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Saturday, March 16, 2002

Bloody Cali- The Archbishop of Cali, Isaias Duarte Cancino, was killed earlier this evening, likely from drug gunnies opposed to the outspoken bishop. That brought to mind the video we saw at church Wednesday, which told the story of Julio Ruibal who spearheaded a city-wide prayer movement that grew to pack the 50,000 seat football stadium for all-night prayer vigils. He too, was killed when the bad guys wanted to get rid of him. While critics will point out that Cali's still a dangerous town, the city has seen a growth in church attendance as part of the prayer movement.

Bedtime Musings- I was light on the blogging today, life intervened. I had to get new tires on my car and then went with Eileen to get our engagement pictures taken, wading through the throng of babies and their moms, grandmas and aunts at the Sears portrait studio. They strategicly placed the studio next to the baby section, so that moms will see some cute clothes when they bring Junior in. Although I always look fatter in a picture than in the mirror, it was another milestone for coupledom. A second milestone came afterwards, as we wandered through Tar-gey and noted the things we need to put on our wedding registry. "Do you have ...." We wound up getting a dense page full of stuff we'll need for our new place. When you are cooking for one, you don't cook much. We're both looking forward to cooking for two, and have a lot of things on our list that will make real cooking beyond hot dogs and noodles possible. KSU's a Real Riot-I missed the game, but Kent State got to the Sweet Sixteen today for the first time, beating Alabama 71-58. While Michigan State was getting dumped on Friday, I was able to brag on KSU (Ph.D. 1996) at work to the folks having Flintstone DTs. I'll be able to brag even more Monday. While 12-seed Missouri's the longest seed left, taking out 4 and 5 seeds this weekend, KSU took out a 2 seed and messed up a lot of brackets. Only 4% of the ESPN bracketeers picked them to get this far.

All Blogs Go To Heaven? The Hokie Pundit, Robert Bauer, wanted me to take a whack at this mind-set he’s running into on his apologetics listserv -“The only good God would be one who respected my beliefs and would let me in anyway. God should be like a man, and not selective." If our critic is God-shopping, they assume that there is a God, a transcendent being that created (we’ll leave the how out of this one) and interacts with the universe. Our critic also wants a deity who respects their beliefs. This assumes a cognizant intelligence rather than an impersonal force. Thirdly, the person wants a good God, which would assume a concept of good and evil. The critic wants the ability to make his own theology on an a la carte basis and still have God respect him. This is essentially a universalist view point; all dogs go to Heaven, since our critic’s good God has to respect everyone’s beliefs, everyone gets in, and theology is a moot point. Two possibilities here-either God doesn’t give a rat’s ass what we believe, or he does. One would think that God is smarter and has a better handle on things than we do. If my beliefs are different from God’s, one would assume that I’m the one who’s making the mistake, since God’s been at this longer and have a better brain than I. If there is a good God that will punish evil rather than tolerate it, we’re better off trying to figure out what good and evil are and try to get our life to mesh with God’s view. The safer of the two options is that we should try to find out God’s will. I’m reminded of an old joke-
Atheist -“If you’re wrong, you’re wasting a lifetime.” Theist-“If you’re wrong, you’re wasting eternity.”
In an universalist universe, I get into heaven anyway, and the agnostics can have a good laugh at my expense. In an orthodox Christian universe, the agnostic finds out that Hell doesn’t have a non-smoking section. What the heck does God want from us, then? We have a truckload of religions to choose from, including a variety of flavors of Christianity that put Baskin-Robbins to shame. Which one comes closest to what God’s looking for? If religion is the opiate of the people, as Marx put it, let’s do some informal clinical trials and check which smack works the best. If the drug is improving lives, giving piece of mind and allowing people to cure bad habits, without too many bad side effects, then that one is worth taking. The one that gives the best net positive effect is the one to take. If your worldview doesn’t quite mesh with the available options, pick the one that comes closest to your take on God and see if further study with the help of your new coreligionists will help to narrow the gaps. Centuries of theological development may have extra insights to shed light on your disagreements. If searching for the truth matters, than getting attached to a search party who’s already covered a lot of ground will help. I’d like to put in a plug for our listserv skeptics to track down a good generic evangelical church that’s unstuffy with people willing to listen to a lot of “stoopid” questions. Any good evangelical church will have people willing to sit down with seekers and explain God’s word and try their best to apply it to the seeker's life. Proverbs 1:7 states that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” That fear shouldn’t just be the “God’ll get ya for that” fear but a respect for his power and goodness. People who don’t respect God’s discipline are fools. As a certain Mohawk-coifed philosopher once said, “I pity da fool!”

Sinful Foreign Policy part II-Did a Good God Create a Bad World?-The question of theodicy came up in the Murtaugh piece, which William Sulik sums up as
(1) if God is the Creator of everything that is, did He create evil? (2) if God is good, just, and all-powerful, why does he allow bad things to happen to good people and/or why do evil people prosper?
Bryan Preston sums up an orthodox biblical take on the sin of the world.
Why is all this suffereing happening? It's happening because we chose to allow it. God gave us a pristine world, free from pain and sorrow, and we blew it by sinning against Him. Thus we ushered in sin and its effects, including injustice, disease and so forth. For many, including too many Christians, that answer is unsatisfying, because it puts the responsibility for suffering, and our reaction to it, on us. It's easier to blame someone else for our suffering, and easier still to react outward instead of inward.
Sulik gives us this more Arminian take on the issue
God created beings that He could love. It would further appear that He desired beings that could similarly love Him. And this is the key. To create beings worthy of love and worthy of giving love, he had to vest them with full free will. Free will means that those beings are capable of choosing to love God or reject God. It means that they are capable of choosing to love one another or not. When the beings choose to reject God, or not love the other, they create evil (or choose to not do good).
Why did a perfect God create an imperfect world? An omniscient God knows what people are going to do and chooses not to stop people from doing some things. That’s troubling, but the alternative to a sinful world is a bunch of robots hard-wired to worship and follow God. Having a robot mouth the words “I love you” doesn’t mean much to its creator. If love is to mean something, it needs to an option rather than a requirement. Thus, God must have created mankind with the capacity not to love Him. He put Adam and Eve in a perfect spot, telling them not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They then proceeded to go into that no-go zone. The two lab rats flunked the test, but He made them with the ability to get the questions wrong. After that, God kicked them out of Eden for their own good. Note that there was also a Tree of Life in the Garden. My former pastor Joel Stocker gave a good sermon on this area, noting that if mankind were sinful and eternal, we would never get to the eternal communion with God. Thus, God put the Tree of Life under armed guard, allowing us finite earthly lives in order to eventually be with Him. I’m not going to agree with Sulik on the concept of a Libertarian God. People will tend to project the image of earthly fathers onto God the Father. It seems that Sulik’s God is reading up on Dr. Spock, giving His children a more permissive and non-disciplinarian structure to grow up in. God does correct His children, allowing our conscience to steer us away from trouble and giving the believer the Holy Spirit to further steer us away. Paul comments to the libertarian that
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
The freedom that God gives us in Jesus is freedom from sin, not freedom to sin. Parents have to allow their children to grow up, but will instruct them to do the right things, correcting them as needed. Proverbs points to a more bounded attitude-“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.“ Likewise, God wants to train us, but wants a person free to love Him but prepared to do the right things. Part III soon “Foreign Policy in a Sinful World”

Raw Linkage-I'm adding Kyle Still, Eve Tushnet (don't go there, Mark), Isabel Lyman and Patrick Ruffini to my linkset. They're not newbies, but showed up on my radar recently. Still is a GP blogger, whose only scandalous act is openly matriculating at UNC Chapel Hill. Tushnet's another GP site, a practicing Catholic with attitude with a subblog, Questions for Objectivists, which is a dialog with the Randroids. Lyman's is a home-schooling-centric blog with good feisty commentary on other issues. Ruffini is a young GOP activist who has "Most Likely to Be on the White House Payroll in 2009" on his blog yearbook picture. He has a good politics-centric blog. For now, I'm putting them in the "Blogs of the Right" set. Tushnet and Lyman are candidates for the Augustinian Posse, but I'm not ready to deputize them yet. Thanks to Still for having the exquisite taste to link to me and to the Kolkata Libertarian for making me a member of the Blog Cavalry. There are some darn good blogs that are mere infantry and the Knights list hold a lot of my must-reads.

Diplomatic Shell Game- Bryan Preston has the Zinni game critiqued well. Some critics, like Papa Blog, wonder if Dubya's gone wobbly. Mr Preston and I say no. Here's Bryan's punchline-
To say that because of a few statements Bush is going wobbly ignores who the man is and what he's about. He gets it, and has from the start. He's now calling for more military spending. The "wobbly" statements are, I believe, intended to give Arab governments cover as we prepare to open up the can of whoop on Iraq. We can't be seen by those governments to be saying "rah rah" to Israel while planning to attack another Arab state--they just wouldn't be able to stand for it. In other words, I think we're playing Arab games here of offering consoling talk while doing exactly what we want. Once the war on Iraq gets going, they'll fall in line because they'll have to, and we'll have given them a fig leaf to hide behind.
[update-I just caught the title of his post-"The Weeble President"-Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down]

Just After Midnight, in the Garden of Good and Evil-William Sulik, the "Blithering Idiot" (not!), who pointed me to the Charles Murtaugh piece on sin, evil and foreign policy, takes a run at the question of evil that's slated for my part II. For a lunch-time musing, not bad. I'm not quite onboard with his title,"God is a Libertarian", but he's near the target. For now, give it a read, and I'll elaborate tommorow morning when I'm not working with a 15-point IQ deficit due to being up past my bedtime. [Update-Bryan Preston's chimed in as well.]

Missile Defense now 4 for 6-The latest test of a missile defence system worked late Friday night, despite the target missile deploying decoys. This should start lowing the mewing of the nay-sayers and to give Dubya some credit for backing out of the ABM treaty. It might be pricey and it wouldn't stop bringing in a bomb on a barge, but it will be helpful and should be pursued.

Quip du jour-"Marriage is a great institution, but I'm not ready for an institution yet"-Mae West (However, some of us are ready to be institutionalized) Edifier du jour-"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."-Romans 8:38-39

Friday, March 15, 2002

Sinful Foreign Policy?-part I-Charles Murtaugh gave airing to a Chomsky interview that implied that 9/11 was payback for our past foreign-policy sins. First of all, the idea that the US is a terrorist state isn’t going to hold up. Where the US has intervened post-Vietnam, it was with the intent of helping the areas involved.
Grenada-Ousting a Communist Junta. Nicaragua-Overthrowing a corrupt dictatorship. (There were some bad apples among the Contras, but 2002 Nicaragua’s better than the 1982 version) Panama-Ousting a drug-running dictator (Better late than never. Yeah, the CIA doesn’t have it in their highlight films.) Kuwait-Ousting a brutal dictator’s army from a country he invaded (“if it weren’t rich in oil, we wouldn’t have been there.” Yes, but still honorable) Somalia-Trying to bring food and restore order (Didn’t try hard enough, Clinton didn’t have the mind-set to stick it out) Kosovo- Preventing ethnic cleansing- The Serbs may have a beef, but the Kosovars were helped more than the Serbs were hurt, and with Slobo gone, it may help Serbia in the long term. Afghanistan-Ousting a theocratic junta that was giving aid and comfort to, if not run by, a trans-national army we were at war with.
In all but Somalia, the country was better off after the intervention than before. That’s not the mark of a terrorist outfit. The area that the left has some argument is our embargos of Cuba, Iraq and North Korea. I’m willing to make a second look at Cuban sanctions, as Castro is little threat to expand his rule without the Soviet sugar daddy. There we can afford the luxury of looking after the best long-term interest of the Cuban people. In the case of Iraq and North Korea, the isolation is needed to keep the dictators from beefing up his army with better boom-makers. True, the people of the countries suffer, but more aid money would be largely diverted to the army rather than to the people. The left assumes that if we play nice, the bad guys will play nice. Not in these cases. To sum up, we may have some things to answer to God for, but not many. The cases of inaction, like early Bosnia or Rwanda, are the ones that are more sinful (in that we didn’t move fast enough to save lives) than the places we did go into. Expect a part II on theodicy tomorrow morning.

Well Preserved-Bob Jones U is moving away from the fundamentalist label, preferring "biblical preservationist." The term has changed meaning in the last 20 years from describing a set of conservative theological Christian values to being a generic for anyone who's too serious about his faith and "evokes fear, suspicion and other repulsive connotations in its current usage." I don't think preservationist is a good term; it seems to denote a bunker mentality. We're suppose to bring the Word of God to the world, not retreat to a spiritual wildlife preserve-"Look, Martha! An actual Wednesday night prayer meeting. Over There! A pastor using a Strong's Concordance to prepare a sermon." Just like I didn't like Franklin Graham wanting to change the stadium evangelism events from Crusades to Festivals, this change in nomenclature doesn't cut it. It makes BJU even more the throwback to a century or so ago.

Sharon Plays Along, Pulls Back Some Troops- The US state department asked Israel to remove troops from officially Palestinian areas; Israel is removing some troops from Ramallah. However, the Israeli aren't backing off of the broader policy of proactively going after gunnie nests. This peace mission isn't supposed to work, and I think everyone knows it. Israel is giving some window dressing to Zinni so as not to dis him too much. Once he heads home, expect the whack-a-mole game to resume.

No blowup in Ayodhya- The contentious ceremony went off a mile away from the proposed temple site without much incident, as the VHP decided not to pick a fight and try to start the temple today as originally planned. The Indian army had Ayodhya locked down, arresting about 100 goons who tried to sneak into town.

Quip du jour-"What's 1+1?" "What do you want it to be?"-anon. accounting joke Edifier du jour-"Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all"-Colossians 3:11

Thursday, March 14, 2002

These Megs of Ram are Explosive-There could be some seriously bad blood tomorrow as hard-core Hindus try to hold a ceremony at the site of a trashed mosque in Ayodhya they hold as the birthplace of the deity Ram. The Indian Supreme court has shot down the puja, but the hard-cases are pushing ahead, assuring that some heads will be cracked-in tomorrow. Rantburg, as usually, supplies linkageand commentary, and Indian ex-pat Suman Palit over at the Kolkata Libertarian covers the broad picture. This flow chart of the interactions of various Hindu groups is worth seeing. The VHP that wants to build the inflamitory temple is the main backer of the ruling BJP party, so the temptation for the government is to give the VHP hard-cases some slack. I've been reading Palit for "too long"; the spelling Kolkata, rather than Calcutta, seems normal now.

March Madness Kickoff-Gonzaga got shown the door early-there goes my bracket, and that's good. Kent State pulled the upset I expected, as did Tulsa. I didn't see Missouri coming, and my Valpo pick went nowhere. As we go to press UNC Wilmington was giving Southern Cal all they wanted, with USC having to rally to force OT.

Honor Amongst Thieves- The African strong-men are rallying around Mugabe
The presidents of Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania fully backed Mr. Mugabe, Namibia called the vote "watertight, without room for rigging", while South African and Nigerian leaders gave more qualified assessments.
Could that be due to the fact that Nigeria and South Africa have something resembling a democracy? Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania have enough irregularities in their systems to make the Metamusil sales rep salivate.

Captive Audiences-This Detroit Free Press piece is on a good chatty-ring puller; politicians who wouldn't come within five blocks of a church unless there's electioneering to be done. There's a two-and-a-half- way race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, at all three leading candidates are in the black Detroit churches trying to get out the vote. The co-leaders now are former governor Jim Blanchard and current AG Jennifer Granholm, with congressman (and former minority whip) David Bonior currently trailing. Aha! Maybe this is why Bonior is trailing; he used to whip minorities. Blanchard's no great shakes as a churchman, as he quipped years ago that "the last time anyone mentioned Jesus Christ in the Unitarian Church was when the janitor fell down the stairs."

Augustinian Porn-Check out the Cheesecake and Naked Chicks over at Hokie Pundit. Elieen's sister had cheesecake as her wedding cake. I commented that they usually save the cheesecake for the bachelor party.

Mickey-Mouse Planet?-I was reminded this morning about the flap over Pluto's status as a planet. If you remember your basic solar-system astronomy, there's the four inner hard-core planets, then four gas giants, then odd iceball Pluto. Now, they've found a bunch of smaller iceballs in the same general orbit of Pluto that's called the Kuiper Belt; Pluto looks more like a oversized Kuiper Belt denizen than the rest of the planets. That has opened up the question of whether Pluto should count as a planet. The flap's three years old, but interesting reading if you've not heard this one yet.

Quip du jour- "Don't go to Pluto-it's a Mickey Mouse planet."-Robin Williams (That was before the Kuiper belt stuff came out) Edifier du jour- "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Colossians 3:1-2

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Go easy on the new Augie Doggie-Self-proclaimed Augustinian Mark Butterworth is in the blogging game. His Sunny Days in Heaven blog is good for a newcomer, airng his thoughts for all to see.

Good day all around-We had the first warm day of the (dare I say it?) spring, with the temperature getting near 60. Our staffing crunch in the finance department may be lessened by an incoming temp I can have go do some of the grunt work, like look up archived stuff on microfiche. Hey, I don't do Lent, I don't need to eat fiche every day. I managed to get two more resumes out to church schools in the South today, typing up the cover letters at lunch. Four down, how many to go? Nice church service tonight, good prayer time. Eileen was downstairs teaching the crumb-crunchers about Mark 2 and Jesus healing the man who couldn't walk. It was a lame story.

Conservative, no Prefixes-Kevin took up the suggestion and did the "Why I'm not a neocon" piece. It's well done and shows a guys who's better read than I in poltical theory in general and conservative theory in particular. He grew up conservative and didn't need the modifiers. The piece also pointed out my comparative illiteracy in politcal theory. My undergraduate degree in political science didn't have us reading original theory books, nor did my econ classes, with the exception that my doctoral Macro theory class had us read parts of Keynes' General Theory. Much of my knowedge of poltical economy is all but a Cliff's Notes version, knowing the basic gist of a book but not having read it. It works for casual conversation, but not at the level I'd like be for this endevour. I need to rectify that. There are a number of books that have been on the "I should read that someday" list; time to actually read them. I endevour to read blogs a bit less and read poltical and economic classics like Kirk, Hayak and Toqueville more. A library raid seems to be an order.

Psycho III-Yates Motel-The Houston jury convicted Andrea Yates of murder yesterday, which they pretty much had to do since the Texas definition of insanity was the inability to tell right from wrong. She was loony-tunes; a depressed state coupling with some hard-core legalistic church teaching to lead her to think her kids were better off dead. She knew it was wrong on a worldly basis, but her twisted mind thought it was right spiritually at the time. To allow an insanity defense to stick in this case will give open season for mothers to do post-birth abortions and just get some counseling afterwards. I'm not looking for the death penalty here, as she doesn't seem a threat to society if she's on her meds.

Refugee Camps or Planned Intifada Communities?-The news in Israel is that they've sent tanks into Ramullah, going after the al Amari refugee camp. I'm not the first person to mention this, but isn't it odd that the "refugee camps" have been there for a half-century plus. In the US, we had Hoovervilles of Okies driven off the land by the Dust Bowl and depression, but by WWII, they had largely found their way into the larger California community. By now, the people displaced by the Israelis in the late 40s should have been incorporated into the broader community, but keeping them concentrated in "temporary" housing gives them hope of returning to Israel once it is defeated. By keeping the descendants of the refugees poor and isolated, they breed resentment. Give that resentment a religious twist and you get your gunnies and suicide bombers. Israel can do itself a favor by breaking up the refugee camps and disbursing the inhabitants into the larger community.

"Why should I give it back? I stole it fair and square."-Mugabe gave himself a 400,000 vote edge and the South Africans are calling it legitimate? It looks like either the Philippines or the Romanian option will have to be the model. Either Mugabe dies of a heart attack in the Riviera or by lead poisoning in Harare, but not a heart attack in Harare.

Googlebombing goes BBC-An semi-lame piece here on blogs and googlebombing, but it did catch the BBC's attention. Interesting that the big media is starting to catch up to us.

Bentsen odd man out in Texas-Tony Sanchez easily won the Texas Democratic Gubernatorial primary 59-34 over Dan Morales, while Victor Morales leading the Democratic senate race, getting 34%. Ron Kirk got 32% and Kent Bentsen was left out of the runoff with 27%. This could be the Democrat's nightmare runoff, a black versus Hispanic battle. Party elders wanted Kirk to win to create give a rainbow ticket, but April 9th will see if the maverick wiles of Morales will beat the establishment as he did in 1996. Cornyn should win the race anyway, but a tough divisive primary will make his job easier, especially if Kirk wins and the Hispanic vote is a bit ticked as in New York.

Quip du jour-"We all know what BS stands for. A MS is More of the Same and Ph.D. is Piled Higher and Deeper."-anon Edifier du jour-"Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:7-8

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

More Than One Professor in Blogdom?- I'm looking into using that Ph.D. in Finance and going back into academe, as looming budget cuts and retirements are making my current job more stressful. I've had to work at avoiding overtime lately and don't want the overtime that's likely to come my way in the months and years to come to put a damper on my marriage. I had started the process of moving towards college teaching this weekend, but a staff meeting this morning went over a hospital budget that showed red ink well into the future. That means we're going to be even more understaffed that we are now, assuming some of the budget cuts would come from the finance department. Thus, I've been working on updating my resume and writing heart-felt cover letters. I just E-mailed an application to a evangelical college in the south and e-mailed another application to a smaller state school in Michigan yesterday. I might be blogging a bit less for the next few weeks as I spend parts of my evenings sending off applications. I have a plan of one application per free night and two on Saturday, as researching a school and writing a good cover letter is a 1-1.5 hour process. I thought this weekend that it might be time to go back, now I'm sure that God's got a professor spot for me somewhere. My job's to get my vita on my future department chair's desk. The upside of this for fans of my blog is that professors have oodles of unstructured time for blogging. No students in the office during office hour? Blog, since I don't count on prepping for class during slated office hours.

The GOP and the Salsafication of America-There's been an intelectual undercurrent of worry in conservative circles about the growing Hispanic population and what a growth in that Democratic demographic would mean to the body politic. Pitchfork Pat will go as far as worrying about the survival of Western Civilization as we know it, while others will wonder if the Republican Party can survive with all these extra Latino Democrats. Lowery and Derb sounded the alarm in passing over in The Corner yesterday That assumes that Latinos stay Democratic over the long haul. I don't think they will. As long as the rednecks in the party are kept at bay and a general policy of encouraging assimilation, Latinos will become more and more upscale over time and start voting more Anglo. The moral conservatism that would make Latinos as a group more Republican are offset by welfare, immigration and discrimination issues, which make them lean Democratic. Where do Republicans start? Promoting assimilation is the first step, which starts by making sure students have a good command of English and other skills and includes being on guard to stop overt discrimination. Kids with a good command of English can get out of the barrio and become part of the larger culture. That's not to say they have to stop eating frijoles and stop celebrating Cinco de Mayo (yes, I'm assuming Mex-Am here), but an educated kid has a better chance than a illiterate one. A quick transition (1-2 years of immersion learning) to English-speaking classrooms seems to work well academically. The Latino activists that make their money being Latinos don't like it since it makes the kids bicultural rather than just Latino. Parents like this approach, as they want their kid to have a better life, and not speaking good English leaves them stuck in the barrio. Education doesn't stop with getting the kids up to speed in English. Underachieving public schools are a problem, and various school choice plans, including vouchers, will appeal to Hispanic voters, especially if both moral and academic education factors are noted. It may not do much to help the undereducated parents, but it will help the kids. A good adult education program will help both the parents and the youth who drop out and see their mistake later, as will a solid community college system to give older adults a foot into higher education. Policies don't need to coddle illegal immigrants. However, if you use ID procedures, we need to check everyone equally, not just the ones who look foreign. These days, that "sweet granny from Minnesota" might be a snowback who snuck over the border from Manitoba to find a better life. Before we do something that looks like Jose-whacking, think again. It's eight years out from Prop 187, and the Republican Party in California is just beginning to recover from the bad rap Pete Wilson (don't get me started on him) gave it. Immigrants are by nature risk-takers; they took a risk to leave the old country and try their luck in America. That risk-taking nature and the willingness to work hard make immigrants natural entrepreneurs. I think Hispanics can be reached by a Jack Kemp-type message of betterment by self-help. "A government handout allows you to survive, a good job or a business of your own allows you to thrive." I can just picture Jesse's good twin jamming on that line. Economic mobility helps the poor more than the rich since the rich already got theirs. There's the old joke about a guy coming from a long line of Democrats but he's a Republican since he can read. To plug free markets to the blue-collar market is an uphill fight, but one that can be won. The experience of many European immigrants is that the kids and grandkids gradually assimilated and moved to the suburbs. As Hispanics start becoming part of the suburbs and exurbs, people will hear Ramirez and Sanchez as just as American as O'Brien and Chickowski. In trying to win over Hispanics, Republicans need to be themselves, advocating empowering individuals, regardless of accent or skin-tone, with better choices of schools, less regulations and lower taxes. Respecting people for who they are rather than what they are will sell if done with a clean heart and a straight face.

Engaging Bloggers-Congratulations to Doug Turnbull on his engagement. There seems to be quite a few bloggers with fiancées besides myself. The proprietors of Kesher Talk and Blogs of War are both engaged. Will this lead to lower blog counts when we have wives to attend to in the evenings and weekends? Most likely.

"The Ab-dullah? Yeah, I saw the infomercial."-Cheney's heading for Jordan next, after a good confab with Tony Blair. Blair has some flak on his left, as the Guardian-stained hands of British Euroweenies rise in protest. That notwithstanding, Blair has been surprisingly on board with the American plan. It's interesting to see the beginnings of a flip-flop in positioning, where the formerly hard-left Labour is now center-left and the center-left Liberal Democrats are starting to run to the left of NuLab. Jordan will be a tougher nut than it looks. King Abdullah has his dad's Anglospherian accoutrements, but he also has his dad's nose for Arab realpolitic. Jordan's on Iraq's western border and they benefit from a lot of sanctions-busting trade from Iraq. The Hashemite rulers of Jordan are more pro-western than the primarily Palestinian population, so Abdullah will need to do a bit of Israel-bashing for domestic consumption as they give lukewarm support for going after Saddam. We don't need their troops, just their airspace and a bit tighter borders.

Quip du jour-"Age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill."-anon (Not always, but a disgusting percentage of the time. Mugabe brought this one to mind) Edifier du jour-"Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit." Psalm 32:1-2

Monday, March 11, 2002

Texas going to the polls-This time the action's on the Democratic side. There's two big statewide races. The governor's race has centrist businessman Tony Sanchez going mamo-a-mano with more liberal former state AG Dan Morales. Sanchez is spending Morales into the ground and is leading in the polls. The winner gets to face Gov. Rick Perry in November, who's running for a term of his own after taking over for Dubya in late 2000. The Senate race is a three-way rainbow race, with former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, low-budget maverick teacher and 1996 nominee Victor Morales (no relation to Dan) and Houston congressman Kent Bentsen in a too-close-to-call race. Texas has run-offs if no one gets 50%, so the fight here is the be in the top two. There doesn't seem to be a clear favorive; Bentsen leads one Houston Chronical statewide poll while he's third in a Dallas Morning News poll. The winner in that race gets state AG John Cornyn, who has only nominal opposition on the Republican side.

Fixing Broken Windows in the Islamic World-This press release was intercepted from an alternative universe.
The Huguenot Liberation Front is dedicated to restoring Protestantism to France by any means necessary and ridding the world of the evils of secular French culture. Our underground campaign of anti-French rhetoric from editorialists and bloggers has placed hatred of French culture into the body politics. Not all people who hold those views are members of the HLF; people like Groening, Goldberg and Johnson are useful fellow travelers best left distant from us as we take our campaign to the next level. We need to step up our education with the youth, though. Sunday School shouldn’t be complete until the kids shout “The cheese-eating surrender monkeys must die, die, die!” It is time for the next step in out campaign- attacking and eliminating agents of secular French influence in the US and the rest of the Anglosphere. The traitors Julia Child and Jerry Lewis will be the first to go. NPR stations playing Edith Pilaf [sic] won’t get to their next fundraiser. The Sarte-loving eggheads that we catch will be shown an exit from this life. Movie art houses will dispatched with extreme prejudice. Members of the HLF’s de Toqueville Brigade are now in position in France, ready to shoot up poetry readings, plant bombs in bistros and art galleries and release fungi into grape fields, all with the goal of disrupting modern secular French life. When this happens, we will see people turn to the church for solace, where priests friendly to our cause as well as like-minded evangelical missionaries will be ready to bring the secular French back to the true faith, take up arms and overthrow the Fifth Republic. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for real action.
If the HLF were to exist in real life, would the US allow pastors to funnel money to them and allow pastors and Sunday school teachers to advocate the overthrow of the French government? There would be legal action taken against the backers of this terrorist organization and dissemination of HLF propaganda possibly blocked on national-security grounds, as advocating the violent overthrow of a NATO member is likely an actionable offence. We should then expect other countries to keep their clerics in check and not allow places of worship to be come de-facto recruiting grounds for terrorists. The anti-crime strategy of the 90s was “fixing broken windows,” with the idea being that petty crime like graffiti and vandalism gets people used to being criminals. Also, unfixed damage from vandalism shows that this is an area where crime is OK. Cops didn’t like the idea of catching petty thieves at first, but it does reduce major crime over the long haul; many major criminals are brought into custody by catching them doing minor crimes. Also, many youngsters caught for minor offences are shooed away from crime before they’re major criminals. There were too many broken windows around the world prior to 9/11. Low-level terrorism was tolerated by the US for too long. It felt beneath the US to insist that countries crack down on the religious rhetoric that fueled al Qaeda and their spiritual brethren or to take military action to strike at terrorist bases. As long as the government was anti-communist/friendly to the US, they allowed despots to rule without democratic feedback; the mosque as the only place to vent political frustrations. This helped breed the anti-American rhetoric that lead to 9/11. What are the broken windows we can fix overseas? Countries that allow their media to spew rhetoric that calls for the military defeat of the west should be declared persona non grata at minimum. If there are signs of armed terrorist groups forming, tell the host government to take them out or we will do it for them. Governments who turn a blind eye to terrorists in their countries will be replaced. We need to get respect from other countries; that respect doesn’t include allowing jihadists to own the airwaves. This is going to mean a few preemptive strikes and the silencing of a few clerics who hadn’t crossed the jihad line, but the alternative is to create a breeding ground for future terrorists. The Saudis would be the biggest test case for this policy; if the current regime can’t keep its people from advocating the destruction of the US and looking the other way as men and money head to al Qaeda, a different regime that we install might. Egypt would be the second in line, as their media and people have the anti-American bug as well. This won’t be pretty, but if we want to minimize our risks of terrorism and help the lives of both the Arab world and ourselves, we need to look at fixing the broken windows caused by anti-Western jihadist rhetoric.

The Check-out Lane Two good essays I read this morning. The first is a Megan McArdle piece on unemployment. If I teach Macro this fall, I'll put a link to that piece, cause she nails the topic to the wall. The second is Rand Simberg's vivisection of a piece by a skull-fulla-mush college kid who doesn't like the sight of body bags. The poor kid's going to get gang-blogged for this one.

Round Three in Zimbabwe-The Supreme Court didn't stop day three of voting. That's a good sign for both the opposition that the judicial system isn't in Mugabe's pocket.

Quip du jour-"The opera ain't over until the Fat Lady sings"-Dan Cook (does Brunhilda go out with a jet to Libya or with guns blazing?) Edifier du jour-"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."-John 14:27

Sunday, March 10, 2002

Everybody Into the (March Madness) Pool-I'm suprised that both of my basketball-power alma maters,Kent State and Michigan State (CMU stunk this year and SVSU is Division II), are 10 seeds. I'm a sentimental fool, but I'm taking KSU to go into the elite 8 as one of my sleepers, while I have MSU leaving in the second round. Here's two good pieces on KSU by Terry Pluto, one on point guard Trevor Huffman and another on coach Stan Heath. For what it's worth-here's the upsets I posted on the ESPN bracket prediction game. South KSU(10) to East Finals -- this is a flyer, I know. (6) Cal beats (3) Pitt (5) Indiana beats (4) USC West Gonzaga(6) beats Arizona(3) and Okla(2) and UCLA(8) (8) UCLA beasts Cincy(1) and OSU(4) East MSU (10) beats NC State (14) Murray State beats Georgia -- This the big thud pick, Georgia seems to underperform in the tourney. (12) Tulsa beats Marquette-goes to 16-Tusla is a classic tourney overachiever (13) Valpo beats Kentucky -Gotsta go with the Crusaders for at least one round. Midwest Western Kentucky(9) beats Stanford Boston College (11) Beats Texas -the Longhorns tend to underperform in the tourney, while BC overperforms I have Duke, Maryland, Kansas and Gonzaga (have to have one longshot to win these things) going to the Final Four, with Kansas beating Duke in the final. Let's see how it goes. Remember-free advice is worth the price.

Urban Renewal Gaza Style-Israelis leveled the PA HQ in Gaza today. They also announced they'll let Arafat out of Ramullah now that the PA has rounded up all of the killers of tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi. There seems to be a bit of a lull in things, but that can change with one good bombing. Cooler heads might prevail, but that has about the chance of a 15 seed winning. No, weise-esel, not a 16, give peace an outside chance.

Voting Extended in Zimbabwe-The opposition MDC got the High Court ( a step below the Supreme Court?) to order a third day of voting, since polling places were going slower than normal. The government is trying to appeal to the Supreme Court to stop further voting. If the ruling sticks, it may auger the beginning of the end for Mugabe.

Quip Du Jour- "The best leaders inspire by example. When that's not an option, brute intimidation works pretty well, too."-anon via Dispair.com (Let's hear it for Bobby Mugabe as Monday Night Revolution comes to town) Edifier du Jour: "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."' Numbers 6:24-26

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