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Saturday, April 06, 2002

God's Not a Party-Pooper-Chris Burgwald's got another keeper, on Morality and Happiness. Go and read the darn thing, it's good. I was reminded of a passage in C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, which you should read if you haven't already. In chapter 22, Screwtape is writing to his junior demon Wormwood-
He's a hedonist at heart. All those fast and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a facade. Or only like the foam on a sea shore. Out at sea, out in His sea, there is pleasure and more pleasure. He makes on secret; at His right hand are "pleasures for evermore."... He's vulgar, Wormwood. He has a bourgeois mind. He has filled His world full of pleasures. There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least-sleeping, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working. Everything has to be twisted before it's any use to us. We fight under cruel disadvantages. Nothing is naturally on our side.
The proscriptions in the Bible aren't there to keep us from pleasure, they are their to direct us to greater pleasures both here in this life and in eternity. There are plenty of fun and fulfilling things to do that aren't sinful.

More Linkorama- My link list's getting crowded again. I just added James D. Miller's Conservative Economist, Mark Butterworth's Sunny Days in Heaven (overdue additon) and the wunderkind amongst the Wonder Boys, Chris Burgwald's Veritas. Thanks to all three of them, and to Possumblog, for giving me permalinks. Also, Eve Tushnet just got deputised. I had her in the Blogs of the Right, she's now, along with Butterworth and Burgwald, a member of the Augstinian Posse.

Justice Estrada?-The NYT has a piece on the upcoming judicial brawls. One name, towards the back of the piece, struck me as interesting. Miguel Estrada is a nominee for the DC Court of Appeals. The DC circuit is the big constitutional processor, and has sent more members to the Supreme Court than any other circuit. Ginsburg, Scalia and Thomas all served there before moving up to the Supreme Court. Estrada seems to have an American Dream resume-a Honduran immigrant with a Harvard law degree who clerked for Justice Kennedy, served as a assistant DA and worked in the Solicitor General's office before going into private practice in Washington. He belongs to the Federalist Society-good start. NOW doesn't like him but doesn't have any goods on him beyond looking a bit like Scalia. Another liberal group, Independent Judiciary, questions his judicial temperment. Putting Estrada on the DC circuit would set him up for a promotion to the Supreme Court a few years down the line. The first Hispanic Supreme Court justice would be hard to shoot down. That's why the liberals are likely to raise a stink over this one, stopping a hard-to-stop Supreme Court possibility in 2006 or so in its tracks.

Would Pervy Take No For an Answer-Musharraf has proposed a referendum on his presidency, giving himself an legitimized extension in office after taking over in a coup three years ago. He seems to come from the "If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you" school of politics-"I'm not power hungry, but I don't believe in power sharing... I believe in unity of command because I'm an army man. That's the way democracy in Pakistan will function." A referendum will make it hard for opponents to beat him without an alternative. If he runs the election fairly, he will get out from under the coup stigma. He's unlikely to lose a fair election, but would he take no for an answer?

Delay Tactics-President Bush told the Israelis today to leave Palestinian areas without delay. The IDF is saying-"We didn't know The Hammer was over here. Give us a few days to make sure we do leave Tom in Ramallah or Jenin."

Beware the Israeli Street-Good News for Arafat-Only 36% of Israelis want him exiled. Bad News for Arafat-23% chose elimination. Only 15% wanted to negotiate with him. The poll also showed why Labor is still in the government-they'd get skunked if an election were held, with Defense minister and Labor chief Binyamin Ben-Eliezer getting only 4% in a race with Sharon or Netanyahu.

Just a Little Spring-Cleaning Before Powell Gets Here- Israel’s moved in to Jenin and Nablus in the north of the West Bank. Jenin, a noted gunny hotbed, is scene of some nasty fighting, with at least 30 Palestinians reported dead. The BBC reported that
US ceasefire plans have been stalled because a meeting of a three-man Palestinian security committee has yet to take place - its members are currently stranded in Gaza, Ramallah and Jericho by the Israeli blockade.
Awwww! Shucky Darns!

If the Saudis Throw a Curve, Throw Them a Qatar- The US is setting up an auxiliary command center in Qatar in case their current Prince Sultan base is rendered off limits by the Saudis. The fact that they were looking at new digs for the Central Command was known, but now we know where. Saddam, guess what? Your derriere’s grass and we’re getting the lawn mower lubed up for the spring.

Melting Pot or Stew? Some good thoughts on multiculturalism going down over at Samizdata. Britain’s now got more of a multicultural problem that the US, as immigrants from the Caribbean and South Asia are causing the British to have cultural indigestion. Brian Micklethwait has this thought
Multiculturalism. Now there's a word. Does it mean people from different cultures? Or does it mean people remaining in separate cultures? If from, then I'm all for it, in the sense of multicultural people coming to live and work in Britain. If remaining in, then I'm flat against it. I want the British melting pot to melt us all into a new culture – but just the one new culture please - where we can all get along contentedly, which won't happen if we all stay stuck in ghettoes
After getting hosed for being ethnocentric, he modified his thoughts.
Just to be clear about what I want, although I favour a "monocultural" and "British" (in the sense of all this taking place in Britain) outcome, I don't expect or want this monoculture to be white British folks plus lots of other folks behaving exactly like white British folks. I favour a genuine melting pot with the resulting combined culture containing influences and ingredients from all the new arrivals from the many different feeder cultures. In my original posting I used the phrase "melting pot", and this is a much better phrase for what I believe in than "monoculturalism". "Melting pot" communicates both the extreme diversity of the cultural ingredients I want us and expect us to welcome in, and the unified nature of the combined outcome that I likewise want and expect.
I've always found the metaphor of a stew better than one of a melting pot. In the melting pot analogy, the various inputs are combined into a uniform mix. In a stew, the parts keep their individuality yet lend their flavors to one another. This can be seen in American cuisine, where various immigrant influences have been incorporated into our culture. I remember laughing with my Cameroonian friends at Kent State when they talked about their discovery of their favorite "American" food -spaghetti. Italian cuisine has long been part of the American pantry. Mexican food has achieved that status in the last quarter century with Chinese and other Asian influences are seeping in as well. The multiculturalism that will be stable will allow people to be part of a larger culture yet still keep family and community traditions. The Irish (and practically everyone else) do St. Patty's day, while the Italians will do their thing on Columbus Day. I don't see Cinco de Mayo or Chinese New Year celebrations as any more alarming as long as they are given the opportunity and skills to get out of the ghetto and into the larger community. They may choose to stay in the old neighborhoods, but will gradually move into the larger culture as the decades go by. The key will be giving these immigrant groups and their descendants the skills, including language skills, to make their way outside their enclaves. The mainstream culture will take some adjusting as well, seeing strange fruits and veggies in the produce section, seeing old churches converted into mosques and Buddhist temples and hearing foreign languages spoken in the stores and playgrounds. There will always be activists that will stress uniqueness and seperateness, but these people make their living being professional ethnic. Assimilation is bad for their business. Thankfully, it is a standard process that people will gradually fit into the larger culture. The kids will fit in better than the immigrant parents, and the grandkids will be all-but Americanized in most cases. Back in the pre-Civil War era, the nativist Know-Nothings railed against Irish immigration, fearing that the Catholic Irish would alter the Protestant culture. The Irish fit in all too well; now the ideological descendents of the Know-Nothings are personified by an Irish Catholic named Buchanan. At this rate, in 2075 some nativist named Steve Nguyen will be ranting against the next wave of immigrants.

Spiritual Dungeons-There's a growing list of "What ____ are you?" quizzes floating around the Web. Dodge took me back to my undergrad RPG days with a "What D&D character are you?" quiz. Despite becoming a Christian since then, the quiz pegged my gaming habits dead on, having me as a Neutral (between Lawful and Chaotic) Good Half-Elf Ranger. I always tried to run NG characters, and would often go with a Ranger if I rolled specs that would support a Ranger. The funny thing, looking back at that time, is that my dealing with other humans didn't change that much after coming to the Lord; it was my dealing with God that changed. I tried to be helpful to others, being a generic theist at the time and having a vague idea that God wanted good, loving behavior out of me. As an undergrad, I envied the fellowship in the church groups, but I had a sense of honesty that didn't feel conformable going to a Christian group when I didn't believe myself. However, my "old-school" morals from a Methodist upbringing made it hard to hang out with the watering hole crowd. The gaming crowd was filled with a lot of those intelligent misfits that aren't barflies or Bible studiers. However, I didn't know Him and had a void in my soul that gaming or booze or entertainment couldn't fill. It took my Dad's conversion when I was 23 to be exposed to a hands-on God that died for me; that He's perfect, I'm most definitely not, and that Jesus died to bridge that gap. God filled a large part of that void and, as corny as it sounds, Eileen's filled the remainder of that void. Gaming's a weakness of mine; it can be enjoyable, but the emphasis on magic and the demonic can draw many people astray. This isn't just uninformed ramblings of some fundi preacher; gaming introduced my friend Dave to a polytheistic world, turning the Presbyterian kid into a true pagan before he died. I remember having a conversation with him while we were sharing an apartment in San Antonio just after my father got saved. He was starting to get seriously into polytheism, working up sacrifices and incantations to some old Sumarian (if memory serves) deity. While the power he seemed to get from this was tempting, the nasty nature of these deities didn't seem to make them someone I wanted to worship. The thing that save me from going that route was what was happening to my dad back in Michigan. He had gone from being an aloof agnostic to a tongue-talking Pentecostal while I was in Texas, and was reporting the miracles that were happening at the charismatic prayer meetings and Full Gospel Businessmen meetings. One of Dave's rationales for going the pagan route was that Christianity no longer had the power it had in Acts. While I wasn't a believer yet, I was able to say that, based on what my dad was seeing, that the power is still there in some circles. That witness may have been the lifeline that kept me from playing with the occult myself. Focusing on the present world rather than a fantasy world is hard, as games can give you a new persona that isn't tied to our past mistakes and our shortcomings. In those worlds, we can be more powerful and do things we wouldn't or couldn't do in real life. There's probably a big gaming quotient in blogdom, as I think this medium would tend to draw a lot of those intelligent misfits. A good Sunday School class or Bible study group can give you the fellowship and intellectual stimulation that you get in a gaming group while drawing closer to God in the process. I was unwilling to try it as an undergrad, feeling that my lack of faith would make me a misfit. Most groups are happy to deal with seekers, answering questions about what God and Jesus are all about. If you recognize that void but don't feel quite right about going to a church, give it an extra oomph and try it. Find a good evangelical church and get hooked up with a group that can give you a circle of friends to get you through the rough spots. If you're a college student, check out the InterVarsity, Navigators, Chi Alpha, Campus Crusade or other on-campus groups. You don't have to check your intellect at the door and people will understand that you are still learning.

"Choose Life" Plates 2-for-2 On Appeals. An Louisiana "Choose Life" license plate, with the extra proceeds going to crisis pregnancy centers, got the OK from a federal appeals court. Florida's plates are winning their appeals as well. Have a good chuckle at this one, folks-
The plaintiffs, Planned Parenthood and the National Council of Jewish Women, argued that the law advances "Christian fundamentalism" because the "Choose Life" slogan comes from a Bible verse, Deuteronomy 30:19.
I'll give the PP she-dogs a pass for being clueless on scripture. Not so fast, Jewish gals. Last I checked, Deuteronomy is in the Old Testament, in your scripture as well. I see stoopid people, and they don't even know they're stoopid.

Quip du jour-"My initial response was to sue her for defamation of character, but then I realized that I had no character." -Charles Barkley Edifier du jour-I Corinthians 13:1-7
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Groaner du jour- Two young brothers are fighting. A bystander asked, "Sibling Rivalry?" "Sibil War," their mom replied.

"The Mailman will Deliver for Arkansas"-How much of this is idle talk I'm not sure, but ESPN and the WaTi are talking up a possible Karl Malone run for Governor in Arkansas in 2006. He's got a ranch there, is an active Republican donor and Gov. Mike Huckabee will be term-limited in 2006, asuming he gets re-elected this fall. By 2006, the Mailman will have hung up the sneakers. There's been talk for years of Sir Charles getting into Alabama politics, but he's a verbal train wreck that makes Jesse Ventura look staid. The idea of a black Republican governor of a Deep South state will make Democrats cringe, and I think Karl's man enough to pull it off.

Friday, April 05, 2002

Rob Dreher has a good piece on the evangelical movement being a good ally of Israel. Go read it if you haven't already. One nit to pick on the piece, Dreher lumps dispensationalists with pre-millennialists. There are plenty of churches that are pre-millennialist (Jesus’ second coming is before the thousand-year reign) that don't buy into dispensationalist theology. They share a believe that Israel is still God's chosen people and will be a player in the end times. The last four churches I attended (Assemblies of God, Evangelical Free, Southern Baptist and Vineyard) were all pre-millennial without being dispensationalists. Dispensationalists are almost uniformly pre-millennial but the reverse isn't true.

Tiger in the Tank- The Detroit Tigers started 0-3. Maybe, being set to move an hour SE of Tampa, I should adopt the D-Rays in advance. The Tigers and Indians will be freezing their noonies off (March weather hasn't left yet) in the Tiger's home opener this afternoon, and I'll (sad to say) be rooting for the Indians. I spent 1990-96 down in Kent, an hour southeast of Cleveland, and watched the Indians put the Curse of Rocky Colavito to rest during those years. With the Tigers sucking bilge water for all of the 90s, I never got back into the Tigers when I came back from Ohio, staying more of an Indians fan than a Tigers fan. The Tribe's off to a 2-1 start and will do better than the pundits expect, as youngsters are ready to step in for Lofton, Gonzales and Alomar. I never converted to the Cavs or the Browns (and you never, ever, change college fanhood) but the Indians were another matter.

Raise Your Steyn- Mark's got a keeper on Israel and western appeasment. {update-check out Mark Butterworth's riff on the piece]

Welcome, Estonians- Went into my hit counter, which has a language section. I've gotten ten hits from people with Estonian browsers, the second-ranking language behind English. Don't be a stranger.

Midday Musings- Nice essay from fellow Midlander Larry Reed on the history of time zones. James D. Miller has a good piece on professor-student affairs. Why colleges aren't doing more to stop this is beyond me. This would be a good chance to resurect the anti-p0rn coalition of conservatives and feminists. Mark Butterworth isn't syrupy, just exuding common-sense, in this piece on his daughter and the prom's all-night afterglow that he made a no-go. If you have work with or have teens, go thou and readeth. _________ Chris Johnson at the MCJ pulled one on me-he pointed to a WaPo article with the comment "Can New Jersey support two NHL teams?" The article has the headline "Capitals Are Considering a Move to New Jersey." I scan the article expecting to see info about the Caps relocating to Camden or Atlantic City (hey, His Airness can hit the casinos more often). Nah, they are looking to get a different uniform, a new jersey. Foooooo. _________ Charles Austin has a keeper in his quixotic quest to tilt at the Scourge of Richard Cohen.
I have Scourged every column Richard has published for the last 7.5 weeks, not including one substitute column the one and only time in the last 15 columns when much of what Richard said made sense. So, Richard’s batting 0.066 against this anti-idiotarian – far, far below the Mendoza line and Richard can’t run well or throw either, and that’s pretty bad for you non-baseball fans.
But can Cohen hit with power? Nah. He strikes out so often, he makes Dave Kingman look like a contact hitter. Translation- The Mendoza line is named after a weak-hitting Seattle shortstop, Mario Mendoza, who struggled to hit .200. I've not seen a formal definition of the Line, but .200 is the implied demarkation.

Vocabulary Lesson-Ecclesiology. Chris Burgwald over at Veritas is in fine form (a permalink's coming) with a essay of the centrality of the Catholic church. He has this contrast between Protestants and Catholics-
So it comes down to this: Catholics believe that Jesus formed a Church specifically with a visible teaching body which would (by His Spirit) be free from error in its teaching. Protestants do not believe that the visible teaching body of the Church is an essential element of the Church formed by Jesus, and hence this body is not free from error for them.
I'm not quite sure how Chris defines "visible teaching body," but there is a need to teach the Gospel. Romans 10:14-15 points this out
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
Someone has to deliver this message, thus a body of teachers is needed. Without it, the Church will not function, thus are essential. However, this could hinge upon the spin you put on "essential." If it is simple read as needed or required, a teaching body is needed, but not an infallible one. If you read it as part of Christ's essence, then one could lean towards a reading that would make the teaching inerrant. My reading of scripture leads me to take a slightly skeptical view towards any teacher in that a human's teachings needs to square with what the Bible says. Paul spends a good chunk of First and Second Timothy warning against false teachers. An uncritical acceptance of a teacher can be a recipe for cultdom, and believers need to be checking to see if the teacher is speaking for God or for himself. Even within the Catholic church, theologically wayward priests are shown the door regularly; their parishioners need to understand what the priest says and does isn't always right. Staying true to church doctrine is a safe bet, given that the church itself is sound, since you're more likely to be wrong than the church is in a doctrinal difference; the church has spent centuries or millennia hacking their theology. That being said, the believer needs to look at what he's being taught and weigh it against scripture with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Quip du jour-"For untold ages, women have been known for untold ages."-anon (Standard birthday joke for somewhat older women) Edifier du jour-"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas."-Psalm 8:3-8

Thursday, April 04, 2002

With Phil Donahue coming back to TV, the arrogance quotient needed to be lowered, so liberal, condesending, self-centered son-of-a *%&% Bryant Gumble's getting out of the biz. I liked him as a sports anchor and interviewer in the late 70s/early 80s, when he was one of the best studio sports guys ever. Costas is a bit better, but Gumble set the bar for Bob to shoot for. When he moved to the Today show, his evil twin took over after a while. Goodby and good ridance.

Dual Citizenship Talib?- The news out today is that there was another American in Gitmo. However, this guy, Yasser Esam Hamdi, was a Saudi born in Baton Rouge 22 years ago. He and his folks went back to Saudi Arabia when he was a prayer rug rat. This possible American citizenship might give him a Get Out of Gitmo Free Card and be charged formally as Talib Johnny has been. Immigration law's not my area of expertise, but I think the US doesn't fully accept the concept of dual citizenship. When a person with more than one citizenship option hits adulthood, he has to choose which citizenship to take. As I understand the law, if a person uses the rights of citizenship of another country, he forfeits his US citizenship. This guy's 22. If he has chosen to use his Saudi citizenship, would that not nuke his US Citizenship and his Get Out of Gitmo Free Card? I haven't seen that angle reported on as of yet.

Sympathies to Louder-He's got a bad case of Hit Counter Envy. "On a good day I might pass 100 hits -- and USS Clueless considers that pathetic. It is, isn't it? Oh, well. I have the consolation of knowing that what I don't have in quantity I do have in quality. I know who some of my readers are and I'm grateful that I have the fine audience I have." Hits take time to develop. You need to be out there for people to see and link to you. I've been at this a few weeks longer that Louder, and have been averaging about 200 hits a weekday since getting my counter in last week. I don't try to troll for hits, since I want people to stay and learn something, as I learn from others. The two of us started a good theological discussion that has reverberated around this part of the Blogosphere. We're doing quality work, and the hits will come in due time.

Christian Libertarianism?- Kevin's already weighed in on Ben's post of this morning
As loyal readers will know, yes that means both of you, I am not a libertarian. I do find myself with libertarian instincts - minimalist government - but I don't find it attractive as a philosophy
I would consider myself a dynamist in the sense that individual activity creates better wealth creation and distribution, and thus a greater commonweal, than centralized government activity. However, I'm not onboard with the word "libertarian". If you allow government to make some moral stands on the unborn and on other sexual issues, it takes some of the more repugnant features of libertarian thought. I'm not on board with Ben's comments on drugs
All those libertarians out there who are in favor of drug legalization get to smoke whatever they want, as long as they don't decide to drive a piece of heavy machinery over someone else's car.
The carnage that many drugs do to people's lives makes me want to keep most drugs illegal, but I'm starting to tire of the War on Drugs. Our sin nature will lead us into trying things that aren't good do ourselves or our communities; laws are still needed to move people away from those behaviors. I'm all for lesser sentences for users and a greater emphasis on rehab rather than prison, but the laws should stay on the books. Beyond the sex and drugs, I also have problem with libertarian's hatred of government. Government does have areas that it, with the proper management and lawmaking, can be a net plus for the common welfare. A little Googling found this Christianity Today critique-
The influence of libertarianism has led many evangelicals to adopt a starkly antagonistic view of the responsibilities of government and the church, the public and the private sectors. Operating from this either/or perspective, some argue that since individual Christians are commanded to care for the poor, it must not be any of the government's business. But such a conclusion requires that we dismiss the large body of biblical teaching that says the government has a responsibility to care for the poor. It also ignores centuries of biblically based Christian thought and teaching on the distinct but complementary roles of state, family, and church (exemplified in the Catholic idea of "subsidiarity" and the Reformed concept of "sphere sovereignty"). Critics of government programs, such as Marvin Olasky, are right to point out the ways in which government has sometimes failed miserably to meet its responsibilities, but it does not follow that the state therefore does not have any such responsibilities. It is also true that some of the best work empowering the poor is being done by faith-based nonprofit agencies, but that does not absolve other actors—governments, neighbors, relatives—from fulfilling their respective, God-given responsibilities as well.
As Christians, we should look to set up our political economy so as to further this part of Jesus' mission; "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." While libertarians and I will agree that we should have a smaller government, I still think a modest amount of redistribution of wealth is beneficial for the society as a whole. I do not have quite the faith in the generosity of individuals to shoulder the burden of helping the poor in the absence of government help. However, improved tax treatment for donations to private endeavors to help to poor might make direct government aid unnecessary. Ben and I most likely will agree on 98% of bills up on Capital Hill, and I don't want to start a food fight with him. However, a hard look at what level of government we want and what type of drug laws would work will go a long way to insuring that that we're still on the same page.

How's the traffic flow, Eve?- Rod Dreher cited you as a "spendid right-wing blogger" this afternoon in The Corner. If I see a bunch of traffic coming my way from your site, I know why. Amy Welborn got blitzed last week, it's your turn. Yo, Rod! Over Here!

We're Here, We're Exceptional. Get Use To It! Airstrip One linked to this Christopher Montgomery piece on the precariousness of American hegemony. While Monty makes some good points, each of his four premises are severly flawed. (1) Globalization-Montgomery mentions that “classical theory of free trade made no promises of permanent national advantage” True, the Japanese model looked good for a while, but petered out. Central planning only helps if you keep guessing right. The US has a larger GDP than Europe or Japan and will likely grow faster than either of them for the near term. Only if Japan and the EU gets rid of some of its statist baggage will they be able to match growth rates with the US for the long haul. Russia is out of the loop for the near term. China and India could be competitors in the far future, as they have four times the population and would only need one-fourth the per capita GDP to match the US in monetary terms. India is the one that could pull that off; with the BJP being more free-market oriented than that socialist-rooted Congress party, India could parlay its computer expertise and English-speaking elites to get up to that 25% of US GDP by the 2020s. With an angry Pakistan on its west, China on its north as well as possible problems with Maoists in Nepal makes the need for a strong military much more likely in India than in Europe. However, a free-market, economical stronger India would be likely to be an ally rather than a foe of the US. If you doubt that, give Suman Palit's site a read-over. There's no guarantee that the US will stay #1 in GDP forever, but no grouping is within striking distance within the next few decades. (2) We’re not as strong as we think-Montgomery scoffs at the permanance of the US’s 'full spectrum dominance' in military matters. He notes that when compared to Britain a century ago “US controls very few of her strategic assets.” The forced pullout of our Subic Bay naval base in the Philippines does help make his point. There is a key difference between the British Empire and the American hegemony. The British owned Gibraltar, Singapore, Egypt and South Africa while we borrow our bases. Keeping good relations with a few players in each region is needed. Witness the move recently in the news to set up backup bases in the Persian Gulf area in case the Saudi’s don’t want us using out Gulf War bases to stage an attack on Iraq. It makes for a different level of diplomacy than a simple empire, but we don’t have to dominate the area we base in, just have an enlightened friend in the country in question. This could make things interesting on occasion, but would be merely an impediment to hegemony rather than stop it in its tracks. (3) Decline is already under way- Montgomery points out that
US leadership rests much more upon the consent of her 'western' followers than is commonly allowed for. Subtract from the calculus of American power the sheepish behavior of say Britain, Germany and Japan, and again, the equation is markedly different. These (rather than basket cases like Iraq, China and Russia) are precisely the countries which could most plausibly 'compete' with the United States, being rich, militarily capable, and most importantly, on the whole underexerted. If her Western allies took repeated American advice and raised their percentage of GDP allocated to defence to American levels, that would have an astonishing effect on those tables which presently show the US to be spending as much on defence as the next seven powers combined.
According to this Martin Walker piece, the US spends 3.3% of its GDP on its military while Europe spends 1.8% on average currently. Given that the EU's GDP is only 78% of the US's, they would have to spend 4.2% of GDP to match US spending. I don't think the Europeans have the will to raise taxes or cut social spending to get to military parity, given the current GDP. Raising taxes would further slow economic growth while an entrenched socialist mindset would balk at giving up the goodies. The post-Christian moral relativism that is the current paradigm in Europe would tend to bring an isolationist tone to foreign policy, as they would be both less concerned about the welfare of other nations and less convinced that their are universal values that are worth going to war over. Such a world-view would lead to skepticism about the need for a big army that they weren't overly interested in using. continued statists policies in the EU will likely make European economic growth slower than the US, thus making it even harder for the EU to achieve military parity if it did have the will to do so. Japan is unlikely to catch up with the US militarily anytime soon. The Japanese GDP is only 41% of the US. That added to a aversion to big military spending makes getting past 1% of GDP very tough for the Japanese. (4) The instability of the perpetual hegemony-Montgomery gives both barrels to the National Greatness pack of Kristolian neocons, doubting that the US will use its power with restraint.
America will decline more, then fall, largely because neo-conservatives will spend vast, unnecessary sums on defence; boast about American power, thereby provoking determined opposition; and, make significant strategic errors – principally regarding China as a preordained foe, and, overcommitting resources on Wilsonian fancies due to pursuit of neo-Reaganite goals. Perhaps the neocons know this – they're very smart – perhaps the reason they'll destroy the thing they claim they love most, American pre-eminence, is because they realise at some level of consciousness its basic incompatibility with their creed's fundamentally moral raison d'être (liberty, freedom, all that jazz). Maybe neocons are secretly yearning to scream out too, 'A republic, not an empire'. Of course the opposite might be true if we look to the under considered field of geopol-psychology for an answer – perhaps neo-cons are so loudly triumphalist because of deep-rooted anxiety, perhaps they're simply screaming at the night?
Those "neo-Reaganite goals" stem from the exceptionalism that Montgomery states is bogus. I, as do most Americans, think that our blend of a free market democracy tempered with a modest amount of wealth transference to help the poor is the best system and should be copied elsewhere. It's this system that gave us the largest economy in the world. The Kristolians want to spread this system around the world, not as an empire but as fellowship of free democracies. Twenty years ago, foreign policy had a central goal-contain and contract Communism. We've done that; the USSR in the dustbin and China is looking more like Singapore than it does the Cultural Revolution. Now, our foreign policy is more complex. Prior to 9/11, the general policy was to defend our friends and to expand democracy, human rights and free trade around the world. Containing Islamic terror got added to the plate after 9/11. This 21st century multiethnic version of Kipling's "White Man's Burden" is centered upon a trust in that democracy is better than dictatorships and that free markets and free trade is better than statism and autarky. It also is altruistic in that it looks after a mutual good, interactions that benefit both countries rather than forcing one's will upon the vanquished. As I pointed out earlier, our post-Vietnam military activities have had the intent of helping the areas involved. Montgomery's seemingly cynical heart doesn't relate to the concept that we'd use this power for good rather than to play the thug. The exceptionalism of the US comes from the Christian concept of the value of one's fellow man and a willingness to help individually as well as corporately. While some cultures will view lives as fungible, American's don't. This is one of the reasons that the US and Europe are at odds on many issues; we're thinking in two diferent paradigms. Yes, we shouldn't get cocky and bite off more than we can chew, but we will likely surprise Montgomery and the other cynics of the world of how we will use this power for the good of the world, which ultimately will help the US.

Arriba, Arriba!-The Free Speedy Campaign gains Hispanic backing. Quick thought-could Fox News be dwelling on this to make the Turner folks look bad? Could be.

The Canadian Right's Ad-Hoc Merger- For quite a while, I wondered if there was a way under Canadian election law to run fusion candidates. The small-c conservatives split into two camps a decade ago, with the established Conservatives keeping the RINOesque crowd, while the more conservative camp started up the Reform Party, later renamed the Canadian Alliance party with some additional Conservative defections. With the two parties splitting the right-of-center vote, the Liberals thrived, especially in Ontario. There's enough policy difference to preclude a merger, as neither party wants to compromise on core principals. However, in ridings (parliament districts) that had a majority conservative vote but a Liberal plurality, it would make since for the riding to select a fusion conservative candidate. Such a plan has been floated by people but rejected by the main leaders of both the Alliance and Conservative parties. Until now. Conservative leader Joe Clark (briefly PM in the late 70s) has agreed to the conservative fusion candidate concept, pushing "for one conservative candidate in federal ridings". Now the open question-will new Alliance Leader Stephen Harper sign off on that as well? If he does and can bring the Alliance faithful along, it may spell the end of Liberal rule. Stay tuned. [update-Kiss and Make Up Division-Ousted Alliance Leader Stockwell Day's the new foreign affairs critic-thus the likely Foreign Minister should the Alliance win next go-round (if they don't give it to Joe Clark in a coalition government) .]

Midday Musings- Powell's heading to the Mideast. Don't get your hopes up, y'all; this is just additional window dressing. Was watching a bit of CNN in the cafeteria as the news of the trip broke. If the CNN people are happy (which they were), I'm probably not going to be. However, the two-sided game should continue; Bush "purposely did not mention a timetable for Israel's withdrawal or the end to settlements." (AP quote) Translation-do your job of cleaning out the rat nests, do it right and then head back to a defensible border. Or is my Diplomatese rusty? ___________ Ben's got a killer piece (you're not getting paid for this one, Wonder Boy?) on what he describes as his Christian Libertarian philosophy. I'll put in my two cents worth this evening. John Ellis has a couple of good pieces. He takes apart the return of Phil Donahue to daily TV with an MSNBC gig. His Alan Alda shtick has been old for over a decade, unless MSNBC is looking to go retro. He also reprints a nice essay of Cousin Dubya. While certain Bostonians don't like his golf coverage, I kinda like it. I'm not a golf nut, but he breaks down the golf scene in an concise and readable manner. I was moved by the globalness of his Masters team. Two South Africans, two Spaniards, a Indian Fijian and the world's most famous cablinasian.

Is a Pope the Best Hope?-Jonah's en fuego with an essay on Islamic theology, making the point that the people calling for an Islamic Reformation may be off-base. He states that what Islam needs isn't a Luther but a Pope (Melissa rubbing off on you, dude?), pointing out that the competing brands of Islam fight for market share on their level of devoutness. He also goes on to point out the zealotry of the early Protestants, unflatteringly comparing it to the modern Wahhabis. One problem with the pope theory; what kind of theology will flow from the new Caliphate? If what resulted was the mild-mannered Islam of the Ottoman Caliphate, it could crack down upon and usually marginalize unorthodox brands of Islam, just as the Catholic church has warred against Liberation Theology, the New-Age teachings of Teilhard de Chardin as well as quashing more conventional liberal heterodox theology. However, what if we get a Wahhabi pope? That would be worse than the current situation, a world-wide jihad center.

Quip du jour-"Cliff forced him to come into my airspace. It's a no-fly zone"- Ben Wallace (That was Tuesday. The planes were shot down on the runway last night) Edifier du jour-"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."-I Corinthians 10:31

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

DC Saved From Further Ridicule-Marion Berry's wife's walked out on him, putting his political comeback on hold. Being a convicted crack-head with a recent brush with the law on drug possession makes you a qualified candidate. Having your fourth wife walk out on you makes you a bad candidate. Beam me up, Scotty. No intelligent life-forms here.

Midget Merger- One less hat in the ring for Michigan Governor. The #4 candidate in a 2.5 person race, Alma Wheeler Smith, dropped out of the race to back fomer House minority whip David Bonior, currently a distant third behind ex-governor Jim Blanchard and state AG Jennifer Granholm. Bonior has made Smith his choice for Lt. Gov. if he gets the nomination. This might help Bonior some in Detroit, as Smith will help with the black vote. Despite his name recognition with political junkies, Bonior would draw a blank stare from the average Joe outstate. He has some union backing, but hasen't caught fire yet.

Martyrdom For Dummies- Dr. Weevil has step-by-step instructions for Yasser the Gasser to go get his 72 raisins. I like step four; as he can play to his most telegenic side.

"'Chief Justice Breyer!' I Scream"- Good post from William Sulik on an alternative to the Chief Justice O'Connor gambit. Throw a bone to Joe Biden and nominate Steven Breyer (former Senate Judicial Committee chief council under Biden) to be Chief Justice in return for clear sailing for a conservative replacement for Rehnquist. The Chief Justice's primary power roll is to pick who gets to write a decision on the side he's on. That may be a fair trade for getting a good conservative replacement. I'd hold out for O'Connor, but we might need to give 'em Breyer if we can only get to 60 votes on the good replacement that way.

Linkorama- Added four people to the permalinks. Orrin Judd and James Lileks are long overdue, Dr. Weevil gives one of the highest signal-to-noise ratios in the business and Gary Petersen's a new evangelical blogger who's sent some traffic my way. The hit counter's nice, it lets me know who's linking to me and gives a heads-up if I've been linked to. I clicked after dinner to see Rantburg traffic flooding in. He had featured my post on Bush's Israel policy front and center. Two newcomers that show promise. Eve Tushnet introduced a thoughtful Catholic blogger you can't handle theVeritas. James D. Miller's Conservative Economist blog's another keeper. He's a NRO free-lancer and (shiver me timbers) a U. of Chicago Ph.D. in Econ. I didn't have a Nobel winner on my dissertation committee, but then, going to Kent State, I didn't expect to. Don't you have to get a Noble prize to get tenure in the Chicago econ department?

Two-Faced Policy-A lot of people are confused by the two-track mind of the Bush Administration in regards to Arafat. The State Department is still talking peace, while Bush is not opposing Israel's move to clean up the West Bank. This BBC writer's scratching his head, while Susanna Cornett performed a live vivisection on this NYT piece with similar liberal cluelessness. Alrighty, boys and girls, let me 'splain what’s going on. Bush is backing Israel in this thing, but it's geopolitically incorrect to say he is. He will say the right things about not wanting the peace process to die, but understands that Zinni's enema didn't work, nor will further treatments be helpful. The 'peace process' is dead and buried, not to be resurrected for a generation in all likelihood. The diplomacy track is window dressing meant to keep liberals in Europe from blowing up at him. The real game will be whether Israel can gut the terrorist abilities of West Bankers and create a secure, defendable border. The US would support a defanging of Hamas and Fatah, but can't say so publicly, thus the less-than-transparant diplomatic game. [update-Charles Austin reminded me that vivisections are by definition on live beings. Mea maxima culpa]

Axis of Terror-There was a group of Euroweenie activists that got into Arafat's compound in Ramallah and then detained by the Israelis. One of them was anti-globo Jose Bove, who gained international fame by trashing a French McDonalds. Both Bove and Arafat know their terrorism. I'm in an ornery mood today, wishing the Israelis would apply "moderate physical pressure" to Bove and his ilk.

Time for a Manger Rearranger-The IDF's moved into Bethelham, and the Palestinian gunnies have holed up in the Church of the Nativity, the site where legend has Jesus being born. Go for it, guys. If you have to trash the place to root them out, do so. Sites aren't holy, only God is. Churches can be rebuilt, for the thing that makes a church special isn't in the bricks and mortar, it's in the hearts of the believers. One shouldn't trash historic landmarks willy-nilly, but do what needs to be done.

Pinning the Claudometer-The State Department issued a travel warning for Israel and the West Bank-"The potential for further terrorist acts remains high." Brilliant deduction, Sherlock!

Quip du jour-"War is politics by other means"-Karl von Clausewitz Edifer du jour-"A fool's lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating."-Proverbs 18:6 (Insert stoopid columnist name here) Groaner du jour-The Clinton Cocktail-Drink two and you're saying "Urrp. Pardon me. Pardon me." (Origionally the Blanton Cocktail from a Tennessee govenor selling pardons in the 70s)

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Correction, BlogCentral.org- After reading today’s Lileks piece (isn’t the picture of Gnat precious?) on his dream blogger-staffed newspaper, it brought into focus a vision of the first stop for bloggers. I called it BlogCentral.com this morning, but upon further review, I’m going with BlogCentral.Org. This isn’t designed to be a money-maker, but could pay a few staffers if banner ad revenues are sufficient. For starters, we get 6-12 editors, good like-minded bloggers, together and get some server space to stash BlogCentral on. Our blogs, if we don’t have a separate server of our own, could be on (for example) BlogCentral.org\blogs\Mark_Byron. The main page would be the happenest place in Blogistan. A left column would have a box for each editor’s blog, complete with a blurb on his best piece of the day. The right side would have a Best of Blogs in different categories; politics, foreign affairs, humor, culture, etc., as well as a New Blog of the Day. The center column would be would have general feature columns on a hot topic. If I were writing today’s, I’d likely look at the April Fool’s jokes over at Instapundit and Bjorn Staerk and the Boston Globe piece.I’d also have a recurring (weekly for starters) on technical tips for blogging, such as how to do Rantburg-style highlights, pros-and-cons of various hit counters and comment services, Movable Type hints for those of us ready to bid Blogger sayonara, etc. The editors would research and supply links for inclusion in the Best of Blogs sections as well as write for the center column on a rotating basis. I don’t know how the logistics would work for a multi-person operation and how you would keep two people from trying to edit the same section at the same time, but someone out there does. If we get the traffic that such a service would generate, some discrete banner ads would pay for the server and possibly down the line pay salaries to staffers. It might make money, but I’m not looking for it to make money, thus the .org. It would sound strange setting up the BlogCentral Foundation, devoted to disseminating the collective knowledge of the Blogosphere to readers around the globe, but that’s what going through my tired and warped mind this evening. Ladies and Germs of the Blogosphere, do I have any partners in this wacky dream?

Bad Option-Alan Reynolds has an interesting piece on option taxation policy and some patently bad reporting on the subject. Plans have been floated for years to try to tax stock options when issued instead of when they are exercised; Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (DR-Ariz.) are providing the current version. There are a number of reasons (other than the fact that Levin and McCain are sponsoring it) to oppose this measure. One reason is that options on non-publicly-traded companies are hard to price. Most option-pricing models, such as the standard Black-Scholes model, use five basic variables
(1)-Current Stock Price (2)-Exercise (or striking) Price- what you’ll pay for the option (3)- A risk-free interest rate—the Three-month Treasury bill rate’s a good proxy (4)-Time to maturity (5) Volatility
For company’s that aren’t on a stock exchange, as many startups are, it’s hard to get a solid stock price. Secondarily, the volatility figure is often calculated using other publicly traded options (or earlier prices on that option) on the company, taking the option price and the other four inputs and coming up with an implied volatility for the option. Without either the stock or the option being publicly traded, it’s hard to get a good clean look at the stock price. The second, and more important, reason is that it will make it harder for startups to get good help. If we do get a valuation system in place, then the current IRS-sanctioned value of the option will be added to the employee’s taxable income and subtracted from the company’s net income. Since the startup is likely bleeding red ink, the added loss will be carried over until the day that the company starts making money. However, the employee will pay taxes on the option today. Say an employee who’s be worth $75,000 gets $50,000 salary and $25,000 in options. Assuming a 30% tax hit, the $50,000 salary becomes $42,500 with the $7500 he’ll have to pay taxes on the options. The IRS doesn’t lose much money from giving the startup company a deduction but can tax the heck out of the individual getting it. If the options pan out, he’ll make more, and Uncle Sam will be there with his hand out for his share of the profits. f the company goes bust, as a lot of dot-commers did, then the option-holder will be able to claim a capital loss. The IRS throws a monkey wrench in this, making you take the deduction in $3000/year increments unless you have other capital gains to apply it to. The IRS would be quick to take it away as income and slow to take the tax revenue hit as losses, both on the corporate and individual end. This would thus be a case where liberals and big corporations could join forces to screw the small businessman. The reduced cash income to employees will hurt small corporate start-up more than existing big business, which have the income to bounce the booked expense off of. Big companies also wouldn’t mind if this law slows their pesky upstarts down. We saw some of this in the Clintoncare debate, as your big unionized companies (who already supply health insurance) didn’t mind making the non-unionized little guys pay for it to. Also, start-ups tend to be less unionized, so are a better target for liberal lawmakers. There is a good populist measure to this bill, as liberals and McCainiacs will use it to try and make hay on Enron. However, this would hamper small businesses, which creates most of the jobs in this country, by making it harder to get quality staff. The problem with shooting down this bill is that it takes a sophisticated argument to do so. Let’s get started.

Blogcentral.com?-Lileks has an interesting piece on a mythical newspaper to replace our current low-level dreck.
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it’s all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin “I am smoking in such a provocative fashion” Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief. Who wouldn’t buy that paper? Who wouldn’t want to read it? Who wouldn’t climb over their mother to be in it?
I'm not sure a dead-tree version would be the best outlet for that talent, but such a uberblog web site would make sense. I've got my own ideas about a BlogCentral.com that would be manned by a number of good bloggers, bringing a combination of news summaries, Blogwatches and origional content to make a fun, informative website. More on that this evening.

Exile for Arafat?-I'm not sure which is the better option for Israel at this point, a dead Arafat, a jailed Arafat or a exiled Arafat. Current news reports have Israel wanting to get him the bleep out of their hair exiling him. He gets a certian martydom either way. If they can press charges that will stick with Europeans, arresting him would be the best option. Short of that, the bad PR from killing him would be outweighed by the bad PR they'd get from Yasser the Gasser's Grande Tour. If they don't have the chutzpah to kill him, then exiling him is better than imprisoning him. Israel's best hope is to have him turn down exile and go out with guns blazing. Arafat works best as a cheesy diplomat rather than as an administrator so he might see exile as better than house arrest.

Pervy Talking Nice to Afghans-The BBC has Musharraf saying that Pakistan won't ever interfere in Afghanistan's internal affairs, as he made his first post-Taliban visit."We will not allow each other's countries to be used against the interests [of one another]." Why did that just pin the bogometer? Given Pakistan's track record, that statement above will be valid as long as it serves Perv's interests. I'd love to see Rantburg's yellow journalism on this one.

Tempist doth Fugit- Having lived four decades, I have occasional "it was that long ago?" moments. This weekend, when the Pistons played Golden State, Rick Barry was in the house to cover the Warriors and to check out son Jon draining threes for the Pistons. It hit me that it was over a quarter-century ago (1975 if memory serves) that he led Golden State to a title. Doesn't seem that long ago that I was trying free-throws underhanded Barry-style to improve my basketball game. Had another one of those moments today on was the 20th anniversary of the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands. The counter-attack by the British was the coming-out party for the Iron Lady, bringing British pride back. I remember my friend Dave, who was in the Navy at the time, pointing out that the US was en route to help the British if the needed it, as his Pacific-based carrier group was being rerouted to the South Atlantic. Thankfully, the Argentines didn't put up a bad of a fight as they could have .

Political Musings-Orrin Judd has a good post on the impotence of modern liberalism. I'll take issue with categorizing conservatives as retrograde. That would be the "Progressive" critique, that they are reversing decades of "progress." Bigger government and looser morals aren't progress. If you're going the wrong way, it helps to do a 180. Ben Domenech points out that the Democrats have pulled even with Republicans in generic congressional polling. A 46-46 tie is still good news, since Republicans typically underpoll this far out from an election; free market ideas take some thought to get past the fears of lessened government goodies. Ben also notes that the Gallup poll also has John Edwards and Al Sharpton in the cellar at 2% each. It makes one wonder how Edwards has a shot, despite the good press he's been getting of late. But how many non-political junkies knew about Jimmy Carter in 1974 or Bill Clinton in 1990? The game is still young, and a number of higher-polling candidates won't make the run. Sharpton has name recognition from his racemongering, being a Jesse Jackson without the charm. Outside of political junkies or Tar Heels, the name John Edwards would as likely be attributed to the Sci-Fi psychic [John Edward] than to the junior senator from North Carolina.

Quip du jour-"There are three faithful friends -- an old wife, an old dog, and ready money"-Ben Franklin (Phil Gramm reintroduced it in his '96 presidential campaign where I heard it first. He had ready money but no ready voters.) Edifier du jour- "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."- I Corintians 9:24-25 Groaner du jour-The permanent-press lycanthrope-a.k.a. the Wash-and-Werewolf.

Monday, April 01, 2002

The downsides of euthanasia-I'm even more sickened by "assisted suicide" than I am abortion. Most people looking to end their own lives are depressed about the pain they are in. If a healthy college kid is considered mentally unstable if he want to do himself in, how come a sick adult is perfectly able to make a rational decision? While it will be positioned by advocates as a way to relieve pain for people who find living too physically painful to bear, changing laws and physician attitudes about pain relief can go a long way to prevent the "I can't go on like this" pain that leads older people to become suicidal. Doctors tend to ignore pain and are afraid to prescribe narcotics that may be needed to remedy pain, but from fear of addiction and from fear of the police looking at them as pushers. Legalizing euthanasia will put doctors in the position of either saving lives or taking lives, depending on what the patient or the doctor wants. Insurers that are looking to pinch pennies may encourage doctors to suggest euthanasia more often, since killing off a patient would be cheaper than treating their illnesses. As a truly heartless grad school colleague said: "They have a negative Net Present Value. What do you do with a project with a negative NPV? You get rid of it." The elderly might be fearful of seeing a doctor in those circumstances for fear of being talked into suicide. I remember this bit of dark humor-
Funeral Director-"How old are you, sir?" "Ninety-six" "Hmmm. Hardly worth the trip home."
Not only doctors and insurers, but family member might start suggesting euthanasia if it meant a bigger inheritance. A struggling senior might be goaded into suicide if the financial details were pressed: " We could send Sally to college with the $70,000 we'd be spending to put you up in the nursing home for the next two years." Or buy a nice retirement cottage for the son and daughter-in-law. Plenty of movie and TV plots have been built around a wealthy senior's premature demise; this would make such greed acceptable. People shouldn't be in a position to be pressured into selling the remainder of their lives. Euthanasia also ignores the value of the life of an enfeebled person. Their wisdom and insights can help society, even if they are a physical and financial burden. In a society fixated on youth and fitness, the old and infirm are treated as near worthless. It's the animals that leave their sick and old to die. We are not animals; no, we are Devo God has given us a better sense of value than that of the body, for we are soul and spirit as well. The Jack the Drippers of the world don't see the value of a life even when it is struggling to hang in there. There is a time to pull the plug when a patient is brain-dead or is beyond recovery. However, it should be limited to those cases, and not done to people who are still vital but simply in pain.

Why''s everyone hot over youth in Asia? What about kids in other continents? The Dutch euthanasia law took effect today. They had been looking the other way for decades and seemingly codifying unoficial policy. This from the country that's given us legal drugs and prostitution. The interesting factoid comes the second article-"merely a third of the Dutch are members of a church." The politics of the Netherlands appear to be taking a post-Christian turn, as the political dynamic appears to be turning to a liberal-libertarian fight, with Pim Fortuyn, a gay anti-immigration libertarian being the big rising star in Dutch politcs. All these developments may cheer libertarians, but leave me queasy. I've got a longer rant in me, but it will have to keep for this evening.

The Check-out Lane Louder Fenn's doing his Ernie Banks imitaition, as he said "let's play two" and went to a pair of Easter services yesterday of a pair of non-Roman rite Catholic churchs. I'm glad I'm not the only one; Eileen and I did a triple-header last Easter, taking in a sunrise service at my old Sunrise Baptist church, then the 9:00 service at New Live Vineyard. After that, we were still in the mood for a bit more worship and caught the 10:30 at Sunrise Baptist. We were slacking this year, just our single standard 10:45 service. Cut on the Bias has a good piece on traditonal morality and libertarians. Charles Austin assesses truth in blog labeling The Happy Fun Pundit turns serious with a good essay on the Queen Mum and Holy Week.

Assimilation Policy-AOL/Papa Blog (congrats on the moola) linked to good Microcontent News piece on blogs and more conventional journalists. The analogy to the Borg isn't quite apt, as there isn't a collective consciousness involved, although blog being a near-anagram of Borg makes the analogy good copy. What the blog does is allow distributed computing, where different writers bring their own insights to bear on the news of the day, putting pieces together. Even distributed computing isn't the best analogy, since the Blogosphere isn't N PCs set up to do a minute task in the same way as all of the others. Each blog brings its own set of knowledge to the party. We have experts/enthusiasts on military issues, space issues, foreign policy, Jewish issues, Irish issues, Catholic issues and Bapticostal issues just to name a few. Hypothesis are made and corrected. "What do you think of this?" someone will ask, and given a few days or a few hours, often a better-hacked solution will arise. Blogs will give the issues of the day a good going over, learning from each other to get at a better solution. As the months go by, this will find a way out to the general public.

Habeas Corpus?-The Hokie Pundit looked like he was going Unitarian on us earlier this weekend, but while most civilized people were sleeping (in the Eastern Time Zone at least) in the wee hours of this morning, he redeemed himself with a sold post on the resurrection. There's a good question to ask about the resurrection that helps vouch for the orthodox story- If he wasn't resurrected, who had the body? If the Jews had the body, they could point out that Way was bogus by showing the body. If the Romans had the body, they could turn the early church Corpus Crispy rather then put up with this pesky cult. If the disciples had the body, they were sacrificing and dying for a lie; legend has all but one of the original 12 disciples dying a martyr's death. The actions of all three camps are illogical if they had custody of the body, thus the most likely case then is that there is no body to be found. He has risen!

Quip du jour-"No wonder the Arabs are so ornery; they're all descended from Hagar the Horrible."-anon. Edifier du jour-"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."-Psalm 46:1 (Remember that as we go from the Easter highs to the lows of the daily grind)

Sunday, March 31, 2002

Interesting contrast-an 6.8 earthquake in Taiwan only kills 4, while a 6.0 earthquake in Afghanistan kills thousands. The poorer you are, the easier they fall.

Deconstructing a Libertarian Rant-Hey, Dodge, you wanted me to visit more often? I took a second look at your vent at Bryan Preston and social conservatives in general, accusing them of calling libertarians "dope addicts, satanists, (I was accused of this publically.),friends of pedophiles (Despite the fact Christian churches have been covering for these guys for decades.), libertines, heartless bastards, traitors, and anything else they could think up." Nice list, sounds like something Paul of Tarsus would write. However, many of these point out the underlying philosophy of libertarians. Let's break down the labeling- [Update-given the rant that Cal Ulman went on with this post-let me reiterate that these are exagerations that people make, typically in ignorance, assuming that wanting to make something legal means you want to do that act. They also assume the most over-the-top libertarian is representative of the lot, that Harry Browne or Natalija represents the species. Before you flame, remember this paragraph.] Dope Addicts- Not all libertarians are druggies, but legalization of drugs is a common libertarian philosophy. Satanists- A vocal plurality of libertarians are critical of traditional Christian theology/morality and can be seen as working [without knowing it] for Ol' Sloughfoot. Friends of pedophiles- A vocal minority want to repeal statutory rape laws. The slur in parenthesis may be true for Boston Catholics but isn't true for the churches I've been in, who work at screening out potential pedophiles from teaching kids. Libertines- See Satanists above. Promoting the legalization of prostitution doesn't help the reputation, either. Heartless- The pure free-market, anti-government line looks to be harsh and callous to the poor and needy. Libertarians have earned the rep for looking out for #1 to a fault. Traitors- Now that's more of a cheap shot. However, many paleolibertarians want a minimalist foreign policy which would leave US interests overseas vulnerable. If you want to claim the rhetorical high ground on name-calling, avoid calling your whipping-boy of long standing Ashcroft a "paranoid prude."

I'm doing some Spring Cleaning on the Permalinks, and wanted to add a Greatest Hits section to link to. Good General Posts Bioethics or Biomorals? How the South Saved Civilazation Network Investigative Template Picking up the Lincoln Gauntlet Vouching for Vouchers Why I'm supporting Israel Good Theology Posts All Blogs Go to Heaven?-a critique on universalism A Brief History of Modern Christian Music Catholics and Christians? Conteporary Christian Music Starter Set Did a Good God Create a Bad World "Fundamentalist"-a Short History a followup Recontrustionists To Infinity and Beyond

January and February Archive Jan 7-12 Jan 13-19 Jan 20-26 Jan 27-Feb 2 Feb 3-9 Feb 10-16 Feb 17-23 Feb 24-Mar 2

Saying What Needs to be Said-Dubya's telling Arafat to call for an end to hostilities-in Arabic. The quip of longstanding among pundits is that Arafat talks peace in English and jihad in Arabic. It's long overdue that the President call him on it. That speach speaks louder than the UN vote Saturday, as Bush is defending Israel's right to defend itself. With yet another boomer went into a eatery in Haifa and ordered 72 raisins to go, taking 12 Israelis with him earlier today, a war on terrorist groups, including Fatah and the PA, is what the Israelis will have to do if they want to survive as a nation. I saw some clips of Bush's talk this morning; seeing him out on the Crawford ranch in a blue denim work shirt diplomaticly telling Yasser the Gasser off came across as Reaganesque, not in the level of eloquence but of it's simplistic Americaness.

Quip du jour-"How come every time I come to church, you're always talking about the resurrection?"-irregular greeting pastor after Easter service Edifier du jour-The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.-Matthew 28:5-6

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