I've posted a whole lot about the activities of my pal, George Soros. (You can read those posts here.) Apparently there are some people in Ukraine who aren't thrilled to see him in their country. Demonstrators today threw a substance characterized as mayonaise at Mr. Soros today. full story here The demonstrators were believed to be from a group called "The Brotherhood" who assert he's in the country to foment revolution.
I have no idea why Mr. Soros is in Ukraine, but I wish he'd stay there.
Hint: How you vote is confidential but your money speaks just a little louder.
In general, I doubt I spend more time on the road than most Americans. However, over the course of my relatively few years of driving, there have been few times in my life when I haven't been in a hurry to go somewhere. To that end, I've developed some rules of thumb in order to predict the behavior of drivers in front of me. Bear in mind these are just generalizations. They are in no way scientific, but they seem to work okay for me. They are...
Rules of Thumb about Traffic
To summarize then, the fastest drivers are those with new German made cars or with new SUV's purchased in the Chicago suburbs, who wear sunglasses, are under 45 years old, with a loud stereo and Illinois license plates.
The slowest drivers are those who are over 45 years old, not wearing sunglasses, driving older Buicks, loaded with tons of bumper stickers and have Wisconsin license plates.
Do you have any rules of thumb about traffic?
On February 26, 2004 the House Intelligence Committee reported an ongoing critical shortage of those who speak Middle East languages. In the US Army alone, up to 2,000 positions currently remain unfilled with the largest shortfall in Arabic and Farsi. As of November 2003 the Army had only about 1300 active duty soldiers who can speak or read some Arabic. All of this is despite the fact that operations in countries that speak these languages have increased dramatically for all US Agencies and are expected to increase in the foreseeable future. With the troops currently in Iraq, there's a great deal of reliance on SPEAKING VERY LOUDLY and using hand gestures. Clearly this isn't the best way to fight the War on Terror.
Arabic is the most needed but it is a difficult language to learn. A spokesman for the American Translator's Association as quoted by the Associated Press says, "It's easier to train someone to fly an F-14 than it is to speak Arabic. [source]
The Arabic language is the key to understanding over 200 million Arabic speakers as well as over a billion Muslims who use Arabic as their liturgical language. The State Department rates languages for their difficulty on a scale of 1 to 4 with 4 being the most difficult to learn. Arabic is rated as a level 4 along with Japanese, Chinese, and Korean.
There are a great many difficulties in learning Arabic. It is not of Indo-European origin as is English which means that there are no word similarities, ie, gut for good, or vater for father. It is semitic with Arabic script used to write from right to left. There are certain sounds (phonemes) in Arabic that are not present in English. Also, Arabic has diglossia which means that the written form and the every day spoken form are different. [source]
However, even with the difficulty of learning Arabic, it is important that we have sufficient Arabic speakers to interact with local populations as well as to translate intelligence intercepts. More students are taking Arabic. It is estimated that there are currently more than 10,000 students taking Arabic classes, but it isn't enough to fill the need that exists. Clearly the US Government will need to take some additional steps to fill the need.
The idea of establishing a Linguistic Reserve Corps has been tossed around. It doesn't necessarily solve the overall shortage of those who speak Arabic but it may provide for an emergency source of these people in times of national emergency. One major concern about this approach is that it may rely too much on native speakers of the language and therefore pose security concerns.
Fortunately, the US Government has a long history of training people to speak foreign languages. The Defense Language Institute in Monterey, the language capital of the world, serves this purpose. The school can currently accomodate 3,500 students at it's campus in California and additional students by contract in the Washington, DC area. The government has the ability to teach people languages such as Arabic. The remaining task then is to identify and recruit those individuals who are capable of doing so.
The Defense Language Aptitude Battery is used by the US military to measure a person's aptitude for learning a foreign language. If the US Government is really serious about winning the war on terrorism they would begin encouraging everyone to take this test and with good scores actually offer to employ and pay these people to become linguists. Current efforts to do this have not been sufficient.
In my opinion it's because the military and defense related civilian agencies are still doing things the same old way they've done them in the past. I can only hope that other aspects of fighting the war on terror are going much better than the effort to obtain speakers of Arabic and other crucial languages.
I have about as much inside information on President Bush's campaign strategy as Howard Dean, in other words, I have no inside information. However, after hearing Vice-President Cheney repeatedly go on the offensive against John Kerry, I'm wondering about the President's strategy. I've come up with a great plan that would help to propel the President to victory...
Here's my scenario. Cheney aggressively goes after Kerry throughout the Summer. He savages him. The Democrats have their convention in July. Kerry gets the nomination and with much fanfare and publicity announces his running mate. In the run up to the Republican Convention at the end of August, or at the convention itself, Cheney announces that he is retiring from government. He could cite his heart problems or simply say he's ready to retire to Wyoming. President Bush then announces an up and coming popular (possibly hispanic) conservative to be his running mate. The ensuing media attention drowns out John Kerry and captures headlines for a good month and helps propel Bush to an overwhelming victory in November.
I think it's a pretty clever scenario. Of course, I thought of it.
What do you think?
A while back I posted about using contractors in Iraq. As a follow-up to that post and via Grims Hall and Mudville Gazette comes a link to an incredible story featured in this month's issue of Esquire. The story is called Hired Guns and it's a must-read for anyone interested in the current state of affairs in Iraq.
Hint: It's like the wild-west only without the sheriff.
I crouched behind some barrels and concentrated on making myself as small of a target as possible. Around me I could hear rounds impacting objects and zipping over my head. I couldn't believe the high volume of fire and I also couldn't believe how fast my heart was beating. Then the shooting stopped. Are they reloading or charging my position?
I didn't really want to wait around and find out so I fired off some rounds in their general direction and ran for some cover off to the side. If I could get on their flank I might have a little better chance. As I glanced around and took stock of my new position I felt a sharp pain in my leg. Like an idiot, I had left it slightly exposed and now I was paying the price. Fortunately, no one was shooting real bullets. The rounds in this firefight were paintballs, but my leg still hurt like crazy. I knew I would have a welt there for several days.
The military says it's the closest thing to actual combat without using live rounds. The Marines say their soldiers learn urban warfare tactics much faster when they're using paintball guns. [Source]. Nothing teaches young Marines better like the sting of a paintball fired at high velocity. It really hurts. But it hurts much less than getting shot with real bullets. In the past, laser systems were used and they still are, but there isn't any pain when you get shot and that's an important training tool. The US Army has even used paintball in battle scenarios while training with other countries like Turkey. Some accused terrorists were actually using paintball to train.
Whoever invented paintball wanted to avoid parents concerns about their kids playing "war games". To this day, the paintball guns are actually called paintball markers. Not that it fools anybody. As far as I'm concerned, it's a chance to relive those halcyon days of yesteryear when we played "army" tromping through the neighbors' yards with our plastic M-16's and Tommy-guns.
It's a hobby that anyone can get into for under $200. This will get you a paintball "marker" a face mask, co2 tank and miscellaneous accoutrements. The only real tricky thing necessary is some place to shoot five or six of your closest friends. Many paintball fields have sprung up where you can play, but it's cheapest if you know someone with a decent plot of land and some woods.
Paintball seems to be getting really popular. It used to be that you could only get the equipment at specialty hobby stores, but now you can go to Wal-Mart or any major sporting goods store and buy everything necessary.
I have to admit that I sometimes feel a little silly running around with a bunch of paintball gear. I'm perilously close to being 40 afterall. But it is a whole lot of fun, especially when you can get the other guy before he (or she) gets you. Hopefully, it's the closest I'll ever come to actual combat.
Mudville Gazette offers a morning briefing that is thorough to say the least. Either he's really getting this stuff from the DOD or he's on the manic side of a Bipolar Disorder. If you're just waking up from a winter-long hibernation this will get you up to speed fast.
Every once in a while I come across a blog and say, "I wish I would've done that," because of it's clever design and wittiness. JP Carter mentioned Walloworld and it looks like someplace I'm going to be visiting on a regular basis. There's even a warning, "May Contain Nut Products". I love that. The most recent article there, Masters of the Ping & Pong hints at some future intrigue in the sinister underworld of Ping Pong. I assume it's not too different from the sinister underworld of Scrabble as documented here. If you're bouncing around the blogosphere and you'd like to see an excellent blog - Walloworld is the place.
Over the course of my travels around the blogosphere I manage to accrete blogs on a pretty regular basis. Ocassionally I have to go through and do some weeding. It's tough though because there are so many great blogs out there. My current list of blogs is here.
Crazy George Soros is at it again. Via Alpha Patriot comes the news that George thinks the US Govt is in the hands of "extremists". He shared these views in a speech at the Institute for International Integration Studies in Dublin, Ireland. Mr. Soros has made it the primary purpose of his life to defeat George Bush so I guess these remarks are to be expected. [Full Story] Mr. Soros went on to say the US Govt is pursuing a policy of American Supremacy. I hope he's right about that.
Why would we not want to pursue such a policy?
I've been keeping an eye on Mr. Soros for quite a while. Below are some links to other Soros related posts:
Out of The Woodwork
Free Speech for Billionaires Only
Politics or Economics?
There's a rumor (rumour for you brits) going around that Brittney Spears has endorsed a candidate for President of the US. How did I hear about this rumor? Well...
It seems that I actually made up the rumor in a desperate and pathetic attempt to get hits. The really sad thing is that you, dear reader, are reading this which means that a Brittney Spears Endorsement holds some interest for you. Possibly, this could be an indication that you need psychiatric help.
I'm writing such a miserable excuse for a post because it seems like all my posts which involve at least a modicum of thought and writing ability get the least amount of attention. Conversely, the throwaway, hardly put any thought into it type posts seem to do at least as well, if not better than the "thought-provoking" ones.
In the realm of "hits" I consider myself a moderately successful blogger. Still, I'm always looking for ways to jack those hits up to the stratosphere. I had an idea and I thought it was a good one; I would interview some of the bloggers from Blogdom of God. I figured that if Jen can get away with a stunt like that to get more hits, surely I could do the same for the blogs at Blogdom of God.
As a precaution I thought I would check Jen's page to make sure she hadn't interviewed anyone from the Blogdom yet. Scanning down the page...it looked pretty good...until almost at the bottom and there I see Adrian Warnock TBA. Arrgghhh!!
At this point I started ranting to myself, "Where were you Jen when I was arguing with Adrian, trying to get him to accept the fact that it's okay to kill terrorist leaders?" Not only that, but I would've found it interesting to interview him. I wonder if it would be crass to try and get to the rest of the Blogdom before Jen does?
With that brilliant idea shot down, I'm now searching for some other nifty gimmicks and geegaws to get more hits. In the meantime, I guess I'll try posting some actual content. (except today's post of course)
There's a lot of flame-throwing going around between the candidates for President, the press, other politico's, bloggers and possibly even your grandma, but despite outward appearances it isn't really about the candidates. Dick Clarke makes accusations against the president, carried in primetime by CBS News' 60 minutes, (owned by Viacom and publisher of his coincidentally just released book) and everyone seems to think it's going to make some kind of difference. It won't and here's why...
George W. Bush and John F* Kerry are simply proxies for a much greater battle - the battle between two competing worldviews. Without benefit of a smoking gun held by either candidate, none of the things said about them is going to make one bit of difference in their popular support. (or lack thereof)
Let's face it, the polls haven't really changed all that much and they roughly match the proportions demonstrated during the last presidential election. The polls haven't changed because the candidates represent something much bigger than themselves. They represent their respective worldviews. If John Edwards or Wesley Clark had won the nomination I suspect the polls wouldn't be much different than they are today.
So, which worldviews do they represent? You could go back to the 1960's on this one. This Presidential contest is essentially a rematch of that tumultuous time when the "progressives" were battling against traditional values. In general, Kerry represents those who tend to view morals and values as being highly subjective and relative to the situation and culture at hand. They tend to see patriotism as anathema to world peace. They tend to view the average citizen as someone who needs to be cared for by the state. They tend to see the actions of the US in international matters as bullying other nations and imposing our values upon them. They tend to see economic answers in the various forms of income redistribution.
Bush supporters tend to see morals and values as largely unchangeable and absolute regardless of the situation or culture affected. They tend to believe that these values should cut across all nationalities and cultures. They tend to believe that the individual needs to be protected from the over-reach of the state and that individuals will spur on the economy when it is in their own best interests to do so. Globalism and international organizations are viewed with great suspicion and as a threat to the sovreignty of nations. Both sides seem intent on demonizing the other.
As long as each worldview feels that they have a representative running in the election, the particulars don't matter much. Bush isn't going to win by pointing out Kerry's numerous flip-flops and Kerry isn't going to win by portraying the President as a reckless cowboy. The winner of this contest will be decided by whomever can sell their prospective worldviews, not necessarily the candidate, to the so-called swing voters.
It is this fact that makes the matter of media bias so important. Of course, liberal organizations deny there's a media bias while the same idea is practically an article of faith to conservatives. The bias that exists is growing less subtle every day. A few examples can be found, here, here, and here. (If you want examples of conservatives showing a bias over liberals you'll have to find your own examples.)
For Bush to win this election, those on the conservative side must battle for the culture of our nation. We must by legal means oppose attempts to censor and spin the news to denigrate a conservative worldview. We can do this in several ways. A good way to do it is by blogging, but we have to be careful about being too optimistic over the effect our blogging efforts might have. In my experience, usually only liberals read liberal blogs and the same is true for conservatives, which really limits the impact. Another good way is by boycotting the sponsors of television programs and news departments who are blatant in their bias against a conservative worldview.
We can complain to CBS News all day and they won't listen, but when their sponsors start pulling out, they get real attentive. If an actor or actress seems to feel it's their duty to shove their worldview down your throat at every available opportunity then don't patronize their movies, don't watch their television shows, or buy any of the related junk. Even if the movie gets good reviews - don't go see it unless you are interested in being a proud sponsor of liberalism. Also, make sure your congressman and other politicians - especially local politicians know where you stand on these issues. Remember, a common trick of the left is to convince you that everyone ascribes to their point of view and it's only the wackos, the fundamentalists and gun-nuts who don't.
On the positive side, if a television network promotes a program that reinforces your values and beliefs, then support it. Watch the show. Tell your friends to watch the show. Buy their sponsors' merchandise. The same is true for radio talk shows, news programs, and even newspapers. Write glowing editorials saying how brilliant you think they are.
I'm sure there are other ways to fight this cultural war. Probably, slapping a Bush-Cheney bumper sticker or John F* Kerry sticker on the back of your minivan isn't going to do much. The battle needs to be fought for the culture not the candidate. The right candidate will win if we're able to convince enough people of the superiority of our particular worldview. In the meantime, it's easy to get caught up in the controversy du jour, but that isn't going to win elections.
On a side note, I've added Progressive Protestant to my links over there on the side of the page. Yes, they are big fans of John Kerry, but I've decided to overlook this obvious defect in their thinking because they have an interesting blog and because they are brothers in the faith. They're relatively young guys and there's always hope their political beliefs will mature gracefully. I hope you'll check them out.
He managed to borrow some money from his girlfriend and convince a magazine to pay him 20 cents a word to cover the start of The First Iraq War from a hotel in Baghdad. The result of his reporting was a very successful book, Martyr's Day: The Chronicle of A Small War. In order to cover this war, he scorned the public affairs officers and minders who tried to control his access. It's ironic then that he became the first journalist to die in the Second. At the time, he was embedded with the 3rd Infantry Division and was killed in a humvee accident.
A book of his writings has just been published, Things Worth Fighting For. It's on order from Amazon but while I wait for it, I thought I'd finally take a look at Michael Kelly's first book...
In Martyr's Day, Michael Kelly entered Kuwait along with elements of the Egyptian army. Once there, he roamed the city interviewing it's inhabitants. Like most people, I've heard of the atrocities committed by the Iraqis in Kuwait but this book is a real eye opener. It's difficult to imagine human beings doing these things to other human beings, but the witnesses are credible and Kelly does a great job of setting the scene.
There's a thorough description of the famous "Highway of Death" complete with looters picking through the remains of both vehicles and people. Kelly spent a great deal of time exploring the refuge camps in both Iraq and Iran. He journeyed through Kurdish territory the length of Iraq risking his life in the process, to bring us a description of a people the world seems to care little about.
Martyr's Day helped me to better understand the dynamics of present day Iraq. For me, it reinforced the righteousness of the US decision to overthrow Saddam. I highly recommend this book and I look forward to reading Michael Kelly's latest and, sadly, his last book in the next few weeks.
Richard Clarke, your fifteen minutes of fame are up and you've spent them unwisely. Go here for the details.
I was in Kiev, Ukraine several years ago riding on the Metro subway system. I was with a 13 y.o. "translator" who, in reality, didn't speak all that much English. Just as we were getting off one of the trains a man approached us, obviously intoxicated and very agitated. He figured out that I was an American and he was shouting various things at me that I didn't understand. My Russian vocabulary consists of exactly two words, Nyet and Spasiba. Neither of which seemed to have much impact on him. He was a short burly guy and I figured I could probably take him in a fight. However, getting into legal trouble in a former soviet republic didn't seem like a real great idea. The guy kept getting in my face and yelling. I was about to "go nuclear" on him when a police officer walked up...
In the former Soviet countries, the police and the army are virtually indistinguishable. The policeman walked up to this guy and as soon as he saw the cop he calmed down immediately. It was incredible. The policeman was unarmed and had used no physical force. He hadn't even yelled at the guy, but such is the power of a police officer in a totalitarian state.
A case before the Supreme Court is now deciding what kind of power a police officer has over an ordinary law-abiding citizen. A Washington Post article describing the case is here. It specifically concerns whether a police officer has the right to ask you your name and compel you to answer. The attorneys for the defendant are making the following argument:
[the] law violates the constitutionally based right to privacy and the right against self-incrimination, Robert E. Dolan, an attorney for rancher Dudley Hiibel, told the justices. It is "an improper tipping of the balance in favor of the state," Dolan said.
As far as I'm concerned, the power of the state over ordinary citizens has gone too far. I wrote about this in a post titled, Roadblock Ahead. If I have committed no crime and there isn't reasonable suspicion to believe I have committed any crime, I shouldn't be forced to show the police any identification or answer any of their questions about my identity.
I'm not optimistic about how the Supreme Court is going to rule. They've already restricted our freedom of speech with McCain-Feingold and have upheld the ability of police officers to use random "safety checks" at roadblocks. I fear it won't be long until our responses to the police had better be the same as that man in Ukraine, or else we'll find ourselves locked behind bars.
I received both of these today. At first I thought there was some mistake and that I'd received two issues of the same magazine. Then I realized they were two magazines with exactly the same picture on the cover. Compare for yourself:
Great minds think alike, I guess.
Progressive. Maybe it's because I'm practically a card-carrying evangelical, but the word sets me on edge, especially when used in connection with religion. There's even a weblog called, Progressive Protestant. As far as I can tell the blog author is a nice, respectable guy, but the name of his blog still rankles me a little bit and here's why...
To say that your beliefs are progressive implies that other beliefs are regressive or backward. It implies a sense of superiority or elitism. It says, in effect, "My beliefs are much better than your old-fashioned, quaint beliefs." The progressive beliefs are somehow more advanced or evolved than the non-progressive beliefs. To further define the meaning of the term "Progressive Christianity" there's an organization called The Center for Progressive Christianity. They list their beliefs on their website as 8 Points, as follows:
I'm not going to go into a point by point refutation of "Progressive Christianity" (maybe some other time), but it's worth noting in the above points that certain key facets of the Christian faith are abandoned. Under this system of belief: Jesus Christ is no longer the only way to be saved. The sacrament of communion is no longer reserved only for those who believe in Christ. Point number four implies that there is no requirement as far as a belief system and point number 6 implies that there is no such thing as absolute truth and one would assume this includes the authority of scripture. There are other points listed that aren't loathsome at all. Afterall, who wouldn't want to resist evil, or act as a judge over other people. All churches should love others and show respect for their beliefs. However, most of the points here were considered heretical many centuries ago and still are.
A statement on the website expresses a certain hostility toward those with orthodox beliefs, "The claim that Jesus offers the only access to God for all people promotes attitudes that lead to racial and ethnic divisions." They go on to say,
"By promoting an acceptance of all people and a respect for other religious traditions, the Center can help transform evangelism from a divisive activity in our society to enterprise that, by its very nature, will promote peace and justice." [Source]
The real problem with "Progressive Christianity" is that it fails to recognize it isn't progressive. In my opinion, the "progressive" label is applied so it's adherents can feel clever and advanced. The Council of Nicaea in 325 AD addressed a variety of heretical teachings very similar to the ones espoused by this group. As a result they issued the following doctrinal statement called The Nicene Creed:
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,
eternally begotten from the Father, God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered, died, and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father (and the Son).
With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Regardless of whether you agree with the Nicene Creed or not, you have to admit that the beliefs of the so-called "progressives" aren't exactly new. They've been addressed and found to be heretical. They are certainly different than orthodox Christian beliefs, but that doesn't make them progressive.
Personally, I have more respect for atheists who deny there is a God than I do for "progressive" Christians. The progressives want to keep only the stuff they like and reject the rest, but it just doesn't work that way. Afterall, Jesus said he was the only way to be saved and it's a little tricky to get around that. I imagine this post might prompt some response from these progressives. I'm not an expert in Church History or theology, but one thing I do know; there's nothing new under the sun. The progressive label is false advertising, or at best, misleading. I think it would be more accurate if they called themselves, "Heretical Christians".
I like to collect old books. I especially like finding old books with "new" or "modern" in the title like "New Math" or "Modern Social Concepts". It's fun to read these books because of a certain irony. The more they claim to be new or modern the more antiquated or dated they look. Let's hope it will be that way with "progressive" religion someday.
Additional Note: I have no idea if the author of the Progressive Protestant ascribes to any of the views I've discussed in this article. I do know that he's a big fan of John Kerry and in that respect he's a little mislead. :) However, it is possible to be a Bible-believing faithful Christian and not be a Republican.
John of Arrgghhh! is making fun of my desire for action not just words but that's okay. I'll take any attention I can get - even negative attention. While you're over at his blog be sure to check out this post on Iraq One Year Later.
From the Chicago Sun Times: More than 9,100 students at the University of Illinois voted in favor of keeping Chief Illiniwek at the school, while about 4,000 voted against the school's much-debated mascot, student government officials announced Thursday.
I consider this a vote against political correctness. The chief survives this attempt at a Tomahawk Chop by opponents like the Progressive Action Resource Coalition. The battle has been won but you can bet they'll be back. PC never sleeps.
The blogosphere, at least the liberal end of it, is in a dither tonight over the interview on 60 minutes of Richard Clarke. Richard Clarke was appointed as the terrorism "czar" under Bill Clinton and served for about a year under Bush. Blogs like this one are noting Richard Clarke's assertion that Bush was obsessed with Iraq and ignored warnings from the Clinton Administration about Bin Laden. Of course, they overlook the interview with another Bush aide who tells a different story...
Deputy National Security Advisor, Steve Hadley, told 60 minutes (as quoted here) something else:
The President, from his first day in office, was meeting with his director of Central Intelligence, getting intelligence briefings on terrorism and al-Qaeda, so the threat was already raised.
It should be noted that Richard Clarke told a different story in a previous book. In "Losing bin Laden," by Richard Miniter, Clark said that it was the Clinton administration - not Bush - that dropped the ball on bin Laden. It would seem that Richard Clarke is contradicting his previous statements. With a brand new book on the way, Against All Enemies due to be released just before his testimony at the 9/11 commission,(what a coincidence) Richard Clarke would seem to be a dubious source.
None of this matters to the mainstream press. At best, they want to see scandalous headlines in order to generate the controversy that pumps up ratings. At worst, they aren't exactly sympathetic to the Bush Administration and would like to undermine it.
The Center for Media and Public Affairs, a non-partisan organization, found in a recent study that despite having given the most favorable coverage to the war, CBS was toughest on President Bush in its aftermath with 77 percent negative evaluations, followed by ABC with 67 percent negative and NBC with 62 percent negative comments.
None of this means for certain that the criticisms of President Bush aren't warranted. I'm not advocating blind faith of any branch or official of the government. However, in light of Clarke's questionable veracity, I don't put too much credence in them. Of course, those who want to believe that he's some kind of warmonger will foam at the mouth and point to this as yet more "proof" of Bush's malevolence.
Interviews like the one on 60 minutes convince nobody. They're designed for one purpose only, to create controversy and pump up television ratings. It's up to the viewer to do a little critical thinking, something exceedingly rare these days, in order to make a reasoned judgement. In my reasoned judgement, there's a whole lot of smoke here, but not much fire.
Okay, I'm ready for the onslaught from the left-leaning blog I quoted above. Let me have it -- tell me I've been duped by the evil Bush -- and that he's evil incarnate, blah blah blah. I know how you libs feel. I couldn't stand Bill Clinton and it was difficult to evaluate anything the man did without seeing it in a negative light. That didn't win elections though and Clinton won both of his. We'll see if the mud being slung around sticks to Bush. In the meantime, let's all enjoy the fact that in America, we're all entitled to our opinions - not matter how idiotic others think they may be.
It seems like only yesterday that the Illinois Militia ventured into Indian Country, but in fact it was 1832. Chief Blackhawk really didn't appreciate being provoked. The soldiers who died are buried there on a bluff overlooking Stillman Creek and the monument to their memory is there too. It was erected in 1901 with funds from the Illinois General Assembly. It was there long before I was born and it will most likely be there long after I'm gone... [pic]
It's painfully obvious that matter lasts a long time, maybe forever, but living beings are around for only a pitifully short period. All of my most important aspirations and accomplishments will fade away but the rock in my neighbors front yard will still be going strong. It's a frustrating fact of life that usually leads one to ask if there's any sense to it all.
Faced with the question of existence we must make a choice. Usually it comes down to one of three choices. The first option is to simply busy ourselves with all the adventures, excitement, and pleasure available while trying not to think of anything deeper, as long as possible up until that final moment. The second is to acknowledge that there is nothing that transcends our existence. All is just happenstance without any inherent meaning. The third choice, and in my mind, the best one, is to recognize certain things that transcend our existence.
Look around. It's beautiful here. Even in mid-town Manhattan something of nature's beauty can still be observed. All of that beauty points to something just below the surface. It's something that we try to grasp but never fully understand and it's bigger than any one of us.
I don't mean to get into all sorts of philosophy here about why I believe there are such things as objective right and wrong and that God exists. The point is that we all have a choice to make. If there is anything that transcends mere existence shouldn't we seek to imbue our lives with this meaning? Afterall, the rocks, trees and hills will still be here long after we're gone and we'll be somewhere else where we might wish we invested a little more time and effort.
Just a little reminder. This is a Blog for Bush. If you're coming here expecting something "fair and balanced", you'll be disappointed. You won't see any real nasty stuff, but you will notice the tone getting a little more strident in regards to the upcoming election.
While you're at it, check out this post on John Kerry's character.
Critics of The Passion were very vocal about the film's potential for stirring up anti-semitism. Of course, that anti-semitism never really materialized. In a previous post I noted that only three incidents of anti-semitic violence were reported. Thanks to Powerline, I found out that one of those incidents was apparently faked. Infinite Monkeys and Powerline gives you all the details, including some good information from the LA Times.
The point I made in my original post still stands. The claims of anti-semitism in this film were, at best, overblown and at worst, driven by a political agenda determined to see it fail.
On Bill O'Reilly tonight, they're asking an interesting question. Gasoline prices have been going through the roof and yet...nothing from the White House. No statements condemning the oil companies, the Saudi's or anyone else. No plan for how this problem is going to be addressed.
Hello? Anybody home there are Bush Campaign Headquarters?
I really, really don't want to get used to the sound of "President Kerry".
E-Nough posts about an article he read in the french magazine Le Nouvel Observateur. It's all about "the sect that wants to conquer the world"...not Al-Qaeda, but Evangelists. Of course, religious discrimination seems to be all the rage in France these days so I guess bashing evangelicals can be expected.
Have you ever said to yourself, "Gee, I wish I had my own customized church sign." Well, you're in luck! A friend of mine sent me a link to this site where you can generate your own church sign.
Bob Zangas, a U.S. Marine Reserve Lieutenant Colonel, was working in Iraq as a Civilian when he was killed last Tuesday. He also maintained a weblog here documenting his experiences with the Iraqi people. More information can be found here.
Larry and Jean Elliott were Baptist missionaries in Iraq. They were gunned down on Monday in Mosul. The Charlotte Observer tells more about them and their work here. Their son Scott runs the Election Projection weblog. A statement there says, "Jesus Christ was glorified in their lives. He will be glorified in their deaths." Please remember these families in your thoughts and prayers.
John Kerry and other Democrats have called President Bush a liar, a traitor, you name it, they've said it. But then I see stories like this one that describes an encounter with the President at church. Or this one from an experience someone had with him at Walter Reed Hospital. The two viewpoints don't make sense unless of course the President is some kind of evil genius capable of "spinning" the public. But then he's referred to as a bumbling fool or a figurehead who lets others run his administration. You can't have it both ways. Either he's an evil genius, a bumbling fool, or a decent guy trying to do the right thing for this country. I prefer to believe the latter but John Kerry and others, who clearly have something at stake here, want you to believe something else.
It's been amply noted in the press that Bush has been trailing John F* Kerry in the polls. Indeed, Mr. Kerry has been putting the hurt on GWB for quite some time now. As a Blog for Bush this is getting tiresome which is why I was happy to finally, at long last, see someone pushing back...
Over the weekend, Colin Powell addressed Kerry's contention that "foreign leaders support me" and urged him to name names. Kerry claims to have "looked them in the eye" as they were giving him this alleged support, yet Kerry hasn't had an opportunity to look anyone in the eye.(unless you count Howard Dean) It looks like he might be making the whole thing up and it's about time that someone from the Bush camp had the guts to start challenging these types of statements.
The Bush campaign better wake up fast and start publicly challenging Kerry's outlandish statements and wild accusations or they're going to wake up the day after election day with a real bad hangover.
Other stories related to this one:
American Digest wonders what it would take to mount a coordinated terrorist attack on New York. It's not something I would care to speculate about in writing, but American digest has and it's suitably chilling.
On a related theme, Fox News is running a series on how to respond if a terrorist attacks. Their experts give advice based on various situations. It's the kind of thing you hope you never need to know.
The Barna Research group attempted to call 3400 randomly selected protestant churches during the month of December. They found that a human being could not be reached at 55% of the churches. An analysis of their findings reveals some surprising differences in regard to the responsiveness of certain denominations and even among geographic regions.
Of the 55% of unresponsive churches:
- 19% had neither a person nor an answering machine responding to calls
- 16% had an answering machine responding to all five attempts.
- 20% had either an answering machine or no answer at all during the initial five attempts.
In case you think the researchers were just unlucky, every church sampled was called a minimum of five times during business hours, with one call made each day at different times of the day over the course of a two-week period.
The mainline denominations usually take a beating at this weblog for their beliefs (or lack thereof) but not this time. The study found that mainline churches (American Baptist, United Church of Christ, Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran, United Methodist and Presbyterian Church USA) were "highly responsive" as a group. 63% of them had a person answering the telephone during the initial five call attempts.
The churches least likely to have a human answer the telephone were Baptist churches other than Southern Baptist or National Baptist. The churches most likely to have neither a human being nor an answering machine were the Holiness group (30%), COGIC congregations (27%) and Baptist churches other than Southern and National Baptist (24%).
Barna also noted some differences among geographic regions. The most reachable churches (65%) were in the Mountain and western states. The least reachable churches were in the southern states (36%). The midwest and northeast offered a live response to calls about 50% of the time.
I've observed a lot of discussion on various weblogs about how churches can reach un-believers. Maybe they could start by answering the telephone.
All this week (March 14-20) this history channel is airing a mini-series called, "The Iraq War: One Year Later". The video footage is pretty good and there's a lot of detail about the course of the war. It airs at 8 central. More information is here.
The Evangelical Outpost will soon exist in more of a literal sense as it's author, JP Carter, will be deploying to Iraq. Hopefully he'll figure out how to keep blogging from there, even if it has to be via email to a fellow blogger who can post for him. (hint, hint)
In the meantime, there's an article over at The Army Times that provides the most comprehensive "Lessons Learned" information I've seen yet. You can find it here.
In light of the horrible attacks in Madrid, this might be a good time to highlight a website I just discovered. It's called www.ready.gov and it's from the US Dept of Homeland Security. Generally, my opinion is that the US Dept of Homeland Security is just another one of those useless bureacracies whose primary function is to spend tax dollars. That still may be true, but the website does have some helpful information.
There's an article about what kinds of things you'll need for an emergency kit and suggestions for making an emergency plan. There are also specific tips for what to do in case of a biological or chemical threat as well as a nuclear blast or radiation. It isn't exactly cheerful reading but it could save your life someday.
According to some critics, The Passion is anti-semitic. Okay, but now the film has grossed $213.8 million dollars so far which means that a whole lot of people have seen it. Where is the rampant anti-semitic violence that was predicted? One paper reports three (3) recent anti-semitic incidents. One of these supposedly anti-semitic incidents was against a Christian church. [source]
Let me get this straight. Millions of people saw the movie, yet there are only three incidents and somehow this is supposed to mean the movie incites anti-semitism? I think there's some discrimination going on here but it isn't against Jews.
It is estimated that The Passion will be one of the top 50 grossing movies of all time. Somehow, though, I'm not anticipating it will win a whole lot of oscars. It might've had a chance if Sean Penn had been cast as Jesus with Tim Robbins as Judas and Susan Sarandon as Mary.
Each week I eagerly await the arrival of my issue of The Weekly Standard. They've been rather infrequent lately. Sometimes I get it on Tuesday, sometimes Thursday, it's gotten to the point where I never know when it's going to show up, but I digress. The first column I read each week is the one written by Matt Labash. The guy is pretty funny. Right now you might be saying to yourself, "he obviously leads a rather shallow and meaningless exstence since the highlight of his week is reading The Weekly Standard." You may be right, but there's more...
I can be a little obsessive at times, especially when I get bored and I get bored pretty easily. Just for kicks, I thought I'd see if I could find out a little bit about Mr. Labash. It turns out that this writing thing is a pretty good gig for him. He's roughly 32 and here he is writing for a National publication. In fact, it seems just a little too good to be true.
I began to wonder if this "Matt Labash" really exists. Thanks to the miracle of the fabled "internet superhighway" (I'm really glad people have finally stopped calling it that.) I can check on this Labash character from the privacy and comfort of my own home.
Googling "Matt Labash" turns up an interview with JournalismJobs.com and there's even a picture of him. Yep, that's him. It looks like someone hit him over the head with a mallet, then while stars were still swimming around his head, snapped off a quick picture. In the interview he discusses a lot of issues that readers at Journalism Jobs probably think are profound. He talks about the whole idea of being on TV, "It makes me feel like a dork and that's my rule of thumb public behavior-wise: try not to be a dork. "
Okay, that shoots down my first theory. Theory 1: Matt Labash is really a pseudonym for either William Kristol or Fred Barnes. Heck, maybe they write all the articles in The Weekly Standard. Alas, I have a hard time imagining either one of those guys using the word "dork" in a sentence, at least not without the influence of some powerful mood-altering drug.
Then there's Labash's report from the Schwarzenegger campaign, "It seems like only yesterday that I was jetting around California with Arnold Schwarzenegger, enjoying one-on-one access, eating Arnold's food, laughing at Arnold's jokes, choking on Arnold's cigar smoke." Theory 2: Matt Labash is really a political operative sent by Halliburton. Indeed, maybe it isn't Cheney that is the "dark, insidious force pushing Bush toward war and confrontation", but it's this Matt Labash guy.
I was getting pretty convinced of Theory 2 when I happened on another Matt Labash story. There's this denial at The Village Voice, "I may have jokingly inquired about the propensity of medical marijuana activists to use marijuana at their medical marijuana party, but in absolutely no way did I attempt to procure marijuana, medical or otherwise." His denial sounds just a tad too rehearsed for me. It blows my Republican Operative theory though. Republicans, even Operatives, never joke about The Weed.
There's another picture of Matt Labash here. Hmmm, looks suspiciously like the photo that appears on The Weekly Standard website, only goofier. Memo to Matt Labash: you might want to get rid of this one. Also, get some Minoxidil buddy, you're going to need it in a few years.
Back to his bio at TWS. (I'm getting tired of typing, The Weekly Standard.) It says there that he's a senior writer and lives in Owings, Maryland, with his wife, his son Luke, and his dog, Leviticus. Leviticus? You can't make stuff like that up. I mean, who names their dog Leviticus? By the way, here's another picture. What's with the unbuttoned shirt? He looks a little cocky in this one, but I'm starting to think this guy really exists. Then another piece of information hits me.
It's in his latest article, Popcorn and Passion, he opines about The Passion and an "interfaith dialogue" he held with a Jewish guy at the theater. Along the way, he pretty much admits to being a Christian but he waits until the last paragraph for the real zinger, "On the way out, I play the part of the dutiful evangelical anyway, and ask Norm if, after watching the movie, he has any desire to switch teams." He's a, gasp, Evangelical. That settles it for me. No one in these times publicly admits to being an Evangelical.
I guess there really is a Matt Labash. He writes really good articles for a national neo-con publication and on a boring, cold March evening I'm really envious of him.
A few years ago I stumbled onto some websites about "Urban Exploration". Basically, the "urban explorers" seek out underground tunnels and old buildings to explore. A recent post by Murdoc refreshed my memory about these sites.
One of the most interesting is called The Action Squad where you can check out the adventures of some urban explorers. The Action Squad is based in the St. Paul, MN area. If I lived there like this guy I think I'd be real tempted to do a little exploring myself. While you're at The Action Squad be sure to visit The Labyrinth. There's also a webring dedicated to Urban Exploration.
In my part of the country, we've seen a lot of jobs leaving. They might be going to Mexico or even to another state, but it doesn't really matter because they aren't here. I've heard the economists talk about this phenomenon called "offshore outsourcing". It isn't new but it seems to be happening a lot lately. John Kerry calls it a "double-blow" to US Workers who are already affected by a poor economy. Of course, he blames all of this on President Bush. Meanwhile, there aren't too many people out there championing the cause of protectionism to force jobs to stay in the US - not even John Kerry.
It isn't just the midwest, the effects of offshore outsourcing can be felt all across the country. An article over at the American Enterprise Institute provides some facts about offshore outsourcing:
No one knows how many jobs may be affected. The most widely publicized estimate is that as many as 3.3 million jobs over fifteen years may be vulnerable to outsourcing abroad.
For individuals or groups of workers affected, the need to find new work often entails a difficult adjustment.
Some commentators have expressed concerns that outsourcing may have contributed to the weak growth of jobs in the labor market during the recovery from the recession. February employment data, for example, showed job gains that continued to be disappointingly small.
Wage premiums for workers in the U.S. with college level training and skill training beyond the high school level are still quite high: going to college or getting technical training will continue to have a high payoff for U.S. workers for the foreseeable future.
Economists say offshore outsourcing has little impact on the overall unemployment rate and the practice helps the US to stay globally competitive. It's estimated that about 500,000 jobs have moved overseas. In a pool of workers that numbers 130 million people, it isn't a real huge amount - unless you happen to be one of those without a job.
Companies see the potential savings from not having to pay workers as much in wages and benefits as well as lower manufacturing costs, but there's a downside too. A recent Infoworld article cites some problems for companies that move offshore including; cultural factors that inhibit effective communication with workers, poor available infrastructure, higher training costs, costs associated with layoffs in the US, and the logistical difficulty of running a company thousands of miles away.
At the very bottom of all of this outsourcing sits the American consumer. The fact is that we like stuff cheap. When we shop, we look for the best deal and frequently the best deal is manufactured someplace else. Go to Wal-Mart. The place is jammed with people looking for a bargain.
Economists say the jobs that leave help to make the US more competitive, "The workers released from (outsourced jobs) will go on to develop the next big thing." [Source] I guess that's easy to say if you have a job. Proponents of outsourcing say,
If jobs making blue jeans and toys disappear overseas, other jobs will pop up - jobs in transportation or in industries that produce things the new economy needs. This places a burden on displaced workers. They will need the courage to retrain and financial assistance while they do it.
The Bureau of Labor statistics says that by 2006, for every two people leaving the work force, only one person will be coming into the work force. They estimate that by 2008, we're going to have 10 million unfilled jobs in this country. [Source]
It may be true that we'll have a whole lot of jobs by then, but what kind of jobs will be left? An article in the Washington Post titled, Maybe We Could All Deliver Pizza... imagines a world where only low level service jobs exist,
To hear the pessimists tell it, "Snow Crash" is right around the corner. You don't know "Snow Crash"? It was a turn-of-the-21st-century cyberpunk novel by Neal Stephenson, who foresaw a nightmarish future in which the "Invisible Hand has taken all those historical inequities and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani brick-maker would consider to be prosperity." And what the inexorable forces of comparative advantage thus revealed was that the U.S. economy would evolve to the point where Americans excelled at only four things: "music, movies, microcode (software), high-speed pizza delivery." Well, maybe we should scratch the microcode, since software companies have been outsourcing programming jobs to Asia at an accelerating pace.
The future doesn't look too bright for those without a college degree or certain technical skills. It seems the world has left them in the dust.
There aren't any easy answers to the "problem" of a global economy. It isn't enough to say we'll reap better jobs if we send other jobs overseas. It isn't enough to simply tell someone who's worked on an assembly line for 20 years that they're going to have to learn how to program a computer. Forcing companies to stay in the US isn't going to help either. Higher prices and lower competition will also spell layoffs - probably at a much higher level than they are now.
Government protectionism isn't going to solve the problem. The only thing likely to make a dent in the problem of offshore outsourcing is something that I call, "Patriotic Consumerism". In other words, we have to be willing to pay a little more for some things. We have to be willing to insist that our products are clearly labeled, "Made in the USA". I seriously doubt Americans will be willing to take such actions. We need to figure out how to deal with this global economy.
Until then, the words of a Bruce Springsteen song are likely to ring true for many, "Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain't coming back to my hometown."
In 1934 Hermann Goering released some raccoons to "enrich the Third Reich". Those raccoons have multiplied and are now at record numbers with more than a million of them in Germany alone. A plan is being discussed to put out a "Raccoon Bounty" in order to reduce their numbers. Good luck. I think some of those Nazi Raccoons have invaded my neighborhood. You can identify them by the little swastika armbands they wear. They're pretty aggressive too. How do you say, "Get away from my garbage!" in German?
The term "Evangelical" has been used frequently over the past century. Often, it isn't defined very well and there's a great deal of misunderstanding as to what the term actually means.
Who is an Evangelical?
Some would argue that the definition of "Evangelical" has changed citing the observation that evangelicals now have more of an "ecumenical spirit" and lower view on the authority of scripture,
In North America, "Evangelical" does not have a unique meaning that is acceptable to all. Various individuals define it in as a specific conservative Christian system of beliefs, or a religious experience, or a commitment to a proselytizing activity, or as a style of religious service, or as a "walk with God," or as a group of denominations. [Source]
Others say the term hasn't lost it's meaning but that some of it's adherents have drifted away from it's core meaning and now misrepresent the term.
Larry Eskridge of Wheaton College suggests that "Evangelical" can be defined in three ways. The first way is as a group of people united by certain key doctrines. The second, as a "style" or religious tradition that includes a broader outreach to non-Christian individuals and institutions. The third way, is as an historical movement only, in association with men like DL Moody and Billy Graham, opposed to the anti-intellectualism of the Fundamentalist movement.
I believe the best way to define this term is by a group of people, denominations, and organizations united by a key doctrinal statements. The National Association of Evangelicals is one widely recognized group of evangelicals. Their Statement of Faith is consistent with many other evangelical organizatons and says:
The Barna Research Group defines "Evangelicals" in the following way:
All Barna Research studies define "evangelicals" as individuals who meet the born again criteria; say their faith is very important in their life today; believe they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; acknowledge the existence of Satan; contend that eternal salvation is possible only through God's grace, not through good deeds; believe that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and describe God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today. In this approach, being classified as an evangelical has no relationship to church affiliation or attendance, nor does it rely upon people describing themselves as "evangelical."[Source]
Often denominations have the term in their name, but lack any of the characteristics that have been used doctrinally to define evangelicals. These are evangelicals in name only.
The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals' cites The Cambridge Declaration as well as other Catechisms as an embodiement of their beliefs including; The Heidelberg Catechism, The Westminster Confession of Faith, The Belgic Confession, and The Book of Concord.
The Cambridge Declaration explains the importance of regaining adherence to the five "solas" of the Reformation--sola fide (faith alone), sola gratia (grace alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) and soli Deo gloria (to God alone be glory).
It goes on to explain:
Evangelical churches today are increasingly dominated by the spirit of this age rather than by the Spirit of Christ. As evangelicals, we call ourselves to repent of this sin and to recover the historic Christian faith.
In the course of history words change. In our day this has happened to the word "evangelical." In the past it served as a bond of unity between Christians from a wide diversity of church traditions. Historic evangelicalism was confessional. It embraced the essential truths of Christianity as those were defined by the great ecumenical councils of the church. In addition, evangelicals also shared a common heritage in the "solas" of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation.
Today the light of the Reformation has been significantly dimmed. The consequence is that the word "evangelical" has become so inclusive as to have lost its meaning. We face the peril of losing the unity it has taken centuries to achieve. Because of this crisis and because of our love of Christ, his gospel and his church, we endeavor to assert anew our commitment to the central truths of the Reformation and of historic evangelicalism. These truths we affirm not because of their role in our traditions, but because we believe that they are central to the Bible.
Members of The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals are Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptists, Lutherans, and others. I believe that this best represents the true meaning of the word, "Evangelical". When viewed in this way, virtually anyone from any denomination can be described as an evangelical as long as they hold to a relatively short list of doctrinal statments. I believe this is the best way to answer the question,
Who is an Evangelical?
There was an article yesterday (Sunday) in the Washington Post called, Win One for The Flipper that deserves to be read, if for no other reason than it's great title. While we're on the subject of Kerry's stalwart convictions, don't forget about the New York Times article that asks, Nuanced Ideas or Flip-Flops?. Finally, there's Kerry himself crowing about all the foreign leaders who support him. Some have speculated that The Beloved Leader himself might be one of Kerry's supporters.
It's going to be a long Presidential campaign.
Perhaps you've seen Kerry and Bush compared on the more substantive issues of the day. Well, now you can see them compared on some of the lesser issues including such crucial areas as Snappiest Dresser, Best Speech Giver, and Most Attractive Wife. Read on to see these two go head to head on six different areas.
George Bush: Looks good in a suit or in a pair of cowboy duds. This President gig has given him a variety of opportunites to wear a vast array of costumes.
John Kerry: Looks okay in a suit or while gliding the ice wearing a pair of hockey skates.
Best Speech Giver
George Bush: Not exactly a fiery orator he has, nonetheless, given some memorable speeches.
John Kerry: Usually exhibits a stilted manner of speech reminiscent of Tom Brokaw. When he's not dreadfully boring he's trying to work up some outrage that doesn't quite come off as being very genuine. Maybe it's his East Coast background.
Most Erudite Offspring
George Bush: The Bush twins have demonstrated a propensity for partying. Perhaps they'll grow into something a little more challenging.
John Kerry: I'm not sure about the rest of his kids, but his daughter, Vanessa Kerry, is an effective spokesperson for her father's campaign. She appears poised and relaxed in front of the cameras.
Most Attractive Wife
George Bush: Laura Bush has an understated elegance and class.
John Kerry: Theresa Heinz Kerry seems like a nice enough lady but she looks to me like she could turn witchy on a moment's notice.
Most Handsome Candidate
George Bush: Through the eyes of cartoonists he's been convincingly caricatured as looking a little like a monkey or Alfred E Neuman of Mad Magazine fame.
John Kerry: He hasn't really had a chance yet to be fully defined as a caricature. He's got this long face and a protruding chin. He's been called "Treebeard" and, to me, anyway, he bears some resemblance to Jay Leno.
Decision: Bush by a nose
George Bush: It's hard to beat the appeal of a Texas Ranch.
John Kerry: His Beacon Hill residence screams old money.
There's an interesting commentary today at Town Hall by Brent Bozell.
For several weeks now, the national media have looked like the servile monkey to Democratic Party chairman Terry McAuliffe's organ grinder.
The Weekly Standard presents highlights of Vice-President Dick Cheney's remarks at the 2004 gridiron dinner.
He even mentions Senator Hillary Clinton,
Lots of familiar faces here tonight. I always feel a genuine bond whenever I see Senator Clinton. She's the only person who's the center of more conspiracy theories than I am.
Check out the rest of his comments here.
A lot of controversy has been generated by Homosexual "Marriages" lately. Quite a few people seem to be ignoring the wider implications of sanctioning these types of unions. If you have any doubts about the seriousness of re-defining marriage, you might want to take a minute to imagine the following...
The setting is a high school football game. In fact, it's the Homecoming Game. At half-time, the Homecoming Court is introduced. Finally, it comes down to introducing the Homecoming King and Queen - they're both guys.
And why not? As a society, if we allow marriage to be re-defined regardless of gender then the scene above may become commonplace and there will be no legal or philosophical reason left to oppose it.
Or imagine a high school health class and the instructors are required to teach both heterosexual and homosexual sexual techniques.
If these aren't disturbing thoughts for you - then you're not thinking this whole homosexual "marriage" thing through.
(Thanks to BP for the examples behind this article.)
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master -- that's all."
That's how Orson Scott Card starts out his essay on homosexual marriage...
His essay is the best I've seen for summing up the damning arguments against this issue. He also frames it in a perspective that should encourage some thought:
Regardless of their opinion of homosexual "marriage," every American who believes in democracy should be outraged that any court should take it upon itself to dictate such a social innovation without recourse to democratic process.
He also predicts what many of us know will occur in the name of "diversity" and "openness".
And we all know the course this thing will follow. Anyone who opposes this edict will be branded a bigot; any schoolchild who questions the legitimacy of homosexual marriage will be expelled for "hate speech." The fanatical Left will insist that anyone who upholds the fundamental meaning that marriage has always had, everywhere, until this generation, is a "homophobe" and therefore mentally ill.
Go to Homosexual "Marriage" and Civilization and read it, especially if you're feeling a little ambivalent about this whole thing. I dare you to read it! In fact, I double dog dare you to read it.
Get Religion mentions and offers some comment about an excellent article by Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post called, When Left is Right and Right is Wrong that takes a good look at how the media portrays conservatives. An excerpt from the article...
When San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom defied state law by allowing same-sex marriage licenses, a New York Times profile reported him sporting "a wide grin," "describing his motives as pure and principled," and cited his "business acumen, money, good looks and friends in the right places."
But when Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore also defied the law -- by installing a Ten Commandments display in his public building -- a Times profile said that "civil liberties groups accused Justice Moore of turning a courthouse into a church," while allowing that he had also become "an Alabama folk hero."
On the editorial page, the Times criticized Moore, likening him to George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door, but supports Newsom's protest and gay marriage.
Of course, there will be those who will cite the influence of "the vast right wing conspiracy" on the Washington Post instead of admitting there's a whole lot of truth to the story.
Be sure to check out both the link to Get Religion and the Washington Post story - they have some great things to say.
I guess this proves how much of a civilian I am because this is something I've always wondered about. Finally, Stars and Stripes answers the question,
Why do American soldiers wear the U.S. flag insignia "backwards" on the right shoulder of their utility uniforms?
The Army actually has two authorized flag patches, one to be worn on the left shoulder, with the canton facing left, and another "reverse field" patch worn on the right, with the canton facing right.
The two different orientations are mandated because Army regulations call for the flag to be worn so that to observers, it looks as if the flag is flying against a breeze.
During the early days of the US Army mounted cavalry and infantry units always had a "standard bearer" carrying the flag into the battle.
As the standard bearer charged, his rapid forward momentum would cause the flag to stream back. So if a soldier is charging into the battle, the flag would give the appearance of forward motion. For the right shoulder, the flag only appears "backward." [Source]
It still looks backward to me - but at least I know why they do it.
We've all seen complaints about how the US State Department seems to have a mind of it's own when it comes to foreign policy. It seems that they have developed an internal culture that is risk-averse in the extreme and only responds half-hearedly to the administration's direction. I strongly suspect that the state department has become a haven for East Coast liberals and Rockefeller Republicans. I believe this is the reason why they frequently fail in advocating for our foreign policy overseas. If the State Department were located in another part of the country, instead of in DC, I wonder if it would be any better at representing America.
When Pierre L'Enfant planned the Disctrict of Columbia, he intended for it's physical design to facilitate communication and accessibility, not only with the American people, but also with the other branches of government. In those days, obviously, it took considerably longer to travel distances and one couldn't just pick up the telephone if they wanted to speak to someone across the country.
With the advances in communication made possible by the internet, physical proximity no longer carries the same level of importance. If the State Dept were located in someplace like the Sears-Roebuck campus in Hoffman Estates, IL would it be more conservative and less "international" than it is today? How much does the physical location of our government affect it's operation?
For agencies whose members rotate in and out frequently, the physical location of their workplace has very little effect on their culture. (ie, Military Bases) However, for those "career" diplomats and other members of the government who tend to stay in one place for long periods of time, location has a noticeable effect. My hypothesis is this: Career government offices in the District of Columbia tend to lean toward a liberal ideology by virtue of the fact that they are located on the East Coast. Of course, physical location isn't the main factor in determining the ideology of a government agency, but I suspect it has a powerful effect nonetheless. Other government agencies like the CIA also seem to have taken a decidedly liberal tilt in the past decade. If the CIA was located in Deerfield, IL instead of Langley, VA I suspect it would be less prone to the politics played in DC and more outward looking.
There is a further benefit to not having all of the government agencies located in one city. The risk of disruption from a dirty bomb is much less likely since all of the government agencies wouldn't be located within a relatively small radius.
In the age of quick communications; satellite telephones, video conferencing, and the ubiquitous internet, does physical proximity still matter? Would our government actually be stronger if it wasn't all located in the same area? I don't really know the answers to these questions, but imagining the State Dept in Hoffman Estates leads me to believe that it would make a difference.
Maybe it isn't the physical location at all. Maybe, as a nation, we should take a much closer look at career government employees and see if they shouldn't be drawn from a more diverse pool, or maybe we ought to start packing and ship these agencies out to "flyover country" where they can interact with a little bit different type of American.
During my brief experience in local government, I've come to the realization that democracy is messy. If you imagine a well oiled machine, humming along ever so efficiently you will be imagining the antithesis of a representative form of government. I used to think that democracy entailed a group of reasonable individuals grappling with difficult issues and finally coming to a decision after a careful and deliberate process. Now I know differently.
There are a variety of reasons why people in government vote one way or the other for a particular issue. Sometimes the reason consists only of pride or it could be due to loyalty toward a specific individual or group. At other times, a representative will support an issue for reasons that are unclear even to that person. Debates about an issue are rarely centered on logic. Often, logic just sits at the periphery ready to be used as a handy prop in case it's needed.
Fortunately, all of this mess is an important part of democracy. If it's only efficiency you want, you'd do well to look to the likes of Hitler and Stalin. I would imagine that most decisions made during their time in power were generally very logical and efficient, and also very disastrous.
Somehow, the fact that democracy is a messy business is also it's strength. I don't understand it and sometimes it's really annoying, but it has worked pretty well for our nation and it works for other nations.
Right now it's easy to grow impatient with the rate of change in Iraq. It seems that every day we hear of unfortunate and tragic events. Yet, I believe that Iraq is slowly stumbling toward democracy. The messy state of affairs there gives me hope that Iraq will emerge from the ruin caused by Saddam into a vibrant, and democratic, nation.
Southern Maryland Online has posted pictures taken by soldiers who have now returned from Iraq. There are some really good shots.
A few of my favorites:
Baath Party Dude House
Tanks in the Desert at Dusk
Go here to see all of them.
The Taliban actually have their own website. Not surprisingly, it's called Taliban Online. If you can ignore the text, the site looks rather well done. There's even a FAQ...
For instance, there's a question: What is the Taliban's goal?
To make Islam prevail over all other ideologies and ways of life. To defend Islam, Muslim blood, property, honour and land against the hatred-driven, anti-Islamic unjust governments and their allies.
At least they're honest. No mention here of "Religion of Peace".
There's also this question: Is it THE END of the Taliban? (their capitalization not mine)
The Muslims have already won this battle - no matter what the worldly outcome, because, for a believer, as long as he is steadfast on his religion, there is never any loss. And for the enemies of Allah is disgrace in this life and an eternal inferno in the next. Time will prove the truth of these words. However, in spite of the apparent might and strength of the enemy, the Mujahideen are still strong and well - may Allah protect them, preserve them, and grant them a speedy and permanent victory over their enemies and the enemies of Allah. Ameen!
No, I didn't make up the Ameen! at the end. That's how it's written. I can only hope that US forces are doing their best to hasten these terrorists' trip to the afterlife.
While you're trolling the cesspools of the internet you might as well check out Al Erhap - The Islamic Terrorism Forum. The interesting thing about this site is that the login form posts back to www.gawab.com which is reportedly hosted by Infocom of Richardson, Texas.
If you read lots of blogs, you really need to use a blog aggregator. A blog aggregator allows you to quickly click through your list of blogs and view the titles of recent posts as well as a few sentences of that post. It's an enormous time-saver. Blog aggregators, also known as RSS Readers, work by using the RSS feed of a blog. I wrote about using RSS here. There are a whole slew of Blog Aggregators out there...
For a while I used FeedReader and Abilon but using aggregators that are based on a program that I download had some problems. The biggest problem is that I couldn't keep my home and work lists synchronized. Eventually I switched to an online aggregator called Bloglines.
Bloglines is free and very easy to setup. Since it's web-based there's no problem keeping separate locations synchronized. If you haven't tried it yet, then go check it out. You can make the feeds you read public. The feeds that I read on a regular basis are here.
So the next time you're wondering, Hey is Joe Carter going to post yet another article about The Passion? (8 so far) you can check without having to actually go to his blog. Instead you can check out Army of One where you won't find any posts about the aforementioned movie.
JP Carter of Evangelical Outpost and others (here, here, and here) have written a great deal about Evangelicals. In fact, I've challenged JP to a duel of sorts over who is the most evangelical Evangelical. We're going to face off then take twenty paces and fire, but in reality it's just a interesting way to address the question, What does it mean to be an Evangelical? (Skip through to the end if you're here to see my first volley at JP.)
The term Evangelical is frequently bandied about, but hardly ever fully understood. One of the hallmarks of being an Evangelical is engagement with the secular world, yet that doesn't seem to have lent itself to being better defined in the popular culture. Evangelicalism is an outgrowth of the Protestant Reformation which itself was a protest against Catholicism. It is rooted in the belief that the proclamation of the Gospel is the primary job of the Christian. It further relies on the authority of Scriptures as being inerrant in the original autographs and the only safe and sufficient guide to faith and practice. However, Evangelicals, unlike their Fundamentalist brethren believe that the best way to proclaim the gospel is by involvement with the problems of the secular world and it's institutions. I suppose you could call him a "proto-Evangelical", but William Wilberforce exemplifies the type of involvement that Evangelicals are supposed to have.
William Wilberforce lived during the latter part of the 18th century in England. He was a rising star in parliament as well as an eloquent and powerful speaker. Although he regularly attended church and viewed himself as a "good person", it wasn't until he make a commitment to Christ that he discovered his true cause in life. When he made a commitment to Christ he thought about giving up politics. It's reported that he met with one of the most radical Christians of his day, John Newton, and asked for his advice.
Newton warned Wilberforce of forsaking his old friendships and becoming too involved in religious activities. He encouraged him to stay in politics feeling that God had placed him in a position in the government so that he could advocate for a Christian worldview.
Wilberforce, in October of 1787, confronted the slave trade and the general state of immorality of the culture at his time. In 1789 he introdcued the first bill to the House of Commons that called for banning the slave trade. It was soundly defeated, but Wilberforce kept introducing bills that would ban the slave trade for the next eighteen years. In January of 1807, parliament finally voted to ban the slave trade. The bill for abolishing slavery throughout all of the British territories was passed on July 29th, 1883. Just three days before his death.
Wilberforce exemplifies the type of activism balanced by firm doctrine that evangelicals are supposed to demonstrate.
Billy Graham is probably the most famous Evangelical. Over the years he has met with Presidents of both parties and other powerful people. During the cold war, he was criticized for his willingness to go behind the iron curtain and proclaim the gospel. According to the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, he has preached to over 210 million people in more than 185 countries and territories. Billy Graham proclaims the gospel, not in churches, but in sports stadiums and in front of government leaders around the world.
There are other evangelicals who have successfully reached out to the secular world while also maintaining sound doctrine. Among them are Jack Kemp, Chuck Colson, and James Dobson. They share the common goal of reaching the world through involvement with it not separation from it.
Some writers insist that Evangelicals maintain a vast array of doctrines and are therefore difficult to define. (I'll address that more in another post.) However, the doctrinal statement on Billy Graham's website seems to reflect mainstream Evangelical doctrine the best.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association believes:
The Bible to be the infallible Word of God, that it is His holy and inspired Word, and that it is of supreme and final authority. In one God, eternally existing in three persons -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. He led a sinless life, took on Himself all our sins, died and rose again, and is seated at the right hand of the Father as our mediator and advocate. That all men everywhere are lost and face the judgment of God, and need to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through His shed blood on the cross. That Christ rose from the dead and is coming soon. In holy Christian living, and that we must have concern for the hurts and social needs of our fellowmen. We must dedicate ourselves anew to the service of our Lord and to His authority over our lives. In using every modern means of communication available to us to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. [Source]
The Evangelical Free Church of America defines itself similarly:
The Evangelical Free Church of America is an association of some 1,300 autonomous churches united by a mutual commitment to serve our Lord Jesus Christ with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and obedience to the Word of God. We are committed to cooperate with one another in ministry and fellowship as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission which Christ has entrusted to His Church. The growing ministry of the EFCA currently extends to some 45 countries of the world. The term Evangelical refers to our commitment to the proclamation of the Gospel and to the authority of Scriptures as being inerrant in the original autographs and the only safe and sufficient guide to faith and practice.
In a recent issue of The Weekly Standard, the impact of President Bush's faith is explored. Regardless of whether you agree with his political views, it's difficult not to acknowledge the numerous statements he has made with regard to how his religious views have influenced key policy decisions. In this sense, Bush is firmly in the camp of those who would describe themselves as Evangelical.
"Bush has not embraced the terms 'born-again' or 'evangelical' to describe his faith, though he has said he wouldn't reject the appellations, either. His faith appears to be what theologically conservative Christians generally believe, and he expresses his beliefs in a straightforward manner. [Source]
Evangelicalism cannot be understood unless it is in light of the Great Commission, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel." One of the great hallmarks of Evangelicalism is the "into all the world" part. In the modern day, there are churches and denominations with the word "evangelical" in their name. However, they are evangelical in name only. Typically they "go into all the world" but they don't necessarily preach "the Gospel". I'll save that for a future post.
JP Carter's education: It doesn't say on his website but he did get a BS in Liberal Studies. (Sounds a little fishy to me.)
JD Mays' graduate degree is from: Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
JP Carter was raised as a Catholic.
JD Mays was raised and confirmed in the Evangelical Free Church of America
JP Carter's blog, Evangelical Outpost contains no links to an organization run by one of the most well-known evangelicals, Chuck Colson.
JD Mays' blog proudly displays a link to Churck Colson's organization.
JP Carter's blog contains Evangelical in the term, therefore no pagan in their right mind would dare come to his site. (or at least a lot of them wouldn't)
JD Mays' blog makes references to the Army which alludes to some sort of violence and most assuredly attracts scoundrels from all over the blogosphere.