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Saturday, August 10, 2002

Evening Musings-Got a Google hit looking for "Iran Israel war scenarios." Interesting. Got a lousy dining experience and a great one in the same evening. We went to a national chain Tex-Mex place (which shall remain nameless) near the Lakeland Mall and had a disappearing waiter. Fifteen minutes pass before chips and salsa arrive (usually a two-minute thing), and my diet cola order gets ignored. Fifteen more minutes go by; no beverage, no waiter; other waitstaff look into it. Manager walks up; "How are things going?" Not good, it's the worse service I've had in my life. We leave two bucks to pay for Eileen's pop and salsa and head to our second choice. The second one I will name-Plantation Cafe on the north side of Lakeland. In the time it took us to get a diet Coke order straight at the unnamed joint above, we got a nice meal (seriously good grilled pork chops with good side dishes) and three refills of Diet Pepsi. Christian owners-proprietor is a seminary grad. Not big or fancy-it seats about 50 and has good home-style meals at $4-$7. We were using buy-one-get-one-free coupons I got from the Lakeland Vineyard youth, but we'll be back to pay full retail in the future. Each town has it's good grub place with good food and good service at a fair price. Sanford Lake Bar and Grill is one of those in metro Midland, doing for real what Applebee’s and Bennigans make a plastic copy of at twice the price; for those of you doing a Detroit-to-Traverse City run, it's about two miles north of US-10 on West River Road. Down in metro Akron, Parasson's is another good bang-for-the-buck place, doing good Italian-themed grub. It's not Olive Garden, but it's 85% of the quality at half the price; the free garlic bread is excellent. Find those hidden treasures and frequent them.

The Cold War is History-Yes, I know the Berlin Wall went down and the USSR bought the collective farm over a decade ago, but the 8th graders at Eileen's school now have the totality of the Cold War in their history books. The old saw is that if it's still political, it's not history. Now, the Cold War is largely a non-issue in our politics. The problems of intergrating East Germany and the breakup of the USSR are both history. These kids were in diapers when this all was going down. Eileen was thumbing though the core knowedge book just now; the Civil Rights movement was a second grade topic. Martin Luther King was assasinated when I was in second grade. Ah, yes, when I was your age, kiddies.... Yes, Mark, you did turn 41 on Monday.

Ay, There be Comments Here!-Just got into the YACCS high noon placement and got a comment section running. Fire at will, but keep it clean.

Morning Musings-Tiger Does Flint-As an ex-pat Michigander, it's fun to see Tiger playing the Buick open in metro Flint, where I worked for the last three years. It's even funner more fun to see him lapping the field, with a four shot lead at the halfway point. I haven't seen any stats as to how many extra fans trooped out to Warwick Hills to see El Tigre play, but I bet the crowds are up by 30-50%. Joey Harrington got a baptism of fire last night, giving up a game-winning interception in Detroit's 12-6 loss to Baltimore. Still, 12 for 21's not bad for the Disco Duck in his first pre-season game. McMahon was 8-20, so Harrington might have a shot of snagging a starting spot by September. Do you credit the Lions' defense of a lame Raven's offence for Baltimore's low score? Barry Bonds hit dinger number 600 last night. Maybe its due to his persona as an arrogant sonofapup or that I remember his dad playing, but it's hard for me to think of him as one of the all-time greats. An all-time grate, yes. This has been percolating for a while, but it's oddly funny that DC mayor Anthony Williams is having to run a write-in campaign after having his petitions thrown out for a high number of bogus signatures.

The Next GOP President- Part I-The 2008 Primary Players-Patrick Ruffini has a good post on the topic. He leads off with Dick Chaney as a 6:1 favorite. I think there's little chance he'll get elected president, but that's not stated part of Ruffini's hypothesis. If there's a 5% chance that Chaney will win the 2008 election and a 10% chance of Bush being assassinated in the next six years, you're at Patrick's 6:1 odds. As for the other candidates, let's work on the assumption that Dubya gets his second term. The first question is whether Chaney's on the ticket in 2004. There's a open move among the punditry to have Chaney replaced with National Security Council chair Condi Rice. If so, she would be the heiress apparent going into the 2008 elections, assuming a victory in 2004. However, she's seen as a bit too pro-choice on abortion, which would make her a tough sell in a Republican primary. Who would be likely candidates to oppose Rice in 2008? Or, if we have a two-term Chaney, who will emerge as the front-runners? Generally, you see presidents coming from three areas: senators, governors and war heroes, with the occasional vice president thrown in; we can focus our attention on those areas. Here are my 2008 Baker's Dozen (and their estimated chances of getting the nomination), in alphabetical order. Sen. George Allen(7.5%)-A solid, generic conservative with a pleasant, somewhat laid-back demeanor. Dubya 2.0? I don't see people tearing down barricades to support him, but he could easily emerge as a consensus candidate among the party regulars. For now, he flunks the bumper-sticker test: who's going to put the guy's bumper sticker on their car? Can we borrow from his dad for the sticker?-"George Allen-The Future is Now." AG John Ashcroft(2.5%)-He was putting out feelers for a run four years ago, but had zero name recognition then. Not so now. He could merge the Christian conservative vote with a law-and-order vote to win in the primaries. However, he's a bit stiff to be a good general-election candidate and a bit too easy for the left to caricature. Thus, more pragmatic sorts might look for less of a lightning-rod to be the standard-bearer. Gov. Jeb Bush(7.5%)-A successful two-term former (he'll be term-limited in 2006) governor of Florida would be high on the short-list were he not the president's brother. I don't see the party nominating Jeb to succeed Dubya, but stranger things have happened. He'll have the family Rolodex to fall back on, so if he does run, he'll not be short of funds. As an ex-governor in 2007, he'll be able to stump the country without having to worry about signing off on executions or making line-item vetoes. Sen. Bill Frist (2.5%)-Well-spoken conservative who comes across well on TV. However, he seems to be too much of a compromiser to be palatable in a GOP primary. He'd more likely to be the next Majority Leader than the next president. Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani (5%)- Loosly defined, his post-9-11 work as mayor will put him in the war hero column. His centrism will be hard to sell, but if Condi's not in the race, he would have a shot of patching together a center-left coalition within the party, especially if he runs on a low-tax and law-and-order platform. The pro-lifers will have nothing of it and some of us haven't forgotten his backing of Cuomo over Pataki, but he's got an outside shot. Future Sen. Lindsey Graham (7.5%)-I think he's one of the sleepers for 2008; the former congressman's running for Strom Thurmond's seat in South Carolina. I think his cheerful persona will get a few bumper stickers on cars and his face on some talk shows in the next few years. Being a smart conservative Southerner will give him an edge on Super Tuesday while not being written off as a cracker by northerners. 2008 might be a bit early, but I can see him on a ticket in the next decade. Future Gov. Steve Largent(10%)- Another sleeper. The Seahawk Hall-of-Fame possession receiver became a solid conservative evangelical congressman; he resigned to run for Governor of Oklahoma. He's a very likable guy and comes across well on TV. A successful term-and-a-half as governor will give him a good shot in the primaries. Might be a tad too evangelical for the general election, but I think the GOP primary voters may take that chance. Another Dubya 2.0 possibility. Sen. John McCain(2.5%)- His chances of getting to the White House would be better as a Independence party candidate. He did well in 2000 and could bring out the Straight Talk Express for one more run. He'd have to mend quite a few fences in the next five years to be nominatable, for all his maverick stands have made him the most disliked Republican in punditdom. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (25%)-This is conditional to her being VP coming into 2008. She'll have to move towards a RIMLID (rape, incest, mother's life in danger) stance on abortion rights to get the nomination. However, the opportunity to elect a sharp-as-a-tack black gal will move some of the more conservative party faithful to ignore that. Her jobs trumps the notion that a woman will be soft on military matters. It would gall Democrats to no end that the first woman and first black to be elected president will be a Republican; the heavy schadenfreude from that thought alone is worth 5% in the primaries. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge(2.5%)-Another moderate dream candidate. He almost became the VP candidate in 2000, but his abortion-rights stance and centrist voting record as a congressman made him unpalatable to the party faithful. If you're going to win the nomination as a pro-choicer, you're going to have to sell the RIMLIDs on something, and I don't know what that will be. Rudy better fits that part of the political ecosystem. Sen. Rick Santorum (15%)-He's my biggest sleeper. A likeable conservative from a swing state. From a tactical perspective, he might be the party's best bet if Chaney's still VP in 2008. I remember going to Pittsburgh in the fall of 1994 during his first Senate campaign to do research; he was winning the bumper-sticker war going away over then-senator Wofford. He could be a playa in the race. Future Gov. Bill Simon(5%)- His election (and reelection in 2006) are no sure things, but a successful two-term conservative California governor would be hard to beat in the primaries. He still has to get past the Gray Gentleman in November to stay on this list. He’s not the Gipper on the stump, but neither is Dubya. Congressman J.C. Watts (2.5%)-One of the party’s best speakers and highest-profile elected black Republican, Watts is on a lot of people’s short lists. He may not have the temperament to be a national candidate. If he wanted to make successful run in 2008, he’ll have to find a bully pulpit to launch a campaign from, now that he’s retiring from Congress. I could see him filling an Alan Keyes single-digit niche in a primary, but without a place to gain national recognition, he’s in trouble. The Rest of the Field (5%)-Colin Powell's high on Patrick's list, but he's too old and too centrist to be nominatable; Condi's about to take that part of the ecosystem away from him. Mitt Romney's too centrist to grab the nomination. He'd have to be a libertarian dream in Taxachusetts to have a shot. I don’t see either Pataki or Hutchison getting the nomination as pro-choicers.

Comments-by Popular Demand. I'm looking to get a comments section up, due to the number of requests. It might add to my addiction, but so be it. YACCS seems to be the poison of choice, but they have limited enrollments, setting up 25 people each six hours. I'll look to start an account in the near future.

Edifier du jour:Romans 11:16-24(NASB)
16 If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." 20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. 22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?
I'm not a botany expert, but I remember that many fruit plants provide much better fruit when grafted. Ungrafted apples are generally good only for cider (hard or otherwise) while it's grafted trees that produce the good eating apples. European grapes need to be grafted onto native species to be successful in the US, thus avoiding an native root louse. Grafting seems unnatural to people unfamiliar to plant botany, yet it is the core of a lot of our fruit-bearing industries. We bear fruit much better when we're connected to the Vine, a.k.a. Jesus. John 15 was the jumping off point for four sermons a while back in my Midland church on the theme "I am the vine, you are the branches." Like the examples in botany, we thrive as a grafted plant as long as we stay connected. A bad graft won't allow nutrients to flow; likewise, a bad connection between us and God will create less nurture from the Holy Spirit. As long as we're still alive, we can be regrafted into the root Vine. The branches can't do anything on their own; while they have the pretty fruit, leaves and flowers, it's the root that brings the water and nutrients. This applies to the Church as well; people who try to be Lone Ranger Christians usually don't bear much fruit, as we need the encouragement of a local congregation to fully thrive.

Friday, August 09, 2002

How About Lutheran Autoboomers?-MCJ brings us this howler via No Watermellons Allowed-"I'm trying to picture an Episcopalian terrorist. It isn't working." With the exception of the the occasional anti-abortion whack-job, that applies to the rest of Christendom. If you compare the number and bile-level hard-core madrassas with a comparable pecentage of the evangelical fringe, you would see the Christian side much more peaceful and better behaved that the Islamic side. You don't see a majority of evangelicals, let alone Christians in general, cheering on anti-Muslim vandals. 'Nuf said.

TGIF-Eileen's crashed early this evening due to a hectic first week of teaching middle school, which went well. However, both of us are glad it's Friday. I had a truckload of TGIF-related things running through my head tonight, including Pep's line in the Dragnet movie, "Thank God! If's Friday!" and the very lame discoplotation movie. The latter movie actually won an Oscar, IIRC; Best Song for Last Dance. Brother-in-law Uli's back on the Hooters golf tour; he's having more trouble making a cut than a tailor with Parkinson's. Shooting an 81 on Thursday doesn't help, although a par round today shows promice for the future. The tour heads this way in three weeks, stoping on the west side of Tampa in Brandon.

Straight Lines Do Not Get Out Alive-"Boston Church Mulls Bankruptcy." Are we talking moral bankruptcy or Chapter 11 or both?

Cheap Promises-This one has an eerie ring to it. Local Congressman Adam Putnam was given leadership a Florida citrus industry task force on trade issues in return for a yes vote on fast-track authority last week. I remember a similar deal a decade ago, where Bob Kerry traded a deciding vote on the FY1994 budget for a panel of entitlement reform. Clinton got his budget passed and the entitlement reform committee, while created, was then promptly ignored. Not to say that Dubya will pull a comparable fast one of the young congressman, but that's promise isn't worth all that much.

More Afternoon Musings-Pattick Ruffini has the morning line on the next GOP president. I don't think Cheney's the early favorite, but I'll have to give this some thought before trashing his list. When all else fails, talk trash. We've been here before, and we now use "The Mother of All [insert noun here]" with our tounge deeply in our cheek. Say it ain't so, Chuck. The NRA chief looks to have Alzheimers. The piece says that he'll fight it kicking and screaming. I haven't posted this joke before, so I think I'll do so now
Charlton Heston was at a GOP gathering with the President. Every time Dubya went over to talk to him, Heston managed to walk in the other direction. Finally, the President managed to corner him. "What's the matter? We've been doing a good job fighting gun control. Why have you been ducking me?" "The last time I talked to a bush, I had to wander through the desert for 40 years."

Afternoon Musings-Things are starting to take shape here at Warner Southern. Just got back from new faculty orientation and was gifted with a new computer. 18 Gig hard drive, 128MB ram (and Win98, so that's got room to spare) and a new, unstickly keyboard. I had to have the IS people bop me the documents on the old hard drive (they forgot to check), and have the fun of repopulating my favorites list for IE. Also, they put up the permanent plaques since I was last in my office earlier in the week, the brown ones with the recessed white print. There's a "Dr. Mark Byron" sign there as I come in my office door. All through my school days, I occasionally would walk past professor's offices thinking what it would be like to have my own office, with my name on the outside wall. I'm there. One of the other people in the orientation group snuck a peek at my blog during our library online database training session and complemented me on my online testimony on the way to lunch. That’s a weird feeling. Some of my friends and family are regular readers, but I'm not use to colleagues reading it.

Edifier du jour-Romans 10:12-15(NASB)
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!"
I'm reminded of the students who took me aside after one of my MIS classes last month to say that I was the first teacher to openly talk about Christian principals in any of their MBA classes. That cohort was in their next-to-last class. I'm not sure how great their memories are, but that was an indictment of the MBA program at an avowedly evangelical college. True, there not that much of the Gospel you can squeeze into Managerial Accounting or MIS of whatever your day-to-day grind is, but we need to tactfully and thoughtfully squeeze it in when and where we can. This is where I tend to act like an Arminian, even though I have a solid predestination theology. My mind wants to think that its matters who and where we witness, that the person we reach will be one that might not be reached otherwise. I don't walk the walk too well as an evangelist, hiding in my office or behind my computer. But the message that God's perfect, we're not and that Jesus died to bridge that gap needs to be said and said to many people.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Puff Piece Alert-The NYT (thanks to The Note for the link) has a long piece on Michigan AG Jennifer Granholm, who did suprisingly well in winning the Democratic primary for Governor Tuesday. I gagged at the last paragraph
"It's her race to lose," said Bill Ballenger, editor of the newsletter Inside Michigan Politics. "There is almost a sense of exhaustion in the state now: after 12 years of John Engler, give us something new and fresh and likable and not as conservative and not as tough and not as mean. She is the perfect un-Engler. Blond, trim, articulate, intelligent. Who could ask for more?"
How about someone who has a clue about running a state goverment? She had an easy campaign against an inept and scandal-laden opponant for AG four years ago and was able to use the bully pulpit of consumer-activism to get name ID statewide. Dick Posthumus had a relatively free ride in the GOP primary, dispatching RINO John Schwarz, and has yet to spend a lot of his money or get much exposure. The race will tighten. Posthumus is a bit bland, but I don't think Granholm will hold up to a all-out barrage of media and negative ads as well as her fans think she will.

Why Not Declare War?- Josh Claybourn gave a good defense of the president's ability to use military action without a declaration of war. However, it might be time to end a half-century of sloppiness (Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait) and actually declare a war for a change. Russ Reeves made a decent case for actually going by the Constitution for a change. I think it was a bit of a cheap shot to question Josh's conservatism on this issue, but I agree that this case calls for clarity; a declaration of war looks like the cleaner, if politically more difficult, way to go. Why not declare war? In the case of al Qaeda, they're no country to fight, but with Iraq, there's an actual country that has gone to war with its neighbors in the past and is planning to do so again. Please note the Jerusalem Army in this BBC piece. It thumbs its nose at the agreements it signed at the end of the Gulf War and poses a real danger to the rest of the world. Upside-a declaration is a clearer drawing of the country behind the endeavor. The president is going to need to get some Democratic support in the populous, if not on Capital Hill, to make an invasion politically viable. This will give the added advantage of either getting Democrats to go along or be opposed to a war declaration. A successful prosecution of the war will allow Bush to make the Democrats look bad for being weak on Iraq. Downside- it will unnerve some people to be at war; the fear of counter-attacks via terrorism might trash the stock markets. If the war goes badly, the liberals will have a field-day, being able to say by their voting record "I told you that was a bad idea." The economy might slow as uncertainty will postpone some big-ticket purchases, more so if there was just an attack and not a declaration of war, as there will be no question whether war-related clauses in contracts are at play. Not having a declaration will mean that you can attack at any time and not have to wait for a congressional resolution. After weighing the options, I think the now-traditional approach of a congressional approval under the War Powers Act will be less disruptive to the economy and give more strategic advantage to the administration than a declaration of war. The constitutional purists might not like it, but I think it makes sense under the circumstances.

Go on the Offense, Guys-Good essay over at The Note today on Bush's economic agenda, pointing out that trail-lawyer bashing is a winning issue.
The choice the GOP faces is this — should they try to convert the national press to be more sympathetic, or should they just try to go around the press, directly to the people? We don't monitor every contact the administration has with every reporter (We aren't John Aschroft, we joke, in an aside meant to parrot the leftist media's hostility to Republicans, but not reflective of our true, dispassionate views of either the AG or the two Davids.), but we rarely hear Bush officials trying to make the case for the Bush-Cheney economic agenda in a shake-the-reporters-by-the-lapels, paradigm-shifting manner. Thus, they remain at a permanent disadvantage against the Podesta-Daschardt-Rubin economic program, which dominates the filter of the major media.
Ben, if this piece isn't on the president's desk (or at least your boss' desk), get it there.

Link Love-Kevin had a graph of an Instapundit-led spike in his readership. I know the feeling. A secondary reference to a post on teen sex gave me the biggest Sunday ever, having 156 unique hits on a holiday weekend when I'm lucky to crack 80 hits on a Sunday. I'd love to see what a weekday hit from Reynolds would look like. I've gotten secondary storm surge in the past. One of my better days was when Instapundit linked to Martin Roth when he was getting going, and Martin linked to me. I've gotten secondary hits from Amy Welborn and Eve Tushnet when they had Corner links and also links to me at the time. Today surge comes from nice props; Blogs4God is the NRO Cool site of the day. I'm getting some flow from that, with a link from Punditmeister Josh Claybourn . Fun.

Evolution of a Conservative-This morning’s Instapundit post on Mickey Kaus and his “seduction” towards a conservative position got me thinking of the process of people leaving the liberal camp. In some cases, it is people who’ve been more-or-less conservative all along, but saw the party drift to the left; ”I didn’t leave the party, the party left me.” In other cases, it’s a liberal who’s seen that liberal policies don’t work and that the radical ideas of their youth don’t work as well when they have kids to raise. In a large part, the liberal position combines well-intentioned do-goodering, a fear of the stereotypical conservative bigot, a fear of the free-market system, hedonism and selfishness. All but the last tend to wane with age. While there might be some liberal areas where people will become liberal as they go native, the typical maturing adult will tend to become conservative. Honest Do-goodersOne aspect of liberalism is the desire to help the little guy and the downtrodden. By proposing larger solutions to problems, liberals look like they are on the side of the angles. I remember one of Tom Lerher's song lyrics that hits it on the head-
We are the folk song army, Every one of us cares. We all hate poverty, war, and injustice Unlike the rest of you squares.
Lerher's quip cuts to the chase; most everyone hates poverty, war, and injustice. However, the liberal solution may not be the best solution. Welfare might be better design to help people not need it, injustice to minorities need not require a quota system or reparations and even the staunchest hawks would rather kill them off by peaceful means. The young person looking for an honorable policy to follow is easily lead towards the broad-stokes of modern leftism. There's a honest part of us that says "There oughta be a law!" However, as we know more about how things work, we'll sometime find that laws can cause more harm than good. The media helps to play this area up. If you haven't seen the Network Investigative Template before, do so. The standard tendency of the media is to see a problem and propose a solution. It takes though and discipline to ask the extra question that would show whether the solution would help solve the problem and whether the costs of the solution outweigh the costs of the problem. As people mature (some sooner than others), they will often see that government programs have a poor track record; frequently, the best solution to a problem is none at all. This is the core of the old quip of the neoconservative being a liberal mugged by reality. The neocon wants to help the little guy, but knows the unpleasant fact that big government isn’t the answer. The corollary quip is that the difference between a neocon and a neoliberal is that they’ve both been mugged, but the neolib is reluctant to press charges. I think Kaus and Sullivan are beginning to start pressing charges, which angers liberals. Breaking Through Stereotypes-The more people travel and get to know other people from other areas, the more they can discard stereotypes. We nearly had a Jerry Springer moment in my MIS class last month when a discussion of neural networks and pattern-recognition went on a racial profiling tangent. Army and Air Force guys who served in the Gulf were going to bat for the humanity of the average Arab, getting hot at the stereotyping of some of their less-traveled brethren. A black policeman in the class was able to talk about being pulled over for Driving While Black. A small-town kid like me (who's international exposure is limited to travelling to Toronto and who could count the number of blacks in his high school class of ~450 on one hand) will learn something from that exchange. This stereotyping works in the liberal camp as well. To the campus liberal, all conservatives are closet bigots and all Fundamentalists are [enter pejorative phrase of choice]. The young skull-fulla-mush will think that the Republicans and church-goers back home weren't that way, but that his home town must be atypical. It might not be until the kid graduates, sees other parts of the country and notes that these mythical conservative bigots aren't out there in large numbers. Yes, they'll be the redneck at the barber shop who rants about the blacks-outbreeding-us-moms-with-8-10-15-babies-all-on-wefare-they're-taking-over (I heard one of those this week while getting my ears lowered. In Winter Haven's defense, they have Michigan counterparts), but they are the vast minority. In fact, the church-going people are less bigoted that the ones that don't. Even in gay stuff, they're more in "Hate the sin, love the sinner" mode rather than looking to beat the crap out of one of them. I've seen a number of liberals gradually come to the conclusion that conservatives are good, decent people. Once that wall is breached, people are free to look at conservative policies with a fresh look. A hatred of the stereotyped conservative will keep liberals from agreeing with a conservative. I remember the reaction of my arch-liberal friend Dave when the Grenada invasion went down. Dave admitted that rescuing Grenada from a bunch of Communist thugs who had staged a coup was a good thing, but that he didn't like it because "it made Reagan look good." I had voted for Carter in 1980 (sins of my youth), but even I found that to be a head-shaker of a response at the time. I think 9-11 helped some of that, where most liberals saw what we have in common far outweighs where we differ. Jews started to wonder why they are going to bat for the liberals in the Democratic party when they have little in common with them. Secular liberals saw the difference between Islamic fundamentalists and the evangelical type and often noted the positive difference between the two. While there are some liberals that are stuck in their ways, others are slowly coming to the realization that they have more in common with conservatives then they think. Learning to Love the Market People are naturally fearful. This gives liberals a focal point at which to pitch their big-government message. The more people fear an unstructured free market, the more they want safety nets and guard rails in the economy. These protective devices will slow the economy but are designed to help the misfortunate in the bad times. While getting a job is hard, it’s not as hard as people make it out to be. As much as the elites like to bash Joe Sixpack, Joe’s got more on the ball than either he or Jacob Journalist thinks he has. If you look at things, most people are net taxpayers, paying more in taxes then they get back. One of the beauties of the Bush tax cuts of last year is that nearly everyone got a check. The liberals might complain about tax cuts for the rich, but Joe S. thought that $300 check was nice, whether you got a DVD player or paid down your credit card debt with it. People tend to have more confidence in themselves as they get older, and thus know they can do better than the liberals think they can. You can make a case that as seniors get older, they’re more susceptible to big government, but not to a large extent. Growing more conservative Here, I’m talking about small-c conservatism, being careful and playing things close to the vest. I remember an old football quip-“there are old quarterbacks and bold quarterbacks, but there aren’t many old, bold quarterbacks.” Youth is frequently a time of experimentation, of doing things you were told you shouldn’t do. Trying pot, getting plastered at the college watering hole or megakegger frat party, seeing the speedometer hit three digits (in miles, you can do that legally in metric) and (I was too shy for this one) the pickup and one-night-stand. As you get older, your parents make more sense then they did when you were in your teens. As you get older, the libertarian/libertine streak wanes, as you see the downside of those hallmarks of the bohemian life. Booze isn’t the answer; it just lets you forget the questions. Drugs are more painful then pleasurable, speeding isn’t really that much fun when you factor in the risks and extramarital sex is not worth ruining the relationship with your spouse (or spouse-to-be). Boomers are often in an awkward spot, having to preach against the things they did as a kid. However, the older person has seen the OD’s, car crashes, abortions and break-ups that the cocky teen hasn’t. Some of today’s teens have seen the body count from the Sexual Revolution and want no part of it; Gen X is a bit more conservative then the boomers on this front. People tend not to learn from other people’s mistakes too well, but we’re seeing some improvement in this area. People become more conservative parents as the get older. I don’t have a link for this, but there was a good column in the Lakeland Ledger a week or so ago from a liberal guy on how progressive parenting ideas are suitable for use as fertilizer. Kids need guidance and authority from their parents, not a permissive buddy. The older people get, they learn that the latest trend usually doesn’t work. They see where a swift whack on a rug-rat’s be-hind can be useful in moderation. Conclusion-Add these things up, and you see people tending to become more conservative over time. Some people’s views are stuck, but others have room to evolve. The undertalented, minorities wanting a break due to their grouping, and the people who look after them all have a vested interest in big government; they’ll always be a market for a statist agenda. Some people don’t lose their libertarian view of sex and drugs, and thus there will always be a market for a culturally- permissive agenda. Add the people that think a bigger, permissive government is better than a smaller, morally conservative government and there’s your Democratic coalition. However, it’s a group that has to recruit new followers. That’s while focusing on the youth, giving them a good academic and moral education, confidence in themselves and a healthy respect for everyone (even white evangelicals) is important for the country. It will help keep them good citizens and make them less likely to become young statists.

Midday Musings-Big news down this way is FSU's picked "Let's Roll" as this year's football motto, with the blessing of Lisa Beamer. Is it just me, or doesn't that trivialize things a couple of notches too much? Nice Weekly Standard piece on the confirmation of Brooks Smith, where well-thinking lawyers accross the political spectrum banded together to shame three Judiciary Committee Democrats to vote for a decent Republican. Thanks to Jason Steffens for the link. This Corner post points out that the Judiciary Committee Democrats don't want to pass any of Bush's nominees, even if the ABA signs off on them. Tip o' the hat to Jason, who was the speaker at his church last night. His rookie sermon on the beginings of life seems to have went well.

The Check-out Lane: Mr. Claybourn gives us Commander in Chief 101, going over the War Powers act and pointing out that the presidents can and have sent troops into battle without a Congressionally-declared war. Thanks for writing it, Josh, now I don't have to. Raise your Steyn one more time. He's got another keeper of a column on Southwest Asia. Thanks to Instapundit for the link. While I was over at Papa Blog's, he had an intereting riff on attitudes on the left and right bouncing off of this article bemoaning Mickey Kaus' alleged drift to the right. I've got an essay brewing on the general area of neoconservativism and changes in thought processes. It's an evolution rather than a seduction.

A thoughtful rant from Andrea Harris on abortion and adoption. I apprecated this paragraph
I am not sure that a pregnancy where the father of the baby is willing to support the child falls under the criteria of one that should be ended. I am not sure that a middle or upper class girl or woman, who can afford to take off a few years from that wonderful career she had all planned -- and heck, who now has all sorts of help offered to her from junior high school on up -- should be considered a proper candidate for abortion unless she meets a rather more restricted set of criteria than is currently demanded of her. (That is: all she has to say is she doesn't want to have a baby.) I am not sure what these criteria should be. Health considerations, definitely, but beyond that I don't know. I am also not sure that any of this should be legislated by law. I am not advocating going back to the pre-Roe days of frantic calendar-counting and rusty coat hangers dipped in a bowl of bourbon. But it takes two to make a baby and if the "sperm donor" actually wants to do the right thing -- an even offers to relieve her of the twenty-plus year burden of raising the infant -- and the pregnant girl is in decent health and is mentally stable, I don't see why nine months are too much to deal with.
If I'm reading it correctly, this is the mind of a 50th percentile voter on the abortion issue, plus-or-minus 5%; the attitude of the swing voter. For us anti-abortion folks, it's this lady and her cohort we need to be dealing with as we strive to get a majority on the issue.

Edifier du jour-Romans 9:18-24 (NASB)
18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. 19 You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.
Chapter 7 had me lecturing on backseat-driving; I'm in the mood to take a go at Monday Morning Quarterbacking. We had a nasty tendency to be asking God why He chose this or that rather than accepting what He had done. We get jealous of people who are more used than us and wonder why He made people who don't love Him. To the extent that God appreciates a thankful and receptive heart, we should strive not to fight the Potter's hand as He shapes our lives and the lives around us. We should look at His creation with wonder rather than as a critic. For criticism and understanding the whys assumes that we can understand God's thought processes. We were made in His image, but yet we don't have the brainpower to understand God fully. I'm reminded of the Nicholson line in A Few Good Men-"You can't handle the truth!" Not that there's some sort of dark, scandalous corner of the mind of God that is too hard for the believer to accept, but that the complexity of the universe is beyond our ability to understand fully. We can't handle the complexities of the mind of God. God may not answer all of our whys because we're not up to understanding them. Footnote 1-Pastor Gipson was doing Colossians 3:12 last night. I was going to go over that one, but I did that back in May, relating it to Blogosphere mores or lack thereof. It's worth a re-read. Footnote 2-I've never seen A Few Good Men, but that line's gotten out into the culture. Part of the Clift's Notes version of pop culture.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

The Love of Money-Introduction -Joshua Sargent meditated on this Thomas Merton quote
Money has demonically usurped the role in the modern society which the Holy Spirit is to have the Church. Ummpff! That's one of those quotes that hits you in the gut and almost knocks the air out of you! Think about that, money has the control over most people, the way the Holy Spirit should have over us in the church. That's what they live for, that's what they think about, that's what they dream about.Most people no longer live life, but live to make a living. They're no longer living life to the fullest, but are trying just to make a living.
Unfortunatly, I don't think that's a modern development. People have been stuggling to get by since Adam and Eve got kicked out of Eden. What has changed is that modern economy has added to the things that people can buy. In a pre-industrial economy, there weren't as many things that could be bought and thus there were fewer things to covet. Also, in a pre-industrial economy, jobs were more-or-less handed down from generation to generation; the farmer's son would be a farmer, the blacksmith's son would be a blacksmith. There was more poverty, but less distress about it, since there was little that could be done. I'm headed off to bed, but I think I have a few essays coming on what the modern economy has done to our walk with God in the days to come.

Pencil, not Pen-This is a nice piece on new Vikings coach Mike Tice. It looks like bad news for Bucs and Lions fans, for the Vikes seem to have a keeper. The article descrbes the former tight end as being feisty but forgiving.
The picture of Tice in practices remains consistent. He's the only NFL coach who has a No. 2 pencil resting on his right ear. Often, he'll take the pencil and jot down an observation. This is a society that went from pencils to pens. Just call Tice old school. "I use a pencil because you can erase instead of crossing something out," Tice said. "Anybody who knows me knows that I'm meticulous to the point of being anal. I don't like chaos. I don't like things in disarray. What drives me crazy is when people don't pay attention to detail. I'm old school because of my upbringing in New York and my dad being a blue-collar guy. You fashion yourself as old school, but so much of it is caring for the people who work for me or I work with. I try to get inside their minds and what they think, so I can adjust and make it better." Hence the need for an eraser.
One of the things Pastor Milton mentioned in our pre-maritial counceling is to be able to erase the chalkboard of wrongs, to be able to start with a clean slate on a daily basis with your spouse. To borrow Tice's phrase, you can erace the tresspasses rather than cross them out. When we use pen in our mental account of other people's sins, we may forgive but not fully, since the record is still there. 1 Corinthians 13:5 states that love "does not take into account a wrong suffered." Be like Mike, use a pencil.

Death of a RINO-Well, the north-of-the-boarder version. Joe Clark resigned as leader of the Conservative Party today, seeing that he will not get back to being prime minister is unable to lead his party to the majority. The party title is a bit of a misnomer, as the Alliance Party is now the main conservative party while the Conservatives are RINOesque. There's an outside shot with Clark's leaving that a Conservative/Alliance merger will be pulled off. The Conservatives have to figure out whether they want to lean a bit left and hook up with the Alliance party or become the Canadian equivalent of the Social Democrats of Britain. A century ago, the fight was between the Conservatives and the Liberals, then Labour took over the left part of the political spectrum, leaving the Liberals (later rechristened the Social Democrats) as a suburban niche party getting 10-20% of the vote. It appears that the Alliance has taken over the Conservatives part of the political ecosystem, so the Tories will have to adapt or die. The chance of them getting a majority again, barring a Alliance melt-down, are slim, so they can either accept being a niche party, doing well in the Maritimes and a few suburban ridings or hold their nose and merge with the Alliance.

Post-Christian Europe but not America-I'm behind a day in responding to this, but there is some food for thought in a Ted Esler post from Monday
Yet another report on the demise of Christianity in Europe. The article talks about Europe as "post Christian." One of the fascinating things about this phenomena is that it is not being replicated in the United States. Why not? What makes the US population so resistant to the paganism of Europe? US Christianity is shallow but oh, so wide.
I beg to differ on the shallowness. There are significant evangelical pockets in the US that keep the country from turning to the amoral statist policies of Europe. That part of the body politic is nowhere near a majority, but it informs the rest of the public on what the moral principals should be, even if they are ignored. There is a broad civil religion that informs the political sphere and a plurality of people of faith (evangelicals, Catholics, conservative mainliners, faithful Jews, Mormons, etc.) that keeps politics from moving too far to the left morally. Some of this bloc can be bought off by the left from time to time and we might not have a pure majority on all issues, but I think that the plurality of the faithful keeps our politics and our culture from drifting too far to the left.

Censorship is a Bad Thing?-Jordan just gave al-Jazeera the left foot of disfellowship today, after a particularly rough talk show ripped Jordan's foreign policy. Reporters have been ordered out and Jordan closed the station's offices. Ain't going to stop the bad news from getting in.

Sports Musings-I'm still thinking about this one: Mutumbo for Van Horn and MacCulloch. This could be the mythical trade than helps both teams. New Jersey gets a center and clears playing time for Richard Jefferson at the three spot while Philly gets a scorer to go along with Iverson. I think this will help the Nets more in the short term, as they get a legit center to bang with Shaq if they get to the finals. However, Mutumbo's 36, and the classic sports cliche is that it's better to trade someone a year too soon than a year too late. The Sixers will like this trade when we start to see some erosion of Mt. Mutumbo. [Update 8:30 PM- The trade leaves the Sixers a doughnut team-nothing in the middle. However, that describes at least half the teams in the league that lack a legit center.]

Iraq in a Nutshell-Kevin Holtsberry's got a good two parter on the pros and cons of going after Saddam, (he must of had it typed in advance, so he's got Part I a minute behind Part II, so it flows like a good NRO article. Thanks for saving me the trouble of writing my own piece, sir. It's much more reasoned than the first rant from the Counterspin Cebtral guy who's on your case. He now has a second, more reasonable, post that offers to call off the dogs if Saddam behaves and holds elections. Nice try. I don't think his nationalist pose would allow him to accept. If he was desperate enough to accept the Counterspin Treaty, he'd likely be doing so to buy time and then renig on the requirements. Why would he be more trustworthy now than a dozen years ago?

Edifier du jour-Romans 8:15:17(NASB)
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
We are children of God, and need not be afraid of Him, at least not afraid of him as some sort of vengeful lightning-bolt slinging monster. The spirit of adoption that Paul speaks us allows us to speak to God intimately. It worth remembering that Abba would be better translated "daddy," for it implies a sense of intimacy that father doesn't. Remember that the thou form of you is the intimate form; all those classic hymns were in daddy mode.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Michigan Primary-The polls have been closed for about an hour, and the returns are sketchy, but the Free Press is reporting exit polls. John Dingell has a 55-44 edge over Lynn Rivers in their Democratic congressional primary. Jennifer Granholm edged David Bonior(?) and Jim Blanchard 43-29-28 in the Democratic governor's race. Bonior seemed to have made a late surge from the teens at Blanchard's expence. Granholm will face Lt. Gov Dick Posthumus in November, assuming the exit polls are correct. [Update 6AM 8/7 It was 48-28-24 in the actual Gov. vote. Blanchard melted. Dingle won 64-36.]

Friend or Enima?-An external Pentigon report that been outed states that the Saudi entity is a US enemy. Rush was giving the report verbal high-fives this afternoon, and Rantburg's on his best yellow-journalism form on the topic.
The briefing did not represent the views of the board or official government policy, and in fact runs counter to the present stance of the U.S. government that Saudi Arabia is a major ally in the region. Yet it also represents a point of view that has growing currency within the Bush administration — especially on the staff of Vice President Cheney and in the Pentagon's civilian leadership — and among neoconservative writers and thinkers closely allied with administration policymakers. And most people reading blogs...
Yes, that line of thought has been around for a while. A quick search of the site had Rich Lowery plugging for the Jordanians to take over back in mid-January. Bryan Preston disagreed with Lowery; he wanted the Turks to take over.

Midday Musings-Is it just me, or has the media been obsessing on a lot of "small" stories as of late. A kidnapping or a seperation of Siamese twins gets front page coverage; even the president has been sucked into the kidnapping story. Someone (I think it was a blogger, but Google came up empty) made the connection that kidnapping is the story of Summer 2002 while shark attacks was the story of Summer 2001. There weren't more shark attacks last summer and there aren't more kidnappings this summer, but that the metastory the media has flocked to this summer. Bobby Allison-Gallimore's doin' the College Football thang, giving his Big 12 a once-over. He has Colorado winning the North, with the South to be posted later. Colorado plays at Nebraska and at Oklahoma, while the Huskers get their two toughest conference games, Colorado and Texas, in Lincoln. Sorry, Bobby, as much as I prefer the Buffs, advantage Nebraska.

CCM to the Top 40?- Mere Madness had an interesting post of Christian contemorary music and its being a non-factor in the secular top-40.
I refuse to believe that we can't lobby for Christian artists to find their way back to mainstream radio, especially if radio programmers see that the buzz is developing and growing. Call your local radio station, and demand that Avalon, Toby Mac, Jump 5 or Nicole C. Mullen be given airtime. I mean, c'mon, Creed and P.O.D. just don't cut it, man.
Unfortunatly, secular stations are unlikely to play music with evangelical content, either because the programmers don't like it or they think the secular audience will head for the hills. Musically (to use two of Ganns' faves), Avalon and Nicole C. Mullen wipe the floor with most of the modern Top 40 artists, but are too evangelical to get secular airtime. I had a post-Dove post in May on this topic, way back when Martin Roth was the cheeky new kid on the block. The old cliche in CCM is you can't bring the Cross over when you cross-over. You have to limit your theology to a generic theism to have a secular audience swallow your message. Michael W. Smith comes the closest to sucessfully playing both sides of the fence, but you're not going to find anything off of Worship getting Top-40 airplay. Unless you have a large evangelical Christian community in your area and a gutsy programmer, the local pop station won't touch most CCM with a ten-foot-Hungarian.

Morning Musings-Iraq's on a lot of people's minds, as there's serious war talk going on in Washington. Plans are on the president's desk, and Sulik's got one of the better pieces I've seen on the topic. One more for ESPN Tort Center-Chris Webber's about to be busted for lying about booster money from his U of M days. Hey, Stern, how about a Leavenworth franchise? Spudlets had a good, long essay on the use of scripture. 2 Timothy 3:16 (the other great 3:16) comes to mind "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." Using it to tear someone else down isn't on the list. Building them up with correction (which can sting) and trainign, yes, but keep the cold pricklies to a minimum.

Man Behind the Mike-Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn died yesterday. He had a three-and-a-half decade stretch of calling every Lakers game until health problems caught up with him this last year; he's credited with coining "slam-dunk" and "air-ball." Never having been in LA, I don't have a personal attachment to Hearn, but the love of the game that people attribute to him comes through. When you are the voice of the team, you become part of people's lives. Cardinal fans recently lost a family member in Jack Buck. Next month will be the end of an era up in Michigan when Ernie Harwell hangs up his Tiger mike. Laker fans, I feel your pain.

Using What You've Got-David Heddle's looking for funny Bible verses. I'm not sure if this fits into the funny verse section, but Numbers 22 and Balaam's donkey comes to mind. Since the Bible Gateway NIV's down, I'll use King James for this one.
And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. 22 And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him. 23 And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way. 24 But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side. 25 And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again. 26 And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. 27 And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff. 28 And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? 29 And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. 30 And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? and he said, Nay. 31 Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. 32 And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me: 33 And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive. 34 And Balaam said unto the angel of the LORD, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again. 35 And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.
God used an ass to deliver a message that day. Even today, he'll occasionally use one to make a point.

Edifier du jour-Romans 7:14-25
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
There are some corners of Christendom that think that we can be fully sanctified in our lifetime and be fully free from sin. Paul spend a large chunk of the first six chapters of Romans showing how the Holy Spirit has freed us from bondage to sin, but even Mr. Road to Damascus wasn't getting 100% relief, fighting with his worldly man and frequently losing. I think this chapter puts into severe question whether people can be fully free of sin, for it runs counter to what most of us know to be the case, that we're still not perfect even after coming to the Lord. I think we're free from sin to the extent that we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our lives. Our flesh, our worldly man, will occasionally take control, grabbing the wheel away from the Holy Spirit. However, the closer we walk with God, the fewer times we grab the wheel. We have to learn how not to be backseat drivers in our own lives, for we're used to being behind the wheel.

Monday, August 05, 2002

Wargaming Lessons-Den Beste is quadruple en fuego today on military issues. Grab a cold one and read.

Dubya Conservatism Counter-Orrin Judd's in a bit of a definitional food fight. A long post of his last week concluded that the President was 10-for-10 on the following conservative touchstones.
(1) Pro Tax cuts (2) Pro Social Security privatization (3) Pro School vouchers (4) Pro Free Trade (5) Pro Military (especially in favor of defensive military technology--Star Wars) (6) Pro Gun (7) Anti-abortion, anti-cloning, anti-euthanasia (8) Opposed to legalization of drugs (9) Anti Separation of Church and State (10) broadly anti-government
Judd then had a tete-a-tete with Alex Whitlock, who saw Dubya batting 7 for 10, wimping out on vouchers, free trade and "broadly anti-government." James Haney chimed in on Whitlock's side. I think both of them are wrong and both are right; how's that for good mugwumping? Let's see where the President sits on the political spectrum on each of the issues, giving a 1 for a take-no-prisoners, give-no-quarter (and darn few dimes or nickels) conservative stance and 0 for Berkeley-bait liberal. 0.5 is middle-of-the-road. I might be off by a tenth or so, but I think these estimates are fair. A 0.9 would mean he's to the right of 90% of the electorate on the issue. Note I'm trying to estimate where he stands, not what he's been able to get through Congress.
(1) Pro Tax cuts=0.8
His initial proposal was a bit right-of-center even within the Republican party.
(2) Pro Social Security privatization=0.85
The current stock market mess makes this a non-starter for now, but he spent quite a bit of political capital on this during the campaign. He hasn't yet gone to the mat for it, however, and you might give him an effective 0.7 on those grounds.
(3) Pro School vouchers=0.75
It slides to a 0.7 on tactics, but he's a fairly standard Republican on the issue.
(4) Pro Free Trade=0.75
Were it not for the steel debacle, I'd give him a 0.85, but he's a solid free-trader in the generic Republican mold. Even the typical GOP person will have a bit of free-trade "hypocrisy," where they have a pet industry they look after.
(5) Pro Military (especially in favor of defensive military technology--Star Wars)=0.85
He went to the mat for SDI, chucking the ABM treaty. A lesser conservative would have fudged the issue.
(6) Pro Gun=0.8
Having the Justice Department sign off on a pro-Second Amendment, pro-ownership stance made a few enemies. He hasn't had any big policy fights at this point in this area, but the Administration gets some brownie points on this one.
(7) Anti-abortion, anti-cloning, anti-euthanasia=0.75
With the exception of the semi-wimpy stem-cell decision, they've largely went down the pro-life line. Not with the vigor of the harder-core religious conservatives, but he's punched the right buttons as a conservative.
(8) Opposed to legalization of drugs=0.8
I'll give him points for wanting to shoot down medical marijuana laws, putting him on the conservative side of the issue.
(9) Anti Separation of Church and State=0.8
He's looking for ways to allow the church to help, more so than the typical Republican.
(10) broadly anti-government=0.7
I think this is the one area where he's a bit to the left of the typical Republican. His government idea is to spend a bit less money better than before. On balance, I'd say that Dubya is at the GOP center-of-gravity or to the right of it on everything but the anti-government issue. Give him a 7.85, with a 7.5 being the generic Republican conservative. [Update-Claybourn gives him a 7.6]

Evening Musings-Interesting Ted Esler post on a Post-Christian Europe. I plan to put in my $0.02 tomorrow. I haven't done many additions to my blogroll lately, but two that are close to inclusion are Illini Girl and Tolle Blog. Tolle Blog had an interesting post on globalization that calls for a thoughtful response, it's an interesting combination of a solid critique of free trade and anti-globo stereotypes. Illini Girl came to my attention when she linked into the bad-lyrics debate. I found a rarity; a female evangelical blogger.

Automatic TutorialThe Volokhs have a good piece on the differential between automatic and semi-automatic guns. Here's my quick synopsis:
Automatic: One trigger-pull=multiple bullets Semi-Automatic:One trigger pull=One Bullet
Thus, there is little difference between a revolver and a semi-auto other than that a semi-auto may have more than the six (or so) bullets in a revolver. We currently have the basic rule that full autos are outlawed for civilians while semi-autos are generally allowed. The anti-gun folks dwell upon the automatic part without understanding how it works.

I've got an informal seminar on E-Commerce with a few of my MBA students tonight, and l'm looking at some interesting articles to bring to their attention. One is this Tech Central article on the Peer to Peer Piracy Prevention Act, which will allow copyright holders to snoop on computers for unauthorized downloads. What part of "unreasonable search" don't they get? Here's another article that confirms an NPR piece I heard a while back on a WiFi ISP in Iowa. When further exploited, this might break the back of the cable modem/DSL duopoly on broadband and bring down broadband prices. Another interesting one that I saw was a Microsoft/AT&T wireless joint venture aimed at corporate wireless info services.

Will the Real Joe Lieberman Please Stand Up-Lieberman basically dissed the 2000 campaign yesterday
My concern about the so-called "people versus the powerful theme" in 2000 was that is was too subject to misunderstanding and not representative either of the extraordinary prosperity that had occurred under Clinton and Gore, which grew the middle class and 22 million jobs created by business, and also not expressive of the fiscally responsible pro-growth, grow-the-middle- class campaign we were running.
If Gore had really run on that platform, he'd be president now. However, a truly pro-growth Democrat won't get out of a primary alive, for the liberal special interests will translate pro-growth as pro-business and translate pro-business as anti-worker. Paul Tsongas was the last guy to give a liberal pro-growth message a go in a Democratic presidential primary, and he was fully flamed by liberals for it. The DLC-on-the-rocks Joe Lieberman would have a shot of beating Dubya in 2004. However, he had to add a liberal chaser when he got the VP nod in 2000. If he can get a undoctored DLC pro-growth package out of a primary (good luck, Huck) and couple it with his non-evangelical moralism that appeals to swing voters, he would be tough to beat. He'll also have to preach that message long enough for the pundits who remember his 2000 flip-flops to forgive and forget.

Changing the Subject-Iraq can smell the B-1s in the air, and is now asking for Congress(?) to send an inspection team. Saddam's favorite game is to talk tough until he's about to have his backside rearranged, then start a peace offensive. He's in the latter stage now. In the Clinton years, that would buy him six months of freedom to do stuff. I don't think Dubya's buying.

Strong-Superintendent Government?-I'm going to give only one-barrel to the local establishment today in their efforts to get an appointed county school board superintendent. The NYT-owned Lakeland Ledger's putting in an indirect plug, pointing out the 1992 vote in Osceola County.Polk Country's the largest school district in the country to have an elected school board, according to this Lake Wales News editorial. The editorial, far too smart to be in a local weekly, had this comment
The proper question is not how many large school districts have appointive superintendents; the proper question is whether those districts produce better education. The appointive superintendent would mirror commission-manager city government, in which elected commissioners hire the city manager. The present elected superintendent system is similar to strong mayor government, in which the mayor is the chief executive officer, elected by the people, and shares the power of government with an elective city council. Both systems work well with good people in office; both produce poor government with mediocre people in office.
I wanted to link to this piece a month ago, but they didn't have it posted to their site at the time. Most small towns have a council-manager form, while most big cities have strong-mayor governments. Electing a mayor gives an extra set of checks-and-balances to things. It allows fewer things through. Why is strong mayors the hallmark of a big city while elected superintendents are a small-county thing? In a school district setting, a weak-superintendent system would give more independence (not accountability, as the vote-yes billboards state) for the school board, allowing a majority of the members to push through changes. I'm suspicious of power-grabs, especially in the area of a school district, where a liberal agenda is often shoved down from above from a school board. Having the Polk County Gray Lady back the measure makes me even more suspicious.

Primary Colors-Kansas, Missouri and Michigan are having primaries tomorrow; I just missed out on being able to vote absentee in Michigan before moving to Florida. Fox has a piece on a GOP head-knocker between John Linder and Bob Barr, with Barr having the edge. Barr has that edge by being such an out-front partisan, beating the Christmas rush and calling for Clinton's impeachment back when Monica was just a character on Friends. The Georgia Senate primary has a bit of heat, as congressman Saxby Chambliss is fighting off state rep Bob Irvin for the right to play wheelchair basketball with Max Cleland this fall. Saxby Chambliss sounds like the name of the church deacon/grain elevator owner in a small-town Southern novel. Up in Michigan, the two races to watch are the Democratic gubernatorial primary between AG Jennifer Granholm and former Governor James Blanchard and the Democratic congressional primary between John Dingel and Lynn Rivers, two incumbents slapped together into the same district to the south/southwest of Detroit. Another Double-Dem primary was avoided when Jim Barcia opted to run for the state senate rather than go mano-a-mano with Dale Kildee when the gerrymanders merged Barcia's Bay City-Saginaw district with Kildee's Flint district. It was interesting that a pair of junk mails direct mailings from a state Senate candidate named Allen Lowe followed me down here to Winter Haven. The guy's running for a open Republican seat as a Christian conservative, going up against generic conservative Tony Stamas, Midland's current state rep, in the GOP primary. My mom knows the Stamases, for his family owns the Pizza Sam's eatery downtown, kitty-corner from the flower shop my mom's worked at for a quarter-century. This is a classic case of term limits gone wrong. Former congressman Bill Schutte is the current state Senator, but is term-limited and is running for a judicial spot, thus starting the game of musical chairs. Thankfully, a copy of my birth certificate came in the mail today, allowing me to get my driver's license and register to vote just in time to be eligible for Florida's primary September 10th. That looks like Super Tuesday for primary junkies, as nine states, including New York, Minnesota, go to the polls that day. {Update 11:21PM I had mistakenly had Georgia voting tomorrow in my initial post-the primary's two weeks from tomorrow]

Edifier du jour-Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
While this verse is in the New Testament Top 40 (27 with a bullet?), the second half of this verse wasn't quite as familiar. Wages are paid to someone who works, while gifts do not require work. I'm often irked at advertisements for "free gifts" of something or another, thinking the phrase redundant. However, the NASB (for some reason, Bible Gateway's NIV's been down for about a week), which is normally a good word-for-word translation, has free gift here in verse 23. God's grace is a free gift, not a gift that has to be reciprocated, for we can't do what Jesus did on the cross. Religious that have you working for your salvation are having you work yourself to a double death. While we will strive to advance the Kingdom and help God, we can't even start to repay the free gift given to us at Golgotha. People don't like to be in a position that they owe someone; many will want to find a way to relieve themselves of their debt. You can't do that with God's grace. You can't go up to God like the old melodramas and ask "How can I ever repay you?" God doesn't say "I take all major credit cards." Instead, He says "Fugitaboudit! Just follow my Word as best you can and we're even." P.S.-I remember from my role-playing game days a appendix for Boot Hill, a Wild West game from the D&D people. Their table for expected robbery loot was entitled "The Wages of Sin."

Sunday, August 04, 2002

College Football Musings- Here's a rough list of my statistical-but-unscientific chances of various Top-20 teams going undefeated. I'll call for a Oklahoma-Miami Fiesta Bowl. Despite making Miami #7 in their chances of going undefeated, I think a 10-1 Miami will get the second slot in the title game, as I'll predict that only one BCS-conference team will go undefeated this year.
Percentage chance of a undefeated pre-bowl season
1 Oklahoma 17.9
2T Florida State 11.2
2T Tennessee 11.2
4 Michigan 10.7
5 Texas 10.2
6 Nebraska 9.8
7 Miami 7.8
8 Oregon 6.3
9 Washington State 3.5
10 Florida 3.1
11 Virginia Tech 2.7
12 Michigan State 2.6
13 Colorado 2.4
Louisville 4.0
Marshall 21.2
Miami's rated #1 in the polls, but has a wicked schedule, going to Florida and Tennessee while having FSU and Virginia Tech heading to their place. My basic way of doing this was to look at the chances of winning each game. I put the Florida and Tennessee games at 40%, FSU at 60%, VT at 90% and 90% of winning all the other games. (.4)^2*(.6)*(0.9)^2=7.8% Oklahoma's my most likely of the power conference teams to go undefeated. They have three tough games on the way to 12-0, at home with Colorado, the Dallas(?) rumble with Texas and the Big 12 title game, all home or neutral-site games. Oregon's the key sleeper to come out of the Pac 10; the Pac 10's too deep to expect any 11-0 clubs. Michigan has a favorable schedule, with away games at Notre Dame and Ohio State being the two dangerous one along with Wisconsin and MSU coming to the Big House. The Tennessee-Miami game in September will be a key match-up. The loser still has a shot at the Fiesta Bowl title game, as any X-and-1 club out of the Southeastern Quad (Tennessee, Florida, FSU, Miami) will likely be the highest-ranked non-undefeated team. Of the non-BSC conference teams, Louisville would have the best shot of a Fiesta Bowl slot. They were there before in 1991, but in a year where a ML King Day flap left most big schools unwilling to touch Arizona. A win at FSU would put the on the map; if FSU went 9-2 or 10-1, the Cardinals would be in the BCS if they ran the rest of their schedule and might have an outside shot of being #2. A 10-1 Miami or Tennessee would likely trump Louisville in the BCS ratings, which would give a playoff a good chance of forming in the future. A few years back, a 11-0 Virginia Tech just got into the title game with an 11-1 Nebraska (IIRC) just missing second in the ratings. Marshall heads into Hokieland September 12th. If the Thundering Herd can win that one and run the MAC table, a top-ten finish is likely, especially if VT can get a good 8-3 or 9-2 schedule. While a MAC sked means getting into the top two's all-but-impossible, they might have a shot of being the first non-BSC conference team to get into a BCS bowl with HeismanTrophyCandidate Byron Leftwich. No, Byron's only his middle name now, his first name is HeismanTrophyCandidate.

60-40 QuestionsThere's a new metalist of liberal blogs up, and Airstrip One was included in the list. Mr. Goldstein took offence. While he's an economic conservative, Goldstein could be well-described as an Intervention Skeptic. It may come across as isolationist, but doesn't truly appear to be. There are a number of issues where well-thinking people will disagree, using different weighting mechanisms to calculate the pros and cons. A lot of conservatives like term limits. I don't. I think that the revolving door of short terms has legislators more in the pockets of the special interests of their parties, as they have less time to develop an independent persona and have to keep an eye on a job when the do return to the private sector (or look to move us the political ladder). However, the upside of clearing out legislators-for-life does have its merits, just not enough to warrant forcing good (or effective from their political viewpoint) guys from office and creating a cadre of short-timers looking for their next job. Term limits is a "60-40 question" in my eyes, where the costs outweigh the merits, but not by too much. Drug policy's another 60-40; keeping the laws on the books is worth it for now, despite the man-years of law enforcement and jail lost to it. A number of smart people, like Bill Buckley, disagree, seeing it 45-55. Many military interventions are 60-40 questions. Iraq is one of them, where the advantages of invasion are roughly offset by the disadvantages. Back in 1990, Bush 41 opted not to take the fight to Baghdad, thinking that going beyond the UN Kuwait mandate and installing a new government on our own wasn't worth the body count. That looked to be a sound decision at the time, but not in 20-20 hindsight. Today, we have a similar 60-40 question. The wardrums are beating in the Blogosphere, and I am largely in agreement with the sentiment. However, we should take a look at what honest critics of intervention are saying, checking our assumptions and seeing if we have everything factored in properly. Kevin was looking for the best pro and con pieces on an Iraqi intervention. I don't know of too many con pieces, but wouldn't mind having my assumptions double-checked. There are quite a few questions that are moral absolutes, where the people on the wrong side of the issue are clearly on God's wrong side. Then there are others that are 60-40 judgement calls. Let's make sure to not use too much Good-versus-Evil rhetoric on defending our side of 60-40's.

When You Think About it, It's a No-Brainer-Joshua Sargent linked to this piece on a Barna poll showing that more people watch/listened to Christian media (radio, television or books) than went a church service in the past month (67%-63%). Firstly, how many church goers don't read Christian books or consume Christian broadcasting? Not too many. Add the elderly shut-ins who will listen to their church service on the radio or the non-churchgoer who might wander into The 700 Club or be reading one of the Left Behind books or wiping the dust off the family Bible, and I'm surprised the differential’s only four percent.

Edifier du jour-Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
We don't like to be tested. The devil starts planing mind games, asking you why God's allowing you to go through all this crap if he really loved you. He'll start questioning your faith, suggesting that the problems are due to your own sin. Many times, the testing isn't because of our sin but is used of God to refine us. Character comes from sticking through the hard times. I was helping Eileen set up her classroom yesterday; she's got a lot to do before school starts Wednesday. Discovery Academy has a set of fifteen or so virtues/qualities (I'll figure out the lingo eventually) that it wants to develop in their students, and we were putting up posters of those virtues. One of those is (you guessed it) perserverence. After trimming the edges of the perseverance sign, I held it up, reminding both of us to be "keeping at it" as the subtitle of the sign stated. If we keep at it, God will build character. Once we see that we can push through the trials that come our way, we have a greater hope that we can push through any trial. The Little Engine That Could verse is Philippians 4:13-"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." The more we persevere, the stronger our character and the more we can take that verse to heart.

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