europe's experiment at transnationalism is changing all sorts of things.

Looks like the resolution on Iraq may be a done deal soon.

This article about the Convention to End all forms of Discrimination Against Women reminded me of something that really sets me off. I get really sick of people telling us we should ratify UN treaties and then list all the other countries that have ratified the treaty. Let me get something off my chest. This is NOT AN ARGUMENT. Even if every other country in the entire world had ratified a treaty, point that out would not be an argument. Another thing that is not an argument is listing all the "good" nations that have ratified the treaty and then listing some "bad" countries that haven't and implying that if we don't ratify this treaty then we'll be associated with the "bad" countries and that will make us bad. In fact no argument that hinges on who has or has not done anything is an argument worthy of the name. I get so sick of people trying to influence public policy by bawling, "But everbody else is doing it."

Much ado about nothing. CPO Sparkey says that the talk about jamming JDAM ordinance is silly.

Dick Morris, who decided much of Clinton's thoughts based on polling, now says that polling is becoming increasingly unreliable.

David Heddle asks, "Why did you choose God?"

I'm not up to debating Calvinism with David today. I do however think the question is worth being answered. I chose God because of the resurrection. I have have heard it said that people are rarely reasoned into their faith. That's not exactly what happened to me, but it is close. I am a Christian because of the resurrection. The resurrection is a phenomenally unlikely event. Yet we have people who presented evidence to a candid world that it had in fact happened and that evidence has withstood the test of time. I have read many arguments that tried to explain away that evidence and found them all to be utterly unconvincing or, in some cases, down right silly.

The Bible also contains many other extraordinary events and teachings. I believe them all based on the authority that was established with the proof of the resurrection. Paul said:

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without foundation, and so is your faith.

For me, this is true with a vengeance. Without the resurrection, I would have no faith in Christ. I don't believe I would have any faith at all. I will admit to being a skeptical person in most instances. It takes something powerful to overcome that skepticism. I don't believe I could be a Jew or a Muslim or any other faith. They don't contain an event like this that is both powerful in its meaning and so hard to dismiss factually.* Nor, does any other belief system I've encountered. I think that without the evidence, ably defended, that I have seen for the resurrection, I would never have believed in Christ or anything else. That's not to say I think I would be an atheist, but I would be agnostic. I say that because I look at so many other things in our world that people insist have happened (haunting, etc.) and I find my self saying, "Well, I suppose it could have happened, but it doesn't fit in with how I see the universe to work and I've never seen any evidence." With most things, I take the view of Hamlet when he said, "There are more things in heaven and earth then are dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio." (Or words to that effect. To lazy to look it up.)

So, for me its really a choice. I can take the resurrection and with it all the other improbable things that come with it. On the other hand, I can reject anything from any faith. Because I've seen the resurrection so well defended, I choose the former.

Unsurprisingly, this is also how I maintain my faith. Anytime I find myself doubting, I read John 18-20. It works every time. Thomas's story is especially effective. He seems like me, at least in his skepticism.

I know this isn't what David was asking, but there's my answer. In fact, if you were to ask me why I am a Christian, I could give you the answer in two words: empty tomb.

*Yes, Judaism contains the giving of the law at Sinai, but I can think of ways to explain that away. Without the resurrection, I would probably dismiss that event as well as other somewhat powerful Old Testament events. If I didn't believe in the resurrection, the rest would seem to much like fairy tales.

Hey parents! Don't want your kids having sex while in high school? Pay more attention!

Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Kevin Holtsberry has chimed in on the Crunchy Conservative issue. I'll point the posts out, but I refuse to be drawn into this debate again. I now declare this website to be free of any further Granola Conservative commentary.

President Bush says Hussein is laughing at the UN. What's wrong with that? I do it every day. (Hey, its either laugh or cry.)

I got a google hit from someone looking for a red letter edition of the Bible in Farsi. I have a feeling there aren't nearly enough of those around.

From Daily Pundit:

Found this on Big Ideas, one of the Blogging Network blogs:

As I recall from my world religions class in high school, there is fact and opinion, and both are equally valid.

It is my opinion that folks can leap from the top of the Empire State Building and fly in perfect safety to a landing on the ground. But you go first, okay?

Correction:This post previously ended a blockquote after the wrong sentence. The error changed the meaning of the post. Sorry.

Tim Blair has worked out an almost foolproof foreign policy plan.

I was grateful that French soldiers rescued American children in Ivory Coast. My next thought was, "France still has an army?"

Update-And speaking of the French army, Steve den Beste has a fascinating post on European armies in general.

Kevin Holtsberry takes on Pat Buchanan. Personally, I can't even make myself read what Buchanan writes anymore. Some of his 2000 campaign commercials made me ill and I can't remember the last time I heard a rational argument from him. (Caveat: I must admit I wasn't working to hard at finding any.) At some point people reach the point that they are no longer worth being taken seriously. Pat long since reached that level for me. (Of course, so did Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, but the media throws them in my face a lot more often.)

I concur with Josh Chafetz in that I rarely agree with Alan Dershowitz. I also agree with him that this article by Dershowitz is a fine piece of moral outrage.

Oh no! The dreaded "granola conservative debate returns.

Couldn't you guys have hashed this out while I was sick.

Anyway, a while back, Rod Dreher had an article about "granola conservatives." Joshua Claybourn summarizes that article this way:

Dreher is merely saying that your cultural indicators, such as the foods you eat, should not be an indicator of your political leanings.

I think that is a pretty fair summary of the article. The thing that I didn't understand is why he thought it needed to be said. I was apparently in the minority opinion. I saw stuff about this all over the blogosphere. A whole lot of the comments at the time were people who sounded like they had just been freed from bondage. Joshua Claybourn was one of his fiercest defenders.

I never understood the clamor at the time. To be honest, I still don't. I thought it was only a so-so column as Dreher's writing goes and the topic does nothing for me at all. However, as the issue has come back out of hiberation, I want to say something briefly. I've never felt like anyone was ever trying to tie my cultural preferences to my politcal ideology. I don't know people who do that to others. I certainly couldn't figure out who all these conservatives were who were telling other conservatives that being a conservationist was "leftist." As a result, I was a little frustrated when I posted my comments on the subject.

At the time, I wrote:

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.

Well, I guess a couple of things need to be said about this. First, I realized shortly after writing this that my tone here was pretty condescending and I tried to deal with that in some later posts. Second, as Claybourns current volley with Ben Domench shows, the people I couldn't fathom, do in fact exist. Domenech writes:

On the second count: even if you accept all of Dreher's social indentifiers as a solid indication of a coherent pro-nature philosophy, how many actual people fall under the label of Crunchy and Conservative?

Well, there I have it. While Domench certainly isn't saying that conservatives want dirty air and water (that's Ralph Nader's job), he does say that the people Dreher was talking about in his article are practically non-existent. So, Josh, I now have seen at least one person doing what I said I wasn't sure anybody actually did.

I do have to admit that I don't read the Corner much anymore either. Partially that's because the banter got boring after a while. The other reason is that if you don't start reading early in the day and keep checking back it can be very easy to get lost.

P.S. I realize that NR has caused a resurgence of this by featuring this issue in the print version, but can we please put this issue to bed soon? Months after writing my original posts I'm still getting hits from people searching for "granola conservative."

David Heddle has an interesting post on the Jesus Seminar. By the way, its my understanding that the Jesus Seminar got tired of deconstructing Jesus and is moving on to Paul. It looks like we'll see more of their sludge in the future.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Check out this piece by Larry Miller on the need to finally ignore the Left when it comes to Iraq. Its humorous, but makes a good point. (Link via IlliniGirl)

Yesterday, Randy McRoberts wrote this interesting piece on spiritual maturity. Today, he apologized for it. I actually thought that it was fairly well written and made several good points. He begins by talking about putting off gratification. That is actually a great point. One of the things I respect about Sean Hannity is that I have repeatedly heard him urge people to "delay gratification." The idea being that by insisting on having everything you want right now, you jeopardize the future. Anyway, I'm not quite sure why Randy was apologizing. Well, unless it was for the last sentence:
Teenagers like me (spiritual teenagers, that is) will become young adults, adults will become wise leaders, babies will become teenagers, and the crybabies will still be crying for their bottle.


Ok, maybe that was a little over the top. Anyway, it was a good read.

I read this American Prowler article and have a couple of comments. The first is that I agree with most of the analysis. The second is that despite my massive disagreements with Jane Fonda, there wasn't anything in this article that justified bringing her into it. If you're actually going to criticize people or their politics, that's one thing. Just batting someone's name around to loosely identify a bunch of people doing stupid things when you don't have anything specifically stupid to charge against the person in question seems a little lazy.

Red Letter Edition

ESV Bible Online: Matthew 8:5-13 When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.(Emphasis added.)

Consider this passage for a moment. Then contrast it with this one;

ESV Bible Online: Mark 6:1-6He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.(Emphasis added.)

I'll put aside such theological musings as why Mark said Jesus couldn't do many miracles or how the Son of God could be amazed. For the moment, I'm interested in only one point. The centurion had not seen any of Jesus's works, yet he believed in him. Scripture says Jesus marvelled at this. (The more so because the centurion was a gentile.) The people of Nazareth heard astonishing teachings and did at least see some miracles, yet they would not believe. Again we are told Jesus marvelled.

Which are you? Are you someone who's faith Jesus would marvel at? Or are you someone of whom it might me said, "And he marvelled because of their unbelief?"

Germany wants Tony Blair's help to get Bush to kiss and make up. In related news, I don't even know what to say about this.

One More Time An Iraqi government official in Cairo told VOA that Mr. Blair's speech before the British House of Commons was part of a plot by the United States to bypass the United Nations and act unilaterally against Iraq.(Emphasis added)

Ok, I'll go over this again. We may well act even if the UN sits on their hands and does nothing. That would not make our action unilateral. Unilateralism is not telling the UN they've become an ineffective debate team. Unilateralism is acting without the advice or help of other nations, especially our allies. If we are acting with Britain, we are at the least, acting bilaterally. Further, since when did anyone need a plot to act unilaterally.

I realize that this is just propaganda from Iraq, but it is the same kind of think the anti-war crowd is spewing.

Gotcha The United States is suspending tens of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine after determining that the government of President Leonid Kuchma approved the sale of an advanced anti-aircraft radar system to Iraq. The issue is prompting the Bush administration to review its relationship with the Kiev government.

You know, I could think of some other countries that probably ought to be cut off. Here's a hint. Their in the Middle East.

Jonah Goldberg has a great article about how the rest of the world misunderstands America. He concludes:

America is unique because it has the power to be an empire and has chosen not to be one. That choice wasn't merely a hard-headed calculation of our self-interest. And it wasn't an accident either. It was a moral choice, reinforced from one generation to the next. But because so many other nations failed that test, they assume nobody could pass it. Well, we did pass it and if we conquer Iraq we won't turn it into a colony. Hopefully, we'll teach it how to pass the same test.

Health Update

For those of you who care, I went back to the neurologist today. He poked and prodded and asked a lot of questions. Then he changed my medication (again). He still doesn't know what's wrong. He's setting me up to see a headache specialist at the University of Oklahoma. I guess I'll see how the medicine work. That's all I know for now.

Just heard a story on the ABC radio network. At the end, the reporter said that, "Many in Britain aren't sure they want to follow the U.S. down the road of unilateralism." I've got a solution to their problem. If they come along with us, it won't be unilateralism. Do people even know the meaning of the words they use?

Monday, September 23, 2002
Philip Murphy says he just doesn't understand England. Sometimes, I agree.

Red Letter Edition

ESV Bible Online: Matthew 8:1-4When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”

I actually have only one thing to point out about this passage. Jesus did something incredibly important for this leper besides healing him. He touched him. Under Jewish law, lepers were considered unclean. They were required to dress a certain way so they would be clearly identified. They were required to call out to people constantly that they were unclean so people could avoid them. But more than that, no one was allowed to touch them. It is possible that this man had gone months or years without coming into physical contact with another human being. That would have to be a huge emotional strain after a while.

Jesus took the time to touch him. He didn't have to. The Bible records him healing people at a distance of miles. He did not have to touch this man to heal him; He did it anyway. Jesus was willing to make a personal connection with this man. I think that is an important lesson that I fail to absorb all to often. Yes, I am willing to do things to help the needy. But am I willing to get involved in their lives? Am I willing to touch them. I'm ashamed to say that the answer is often no.

I don't know how to deal with this problem in myself, but there it is.

Um, Mark. All your candidates are under 50. Is there some reasoning behind that?

Sgt. Stryker gives us his campaign platform.

Check out Michael Ledeen's latest column about Iran.

Saturday, September 21, 2002
Steve den Beste wrote an interesting piece on why the longbow ceased to be an effective weapon in warfare. I think he missed a point; how would you affix a bayonet to a longbow? (I'm kidding. Sheesh.)

Did you know we declared war on history?

According to the title of an op-ed by Richard Reeves that is what President Bush's National Security strategy is. If he actually makes that same point anywhere in the article, I can't find it. I'd refute his arguments, but I didn't actually find any. The article is broken down into three parts. First, he mocks President Bush implying that he is deluded and paranoid while throwing in some half-hearted digs at Christianity. Then he includes several quotations from the document, with no comment whatsoever which I assume he believes make his point for him. Finally we have more mocking. If there's an argument in here, I can't find it. Further, no where in the actual article did I find any reference to this "War on History." I realize that authors don't always have a say in their headlines, but I found that a little bizarre.

Tim Blair proposes a new idea in intelligence. I'm not sure if he's kidding or not. If not, how would you make it work?

Dave Barry on the War On Tobacco;
Originally, the states claimed that they would use the tobacco-lawsuit money to . . . well, to do something about tobacco. But that of course makes no economic sense: To actually stop smokers from smoking would be to kill the goose that is coughing up the golden loogies.

So the states, according to the Government Accounting Office, are using less than a tenth of the tobacco-settlement money on anti-smoking programs. Meanwhile, they are spending bales of it on all kinds of unrelated projects, such as highways, bridges and museums. Officials of Niagara County, New York, spent $700,000 of their anti-tobacco money to buy a sprinkler system for a golf course. Maybe they were thinking that a golfer, while teeing off, would get sprayed in the eyes, causing him to hit the ball into a foursome of tobacco executives. Take that, merchants of death!

But as comical as all this is, it is not the zaniest development in the War On Tobacco. For that, we must look to North Carolina. According to an article by Liz Chandler in the Charlotte Observer, North Carolina officials have so far given $41 million of their tobacco settlement to -- I swear I am not making this up -- tobacco growers. Yes! The state gave this money -- which, you may recall, was taken from tobacco companies to punish them for selling tobacco, which is evil -- to these growers so they can buy machinery that will make them more competitive producers of . . . tobacco! This is like using War On Terrorism funds to buy flying lessons for al Qaeda.

So that's your update on the Wacky, Wonderful War On Tobacco. It is now essentially a partnership between politicians and tobacco companies to make money by selling cigarettes. It's only a matter of time before some shrewd state cuts out the middleman and starts funding the War On Tobacco by making cigarettes and selling them directly to the public (``Smoke New Jerseys -- They Taste As Great As Their Name!'').

No, wait, that would be completely insane.

I give them two years.

Ok all you Palestinian apologists out there, defend this.

Another interesting article about faith and soldiers by Martin Roth.

I have nothing to say about this. Haven't decided what I think yet.

US to Put Forward Proposal on NATO Rapid Reaction Force

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will propose the creation of a new rapid reaction force at a NATO ministers meeting in Warsaw next week.

You've got to admire his sense of irony at least.

A senior U.S. defense official said the proposal is for creation of a NATO standing response force, one that would include American, Canadian and European troops and which would be capable of deploying anywhere in the world on as little as one week's notice.

The proposal will be made by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who leaves Washington for Warsaw on Sunday for two-and-a-half days of meetings centered around an informal NATO defense ministers' gathering on Tuesday.

The senior official, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on condition of anonymity, said that if the proposal is endorsed, it will be presented to NATO heads of state at their next summit in Prague in November.

The official said if the idea is approved there, it could take up to two years to create the actual force.

Every once in a while old Rummy does something I don't understand at all. Let's face facts ok, NATO as a functioning military force is history. If we created this force, it would be pointless. I see one of two things happening here. Either the force will be composed almost entirely of U.S. and British troops, or it will be worthless. No one in NATO besides the Brits can be relied on to actually allow their troops to be deployed if needed. If you will recall, right after September 11, the North Atlantic Treaty was activated in full force, "An attack on one is an attack on all," they proudly proclaimed. We sent troops to Afghanistan. Britain sent troops. Almost nobody else sent troops until after the fighting was reduced to the peacekeeping stage. NATO's primary contribution to the war effort was to loan us some AWACs planes to patrol American skies because we had so many of ours patrolling Afghani skies. I see no reason to believe things will change.

Say we created this force. They train together as an integrated fighting team with each country providing some specialized units. Somebody bombs the Sears Tower. We determine that the bombing was planned by a large al Qaeda like group in Yemen. The rapid response team prepares to be deployed to take them out. Suddenly the French, German, and Canadian governments decide there is not enough evidence the terrorists did it and won't let their guys go. Now say that this team was trained to rely on German combat engineers, Canadian snipers, and French cooks which have suddenly been ripped out of the force. Aren't we now in much worse shape then before the creation of this team? I realize that this is overly simplistic, but the point is still valid. Most NATO countries just can't be counted on to respond when actually needed.

You know, all this brouhaha over certain choice words about President Bush got me thinking. It is obvious to me that America, or more specifically anti-Americanism, has come to the forefront in the German election. What would it take for a foreign country to be a central issue in an American election. During my lifetime, as far as I know, countries are only big issues in American elections if we a) are at war with them, b) think we're about to go to war with them, or c) just finished a war with them. The key word here being war. (The only exception I can think of this is Israel. There is fighting there too, its just not us doing it. We are, however, expected by the whole world, or so it seems, to solve it) Can you imagine American Presidential candidates spending large amounts of time talking about whether or not they support German foreign policy? Would American congressional candidates spend lots of time bashing France? Doesn't this say something profound about our relationship to the rest of the world?

Friday, September 20, 2002
I'm so depressed.

I just got an e-mail from my aunt. My cousin's daughter is going to be on Barney. Ahhhhh! Does this mean the whole family is tainted now?

The idiots who charged Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa now that they were provoked. Now keep in mind, this is the story that they claim vindicates them: They and the rest of their party were shouting insults at Gamboa, he responded with an obscene gesture, they charged the field and assaulted him.

A few points here:

1. No one outside their own party seems to have seen this obscene gesture.

2. Even if he did make it, it would seem he was the one provoked.

3. On the assumption that this obscene gesture was made, it would still in no way justify what they did.

4. A good way to get the tar kicked out of you is to pick a fight with a player or coach in the middle of a professional baseball game.

After discovering that the Daily Briefing has returned in new and improved form, I just had to poke around a bit. I found this wonderful gem.

Red Letter Edition

ESV Bible Online: Matthew 7:24-27“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

I don't really have much to say about this passage. I do want to point something out though. Christ did not actually say here that this parable applied to all of his teachings.

Okay, slowly push your jaw back up and be real patient. What I want to do is a quick study in context. Where was Jesus when he said this? Answer, he was still on the mountain that he went up on in Chapter 5. Who was he talking to? The same people who he was talking to in chapter 5. What had he just done? Preached an extensive sermon covering virtually every part of people's lives. So, when he says, "these words," what words is he referring to? The words he just finished saying or all the words he ever spoke? Answer: The words he just spoke.

Now, I want you to note that what I am saying is not that the rest of Christ's teachings are not a firm foundation. All I'm saying here is that is not what he actually said here. It is important not to try to stretch passages and make them say things that they do not in fact say.

The Greatest Jeneration points out a funny story. Well, it would be funny if it weren't for all the guns and grenades.

David Adesnik reminds us that the Bush-Hitler comparison was not just outrageous. It was also wrong.

Thursday, September 19, 2002
I've gotten some Yahoo hits under various forms, but the basic gist is that people are looking for pictures of people falling from the World Trade Center. As horrible as it sounds, we need to see those pictures occasionally. We need to revive the horror, and the dread, and yes, the anger (properly controlled). We need to do all of that so we never forget how we felt that day. We need to remember to honor the dead. More importantly, we need to remember so we can help make sure that our country will not feel that way again. In light of that, I refer you to this sight. It will take a while, but its worth it.

Sgt. Stryker points out a news flash. (Get sick and stop blogging for a few months and you miss the return of the Daily Briefing. Arghhh.)

Just so everyone knows right now, I get to be Wolverine.

Yeah right. Saddam is shaking in his boots now. What planet are these guys from?

Guardian Capitalization Watch
U.s. Unveils Drought Aid Package

Respect our sovereignty, says Baghdad - SEPT 20, 2002

Um, isn't this slightly, oh I don't know, ironic.

I just realized that in my absence Hokie Pundit might have been missing out on valuable stories involving Spanish aircraft carriers. I hope this is close enough.

Red Letter Edition

ESV Bible Online: Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many -mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

I have a couple of comments about this passage. The first is this: We hear people say a great deal about "saving faith." What does this really mean? Here Jesus plainly shows that there will be those on judgement day who will be surprised not to be granted admittance into heaven. It is not enough to pay lip service to the Lord. It is not enough to obey in a superficial way. Our Lord demands more. For more on what real faith looks like, see the entire book of James.

On another note, Jesus actually gives us a small glimpse of what hell looks like here. In C.S. Lewis's sermon, "The Weight of Glory" he had this to say:

Perhaps it seems rather crude to describe glory as the fact of being "noticed" by God. But this is almost the language of the New Testament. St. Paul promises to those who love God not, as we should expect, that they will know Him, but that they will be known by Him. (1 Cor 8:3) It is a strange promise. Does not God know all things at all times? But is is dreadfully reechoed in another passage of the New Testament. there we are warned that it may happen to anyone of us to appear at last before the face of God and hear only the appalling words, "I never knew you. Depart from Me." In some sense, as dark to the intellect as it is unendurable to the feelings, we can be both banished from the presence of Him who is present everywhere and erased from the knowledge of Him who knows all. We can be left utterly and absolutely outside - repelled, exiled, estranged, finally and unspeakable ignored. On the other hand, we can be called in, welcomed, received acknowledged.

Is it really that simple? Heaven is the place where you are with God and recognized by Him. Hell is to banished from the presence of the Omni-present and forgotten by the Omniscient.

I'm still mulling this Red Letter Edition around. I don't think I covered the issue very well, but I can't figure out what else to say. For now I'll just have to settle for linking to this Mark Byron post. If I think of anything else to say, I probably will.

On another note, MarcV dropped me a very nice note welcoming me back to the land of the blogging. One thing bothered me though. He said he was having trouble reading the red ESV in Red Letter Edition. I was wondering if he could clarify why that is.

How Appealing issues a warning to adulterers.

Paul Wright has another line on inspections. He asks, "What if they find something?" (Link via Cold Fury.)

N.Z. Bear lays the smack down on "agressive inspections."

Am I the only one, who when reading this headline,"Arafat’s HQ under fire, Israeli tanks enter compound," wonders how it is that Arafat's compound has been attacked by the Israelis repeatedly, yet continues to stand?

What a relief!
From the Voice of America:
Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabri says his country is free of all chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, and accuses Washington of using lies to build support for an attack.

I feel so much better now. I am disappointed that he did not also reassure us that Iraq has never used any of these weapons on minorities in their own country as well.


Steve den Beste has a (incredibly) long explanation of who are enemy is and what we must do. The piece is pretty good. I did notice one bit that struck me a little:

But Saddam isn't our enemy. bin Laden (may he burn in hell) is not our enemy.(Emphasis added.)

I just thought that was odd from an avowed atheist. Are atheists allowed to believe in hell? (Note to the comically disadvantaged: Its just a joke. I'm sure that this was just a colloquialism. Still, it is a little odd.)

What a relief. Harry Potter wasn't plagiarized. Wait a minute. I don't care.

Sometimes, sometimes, it can be fun to see your countries politics analyzed in another countries press. Check out some excerpts from Hugo Gurdon in the National Post:

All summer, the Democrats demanded that George W. Bush "make the case" for war. And now he is doing so. Too late, the Democrats realize that this means they'll be discussing key Republican issues -- national security, military and foreign affairs -- from now until the mid-term congressional election on Nov. 5.

"It shouldn't be allowed," said a grumpy Senator Hillary Clinton last weekend, betraying a familiar inclination to ban what she does not like.

But her party is only getting what it wished. The rhetorical difficulty for the complainers is that, throughout July and August, these same Democrats (and a few wily Republicans) demanded that the President seek congressional permission for war.

By agreeing, Mr. Bush has shifted the focus from health care, jobs and corporate scandals, which were what the Democrats had hoped to be discussing on television in the run-up to polling day.

It is not clear to what extent the White House deliberately set this electoral trap; naturally, the administration denies any such calculation. And if the Democrats are trapped, they should probably blame their own lack of forethought and some over-enthusiastic campaigning by their supporters in the left-leaning Washington press corps. It was television and the newspapers that set up the hue and cry for Congress's constitutional role in deliberations over war.

Let us recap. The Democrats have backed themselves into a corner. Hillary Clinton displays her totalitarian ways. The press is largely to blame for the Democrats being backed into a corner. Life is good.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002
No Red Letter Edition today. Yesterday's really got me thinking and I may have to return to it. I don't want to move on to another passage before I'm finished with this one. However, I just haven't been able to formulate my thoughts yet. Tomorrow is another day.

Here's a thoughtful piece by David Adesnik exploring the idea of coercive (backed by a very strong military force) inspections of Iraq. I don't agree with some of his reasoning, but it is certainly interesting.

Tell us how you really feel

State Department Official Explains U.S. Position on Cuba

Because Fidel Castro's government in Cuba is "bankrupt, dictatorial and anachronistic," there is broad agreement among the nations of the Western Hemisphere on the need for democratic reforms within Cuba, says a senior U.S. administration official. (Emphasis mine.)

Will the real Christopher Columbus please stand up! Sorry, I guess I meant lie real still.

Guardian Capitalization Watch

U.s. Eyes Yemen In Al-qaida Hunt

Now that would be a sight

From the Guardian:

As administration officials continued their attacks on Saddam Hussein . . .

I can see it now: Rumsfeld and Cheney barechested, pistols tucked in their belts just in case, charge into the Presidential Palace and open fire with their Uzis. Uh, guys, we might have been a little heavy on the hyperbole here.

This was interesting though. What chance do the Demcrats have in November?

But it adds to the Democrats' urgent concern to defuse the Iraq issue as soon as possible. The only tenable way to do that may now be for Congress to give the president the authority he wants as quickly and uncontentiously as possible, hoping that the shifting politics of the UN prevent a renewed outbreak of war and patriotism, at least until after November 5.(Emphasis addded.)

Now I can understand the war part, but what does it say about a party that needs to prevent an outbreak of patriotism in order to win?

Martin Roth tells us about some people with an incredible vision.

Yet another story which displays one of the real fears diplomats have about war with Iraq. From the Independent:

Such a disavowal of the United Nations by the United States would spell both war and diplomatic disaster for the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who helped to persuade Washington to bring the crisis back under the UN's umbrella. Britain's global influence depends largely on its permanent seat at an effective and respected UN Security Council. The organisation will be shunted into irrelevance, diplomats fear, if President Bush unilaterally goes to war.

I'm afraid this really is the motivation behind the actions of a lot of diplomats in relation to this war; they are afraid that if the U.S. goes it alone and is succesful they become irrelevant. Because of that fear, they are stonewalling and doing everything they can to prove they are important.

A new version of the Nigerian scam. This time the guy is an auditor who found a bunch money and is trying to make off with it. I'm concealing the telephone number.

LOME- TOGO. TEL:+###) ### ## ## E MAIL

Dear friend,

I am MR LARRY.the director in charge of
auditing and accounting section of Banque Togolaise
Pour Le Commerce Et L'Industrie Lome-Togo in West
Africa with due respect and regard. I have decided to
contact you on a business transaction that will be
very beneficial to both of us at the end of the
transaction .

During our investigation and auditing in this bank, my
department came across a very huge sum of money
belonging to a deceased person who died on November
1st 1999 in a plane crash and the fund has been
dormant in his account with this Bank without any
claim of the fund in our custody either from his
family or relation before our discovery to this

Although personally, I keep this information secret
within myself and partners to enable the whole plans
and idea be Profitable and successful during the time
of execution. The said amount was (U.S $8.5M UNITED
STATES DOLLARS), As it may interest you to know, I got
your impressive information through my good friends
who works with chamber of commerce on foreign business
relations here in Lome- Togo. It is him who
recommended your person to me to be viable and capable
to champion a business of such magnitude without any

Meanwhile all the whole arrangement to put claim over
this fund as the bonafide next of kin to the deceased,
get the required approval and transfer this money to a
foreign account has been put in place and directives
and needed information will be relayed to you as soon
as you indicate your interest and willingness to
assist us and also benefit your self to this great
business opportunity.

In fact I could have done this deal alone but because
of my position in this country as a civil servant(A
Banker),we are not allowed to operate a foreign
account and would eventually raise an eye brow on my
side during the time of transfer because I work in
this bank. This is the actual reason why it will
require a second party or fellow who will forward
claims as the next of kin with affidavit of trust of
oath to the Bank and also present a foreign account
where he will need the money to be re-transferred into
on his request as it may be after due verification and
clarification by the correspondent branch of the bank
where the whole money will be remitted from to your
own designation bank account.

I will not fail to inform you that this transaction is
100% risk free. On smooth conclusion of this
transaction, you will be entitled to 30% of the total
sum as gratification, while 10% will be set aside to
take care of expenses that may arise during the time
of transfer and also telephone bills, while 60% will
be for me and my partners. Please, you have been
adviced to keep "top secret" as we are still in
service and intend to retire from service after we
conclude this deal with you.

I will be monitoring the whole situation here in this
bank until you confirm the money in your account. and
ask us to come down to your country for subsequent
sharing of the fund according to percentages
previously indicated and further investment, either in
your country or any country you advice us to invest
in. All other necessary vital information will be sent
to you when I hear from you.

I suggest you get back to me as soon as possible
stating your wish in this deal. My mobile telephone
number is +### ### ## ##.

I look forward to pick your call asap.

Yours faithfully,


I particularly like the "Mr. Larry" part.

The Blood Libel's Back!

MEMRI translates this passage from a recent column by Dr. Muhammad bin S'ad Al-Shwey'ir in Al-Jazirah, a state run publication in the Saudi entity:

"Christian Europe showed enmity toward the Jews when it transpired that their rabbis craftily hunt anyone walking alone, [tempting] him to enter their house of worship. Then they take his blood to use for baked goods for their holidays, as part of their ritual. Often this deed was uncovered even in the Arab and Islamic countries that protected them – as Ahmad Abd Al-Ghafur wrote, pointing out the events geographically and historically, in his book The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, because anyone hunted by them disappears forever. When these incidents proliferated, the security apparatuses began to follow them, until they caught their rabbis committing the crime."

"Furthermore, they have played a significant role in toppling and corrupting many of the governments, to the point where this became known among the Arabs, the Germans, the Spanish, the Portuguese, and others."

In an attempt to cram as many ages-old lies into his piece as possible, he also resurrected the Franklin Smear. Kudos to those of you who recognize the other historical inaccuracy in this passage:

"Do the Americans – both rulers and ruled – realize that these are the thoughts and conspiracies [of the Jews] towards the human race? If not, they must take another look at what their president [sic] Benjamin Franklin said when he warned the American people of the danger posed by the Jews, in his speech at the conference convened to declare the American constitution in 1789..."(2)

Bill Quick has an excellent observation:

If Saddam's offer was "unconditional," inspectors would be landing in Baghdad today. But instead, a new round of "negotiations" will begin in Vienna two weeks from now.

Uh oh, GendakenPundit is suffering brain freeze. Too much ice cream maybe?

Eugene Volokh notes a strange election result.

Oh great, just as we're trying to end 20 years of civil war in Afghanistan, those poor people will have to put up with another form of violence: soccer riots!

You know, sometimes during this whole war on terrorism thing I've just loved the Russians. Sometimes I see things like this and just want to scream.

But at a news conference at the UN yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Russian Foreign Minister Ivan Ivanov clashed over whether the Security Council should pass a resolution to give the inspectors new powers before they return to Iraq and stated the consequences should Baghdad not comply. Washington clearly wants such consequences to entail military action.

But Ivanov said Russia believes no new resolution is needed for the inspectors to return and that they should simply follow the same operating procedures as they did in the 1990s.

Oh, he must mean the procedures that worked so well last time.

Another mass murder in Israel.

This little tidbit by Joshua Claybourn reminded me of a scene in the original Star Trek series that went something like this:

Crewman: Mr. Spock, is it true that Vulcan's never lie?

Mr. Spock:I believe that if you analyze that question logically you will find that no answer I could give could possibly be of any use to you.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002
Byron Preston has an excellent interpretation of "without conditions."

Curious. At the moment, if you run a Google search for "Joyful Christian", this site comes up first. But in a Blogs4God search for "Joyful Christian", this site comes up, if my count is correct, eighty-first. Interesting.

This is interesting:

"Iraq's agreement to accept the unconditional return of UN weapons inspectors is the right decision," Nabil Abu Rdainah, Mr Arafat's senior aide, told Reuters. "It's a necessary and correct response, and the United States has to put an end to its excuses to strike Iraq. There is no justification for aggression on Iraq."

Well, I guess that settles it. Arafat's senior aide says we now have no reason to attack Iraq. I guess we'll just have to take our stealth bombers and go home.

Are the Dems days numbered in California? This story surprised me some.

Red Letter Edition
ESV Bible Online: Matthew 7:14-20 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

To me this is a very interesting (not to mention encouraging) passage. Jesus actually tells us that there will be many people who look like they speak for God, but do not. The way to tell the difference, according to our Lord, is by their results.

One of the problems I, and many religious people, struggle with is the tendency to lash out at others who don't perfectly agree with them in theological matters. I once knew a minister who spent at least 6 weeks in his article in the congregation's bulletin detailing theological errors in materials from Promise Keepers. I don't remember what the issues were, but I agreed with him on several of the issues he brought up. It saddened me though that he was spending so much time and energy arguing against a group that was clearly doing good work. Certainly that group is not perfect in their theology. Then again, neither was this minister. Neither am I. None are any of us are. Praise God, a perfect theology is not a condition of salvation. If people who are doing good work are not teaching the scriptures accurately, we have a model:

ESV Bible Online: Acts 18:24-26 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

On the other hand, if I understand Christ's words here, there could be people who look like they are speaking the truth, but have our destruction at heart. I conclude from this that there may be people who appear to know exactly what God's will is and are teaching very good theology, but following them could lead to our doom.

Christ tells us to look not at what people say, but at their results. This would appear to mean that theology, while important, is not the most important thing. I'm still hashing this out in my mind, but here's my thoughts, at least for now.

Most weight-loss ads too good to be true, report shows

FTC warns consumers against deceptive claims

And how much did the FTC spend to find this out?

Roy Jacobsen has some good thoughts about forgiveness.

This site turns up number 2 on a Yahoo search for, "list of phillipine cabinet members." I don't have it.

Bill and Melinda Gates have third child

This qualifies as news?

Guardian Capitalization Update: U.s. May Base Bombers On Brit Island
Passing over my capitalization fetish, it appears that the U.S. may be moving some B-2 bombers to Diego Garcia. All the better to bomb Iraqi defenses it would seem.

After reading Eugene Volokh's comments about this post, I decided that I slightly over stated my case. I said:

This conflict has dominated their lives since 1948? Wasn't this the year that the UN wanted to set up a Jewish state and and a Palestinian state? Wasn't this long before Israel "occupied" the West Bank? Yes and yes. This has never been about self-determination and its never been about the "occupation." It has always been about killing Jews.

I should have said:

This conflict has dominated their lives since 1948? Wasn't this the year that the UN wanted to set up a Jewish state and and a Palestinian state? Wasn't this long before Israel "occupied" the West Bank? Yes and yes. This has never been about self-determination and its never been about the "occupation." It has always been (mostly) about killing Jews.

I should also stress that I don't think all Palestinians want to kill Jews. I do think that the leaders of movements such as Fatah and the PFLP are primarily concerned with killing Jews.

And, as I mentioned in the previous post, I keep hearing that all the Palestinians want is their own country. I pointed this out in June, but it bears a second look. From the PLO Charter:

Article 15: The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national (qawmi) duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine. Absolute responsibility for this falls upon the Arab nation - peoples and governments - with the Arab people of Palestine in the vanguard. Accordingly, the Arab nation must mobilize all its military, human, moral, and spiritual capabilities to participate actively with the Palestinian people in the liberation of Palestine. It must, particularly in the phase of the armed Palestinian revolution, offer and furnish the Palestinian people with all possible help, and material and human support, and make available to them the means and opportunities that will enable them to continue to carry out their leading role in the armed revolution, until they liberate their homeland.

Article 16: The liberation of Palestine, from a spiritual point of view, will provide the Holy Land with an atmosphere of safety and tranquility, which in turn will safeguard the country's religious sanctuaries and guarantee freedom of worship and of visit to all, without discrimination of race, color, language, or religion. Accordingly, the people of Palestine look to all spiritual forces in the world for support. (Editorial comment:Take a look at all the other Arab nations, including the Saudi entitiy, and tell me how likely freedom of religion in a Palestinian state is.)

Article 19: The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time, because they were contrary to the will of the Palestinian people and to their natural right in their homeland, and inconsistent with the principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, particularly the right to self-determination.

Article 20: The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.(Italics are mine throughout.)

As I noted in June, this charter has never been revoked. Does this sound like people willing to live in peace with Israel as long as their given their own independent country?