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

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Friday, January 31, 2003

Francis Rocca seems to think that the "Gang of Eight" have set in motion a "New Europe". The message to France and Germany appears to be, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way."


Juan Gato on Stupid People

Ok, dude? From now on you're on your own.

A man who was rescued from his crippled sailboat off Central America last year was plucked to safety from his new sailboat this week.

A Coast Guard cutter found Richard Van Pham on Wednesday 20 miles west of Orange County in Southern California. The 62-year-old sailor had no communications or navigation equipment, Coast Guard spokesman Lance Jones said Thursday.

Too many tax dollars have been wasted bribing fate to leave you alone.


Does it worry anyone else that Mark kept count of this?


Somedays I can't help but laugh at Pearls Before Swine.


David Malone argues that with a little coaxing, France will fold.


Autoworkers sell sperm to save jobs. You can't make this stuff up! (Link via Dave Barry.)


Stephen Green has an excellent essay on "multilateralism". (Link via Jeff Brokaw.)


I think it's wise of us to remember, as our country prepares to go to war, that our soldiers are more than just killing machines; they are human beings with lives. We should thank them for their service and give them respect. To that end, let me give a big thank you to Jim and Laura Richardson. Both are Army Lt. Colonels and aviators. They each command battalions in the 101st Airborne. They're preparing to go to war together. It's the first time a husband and wife team have ever commanded battalions in the same brigade in time of war. Inspiring stuff.

France Surrenders! To high school students!

It seems the French have done it again. This is the hardest I've laughed in a long time. I recommend not eating and drinking while reading. (Link via the Emperor and Daily Pundit.)

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Joel Mowbray tears into the State Department. Again.

Maybe we should just call him "The Bane of the State Department".


David Frum has some interesting observations about the President's Christianity.


Is it really a personal attack to point out that a once great man has become senile and should, therefore, not be listened to anymore?


Joel Fuhrman says that Muslim's and Christians don't worship the same god.

He's right. Christianity and Islam teach two irreconcilable views of God. Abraham Lincoln said that if you call a sheep's tail a leg, the sheep still just has four legs. Saying something doesn't make it so. Just because Islam identifies its god as the same one worshipped by Christians and Jews, doesn't make it so. Personally, I don't worship Allah, I worship "The Great I Am."


Roy Jacobsen points out some reasons fewer doctors are performing abortions.


Bryan Preston tears into "The Swimmer".

Is there anything on the internet better than Dave Barry having a blog?


They have not 100 percent gotten over the Civil War here.

They don't even call it the Civil War. They call it "Arnold."


Most of Eugene Volokh's posts today revolve around a biology professor who refuses to give recommendations to people who believe in Creation. (Go here and scroll up.)

Eugene and his readers have lots of insightful commentary. One part in this post is troubling.

[Part 2, of beliefs about morality:] The same, I think, in some measure applies to religious beliefs about morality. I've often heard people argue that religious people, and mostly religious societies, are more likely to be moral than irreligious people and societies: First, religion imposes an externally defined and authoritative code of conduct, so people would be less likely to harm others simply because they themselves decide that it's OK to inflict such harms. Second, many religions threaten punishment after death, which ought to deter people from doing even those evil things that they can do with impunity in this world. And yet as best I can understand history, religious people and societies have had aggregate track records that are not tremendously different from those of the secular.

More specifically, I suppose one might say "I believe that doctors who are pro-life, who oppose abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty, and who believe that life is a sacred gift from God will be more charitable and zealous than those who think there is no God, and that life therefore may be measured by purely human yardsticks, and sometimes found to be not worth living or preserving." That's not a silly assertion; in the abstract, it might even be persuasive. But in practice, I doubt that this assertion is in fact correct -- I have no way of knowing for sure, but that's my sense from my limited life experience. Again, you'd think that belief might influence behavior, and in some people it does, but I doubt that this comes out in the aggregate.

The thing that troubles me is that he's right. Let's disregard other religions though, and focus in on just Christianity. In the aggregate, nations that are actively "Christian" don't have a much better track record when it comes to ethical behavior than anyone else. In fact, many highly unethical behaviors have been engaged in on behalf of Christianity. This is a sad fact. I wish I knew what to do with it.


Scrapple Face does it again.

2003-01-30) -- Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, recalling her handling of the Waco siege, said today that if she were president, Iraq would be engulfed in flames by now.

"What's the hold up?" she rhetorically asked George Bush. "You've surrounded a pseudo-religious maniac who's got dangerous weapons. Set the place on fire, Mr. President. Hussein's not even an American citizen. Come on! Light her up!"

There's more.


A new name for the French!


Another European in support of the gang of eight.

I'm sure you've all been waiting for this
So here it is. The picture my dad just sent me of my cousin's kids with their Christmas presents from me.

From left to right, Brylee, Eastland, Shelbee, and Shaylee. (Baby Baylor not pictured.)


Good news! Saddam accepts asylum! And if you'll buy that . . . (Link via His Royal Highness.)


The Brits say al-Qaeda has a dirty bomb. I sure hope somebody's on top of this.


Nelson Mandella is just begging for another fisking.

Update - See, I told you so.

Update - Again.


If you want to get good and mad, read this. It's a wonderful little story all about how people who cause disasters are getting huge payouts in court.

Who needs Germany?

We've got Albania.

In addition, Albania officials released a letter from Prime Minister Fatos Nano to Bush pledging the country's "total and unconditional" support in the war on terrorism. "We want to be as helpful as possible to the United States and stand ready to join the coalition of the willing as your friend and ally," the letter said.

While I'm at it, I want to say thank you to Jose Maria Aznar, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso,Silvio Berlusconi, Tony Blair, Vaclav Havel, Peter Medgyessy, Leszek Miller, and Anders Fogh Rasmussen for this wonderful gem.


[sarcasm]I don't know about you, but I was waiting with baited breath to hear what Fidel Castro has to say about war in Iraq.[/sarcasm]

Wednesday, January 29, 2003
Red Letter Edition
Matthew 19: 1-10 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

I'm really not up to breaking this passage down. I may come back to it later. For now, I just want to point out that the Pharisees asked why Moses "commanded" them to give a certificate of divorce; in Jesus's response he says Moses "allowed" them to do so. The point is clearly that divorce was only a concession to man's weakness. It is not something God smiles on.


Paul Cella says the U.N. is a fraud and it wouldn't hurt much of anything if it was discredited. Can you say UNDERSTATEMENT?


I must have really disappointed whoever came here with this search.


Solly Ezekiel has this to say about the next Security Council meeting.

Don't want to be Mr. Doom and Gloom here, but let's not get our hopes up about how the world will react to the evidence Colin Powell will be presenting to the UN next week. Why not? Well, this is just going to be a repeat of what we saw when the IDF captured documents in Arafat's Ramallah compound showing that (among other things) Arafat was personally directing and funding Fatah/Tanzim terror operations. Pretty damning stuff -- but the world reaction wasn't exactly a stinging denunciation of Arafat.

I expect the evidence Powell presents will be good, probably on a par with what Israel presented against Arafat. The UN will find some way of minimizing the significance of it. I think that, by presenting evidence for the world's consideration, Powell is setting himself up to be boxed into another corner. What the Bush administration does in response to that will be the interesting part.

About the world reaction to the evidence, he may be right. Although, the U.S. has more clout than Israel and may be able to force the Council's hand. As far as Powell boxing himself into a corner, I suppose that's a possibility. However, the box is made of crate paper. We don't have to stay in the box if we don't want to.


Jay Nordlinger on France.

In Beijing, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had an important statement to make. Asked where the PRC stood on the U.S. and Iraq, he said, “Our stance on this issue is extremely close to that of the French government.”

That says it all, I think, about French foreign policy. Can anyone in Paris be proud that France has taken essentially the same position as the Red Chinese?

I’m afraid of the answer.

Me too.


Jonah Goldberg on analogies:

Everyone — including the French and Hans Blix — admits that Saddam is playing keep-away. We all know he's not innocent of anything. In Friday's column, I tried to come up with a metaphor for Saddam's game. I likened it to a kid who refuses to show his father what's behind his back when the father knows he's been playing with matches. But the keep-away metaphor doesn't justify killing the kid. So, as strange as it sounds, comparing the situation to a mechanics diagnosis may make more sense to me. The local garage tells you that your brakes are shot. He says they could go anytime — maybe not tomorrow or the next day, but it's certain that they'll fail eventually. You can fix it now or take your chances with later. If you fix it today, it's a huge hassle; if you wait you could die.

President Bush laid things out clearly when he said, "We will not deny, we will not ignore, we will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, to other presidents, and other generations. We will confront them with focus and clarity and courage." And it struck me; the first metaphor for Bush was still the best. He is a cowboy, in the best sense of the label. He's got a moral compass that points true north even if he's got to zigzag to get there. He speaks plainly. He's not dumb, but he also doesn't need to be the smartest man in the room because he's got right — "providence" in his words — on his side, and he knows the difference between shinola and other substances. This may not explain the dynamics of why Saddam's got to go right now. But after he's gone, when the Iraqi prisons and archives of terror are opened and the Iraqi people are free, Bush can simply say of Saddam, in cowboy parlance, "He needed killin'"; and everyone will understand.

Clarification - That last hyperlink is my own addition.


Possibly the best campaign strategy in history.

Tim, where do you find these guys?


LOL. (Link via Tim Blair.)


Oh this is rich. Iraq promises to be more cooperative with the arms inspectors.

Also, I think General Rashid had a Sheryl Crow moment.

"We are ready to put extra effort," he said at a news conference tonight. "Complete is never complete, as you know."

No, I don't know. Why don't you enlighten me?


Over at The Ville I learned that the Germans are afraid of an American boycott. Woo-ho.


In case you can't tell, I can't get to sleep tonight. Having a headache and being sleep deprived gives me a weird sense of humor.


Go forth. Read. Laugh.


Chuckle, chuckle, snort.


The Corner group blogged the speech. Go here and scroll up for lots of insight, wit, and snarky remarks.


As a Christian, I'm not supposed to echo Gordon's sentiment. I'm having a real hard time with that at the moment. (Link via Natalie Solent.)

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Check out the SOTU comments on LGF.


Mark Steyn has an awesome column on abortion. (Link via Jeff Brokaw who found it via Josh Martin.)

Alan Sherman fans, head's up

Hello mudda, hello fadda, here's the news at Camp Intifada. (Link via Little Tiny Lies.)

Roundup continued

Rachel missed the address because she had to go to class. She said she's taping it, so I assume she'll have something to say later.

John Bono says war on the 12th at the latest. He also thinks Gov. Locke had a Dukakis moment. Scroll down for the play by play. He also noted the use of "communism".

Patrick Ruffini's play by play is here. (Link via Orrin Judd.)

CPO Sparkey highlights what he liked.

Mark Byron has his comments.

Beaker says time's up. He also calls for a change in the order of enemies.

There's probably a lot of good commentary that I missed, but I've already been doing this roundup for two hours.

The roundup

A note on my running commentary of the State of the Union below. If it's in quotes, it was word for word as best I could do. If it's not in quotes, it was just a summary of the point, although it may be real close to word for word.

Tacitus wasn't impressed over all. Scroll down to see his play by play.

N.Z. Bear had his running comments here.

Emperor Misha is pissed. I must humbly disagree with His Highness. It was stated in advance that no definitive announcement would come tonight. I personally always expected them to return to the UN one more time. His constant use of UN statistics was designed to put the Council on the defensive. The important point is that he said he would consult with them, but he would act regardless of what they decided. If the UN says no and he backs down, then I'll be pissed.

Vodka Pundit says his confidence has been restored. Scroll down for his play by play.

Josh Chafetz's reactions are pretty similar to mine, although he's got more detailed reasoning.

Michelle has some preliminary thoughts.

Patio Pundit didn't have much to say. (At least not yet.)

Not directly on point, but Charles swears he's not joking.

Bill Quick says this is the best speech yet. That may be a bit of a stretch. Anyway, Bill says he'll have more later.

Susanna was properly attired.

Jen, unsurprisingly, thought it was a great speech. She also links to the text of the speech.

Kevin Holtsberry was impressed. Must have been. He's already added a quote from the speech to the top of his template.

Joel Fuhrman was impressed. He also has some comments about audience participation.

Jason Steffens says Pelosi has no class.


On the whole, I'd say he was mediocre on domestic (but the taxes was great). On foreign policy, he was real good. On Iraq he hit a home run.


The pledge to help the Iraqi people was both noble and vital.


If war is forced upon us we will fight with the full force and strength of the United States milatary and we will prevail!


We seek peace. We strive for peace. Sometimes peace must be defended. Great

Armed forces

I'm real glad he put in a personal message to the troops.

Security Council

We will consult, but if Saddam does not disarm, we will lead a coalition to disarm him. Great

Axis of evil

Our actions don't depend on the actions of others. SCORE

"When ever action is necessary, I will protect and defend the American people. Booyah

Good stuff on democracy in Iran. Specifics?

North Korea. Backhand slap on Clinton.

"America and the World will not be blackmailed." Point

Insisted they back off of nuclear weapons.

Good segue to Iraq.

Won't let them threaten us. Cool.

Pointed out that Saddam is violating the ceasfire.

Didn't send inspectors to conduct a scavenger hunt. Bada Bing

Iraq hasn't met its obligations. Good.

Using UN stats is a great touch. We know he had it. He hasn't told us what happened to it. We believe he's still got it.

But where are the other 29,984 missles? Great question.

"The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. On the contrary, he is deceiving." Great. Points out evidence that Iraq is hiding and intimidating; good stuff.

Hey, I haven't heard this about intelligence agents impersonating scientists before.

Pointing out the threats against scientists is a great call.

Links al-Qaeda to Iraq.

Containment won't work. Good call. Imagine those 19 on 9/11 with WMDs from Saddam? I don't want to, thanks. Why don't you do something about it.

"We will do everything in our power to make sure that day never comes." Score

"Since when have terrorist and tyrants announced their intentions putting us on notice before they strike?"

Trusting in Saddam Hussein's sanity is not a strategy and it is not an option. Okay, that won had me shouting.

Listing brutal tactics great. "If this is not evil, than evil has no meaning."

"Your enemy is not surrounding your country; your enemy is ruling your country! And the day he and his regime is removed from power will be the day of your liberation!" Okay, that better mean we're going to war.

Here comes Iraq

Hey, he said "communism" instead of "totalitarianism". I guess we're not kissing up to China this time.

$6 billion for innoculations. Probably money well spent, but what was that about controlling spending?


NPR is making sure I know when the Dems aren't cheering.


Reminding people of 9.11 is probably a good rhetorical ploy, but did he really have to hype the TSA?

Tacitus is getting impatient.

AIDS in Africa.

Well, I don't suppose I'm against helping people in Africa with AIDS. But for the record $10 billion in new money over 5 years is $2 billion a year.

Update-Vodka Pundit thinks he just stole the AIDS issue.


Supporting the people who were oppressed by the Taliban. Who can be against that?

What democratic Palestine was that exactly? That would be a great goal if we had a democratic Palestine for Israel to be at peace with.


Partial-birth abortion ban. Good call.

Banning all human cloning. Bad call.


$600 million for drug treatment. $1.2 billion for sci-fi cars. What was that about controlling spending?

Bush on energy

I heard a lot about alternative fuels. I didn't hear anything about ANWR. What's going on here?


The President on taxes and spending

I thought the statement that if tax cuts were good in the future, they're better now was a great touch. It really puts Congress on the spot.

On the other hand, the President stated that the best way to control deficits is to control spending. This is true, but the President really needs to look at himself first on this one.


More on ex post facto laws.


Dave Barry has some advice for th President regarding the State of the Union address.


A few days ago I posted my concerns that retroactive extensions of statutes of limitations might be a constitutionally prohibited ex post facto law. At the time I e-mailed Eugene Volokh and asked for his input. He graciously agreed to post a response today. Here is his answer.

I'm grateful that he took the time to look into the case history. Some of the other arguments he brings up are things I had thought of as well. I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced that extending a statute of limitations retroactively is a good idea, but I feel better about it than I did before.


The FAA wants airlines to weigh passengers before they board smaller planes. Yeah, that will go over well. (It's just for a month, but I feel sorry for the ticket agents stuck with this job.)


According to the Washington Times, the new evidence that the White House is set to release will include a direct link between Iraq and al-Qaeda.


Diana West explains the problem with Franco-German foreign policy: They're following the Sheryl Crow doctrine.


Josh Chafetz talks about Kasparov playing the computer and why it doesn't mean much of anything.

It's blackmail time

Iraq's Aziz: Iraq might strike U.S. troops in Kuwait

OTTAWA - Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz said Monday he could not rule out an Iraqi strike on Kuwait if U.S. troops crossed over from there into Iraq. The United States has launched a massive military buildup in the Gulf region ahead of a possible war to disarm Iraq of alleged illegal weapons.

"Kuwait is a battlefield and American troops are in Kuwait and preparing themselves to attack Iraq. If there will be an attack from Kuwait I cannot say that we will not retaliate. We will of course retaliate against the American troops wherever they start their aggression on Iraq. This is legitimate," he said in an interview in Baghdad.

I could be wrong, but this appears to be sheer bluster aimed at the Kuwaitis in a desperate attempt to get that government to reverse it's support for U.S. action. The real question is how would Iraq retaliate? By land? Their forces will have more than enough to do dealing with the American invasion. Air strike? The Iraqi airforce wasn't too impressive in 1991. By the end of the war, air force had sent most of his planes to Iran for safekeeping; he never got them back. Sabotage? Well, now there might be a possibility.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Howard Bashman points out a 10th circuit case in which the court ruled that defendants could be found guilty and sentenced for crimes for which they were never charged. Reading Bashman's excerpts, I understand why the court would want to come to this conclusion in these cases; that doesn't change the fact that this is terrible law.


How am I supposed to square this with this?


Orrin Judd comments on pacifism.

There's nothing wrong with opposing war so long as you're willing to accept some measure of responsibility for the deeds of such men, the murders that you're willing to let continue. But it is this willingness that so often makes pacifism the moral low ground, rather than the high ground, and the failure to even wrestle with the reality comes close to making the position despicable.


Susanna points to evidence that the blogosphere is growing in influence.


Robert Bartley has some things to say about "last chances".

Saddam, in short, has reacted to his "final opportunity" in Resolution 1441 the same way he reacted to 16 previous Security Council resolutions. To wit, with evasions, lies, feints, delay and ultimately, contempt. There is not the least reason to believe that with "more time" his behavior will change under the merciless pounding of Hans Blix and Kofi Annan.

The issue, rather, is whether Mr. Blix, Mr. Annan, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin and the rest were serious in the 15-0 vote supporting Resolution 1441 last November. Point 13 noted that the Security Council "has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations."

"No, no, no," the "world opinion" chorus now chants, "those were only words, never intended to have any consequence." Meanwhile, the convoluted politics of the United Nations--a mixture of democracies, authoritarian regimes and dictatorships--has produced Libya as head of its Human Rights Commission. In this forum, why should we expect that there would be anything final about a "final opportunity?"

Perhaps the chances are not zero. After all, the current international "no, no, no" is an echo of the mood before President Bush spoke to the U.N. last October. He used the opportunity to rub collective faces in all of the other Security Council resolutions Saddam had successfully flouted over the years. If the U.N. doesn't take its own words seriously, he pointed out, it can't be a serious organization. This is what produced Resolution 1441 and its "final opportunity"; its toughness was considered a triumph of American diplomacy.

So now the United Nations has a final opportunity to prove itself a serious place--or at least for democracies such as Germany and France to show that their words mean something when they vote for Security Council Resolutions. They can't expect to be serious players in the world if they leave President Bush and his "coalition of the willing" to take enforcement of Resolution 1441 into their own hands.

Okay, so I didn't say "last chances" for who. He's right though; the U.N can either act now, or be exposed as the irrelevant organization many have long believed them to be.

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 18:23-35 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Jesus told this parable immediately after instructing Peter about forgiveness. In fact, this parable was meant to expand on that teaching.

The footnotes to the ESV note that the amount owed by the first servant to the master was worth approximately 20 years wages; the second servant owed the first roughly a days wages. The rather obvious point of this story is that we who have been forgiven much by our Master should also be willing to forgive our fellow servants.


I just stumbled across this interesting blog called King's Kid. Go have a look.


Susanna on Garofalo.

Entertainers must brave a certain degree of ridicule when they waltz into the public policy arena

Only when they behave in ridicul-ous ways.

whether it's Sean Penn going to Baghdad or Leonardo DiCaprio pitching Earth Day.

I rest my case.

They are, after all, using their fame to be heard in a way that would be impossible if they couldn't make people laugh or cry.

Precisely. And they're making us laugh and cry again, but for different reasons.

Why, they are asked by the same programs that invited them on, should anyone care what you think?

And why, they should be asked, do we even have you on this show to ask you why anyone would care that you have a thought on the war? Not because you have a PhD in international relations.

But Garofalo, who works with the group Win Without War, says the media are not only condescending but suggest she doesn't care about the country.

Think really hard about this, Janeane. I know it's difficult, but try. If Connie Chung did a show on acting, how to act, how actors get into their characters, the inside technicalities of acting scenes that are filmed in a disconnected way and yet still show the emotion that makes the movie work in a linear way... You know, the tough stuff about acting... if Connie did that show, how do you think she'd interview Donald Rumsfeld if he insisted on being on the show to tell what he thought about acting, on strength of his having seen a dozen or so movies? Think she'd be sitting in speechless awe at his insight? Or do you think she'd be a little condescending and the entire crew would be snickering behind their hands? I think you know, Janeane.

There's much more and it's all good.

Mean Mr. Mustard also weighs in. I'll just skip the wind-up and go straight to his pitch.

But, like Garofalo said, if a celeb sees fit to pronounce their views about the war, they're marginalized for sounding stupid. Well, I'll make you a deal, Janeane: Don't say anything stupid, and we'll all stop making fun of you for it.


Tim Blair has a suggestion for human shields.


Michelle summarizes today's Security Council meeting. Then scroll down to view Saddam's report card.


David Frum traces the evolution of Bush's view on Israel and Arafat.


The American Prowler reports on our former president.

Former President Bill Clinton is telling friends and Democratic insiders that the Gore campaign in 2000 never gave him a chance to enter the fray against George W. Bush. "Now that he doesn't have to hold back for anyone, he's campaigning against Bush like he wanted to back then," says a former Clinton staffer. "The gloves are off."

Signs of Clinton stepping back into the bare-knuckled political arena were evident last week, when he tore into Bush for the administration's economic stimulus package and the deficits the war on terror and the weakened economy are creating.

Later in the week, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton lashed Bush over homeland security in a speech the former president told friends he helped craft.

"President Clinton has said he wants to use the next two years to wear down Bush so whoever is the Democratic candidate will have an easier time of beating him," says the former Clinton aide. "He's going to show the party the way to beat the Republicans. If they choose to ignore him, and lose again in 2004, it just means that Hillary will have a clearer field to run in in 2008. Either way, Clinton wins."

Sheesh! If ego could be converted into energy, Clinton could power the world.


Nikolas K. Gvosdev argues that Saddam Hussein would rather go to war now than continue to be humiliated by inspections. His argument is interesting, but I fail to follow him to his conclusion.

It is in our interests to keep the inspections process going, and, if possible, to tighten it and make it even more intrusive. Not only will this give Washington additional time to deploy its forces and strengthen fragile alliances, it will accelerate the disintegration of Hussein's public image. It will allow the unrest among his senior generals and officials (if news reports about this are accurate) to grow. If war is inevitable, let us ensure it occurs on our timetable, not Hussein's.

If we assume that Saddam does want to go to war now, does it necessarily follow that now is not the time?

Gvosdev says that we need more time to deploy our forces. Assuming that is true, I've seen no evidence that the administration is likely to rush in and go to war before it believes it is ready.

He says we need to "strengthen fragile alliances." Which countries is he talking about? Britain and Australia (at least the governments of those countries) are firmly behind us, and, as far as I can tell, Kuwait and Qatar have committed to helping us. Who else do we need? For that matter, Tony Blair, our staunchest supporter in this area has taken a highly unpopular position. It seems to me that the longer we wait, assuming no "smoking gun" is found, the more precarious his position will be. Remember that under the British system, Blair can be removed if his party believes he has become a liability to them. Once we have defeated Iraq, plenty of evidence will appear to vindicate his decision. Once his decision is revealed to be correct, most of the dissent will evaporate. If we wait too long, we may find that we have cost ourselves an ally.

Gvosdev claims that clamping down on inspections will further erode Hussein's image. That may be true, but I fail to see why that is a needed goal. It may be that Gvosdev believes that destroying Hussein's image may increase the odds of his people deserting him, but he didn't make that argument explicitly and I'm not sure it would be convincing in any case.

Ultimately, whether Hussein wants war now is irrelevant. As long as our forces are properly prepared when the order is given, that is the only thing that matters. Furthermore, the longer we wait, the more danger there is that Hussein will take some sort of action, either directly or through proxies, that will justify beyond any doubt our claims of his danger. Personally would much rather not wait that long.


John Hawkins shows us what would happen if we applied multilateralism to parenting.


Police conducting a drug raid found a three-year old boy chained to a bed.


The BBC valiantly attempted to defend Iraq in this story, doing their best to accentuate the positive. Even this story though called Blix's report, "the sandbagging of Iraq."


They've really got some brains in Oakland. Your team wins? Riot. Your team loses? Riot. Can we at least get some logical consistency here guys?

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Bill Whittle has some of the most compelling arguments I've seen in favor of war. I'm going to pull some excerpts here, but I can't do it justice. If you follow the link, please not that there is some profanity.

There are two images I will never forget, and I expect I will think of them often in the days and weeks to come. For in the front row of this parade of horror and depravity, I have watched a fundamentalist Islamic crowd stone two women to death. They were covered head to toe in shockingly white linen – the better to see the bloodstains. Taken into a field and buried up to their waists, they looked like odd white sails on a sand horizon, until the stones began to fly, leaving red carnations where they landed. One of the women just crumpled, bent at the waist, and I still pray that this person was knocked unconscious within the first minute or so. The other did no go peacefully into that good night, fighting and struggling, enduring the most sickening lurches as the unseen stones fell on her, twisting under that now-scarlet hood, trying to protect her face as best she could, as hundreds of her friends and relatives vented their rage, calling out the name of their god as we would cheer on the Tampa (sic) Bay Buccaneers. Allahu Ackbar! Allahu Ackbar! Allahu Ackbar!

I will not forget that image.

And I will not forget another one, either. As long as I draw breath, I swear I will never forget the sight of two people holding hands, and leaping from 108 stories above the hard concrete sidewalks that I myself have walked, gawking skyward at one of the wonders of the world. I will not forget them. I will not forget their fall, the spin that finally tore their hands apart as they fell forever, forever down that quarter-mile. I will never stop wondering what they said to each other in that last moment, or their cries to each other as they launched themselves to their deaths, having watched their friends take the same leap a few moments before. I will never forget what an unimaginable hell that their cozy office, full of coffee mugs and pictures of grandchildren, had become in order for them to make that choice, with the ruins of their friends visible on the streets so far below them.


First, and most importantly, we can plainly state the prima facie cause that makes up our first argument in favor of invasion:

1. The impending military action is not the pre-emptive opening of hostilities against a sovereign nation, but rather the continuation of hostilities began by Iraq in 1990 with their invasion of Kuwait; said resumption being a direct result of repeated and flagrant violations of the ceasefire signed by Iraq in 1991.1


2. Failure to turn over known WMD components, and not the failure of UN Inspectors to find them, puts Iraq in material breach of UN Resolution 1440 and authorizes the US and her allies to enforce previous UN resolutions by means of military force.

So much for the legal niceties. Now let’s get down to brass tacks.

On Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by forces of Islamic extremism in an act of barbarity that stunned the world.

In order to grasp the full meaning of that attack, we would do well to change our terminology to better reflect the reality we face. We should be thinking and discussing the upcoming conflict not as the War on Iraq, but as the Battle of Iraq. For it is indeed that: a major – hopefully, the major – battle against Islamic fundamentalism and the tactic of terrorism that they have employed against the US and others in their rage and shame at their own manifest failures.

Let us then examine the evidence and motivation that firmly places Iraq as the key component in an alliance of terror directed against the West in general and the United States in particular.

We should begin by having the honesty and integrity to admit that the direct connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda prior to the events of 9/11 are tenuous and murky at best. We should also acknowledge that despite feverish claims to the contrary, Saddam Hussein is a totalitarian dictator exclusively concerned with his own power and in no way is he the Muslim Saladin he makes himself out to be. It does indeed seem likely that Osama bin laden and Saddam detest and hate each other (and soon we shall be able to refer to both of them in the past tense.) But to say that this is enough to prevent them from allying themselves against the United States is self-delusion of the highest order.

For the full horror of a terrorist nuclear attack upon the United States to come to fruition, our enemies need both the means to produce an atomic bomb and a delivery system for it.

Anyone who doubts the willingness and ability of Al Qaeda to deploy and use such a weapon has frankly not been paying attention and is unworthy of this debate. They have, in public statements, on web sites, in training videos and operations manuals, shown a persistent and desperate attempt to obtain such a weapon. We have only to look back to that clear blue morning should we have any doubt whatsoever that such people would do everything in their power to kill as many of us as possible. Let us not forget that without the heroism and professionalism of our police and firemen, and the most well-managed, successful emergency evacuation in history, that death toll that day could have easily reached twenty or thirty thousand.


A small nuclear device can be fit into a suitcase. We need to face the stark, brutal fact that in a free society there is no defense against such a weapon. This war cannot be won, and our cities and people saved from nuclear annihilation, by playing defense.

[...]A finished nuke can fit in a suitcase, but to build one takes a factory, indeed, takes a nation: money, massive equipment, large work areas, armies of scientists. These things, unlike suitcases, can be found, targeted and destroyed.

There can be no question whatsoever that Saddam Hussein has been desperately seeking the means to build such a weapon. Let’s make sure everyone heard that: There can be no question whatsoever that Saddam Hussein has been desperately seeking the means to build such a weapon. Really astonishing piles of independent records and sources confirm this without question. From Iraqi defectors who actually had hands-on experience with the programs, to intelligence reports of the import of the required equipment and raw materials, to the reams of evidence that prior inspectors discovered in their seven years of investigations, to the unabashed statements of Saddam Hussein himself… Saddam has brought his country to ruin for no other reason that his obsession with owning a nuclear bomb.

Had the Israelis not bombed the Osirak reactor in 1981 (and endured world condemnation for it at the time), then without question Iraq would have had a nuclear weapon during the 1991 Gulf War. It is impossible to imagine a man such as Saddam not using such a weapon when faced with the greatest defeat in military history. Whether he used it in a Scud attack on US troops, to contaminate Kuwaiti or Saudi oilfields, or, more likely, to use against Tel Aviv to ignite a holy war against the hated Jews, the result would have been catastrophic, indeed, in the likely case of a nuclear response from Israel, unimaginable.


3. Saddam Hussein has the means and the motivation to develop nuclear weapons, and there is irrefutable evidence that he has tried to do so. He has shown appalling errors in judgment and a belief in his own personal infallibility by attacking Iran, Kuwait, and Israel. Iraq attaining nuclear capability therefore provides a potent and immediate threat to our allies in the region and the vital interests of the United States.


4. Saddam Hussein shows irrefutable signs of mental impairment in the form of Clinical Paranoia and Narcissistic Disorder. Given control of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction, his temptation to use them against the US on American soil is not mitigated by normal behavioral inhibitors, and indeed is amplified by his aberrant mental state. This poses a potent, immediate and intolerable threat to the safety and security of the people of the United States.


5. Saddam has repeatedly shown his contempt and bitter disregard for the welfare of his own people. He has totally neglected all of the misery they have endured since his ascension to power, and is therefore undeterrable and immune to fear of reprisal against his nation and his people.

No one disputes that nuclear weapons are dangerous. No one disputes that Saddam is dangerous. So why do legions of people argue that Saddam with nuclear weapons is somehow not dangerous?

There is much, much more. All of it is worthwhile, but I've got to warn you, it's long. In fact, this post makes Den Beste look like an amateur in the long winded department. Took me about a half hour to read. Longer to digest.

Note, I tried to get all of the italics and bold type as it is in his essay, but I might have missed a few.

1Update - I don't think this point has been made nearly often enough. We went to war with Iraq in 1991 to repel their invasion of Kuwait. We forced them to retreat. We signed a cease-fire with Iraq. Iraq violated the cease-fire six ways from Sunday. Conclusion? We are already at war with Iraq and it is a war they started.

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

As I understand it, most rabbis at the time taught that you should forgive someone three times. By suggesting that he offer forgiveness seven times, Peter probably thought that he was being incredibly generous. As often happened in his teaching, Jesus let Peter know that he was going about things in entirely the wrong way. People often look at God's law from the perspective of, "What is the least I can get by with?" Jesus gave Peter a number so high that it would be practically impossible to keep track of. The implication is obvious; don't look for the least you can get by with. We should forgive, and forgive, and keep on forgiving. No amount of obedience to God's law makes up for a failure to forgive. Forgiveness is one of basic demands of God's law, after all, God said, "For I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt-offerings."

Now I've seen everything

Tampa Bay won the Superbowl? Isn't that one of the signs of the Apocalypse?


As our nation prepares for another war, we should also remember the heroes of the wars that have come before. For instance, you should probably read this memorial to Rick Rescorla. He survived Vietnam, but died at the World Trade Center. There's plenty of good information about the man, but I thought I'd excerpt this tribute at the end.

There was a Wild Colonial Boy Rescorla was his name He was born and raised in Hayle, Cornwall Just east of ol' Land's End

He joined the British Army when A lad of just 16 Became a brave, young soldier then As good as ever seen

He joined the U.S. Cavalry To fight in Viet Nam And he killed the Cong at the Ia Drang With bayonet and gun

He saved three thousand people when The terrorists struck home But lost his life when he went back To rescue seven more

So lift a cup to our dear friend Remember him with joy How dearly do his brethren love That Wild Colonial Boy--posted by lexington green

We should always remember to honor those heroes who lived (and died) to protect freedom. We should also remember to support those preparing to do the same today.


Rachel Lucas has quite a bit to say about Uday Hussein's latest rant.

Fifth, I really do wish I had some of what Uday is smoking, because whatever it is, it's causing him delightful-sounding hallucinations. I say this because last time I checked, "dialogue" wasn't exactly the most effective tool to use with Saddam. I'm fairly certain that in fact, he has been repeatedly asked over the last 12 years to stop being a tyrannical psychopath who kills innocent people, and yet for some reason, such "dialogue" hasn't been very effective and fruitful. How strange.

Sixth, I would like to repeat once again that I am not pro-war. Nothing I say indicates that I hope we go to war or even that I think we should. I am ambivalent. All I'm saying is, Uday Hussein is delusional, misguided, and freakishly confused. (Or, more likely, he's indulging in one of his favorite hobbies, passed down for generations: lying propaganda.) Whatever. He's chock full o' nuts. Missing some of the sugar in his cake. Short on brains but long on crazy. Three bullets short of a full clip. Walks like a pig but quacks like a duck. Goes to the river but his horse won't cross. Et cetera.

Elevator doesn't go to the top of the building? Mall's open but nobody's shopping? Sandwich short of a picnic?


I need to say thanks to Glenn for the link. The post he's referencing is here.


In case you were laboring under the delusion that the KKK was no longer a violent organization, think again.

Don't know what to make of this article from The Age

Blair hints at more time for inspectors

Weapons inspectors may be given more time to certify whether Saddam Hussein is co-operating fully with the United Nations, British Prime Minister Tony Blair signalled yesterday.

But, speaking on the BBC with veteran broadcaster Sir David Frost, he stressed the inspectors were not in Iraq to play a game of hide and seek.

Mr Blair "profoundly disagreed with the idea that Saddam Hussein's failure to cooperate with UN inspectors so far was of a lesser order than actually finding evidence of weapons of mass destruction".

"What we know is that he has this material," he said. "From what was left over in 1998, for example, we know there are something like 350 tonnes of chemical warfare agent. He hasn't even told us where those old leftovers from 1998 are."

Mr Blair said recent intelligence reports had shown that President Saddam was engaged in an elaborate plan of concealing weapons around Iraq and that the families of Iraqi scientists had been threatened with execution if they cooperated with the UN inspectors.

"Saddam has continued to develop these weapons of mass destruction," he said.

Mr Blair said Britain would stick with the UN and push for a second resolution but would be prepared to go to war without one if that resolution was blocked and UN inspectors declared that President Saddam had not cooperated.

"If they find he's not cooperating I believe a second resolution will issue," he said.

Mr Blair said he accepted that the general public did not yet see an immediate threat from Iraq and were therefore unconvinced about the need for war.

But aside from the direct threat posed by President Saddam unless Iraq was disarmed, it was only a matter of time before international terrorists gained access to weapons of mass destruction, he said.

"People don't perceive an immediate threat but it is our (Blair and US President George Bush) job to say that this is why we are worried about this issue," he said. "We are not going to avoid this by hiding away."

Mr Blair said he was not overly concerned by French and German objections to the war, saying President Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder were entitled to their views. But French foreign policy no more represented European foreign policy exclusively than did British foreign policy.

Mr Blair said several other European nations, including Italy and Spain, agreed with the British and US approach to Iraq. "War in not inevitable," he said. "It depends on Saddam."

Mr Blair did not rule out warning President Saddam that Britain and the US would attack with nuclear weapons if the Iraqi leader started using chemical and biological weapons.

Mr Blair meanwhile has ordered security and intelligence services to prepare a dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction amid concern that Britain and America are losing the propaganda war over Iraq.

He has asked the intelligence services to reveal highly sensitive information to convince the public that the dictator poses a direct threat to Britain.

So let me get this straight: He's knows that the Iraqi's had enormous amounts of chemical weapons in 1998 and have never explained how they supposedly disposed of this stuff, he's absolutely sure Saddam is a threat even though the British people as a whole are doubtful, he said that it was only a matter of time before terrorists gained WMDs (by implication, with Iraq's help), he refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons, and said he's willing to do whatever he believes to be necessary regardless of what the French and Germans believe, but he's willing to give inspections more time. Does this seem strange to anybody else?

I'm trying real hard to believe that there are wheels inside wheels going on that Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair know about but no one in the general population has access to, however, if we don't get this war on soon, I'm going to be real disturbed.

Lookie, lookie

Well, this makes me feel great.

Several government security screeners at LaGuardia Airport said that moments before they took a certification test to operate machines that detect bombs in luggage, instructors told them answers to all or most of the questions.

Four screeners interviewed separately described nearly identical scenarios from classes last month: an instructor taught material for several hours and then read and answered a series of 25 multiple-choice questions that were on an exam the screeners took immediately afterward.

"He read the questions right out of the test, word for word, answer for answer," one screener said, adding that the 25 people in his class wrote down the correct answers on note paper and copied them onto their tests with the instructor out of the room.
A second screener, in a separate class in mid-December, said the instructor stayed in the room during the test but that the exam questions "were the same questions he asked orally just before the test."

"It was pretty much set up so that you shouldn't have any way to fail," said a third screener, who, like all screeners interviewed, asked not to be named fearing retaliation. "The guy read all 25 questions to you just before he gave the test. To tell you the truth, as he gave the questions, I wrote the answers down, because he read them exactly in order."

Passing the tests was required for screeners to become certified in using machines that detect explosives in checked baggage. All checked baggage was to be checked for explosives starting Dec. 31 in a new federal initiative to strengthen aviation security in response to the Sept. 11 hijackings and attacks.

Let's see, we brought in these new machines that every airport is required to use to screen baggage, but no one is certified to run the machines. What should we do? I know, I know, let's just give everyone the answers to the certification exam so no one will be able to fail.

Aren't you so glad we federalized airport security? After all, didn't Congress promise us that if the government employed the screeners that they would instantly become better workers just because government training was so great and everybody would be so proud to work for the government? It's working wonders, ain't it?

Red Letter Edition

Matthew 18:18-20 "Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

I thought it might be worthwhile to look at a different perspective on these verses than are usually applied. To start with, I think it's important to remember that these verses are part of the same discourse as verses 15-17 which dealt with disciplining the unrepentant brother. I think it is imperative that we remember that in analyzing these verses. These verses are generally understood to mean that if two or three believers gather to pray, that God will answer their prayers. David Stern, in the introduction to his translation of the Bible, The Complete Jewish Bible (an excellent resource by the way), gives a different perspective on these verses.

At Mattityahu [ed. Matthew] 18:18 the Greek words usually rendered "bind" and "loose" are translated "prohibit" and "permit." 1 This reflects the first-century Jewish application of these concepts to their leaders, who were understood as having authority from God to decide what practices should be followed by the community, i.e., to determine halakhah ("Jewish law," although this meaning dates from a later period). In verses 18-20 the Messiah transfers this power from the rabbis to his own talmidim (disciples). This authority was not assumed instantaneously, nor was it assumed later when it should have been. But the fact that Messianic Jews and Gentiles have hitherto made little us of Yeshua's [ed. Christ's] far-reaching grant of authority does not cancel it. Moreover, this understanding gives verses 19-20 a different meaning from what most Christians understand - they say that two or three Messianic Community leaders suffice to determine proper practice (Messianic halakhah). The usual Christian application is that when two or three believers pray together, God listens. Though true, it is not the point of these verses.

I'm not entirely certain that I agree with Stern on this. However, I must admit that in context, I find his explanation more compelling than the more common interpretation. I wonder, have we misinterpreted this passage all along? More to the point, has the Church seriously erred in its views on the authority of our leaders?

1He is, of course, referring to his own translation. I considered using Stern's translation today, but I've decided to always use translations available on the internet so I can hyperlink to them. As far as I can determine, this translation is not available online.

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Look out Hollywood! Lawyers are on the prowl looking for victims of the infamous "casting couch". What are they going to do about it? Well, they're lawyers, so what do do you think? They're going to sue, sue, sue! Now, on a personal level my feeling is that if there really are sexual predators like this out there that they should be taken for all they've got. However, one part of this story really caught my eye.

In filing the suit, Boucher is taking advantage of a change in California law. The statute of limitations on certain molestation cases has been lifted, opening the doors for decades-old incidents to be brought to court.

What bothers me is this: Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution states:

No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

I'm not an expert on the law, so I really don't know how to answer this; isn't revoking the protection of statute of limitation protection after the statute period has expired a prohibited ex post facto law? As I say, I'm not a lawyer so I don't know. It just looks that way to me. Of course I think that retroactive tax increases are prohibited ex post facto laws. The courts don't see it that way at all, so what do I know?


Lately lots of people have been yammering that support for war in Iraq is slipping. Most of the polls I've seen ask a question like, "Do you support President Bush's handling of the situation with Iraq?" How many of those people who say no do so, not because they don't think we should go to war, but because they believe the attack should have occurred months ago?


Opinions Galore has a new home. Update your bookmarks.


JYB has found the smoking gun. (Hint: Iraqi idiocy is involved.)


Mark Byron talks about the name of God.

No matter what, God is. He is the one constant in a chaotic universe, for He stands outside of it. God had multiple choices for naming Himself, but he opted for I Am. When you see "the LORD" in all caps in the Bible, that how the Hebrew for "I am," Yahweh (yes, YHWH to be more exact, the vowels are guessed at), got translated.

His eternal presence, His eternal is-ness, is what He opted to stress when God named himself.

Mark is exactly right. It is my understanding that the phrase in Hebrew that is translated, "I AM WHO I AM," can also be rendered, "I WAS WHO I WAS," and "I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE". There is a definite eternal aspect to the name God chose for himself.

There is another aspect to His name as well. In his book Ten Lies About God Erwin Lutzer points out that YHWH said, "I AM WHO I AM," not, "I am what you want me to be". Not only does God's name stress His eternal nature, it also tells us that His nature is defined wholly by Him. He will not be made in our image.


Josh Chafetz says that no one should be concerned about reports that the administration may give inspections "a few more weeks". He points out that the latest round of troop deployments won't be in place until the middle of February. Indeed, all of the people who I have personal knowledge of will be getting in theater about the 15th of February. I would expect things to start around the 20th of February.

I've got to agree with Chafetz on another point as well; delaying much beyond the middle of February would be a serious mistake. I'm no expert on military matters to be sure, but it is my understanding that February and March are the best time for fighting in that climate. Politically, the administration is walking a tight rope. Hawks wanting to know what on earth is taking so long and are becoming more frustrated every day. On the other side the doves are accusing him of war mongering for no good reason. As long as the administration talks war but does not fight they will remain in this precarious situation. They can, for a while yet, continue on this course, but eventually they will have to take action or risk falling off the tightrope and landing quite hard.


I'm a few days late, but oh well. Philip Murphy tells us when there will be peace in Palestine.

As a liberal tolerant society we are challenged by Islamic fascism. Do we dismiss the hatred and violence that infects the Arab world as some quirk of multiculturalism? Or do we make a judgment and say that western values are more reasonable, more just, and qualitatively superior to the medieval values of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade?

Ms. MacDougall acted bravely by serving as a human shield against the Israeli Defense Forces. Yet even MacDougall understands that the IDF would hold their fire if an innocent person where in the way. Does anyone believe Hamas would be deterred from murdering Israelis by the presence of Ms. MacDougall? Of course not. Indeed, for Hamas, murdering innocent civilians is the whole point.

The Palestinian Arabs deserve better schools, better opportunities and better leadership. They also deserve our sympathy.

But make no mistake. Not until the Palestinians accept Israel’s right to exist and reject the use of murder for political means, will there be peace in Palestine.

Unfortunately, I become more afraid every day that they will never be willing to accept the existence of Israel. It's also becoming increasingly clear that it will take a long time for them to give up murder for political means. Indeed, unless someone changes their minds for them, I don' see it happening in my lifetime.


CPO Sparkey wants to know why there's so much fuss about whether Iraq is in material breach.

Resolution 1441 (pdf here) states in paragraph 1 that that Iraq has been in material breach of UN accords since 1991. Paragraph 2 states "while acknowledging paragraph 1 above, to afford Iraq, by this resolution, a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council..."

See that word, final there?

Paragraph 4 states when Iraq is in material breach:

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 in the 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 paragraphs 11 and 12 below;

Note, it doesn't say anything about finding WMD for a "material breach" to occur. That Iraq has failed to comply and cooperate is not in dispute, so why then is Iraq being in material breach so controversial?

If the rule of law is to mean anything, then it must be enforced. Governments that pass laws that they can't or don't intend to enforce simply encourages - not deters - more crime. Those of you who seek UN approval and mandate remember this. Remember the way the UN is behaving here. Passing laws and resolutions that it really doesn't have the will to enforce except on those who are most likely to obey them anyway. Kind of sounds like a bully, doesn't it?

Yes it does.

Come to think of it, passing resolutions you have no intention to enforce sounds a little like writing letters to criminals begging them not to commit more crimes.


R.W. laments the fact that the world seems to have forgotten the lessons of the Holocaust.


CBS reports that they have discovered America's plan for the beginning of the war. It's called "Shock and Awe". This is a truly astonishing plan. To summarize: Blow up everything imporant and do it all at one time.

Friday, January 24, 2003

This explains so much.

Red Letter Edition
Matthew 18:15-17 "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."

Here Jesus maps out the correct way to deal with those who harm us. It is a clear progression.

1. First, you talk to the person personally. (With kindness and respect.)

2. If they refuse to listen, you are to take others with you. These people can both help you reason with the person, and, if necessary, bear witness to the offender's obstinance.

3. Next you take it to the "church". (It should be noted that Jesus gave this lesson before the Christian church had been established. In this context he was referring to the broader meaning of the word church which is, as I understand it, an assembly of people. I have been told that this term could be applied to mean the community in which the people involved live. Nevertheless, there is no reason to believe that this teaching was not meant to apply to the modern church as well.) The church as a whole is supposed to confront the sinner with his sin. There are two ways in which this might influence the offender. The first is that peer pressure can be both good and bad; in this case, there appears to be a hope that the sinner, when confronted with the combined weight of the whole congregation, will be pressured to reconsider his stance. The other way this could influence the sinner is that he knows that step 4 is coming.

4. As a last resort, the church is to treat him, "as a Gentile and a tax collector." The Jews refused to even touch a Gentile and considered tax collectors to be traitors. Clearly the implication here is that if the sinner refuses to respond to the church's pleas that he repent, they are to cut him off completely. This has two benefits. The first is that someone who has been cut off from the congregation should feel a great loss (assuming the congregation is one that is treating each other as God intended). Upon having the benefits of fellowship removed, the sinner may be willing to repent in order to regain what he has lost. However, if he still does not repent, then he is a cancer in the body of Christ. That is the second benefit of disfellowship: it removes the cancerous tissue from the body allowing the rest of the body to remain healthy.


Bill Whittle has a cartoon and some questions worth looking at.


Unbelievable. Despite the fact that the phrase is in the protocol guide and approved by the New Jersey Department of Veterans Affairs, an honor guard has been fired for saying, "God bless you and this family, and God bless the United States of America," at graveside services.


Steve Den Beste has an incredible post in which he discusses the war, the American and British political systems, and special relationships. The whole thing is a must read, but I really wanted to highlight this statement:

With Australia and the UK standing beside my nation in times of trial, I neither need nor want anyone else.

I'll second that.


You know those biological weapons Iraq swears they don't have? Looks like they're getting ready to use them. Not to worry though, the al-Guardian assures us that all this there's nothing to worry about.

However, atropine has some perfectly normal medical uses - especially for heart and respiratory disorders - and Iraq has bought large quantities of the drug with the blessing of the UN security council.

It is apparently the Guardian's position that every member of the Republican Guard is suffering from heart or respiratory disorders. Failing that, their fall back position is that the Iraqis are just defending themselves from our use of chemical weapons. Yeah.

Recent Google Hits

democrats on crack: Like I'm going to argue with that.

the prophet jonah and saddam hussein:Don't know. Don't want to know. Although, "30 days and Saddam will be destroyed," has kind of a nice ring to it,doesn't it?


Rummy lays the smack down on the Joint Chiefs.


Anyone interested in the law should consider reading Howard Bashman's first edition of "20 Questions for the Appellate Judge."


Where do the French stand? Susanna reads between the lines.


Go forth and read.


Christopher Johnson explains why we didn't elect a more "European" president:

We could have elected someone who adopted a culture that would have been more familiar and comfortable for the Germans. But annexing the Sudetenland, invading Poland, carpet-bombing London, trying to conquer Russia and national anti-Semitism don't play well here.

There's quite a bit of other good stuff there.


Whatever you do, don't tell the truth.


I'm sure the State Department is good for something. At the moment I can't figure out what. Joel Mowbray reports on the Consular Affairs office's shameless use of the parents of kidnapped children in a PR stunt.


Jonah Goldberg has some thoughts on France's current anti-war stance:

But Bush need not make such threats to put some steel in the Gallic spine. Should it look like Bush will go to war without U.N. approval, France will jettison its principles like so much ballast and sail right along in the American armada's wake, so as not to miss out entirely on the new division of Iraq's petroleum pie. And that's the point. Here in America, France's useful idiots — as Lenin would surely call them — believe the French are staking out their position on the basis of principle. These Americans are, frankly, fools. Just because you're principled in your opposition to war hardly means that everyone who makes your case does so for your reasons. You may think the U.S. needs U.N. approval and, because France says the same thing, you think they agree with you. But the French spout this righteous drivel because they want to hamstring American influence to their advantage. After all, they virtually never seek U.N. Security Council approval for their own military nannying of their basket-case former African colonies.

France is doing what it thinks is best for France — not the world, not America, not humanity, but France. If that involves screwing America, they'll do it. If that involves leaping to America's defense at the last minute like the cartoon dog who's got the big dog at his side, they'll do that too. If you are a dedicated opponent of an American war, fine. It's perfectly defensible to be rooting for France's success at the U.N.

But if France's righteous bloviating against war makes them your Dashboard Saint of International Integrity, it's either because you are sand-poundingly ignorant of how the world works or it's because you think France's self-interest is more important than America's. If the former applies to you, read a book. If it's the latter, maybe you should move there along with Alec Baldwin, Robert Altman, and the rest of the crowd who promised to leave a long time ago. But whatever you do, don't call France's position principled, because that just insults us both.


More proof that the British criminal justice system has gone completely mad.

A British police force announced Friday it has come up with a new measure to combat crime -- a polite letter asking persistent offenders to mend their ways.

On Friday morning, 22 men and women in Wiltshire county, southern England, received personal letters from Inspector Geoff Miles telling them they have a choice -- get back on the straight and narrow or be targeted by police.

The letters were hand delivered to a group of repeat offenders who have been convicted of offenses including burglary, violence and drug and alcohol-related crime.

"I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you that, due to your criminal activity, your name appears on the above data and has highlighted you as a persistent offender," said the letters.

The letter helpfully suggests that the offender "make it a priority in any New Year's resolutions you make from 2003 onwards, to cease forthwith your criminal activities."

Wiltshire Police say the program is experimental, but it will be closely watched by other forces keen to cut down on time spent pursuing repeat offenders.

"Of course, I'm hoping they will say: 'You're absolutely right officer, I will stop my criminal ways,"' Miles said. "But we are being realistic. I'm sure some will be angry. These are career criminals but we are career police officers. ... Sending these letters will not do any harm."

What harm could it do? Well, besides convincing the crooks that your ability to catch them has degraded to the point that you're forced to beg, I don't suppose it will do any harm.

Let's see, in Britain most people can't own guns to defend themselves, people that kill a burglar in self defense are sent to jail, cops have been told not to investigate crimes unless they have clear evidence of the criminal in hand, and now this. What's wrong with these people?

Update-Juan Gato comments as well.


John Hawkins has a post on why he believes the tax rates should be flattened. Over all, he makes some very good points. I do have a quibble with this though:

Then there's the simplification of our tax code and the possibility of sending in a 1 page tax document that would only tax a few minutes to fill out as opposed to the mess that is our current tax system.

People have consistently made the argument over the years that if we would just go to a flat tax then we could have a one page tax form for most people. Well, that's probably true. Millions of people could probably file a one page form. The problem is that this only applies to those people who are already filing a 1040 EZ which is only a page and a half as it is.

The real problem I have with this argument is that it implies that a flatter tax rate will automatically simplify the tax code. That simply isn't true. Yes, it would make it easier to calculate your tax once you'd determined what your income was, but that's not much help. The actual calculation of the tax due is probably the simplest part of filing a tax return. The difficult portion of preparing a tax return is determining what your income is. That is the reason why some people file tax returns that look like novels.

More people could file shorter tax returns if, in exchange for a lower flat rate, we were to eliminate dependent exemptions and the standard and itemized deductions. In fact, when a lot of people say "flat tax" they are assuming these exemptions and deductions will be eliminated. The problem is that the term "flat tax" does not automatically imply the elimination of these deductions.

Even if you did eliminate these deductions, you're only talking about eliminating about 5 lines on the 1040 and Schedule A (itemized deductions). People would still need Schedule B (to report dividends and interest), Schedule C (if they have small business), Schedule D (capital gains), Schedule E (rental property, partnerships, S corps, and trust income), and schedule 4797 (to report the sale of business assets). Those are just a few of the forms that are used on a regular basis to report very common types of income. These are also forms that you can't do away with just because you flattened the tax rate and eliminated the standard deduction. These forms, and dozens of others, are vitally important to determining how much money someone made.

You could also eliminate some lines and pages if you did away with the numerous tax credits that are strewn throughout the code. However some of the credits that make the filing of returns complicated are also credits that it would be nearly impossible to eliminate in our current political situation; a politician who tried to remove the Earned Income Credit, the Child Tax Credit, or the Child Care Credit would probably be blasted by the left as a hater of the poor and by many on the right who would accuse him of opposing family values. Besides, when people talk about a "flat tax" they rarely, in my experience, specifically address the problem of tax credits.

Now I want to go on record as saying that I support a flatter tax rate. I think the best thing we could do would be a two-tier system of 15% up to $50,000 net income and 20-22% above that. I wouldn't mind a completely flat tax rate. I think that so-called "progressive" taxes are damaging to our economy because they discourage the most productive members of our economy from doing the most they can. (I've heard quite a few stories of entrepreneurs who were so fed up with paying so much of their income in taxes that they just sold their business and put the proceeds in tax-exempt bonds.) My only point here is that people who point to a flattened tax rate as the panacea of tax code simplification are just wrong.

Every thing the code has to say about tax rates takes up about 5 code sections. Pretty much everything else in the code, the regulations, and nearly 90 years of regulations, rulings, and court cases (all of which is authoritative law) is devoted to determining how much someone makes. If you want to simplify tax preparation, you've got to find a way to fix that rather significant problem.

Thursday, January 23, 2003
I apologize for the lack of posting today. I've had some computer problems. I'll try to post some tonight.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Now here's an idea.


John Hawkins discusses Rumsfeld's comments about the draft. I was going to post on this yesterday, but couldn't decide what to say. I'll just have to ditto what John says.


James Robbins provides a Socratic dialogue regarding weapons inspections.


A lot of our "allies" such as France and Germany have lately been more of a stumbling block then an aid in our effort to maintain our security. Paul Walfield points out that the identity of our allies have changed many times in the last century depending on the circumstances. He argues that if your allies refuse to see things your way, you don't abandon the plan you believe to be in your best interest. Instead, you dump your old allies and find new ones willing to do what's necessary. I think he's got a good point.


W. James Antle writes that members of the pro-life movement should not limit themselves to trying to change the law.

The inescapable fact is that elective abortions will always take place to some extent, no matter what the law says, as long as there is a perceived need for them. Addressing and reducing that need ought to become as central to the pro-life mission today as politics has been in the past. Far more needs to change than the law.

I think he's absolutely right. Gun control advocates make a big deal about how many people are murdered with guns to try to make the point that banning guns would reduce the murder rate. In doing so, they ignore the real problem. The reason we have a lot of murders is not because we have guns. We have a lot of murders because people want to kill each other. Guns may make them more effective at killing each other, but they don't cause the underlying murderous impulse.

In the same way, banning abortion would not end abortion. Abortions took place long before it was legal for the simple reason that people wanted (or felt they had) to have them.

Just like any other undesirable activity, if you want it to stop, you must take away the perceived need. While I would like to see laws against abortion, the true solution to the problem, in the long-term, is to change hearts and minds.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003


David Post explains what he believes to be the coolest thing about our place in the universe:

THE COOLEST THING ABOUT OUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE. I've been pondering this for many years, and you will be delighted to know that I have finally figured it out. The coolest thing about our place in the universe is this: the moon and the sun are, when viewed from earth, exactly the same size. [Which is why solar eclipses happen the way they do -- when the moon is between the earth and the sun, it fits precisely over the sun's disk] There is, as far as we know, absolutely no reason this should be so -- nothing about the physics of solar system formation, interstellar scaling, satellite and planet formation, gravity, etc. accounts for this. It is, completely and deliciously, a coincidence. What are the odds the two dominant components of the evening sky would happen to be exactly equal in (apparent) size? How many other planets out there can say that about their view of the sky?

I of course don't believe it's a coincidence at all. To me, it's evidence of the Creator. (I think it's also evidence that He has a sense of humor.)

My favorite evidence of God's sense of humor is the synchronous orbit of the moon.


If you were going to guess who was responsible for out of control crime in France, what would you say? That's right, it's us lousy Americans.


I recently got a hit at this site with this Google search: chimpanzee angel woody harrelson. I have no comment.

I can't even think of anything to say

Two-year-old killed by stranger at Burger King in California

POMONA, CALIF. -- A 2-year-old was killed at a Burger King by a stranger at a table nearby who shot the boy in the head for no apparent reason. The gunman fled but was killed by police after telling them, "shoot me, shoot me."

Terrified customers and employees scrambled for cover Monday at the sound of gunfire.

"I heard the mother screaming in Spanish 'Why did you do this to my son?' " said employee Arturo Flores, 22, who was shaking Tuesday as he recalled the shooting.

The toddler, Osvaldo Martinez, was taken to Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, where he later died.

"It appeared to be unmotivated," police Sgt. Joann Crabb said.

Authorities were waiting for the results of toxicology tests to determine whether the gunman, Daniel Moreno, 24, was under the influence of drugs.

Moreno and a friend fled the restaurant but were spotted near a phone booth about a block from the Burger King. At least one officer used pepper spray on Moreno, but he allegedly pointed a gun at officers, prompting them to fire.

"The guy was trying to commit suicide. He wanted to die," said witness Leonard Counce, 50.