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

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Thursday, October 31, 2002

Just heard a radio report that a Tulsa teenager was shot by a school security guard. No word about about what happened exactly. The radio isn't even willing to say the shooting actually happened. They're still calling it a "possible shooting".

Update-Next report on the radio indicated that the guard was trying to force an intruder to leave and hit the student by accident. Good news is that the student was just grazed on the cheek. Bad news is that the guard is apparently not a very good shot.


As you can see from the last couple of posts, I've been crawling around the San Francisco IndyMedia and the Democratic Underground sites. I hadn't visited either site until recently. Sheesh, I didn't know what I was missing. I don't laugh that much very often, excpect for when I visit Scrapple Face. Of course, he's trying to be funny.


I thought this was ironic. I found this article on the Democratic Underground, that, among other things accuses David Horowitz of seeing a conspiracy theory under every rock. The article right under it was this lovely piece, the most accurate title of which would probably be, "Conspiracy Theories R Us." I gave up counting the individual conspiracies listed pretty quickly.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Where are we? France?

A ballot initiative is going to be voted on that you don't like. What do you do? Do you launch a vigorous get out the vote campaign? Do you hand out literature explaining how bad the law would be? Do you vote no? Do you ask others to vote no? Of course not! You hold a protest!

(Don't forget to demonize your opponents either!)

You say that like its a bad thing
Israel faces swing to right as coalition falls

What can I say? It is the Guardian after all.


In a post about Harry Potter, C.S. Lewis, and Tolkien, Mark Byron says:

In the Narnia series (it's been a decade since I read them, so feel free to correct me) the lines between good and evil were more clearly drawn, as Aslan was written as a Jesus-analog. In the Middle Earth series (here we're talking two decades of rust), the world is at best pre-biblical, creating a magical good-versus-evil that transcended traditional theology. My exposure to Tolkien came in my pre-Christian, Dungeons-and-Dragons undergrad era, while I read the Narnia books while running Cedar Campus' bookstore, so I'm still a bit leery of Tolkien; a combination of its pre-Christian universe coupled with the RGP milieu I associate it with makes me less conformable with the allegories.

I wonder if it would make Mark more comfortable with Tolkien if I pointed something out. I want to start out by saying that I have not read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, although I'm planning on doing so soon. (I just bought the books.) I have read The Hobbit and am currently reading The Silmarillion which is the history of the First Age of Middle Earth. It is from this book that I want to point something out.

The first character you meet in The Silmarrillion is Tolkien's representation of God who creates everything. He is known as Eru, The One, and Illuvatar. Angels are represented by a race known as the Ainur, one of whom, Melkor, turns against the plans of Eru because of his desire to have his own kingdom. The vast majority of thi book is about how The Children of Illuvatar battle against the evil plans of Melkor. If Tolkien has a Christ allegory, I haven't seen it, but he certainly has strong good versus evil allegorical tones in this book that any Christian ought to be able to recognize.

Anyway, that's my two cents.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002
Here's a Google hit I got recently. I don't know how to take that. Kinda depends on whether or not the Googler was expressing an opinion.


Does anyone no some trick to publishing graphics on blogger? I've can't seem to do it in a post or in my template. I can preview the graphics in other html programs so I know the code is good. When I paste it into blogger it is a no-go every time though.


Well, at least now we know why "Democrats" were furious about the idea that Republicans might continue the race in Minnesota. They didn't want anyone cutting in on their action. This may be the most tasteless thing I have ever seen.

Talk about an educational experience.


The Washington Post reports that Mondale is preparing to officially declare his candidacy. A huge portion of this story read like an attempt to convince Wellstone supporters that voting for Mondale is just like voting for Wellstone. The phrase, "like Wellstone" is used three times by my count. To paraphrase MSNBC, is it news, or is it propaganda?

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 12:38-42 ESV Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

I don't normally contract this out, but I thought Matthew Henry's explanation of this passage was pretty good.

Though Christ is always ready to hear and answer holy desires and prayers, yet those who ask amiss, ask and have not. Signs were granted to those who desired them to confirm their faith, as Abraham and Gideon; but denied to those who demanded them to excuse their unbelief. The resurrection of Christ from the dead by his own power, called here the sign of the prophet Jonah, was the great proof of Christ's being the Messiah. As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale, and then came out again alive, thus Christ would be so long in the grave, and then rise again. The Ninevites would shame the Jews1 for not repenting; the queen of Sheba, for not believing in Christ. And we have no such cares to hinder us, we come not to Christ upon such uncertainties.

Indeed. Matters are far less uncertain now. We have the recorded evidence of the resurrection. They did not. We have far less excuse.

1Note, this is not a blanket indictment of Jews. Here Henry is referring only to the Jews Jesus was speaking to, i.e., the scribes and Pharisees who stubbornly refused to believe. The indictment applies, however, to all who refuse to believe.

Survey: Sex Often Part of Casual Teen Relationships

Read it and weap.

Stupid Poll Alert (and from FoxNews even)

The latest FOX News poll conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation shows that almost equal numbers of likely voters say they would vote for the Democrat as for the Republican House candidate if the election were held today. Including those who are leaning toward one party's candidate, 41 percent say they would vote for the Republican candidate and 40 percent for the Democrat.

One problem, people don't actually vote like that. This isn't like a Presidential election where we're going in to vote for Republican or "Democratic" electors to decide a single nation-wide election. Congressional elections are votes to determine which 435 individuals are going to Washington. When people vote for Congress, the big R or D beside their names are frequently irrelevant. (In 2000 my Congressonal district had a majority of registered "Democrats" but the Donks didn't even run a candidate because the Republican incumbant was so popular.)

So what's my pont? Asking people to choose R or D in a poll doesn't really give much guidance as to how the election will turn out because the question has little to do with how people are actually going to vote on election day.


I've long believe that the time is coming when the line between TV, radio, DVDs, the internet, etc. will become so blurred as to make the distinction meaningless. This may be another step down that path.

Reuterville must be a strange place

In all fairness, this article isn't too bad, but the headline is atrocious:

Chechnya again helps Russia's Putin polish image

Is it just me, or is this about as crass as Chris Matthews lamenting that Bill Clinton didn't have anything like 9/11 to prove his greatness?

By George, I think they've got it!

Iraq sharply denounced a new U.S. draft Security Council resolution that warns of "serious consequences" if Iraq fails to cooperate with weapons inspectors, saying Tuesday the draft is tantamount to a declaration of war.

You think?

Iraqi state television said in a commentary that "each point of that draft resolution can be used to announce war in a way that threatens the security and safety of the world."

The U.S. draft resolution on Iraq, written with British support, includes references to "material breach" of U.N. resolutions and "serious consequences" language some feel could authorize military action if President Saddam Hussein fails to comply with U.N. weapons inspectors.

In point of fact, by finding Iraq in "material breach" of the UN resolutions on which the 1991 cease-fire was predicated, the resolution essentially declares the cease-fire void. You know what happens when a war ends in a cease-fire and one side breaks the cease-fire? War.

Skipping down a bit, this part did confuse me.

It called on "the international community to defend itself and reject the resolution."

Huh? In exactly what way would the international community be defending itself by rejecting the resolution?

Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri has said the U.S. draft resolution "is in fact an insult to the United Nations" and it "can be described as ... a declaration of war not only on Iraq but also on the United Nations because this draft resolution undermines the basic principles of the United Nations Charter."

Well, you would be an expert on that, now wouldn't you?


A British lawyer is trying to have a retired Israeli general tried for war crimes. As hideous as that is, this is pretty bad too.

He directed some of Israel's most controversial military operations in the West Bank earlier this year, including Jenin - where Palestinians claim a massacre took place - and Ramallah.

The BBC shamelessly repeated Palestinian claims of a massacre in Jenin without mentioning that these claims have been debunked. In fact, as the previously linked article shows, the Palestinians started calling Jenin a "victory." Shoot, even Human Rights Watch, who did accuse the Israelis of war crimes admitted there was no massacre. (As reported by dadada, the BBC)

LGF has picked this up and graciously linked this site.


I say this Headline: Putin vows to go after terrorists 'wherever they are' from the Straits Times. My first thought was, "Does that include Iraq?"


Happy Fun Pundit weighs in on Gore Vidale's idiocy.


Susanna titles a new post, "Dick Morris is a creepy jerk". She certainly makes a good point. Morris is certainly a brillian guy in many respects, but he's also strange. Morris also places way to much reliance on polls. Anyway, go read Susanna's post.

A FedEx truck has exploded. I hope this is just some weird accident.

It looks like this was just an accident.


I just got a Google hit that showed me I had a "Google whack." Of course, I said that before Scrapple Face came along.


Ooh. Now there's a lovely image. (I have no comments about the science.)


The Russian press is a little hacked off. They have a right to be.

Monday, October 28, 2002
Fred Lapides puts the sniper attacks in perspective.


Walter Cronkite says that if we invade Iraq it will start World War III.

Hey Walter, wake up! World War III has already begun. The only question is whether or not we're going to fight it or just lay down and die.

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 12:33-37 ESV “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Again we see Jesus talking about things that are bound to make us uncomfortable. He's talking about judgement again. There's something important to note here; Jesus says, "by your words you will be condemned." Notice that he doesn't say anything about about people's deeds or words getting them into Heaven. In our fallen condition, we can only bring condemnation on ourselves. To escape it,we need the blood of Christ.

Notice also Jesus's statement about the tree being judged by its fruit. Each of us is a tree putting out fruit. What fruit does the world, and more importantly God, see being produced by us?


My comments about polite lies have generated several e-mails which have I'm still mulling over. In the meantime "The Spud"and Mark Byron have their own takes on this issue.

Rachel Lucas gives Michael Moore a sound fisking.

Maggie Gallagher tries to figure out where on earth people got the idea that Timothy McVeigh was a Christian?

Editor's note. I slighlty altered this post for clarity.


Thomas Sowell argues that the producers of baseball broadcasts apparently don't like baseball.


Emperor Misha gives the NYT what for as they attempt to blast Putin for his handling of the theater crisis.

I want to throw in my two cents. I know that the way the Russians handled this theater seems heartless. It was not. They were faced with a horrible choice; they could either do nothing and let everyone die at the hands of the terrorists or they could act knowing that many of their own people would die at the hands of their rescuers. This had to be a heartrending choice. They made the right choice.

The choice was a cold and calculated one made by people capable of putting reason above their feelings. I thank God that those in charge were cold and calculating rather than touch-feely types. This was not a good time to be in touch with your emotions. Many people are unable to deal, emotionally, with the idea that force can solve problems. If one of those people had been in charge, they would have froze and hundreds more would have died.

Update-The Safety Valve rants on this too.

Update-James Robbins discusses the use of gas on NRO.


A U.S. diplomat was killed in Jordan. He was shot at least 7 times right outside his home. The White House, when asked if this is terrorism said, "We don't rule that out, but we won't go beyond that at this moment." Hope they continue to not rule it out.

Oh, by the way. Emmitt Smith is now the NFL's all-time rushing leader.

Sunday, October 27, 2002
The Polite Lie

You're walking through the grocery store and bump into a business acquaintance. "How are you?" they ask. "Fine," you respond. You get to the check-out counter and the clerk asks, "How are you tonight?" "I'm good," you respond.

Most of us will be asked how we are several times a day by people who have no expectation that we might actually tell them. It has become just another way of saying, "Hello." The accepted mode of reply is to say, "Fine,' when asked which is also just another way of saying, "Hello."

I bring this up because this subject has been on my mind lately. As many of you may know, I have been very ill for several months. As a result the honest answer when someone asks me how I'm doing is frequently, "Horrible." I know however that people don't want to hear that answer. I know, in fact, that most people who ask me, or anyone, this question never expect an honest answer. They expect to be answered with a polite, "I'm fine," or something to that effect.

Now I've long been aware of this fact. Despite the fact that I know people don't expect an honest answer, I've never been comfortable telling people I'm fine when I'm not. I've found that for the most part, this is not necessary because people don't really listen to the answer you give either. Consequently, I have had many conversations where people asked me, "How are you?" to which I responded, "Good morning," or, "Hello," and no one ever seems to notice.

Lately though, I've found myself thinking about this issue more. During my illness, I've found that many times people have asked me that question in a way that is difficult to pass off. I have found that I have, unconsciously, divided the world into three groups.

Strangers and passing acquaintances which I know have no real interest in my health. To those people I've found that I end up telling them, "I'm fine," without even thinking about my answer.

Business acquaintances and others who I know better than the last group, but who aren't really good friends. These people mostly know by now that I'm having serious health problems. Some people in this group occasionally ask specifically about my condition. When they ask specifically, I will answer in as much detail as they ask. I find that, again almost unconsciously, when these people just ask, "How are you?" that I generally say, "So-so."

Family, good friends, and members of my congregation. These people, I know, really want to know how I'm doing when they ask. I try to give them as honest an evaluation of my health as I can come up with.

In the past few days I've found that this approach, which I never really intended to adopt, has begun to weigh on my conscience. The answers I've given to many of these people weren't the truth. They were lies. Polite lies, to be sure. After all, the chances that many of these people actually wanted to know how I was doing are nil. They might even have found it rude if I had answered truthfully. Nevertheless, they were lies.

Some people might call these lies, "harmless lies." "After all," they might ask, "who is really hurt?" But is there really such a thing as a harmless lie? Don't all lies hurt the truth? Don't all lies hurt God?

So here's my question: What is the responsibility of a Christian when people ask him a question they don't really want to know the answer to. In Ephesians 4 Paul tells the Ephesians that the have been called to a new way of life, far and away above what they lived as pagans. He particularly exhorted them to honesty. Doesn't this charge extend even to situations as mundane as this?

David Adnesnik makes this observation:

Last but not least, how's this for irony: "Participants [in the anti-war protest] said the shootings in and around [DC] in the last three weeks had kept people from planning to visit Washington." Hmmm.... Al Qaeda supporter murders Americans at random and fewer people show up to protest the war against terrorism. Anyone have Sherlock Holmes' phone number?

TalG has info on another mass murder in Israel.


Greatest Jeneration has the text of Putin's national address. Worth a read.

Susanna has some interesting comments about tools, context and the NYT.

Saturday, October 26, 2002
Good News.

New technology may allow the blind to have much more extensive use of computers and the internet.

Well, this makes as much sense as what he actually did.


I got a Yahoo hit for for Habbakkuk 3:2-19. Hey, we aim to please.

O Lord, I have heard the report of you,
and your work, O Lord, do I fear.
In the midst of the years revive it;
in the midst of the years make it known;
in wrath remember mercy.
God came from Teman,
and the Holy One from Mount Paran.
His splendor covered the heavens,
and the earth was full of his praise. Selah
His brightness was like the light;
rays flashed from his hand;
and there he veiled his power.
Before him went pestilence,
and plague followed at his heels.
He stood and measured the earth;
he looked and shook the nations;
then the eternal mountains were scattered;
the everlasting hills sank low.
His were the everlasting ways.
I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction;
the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble.
Was your wrath against the rivers, O Lord?
Was your anger against the rivers,
or your indignation against the sea,
when you rode on your horses,
on your chariot of salvation?
You stripped the sheath from your bow,
calling for many arrows. Selah
You split the earth with rivers.
The mountains saw you and writhed;
the raging waters swept on;
the deep gave forth its voice;
it lifted its hands on high.
The sun and moon stood still in their place
at the light of your arrows as they sped,
at the flash of your glittering spear.
You marched through the earth in fury;
you threshed the nations in anger.
You went out for the salvation of your people,
for the salvation of your anointed.
You crushed the head of the house of the wicked,
laying him bare from thigh to neck. [3] Selah
You pierced with his own arrows the heads of his warriors,
who came like a whirlwind to scatter me,
rejoicing as if to devour the poor in secret.
You trampled the sea with your horses,
the surging of mighty waters.

I hear, and my body trembles;
my lips quiver at the sound;
rottenness enters into my bones;
my legs tremble beneath me.
Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble
to come upon people who invade us.

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.

I love the book of Habbakkuk. Here was a prophet who, after being told things weren't going to work out the way he wanted, nevertheless praised God.


Why does the first two thirds of this story read like a press release?

Update-That rally still doesn't have anything on this one.

There may be new evidence of bin Laden's death.

Idiotarian alert

Gore Vidal, no surprise, accused Bush of complicity in the 9/11 attacks so he could invade Afghanistan to get access to its mineral wealth. The fact that no such plans have materialized since we toppled the Taliban doesn't appear to phase him in the slightest.

Update-I guess I really should point out that I have no doubt that Americans will eventually help the Afghans exploit the mineral wealth of their country. There's nothing wrong with that. That may be the only way the Afghans will be able to get the currency they need to rebuild their country. That is not what Vidal is accusing Bush of. His accusation that Bush wanted to invade to Afghanistan to steal everything from the locals. After all, it is all about OIIIILLLLLLLLLTM you know.


This story has more information on the raid to rescue the hostages in Moscow. It includes some hostage interviews. What it doesn't include is the word "terrorists."


It looks like Mondale will replace Wellstone on the ballot.

This is going to be a logistical nightmare for Minnesota elections boards. Mark my words, if Mondale loses by a small margin, we'll be back in court.


Josh Chafetz asks,

RIGHT, so there's this expansionist despot with a history of destabilizing the region, invading his neighbors, and killing lots of Muslims. The US and Britain form the backbone of a coalition to go after him, but they can't get Security Council backing because Russia happens to like this particular despot. The take him on anyway. That despot is currently sitting in a dock in the Hague, and his country just had its first truly free elections. Why is it that the addition of US interests into the mix (without the subtraction of humanitarian concerns from the mix) necessitates a more multilateral approach? Anyone?

You've got me.

Susanna has some good comments about the ossuary box find.


Glenn Reynolds links to this story on the Michael Bellesiles flap by David Mehegan. I've got to admit that I'm not familiar with Mehegan's work, but the Prof says that he's been on this issue since an early stage. For that reason I'm surprised to find that this article paints Bellesiles in the best possible light considering the actual report that was issued.

The portion of the article I'm concerned with was excerpted by Reynolds so at first I thought maybe I was just missing the context from the article. There's context missing alright, but it is Mehegan's article, not in Glenn's post. Mehegan wrote:

''His answers raise doubts about his veracity,'' the report states. ''He seems to have been utterly unaware of the importance of the possibility of replication of his research. His responses have been prolix, confusing, evasive, and occasionally contradictory. Even at this point, it is not clear that he understands the magnitude of his probate research shortcomings.''

Although the report also says, ''we do not believe it possible to state conclusively that Professor Bellesiles engaged in intentional fabrication or falsification of research data,'' it adds, ''we are seriously troubled by Professor Bellesiles's scholarly conduct. ... the failure to clearly identify his sources does move into the realm of falsification.''

Mehegan's quotations from this report are at best unfortunate. They leave you to believe that the report did not find that Bellesiles intentionally engaged in falsification of evidence. I'm afraid this impression is given exists because of a massive and total failure of context.

The report does indeed say that the committee did not believe it possible to state that Bellesiles intentionally falsified data on two counts. The actual report covers 5 different potential ethical violations. Bellesiles was accused of;

1. intentionally fabricating or falsifying data in relation to Rutland County, Vermont probate records,

2. similar charges in relation to Providence, Rhode Island probate records,

3.similar charges in the San Francisco Bay area,

4. intentional fabrication or falsification of data supporting Table One in "Arming America: The origins of a National Gun Culture:,

5. "other serious deviations" from "accepted practices in carrying out or reporting results from research".

It is important to note that one through four deal with his honesty. Number five deals with his competence. My real concern though is that the quote Mehegan gives where the committee said they couldn't prove he was falsifying data only applied to questions one and two. What the committee actually said was:

As to Questions 1 and 2 we cannot judge the issue of intentionality. We do not believe it possible to state conclusively that Professor Bellesiles engaged in "intentional fabrication or falsification of research data" given the evidence at our disposal. But we are seriously troubled by Professor Bellesiles' scholarly conduct in most of the contexts to which the first two questions refer.

Translation: For these two points we know the data is seriously flawed. We're just not sure if he was lying or incompetent.

As you can see though, Mehegan's quote from the report about inability to prove he was lying only applied to the first two questions.

Mehagan's quote about failure to identify sources moving "into the realm of falsification" is also misleading. This quote relates to question four, but was just the tip of the iceberg. The actual statements are far more damming. In point of fact, the committee discovered, and Bellesiles admitted, that he omitted the data for the years 1774-1776 in a table that purported to show data for the years 1765-1790 without disclosing the omission. Worse, Bellesiles admitted that he omitted the data because he believed that the data for those years showed a, "disproportionately high number of guns!" (Facts! We don't need no stinking facts.) The committee stated:

Here is a clear admission of misrepresentation, since the label on column one in Table One clearly says "1765-1790." If Professor Bellesiles silently excluded data from the years 1774-1776, as he asserts, precisely because they failed to show low numbers of guns, he has willingly misrepresented the evidence.

As you can see, the committee did find Bellesiles to have, "engaged in intentional fabrication or falsification of research data," just not in questions One and Two.

To make things more clear, here is the final conclusion of the report:

In summary, we find on Questions 1 and 2, that despite failures of and carelessness in the gathering and presentation of archival records and the use of quantitative analysis, we cannot speak of intentional fabrication or falsification.. On Question 3, we find that the strained character of Professor Bellesiles' explanation raises questions about his veracity to his account of having consulted probate records in San Franciso County. On Question 4, dealing with the construction of the vital Table One, we find evidence of falsification. And on Question 5, which raises the standard of professional historical scholarship, we find that Professor Bellesiles falls short on all three counts.

To summarize the summary:

1 and 2. Maybe lies. Maybe incompetence.

3. Probably lies, but we can't prove it.

4. Definitely lies.

5. Definitely incompetent.

Again, my concern is that if you just read Mehegan's article, you would think that the committee never found proof of intentional wrongdoing and that is simply false. On Question 4, the report shows clear evidence of intentional deception.

[Editor's note. I had to transcribe all quotes from the report from a PDF file and I have not checked for typos. If you find any, please let me know.]


Apparently Libya is leaving the Arab League. The reason? Apparently the AL doesn't hate Israel enough.


According to Fox, the body count of hostages in Moscow is up to 90. Disturbing, but still better than the seven to eight hundred that would have otherwise died.

Here's one odd thing I've seen in a couple of stories:

Russian television footage from inside the theater showed the camouflage-clad body of the gunmen's leader, Movsar Barayev, lying on his back amid blood and broken glass, a cognac bottle in his hand.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but Muslims aren't supposed to drink. Either the leader of these terrorists died with a drink in his hand or some soldier has a twisted sense of humor.

We still don't understand this "democracy" thing

Kosovo goes to the polls on Saturday in its third election since the 1999 conflict, but many Serbs may boycott the ballot in protest at their difficult living conditions.

Good plan!

UN Orders Sanctions Against Jemaah Islamiyah

The United Nations has ordered sanctions against a Southeast Asian Islamic group suspected of ties to the al-Qaida terrorist network.

The United Nations says member nations must freeze the assets of Jemaah Islamiyah, now that a Security Council committee placed it on a list of more than 300 groups and individuals with suspected al-Qaida ties. Jemaah Islamiyah is suspected in the October 12 bombings in Bali, Indonesia, that killed more than 190 people. Australia pushed for the U.N. sanctions after losing more citizens than any other nation in the Bali bombings.

Yeah, that will show them.

Bill O'Reilly is depressed:

Sooner or later we are going to have to confront the growing irresponsibility of the media in America. Of course, we can't have censorship because then the politicians would rule the world and get away with all kinds of stuff. But what about self-censorship? Shouldn't Americans be encouraged to embrace media that does not get hysterical? Shouldn't faulty reporting and foolish speculation be held against those who do it?

I can tell you that is not happening. Some of the most irresponsible talk radio and cable TV were rewarded with huge audiences during the sniper speculation. I think some Americans actually enjoyed the coverage. That is simply depressing.

The truth is this: No media person could possibly know what kind of job Chief Moose was doing because we have no idea what kind of information he had in his possession. We could not possibly have ascertained the true motives of the sniper because we knew absolutely nothing about him.

Because the airways are owned by you, the people, the electronic media has a responsibility to inform you with facts and responsible analysis of those facts. Once we strayed into the swamp of speculation, we actually became the sniper's accomplices, creating false illusions, promoting rank fear and giving those maniacs their constant dose of attention.

The sniper coverage has exposed the profit-driven American media for what it has become: A band of laptop-carrying marauders that have embraced blood sport with a vengeance.

Now that the suspected killers are out of action, we need to examine just how this terrible story was reported and expose those that profited from being irresponsible. We in the media, of course, will never police ourselves because to do so would damage a major cash business.

So, in the end, it will come down to you, the news consumer. We have you in our sights. And only you can change our aim.

If the American public is responsible for cleaning up TV news, then we're all doomed. OK. Maybe I'm depressed too.


For the most part, I'm not going to link to the "Senator Wellstone was such a great person" items that I stumble across. For this post, I'll make an exception.


Bjorn Staerk has some comments about stupid press freedom rankings.


Ahem. Kook alert. No surprise, but the conspiracy theorists are out in full strength about the death of Senator Wellstone.

Can anyone not totally brainwashed believe this is a coincidence - less than two weeks before a critical election, with Wellstone surging ahead in the polls. This was murder. I do not know how. I do not know by whom. But murder, it most surely was.

Of course there's no evidence of foul play at all, but who needs evidence? No suspects either, but that's just a detail. They have a motive. What is that motive? Republicans are EeeeVvvvIiiiiiLLLLLL!!!!!!! I mean, what else did you need to know? And of course, when the NTSB issues its report, which will almost certainly wind up being, "pilot error," (As I understand it, that's the reason for most crashes. Nothing against pilots. The cause of most car crashes is driver error.) they will conclude this is just a coverup.

I've got to go with Orrin on this one.


Here is a more detailed account of the hostage rescue in Moscow. Reports I saw last night had estimated hostage deaths at 10-20. This story puts the death toll for hostages at 67. That's much worse than originally reported, but not nearly as bad as it could be considering the estimated 750 hostages who were rescued.

I want to excerpt a few things here that I think are important.

The rebel leader, Movsar Barayev, was among those who died in a fierce gun battle between the rebels and hundreds of the heavily-armed special forces.

The BBC's Jonathan Charles, who is at the scene, says this was not a planned operation but one which was triggered by events

The rescue operation began when some of the hostages tried to escape after the rebels shot two of their captives and injured at least two others.

In the ensuing panic, the hostages inadvertently set off booby traps laid in the theatre by the rebels.

Russian special forces then rushed to their aid, engaging in a pitched gun battle which lasted more than an hour.

About two hours later, the Russian television channel ORT showed pictures of the theatre strewn with bodies, some severely mutilated, others with their heads down as if they had passed out.

Officials said none of the special forces had been killed or injured in the operation.

"We succeeded in preventing mass deaths and the collapse of the building which we had been threatened with," said Russian Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Vasilyev.

I just want to say some things about the Russian special forces soldiers who executed this raid. The reporter says that this wasn't a planned raid. It is certainly true that they didn't plan to go in when they did, but I can pretty much guarantee that they had a, "Here's what you do if they start killing all the hostages plan," and it clearly worked petty well. My hat is off to these fine men who made the best of a terrible situation. The terrorists had said that if Russian soldiers stormed the building they'd kill all the hostages and blow up the building. Clearly, they weren't given that chance.

I'd pretty much resigned myself to the idea that I'd wake up this morning to hear about hundreds of dead people. I was overjoyed when I read that these fine men had saved all those people before I went to bed.

One other thing. This is just another in a long line events that we should NEVER FORGET. The Jihadists believe they are in a war between good and evil. We need to remember which ones we are.

Update-Here's another good story on the rescue from the Toronto Star.

Update-Greatest Jeneratoin has some comments.

Here's a Q&A about the ossuary box in the Jerusalem Post. Not much new information, but interesting all the same.

Friday, October 25, 2002
Just when I was feeling so happy, I say this update from the religion of peace.

Yes!!! It looks like Russian soldiers have taken control of the theater with a minimum of deaths.

Link via Blogs4God.

Update-I think Jen is happy about this.


Just picked up this story on Australian Broadcasting Online:

Three loud explosions and shots were reportedly heard shortly before 5:40am (11:40am AEST), near the Moscow theatre where Chechen rebels are holding about 700 people, including two Australians, hostage.

A television correspondent at the scene said the explosions and shots appeared to come from inside the theatre and could mean Russian forces have launched an assault.

The rebels have threatened to start executing the hostages at 6:00am unless Russia ends its war in their mountainous homeland, according to a hostage communicating by mobile phone.

Its looking worse all the time. I have the horrible feeling that this is going to end with a high body count.

Update-FOXNews reports the terrorists have murdered two hostages and wounded two others.


Hundreds of people are held hostage in a Russian theater. What do I find when I go to Google news? Stories like this one about how the Russian papers are covering the story! Can we maybe wait on that until after we know what happens to these people? Arghhh!

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 11:25-30 ESV At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Free Enterprise wins out

How Appealing points out an appeals case which invalidates municipal statutes in California that attempted to outlaw ATM fees. Let this be a lesson. If you don't like the price businesses charge for their services, don't do business with them.

He's right. Not even the "Democrats" deserve this.


Here is a truly fascinating artilce about the newly discovered ossuary box.

Joe Bob Briggs wants us to leave the teachers alone.

This post by Todd Zwicki at the Volokh Conspiracy is a must read.

John Miller has a good tribute to Wellstone.

Somebody needs language lessons

The U.S. wants the Security Council to vote on Iraq. France and Russia still don't like our version. They really don't like the words, "material breach" when describing Iraq's stance in relation to previous resolutions. They don't like it because if Iraq is found to be in "material breach" then the Gulf War cease fire becomes a worthless piece of paper and the war is back on.

China doesn't like that phrase either, but they have a different reason.

China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Yingfan, said he, too, had problems with "material breach" because it could have different interpretations.

Huh? What different interpretations? Unless he's worried someone might think we're talking about a tear in someone's trousers I really don't see the interpretation problem here.


The hostage situation in Moscow is deteriorating. Apparently the terrorists have reached the "meet our demands or we kill the hostages stage." I really fear this is going to end badly.

Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein issued a statement to the terrorists telling them to stop wasting time on the Russians when there are so many Jews and Americans they could be killing. Charming.


Families of many of the 9/11 victims are suing members of the Saudi royal family based on their connections to al-Qaeda. Apparently our government is considering asking the court to drop the suit for fear it might hurt relations with our "ally." Guess, what, "Saudi" Arabia is not a friendly country. They may be a strategic asset, but they are not our friends. The suit should go forward.

Update-Charles Johnson didn't care for this much either.


Well, Senator Wellstone died today. I didn't like the man's politics, but I never heard anything negative of a personal nature about him.

While I can't deny the possibility that his death may help my parties political situation, I just have no desire to discuss that or some of the silly theories I've seen regarding what might happen for the rest of his term. Some events just transcend that type of wrangling. The discussions have to happen, but for now I don't want to be a part of them.


The terrorists have released seven more people from that theater in Moscow. Contrary to prior reports, they apparently still hold some children.

This was well thought out as far as who to release. First they released all the Muslims. This avoids one of the problems propaganda problems the WTC bombers had; it is hard to justify your jihad when you're killing Muslims too. Now they have agreed to release foreigners. This is probably an attempt to get the rest of the world to think that the terrorists only quarrel is with the Russians. A little late for that I think, but that is probably the intent.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

I came across a site earlier tonight which I have decided not to link to. It was purportedly a Christian site. Some things I found interesting about this site.

1. There was a brief exhortation to non-Christians to convert, but if there was anything on that site that told them how to do so, I couldn't find it.

2. Seven or eight prominently linked articles accused just about everyone under the sun of be heretics. (Except, they couldn't spell heretics. Instead it was "hereticks.")

3. Virtually the entire site appeared to be devoted to articles explaining that everyone who doesn't use the KJV is going to hell.

4. I found one spot where they linked to translations of some of their articles into Spanish, German, and a couple of other languages.

5. Question. If they needed translations, they presumably can't read English. If they can't read English, they presumably can't read the KJV. If they can't read the KJV aren't they going to Hell anyway? So what was the point of translating their articles? Maybe these foreign language articles were explaining that those dadgum foreigners needed to learn English so they can read the KJV so they won't go to Hell.

6. I've seen KJV adherents clinging to all sorts of theories to prop up their belief that the KJV is the only acceptable translation. These people also found the need to post all sorts of articles about how great King James himself was. Am I missing something, or is that a total non sequitur?

I don't know about anyone else, but I find this kind of stuff disturbing.

Well, it's official. John Mohammed's gun was positively identified as the murder weapon.


I was reading this post at LGF and started thinking. The Chechen terrorists say they want the Russians to withdraw from Chechnya. They've also been quoted as saying that they want to kill, "hundreds of infidels." I think this goes down in the "stupid terrorists" file. Do they not understand that the chances of getting what you want approach zero when you tell everyone in advance that you want to kill all the hostages?


Please take some time to say a prayer for those trapped in that theater in Moscow, their families, and those responsible for negotiating their release.


Is it just me, or is there something a little sick about calling people who charge into a theater, take hundreds of hostages, and threaten to blow everybody up, "guerillas." That's especially true because we have another word that describes them so much better: terrorists.

Have you ever wondered . . .

. . . why the term "investigative journalist" isn't seen as redundant? It isn't though, is it? Our media has a very small number of reporters like Joel Mowbray who dig in places no one else thought to look and come up with stuff no one would have ever guessed. It also has a vast majority who just follow the pack and report whatever falls in their laps. It is sad, really.

Oh no! What should we do?

Ok, months late I put my links into categories. Dividing between "Christian" and "Politcal/News" is a little difficult. I tried to categorize blogs based on where they spend the majority of their time. If anybody has suggestions about moving some links, please let me know.

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 11:20-24 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

This is a passage that some people find hard to stomach. People like to think of Jesus as the warm and fuzzy God. The idea of Him passing judgement on anyone makes people uneasy. I think it is useful to remember the reason Jesus was passing judgement on these people; judgement was passed because they refused to repent.

We have to remember that we have all sinned and are subject to a sentence of death. God requires that all of us repent. If we don't, we can expect a condemnation worse than what Jesus proclaimed in this passage.


According to this story, the U.S. has offered Russia a $10 billion radioactive materials storage contract if they will stop helping Iran with develop weapons. I find it interesting that I've seen estimates that Iraq owes Russia between $7 billion and $10 billion. It has been widely speculated that fear of losing this money forever is part of what is motivating Russia's obstinacy about a war with Iraq. Is this a back door attempt to get Russia the money?


Jonah Goldberg has an incredible piece about power and corruption.


Martin Devon has something to say about the hostage takers in Moscow:

While the media still calls the Chechens "rebels," not even "militants," we've seen this M.O. often enough to know terrorists when we see them. According to the editorial policy at Patio Pundit , when you hold hundreds of people in a theatre hostage, shoot one, and threaten to kill them all unless a political goal is achieved you will be labeled a terrorist. The Chechens may have legitimate grievances, but these actions make it less likely that these grievances will be heard.

Can I get an Amen?


Well, its looking more and more like they did catch the sniper. Guess what, he's a Muslim. I bet he's not a terrorist though. (And I'm not a CPA.)

Wednesday, October 23, 2002
Red Letter Edition

Matthew 11:7-19 ESV As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written,“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,who will prepare your way before you.’

Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

At the moment, I'm mainly concerned with that last statement. Jesus compares the way the religious authorities treated John and Himself. In doing so, he demonstrates that no matter what form God sent his message to them, they would not accept it. I hope that I am more open and more willing to look for God's word.

What were they thinking?

Hundreds of people are being held hostage by Islamist terrorist in a Russian theater. How does ABC conclude the story on this nightmare?

Located in southeastern Moscow in a working class neighborhood, the musical is based on Veniamin Kaverin's novel "Two Captains." The romantic novel recounts the story of two students and their different destinies during the Soviet times. The theater's producer, Alexander Tsekalo, said on Russian television that the theater could hold 1,163 people.

According to the theater's Web site, more than 350,000 people have seen the production since it opened.

At this point does the theme of the play really matter? Does the number of people who have seen the play have any significance? The only relevant information in the last two paragraphs of this story is the capacity of the theater. That at least gives us an idea of how many hostages there might be. The rest is useless trivia. Why on earth did ABC dilute this very important story with useless information?


Iraq claims to have released every prisoner, murderers included, from its prisons. Why then, are so many people still demanding to know what happened to their relatives? For that matter, why does Amnesty International have such a large list of political prisoners that they can't confirm have been released?

I see 3 possibilities:

1. A whole bunch of people died in Saddam's prisons and have long since been buried with no notification to their families of their deaths.

2. The whole amnesty thing was a hoax.

3. Both 1 and 2.

Personally, I'd go with number 3.


Was Iraq really behind the OKC bombing? The evidence just keeps piling up.


Just a thought

I keep hearing Democrats rage about how Republicans are ignoring our horrible economy. I also keep hearing EUnuchs claiming that Bush only wants to go to war in Iraq to distract all the angry people at home. Every time I hear either claim I find myself thinking, "What the heck are they talking about."

I don't know about anybody else, but when I look around, the economy just doesn't seem that bad. In fact, it seems pretty good. I'll grant that it is not as great as we've had in the past, but pretty good.

I'm totally bumfuzzled about claims of angry American populace which Bush must go to war to distract. Have the EUnuchs making the claims actually talked to any Americans besides those who work in Hollywood?


The Greatest Jeneration links to a story that reveals, unsurprisingly, that the terrorists holding several hundred people hostage at a Moscow theater are Muslim extremists from Chechnya.

I echo the prayer at the end of Jen's post.


So, would you know a hate crime when you saw it?


Now this excerpt from a State Department press conference about bonuses is just embarrassing.


Juan Gato has links to several stories about gunmen taking hostages in a Russian theater.

Susanna has a great rant about doing the right thing regardless of cost.


Ok, let me use this article about a vote in Oklahoma that could potentially ban cockfighting to make a point about rhetorical techniques I despise. Let me begin by saying that I am undecided about the actual measure. I oppose cockfighting on general principal, but I'm also concerned that the wording of this measure may intrude on people's rights beyond what is necessary to end cockfighting in the state. Consequently, I'm still not sure how I'll vote on this issue. That being said, here are a couple of the arguments being used.

First I will look at an argument by current governor Frank Keating who supports the measure to ban cockfighting.

"It is simply embarrassing to Oklahoma to be seen as one of only a tiny handful of locations outside of the Third World where this activity is legal."

This is the stupid comparison argument. The technique is simple. (Truthfully, Keating didn't even pull it off very well.) In its fullest form you first name off a list of "civilized" countries where the activity you want banned is already illegal. You then name off a list of "barbaric" countries where the undesirable activity is legal. Then you say, something to the effect of, "I'm just embarrassed that my country/state is on of the few places in the world outside (insert barbaric countries again for emphasis) where this is still legal.

Clearly the purpose of this "argument" is to cause people to infer that if we don't make this activity illegal then we're just a bunch of barbarians. Ironically, I find this argument coming most often from liberals who want to abolish the death penalty. These are the same people who routinely spout multicultural nonsense about how no culture is better than another; when it suits their purpose, though, they have no problem portraying other countries as a bunch of barbarians.

Let me be perfectly clear, the fact that other people may or may not be doing something is not an argument. Even if we, in general, look up to one group and look down on another, the fact that one group bans something and the other doesn't is not evidence of anything.

If, for the sake of argument, every country in Europe had bull fighting and it was banned in every tiny Arab thugocracy would that be a valid argument that we should institute bull fighting here? No! Every activity on earth is either moral, immoral, or morally neutral on its own merits. The groups who are and are not practicing the activity are irrelevant.

Now let us move on to a stupid argument against the ban on cockfighting from former governor, not to mention Senatorial candidate, David Walters:

Some of these people are dead-dog poor and I have a hard time telling them we're going to take your livelihood away.

So Walters says we shouldn't ban cockfighting because this is how a lot of poor people make their living. Yeah, and North Korea can't release their political prisoners because then all of the poor prison guards would be out of work.

The problem with Walter's argument is that the cockfighting ban didn't get on the ballot because people don't happen to care for it. It is on the ballot because a whole lot of people believe cockfighting to be immoral. Walters doesn't address this at all. He simply says that a lot of people make their livelihood this way so we shouldn't ban it. This is not an argument likely to sway anybody whose take on this issue is based on the morality (or lack there of) of cockfighting. If you believe that an activity is immoral, unethical, disgusting, and (probably) fattening, then you're not likely to have a lot of sympathy for those who actually promulgate the activity.

As I say, I haven't really decided yet, but neither of these arguments is likely to sway me. I wonder how many people actually fall for them.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002
Good point. So What?

John Samples from the Cato Institute has an article on FoxNews. He uses the story of James Madison and the War of 1812 to show that even a President committed to limited government may find that war contravenes that goal. He then tries to connect that history lesson to President Bush's current war goals.

I've got a couple of points. The first is that his basic assertions about war and limited government are true as far as they go, but he doesn't really tie it to our current situation very well. The second is that he spends the entire column explaining what he sees the problem to be (I think it's probably a valid point), but he doesn't offer any suggestions or alternatives. What good is that?


Mark Steyn has an excellent column about the American non-response to the bombing in Bali. He makes some great points. I'd make some excerpts, but its just too good. Read it now.

Cranky Hermit has a theory about Clinton and al Qaeda. He says he doesn't believe it, but that he thinks it is just as plausible as the Bush only wants to go to war with Iraq to get the oil theories. I don't believe his theory either, but he's right about the plausibility.

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 11:1-6 ESV When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

When Jesus made this statement he was doing more than simply calling attention to his miracles. Consider this passage:

Isaiah 35: 5-6a ESV
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

You'll notice that this passage does not mention the cleansing of lepers. I understand that recently discovered copies of Isaiah from this approximate time period include a reference to the cleansing of lepers. That would indicate that the meaning of Jesus's statement would be more obvious to John than it is to us. The passage in question refers to the coming of Yahweh and the ransoming of His people. John would most likely have understood that Jesus was making reference to this passage and see that He was saying that He was the fulfillment of this prophecy.

Joel Fuhrman's got some comments on the Little Green Footballs fiasco. He's got some good points.

Update-John Hawkins has some great stuff too.


And then there's this post from Dr. Weevil.

Google reports seventeen hits for the phrase "put the 'goober' in gubernatorial". I guess now it will be eighteen.

Er, make that nineteen.

New Zealand, I salute you.


Apparently the Washington sniper has left a warning that, "Your children are not safe anywhere at any time." Now to me, this should be iron-clad proof that whatever the shooter's political or religious beliefs, his motivation is terror.

Let's think about this. As far as I can remember, he's shot one kid and one bus driver. The other victims don't have any apparent connection to this threat. He's shown no actual compulsion for shooting children per se. He has shown an ability to shoot people pretty much at will. Now he threatens to kill children. The reaction of school administrators and parents is predictable at this point. Panic. And who can blame them? Regardless, it seems clear to me that terror is the object of the shooter's actions.


Juan Gato points out something that simply hadn't occurred to me:

Why is the remaining fringe left so enamored with the terrorists, the Palestinians in particular? Because they were terrorists in their day. Never forget that. Small as they were, they intended to commit acts of murderous terror in the United States. There has to be some thrill for them to see it happening. Luckily they were incredibly incompetent, in one case taking some of themselves out in the process (one particular case for a bomb that was intended for a dance hall).

He's got a point.


In case I haven't said it before, Joel Mowray is an incredible reporter. He's turned up more dirt at the State Department. What on earth is wrong with these people?

Go here. You'll know what to do.

David Adnesnik points out an excellent article in The Economist about the differences between Israel and Iraq.

Deceptive Practices Alert

I got a call from a tele-marketer just now and I thought I'd take the time to issue a warning. This warning is to those who use MCI as their long-distance carrier but not for their local telephone service.

The phone rang and I answered. The woman on the other end called and said, "I'm calling from your long distance carrier, MCI. We are now a local telephone company and as of 21 days from now, we will be your local service carrier." She then started trying to talk to me about what plan I'd like to have.

Here's the deal. Telephone service doesn't work like that. Just because your long-distance carrier becomes a local telephone company, you do not automatically become their customer for local service. However, if you go along and they start talking about their offers, if at any point they can get you to say, "OK," then just like that, you are their customer for local and long distance.

Personally, I asked her to back up and explain why my service was being transferred to MCI. She said, "Because we want to make sure that you get the best deal."

I've heard this scam for long distance, but it was new to hear my own long distance company, a major company too, trying to scam me into local service. Needless to say, they won't be my long distance carrier for long.

Anyway, remember folks, always be suspicious when someone from a telephone company calls and tells you that such-and-such has changed and you're their customer now. Most of the time things just don't work like that. However, if you're not careful, even though you weren't their customer at the beginning of the call, you may be at the end. It can be a real pain fixing that stuff later too.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Well, this is fascinating. Archaeologists may have discovered the box in which the bones of Jesus's brother James were buried.

Specifically, they found an ossuary box inscribed, "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus," and the inscription is estimated to have been written in 63 A.D. which would be about right considering when Josephus placed James's death. This is not definite, of course. It could all be a coincidence. If it is, though, that would be a very striking coincidence indeed.

Sunday, October 20, 2002
Red Letter Edition

Matthew 10:40-42 ESV “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

Check out this fascinating article on the Barbary Pirates. (Link via Bjorn Staerk.)


I occasionally get very upset when I hear countries all over the world demanding that the U.S. fix any major foreign policy problems they find themselves in. It is that feeling that made me a little uneasy when reading Matt Welch's new article in the National Post. While I think Welch goes a little far in places and I don't agree with all his conclusions, I must admit he makes an excellent point; the why we find every country in the world demanding that we solve their problems is because we've been doing it so long that they no longer know how to do it on their own. Whatever else happens as we deal with the Islamic extremist, we must find ways to stop infantalizing our allies. If we expect our Western allies to bear any part of the burden in defending Western civilization, we must make sure that their foreign policies have the opportunity to grow up. If we don't, we'll find that our allies have little to offer, and they will probably continue to find us loud and overbearing.


How Appealing points out several new developments in the Pledge of Allegiance case. Apparently there is seriously question whether the plaintiff, Michael Newdow, had standing to bring the case.


I guess this is as good a time as any to give those of you who care an update on my health. At this point the doctors still have no diagnosis for my headaches. Thankfully the dizziness has pretty well stopped. I'm supposed to see another specialist, this one at the University of Oklahoma Medical School, in about 3 weeks. Meanwhile the neurologist has me on 4 different medications. Most of the time these medications make the pain bearable, but they also tend to make me very sleepy. Unfortunately, that's all I know at the moment.

Mark Steyn has another great column.(Link via Occam's Toothbrush.)

While we're singing the old favourites, here's Bruce Haigh with a timeless classic. Mr Haigh was an Australian diplomat in Indonesia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and he's in no doubt as to why hundreds of his compatriots were blown up in Bali. As he told Australia's Nine Network, 'The root cause of this issue has been America's backing of Israel on Palestine.' You don't say. It may well be true that, for certain Muslims 'frustrated' by Washington's support for Israeli 'intransigence', blowing up Australians in Bali makes perfect sense. But, if even this most elastic of root causes can be stretched halfway around the globe to a place conspicuously lacking either Jews or Americans, then clearly it can apply to anyone or anything: my advice to Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness is to put down the Omagh bombing as an understandable reaction to decades of frustration at Washington's indulgence of the Zionist oppression of the Palestinian people. As the likes of Mr Haigh demonstrate every day, the more you insist the Islamist psychosis is a rational phenomenon to be accommodated, the more you risk sounding just as nutty as the terrorists.

On which subject, the Independent's Robert Fisk thinks the Aussies were targeted for a more specific reason ' blowback for being too cosy with the Great Satan: 'The French have already paid a price for their initial support for Mr Bush. The killing of 11 French submarine technicians in Karachi has been followed by the suicide attack on the French oil tanker Limburg off the coast of Yemen. Now, it seems, it is the turn of Australia....' And don't worry, there are plenty of others who'll be getting theirs any day now. Just in case al-Qa'eda had missed one or two, Fisk helpfully provides a useful list of legitimate targets: 'Belgium, which hosts Nato HQ; Canada, whose special forces have also been operating in Afghanistan; Ireland, which allows US military aircraft to refuel at Shannon...'. Blessings be upon you, Mister Robert, we had entirely forgot to add 'Kill the Irish' to our 'To Do' list.

I wonder if it was a cautious editor who added 'initial' to that French 'support for Mr Bush'. The French were supportive for about ten minutes after 11 September, but for most of the last year have been famously and publicly non-supportive: throughout the spring, their foreign minister, M. Védrine, was deploring American 'simplisme' on a daily basis. The French veto is still Saddam's best shot at torpedoing any meaningful UN action on Iraq. If you were to pick only one Western nation not to blow up the oil tankers of, the French would be it.

But they got blown up anyway. And afterwards a spokesman for the Islamic Army of Aden said, 'We would have preferred to hit a US frigate, but no problem because they are all infidels.'

No problem. They are all infidels.

Unlike Mr Fisk, I don't have decades of expertise in the finer points of Islamic culture, so when people make certain statements and their acts conform to those statements I tend to take them at their word. As Hussein Massawi, former leader of Hezbollah, neatly put it, 'We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you.' The first choice of Islamists is to kill Americans and Jews, or best of all an American Jew ' like Daniel Pearl, the late Wall Street Journal reporter. Failing that, they're happy to kill Australians, Britons, Canadians, Swedes, Germans, as they did in Bali. We are all infidels.

Back in February, Fisk wrote a column headlined 'Please Release My Friend Daniel Pearl'. It followed a familiar line: please release Daniel, then you'll be able to tell your story, get your message out. Taking him hostage is 'an own goal of the worst kind', as it ensures he won't be able to get your message out, the message being ' Fisky presumed ' 'the suffering of tens of thousands of Afghan refugees', 'the plight of Pakistan's millions of poor', etc. Somehow the apologists keep missing the point: the story did get out; Pearl's severed head is the message. That's why they filmed the decapitation, released it on video, circulated it through the bazaars and madrasas and distributed it worldwide via the Internet. The message got out very effectively.

It's the same with Bali. As a way of making a point about Zionist occupation of the West Bank, it's a little convoluted, to say the least. If it's intended to warn America's allies off supporting Bush, it seems perverse and self-defeating to kill and maim large numbers of citizens from countries who haven't supported him. So, instead of trying to fit square pegs into Islamic crescents, why not take the event at face value' It's a mound of dead Australians and Scandinavians and the non-Islamic Indonesians of Bali: no problem, they're all infidels. A Bush-voting social conservative from Mississippi or a gay peacenik from Denmark, they're happy to kill both. If, as some of us maintain, the real 'root cause' of Islamofascism is Islam's difficulty coexisting with modernity, we shouldn't be surprised that an infidel-friendly, pluralist enclave in the world's largest Muslim country would be an abomination to the Islamists, and the perfect target.

There's more. All of it good.

Did somebody hit Arafat upside the head with the Clue StickTM1?
I've got several interesting things out of this Jerusalem Post story.

The Palestinian Authority has decided to ban rallies in support of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, a senior PA official in Ramallah said yesterday. He explained that the decision, which went into effect over the weekend, was made by PA Chairman Yasser Arafat.2

Now this is a big change from past conflicts where the Palestinian people, sometimes urged on by Arafat himself, have openly supported Hussein.

However, Arafat is going even further.

In addition, PA-appointed mosque preachers have been instructed to stop their attacks on the US and the West for fear that the sermons would damage the PA's relations with these states.

What else are they going to talk about? Of course, I'm a little worried about what the people are going to do on the weekends too.

Also, Arafat does not want to further alienate Washington by allowing Palestinians to burn American flags and effigies of US President George W. Bush, he added.

I guess all those effigy builders are going to have to get real jobs. Woops, they'd have to have an economy to do that.

So what motivated this enormous shift in policy. We get a hint about mid-way through the story.

The PA official told The Jerusalem Post that Arafat was concerned that the international media were using the pro-Saddam rallies to portray Palestinians as supporters of terror.

"Oh, silly me. How could I have possibly thought that the Palestinians supported terror?"

Is that really what the Palestinians expect. Do they really think that if they ban rallies in support of Hussein, tell the preachers to stop screaming, "Death to America," and prevent people from burning effigies that we will suddenly forget the Palestinian people's widespread support for terrorism?

I think not. I think the last paragraph of this story is more telling:

Some PA officials have expressed their concern over Saddam's increased intervention in Palestinian affairs, complaining that the Iraqi leader had become more popular than Arafat in certain parts of the Gaza Strip.

Shoot. It wasn't The Clue StickTM after all. Just ordinary ego.

1The Clue StickTM is, of course, the creation of His Royal Highness, Misha I.

2Note to leftists, this is what Squashing DissentTM looks like.

Jim Hoagland has a must-read column about the problems at the Iraq desk of CIA.

Excerpts from an interview with Tariq Aziz.

"We have no connection with Al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden," Tariq Aziz, a deputy prime minister, said in an interview on Friday night with Italian state television. "It's clear, you see, our national and political system is different; we are a socialist party, we don't condone religious fundamentalism, and therefore we don't have any relationship with those people. It is a matter between them and the United States of America."(Italics added.)

They don't condone religious fundamentalism? Then what exactly is the explanation for this?

ALF also is doling out generous bounties for the dead and injured in the 20-month intifada.
Payments are on a strict scale: $500 for a wound, $950 for disablement, $9,500 for death as a "martyr" and $25,000 for a suicide bomber.1

Bounties for "martyrs' and jihadikazes. Yup, seems perfectly secular to me.

This bit later in the article is pretty good too.

At one point in the interview, Mr. Aziz appeared to suggest that Iraq was preparing for the possibility that Israel would join the United States in a war against Iraq. But his remarks on the subject could be interpreted as a reassurance to Israel that the Baghdad government has no plans to fire missiles at Israel or any other nearby country, as it did with Israel and Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf war in 1991.

"We are a courageous country and we can defend ourselves, but we are not going to fight beyond our national territory," Mr. Aziz said. "We are going to fight inside Iraq to protect Iraq from the aggression, and we are not going to fight outside Iraq. So if anybody comes to attack us, whether it is the United States or Britain or Israel, we are going to fight against them to protect our nation."

We'll leave aside the "courageous" part. Trust me, I'll get to that later. Now, besides the fact that during Gulf War ITM Iraq launched Scuds against Israel, what might make me doubt Aziz's assertion that they, "are not going to fight outside Iraq,"? Oh, I don't know. Could it be their annoying habit of invading neighbors? Yeah, that just might be it!

I'll pass over his idiotic statements about past weapons inspections so I can get to this little gem:

"No, no, absolutely, we don't have any weapons of mass destruction," he said.

Of course not. We used it all up on the Iranians and the Kurds.

Mr. Aziz also described what fighting will be like in the upcoming war.

"In every Iraqi house there are weapons, rifles and other conventional weapons, and they are ready to fight from house to house, from street to street," he said, "and if the Americans come to Iraq they will be faced with great resistance and they will suffer great losses."

Right. Just like last time.2

1ALF is the Arab Liberation Front. The group was founded and funded by Saddam Hussein.

2Hint. Skip to the last paragraph. Sorry, it was the best I could do without spending more time than I cared to searching for older records.

Saturday, October 19, 2002

Matthew 10:34-39 ESV “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Some people try to preach the Gospel Of Personal ProsperityTM. This is hardly the Gospel preached by Jesus. While it is true that he taught that his followers would receive earthly rewards, Christ's focus was always on the eternal. It is also true that if we want to receive God's rewards, in this world and the world to come, we must be willing to give up what we already have. Here God tells his disciples, still in his instructions before sending them out to preach, that because of Him and his word, families will be divided. While we should always aspire to convert family and friends, we should not be surprised if some of them turn on us rather violently for our efforts.

Martin Devon has some things to say about North Korea and Iraq.

Philip Murphy notes some of the idiotic excuses people have made for North Korea in the past and how stupid they seem now.

I don't even want to know what prompted this search.

Apparently this site comes in tenth for the Google search, "pro nazi ladies beating jews in concentration camps."

I'm speechless.

If you haven't read, "The Immutable Laws of Maureen Dowd" yet, it is worth your time. (You're welcome Josh.)


A car bomb went off at a Moscow McDonalds. Authorities were quick to point out that it might not actually be terrorism. And the other reason you blow up McDonalds is what exactly? I might point out that the Islamist have a pointed hatred for capitalism and McDonalds in Moscow was just about the first sign that capitalism was taking hold in the Evil EmpireTM. Of course, I could be wrong, but don't be surprised if this turns out to be Chechen Muslim jihadists.

Victor Hanson on preemption:

The truth is that one can sound moral only through the advocacy of restraint, never preemption. Appeasement wins applause for its ethical posturing and non-belligerency; and even when the corpses later pile up it rarely earns the disgust it deserves for getting thousands killed. In contrast, preemption is always equated with blood lust; and even when it saves thousands, critics sigh that in retrospect there must have been a better way.

Ain't it the truth? Sad though it is, war, even preemptive war, is sometimes necessary. Even when it works, people never rarely the success.

John Foster-Bey has an article in NRO about the way the liberal "black leadership" 1 reacts to Clarence Thomas. I thought this passage was important to look at.

In many ways, the fact that he is not trying to be like Justice Marshall is at the center of the controversy surrounding Justice Thomas. For example, it is hard to believe that the liberal establishment — black or white — would have given Anita Hill's accusations any credence at all if Justice Thomas had been a committed liberal jurist who aspired to follow in the footsteps of Marshall. The validity of this view was demonstrated in the liberal leadership's and activists' willingness to overlook the possible sexual indiscretions — among other things — of a sitting president in order to support a reliable ally. The same might be said of the rather muted criticism from liberal blacks (and whites) of Jesse Jackson when his problems with a female subordinate were publicly revealed. There is no reason to believe that the same support would not have been given to Justice Thomas during his confirmation hearings if he were a liberal — regardless of the validity of Anita Hill's charges.

I think he's got a good point here, but he is missing something; Anita Hill would have never made these charges if Thomas was liberal. Even if they were true, which I very much doubt, she never would have made the accusation if Thomas was a liberal judge in the Thurgood Marshall mold.

1 The term "black leadership" has always bothered me. I note that "black leaders" are mostly media appointed and self-promoted. I also note that the media never refers to any one as a white leader. Things would hit the fan if anyone made themselves out that way, and they should. The presumption required to call yourself the leader of an entire group of people entirely on the basis of their skin color is galling to me.