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

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Wednesday, November 27, 2002
I'll be out of town until December 7th. I'm taking a laptop, but its modem has been unpredictable. I'll be blogging if and when I can. Have a great Thanksgiving and God bless.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002


Charles Johnson points out an apparent lie about the death of a UN official in during a fight between the Israelis and terrorists.


Bryan Preston posts a picture demonstrating the graphic differences between North and South Korea. Seeing that picture reminded me that several months ago President Bush spoke about that very difference. His words inspired some thoughts that I used when presiding over the Lord's Supper shortly thereafter. I posted those thoughts and I thought you might find them of interest now.


Here's an interesting story about Kurdish women who are receiving military training. They are training in anticipation of of being able to take revenge on Hussein's regime for the losses their families have suffered when the American army invades. I desperately hope we don't let these people down again.


The Bush administration has announced a new plan in which countries would compete for $5 billion dollars of additional American foreign aid. The idea of making countries prove themselves to get aid is a great idea. What I don't understand is why we need a whole new agency to administer this program? Why can't existing agencies handle this? For that matter, why don't we administer much more of our aid like this?


I'm not a parent. I'm note even close. I hope to be one someday, but the thought of raising children in a way they will be faithful is terrifying to me. Alan Cornett has a very interesting discussion of this issue.




Tacitus spots a lovely little note from our "allies".


Paul Marshall has a very good point. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, people continue to ignore the stated goals of al-Qaeda and other Islamist terror groups; they want to install Islamic law across the whole world. How can we expect to defeat the enemy if we ignore their goals?

Monday, November 25, 2002

I just got my copy of the Fellowship of the Rings: Extended Edition. Sheesh, it's four discs. That's part of the reason I haven't gotten around to posting very much today. If you don't have this, get it.


Susanna Cornett highlights a Democratic problem I'd never thought of.


Terror, Saddam. Saddam, Terror. Oh, you've already met? My bad.

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 17: 22-27 ESV As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.

When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”


Sorry for the lack of free ice cream today. I'm just lacking inspiration.

Steve Den Beste looks at Iraq's latest protest letter.


He said what? I'm beginning to waiver.


Eugene Volokh looks at what should be done with discredited books. It's a tough question.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Philip Chaston has some good comments about Osama's latest demands. (Assuming for the moment, which I am still far from granting, that bin Laden is alive. I'm still waiting for a video tape.)


No Red Letter Edition today. Instead I want to look at this passage.

2 Cor 6:3-10 ESV We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

We read this passage tonight during service. I was struck, as I always am, by the tremendous contrast Paul draws here between how the world sees the church and how things really are. The message is one of profound hope. He lists all the things that Christians of the time were having to endure and then counters that with his list of "weapons of righteousness" that have been provided to deal with these miseries with the clear implication.that with the Holy Spirit, the power of God and the weapons they provide we can overcome any hardship Then he lists a series of contrasts In each one he shows the church how the world perceives them and then counters that perception with their true condition. This passage is, among other things, a monument of hope. I get goose bumps every time I read it.


Princess Haifa al-Faisal issued an angry denial of any connection to terrorrism. Um...Princess, if it's all the same to you, I think we'll investigate this any way. Come to think of it, we'll investigate it whether it's all the same to you or not.

Donald Hensing at One Hand Clapping has a thoughtful piece on why the question of, "What Would Jesus Drive?" (and for that matter, "What Would Jesus Do?) is rather silly. (Link via InstaPundit.)

And Sweden wonders why no one takes their military seriously

Apparently enough Swedish soldiers are high, schizophrenic, clinically depressed, or some combination there of for scientists to be able to conduct a study of the relationship of marijuana to depression and schizophrenia using only Swedish soldiers as test subjects. I'm sure many people will decry this study as an effort to demonize drugs but I think the real story is the sample. This is pathetic.


Jane Galt has laid out a proposal for tax reform. It is very interesting and worth the read. I don't agree with it all, of course, but I've got to admit that she's given it a lot of thought. I don't feel like throwing in my two cents right now. I might come back to it later. Then again, probably not. Experience tells me that any time I think, I'd like to blog about that later that "later" ends up being "never".

One thing I do find fascinating about her plan is the idea of recessive tax brackets for lower income workers. The idea being that anyone below a certain income level would know that the less they worked, the more the government would take. I find this idea intriguing, but not as easy to implement as Jane thinks. For instance, this idea is very appealing for people who are out on their own, but I have trouble with the idea of taxing college students working part-time regressively.

As I say though, it is definitely worth the read.

Best laugh of the day

Steve Den Beste, after complaining about Chirac's latest idiocy, closes with this line.

I used to think that the fact that Gaul and gall were homonyms was a coincidence.


I don't normally bother linking to InstaPundit (What's the point?) but I thought this post was worth mentioning. There, I mentioned it.


I checked my site meter and found a site I'd never heard of before. Apparently my post about the complaints of the Malaysian Prime Minister drew some interest by a Malaysian blogger. She went on to post her own thoughts about the interactions of Malaysia and the west.


Emperor Misha I makes this excellent point:

A pregnant Michigan woman, Jaclyn Kurr, was assaulted by her boyfriend and the father of her unborn children, Antonia Pena, during which assault he punched her repeatedly in the stomach. She proceeded to use deadly force in stabbing Mr. Pena with a knife.

During her trial, she argued, sensibly, that the punches to her stomach represented a threat to her unborn children (she was carrying quadruplets) and the defense argued that the jury be instructed to consider "defense of others" in their considerations.

This request was rejected by a judge with about as much sense as a lobotomized grasshopper, helped by an idiot doctor who appeared in court to testify that a fetus under 22 wks (Ms. Kurr's children were 16-17 wks at the time of the assault) is non-viable outside of the mother. A statement that, though true, has absolutely no relevance to the case whatsoever. The children weren't "outside" the mother at the time and therefore perfectly viable.

True. True.


I like President Bush and, for the most part, support his policies. However, when I read that the ambassador to Mexico had reintroduced the idea of granting amnesty to illegal aliens from Mexico I just wanted to scream. This is a horrible idea. Why on earth should we reward people for breaking the law?


I don't know what to make of this.


I've seen several bloggers say that the Bush administration, the FBI, the CIA, or some combination thereof was trying to obscure or hide the possible connection to 9/11 by a certain Saudi Princess. I'm not going to mention any names because it's pretty widespread and I don't really have anyone in particular in mind. My problem with this is that none of the bloggers I've seen make this statement have made an argument to back it up. Sorry, but so far, I just don't see any evidence to support this view.

I'll readily admit the Bush administration has inexcusably gone to great lengths to stay friends with the Saudis, but so far, I just don't see any evidence that that this particular investigation isn't being given the attention it deserves. Certainly the administration is urging people not to jump to any conclusions, but, as this article I linked to yesterday indicates, they haven't been able to prove anything yet.

This does indicate a problem for the President though. Most of the people I've seen making these accusations generally vote Republican. A lot of them have supported the President in the past. Whatever else is going on, I think there is a growing sense of frustration among Republican circles. This frustration is caused by Bush's apparent lack of focus on al Qaeda and Iraq. Bush's popularity is still high, but if we don't start seeing some resolve he'll begin to have more and more problems like this.

Update-I altered the 2nd paragraph slightly to improve readability.


Lythe and listen ye merry men,

Who are of free bourne blood,

And I shall ye tell of a brave ye man,

His name was Robin Hood.

Thus read a poem about Robin Hood in my eighth grade history book in a section on medieval legendary history. (I am virtually certain of the words, but the period spelling may need work.) I used this poem because I wanted to make a point about the legend of Robin Hood.

The oft used line about Robin Hood is that, "He robs from the rich and gives to the poor." This was not, strictly speaking true. While I have not made a study of all the different Robin Hood legends, I know that in every version of the story I have seen 1 or read Robin was stealing from men such as Prince John and Sir Guy of Gisborn. While it's true that these men were rich, things are a little more complicated than that.

The thing that must be remembered is that in medieval England, the King (or in Prince John's case, the regent) and the feudal lords were the government. In America today we say that we are a nation of laws, not of men. In medieval England, no such distinction was made. Further, no distinction was made between the King or lord's coffers and that of his government. So, when a king or lord taxed his people that money went directly into the treasury of the man who levied the taxes.

Why were the people in the Robin Hood story poor? Because men such as Prince John and Sir Guy were taxing them into poverty. When Robin stole money from Prince John or Sir Guy he was seizing money that had been taken from the people through immoral taxation and returning it to the people from whom it was taken.

Did Robin Hood, "rob from the rich and give to the poor"? Actually, no. Robin Hood robbed from an a government levying oppressive taxes and gave the people back the money that rightfully belonged to them.

Just a thought.

1 With the exception of Robin Hood Men: Men in Tights in which Robin never actually got around to doing any robbing from Prince John. Great movie though. I'm still waiting for Robin Hood II.

If his lips are moving...

I found this at Rodent Regatta:

Tom Daschle is one of those "consider-the-source" types. If he says it, I consider the source and discount it 100% or know the opposite to be true.

Saturday, November 23, 2002
Red Letter Edition

Matthew 17:14-20 ESV And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him, said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

I have no great words of wisdom to offer here; I just want to make an observation. Jesus rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith and goes on to tell them that they can do great deeds with just a small amount of faith. We don't tend to take passages like this very seriously. For some reason we don't act like we believe that, "nothing will be impossible," for us if we have faith. I wonder why?


The Indepundit has laid out the apparent connection between a Saudi princess and the 9/11 attack.


Yesterday I posted on the Transfiguration. Alan Cornett has added some comments of his own on that subject.

More on the Possible Saudi Funding of 9/11 Terrorists


The White House on Saturday defended the FBI's handling of a diplomatically sensitive investigation into reports that Saudi Arabia provided money that helped support two of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

A spokesman for the Saudi embassy said the allegations that the wife of the Saudi ambassador supported terrorists are "untrue and irresponsible."

Nail al-Jubeir, the spokesman, said Princess Haifa al-Faisal is fully cooperating with the FBI.

"She wants her name cleared," al-Jubeir said.

In its defense of the FBI, the Bush administration also denied another contention of some lawmakers that the bureau has not done enough to examine fully the financing of the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudi citizens.

Questions about the investigation could become troublesome for the Bush administration, which is seeking the Saudis' help for a possible military campaign against their neighbor, Iraq. Saudi Arabia has been noncommittal, torn between its friendship with the United States and anti-war sentiment among the Arabs.

Um... The House of Saud needs to untear themselves real quick. If this investigation pans out, then we've to the wife of a senior government official sponsoring a terrorist attack against the United States. I'm not sure the Saudi entity understands how bad this could be. If we find out senior Saudi officials were involved in the 9/11 attacks, then the road to Baghdad might go end up going through Riyadh.

Update-Cato has some interesting observations about this. I'm afraid he's overly optimistic. I like the scenario though.

The Malaysian Government is Pissed Off (And thinks we care)

First off, the Malaysians are angry at Australia for being an American ally.

Australia was permanently isolating itself from South-East Asia because of intimate ties with the United States, according to Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed.

The outspoken leader told The Australian newspaper that Australia had gone too far in identifying with the United States' aims and tactics in the war against terrorism.

"Australia has to decide whether it's an Asian country or a Western country," Dr Mahathir said.

"If you take the position of being a sheriff, or deputy sheriff to America, you cannot very well be accepted by the countries of this region.

"Australia is more belligerent than many European countries. You have never criticised any of the acts of the Americans."

Isn't that a lovely definition of belligerence? If a country doesn't stand up to the big bad Americans, then they're being belligerent. This must be some strange definition of belligerence of which I was not previously aware.

In related news, the Prime Minister of Malaysia has also implied that the United States purpose in warning its citizens of possible terrorist attacks in Malaysia was to sabotage the Malaysian tourist industry.

Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the latest warning by the United States on the
possibility of terrorist attacks in Malaysia could amount to an economic sabotage.

The Prime Minister said he did not know if there was an intentional plan to sabotage Malaysia's economy by issuing such a
public warning and naming the country, but the fact was that the move would hurt the country's economy.

"They should tell us, who, where and when so that we can take action to prevent such attacks from happening instead of making such baseless allegations.

"But instead of telling us they went and issued a public warning like that. Are they prepared to take a bet that such an attack will
happen here? If it does not happen, the warning will only spoil our economy," he told newsmen after the breaking of fast at the Finance Ministry on Thursday night.

Dr Mahathir, who is also Finance Minister, said as far as he knew, the Malaysian Government had not been directly notified about
the latest warning.

The United States, he said, had no right to pass judgment on other countries when that country itself was a very dangerous place
and not free from the threat of terrorism.

Now I can understand that a country might be concerned that a terrorism warning might hurt their tourism industry, but let's get a grip okay! The implication that the U.S. issued this warning to poison the Malaysian economy instead of, oh I don't know, trying to protect its citizens is outright ludicrous. Furthermore, since when does a warning that terrorism could happen in a country constitute a judgement of that country. The U.S. government has repeatedly warned its citizens about possible attacks on its own soil. Was the government passing judgement on its self. Finally, if you don't like it, do a better job policing your own country. Our government's job is to protect its citizens, not to make other governments happy.


My wish is answered! Colbert King lays it on the Saudis. (Link via OxBlog.)



They say no news is good news. For a blogger, no news means, "I'm bored out of my mind!" Surely somebody can say or do something interesting today.


Pressure is mounting in Israel to expel Arafat. Inexplicably, the Bush administration continues to demand that the Sharon's government leave Arafat alone. When will the President wake up the fact that the Israelis are fighting the same war we are?


Would some explain to me why newspapers have started using scare quotes when murderers and terrorists confess?


Edward Said has some insane rantings about America and war. Did you know that almost all neocons are Jews and that there are 60 million fanatical Christians beating the drums of war? Misha gives him an Imperial Misting.


Excellent point!


Last Wednesday in San Antonio three cousins were relaxing and watching TV in the house they share. Suddenly someone shot up there patio door, somebody threw in a concussion grenade, and men came charging threw the door punching and kicking. It was the police. They were supposed to be serving a search warrant. THEY WERE AT THE WRONG HOUSE!

A couple of things that seriously bother me here. The first is obviously the idea of people who failed this test serving search warrants.

My other problem is the method the police used here. The cops say they stormed the house in this manner because they, "thought the suspect inside the house might have a gun tucked inside his waistband." While I'm all for protecting officers from dangerous criminals, there has got to be better way to serve a search warrant than shooting up the house and tossing in concussion grenades. While concussion grenades are, in theory, non-lethal weapons, they can do damage. The cops certainly managed to damage the home of the Huerta cousins.

A wall in the Huerta's house.  The damage is presumably from the grenade blast.

If the cops go in with guns blazing and grenades flying every time the suspect, "might have a gun tucked inside his waistband," there are going to be an awful lot of damaged houses and people in the hospital in cases where no real danger was posed. I want to say again that I understand the need to protect the officers, but somebody totally lost their sense of proportion here.


I found this post on Norwegian politics by Bjorn Staerk positively fascinating.

Friday, November 22, 2002

If this story is as bad as it sounds, then Cato is right, "Riyadh delenda est!" (Link via Little Green Footballs.)


I found this John Fund article via The Corner and Instapundit. I'd like to higlight one paragraph:

At his Kauai rally, Mr. Clinton responded to a heckler who yelled out "Liar!" with yet another one of his trademark whoppers: "Newt Gingrich once told me, 'I'm sorry we have to be so mean to you, but if we fought fairly, we'd lose every time.' " Mr. Gingrich says this tale is "completely untrue." Does anyone believe that a seasoned politician like Mr. Gingrich would have told his chief adversary such a thing?

I think this may be one of the most telling things about Clinton that I have ever heard. In response to be called a liar, he tells a lie! It wasn't your everyday lie either. It was a boldfaced lie which was totally absurd on its face and easily disproved. What on earth motivates this man?

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 17:1-13 ESV And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

There are several interesting things about this passage. The first involves Peter. This event clearly had a significant influence on Peter. It was one of the most profound events (to this point) establishing Jesus's identity as the Messiah. It was so phenomenal that Peter wanted to mark the event permanently. (Some commentators go farther and interpret Peter's remark to mean that he never wanted to leave the mountain again. That he found this event to be, in essence, "Heaven on earth," and was seeking to prolong it indefinitely.) In fact, later in his life, when making the point that Peter and the other apostles were talking about real events, not clever stories, Peter talks not about the Resurrection, but about the Transfiguration.

Some people seem to attribute the appearance of Moses and Elijah as strictly a means to inspire awe and perseverance in the apostles. I have trouble with this view. If that was the case, why not include all the apostles. Not only were the other nine not included, but Jesus ordered the three who witnessed the event not to speak of it yet. No, it seem clear to me that when we are told that they spoke that this means they had something to say. What could that be? What kind of counsel could even Moses and Elijah offer to the Son of God? I have no idea. Clearly though, even it if was not necessary for us to know it, there must have been more to this appearance than just to be seen. If they had nothing important to discuss, why did they talk? If the mere appearance was all that was important, why do more? These are, of course, just my own observations on that issue and of no great doctrinal import.

Of more interest to me is the question, "Then why do the scribes say that Elijah must come?" There were many prophecies that spoke of a Voice, or a Prophet, or Elijah preceding the promised Messiah. To me, it is one of the most interesting parts of Messianic prophecy. This is the point that has always made it difficult for false messiahs to get any traction; they had no Elijah. I have read of a few instances in which a man set out to convince the Jewish people that he was the Messiah. Many of these men realized that they would never be accepted unless they had an Elijah. This is where the plot falls apart. These men would try to convince someone to be their Elijah. In each case the flaw in their plan was built into its inception. Because there had to be one other person besides themselves that knew the whole thing was staged, the chances of working a large scale deception were drastically reduced. As they say, "If two people know it, it's not secret." That is why, to my mind, the promise of Elijah is the most telling parts of Messianic prophecy when you compare those prophecies to the life of Jesus.


Somehow I don't think this correction would help. (It's more accurate though.)

Tony Parkinson has a very interesting article about the successes and difficulties in the war against al Qaeda.


Michael Tanner argues that the 3rd rail of American politics has lost its charge. He makes a great case that the time has come to reform Social Security. He's absolutely right. The program has huge problems that will only get worse as time progresses. We must reform the program. Personally, I believe that privatization, or at least partial privatization, must be part of the answer.

On the other hand, as Tanner points out, most Democrats have so far offered nothing to the debate. Throughout the Clinton years they did nothing. Then in 2000 Al Gore had nothing more to offer on the subject than to opine that Bush's plan was a "risky scheme". He never offered a plan of his own. Again in this last election Democrats blasted Republicans for their position on Social Security but offered no plan of their own.

The time has most certainly come to make a change. The Democrats have a choice. They can engage in principled debate and point out legitimate problems with the Republican plan, thus making the final solution stronger, or they can scream and fear monger and be left in the ash heap of history. The choice is theirs.


The organizers of the Miss World pageant finally gave up and moved the whole contest to London. While reading this, I thought about commenting. In the end I decided that Alan Cornett had pretty well summarized my thoughts.


David Adesnik blasts The New York Times about some inane comments regarding Brazilian politics.


Stuart Banner has some interesting observations about death penalty opponents


It's good to know there's no hard feelings amongst friends.


OpinionJournal.Com weighs in on Daschles silly rant.

Here's a story that makes me sick.

I found this at Best of the Web. Am American woman, Bonnie Penner, working as a missionary and a nurse in Lebanon has been murdered. Some people seem to think it's her fault. After all, she was trying to teach Muslims the Gospel:

"We told her she might be vulnerable to insults or even being hit and she answered that she would consider it an honor," said Bishop George Kwaiter, the archbishop for the Roman Catholic diocese, speaking at a gathering of Christian and Muslim religious leaders who condemned the shooting. "We don't accept this kind of preaching, we reject it totally."

Bishop Kwaiter, perhaps you're not familiar with the words of someone very important to Christianity. His name is Jesus:

"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Bishop Kwaiter, it looks to me like Mrs. Penner had her priorities pretty well in order. He's not the only person in this story with screwed up priorities:

The organization was threatened in recent months after a group of religious leaders learned that it was handing out literature and talking to groups of young Muslims about Jesus. Some Muslim clerics had denounced them from the pulpit.

Senior members of Muslim and Christian sects in Sidon, ever sensitive to potential sources of rift between the communities, said they met with the group to get them to limit their activity to charity work, but were rebuffed.

Excuse me! "Senior members" of "Christian sects" asked this group to stop teaching the Gospel? Was the Great Commission repealed and someone forgot to tell me? Was there a codicil added that says, "Unless other religions get mad, in which case you're excused."? Let's see,

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Hmmm. Go, check. Make disciples, check. All the nations, check. Baptize them, check. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, check. Teach them to obey all of Christ's commands, check. That's funny. I didn't find any exceptions for times that people get mad at you or threaten kill you. Do these "Christian leaders" even read the Bible anymore or are they to busy trying to get the world to like them?


Note to the Australian Broadcasting Company: In a story about a guy confessing, it's okay to drop the words "allegedly" and "alleged".


Hans Blix: Idiot

It seems that the UN weapons inspectors have stumbled upon what they believe to be a fool proof plan to avoid finding any WMDs. There going to look only in places they've looked before.

Great plan guys.


The rioting in Nigeria is spreading.

On Friday, a spokesman for the Nigerian Red Cross said he could not confirm the number of dead from Thursday's violence but said that it was at least in the dozens.

Other estimates put the toll above 100, with several more dead in riots on Friday.

"The situation is very uneasy here," Red Cross spokesman Patrick Bawa told United Press International.

"We thought this afternoon that it would calm down because of the presence of law enforcement. But we are hearing about more riots that have spread several kilometers outside the city."

Groups of young Muslims on Friday also began riots in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, attacking people they thought were Christians with sticks and knives, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported.

This is very troubling. I especially find it disturbing that people who are thought to be Christians are being targeted. I am, however, a little confused by this. What are they doing? Are they walking down the street yelling, "He looks like a Christian. Get him!"? It's not as if Christians generally have distinguishing facial characteristics or anything.

On a completely different subject, I was amazed at the number of one sentence paragraphs in this story. You'd think that an major news organization would have better writing.


Paul Cella has an excellent post on poor voter turnout and poor education:

Apropos of nothing so much as my own short essay on the globe, National Geographic has released the results of a worldwide study of geographical knowledge among 18 – 24 year olds. The numbers tell a grim story: one sample should suffice to denote it. 69 percent of American young adults cannot accurately locate Great Britain on a map. When Jay Leno finds fools on the street who identify “the freedom of speech” as one of the Ten Commandments, perhaps it is not really the video-editing artifice we had all hoped; perhaps it is just a reflection of reality —- a reality populated by ignoramuses.

This study leads me circuitously to ponder a certain element of “Beltway piety,” so to speak, that may call out for reexamination: that piety which attaches to portentous hand-wringing about voter participation and turnout. Every election cycle, it seems, we are all treated to a brand new wave of high-minded fretfulness concerning the putative “danger to democracy” or some such thing of an electorate which turns out to vote at level at or even below 50 percent. Bright and multihued graphs appear, resplendent with severe thick lines describing the steady decline in voter turnout over the past, say, 60 years; especially remarked are the secondary lines describing the even more pronounced decline for young people, many of whom may reach middle age without ever entering a polling place. States all over the country have adopted a series of dubious measures designed to boost turnout: motor-voter laws, same-day registration, something called “provisional ballots.” That these laws have done little more than facilitate fraud seems not to have deterred our fulminating custodians of electoral hygiene. I myself, when I was under the spell of this sort of political hypochondria, contemplated seriously the virtues of coercive voting. “Fine those lazy bastards; that they’ll teach to appreciate self-government!”

Alas, it is all bunkum and hooey. Never underestimate the power of boredom, someone once said. Moreover —- and let me state this plainly, if you’ll excuse my indelicacy —- no one unable to locate Great Britain on a map should be allowed to vote. The results of this National Geographic survey lead me to think we ought to consider restricting the franchise, although the history behind poll tests and that sort of thing is notorious enough to make me stop short of actually endorsing such procedures.

There's more. Cella broaches many of the concerns that I've felt myself. It's well worth the read.


Lileks had something in his bleat that I thought was a great family tale:

Knock at the door at noon: my dad. I’d forgotten he was dropping off his friend at the airport today. Haven’t seen the old hero in a few months, so this was a delight. Made a pot of coffee, caught up; showed him the movies I’d made of Gnat over the summer, then went upstairs to fetch the little starlet from her too-long nap. It took her a while to warm to Granpa, since she doesn’t seem him enough, but once she woke she was delighted to discover that she had a Granpa.

For reasons I’ll never know, my dad picked up a routine from Snuffles, a cartoon dog in a cheap mid-60s HB dreck about antique car racing. (Don’t ask.) The dog, when given a snack, would hug himself, make doglike sounds of glee, and occasionally levitate. My dad thought this was hilarious, and would perform the Snuffles routine for his eye-rolling children. A few weeks ago, I did it for Gnat. It just popped out - I channeled Dad imitating a cheap cartoon character, and Gnat loved it. Now she does it when she gets something delicious.

So we’re all upstairs having a cookie, and my Dad does the Snuffles routine. Gnat’s eyes widen - she looks at me - then does it herself. Three generations united by shtick. Hallelujah!


Here's some interesting comments about terrorism on the web.


Sgt. Mom has some interesting stories from WWII as told by members of the 94th Bomb Group.

Jane Galt regales us with an English lesson.


NewsMax is reporting an investigation into whether the Democratic Party of Kansas was urging people to vote illegally.


Would someone explain why this shouldn't make me furious.

Lovely. Just lovely.


The Ayatollah Khameni has spoken out against student protests:

“Three years ago, corrupt people did the same thing with the students, and in this same university and elsewhere in Tehran they tried to provoke the students by spreading false rumours,” the supreme leader said.

“But the people, with calm and force, showed their strength on the ground,” he said. However, he did add that the “enemies of the revolution” should not be given “pretexts”.

There's quite a bit more, but what I see here are implications that the leaders of these students are corrupt (an interesting charge considering the problems of the Iranian government), a suggestion that the demands of these students are mere "pretexts" and not heartfelt beliefs, and a threat to put them down by force.


Unfortunately, the House passed the Senate version of the Homeland Security Bill by unanimous consent. I say unfortunately because this means that "Total Information Awareness" is still in the bill. I don't suppose there's much chance Bush will veto the bill.

The database is still in its experimental stage and does not yet use real consumer information. This tells me there is still a chance to do something about this part of the bill. When the next Congress convenes, we need to try to find something to do about this atrocious idea.


Martin Devon aptly describes Al Gore's problem:

What would Gore do differently? Fire George Tenet? That's a good idea, except he's a Clinton-Gore holdover, so Al can't be saying that. Fire Donald Rumsfled? Has he not fought Al Quaeda aggressively enough? Maybe the Democratic base will buy that, but I'd like to see Gore pitch that idea to the rest of the electorate.

Bush is vulnerable on the war on terror, but only from the right. Of course, how does Al Gore go right of Bush and win the nomination again? Oh yeah, he can't.


Vladimir Putin says the U.S. shouldn't attack Iraq alone. It's a good thing that we don't plan to I guess.


Steve Den Beste reminds us that those who say we can't attack Iraq because of the harm it will do to civilians forget the peril those people are already in.


William F. Buckley says we must still pursue Osama, not because it will destroy his movement (it won't), but because we must destroy the myth growing around him.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Look, I'm not saying he doesn't have some points, but somebody needs to buy Bill some Prozac.


Read this. You'll know what to do.

The Arafat News Run Down

An Israeli bus company, tired of Arafat's goons blowing up their buses, has decided to sue him.

Worried that Israelis don't know who to vote for, Arafat has made glowing remarks about the new leader of the Labor Party. Note to the Israelis: Arafat ain't on your side. (By the way, if the "Peace of the Brave" rhetoric sounds familiar, he's been talking about it four 8 years, at least.

In a news flash, Shimon Peres announced that Arafat is not trustworthy. He was on a role, but then he blew it when he claimed that the "Quartet" (US, UN, Europe, and Russia) can replace the presence of a trustworthy "partner for peace". Note to Shimon: A bunch of people from other parts of the world are not a substitute for the enemy having a leader who is willing to tell is people to stop shooting and make sure they do it.

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 16:24-28 ESV Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Jesus tells us here that if we want eternal life, we must be willing to give up the one we have. In short, we must sacrifice. This is hard for us to do. Our instinct is to horde everything we want. Jesus tells us to give it all up. Of course, there is a corollary. Our instinct is to try to get to heaven on our own. Paul told us that we must not rely on our own works, but on God. These two concepts are related. They are both about our ability to recognize that we are not in control and trust God.


Philippe de Croy offers this bit of wisdom in relation to "Total Information Awareness":

SPEAK NOW OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE. de Croy’s First Law of Government runs as follows: Concede no powers to your friends that you would not give to your enemies. If you are a Republican, the Law can be applied in the following form: give no powers of surveillance to the Bush administration that you would not be comfortable seeing in the hands of Hillary Clinton.


Well, he's got a point.

Actually, two:

[Regarding the awful government database idea] As a civil libertarian, I don't like this idea much. We've all seen, and many of us even remember, what ill use can come of FBI dossiers in the wrong hands. Imagine the power this kind of information could give a truly sinister government operator.

But, as someone who promotes government efficiency, this system may have its uses. Budget types in the Pentagon may use it to discover lots of useful things, such as Home Depot, where hammers don't cost $10,000 and toilets don't cost $20,000. They may also see that an awful lot of people buy their computers at a place called Dell, where fast machines are routinely very cheap. Who knows what other cost-savings budget hawks may find in your credit card records and mine?

So I'm a bit divided about this whole idea. It's bad for civil liberties, but may be good for government bargain-hunting.


Radley Balko has some harsh words (and good points) for President Bush.


Mark Byron trashes the idea of "Total Information" that is in the current version of of the Homeland Security bill. Now let me say up front that this is an absolutely horrible idea. However, I do have some trouble understanding where Mark got his idea of how this would work.

Mark describes a system in which every person would need an ID card that would be required to make all purchases. He also assumes the need to create a large system in which all businesses would have to be set up to broadcast all this information to the government. My problem with this part of his analysis is that I've heard nothing that indicates a national ID card or requiring businesses to gather additional data is in the It was my understanding that the purpose of this database was to be a central depository for the types of data that are already collected by governments and business. If Mark's understanding of the concept is correct, then the idea is more insidious than I realized, but I have yet to see anything that makes me think anything near the scope of what Mark describes is being considered.

On the other hand, if Mark is correct, then there are some additional costs to this that he hasn't considered. Under the scenario Mark describes, no one will be able to buy anything without a card. What will we do about tourists and other temporary visitors? Every temporary visitor would have to be issued a temporary ID card with their VISA. Administering that will add to the cost of the program as well.

Additionally, since these cards will be necessary to make purchases, we're going to have to deal with the illegal alien issue. Presumably a straight forgery of an ID card wouldn't work in a system that Mark describes because the purchase wouldn't be allowed to take place until the validity of the card had been confirmed. However, illegal aliens are still going to be here (unless somebody fixed the INS and I didn't notice) and they are going to need to buy stuff. The need of illegal aliens to make purchases would probably lead to two different problems. The first would be the temptation of employees of the new program to sell illegal cards and use their positions to find ways to make these "official" forgeries work. A lot of resources are going to have to be devoted to policing the employees. This program is going to have to have an independent investigative arm to prevent corruption. (This anti-corruption group would probably also have to work to prevent employees from stealing data from the database.)

The other problem the cards could lead to in relation to illegal aliens would be the development of a huge black market. This is not a hypothetical. If there are people who have to buy stuff and can't do it legally, then they will find someone who will sell it illegally. Enormous resources will have to be devoted to policing the black market because this is where the terrorist will make any purchase they possibly can. (No brainer here.)

Furthermore, whether Mark is right about the method of collection are not, the government is talking about setting up an enormous database that would look like Christmas for identity thieves. Large amounts of resources will have to be devoted to prevent theft of this data. (Either by hackers or by employees.)


If you read nothing else this week, read this.

Update-If you decide to read something else this week, this ought to be it.


In his newest column about Iran, Michael Ledeen says that the Voice of America is going to end its Farsi language programming. They're going to replace the VOA with pop music. Now let me get this straight, the people of Iran are very close to fomenting a revolt against their tyrannical government, but at this very important time in Iranian history we're going to stop substantive radio broadcasts into that country?

This is stupid. This is beyond stupid. If anyone has any ideas about how to convince the government to reverse this idiotic decision, please let me know.


Martin Devon has a different angle on Jumpin' Jim's latest hit.

Alan Cornett has an excellent post about keeping the proper focus in corporate worship.


The North Koreans say they're treaty with the U.S. where they agree not to build nuclear weapons and we agree to give them all sorts of stuff that their pathetic country is incapable of producing or buying because they spend all their money on their military is now dead. They say that the treaty died when the U.S. in "wanton violation" of the treaty, decided to stop giving them oil.

Funny, I thought the treaty died when they, in "wanton violation" of the treaty, started building nuclear weapons!


Two American soldiers have been shot in Kuwait by a Kuwaiti cop.

French to Iraq: Go ahead and lie, we don't mind

United Nation Resolution 1441 reads in part:

3. Decides that, in order to begin to comply with its disarmament obligations, in addition to submitting the required biannual declarations, the Government of Iraq shall provide to UNMOVIC, the IAEA, and the Council, not later than 30 days from the date of this resolution, a currently accurate, full, and complete declaration of all aspects of its programmes to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, andother delivery systems such as unmanned aerial vehicles and dispersal systems designed for use on aircraft, including any holdings and precise locations of such weapons, components, sub-components, stocks of agents, and related material and equipment, the locations and work of its research, development and productionfacilities, as well as all other chemical, biological, and nuclearprogrammes, including any which it claims are for purposes not related to weapon production or material;

4. Decides that false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully inthe implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations and will be reported to the Council for assessment in accordance with paragraph 11 and 12 below

However, the French say that despite the fact that the resolution calls lying on the report a "material breach", i.e., justification for war, that President Bush was just blowing smoke when he warned Hussein that lying on the report would cause him to enter his "final stage". Would someone tell me what the French think the point of this report is if they're going to turn around and tell Saddam that there will be no consequences if he lies?

I take it back. I hate the French. (And I was doing so well. Now they have to go and make me relapse.)


Question: Why is the Energy Department funding this?


TalG tells us about some modern day myths. They're not pretty.


Reader Guy writes in with this excellent point:

OK the only thing I have to add that I haven't seen highlighted about Daschle's rant is that he starts by saying "We Democrats need to figure out a way to duplicate what conservatives have done with talk radio/FOX."

Then he goes on to say it's bad leads to death threats whatever.

So basically we've got, "The conservatives with their shrill media voice are inciting people to riot, and we Democrats need to figure out how to do the same thing."

What can I say? When the man's right, he's right.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Collins: Gore should shut up.

Would someone tell me why it's a news story every time Gore opens his mouth. I'd be willing to bet Dan Quayle has made a few speeches in the last six months, but I haven't heard about them. Do you know why? BECAUSE IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT DAN QUAYLE THINKS ANYMORE. HE'S THE EX-VICE-PRESIDENT! Coincidentally, that is the exact same post currently held by Al Gore. They both hold the exact same amount of authority right now. They both have the exact same actual relevance to policy decisions. Why does the press report every word one of them says and ignore the other? I know that Gore is aggressively promoting himself. What I don't understand is why anyone is buying?


Let's hear it for the Aussies.

Although, it occurs to me that even if we allowed them to fight the entire Iraqi war (please, no e-mail about the logistics of that), the war would still be decried as American unilateral, imperial, hegemonism.


Emperor Misha I has some things to say about this article that I linked to earlier. He gives a royal fisking and throws in his comments on "reproductive rights".

I'm pro-life. There, I said it. That being said, I'm not one of the loons that hang around abortion clinics with sniper rifles, nor am I so fundamentalist in my beliefs that I think that there's NEVER, EVER, under ANY circumstances a "good reason" to have an abortion, because of course there is. Rape, incest, threat to the mother's life, there's a few.

However... And this is a BIG however, I DO believe that for abortion to be legal, the very LEAST we, as a society, can do is to inform the population what abortion is instead of inventing all kinds of new, emotionally neutral words to describe it. Stop denying what it is. It's killing a baby, that's what it is. You can circle around it and invent all kinds of DoubleSpeak for it, you can split hairs for months about "when life begins", but it doesn't change the fact that abortion ends a life, a life that began at conception. And that's from a totally scientific, non-religious point of view.

To use a term such as "reproductive rights" to describe abortion is to diminish the value of life to a point that would make even Dr. Mengele blush.

Your "reproductive rights", be you a man or a woman, consist of having sex vs. not having sex and, if you DO have sex, birth control vs. no birth control and, if you DO use birth control, what kind and brand to use.

THOSE are your "reproductive rights". They do NOT include screwing around in gay abandon and then terminating a life because you decide that it's just too damn "inconvenient" to have a baby around when you wake up in the morning.

You should've thought of that BEFORE you rolled in the hay, not AFTER

There's more. (Caution:profanity)


Here's something odd. Twice in the last week I've gotten a hit on my tracker from AndrewSullivan.Com. Both times I thought, "That's odd." I find it odd because I rarely read Sullivan and I'd be shocked if he'd ever been to this site. Furthermore, both times, I've gone to his site and tried to find a link the person followed. Finally, if Sullivan had linked me, I'd expect my counter to be going berserk, not just one here or there.

Red Letter Edition
Matthew 16:13-23 ESV Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but of the things of man.”

It is easy for me to feel a kinship to Peter here. One moment he is strongly confessing Christ and receiving great praise. Soon after, he openly confronts his Lord and is justly put down. I know that I find this swing of the pendulum very hard to break out of. Some times I am strongly standing up for the faith. At other times I find myself consumed by my own selfish desires. It is helpful for me to remember that the apostles were not perfect men. They were just like the rest of us. They made mistakes; sometimes they made rather large mistakes. Regardless of their faults, they clung to their Lord and he forgave their many faults. Fortunately, he makes the same offer to us.


Martin Devon has some things to say about Daschle's latest rant. So does John Hawkins.

Update-Mean Dean chimes in as well. (By the way, does someone want to explain 40-1 odds on Scrabble?)

Update-Junkyard Blog has a few comments too. OK. A lot of comments.


Steve Den Beste points out that sometimes the most important thing you can do when you have important knowledge is to shut up.

Here's a question

I don' know. Why don't you decide?


Ah, run for your lifes, here comes the Ashcroft Dissent Squashing BrigadesTM. They come bringing horrors such as this:

Ashcroft upped the ante even more by immediately establishing and utilizing a computer system to get virtually instant court approval for surveillance.

An efficient method of getting court orders! We're doomed!


While some people are laughing at Jim Jeffords for his pathetic attempts to crawl back to GOP fold, Michael Kieschnick is begging Republican "moderates" to folow in Jimbos footsteps and leave the party. He thinks it is the only sensible thing to do to save us from the evil that accompanies Trent Lott as majority leader.

There is one point I can actually agree on here. We both think Trent Lott in control of the Senate is a disaster. Of course, Kieshnick thinks Lott wants to destroy the environment. I just think he's selfish, pedantic, and wimpish.


Today's best laugh of the day is from Howard Bashman:

As regular readers of this Web log may be surprised to learn, on certain occasions it is actually necessary for me to read the contents of appellate opinions before mentioning them here. On such rare occasions, it can be distressing to open up a PDF file that turns out to be a 110-page opinion.

Today's Fifth Circuit opinion, however, isn't as painful as some 110-page opinions because it turns out to be a thirty-six page majority opinion, followed by a thirty-seven page dissent by Circuit Judge Rhesa Hawkins Barksdale, followed by another copy of the identical thirty-seven page dissent by Judge Barksdale. Now Judge Barksdale's dissent advances an impassioned argument for why the Fifth Circuit should grant rehearing en banc to allow that court to reconsider its caselaw governing so-called "Fourth Amendment malicious prosecution" claims. And perhaps reading the dissent a second time will convince any of his colleagues who weren't convinced on a first read. But seriously, while the Fifth Circuit can post an opinion containing two dissents by Judge Barksdale, the principle of "one judge, one vote" operates to leave his preferred outcome on the losing end of today's 2-1 three-judge panel ruling.


The Independent, is it news, or is it an Iraqi press release?

Here's my personal favorite part:

In Baghdad, the Iraqi regime seized on an attack by the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, against the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, who had said Iraq's decision to fire at American and British aircraft over the "no-fly zone" did not constitute a "material breach" of the resolution.

An Iraqi foreign ministry official said: "This is another example of the Americans trying to undermine this UN mission. It is in their interest to ensure the inspections are halted over an excuse. They are re-writing the rules every day."

Assuming for the moment that the UN resolution didn't include this phrase:

Decides further that Iraq shall not take or threaten hostile acts directed against any representative or personnel of the United Nations or the IAEA or of any Member State taking action to uphold any Council resolution... (emphasis, if you couldn't tell, is mine)

which is the provision the US is complaining that the Iraqis have violated, and assuming that the US and British planes weren't enforcing UN resolutions, most people could still have figured out that, "No shooting at us!" is generally a precondition for avoiding war.

I accidentally got this when I was looking for this. Sounds like something out of here.

Merde in France tries counting in French.


Jonah Goldberg really tears into the "new" Al Gore:

And, in the end, all this means he's the same Al Gore as ever, in the only way that matters. Who cares whether he says he's for socialized medicine or for the free market, for war or for peace, for cats or for dogs — whatever. He's not believable because he's at best an ideological mercenary, willing to adopt any uniform that will get him where he wants to go. He isn't the "New Al Gore" — as so many journalists have claimed — any more than Richard Nixon was the "New Nixon." The man (or in this case the big, sweaty robot) remains unchanged. He is still the "man" From Carthage, and Carthage still must be destroyed.


For those of you who were interested in my banter with Joshua Claybourn about abortion and the 14th amendment (Josh summarized the links to this discussion here), you should read Josh Chafetz's post. Chafetz doesn't believe a fetus is a person, but says that if he did, he'd feel constrained to argue that the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment prohibits abortion.


I got the newest Nigerian scam e-mail today. This one has got a Christian twist. The woman in this one is supposedly the widow of sheik who died during the Gulf War. (Don't remember any sheiks dying, do you? Me neither.) Supposedly, she converted to Christianity, moved to Nigeria, and is now dying of cancer. Lucky me, the dying woman found my website and decided to give me 100,000 million dollars to spread the gospel. Um, yeah.


Insert your own jokes here

Daschle: Shrill Political Talk Spurs Threats

Well, you would be the expert on that, now wouldn't you.

As far as I can tell, Daschle's comments have two basics points. 1) It is bad for regular people to become interested and emotionally involved in politics. 2) Everything bad that happens to Tom Daschle is Rush Limbaugh's fault.

Hey, Tom: GET A GRIP!


Hans Blix says Iraq will cooperate fully. Oh good. I feel better now.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

This would be funnier if it weren't so true.

Jason Steffens has a good point that I neglected to mention about the Doug Bandow article I linked to earlier.


Read this headline and see if you don't want to puke.


I've got to disagree with Glenn on this one. Despite my misgivings, if ballistic "fingerprinting" could yield 99% (or even 95%) I think it would probably be useful to set up a database. It might not be wise to use the database in court at that level, but such a degree of accuracy might be very useful as an aid to the police. However, 38% is just plain worthless.


Suneal Chandran thinks the Democratic party has become a bunch of Luddites.

The list of GOP accomplishments and goals should make clear why the American people want conservatives running the legislature. Republicans have proposed initiatives in education such as school vouchers and charter schools. On the environment, Republicans created pollution credits that companies can buy and sell, reducing pollution at a much lower cost than straight out regulation. An issue likely to be discussed this legislative term is the creation of private Social Security accounts, so that workers can decide for themselves what to do with their retirement money.

Whether you agree with these ideas or not, they are all original, small government solutions to the social problems that the Democrats have usually been most trusted on. Republicans have the advantage of the free market, which generates a great number of new ideas that can be made into government policy. But instead of attaching these ideas to problems they claim to care about most, Dems have instead attacked viciously, opposing a number of key measures. This simplistic opposition to progress is the greatest threat facing them; in a reform-minded America, they are quickly becoming the anti-reform party, the Ned Ludd Party.

Democrats have not been able to match Republicans in the battle for new ideas. Instead, they continually return to the old line: “If it moves, tax it; if it still moves; regulate it; and if it stops moving, subsidize it.” The party stands for nothing more than high taxes, big government, and sucking the brains out of unborn children.

And those, I'm afraid, are their good qualities.


Susanna Cornett has some excellent comments on the morality of war. I'd take some excerpts, but there's no point. It's all good.

Ohio State to Fans: Please don't be barbarians.

It Just Gets Better

UN officials urge Iraqis to look hard for weapons so sanctions can be lifted

Yeah. You read that right.

The chief UN weapons inspectors, wrapping up a critical two-day visit, urged Iraqi officials on Tuesday to look again in their nuclear, chemical and biological "stocks and stores" to ensure they have no weapons-making to report.

Yup, Good old Hans urged the Iraqis to search their stores of WMDs, which they swear they don't have, to make sure they haven't forgotten anything. Sheesh.

Update- Josh Chafetz weighs in on this as well:

Yeah, guys, make sure you check between the couch cushions, too. I lose loose change down there all the time, so I'm sure it wouldn't be that hard for a little enriched uranium or a few gallons of anthrax to slip down there, too. I mean, what with eight palaces covering twelve square miles, you must have some big couches!

I really hope the inspectors have a better plan than the old "ask the Iraqis if they couldn't be bothered to check for any leftover weapons just one more time" routine ...

Well, this is interesting

Iraqis 'staggered' by exhaustive list of demands from UN inspectors

Hang on, this will be a weird ride.

The dinner between one of Saddam Hussein's closest aides and Hans Blix was meant to smooth the thorny path for the renewed United Nations weapons inspections.

What is there to smooth out Hans? Here's the deal: They do whatever you say whenever you say, or we go to war. No smoothing required.

But the Iraqis were bemused to find sponge mattress-es and slippers on the menu. Factories producing such items were just two of the examples of the array of sites the UN chief weapons inspector said his team intended to search in its efforts to discover whether Saddam Hussein is hiding weapons of mass destruction.

Note how the Independent says that the Iraqis were "bemused" and takes at face value what Saddam's boys say these factories are being used for. Surely Saddam wouldn't lie to us.

By the way, Hans doesn't understand the idea of "surprise" does he? Why on earth would you tell the guy who's been hiding his weapons from us for 11 years where we're going to look?

Such is the scale of information the UN is demanding, Iraqi officials told Mr Blix's team they may have difficulties meeting the 8 December deadline by which they must submit a detailed report.

Huh? The report due on December 8th does not have anything to do (as I read the resolution) with the places the inspectors want to look at. That report is supposed to be a detailed report of all weapons of mass destruction that the Iraqi government owns. They've been saying for years that they don't have any, haven't had any, and wouldn't dream of getting any. Their letter accepting the Security Council resolution reiterated that position. If they haven't been lying, the report should be real easy to prepare. It could be four words, "We don't have any." I suspect that's pretty much what the statement will say, in fact. It will be a lie, but hey, we knew that.

Mr Blix said yesterday the Iraqis had assured him they would do "everything humanly possible" to comply with the new UN resolution on its supposed arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. The Iraqis were reminded that a failure to meet the deadline would, almost certainly, be seen by the United States as a "material breach" of the resolution and clear the way for an attack. "That seemed to concentrate their minds," said a diplomatic source.

Am I reading this right? Was Hans playing bad cop/good cop? (Hint, we're the bad cop.)


The Iraqis were told the UN operation would be much more exhausting, intrusive and comprehensive than anything in the past, and no place, or person, could expect dispensation.

I'll believe that when I see it.

The Iraqis, led by General Husan Amin, asked for "further clarification" of the terms of the US-sponsored UN resolution.

OK. You give us a detailed list of all you're WMDs. If there is anything on the list, you're in violation of treaty obligations and we will invade. If we find out the list was a lie, you're in violation of treaty obligations and we invade. You let the inspectors go wherever they want, whenever they want, and do whatever they want. If you don't, you will be in violation of treaty obligations and we will invade. If you attack us or the inspectors, we invade. Any funny business and we invade.

Are we clear now? Good.

According to diplomatic sources the Iraqis were "staggered" by the range of what the UN proposes to explore in seeking chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well as facilities that can be used for civil or military needs.

That's right chumps. This time we want to actually look where the weapons are.


Attempts to kick-start the inspections were complicated yesterday by what Iraqis, publicly, and UN officials, privately, say are attempts by the Bush administration to undermine the mission on the outset.

In Washington, the White House spokesman Scott McClennan claimed Baghdad was already in breach of the new resolution by firing on American and British aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones over the country. UN officials were perturbed by criticism of Mr Blix, a 74-year-old former Swedish foreign minister, by right-wingers in America. The focus on firing in the no-fly zones ? a regular event since they were established after the Gulf War ? was seized upon by the Iraqi government as an attempt by the Bush administration to scupper the UN mission.

An Iraqi Foreign Ministry official said: "This shows it is the Americans who are against the UN inspections, not us. They are trying to find pretexts to stop the mission and bomb us."

That's right. It's all our fault. Has absolutely nothing to do with the people shooting at the planes in clear violation of the newest resolution. None at all.

Al-Iraq, a government newspaper, declared: "The US wants to attack Iraq under the excuse of the banned weapons and their alleged danger." Asked about the criticism of Mr Blix by figures in Washington, Mark Gwozdecky, for the UN team, remarked: "Those who make these attacks don't seem to understand the damage they are doing to the international attempts to stop proliferation, not just in Iraq, but elsewhere. It is inspectors who find hidden weapons, not bombs. Inspectors have destroyed more weapons here than the bombs have."

Oh my. Where to start. The US wants to attack Iraq under the excuse of the banned weapons and their alleged danger. Darn Darn-tootin. Although, to paraphrase the reporter in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, "For my money, you can drop 'allegedly'."

It is inspectors who find hidden weapons, not bombs. Let me clear something up. Our primary concern is not finding weapons. It is making sure those weapons aren't used. For those purposes, bombs frequently work just fine.

Inspectors have destroyed more weapons here than the bombs have. Wait a minute. Everyone keeps telling me that they never had these weapons. How did the inspectors destroy these nonexistent weapons? 1

The UN mission stressed the process of inspection was a long-term one and preliminary findings, or lack of them, should not be an excuse to launch a military attack on Iraq.

So let me get this straight. If the inspectors walk into a mattress factory and find 3 nukes, serin gas, and stashes of weaponized smallpox and anthrax, that wouldn't be justification to attack. Nice. Ladies and gentleman, I give you the UN weapons inspectors: A Profile in Insanity.

I think I just fisked a "news" story. How sad.

1 Clarification: Yes, I know the inspectors did find and destroy weapons in the previous round of inspections. My point is that you'd never know that from a lot of the anti-war rhetoric.


Juan Gato says that judges often legislate from the bench because they have no choice. I can't say that I agree with that entirely, but he does make some interesting points.


For anyone who was interested in my recent banter with Joshua Clabourn on abortion, you really ought to read this article by Doug Bandow.


One of the inanities of the idiotarian movement is attempts to get universities to divest from Israel. One such movement is under way at Yale. Josh Chafetz at Oxblog is calling attention to an anti-divestment petition. If anyone is or knows a Yale alumnus, they might want to follow the link for more information.

More on Ten Commandments in the public sphere:

All Ten Commandments displays in public buildings do not violate the Constitution, Thompson wrote in his 96-page opinion, noting that Moses is depicted carrying two blank tablets on the East Portico of the U.S. Supreme Court building. But he stressed that Moore's monument so obviously promotes religion that it "crossed the . . . line between the permissible and impermissible" set out in the Establishment clause of the Constitution, which prohibits the government from making laws respecting the establishment of religion.

Thompson wrote that he inspected the 21/2-ton monument, which displays the Ten Commandments carved in granite, and was struck by "the sense of being in the presence of something not just valued and revered . . . but also holy and sacred."

I certainly hope there was to substance, in the end, to the ruling than that. The way this story reports the decision, it sounds as if the judge decided the issue of whether the monument was permissible based on how it made him feel.

One other comment. This story says the chief judgement secretly erected the monument. Will someone explain to me how you erect a 21 1/2 ton granite monument in secret?


It is not surprising, but apparently, Kofi Annan can't read.

Monday, November 18, 2002

Paul Wright is on to some selective editing at the Sydney Morning Herald. (Link via Damian Penny.)

Exactly what are the Palestinian Preventative Forces supposed to prevent?

From the Guardian. I know you're shocked.

An overnight raid on the main Palestinian security compound in Gaza turned up anti-tank missiles, grenades and equipment to make other weapons, proving Palestinian security forces were supplying arms to militant groups, the Israeli army said Monday.

The three-hour raid left the Palestinian Preventive Security force complex in ruins. Palestinians denied the Israeli charges, saying the base was evacuated a year ago and has stood empty since.

Palestinians have pointed to raids like this when rebutting Israeli charges that Palestinian security is not doing enough to stop attacks by militants, saying that Israel itself is responsible for decimating the official forces.

Is it just me, or is there something strange about this. The Guardian says that the Palestinians accuse the Israelis of "decimating official forces" with raids like this. On the other hand, the Palestinians also say the building has been vacant for a year. Exactly how are the Israelis "decimating official forces" by raiding empty buildings?

It gets better. Later in the same story, there is this:

Rashid Abu Shabak, head of preventive security in Gaza, toured the demolished compound Monday and denied it was a weapons factory.

``Every Palestinian security (compound) has its own garage to fix cars and if (they) consider this garage a factory to produce weapons, this is nothing new,'' he said. ``Last night's aggression was not only against my headquarters, but against all the Palestinian people and against the peace process.''

First off, is it just maybe possible that the Israelis thinks the PSS is using their garages to manufacture weapons because, oh I don't know, THEY ARE! Second, remember how the Palestinians said the building was abandoned? Why, then, did Shabak refer get indignant about the attack on "[his] headquarters"?

You know, it would be nice if the Palestinians would keep their lies straight. It would be nice if the Guardian would call them on it when they tell inconsistent stories too, but I know that's asking too much.


What can I say? I guess he just tries harder. But hey, what do you expect from someone who calls Robert Byrd "the money god"?

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 16:5-12 When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Jesus warns his disciples to be wear of the "leaven" of the Pharisees and Sadducees. They finally realized that he was warning them to avoid the teachings of the Sadducees and Pharisees.

Why was that so important. Well, to begin with, their teachings were wrong. The comparison to leaven is an interesting one and is used in the New Testament in a variety of purposes. In each case, the point is that even a small amount of leaven changes the entire loaf. This is why we should beware of false teachings. They can easily change our entire belief system. They can even harm large portions of the church permanently.


Cut on the . . . ? Hey, didn't there used to be more in that title?


Isn't it a little early to be talking about this?


Hey kids! Do you know what time it is? It ain't Howdy Doody time, that's for sure. (Link via Scott Baron.)

Sheesh. This is an incredibly slow news day.


The Wall Street Journal examines why Max Cleland lost. Hint: The answer isn't what you'll here from Democrats. They also have a few things to say about Democrats who scream, "You can't challenge my patriotism!"


Students in Iran continue to protest. One of their demands ought to strike a chord:

"We demand unconditional release of Mr. Aghajari but demand freedom of speech and opinion for everyone and for ever," said Abadullah Momeni, one of the speakers at the university, in a telephone interview.


Martin Roth has some interesting comments on the state of Christian education in Australia.


Australian police have arrested a British man who was plotting to bomb the "diplomatic premises" (which I assume means an embassy or consulate) of the Israeli government.


Eugene Volokh asks why the University of Oregon faculty senate would bother expressing an opinion on the war:

But what puzzles is why any reader would give any special credence to a statement about the war just because physicists, English literature experts, law professors, and musicologists voted in favor of the statement. If this were a statement by professors who research international relations, or military strategy and tactics, that would be worth reading. But if the University of Oregon faculty puts its reputation (mostly earned by accomplishment in fields having nothing to do with the war on Iraq) behind a resolution on a subject on which most faculty members have no specialized knowledge, this won't increase the public's concern about the war. Rather, it will only undermine the public's respect for the University.


Can't argue that point.

Charles Krauthammer analyzes liberal fantasies.


David Frum calls for Colin Powell to be sacked. This isn't the first time some one has said that. It probably won't be the last. I still can't decide what I think.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

In America, this is the inevitable result when the government fails to do its job.


Here's an article you ought to read about Just War Theory.


Here's a Sydney Morning Herald report on the confession of an al-Qaeda operative being held in Kuwait that he helped plan the attack on a French tanker. Strangely, despite the fact that nothing in the story would lead you to doubt that he actually confessed, the headline reads:

Al-Qaeda terrorist 'confessed' to French tanker plot

Yes, those are scare quotes around the word confessed. As I say, nothing in the story would make you doubt the guy actually confessed, but somebody is not convinced.

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 16:1-4 And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.

There are some people who never accept Christ, no matter how much evidence they see. By this point, Jesus had done many great works, yet still some people demanded signs. To those who were willing to believe Jesus would provide evidence, but those who were unwilling to believe under any situation were unworthy of receiving signs. Still, Jesus would give everyone one sign: The Resurrection.