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

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Saturday, May 31, 2003

Bjørn Stærk has an interesting point about the Wolfowitz debacle:

But let's not forget that this is, after all, new information, and it is an admission. Leading up to the war, wmd's were the only rationale Bush gave for attacking Iraq. I didn't believe it then, and neither did most bloggers, who supported the war for a whole range of reasons. But the fact remains that this was what he claimed, it was the official reason for going to war, and it was only partly true.

Does this matter? By itself, not much, but it does when combined with the failure to prove that Iraq constituted a nuclear threat. Several European leaders went out of their way, against their own national opinion, to support the war on Iraq. Trusting the American claims, they used the threat of wmd's to defend their support. If it turns out that the threat was far smaller than claimed, and that the US knowingly mislead the world about both their motivations and about what they knew, this will embarass [sic] these pro-American leaders at home. Is that a good way, morally and tactically, to treat your allies?

I still think that the people claiming lies and deception on the part of the administration are seriously jumping the gun and grasping at straws. Regardless, the proper treating of allies is a legitimate concern.

Honor the Emperor
1 Peter 2:13-17 ESV Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

I thought of this passage after reading this story.

HAVANA, May 30 — Cuba's Roman Catholic cardinal defended the church's role on the communist-run island, rejecting criticism that it was not doing enough to support the political opposition.

Cardinal Jaime Ortega also called for reconciliation among Cuban Catholics during a Thursday night conference attended by hundreds of people. The audience included U.S. Interests Section Chief James Cason and other foreign diplomats, opposition members and well-known cultural figures with ties to Fidel Castro's government.
''The church's mission is not to be on the side of the opposition,'' said Ortega, the Archbishop of Havana and the island's only Roman Catholic cardinal. ''In the same way, you cannot ask the church to support the government.''

Now the first thought I had when reading this story was, "That's wrong! Of course Christians should oppose a horrible dictatorship. But then I remembered what Peter said about honoring the Emperor. When he wrote this, Christians were being oppressed by the Emperor, yet Peter is very clear that Christians should continue to honor the Emperor and those operating under his authority. The reason given is to "silence foolish people". It seems to me that what he's saying is that if Christians show respect for the government, it will rob people of one of the accusations being made against the church (that is lawlessness).

This is a tough one for me to deal with. Any comments would be welcome. What is the proper role for Christians under despotic regimes? Is it possible to obey this command while still working for freedom? I just don't know.


Of all the nerve:

GAZA, May 31 (UPI) -- Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat Saturday voiced hope that the upcoming summit involving U.S. President George W. Bush with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas can end the ongoing violence in the Palestinian territories.

Keep hoping Yasser. No summit in history has ever ended any violence. A summit is just guys sitting around talking. If you truly wanted to end the violence, you'd actually do something about it. Like, oh I don't know, arresting terrorists and keeping them locked up.

Arafat was quoted on "Voice of Palestine" as saying "our top priority is ending all forms of Israeli military escalation as well as the continuous arrests and Palestinian owned houses and lands demolition."

Oh, he only wants the Israelis to stop the violence. As if the Palestinians blowing themselves up in pizza parlors on a regular basis has nothing to do with the Israeli military action. If his top priority was truly stopping military escalation by the Israelis, he'd make sure they had nothing to retaliate against.

Arafat, on the other hand, strongly denounced what was said in an Israeli Army communiqué released earlier in the West bank city of Ramallah, saying that the Israeli Army would increase their military operations in the city.

See above.

"We really hope that the situation would change for the better after the Egypt summits, and as soon as the implementation of the Roadmap is formally declared," Arafat said.

The "Roadmap" is not a magic wand. Nothing is going to change just because the "Roadmap" is formally adopted. Besides, as I recall, the first step in the "Roadmap" is for the Palestinians to cease committing acts of terrorism. Come to think of it, I think the deadline for that was today. Better get cracking Yasser.

There's more, but I can't stomach the rest.

Update - Well, I just couldn't let this slide.

"I hope that we would be able to restore the peace that I signed with my former Israeli partner Isaac Rabin, back in 1993, and the establishment of independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," Arafat stated.

I have a real problem with someone bemoaning the loss of a peace agreement when he was the one that intentionally broke the peace.


That would explain a few things.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Sounds like terrorism to me.


Sean Penn doesn't know when to quit. (Link via MCJ)

NEW YORK (AFP) - Actor and anti-war activist Sean Penn answered controversy surrounding his December visit to Baghdad in a paid, full-page advertisement in The New York Times.

Penn's sometimes philosophical, sometimes poetic comments ran under the title "Kilroy's still here." He justified his three-day visit to Baghdad, which some called treasonous.

He said the US-led invasion of Iraq (news - web sites) was, "done without any credible evidence of imminent threat to the United States.

"Our flag has been waving, it seems, in servicing a regime change significantly benefiting US corporations."

Now here is the part I really don't understand:

"Our Secretary of State presented plagiarized evidence of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) in Iraq to the American people and the world," (Emphasis added)

Either Mr. Penn doesn't know the meaning of plagiarism, or this is the stupidest objection to the war that I've heard yet. If you take this objection as written, Penn is objecting to the war because not all the evidence Powell presented was original information. Does this make any sense? Does the fact that someone else developed the information make it any less true?

He just doesn't know when to quit, does he?


Rachel rants about guns. Go ye forth and read.


Thomas Sowell has some things to say about Republican idiocy:

The slave memorial proposal has the support not only of liberal Democrats but also of Republicans, including some conservative Republicans who should know better. One of the Republicans' big problems is that the Democrats usually get 90 percent of the black vote. Voting for gimmicks like a slave memorial may seem like a cheap and easy way for Republicans to appeal to blacks.

Such short-sighted cluelessness is one reason the Democrats continue to get 90 percent of the black vote. For reasons unknown, when Republicans try to make inroads into the Democrats' virtual monopoly on the black vote, they try to do it by doing the kinds of things that Democrats do -- and do better than Republicans can.

If Republicans are going to make any inroads into the Democrats' lock on the black vote, it will not be by appealing to the kind of people who want a slave memorial. Those blacks whose views and values make them at least open to hearing what the Republicans have to say are more likely to be offended and repelled by a slave memorial.

Such blacks know that perpetuation of a sense of victimhood has been one of the biggest handicaps facing the younger generation of blacks, at a time when the opportunities open to them have never been greater.


News from Israel:

JERUSALEM (AP) — The U.S. Embassy has received "credible reports" of plans to kidnap U.S. citizens in Gaza, the Embassy announced on its Web site Friday.

At this time, Americans are advised to be particularly cautious," the announcement said.

If terrorists in Israel think the best way to advance their cause is to kidnap Americans then they have seriously misread President Bush. However, if they want to permanently sink the possibility of a Palestinian state, this would be a very good way to go about it.


Am I the only blogger who doesn't care one whit about Salam Pax? (Just asking.)


Oh, that would make too much sense.


Den Beste has a lengthy piece on why the traditional Left-Right axis for determining political position is inadequate. Unsurprisingly, it's very long.

I think that he makes a lot of good points in defining multiple scales for identifying people's politics. It's not perfect of course, but it really is far superior to most systems that people try to use.

Unfortunately, it won't matter one whit. We've gotten so used to describing people as "Left" and "Right" that we're unlikely to change anytime soon. All the momentum is going one way and, even though it's the wrong way, I doubt that very many people will even bother to ask if it's the right way.

Besides, as inadequate as the current system is, it is simple. Most people would rather take very little time to analyze things and be wrong. It's sad, but true.

I do have one little quibble. Den Beste appears, at least to me, to be saying that conservatives are against all change, at least that's the impression I got when he said that they want to preserve the status quo. (Granted, he's a little more nuanced than that. He does, for example, explain that someone can be a domestic conservative, but a revolutionary in some foreign countries.) I don't think it's so much that conservatives want to defend the status quo. At least not if you mean that conservatives are against all change. Rather, conservatives know that change is inevitable. However, they also know that the status quo represents the cumulative wisdom of every generation that came before us. Consequently, conservatives want to control change and are very cautious about making changes. Especially, conservatives don't view all change as reform. Some change is just difference for difference's sake. Conservatives want change to come only once it has been established that the new is demonstratively better than the old. Otherwise, we risk throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Come to think of it, I do have one other comment. Den Beste might consider adding a Free Market-Command Economy axis to his system. He does have a Liberal-Autocrat axis, but this isn't really the same thing. (Someone can be all in favor of an autocratic regime because he believes that's the only way to achieve a free market.)

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Good question.


Martin Roth has some things to say about Christian kindness.




Sometimes I just want to scream.


Make your own jokes. Sheesh!


Jack Rich has some very interesting things to say about usury and credit cards. I particularly like his close:

It’s called capitalism. It's sometimes messy. Not everyone prospers, but most do. The results, in terms of widespread material comfort as compared with any prior society, speak for themselves, nay, scream out, that capitalism is a good thing.

We need more, not less of this tonic.

Just so.


Here come the moonbats:

Some of the 28 million children in the national school lunch program may find irradiated hamburger on their plates as early as next year.

The Agriculture Department is seeking suppliers to furnish ground meat zapped by bacteria-killing gamma rays or electricity.

Despite apprehension among some people about the technology, the department issued specifications Thursday to schools notifying them of the coming availability and said it will seek bids from potential suppliers by January.

Yup, I can hear the screams of anguish from people insisting that irradiated beef will destroy our children.

In fact, a little later in the same story we read:

So far, only one local school system Point Arena, Calif., with 500 students has outright rejected using irradiated meat in its lunch program, according to Public Citizen, a group that contends researchers have yet to prove the meat won't cause cancer.

"We're very fearful of what will happen when we go through a whole generation of kids that have been consuming this stuff," said Tony Corbo, a spokesman for the group. "They're going to use the kids as an experiment."

Just one question: Since when do we assume that everything causes cancer until proven otherwise? The opponents of irradiated foods have not, to my knowledge, produced any evidence that such food is dangerous. (And no, yelling and screaming, "Irradiated foods! Irradiated foods!" does not count.


How bizarre!

SCHERERVILLE, Ind. -- Mary Mitchell was confused when she got a call on her cell phone last week asking: "Are you really God?"

Nineteen calls later, she finally learned what was happening. The last seven digits of her phone number are the same as the number repeatedly displayed on Jim Carrey's pager whenever God tries to summon his character in the new hit movie "Bruce Almighty."

People with the same seven-digit number in area codes around the nation also are getting calls for God.

Mitchell said she started getting the phone calls on Friday, the same day the movie opened.

"They would say, 'May I speak with God, please?' or 'I have some personal issues to talk about with God," she said. "Some of them sound like they're really serious, which is a little bizarre."

To anyone else caught in this little trap, let me just point out, "PEOPLE, GET A GRIP! IT'S JUST A MOVIE AND GOD DOESN'T HAVE A CELL PHONE!"



I was reading Mark Steyn's review of O Jerusalem and couldn't help being struck by this phrase:

I would invite Gurney to take the most anti-Semitic American he’s ever met and then imagine him multiplied by millions and moved to the West Bank: the result would be an immense improvement from the State of Israel’s point of view.

You know, he's probably right.


Of all the nerve!


Al Qaeda is making threats again:

A spokesman for al Qaeda has told an Arabic-language newsmagazine that the terror group will try to use poisons to attack the United States, specifically threatening to contaminate the nation's water supply.

Abu Mohammed al-Ablaj told the London-based al-Majallah magazine that "al Qaeda [does not rule out] using sarin gas and poisoning drinking water in U.S. and Western cities."

"We will talk about [these weapons] then and the infidels will know what harms them. They spared no effort in their war on us in Afghanistan. ... They should not therefore rule out the possibility that we will present them with our capabilities," the magazine quotes al-Ablaj as saying in an e-mail interview last week.

I have no doubt that they want to do this sort of thing. The question is, "Do they have the capability?" In relation to poisoning drinking water, I would like to point out something highlighted in this story.

"It is very difficult to covertly poison a reservoir," the official said on the condition of anonymity. "It would take many truckloads of poison, which would make it difficult to do secretly. That is not really a viable threat."

This is an excellent point. People trying to hype up the danger about our water supplies have often pointed out that our reservoirs are not well guarded, which is true. What they don't usually mention is that just dropping a little poison into the water supply wouldn't even be noticeable because it would be quickly diluted. You would have to dump huge amounts of poison into a water supply before it could do any real damage.

All told, I have no idea whether al Qaeda has the capability to do what they threaten or not. The fact that they make the threat doesn't really mean anything. Sometimes they follow through on their threats, but frequently, they don't.


Those who claim that Islamist terror groups only targeted Australia because they helped the U.S. in fighting terror have a new problem to deal with. Prime Minister John Howard has announced that Australian intelligence sources have learned that al Qaeda was considering attacks against Australian targets as early as 2000.

Of course, a lot of people will simply dismiss this information as American hegemonic lies.

We need time to reload

Muslim rebels in the Phillipines have offered a 10 day cease-fire. Everyone is falling all over themselves to proclaim that this is the first step towards peace. I'm not nearly so sanguine about the prospect.


In response to the Al Azhar Mosque condemning recent terror attacks, Charles Johnson says:

Since the Islamic leaders of Al Azhar have expressed their support for terrorist acts against Israel many times, it’s safe to assume that the reason for this condemnation is because the Riyadh and Casablanca attacks failed to kill any Jews.

I think this statement would be more accurate if it read, "because the Riyadh and Casablanca attacks took place in Muslim countries and failed to kill any Jews.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

I've never seen anyone fisk a Nigerian e-mail spam before.




Um ... If you're one of those people who thinks the EU is a grand idea, please read this.


Steve Den Beste has updated his friends and enemies list. Personally I would have rated Canada as "Neutral" and Poland as a "Level 3 Friend." I think Den Beste probably assigns to much importance to Chretien's stance on the Iraq war. I say that largely because of the great deal of grassroots support for the U.S. that I've seen coming out of Canada. I think he underrates how much support Poland has provided recently, especially in Iraq, but lot's of people have been underrating the Poles lately.


I am not at all surprised.

Speaking at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum here, Clinton questioned certain aspects of the 22nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prevents a person from being elected president more than twice.

Clinton said the amendment, passed after Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to a record fourth term, should be changed simply to keep a person from being elected to more than two consecutive terms as president.

"I think since people are living much longer ... the 22nd Amendment should probably be modified to say two consecutive terms instead of two terms for a lifetime," Clinton said.

The former president said such a change probably wouldn't apply to him but would benefit future generations.

He may have said that it wouldn't apply to him, but that doesn't mean he's not hoping. I always got the feeling that Clinton felt there should have been a special Bill Clinton exception to the 22nd Amendment. I'd say more, but it would probably be needlessly snarky.


Bryan Preston does a pretty good job of explaining the problem with Unitarianism:

Sinkford and others are worried that unless their "church" learns to be an actual religion with, you know, beliefs and stuff, it will go the way of the Shakers. But their own universalist beliefs will abort that effort--religious beliefs are by their very nature exclusive. They require that believers identify themselves and hold to a set of norms or standards that non-believers don't accept or understand. Universalism says all beliefs are equal, and no one standard is the right one. It's the Church of Do What You Want To, and that philosophy is incoherent. It doesn't actually demand anything of believers (not even belief), and doesn't point the way to anything better. It's basically a social club with pseudoreligious trappings and a bit of post-modern philosophy sprinkled on top. Unitarians seem to be sensing all that, but if they act on it their church will disappear as they figure out that other churches actually teach coherent ideas. If the Unitarians don't act, their church will probably disappear anyway. Who wants to attend a church that doesn't actually believe in anything? What's the point? So the Unitarian revival may in fact spell the end of the Unitarian Universalist church.


In case you're wondering, InstaPundit is currently down. Glen Reynolds is blogging at InstaBackup at the moment.



John Derbyshire argues that not everyone should be able to vote. Specifically, he wants to disenfranchise government employees. I'm sure lots of people will be aghast at an idea like that, but it's not all that unreasonable.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Jack Rich has some interesting things to say about Islam and Christianity:

Islam as practiced today has far too many places and examples of where it will not tolerate Jews, Hindus, or Christians. At all, in some places. In others, only if they submit quietly and accept their second-class citizenship, and don't get too uppity and start worshipping in public. In this regard, Islam looks a lot like the Times' apparent picture of Christianity. That is, a time many hundreds of years ago, a throwback to medieval times, when the One True Church would burn you at the stake (or worse) for not hewing to strict orthodoxy.

Today, being Christian entails the obligation to share the Gospel. And since it is a Gospel of love, true Christians no longer enforce that sharing at the point of a sword. Something that Islam has yet to learn.

Very true.


Joel Engler points out that there are more important things than intellect:

IF IT WERE TRUE that a high I.Q. in and of itself guaranteed peace and prosperity, then we should appoint Stephen Hawking president right now and be done with it. But I don't want Professor Hawking as president, nor any of the other truly brilliant people I know. Yes, it's thrilling to sit at a dinner table and behold gifted minds interacting with other gifted minds, and to read and watch and listen to their works of genius. But that's not the same as admiring their character, which is often less developed than their ability to slash a Z on someone's chest with their wit. Anyway, for all their verbal eloquence and artistic finger-pointing, which big issues, exactly, have the reigning intelligentsia been correct about in the last 40 years? One would be hard-pressed to compose a short list.

The truth, which Orwell pointed out, is that truly brilliant people and truly talented people often believe truly stupid things: G.B. Shaw believed in Hitler and Stalin. Norman Mailer believed that convicted murderer Jack Henry Abbot deserved to be paroled because he could write well (and that we went to war in Iraq to bolster the white-male ego). Stanford professor Paul Ehrlich believed that the few hundred of us still alive after the ecological holocaust of the '80s and '90s would be living in caves. Steven Spielberg believed that his meeting with Castro were the "eight most important hours" of his life. The academic establishment believed in the efficacy of bilingual education and largely continues to believe that communism spreads prosperity and social justice. Princeton professor of bioethics Peter Singer believes that parents ought to be able to murder their disabled children. And Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta believes that a 70-year-old lady from Vero Beach and a young Arab man chanting Koranic verses are equally likely to hijack a plane.

The best and the brightest, as we learned from JFK's advisers, offer little protection against absolute foolishness--and may, perhaps, be more susceptible to it, given the anecdotal evidence suggesting that brilliance and common sense are inversely correlated. It's no wonder Castro hoped Bush wouldn't be "as stupid as he seems." For 40 years the dictator has been surrounded and visited by brilliant people who swear that he's brilliant and benevolent--and if Bush were indeed a dimwit, he might see right through Castro and conclude that all those people willing to brave sharks, drowning, dehydration, and firing squads to escape from Cuba actually recognize something that the dictator's brilliant admirers do not.

As they say, read the whole thing.


Well, I'm depressed now.


John Hawkins clears up how a story gains traction in the blogosphere.


Ben Domenech lays out his definition of conservatism. It's not perfect, but it's not bad.

Monday, May 26, 2003

I think I'm going to be ill.

Girl Hospitalized After Being Put in Washing Machine

Yes, you read that right. It gets worse.

Surveillance camera footage showed that the woman placed her daughter in one washer, then removed her and placed her in a second front-loading washer, which turned on when she closed the door, Stone said.

Yes, that's right. Her mother put her in a public washing machine and turned it on

Here's something else that is not so surprising.

"I don't believe what the camera says," the girl's grandmother, Mary Osborne, told KCBS-TV

Friends and neighbors expressed shock and disbelief.

"She wouldn't do anything like that. That's not Erma," neighbor John Herring told the TV station. "She's a nice, loving mother who takes care of her kids."

What is it about our society that leads people to deny that horrible things have been done by people they know, even when there is clear and convincing evidence to the contrary?


The Volokh Conspiracy has moved. Their new address is Update your links accordingly. (Unfortunately, I cannot update my blogroll att he moment because Blogger refuses to access my template. Arghh!!!!!)


The Blogger Formerly Known as Juan Gato has an excellent point about Memorial Day:

It is not enough to merely remember the names and numbers. We must remember that for which they died. They did not die only at the direction of the state. They died for the ideal that individuals may live free. If they merely died defending the state, then the state is what should be honored and given supremacy. But they fought for so much more. They did not fear to give up their lives for our liberty. So in undying gratitude should we be sure to never give up our liberty for fear.

Well said.


Yes I know I haven't updated since last Thursday. I've had some real world interference. Besides, it's been difficult to find anything to say. Updating will resume when I find something to update about.

Thursday, May 22, 2003
Well that's interesting.

Ariel`Sharon is refusing to meet with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin (who, as Scrapple Face likes to remind us, is a man) because he insists on meeting with Yasser Arafat.

Update - In related news, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi hinted that he might refuse to meet with Arafat during his trip to Israel.

Better late than never

Syria has announced that they instructed their delegate to vote in favor of lifting sanctions against Iraq. There's only one problem; they issued these instructions after the vote had already been taken.


Just a guess, but I wouldn't be surprised if Amnesty International is about to have a cow. Utah is preparing to execute 2 men by firing squad.


This is the first time I've ever read a Mark Steyn column and believed him to be almost completely wrong.


The Washington Post is carrying an AP story which, based on polling data, indicates that Senator Santorum wasn't hurt much politically by his recent remarks about the Texas sodomy case before the Supreme Court.


I am probably one of the few people who can honestly say he's never watched a single episode of "American Idol" but I found this report on irregularities from Drudge rather interesting.

IDOL host Seacrest added to the confusion by announcing conflicting margins and votes throughout the evening. Seacrest moved from a 1,335 vote difference to a 50.28 per cent score for winner Ruben Studdard, putting him at about 134,000 votes ahead of Clay Aiken.

Seacrest announced a 13,000 vote difference in the first hour of the program, 1,335 votes when he revealed the decision. Finally, after the show, producers revealed a 134,000 margin!

Maybe someone was just really bad with decimal points.

News organizations on the morning after the night before were quoting various final totals.

Huh? The "morning after the night before"? Talk about a confusing phrase!

FOX will launch an internal review of what led to the voter tally confusion, a FOX source told the DRUDGE REPORT.

"As far as we are concerned, the votes are not in dispute," said the insider. "We are looking at how the bad math got on the air."

Should be interesting.


The UN has finally lifted the sanctions against Iraq.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Welcome to the Republican Party

That's the punchline for a joke that Martin Devon's got up. I actually hadn't seen this one before.

For once, France and Germany do the moral thing

It's about time for this:

PARIS, May 21 (UPI) -- France, Russia and Germany agreed Wednesday to back a U.S.-led resolution at the U.N. Security Council to lift decade-plus-long sanctions against Iraq.

The announcement was made in Paris, following a meeting by foreign ministers from all three countries -- Europe's staunchest opponents of the war on Baghdad.

"We have decided to vote for the resolution, and to work to find a consensus in the Security Council," said a joint statement by the three foreign ministers, after talks late Wednesday. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin read it during an evening news conference with all three parties.

Yes, that's right; they finally decided not to take out their anger at the U.S. on the Iraqi people. Of course, that's not all they had to say.

Although the U.S. resolution "did not go as far as we would have hoped," the statement said, the United Nations would be "closely involved in the political process" of reconstructing post-war Iraq.

The announcement marks a new softening by three of Europe's staunchest opponents to the war in Iraq. Only Tuesday, French President Jacques Chirac signaled he wanted the draft resolution to grant greater role for the United Nations in post-war Iraq.

In addition, Paris has previously called only for suspending sanctions, not lifting them, in the short run.

But Chirac -- who led international opposition to the war -- has also announced France would adopt a more so-called "pragmatic" approach, now the conflict was over.

So, they're pouting some, but they gave in. This bit about a more "pragmatic" approach basically means that they (the French) at least, have figured out that they don't have as much influence as they thought, and, consequently, that there are some things they simply don't have the power to get. This is good news, especially for the Iraqi people, because it means that they're not going to withhold approval for lifting of the sanctions. This means it will be easier to get all the aid the people of Iraq need to them in a timely manner.

The only bad news is that it does not give the U.S. another opportunity to defy the UN, thus further weakening its influence.


Road to where?


[sarcasm]Well, at least somebody feels better. [/sarcasm]


Somehow, I get the impression that Jayson Blair is less than apologetic about his deceptions.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Mark Byron points out that some of the reason Warren Buffet opposes the dividend tax cut is that it would be bad for his own business.


I don't know about anyone else, but I'm having a terrible time getting blogspot sites to load.


David Heddle wants to know why so many people are so sure that we are in the end times?

But what I don’t understand is the overwhelming tendency among the per-trib, premill crowd to be extremely confident that we are currently living in the end times.

Now by end times I do not mean last days, for surely we are living in the last days


By the end times what is meant is the end of the present age and the commencement of the eternal state.

Allowing 40 years per generation, there have been about fifty generations since the time of Christ. No doubt in every single one of those generations, there were a sizable percentage of all Christians who believed they were in the end times. Like the Christians of today, they looked at the political situation of the day, and at recent natural disasters, and convinced themselves the signs were obvious. Like Tim LaHaye of the modern era, they probably thought that only the biblically illiterate could not see the obvious.

Yet they were all wrong. If you think history is almost over, can you honestly say why every other generation was wrong, but this time you’ll be right?

David goes on to quote scriptures that point out that we cannot know when Christ will come again and that even Christ does not know.

I'm definitely with David on this one. I fail to understand why people think they can be so sure about the timing when Christ himself said it was not possible. I remember that when I was living in Amarillo just before the 1st Gulf War I heard a lot of people who were dead certain that Christ was coming any day now. I remember people talking about Saddam Hussein being the anti-Christ. Just before the ground war began, my great aunt died. At her funeral, the minister preaching the funeral stated in no uncertain terms that we would be joining her in a matter of days. Furthermore, I saw adds on TV by a preacher for a local Baptist congregation asking people to come to his classes explaining how the events in Iraq fulfilled the book of Revelation and proved we were in the End Times. 1

What happened? Nothing, that's what. Did that stop anyone from trying? No. In fact, the next year I saw that same preacher advertising another class about Revelation and how we were in the End Times.1 I remember thinking, "Didn't he learn anything?" Apparently not.

I think that to some extent, people misunderstand the purpose of prophecy. As far as I can tell, prophecy has two major purposes. The first purpose is to allow you to verify who does and who does not speak for God. People often forget that the Old Testament prophets did more than tell the future. They told the people what God wanted them to do right now, as well as what he wanted them to do at some later time. But how would you know who really spoke for God, and who did not? Moses told the people how to recognize a prophet.

"When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

So, one of the reasons prophets spoke about the future was so that the people could know they were truly speaking for God. If they weren't, then what they predicted would not come to pass.

The other reason for prophecy is so that people can know, once the events have come upon them, that this is what God was telling them about. In other words, the prophecies were not given so people could predict the timing of the events, but so that they could recognize the events as they were happening. As David points out, very few prophecies are detailed enough that people could reasonably be expected to identify the events accurately before they happen. (The only ones that I can think of offhand that someone could possible be expected to use to predict the actual time of events are the prophecy that the Jews would return to their lands after 70 years of captivity, the prophecy of the 70 weeks and the prophecy that Cyrus would return the Jews to their land. Even with those, prophecies, not everyone was able to understand them accurately.) Many prophecies however, were constructed so that someone could look at events after they had happened and know that this had to be what the prophets were speaking of. In fact, the book of Matthew is largely written to a Hebrew audience to show them that Christ fulfilled the prophecies about the Messiah. Throughout his history, Matthew points out an event in the life of Christ and compares it to the prophecies to prove Christ's identity.

However, as David points out, despite the fact that numerous prophecies were fulfilled by Christ, how many people could have predicted based on those prophecies, with any degree of accuracy, how and when those events would be fulfilled? I suspect the answer is no one.

Given all that, and considering Christ's stipulation that it was not possible for man to know when the end would come, isn't it extremely arrogant to try to do so?

1This originally read Last Days, which, as David points out, is not really the same thing. I apologize for the confusion.


For a comedian, Larry Miller sure writes plenty of articles that make me want to cry.


I don't have enough information to know whether the French government is helping Saddam's cronies escape, but I did find this article by Rafael Medoff interesting. He points out that it wouldn't be the first time.

This nuance rainbow at the Shallow End should help clear up a few misunderstandings.


Heh. It's about time!

Monday, May 19, 2003

I wonder why on earth ABC thinks I want to watch all these shows where they talk about their glorious 50 years and how great they are? Guess what? I don't.


John Cole has a censorship scorecard. It ought to clear some things up for you.

Here is a very thought provoking piece about copyright law and libertarianism at Samizdata.


Bill Whittle has an excellent and thought provoking essay about lying by telling the truth and other assorted things. It's called Magic. (Via Rachel Lucas.)


Thomas Sowell argues that the problems at the New York Times are symptomatic of larger problems with liberalism in general.

The scandal of disgraced reporter Jayson Blair should have been a lesson to those who run the New York Times. But it is obvious from an account of a staff meeting at the Times in its aftermath that it is going to take more than one lesson to get through to the top brass -- if it ever does.

First of all, managing editor Howell Raines announced: "I am here to listen to your anger."

This is classic liberal condescension. Other people do not have ideas, knowledge or principles that need to be examined and considered. They just have emotions -- and Raines graciously agreed to let them blow off steam.


Howell Raines and the New York Times are not nearly as important as the mindset they represent. And it is not nearly as important that they learn lessons from this as that the rest of us learn the implications of their mindset and the kinds of things that it can lead to, not just in journalism but in the larger world.

The worst that Howell Raines can do is ruin the reputation of a once-great newspaper. But when the mindset that he represents takes hold in the seats of power, including judicial power, we can look for the same blind arrogance of the self-righteous -- and far worse consequences for this nation and its people.

Read the whole thing.


David Adesnik points out one of the worst transitions ever.


I've got some problems with this Newsday article about the possibility of Justices Rehnquist and O'Connor retiring. First up is this:

With no change on the court in nearly a decade - the longest period without turnover in 180 years - the level of anticipation and preparation by groups on the left and the right is intense. Both sides expect a brutal battle, with the Republicans even threatening to force a legally questionable change in Senate procedure to prevent a Democratic filibuster. Such a move could itself force a constitutional crisis.(Emphasis mine)

Huh? The move that Republicans are considering, and it's not necessarily linked to a Supreme Court nomination, is changing the Senate rules so that filibusters are not possible on confirmation votes. How exactly is this supposed to spark a constitutional crisis? The term constitutional crisis implies a severe problem in the operation of government that your constitution does not tell you how to solve. A change in the rules of a house of Congress does not qualify. Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution plainly states that each house has the authority to set its own rules. It's true that prohibiting a filibuster on confirmation votes would constitute a radical departure from well established tradition, but that doesn't make it wrong and it certainly doesn't make it unconstitutional, nor would it spark a constitutional crisis.

I should note that I personally believe that the Senate never should have allowed filibuster on confirmation hearings in the first place. However, as a conservative, I believe that long established patterns should not be changed lightly. I'm not sure that the Republicans suggesting this change have fully thought out the consequences of their idea. It's something that should be done only after much consideration.

My next problem with this article was this:

Driving the speculation that Rehn- quist, 78, will retire is an unusual courtesy call Rehnquist made to the White House on Dec. 20, ostensibly to make a pitch for a raise for judges.

That's it? That's all people have to indicate Rehnquist is going to retire? He went to the White House asking for a raise for judges? I certainly hope people have more than that before they go off announcing that his retirement is "likely". I say that because Rehnquist has been stumping for a raise for Federal judges for years now. It's something he is clearly passionate about, and I can see his point. I don't know whether they talked about his retirement or not, but I can say with a high degree of certainty that if Rehnquist went to the White House "ostensibly" to discuss higher pay for judges that he did in fact talk about it. There's simply no way he would pass up the opportunity to make his pitch directly to the President.

Okay, I've vented now.

Sunday, May 18, 2003
Oh yes, our friends the Saudis
WASHINGTON, May 18 (UPI) -- The discovery of Saudi military weapons in an al Qaeda safe house earlier this month reportedly has led to an investigation into the possibility that members of the Saudi Arabian National Guard have been illicitly selling arms to the terrorist network.


The Saudi guard has had problems in the past with weapons missing from its inventories and a small number of officers are known to be involved in the illegal arms trade.

The alleged arms dealers were apparently motivated by the prospect of making easy money rather than political ideology and were able to operate without much interference from the Saudi government.

The alleged traffickers luck may have run out with last week's terrorist attacks in Riyahd that left 34 people dead, including eight Americans and a Saudi National Guard officer who was killed trying to stop the attacks.

"People are furious," a Saudi official told the Post.

Now you're free to interpret this anyway you like, but the way I'm reading this the Saudis didn't get worked up about their officers selling weapons illicitly until their business started killing people on their watch. Wonderful "allies" we've got there.


Tacitus has an excellent post explaining why he's not a Democrat.


Susanna Cornett delivers one incredible fisking to an article that seems to be trying to normalize pedophilia. Her next post about media bias and Zimbabwe is pretty good too.

This may be one of the most ironic sentences I have ever read.

From MSNBC, we have this gem from Jayson Blair:

I can’t say anything other than the fact that I feel a range of emotions including guilt, shame, sadness, betrayal, freedom and appreciation for those who have stood by me, been tough on me, and have taken the time to understand that there is a deeper story and not to believe everything they read in the newspapers.(Emphasis mine)

Perhaps the only thing more ironic than a newspaper reporter who plagiarized the work of others, made up quotes and facts, and lied about where he was when he wrote his stories saying that he feels betrayed is that same reporter expressing appreciation to those people who know not to believe everything they read in the newspaper. Well, I think Jayson Blair has probably taught that lesson to more people more convincingly than anyone in the last few years has been able to manage.
Note: The title for this post originally omitted the word "ironic" which made the sentence meaningless.


Chris Regan has a great post about George Galloway. It's mostly quotes pulled from various sources, but the effect I think is probably best just reading his post.


Skepticism doesn't even begin to describe Charles Johnson's opinion of the "Roadmap to Peace" as far as I can tell. He's been screaming that the whole thing was a farce for weeks now. I'm still undecided, but I thought he made a great point in this post:

But notice something: these latest Palestinian atrocities were directed at the same enemies they always seek to murder—Jewish civilians trying to go about their business and contribute to a functioning society. If the murderers really thought that Abu Mazen and his puppet government meant to shut them down, they would be attacking him and his Fatah cronies. They know the "roadmap" is a meaningless charade and it's business as usual with Abu Mazen in charge, and that's what they're doing—their filthy Jew-killing business as usual. We're going to hear that this is a "message" to Abu Mazen that the "militants" refuse to deal, and want to sabotage the "peace process," and it's all a pack of stinking LIES. There is no peace process, there is no roadmap, there is only Arab rejectionism and blind murderous hatred, and it's time to deal with it on their level and give them the war they want. (Emphasis is mine)

Like I said, I still don't know what I think about the "Roadmap", but I think Charles makes a pretty convincing argument that the terrorists think the whole thing is a sham.


Warren Smith has posted a detailed critique of the BBC's story about the rescue of Private Lynch. (Via Tim Blair)

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Hmm, I finally got an Instapundit link to one of my posts. Wouldn't you know it was to a post about not being able to find anything to write about. Just my luck.


I got a Google hit for "All Caps in the Bible." Hey, I aim to please. In the Old Testament, most translations render the Hebrew name for God, YHWH (This is usually pronounced Yahweh, and is also known as the Tetragrammaton), as LORD in all caps. Some translations do the same thing, only using small caps for the last three letters. Additionally, some translations render quotes of Old Testament scripture in the New Testament in all caps. That's a very rough explanation, but probably sufficient.

Update - I really wasn't trying to give a detailed analysis here so I skipped over a lot of details. Still, details often help people understand things better, so when I received an e-mail from Jack Rich I thought it would be good to include some of it as additional background information.

Finally, small point on YHWH. In Jewish liturgy, the Hebrew word for God, yod-heh-vav-heh, is pronounced "adonay", which means "my Lord." In other words, it simply is not pronounced as written.

In siddurim (prayer books) it is sometimes rendered as yod-yod, and still pronounced adonay. In the English translation of the Tanakh it is normally rendered as "Lord."

In everyday speech, an observant Jew would say "hashem", lit. "the name" rather than adonay.

Some of this I knew and some of it I didn't. If anyone wants more background on this type of information, I would recommend picking up a copy of The Complete Jewish Bible which was translated by David Stern, a Messianic Jew. He uses Adonai in all caps to represent the name of God and has a very detailed explanation of why he does so.

I should also note that some translations use the word Jehovah to stand for the name of God. In fact, there are very few English translations of the Old Testament, what the Jews call the Tanakh that I am aware of that use God's name, or even a form of it, as it appeared in the initial Hebrew text. (The only one that I can remember off hand is the World English Bible.) This is largely because, as Jack kindly pointed out, the Jews rarely actually use the Name, instead substituting other words. (Usually Adonay or Adonai depending on how it's transliterated.) As I understand it, this custom began because religious Jews hold His name in such reverence that they do not want to risk mispronouncing or misspelling the Name, even accidentally. This is understandable, when you consider that one of the Ten Commandments was to not take His name in vain.

Historically, Christians have not carried things regarding this command to the same extremes that religious Jews have, however, when it comes to translations of the Bible, the Jewish customs regarding His name were retained. That is why you generally will find most translations rendering the Name as LORD or Jehovah.

This was far more information than I had originally intended to give, but oh well. If anyone else has any further comments, corrections, or clarifications, please feel free to send them my way.


The Washington Post is reporting that Morocco has arrested 27 people in connection with the bombings yesterday. My first thought when hearing that 27 people had been arrested within 24 hours of the attacks is that these guys did a horrible job of covering their tracks.


I don't know why, but for the last few weeks I've had a terrible time finding anything to post about on Saturdays. Maybe it's the post-Iraq slowdown, maybe it's a change in the polarity of the whachamacallit, or maybe I'm just bored. Anyway, the paltry amount of posting on weekends hasn't been for lack of trying.


This may be the longest blog post title in history. Ironically, the actual post is only 5 words long.


Rich Tucker thinks the problems at the Times go deeper than Jayson Blair:

After less than a week in Maryland, Blair was on the Times front page with a story that said the White House had pressured local investigators to drop their questioning of suspect John Muhammad just as he was getting ready to confess. The problem is, the story wasn’t true.

As the Times reported in its May 11 mea culpa, “Both the United States attorney, Thomas M. DiBiagio, and a senior Federal Bureau of Investigation official issued statements denying certain details,” of Blair’s report.

Regardless of his history, this story should never have made it into the paper, because it was based entirely on five unnamed law enforcement officials. Did any of these five sources even exist? Or did Blair simply create them all to back up some of the idle gossip he heard while hanging around with cops and reporters? Unless Blair writes a book some day (count on it) we’ll never know.

That’s because no one ever asked him to identify his sources. Amazingly, that includes Raines, Managing Editor Gerald Boyd and National Editor Jim Roberts, among others. In fact, Raines, who knew all about Blair’s past problems, even sent the reporter an e-mail congratulating him for “great shoe-leather reporting.”


As a journalist, I realize unidentified sources can be critical. Often someone isn’t willing to speak on the record, but has valuable information. Big stories like Watergate might have gone untold if unidentified sources were banned.

But at the same time, editors must check up on their reporters. An editor should be able to call a source and verify information, while still keeping the name of the source confidential.

Barbara Crossette, a former United Nations bureau chief for the Times, gets to the heart of this problem: “Copy editors and middling desk editors (sometimes even departmental editors) have been demeaned and relegated to the sidelines. Boring, annoying questions about sources and facts are brushed off with disdain by writers and top editors,” she wrote on the Poynter Institute’s Web site on May 14.

The biggest problem with Jayson Blair was not that he was an under qualified affirmative action hire. It’s that his editors didn’t verify his work before it went into the newspaper.


John Cole explains how to argue like a Lefty radical. His satire is a bit of an exaggeration, but I've seen lots of discussions go pretty much like this; it's part of the reason that I rarely bother reading past the first few comments on any post.


Charles Johnson is calling CNN on some historical revisionism regarding Belgium and the war. I've got to admit that I spotted this as well, but didn't follow up on it. I dropped the ball on this one, but Charles certainly didn't.


I wish I could be that selective.

Friday, May 16, 2003

Den Beste has an excellent piece on what it takes to win a war and, more importantly, what it will take to win this war. Here's a hint, it doesn't include the UN.


Deutsche Welle has this report on the bombs in Casablanca.

At least 20 people were killed, and many more injured, in four bomb attacks in the Morroccan city of Casablanca Friday night, the official MAP news agency said. Witnesses told the news agency AFP the attacks were carried out as suicide bombings. A man was reportedly seen to detonate a suicide bomb as he was confronted by a hotel porter. Three car bombs targeted the Belgian consulate, a Jewish community centre and the Hotel Safir in the city's historic centre. A fourth bomb, reportedly not in a car, exploded near the Spanish cultural centre. Residents told news agencies of at least seven detonations. The official news agency said a large number of people were receiving medical attention, and that three suspects had been arrested in connection with the attacks.

CNN has more:

RABAT, Morocco (CNN) -- Five explosions, including three car bombs, rocked the heart of Casablanca on Friday night, killing at least 20 people and injuring several others, according to Morocco's interior minister.

Interior Minister Mustapha Sahel blamed international terrorists for the attacks and said some were committed by suicide bombers.

Three people were arrested in connection with the explosions, reported the country's official news agency, Maghreb Arab Presse (MAP).

Among the targets hit were those representing Belgian, Spanish and Jewish interests.

You can follow the link for the rest of the CNN story. I find it interesting that no one has admitted to doing this yet.


David Adnesnik has a must read post about the media, Reagan, and Bush (43). I'd post some excerpts, but it's all good; I'd comment, but I can't think of anything to add. (It's rather ironic though, if you look at Urman's post below.)


Fox is reporting four bombings in Casablanca. Oki links to this story which says seven bombings. Not much information yet other than confirmation of some casualties.

Update - Reuters also says four explosions.

RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco said four "criminal explosions" had hit its commercial capital Casablanca on Friday night and caused an unspecified number of casualties.

Against a background of a worldwide terror alert, residents told Reuters one target of several apparent bomb attacks seemed to have been a synagogue or Jewish community center.

The official Moroccan news agency MAP, monitored by the BBC, said: "Four criminal explosions have resulted in casualties on Friday night in Casablanca."

Residents told Reuters by telephone from Casablanca that other blasts struck near the Hotel Safir, located in the old heart of the city center, the Belgian consulate and a restaurant, all in different parts of town.

A senior security source told Reuters by telephone from Casablanca that it was not clear what the targets were.

Casablanca lies on the Atlantic coast about 60 miles southwest of the capital Rabat.

Another Update - The AP says 4 explosions, all car bombs. (Link via Sparkey.)


The Defense Department is getting ready to shake things up when it comes to our foreign bases.

WASHINGTON — Matching an effort to modernize the U.S. military at all levels, the Pentagon and its NATO partners have begun reviewing the best locations for U.S. military bases abroad and the ideal force posture for U.S. troops overseas.

With the Cold War over and few, if any, military threats in Europe, the United States may pull military bases out of old North Atlantic Treaty Organization (search) countries such as Germany and move them to more friendly countries like Romania and Bulgaria.

I've believed for a while that this was necessary. For one, nations that refuse to let us actually use the military assets stationed in their country (Germany) aren't a whole lot of help when trouble strikes. Second, I believe that nations need to be shown that decisions to help or hinder the foreign policy of our nation have consequences. The presence of U.S. military installations are an economic windfall. That windfall should be directed to nations which support our policies.

The U.S. military shut down its last major military mission in Turkey on May 1. Now that Saddam Hussein is gone, no-fly zone patrols of northern Iraq originating out of Turkey (search) are no longer necessary. Aside from that, the Turkish government also wouldn't let the United States use its bases to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom.

By summer's end, U.S. troops will pull out of bases in Saudi Arabia (search), where their presence has been a source of anti-American sentiment. Saudi bases were used to mount flights over a no-fly zone in southern Iraq.

Good. When Turkey (a member of NATO) was really needed in the war with Iraq, they refused to help. Countries that refuse to help us are not appropriate bases for the U.S. military.

The Saudi entity, no matter what anyone says, is not our friend. With Saddam gone, we have no need to defend them so it's time to get out; especially since Kuwait and Qatar have proven far more hospitable.

It's true that al Qaeda and other Islamists will probably claim that moving out of Saudi controlled Arabia is a victory for them (The presence of U.S. troops so near the holy cities of Mecca and Medina has been one of their primary rallying cries), but you should never continue to do something once it ceases to make tactical or strategic since just because your enemies were demand that you stop; that would give your enemies far too much power.

American Enterprise Institute defense expert Tom Donnelly said various countries' diplomatic approach to the Iraq war may speed up the relocation process. For instance, France and Germany, among other nations, tried to block action against Iraq.

"If nothing else, the diplomatic shakeout in the Iraq crisis is going to get that process going, is going to shape it, and is going to accelerate it," Donnelly said. "We'll no longer be able to really pretend that NATO as we're used to it is a real go-to-war, shoulder-to-shoulder bunch of allies."

Heritage Foundation defense expert Jack Spencer disagreed.

"I don't think that one's support of war in Iraq or lack thereof will drive our basing ambitions," he said.

I sure hope Spencer is wrong.

One thing about this story really annoyed me:

Before that happens, though, some in Congress want to make sure they have a say in the process.

I'm shocked.

Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., recently introduced a bill that would create a commission to conduct an across-the-board evaluation of overseas military bases.

"America faces new threats since the Cold War, yet our allocation of military resources abroad has remained static," Hutchison said.

She stressed the need to put bases in countries that don't limit operations. Germany, for one, has limited U.S. ability to fly helicopters at night, to conduct live-fire exercises or to move vehicles during war games.

"Restrictions imposed by host countries can severely limit opportunities for our forces to conduct realistic training," Hutchison said. "For our deployed troops to effectively perform their missions, they need facilities that allow optimum training."

Hutchison actually makes some good points about how to determine where to base troops, what she failed to do (at least in what's quoted here) is make a case for why Congress, or a commission set up by Congress, should be making these decisions rather than the military. I suspect the only real reason is that certain members of Congress want to remind each other how important they are.


Deroy Murdock really hammers The New York Times.

As America's vaunted "Paper of Record," the Times theoretically chronicles key events to inform today's citizens and, eventually, enlighten readers as yet unborn.

In reality, the New York Times has devolved into the West 43rd Street Gazette. This flimsy rag entirely ignores major news stories, filters many through its merlot-tinted glasses and sloppily reports others. As we now know, it even invents things.

That's why the Old Gray Lady is a tramp.



And people complain about the self-referential nature of the blogosphere? Sheesh!


Last week, David Heddle again addressed the issue of predestination. I was laying in bed tonight and was struck by a thought, (one that I occasionally find myself asking about doctrinal issues); suppose David is 100% correct about predestination? So what? To put it another way, what are the ramifications of the doctrine itself? What are the ramifications of accepting or rejecting the doctrine? In the long run, does it really matter?

I'm too tired right now to dive into this right now, but I thought I'd toss it out there and see what people think.


Oh no! LGF has been found out!

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Tacitus explains why cooperation between Texas law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security in tracking down escaping legislators is not an abuse of power.


Jacob Levy tears into the Senate tax cut plan:

The arguments in favor of repealing the dividend tax have to do with removing distortions from the capital markets and from the incentives faced by corporations, and with improving tranparency [sic] in corporate accounting. Removing distortions from the capital markets is a good thing for long-term growth. This tax cut is not a short-term stimulus, still less a short-term stimulus to the stock market. The desirable effects that it is supposed to have would all be defeated by a three-year sunset clause; corporations aren't going to restructure their debt practices, their dividends vs. stock buyback practices, for such a short-term provision. If one wants to go the Keynesian route, then the taxes to cut aren't those that have to do with capital allocation and corporate governance. I think it would be better to have a coherent supply-side tax cut (say, a small permanent reduction in the capital gains tax) or a coherent Keynesian cut (a three-year increase in personal exemptions) or a combination of the two or... well, anything that at least might be intelligible. Instead, Senators are voting for something that no one's theory or argument predicts will do anything useful.

I pointed Levy's comments out because it touches on something that I've been contemplating for a while. The tax proposal Levy touches on is a prime example of the trouble with governing by committee; sometimes in order to get anything politicians have to make such tremendous compromises that what the actually get is worthless. As Levy points out, the sunset provision on this proposal makes the whole thing worthless. This is tax legislation that is suppose to change company's behavior, but the sunset provision instills such a degree of uncertainty that company's are highly unlikely to change their behavior because of it.

The Senate proposal is so bad that it might actually be better to take nothing over the something that has been negotiated. I say this because I've seen how tax cuts are routinely demagogued. As Levy points out, there is no theory under which this proposal will provide any stimulus to the economy. However, most people do not have much of a grasp on the economic theories involved. If the Senate proposal is passed as currently written, all most people will remember about it is a) there was a tax cut and b) people claimed tax cuts would help the economy. Assuming that the economy does not improve, and there is no reason to suspect that this tax cut will help matters, it will be that much easier for the proponents of high taxation to convince people that no tax cuts are ever helpful.

I know that I'm oversimplifying here, but I think I've made the point. Tax legislation is one of those areas where it's not always preferable to get only some of what you want. That's because if you give up too much, the legislation won't do what you've been arguing it would, but people won't remember that you didn't get what you asked for, they'll just say that you're legislation failed.


Martin Devon answers the question, "What if the Democratic Presidential candidates were a baseball team?"

Right Field: John Edwards

Both Edwards and Lieberman are vying for the Right (or at least, what passes for Right Field in a Democratic primary), but c'mon. Look at their mugs. Edwards has all the TV endorsements wrapped up. Valvoline, Dominos, Bud -- they all want a punim like Edwards' for their glam outfielder. As for Lieberman? He's got the face of a catcher.

Left Field: Bob Graham

A heavily contested postion for these nine. You could make a good case that Al Sharpton, Dennis Kucinich and Carol Mosely Braun all belong here, since they come out of "left field," but Graham clinched it with the notebook tic.


Goalie: Dennis Kucinich

At first I was to slot Kucinich as pitcher (think Bill Lee), but there are plenty of normal pitchers. It didn't quite fit. Goalie on the other hand....And don't you get the feeling that he's not playing the same game as the other eight?

Well, now that you ask ...


The Flea uses a disgusting article as a launching point for some observations about anti-semitsm.


I've got to ditto Charles Johnson. Absolutely shameful.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

That's about right.

I have to give Ramsey Clark credit for one thing: he says what he thinks. Of course, what he says demonstrates that he's a raving lunatic



Robert Stewart is upset with Bob Grahams campaign strategy in regards to the war on terrorism.


Rabbi Daniel Lapin has a very interesting article about conquering human nature.


Ben Domenech has this to say:

This is just hilarious: 66% of Americans can't name a single Dem Presidential candidate. Not even one. And 64% of Democrats can't name a single candidate, not even Lieberman. Now that's going to be a little problematic, don't you think?

Yeah, you would think. Of course, the real question is how long this state of ignorance will last.


Eugene Volokh points out amusing author notes.


Patrick Ruffini puts in some good words for Mitch Daniels. From my perspective, he's giving Bush to much credit on the budget; to me, it just looks like the President can't say no to spending. Regardless, it's an interesting post.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Drudge is mentioning stirrings about several more New York Times reporters being in deep trouble. If this pans out, the "Paper of Record's" credibility may be permanently damaged. I've got to say, that's not all bad. A lot of people have put an inordinate amount of trust in the Times. That may be not be the case much longer. The times they are a changing. (Sorry, I couldn't pass that one up.)


E! Online reports that ABC is shaking up its late night lineup. I don't really care about this, but I did like this line.

Adding four new comedies--including two in the returning TGIF lineup--and three dramas to the schedule that will debut in September, ABC Entertainment honcho Lloyd Braun says the network is finally forced to admit that its let's-throw-any-bit-of-reality-shtick-against-the-wall-and-see-what-happens strategy didn't work.



Whoever ran this search to come to my site was probably disappointed.


Philip Murphy has some thoughts on Bill Clinton's latest commencement address.

Here we go again

Terry Nichols will be put on trial here in Oklahoma. This is no surprise. Our former governor, Frank Keating, was prepared to allocate finances to try McVeigh if his federal death penalty had been overturned. Nichols people tried to argue that this state trial was a violation of the principle of double jeopardy. They lost. (For the simple reason that the federal trial only covered the murder of federal agents and the state trial covers all the other deaths. It's the same overt acts, but different murders.) Despite the fact that this is not a constitutional issue, the fact that Nichols would not be on trial if he'd gotten the death penalty at his federal trial. It bothers me because, in this instance, seeking the death penalty seems more like revenge than justice.

I'm an advocate of the death penalty. I believe some people deserve death for their actions. (I believe certain in certain cases that murder, kidnapping, rape, and treason all should have the potential for the death penalty.) I need to be clear though, I believe in the death penalty not for the sake of vengeance, but because I believe people who perform certain actions deserve to die; it is the just consequences of their actions.

When McVeigh was executed, I saw and heard many people who were jubilant. They were happy that a man was going to lose his life. They weren't looking for justice, they wanted vengeance. That feeling seemed to be deeply pervasive. So much so that I fear it could have affected the justice system. Because of that thirst for vengeance, I fear that in this instance, our justice system was corrupted. I fear that with the Nichols trial, this could happen again.

By the way, the irony is not lost on my that I find myself arguing that the man who perpetrated one of the most heinous crimes in our history should not have been executed, even though I believe the death penalty is just.


I just noticed Mark Steyn's Sunday column and think he makes some interesting points regarding the whole Santorum silliness.

Example One: Republican Sen. Rick Santorum's thoughts on homosexuality. I won't bother printing the quote, since it's rambling and incoherent, and even when you fill in the missing verbs and work out which nouns they apply to, it doesn't exactly sound thought out. At first, it appeared that the senator was comparing gay relationships to pedophilia and bestiality. On closer examination, he was comparing them to incest and polygamy. Then some polygamists complained that being compared to gays was demeaning to them. All this was in the immediate context of the constitutionality of sodomy laws and the broader debate around the push for ''gay marriage.'' It wasn't so much that Santorum was right or wrong on the constitutionality as that he'd made it obvious he didn't accord gay relationships the same value as heterosexual ones.

I can understand why this would be hurtful to homosexuals. The gay conservative Andrew Sullivan challenged those of us on the right to disown Santorum, and for a moment I was minded to rise to the bait. It is, after all, extremely irritating when the president has just led America to a great victory, and the Democrats are mired in their own ineptness, to find a Republican senator, for no good reason, confirming the old stereotype that we right-wing types are uptight squares who can't get with the beat. Had I been one of Santorum's many aides, I'd have advised him to plough into this bog only if he had something uniquely insightful to contribute to the debate, and on no account to mention pedophilia or bestiality.

On the other hand, it is a fact that, except for a few precincts in New York, Florida, Massachusetts and California, there is no political downside whatsoever to being seen as anti-gay--or, at any rate, non-pro-gay. According to a poll taken last year, 43 percent of Americans believe homosexual relations between consenting adults should be illegal. That's to say, never mind gay marriage, gays in the military, gay partner benefits, but just plain old-fashioned gay sex should be verboten. Of the remaining 57 percent prepared to tolerate legal homosexuality, it's fair to say a reasonable chunk believe ''tolerance'' means that, when a couple of fellers move into your apartment building, you turn up the volume on Lawrence Welk and ignore the vibrating chandelier. It doesn't mean you want to see gay newlyweds posing for snaps on the church common.

That being so, why shouldn't Santorum say what he said? More to the point, wouldn't it be worse if he felt he couldn't say what he said? It would surely be an odd comment on American democracy if the views of half the American people on a particular subject could not be expressed by a member of the United States Congress. One of the great strengths of this republic is that it's a rawer, more responsive polity than the decayed democracies of Europe. On the Continent, the political elites of all mainstream parties have ruled more and more topics out of bounds, no matter how strongly the electors feel about them--the death penalty, immigration, the new euro currency--all are beyond discussion. The elites have pronounced, and that's that. So in recent elections, faced with a choice between Tweedleleft and Tweedleright, voters have turned increasingly to fringe parties--elderly fascists, gay libertarians, anti-crime xenophobes.

When the rulers insist they know better than the masses, don't be surprised if the masses look elsewhere. I wouldn't vote for a state sodomy law, and some of the sex acts proscribed in the more broadly drawn anti-sodomy legislation I still dream fondly of getting to try one day, if I ever find anyone willing to have sex with me. But the gay lobby hasn't yet closed the deal with the American people on the equalization of homosexual relationships and, by insisting haughtily that it has and that the case is now closed, it's behaving in a manner more appropriate to the diseased Chiraquiste democracies of Europe than to the rough 'n' tumble of America.

I never really weighed in on the Santorum issue, but I think Steyn's got a good point; the acceptability of homosexual activity is far from established in this country. Given that, why should it be beyond debate? I've got to admit though, Santorum's comments didn't make much sense.

I'll also note that Steyn said all of this about a subject he says he's having trouble caring about.


Jonah Goldberg once predicted that T'Pol, the Vulcan sub-commander on Enterprise, would have a little pon farr problem. From what I've been seeing in ads the last few days, it looks like he was right.

Exactly so

Eugene Volokh isn't sympathetic to the, "This story paints group Y in a bad light," arguments.

I'm actually not that sympathetic to some complaints that Book/Movie/TV Show X shows Group Y in an unsympathetic light, whether Group Y is men, women, Italians, Germans, Jews, gays, straights, Christians, atheists, or whoever else. Authors have a particular story to tell about particular characters, or a particular mythical or hypothetical environment; it need not be a generalization about the average member of some group, or about the likely future. If someone writes a novel about the Italian Mafia (whether in Italy or in America), the novel may end up portraying Italians in a bad light, but that's because it's about the Italian Mafia; it doesn't purport to be about all Italians, and it doesn't have to be about all criminals. There's no ethical imperative for the bad guys to be cast as some generic ethnicity-less (or mixed-ethnicity) people, or for the author to choose some group that is less likely to complain.

This is a great point. If people don't start using some common sense in this area, our literature will become cold and bland from efforts not to offend anyone.


David Carr points out something that is just sad.


14 Cuban diplomats have been expelled for spying.


More than 50 Texas legislators, all Democrats, have fled the state to prevent the House from reaching a quorum. They're trying to prevent a redistricting plan from being pushed through. When I was in college, my Texas Government professor told us that the Texas Constitution was based on the principle that, "neither life nor property is safe when the Texas legislature is in session." I'm sure that he finds it ironic that members of the legislature itself are now trying to prevent that body from meeting.

The whole thing comes off as pretty childish. The Democrats have fled the state playing hide-and-seek, the Republicans are putting the Democrats faces on milk cartons, and law enforcement officers are caught in the middle. Nevertheless, part of me wishes we could get this pattern to spread to other states, maybe even to Congress. The thing to remember is that while this little tantrum is preventing the Texas Legislature from pushing through redistricting, it's also keeping them from doing anything else. A legislature that never gets anything done; that's an idea I can get behind.

Update: Perry de Havilland weighs in on this as well and Dave Barry offers to let Texas have his legislature.

Update the Second: Glenn Reynolds adds a story and points to Bill Hobbs take.

The Texas Democrats who have fled the state rather than come into session are breaking the law in an effort to thwart democracy. They should not be praised. They should be arrested, forced to sit in the House chamber to create a quorum, and then the majority should vote the legislation up or down. And then voters ought turn the Democrats out at the next chance they get and elect representatives of either party who will follow the law and not try to thwart democracy.

It's not "creative civil disobedience [and] a new way to filbuster." It's illegal. And arresting the members to compel their attendance is not a stunt. It's the law - something Republicans in Texas are showing they respect more than do the AWOL Texas Democrats.

He's right of course, but I still can't get over the fact that they aren't passing any laws and that can't be all bad.

Update the Third - Orrin Judd has a somewhat different take.

Update the Fourth - Mark Byron jumps in as well.

Update the Fourth - Rachel Lucas has some comments as well. The best point here is probably, "Imagine there's no liberals ... Oh, hey, we got our wish."


Instapundit has this to say about the attacks in "Saudi" Arabia.

JEFF JARVIS AND CHARLES JOHNSON are unhappy that the media are giving so little attention to the Saudi bombing. Actually, I think it's a good thing. Terrorists exist to terrorize; it's not working.

I think that this is a desperate effort by Al Qaeda to show that it can still do something. And the target audience is largely in Saudi Arabia and the Islamic world, not here. But the world has changed to their disadvantage. Against the backdrop of (false) security in the 1990s, stuff like this was big news. Now -- next to the war in Iraq -- this looks like small potatoes by skulking losers.

I think this is pretty much right, especially when you consider that prior to the invasion of Iraq, al Qaeda was claiming huge repercussions to the U.S. if we went to war with Iraq. What happened? Nothing. If al Qaeda was still as dangerous as they want us to believe, they would have started launching attacks in Kuwait and Qatar the second or third day of the war against military targets. Furthermore, they would have kept attacking. That this is the first sizeable attack that they've been able to pull off since the invasion of Iraq is a very good sign.


John Hawkins points out some insane ravings from Michael Moore. He wants to know if anything can damage Moore's credibility with the Left.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Unsurprsingly, Perry de Havilland has some suggestions about future government in Iraq.

Nothing is private and personal under a collectivist system because everything is subject to politics. It is not a survival trait to be a quirky eccentric or outsider in a collectivist system. Under a non-collectivist system you are free to form communes, pray to Allah (or not), have sex with anyone who is willing. But under collectivism, interaction means politics and politics means laws and laws mean force... and as laws are not optional, you cannot just opt-out and pursue an alternative lifestyle.

If the Iraqi Communists, unlike the Iraqi Party of God, will not persecute someone for being gay, that is not because they think such matters are a private issues... there are no private issues under collectivism... it just means they will allow you to do this or that, not that they think you have the right to do as you please. Remember that before you start sticking up pro-collectivist posters in Baghdad, Good Mister Pax.

I would not presume to tell Salam Pax who to vote for but I have no hesitation telling him what to vote for: What you need after Ba'athism is not just a different government but less government.


You've got to know how to laugh at yourself.


I'm a big Trek fan, which is probably why I found Dan's top then things he hates about Star Trek to be so funny.


Ben Domenech does a good job explaining some of the problems between National Review and evangelical conservatives.


Joel Engel has some things to say about journalists and Israel.

There are allowable degrees of foolishness for any human being, but for mainstream influential reporters to continue such willful disregard for history has become foolishly dangerous. They refer to Amram Mitzna and his political brethren (like former premier Shimon Peres, a man who never met a terrorist he couldn't do business with) as members of the "peace camp" instead of the "peace-at-any-cost-camp" or the "let's-make-the-same-mistakes-over-and-over-again-and-maybe-this-time-it'll-be-different" camp. Why don't they place Sharon in the "peace-through-strength" camp or the "democratically-elected-to-protect-his-people-against-terror" camp instead of the "hardline" camp, the "provocateur" camp, and the "butcher-of-Jenin" camp?

Their words have consequences. Their words embolden the Palestinians, the entire Arab nation, the elites of Europe, and all the people who read their dispatches and don't know the deeper story to believe that Sharon, not their narrative of moral equivalence, is the impediment. Pretending that Oslo represented "peace for our time" is to forget what those words meant in history, and will only delay the moment when peace does come — because it can't be on those murderous terms.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

The world has officially gone insane.

The language created for the Star Trek (search) TV series and movies is one of about 55 needed by the office that treats mental health patients in metropolitan Multnomah County.

"We have to provide information in all the languages our clients speak," said Jerry Jelusich, a procurement specialist for the county Department of Human Services, which serves about 60,000 mental health clients.

Although created for works of fiction, Klingon was designed to have a consistent grammar, syntax and vocabulary.

And now Multnomah County (search) research has found that many people — and not just fans — consider it a complete language.

"There are some cases where we've had mental health patients where this was all they would speak," said the county's purchasing administrator, Franna Hathaway.

County officials said that obligates them to respond with a Klingon-English interpreter, putting the language of starship Enterprise officer Worf and other Klingon characters on a par with common languages such as Russian and Vietnamese, and less common tongues including Dari and Tongan.

Hey, I love Star Trek, but this is ridiculous.