Saturday, September 14, 2002
An Honourary Canadian, Eh?-I have been granted that honor by Bene Diction for my ongoing coverage of Canadian politics. It's part of my beat, even Rantburg had "Canada watching" as an ingredient of the haggis that is this blog. I include the National Post as part of my regular news reads, and will check out the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail if I want an alternative take-plus the National Post will have those super Mark Steyn pieces.. Growing up in Michigan, we got a lot of radio from Ontario and had Windsor's CBC station as part of our cable TV package in my teens. I can remember the Conservative win in 1978(?), watching the returns with as much interest as an American election. If you want to get up to speed, I had a nice long piece on recent Canadian history back in January.
Evening Musings-Light blogging day, since I had a full-day session with my MBA Managerial Accounting class, going 9-5 with a lunch break. By the time I got done giving a makeup quiz to a gal who had to miss the morning session due to a schedule conflict with a Business Law class and went out to dinner with Eileen and got home, it's 8PM. Patrick Leahy must be spacey after shooting down another Bush judicial nominee, for he wants to see if West Nile virus might be a terrorist thing. I heard an epidemiologist yesterday on one of the news channels pointing out that West Nile is a blood-borne disease and would make a lousy terrorist vehicle. Montgomery Swift-A guy I never heard of named Tim Montgomery just set the 100 meter record- 9.78 seconds. Shows how much I follow track-he came in second in the Worlds last year. However, I was busy courting Eileen last summer. Buffalo Jihad?-The idea of an al Qaeda cell in Buffalo seems odd, but there are pockets of Muslims almost everywhere. Sabado Futbol -Not a good day for the state of Michigan-glad I missed it. Notre Dame beat Michigan and Cal Beserkely beat MSU. OK, how do we make a laid-back surfer-dude type spin-off of "Da Bears", since their now 3-0 and might be a sleeper in the Pac 10. Looking through the other scores had some surprises, including Northern Illinois giving Wisconsin all they wanted. I saw the last bit of the South Carolina-Georgia game, where a last-minute red zone fumble saved the game for Georgia, 13-7. Everybody else of the big guns took care of business, including Ohio State sending Washington State back to Pullman empty-handed. Early sign of Spurrier withdrawal in Gainesville-at the half, Ohio University is hanging with Florida, 14-6. When the Swamp Weasel was there, Florida would have 50 up by halftime when a mid-major came a-calling.
Edifier du Jour-2 Corinthinans 2:14-17(NASB)
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? 17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.Paging Chris Rice-what does God smell like? The spirit realm that God, angles and demons live in is another dimension, one that we can barely sense and understand. However, a saved person will have a sense of that salvation that other believers can detect. It also can be detected by non-believers, a "scent" that will draw them to you if they are a seeker of that salvation. I don't know how my proposed sixth sense works, but there might well be added dimensions of this spirit realm that have people and things giving off spiritual electromagnetic rays. As spiritual creatures, we would be able to detect those rays. While such a paradigm would explain the spiritual warrior's sense of demonic activity in an area even when nobody's around, it also seems a bit too New-Agey and also brings up the image of a Ghostbusters spiritual Geiger counter. Another possibility is that there aren't any of these rays but that the feelings we get are from the Holy Spirit subtlety planting such insights into our subconscious. The devil can play the same game, for many bad characters in the Bible had a foreknowledge of holiness in their path. Either way, a extra-dimensional effect is causing our "sixth sense" to trigger. Food for thought for a Saturday morning.
Friday, September 13, 2002
C'mon, Brian, Tell Us How You Really Feel-Hey, Bene Diction, American bloggers aren't the only ones laying into Chretien's 9-11 comments. Former PM Brian Mulrooney had this bit of blogfire
"This is a uniquely disgraceful statement, even by Mr. Chrétien's worrisome standards. On the day the world solemnly recalls the death and destruction brought by cold-blooded murderers, our Prime Minister says that American economic strength and success was in part the provocation for such action," Mr. Mulroney said. "This is a false, shocking and morally specious statement. It is essentially the case the terrorists have tried to make."Had he spoke that forcefully ten years ago, the Tories might still be a functioning party. We wouldn't have seen the once-proud party resort to have this steaming pile coming from current party leader Joe Clark.
"I don't think there is any doubt that if you are sitting in the Third World and you are looking at the squalor around you and you are looking at the prospects for your kids and you compare them with what you see on television, or know of what is happening in Canada or the United States or other countries, that can create an envy that can lead to extremism," Mr. Clark said. "I don't think the Prime Minister was blaming any society. I don't think he was blaming the United States or blaming Canada for that." Mr. Clark added that "there is a direct relation between the roots of terror and the existence of poverty and despair. It is not the only cause obviously. But it is a cause."This is from a Conservative? That shows why this bunch is an endangered species west of the Maritimes. Ted Turner could give that speech. Joe, get out your notepad, and see how a real conservative handles things. Here's what Alliance leader Stephan Harper chimed in with
Mr. Chrétien's comments, particularly coming on the anniversary of 911, blaming the victim, are shameful," Mr. Harper said. "What was behind the events of September 11 are the forces of evil and hatred."
A Little Good News-It looks like the President has done well by his UN address yesterday. A NPR piece about opinion on a college campus (Penn State Harrisburg, IIRC) coming in this morning was about as pro-Bush as an NPR piece can get. Here's how I see the next few months shaking out. After a week or so of diplomatic arm twisting, there will be a UN resolution demanding in-depth, unhindered weapons inspections. If the Bush people are smart, the resolution will be diplomatic enough to have the Russians and French sign on yet have enough teeth to force Saddam to reject it. Then, sometime next month, after Saddam has given the UN the middle-digit salute, we go back to the UN to get the OK to take "remedial action".
Crude and Stupid is Tolerable1-This is a bit spooky-the story of the morning is a group of seem-to-be terrorists were caught near Naples, FL. One of the cars was stoopid enough to try to get on Alligator Alley without paying the toll (they like their toll roads down here), thus drawing the interest of the local constabulary, who noticed a Georgia report on these guys talking about a 9-13 attack yesterday. The scary part is that I've been on the Atlanta-to-Tampa stretch of I-75 that they took twice this summer. 1-Thanks to Papablog for the inspiration for the headline. [Update 4:40PM Seem-to-be was a fair modifier-it looks like a false alarm. Looks like it was a trio of medical students on their way to a conference in Miami making a bad joke. Hint-if you're Muslim-looking and in public, don't joke about that.
Edifier du Jour-2 Corinthians 1:3-5(NASB)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.Unlike a strident liberal, God's there primarily to comfort the afficted, for the world He designed will find a way to affict the comfortable. I'm fighting off some sort of mild cold and Eileen's fighting off something worse-the feedback from the first interim grades sent home. However, God gives us comfort and perserverence to get us through those rough patches. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, and it ain't an approaching train.
Thursday, September 12, 2002
Good Political News-The $72m verdict against a Bill Simon-led firm just got thrown out by the judge in the case. While this will help the Simon campaign, for it appears they did nothing civilly negligible, the Democrats can still say "A jury gave a $72 million dollar ...." Simon might be back in this thing. Now on to highlighting the Egray site The other fun one was the rumor that lame duck Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney might become a Green Party member, with the possible outcomes of a run for her old seat in 2004 or running on the Green ticket, either replacing or running with Nader. Ya gotta love it. It will draw blacks and Muslims to the Greens, put the Lebanese-American Nader on the hot seat, and make them look worse then they already are. Boobie Rahall?-WV congressman Nick Rahall is heading up a "humanitarian" delegation to Iraq. Cute. Can you take Jesse Jackson with you and a few others on that little list that never will be missed?
The Check-out Lane- Den Beste nails the hypocrisy of many of the world's 9-11 rhetoric as "Easter Christians," showing up for services once a year then bashing us the other 364. He has the concept of evil and the proper reaction to it down cold in this piece from yesterday. Even an honest atheist knows true evil when he sees it. Charles Austin has a good Mandela take and is also in fine form for the silver-anniversary version of the Cohen Scourge, but he is blessed with an exquisitely stinky pile to work with. This is a bit dated, but I haven't pointed it out. Suman Palit has a good piece on an engaged America. The weenies how moaned about isolation may have wished we stayed isolated. He also gets in a sub-molecular Fisking on a weenie of a Indian ex-diplomat.
HMS Clueless?-Looks like the Canadian Commisar's channelling Chompksy.
In an interview that aired last night on CBC-TV, the Prime Minister for the first time suggested the strikes against New York and Washington stemmed from a growing international anger at the way the United States flexes its muscle around the globe. "You cannot exercise your powers to the point of humiliation for the others. That is what the Western world -- not only the Americans, the Western world -- has to realize. Because they are human beings too. There are long-term consequences," Chrétien said in the pre-taped interview. "And I do think that the Western world is getting too rich in relation to the poor world and necessarily will be looked upon as being arrogant and self-satisfied, greedy and with no limits. The 11th of September is an occasion for me to realize it even more."Give National Post writer Sheldon Alberts credit, he gives a mini-Fisking to the PM in mid-article
But Chrétien's remarks about the causes of anti-U.S. sentiment are likely to generate the most controversy. Leftist intellectuals from Susan Sontag to Canada's Naomi Klein have suggested U.S. foreign policy is one of the "root causes" of the attacks, while others say that argument amounts to blaming the victim. The Prime Minister suggested Western nations -- and the United States in particular -- have alienated the rest of the world by trying to impose their values around the globe. Americans, he said, need to be nicer in how they operate on the international stage.How come I'm thinking of Leo the Lip saying "Nice guys finish last." Yes, we are "imposing our values" if we're stopping other people seeking to impose theirs on us by force. Canada has the luxury of playing good cop since it has the US to smack heads together when need be.
Mo' Morning Musings-The initial vote count's done in Florida, and McBride has hung on to a 0.6% margin, leading Reno by just under 8,000 votes; 0.5% would have triggered an automatic electonic recount. Now, Reno needs to wonder if a recount would generate that many votes. BBC header-"Haider to lead Austria's far-right." Last I checked, the Freedom Party got 27% of the vote in the last election, which sounds something more than far right. Would the Beeb say of a Tory leadership convention "Iain Duncan Smith to lead Britian's far right?" However, this upcomming Austrian election should be fun, watching the Euroweenies squirm. How do you say "Pitchfork Pat" in German? Chris Webber's been indicted on purgery charges over the Ed Martin affair. Mark, aren't you glad he didn't sign with the Pistons last year? Another blow for the old-school folks-they now have the refs doing TV review in cricket. Under further review, he's out by leg before wicket. How soon before bang-bang plays at first get reviewed upstairs? Had my first casualty of the Blogger Bowl season, as Brent Conway went out on IR, causing me to pick up Doug Cristie on waivers.
Morning Musings-While reading up on the Stackhouse trade, I read this David Aldridge piece, where he describes His Airness signing himself for $1M as "the biggest bargain since the Louisiana Purchase." Buying Alaska from the Russians was better- Alaska hasn't had to go on IR. Fisking a secular saint's a dangerous errand, but Bryan Preston's going after Mandela for going after Cheney. Mandela's becoming Jimmy Carter with a wisdom-of-the-ages slow African-English accent. Two football stories, one passing on, one passing into history. Johhny Unitas died yesterday, who had a lot of career passing records when he hung up the cleats in the early 70s. His highlight was the '58 championship game, when he led the Baltimore Colts to an OT win over the New York (they actually played in Yankee Stadium back then) Giants. The other sad story was Tim Crouch deciding to "retire" rather that try to catch on with the Rams as a wide reciever. He won the Heisman last year playing for Nebraska, but as an option quarterback. He didn't have the passing ability to play QB in the pros, but will go down as one of the best option QBs around. He'll be remembered fondly in Cornhuskerland. A quarter-century later, Rick Leach's name can still bring smiles to Michigan football fans, playing a gutty option-QB for the Wolverines, getting the nickname "The Guts and Glue of the Maize and Blue" from Vitalesque radio guy Bob Ufer. He didn't make it in the NFL and wound up being a journyman major league outfielder.
Florida Update-We might be in for a recount. If I recall correctly, a machine recount is required if the vote is within half a percent. Right now, as of the latest figures at 3AM, McBride has a 8,000 vote lead, an 0.6% edge. It doesn't look like Reno will catch him outright, but if she picks up a thousand or so on the remaining districts, we might see some fun.
Jerry Stackhouse, RIP-Big trade in the NBA-the Pistons shipped Stackhouse to the Team Formally Known as the Washington Bullets for Richard Hamilton. The Pistons get younger, as Hamilton's a comparable talent to Stack but three years younger and get gunner Hubert Davis on the side in the trade. It also clears off some cap room for next year if they get Memphis' likely lottery pick next year. After seeing Stack's disappearing act in the playoffs, I think this might be the time to have Stack go hang with his fellow Tar Heel boss. For you Washington fans who might think that Varda and Cardinal, who the Wiz got in the trade, are injury-prone due to being on the disabled list, as this ESPN piece note, that was the modern NBA version of redshirting. They were the 13th and 14th men on the roster whose "injuries" suddenly improved if someone else was really hurt.
Edifier du jour-1 Corinthinians 15:51-57(NASB)
51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. 55 "O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.Verse 51 is a fun verse to put on the wall of the church nursery. Think about it. I have a mid-80's James Ward tape Good Advice, long out of print, that has a song, Death Has Ended, based on this passage. The chorus went "Death has ended. It's ended. It's swallowed up in victory." This isn't to say that we don't die, but the power of death has ended. Sin has been rendered moot to the believer by Jesus at Golgotha. Once we realize that, we can light up one of Red Auerbach's victory cigars, for Satan's game is in garbage time. The game is still going, but the final outcome's been decided. Turn out the lights, Satan, the party's over. We have a immortal spirit coexisting with a mortal body, a butterfly trapped in a caterpillar’s body. We are being transformed by the Holy Spirit, so that we can live and thrive in the heavenly spirit realm when we die. If I could use that butterfly analogy, our life as a believer is the pupal stage, where the old, ground-crawling caterpillar self dies and is transformed into a creature who can take to the air of the spirit realm. The caterpillar has to "die" in the process, yet it lives. We're in a pupil stage, where we are learning the ways of God, but also in a pupal stage, being transformed into a spirit critter. It seems hard to figure how a creature can have two such distinct lives, but we're created to be with God yet be mortal at the same time. Tadpoles turn into frogs. Caterpillars turn into butterflies. Humans turn into spirit critters. Hallelujah!
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Evening Musings-Quite a few sites have 9-11-only layouts today, including Ben, Megan and Suzanna while Lileks has a good essay writing a time-warp letter to himself a year ago, assuring himself that things turned out a lot better than they looked a year ago. MCJ has a LOL description of Charles Austin's ongoing Scourge of Richard Cohen, "The freelance punditry's Harlem Globetrotter runs it up on his own personal Washington General." Speaking of Scourges, the Scourge of the Polk County School Board continues-they got their appointed-superintendant proposal passed 52-48. McBride's still clinging to a 1% lead over Reno. I may start picking on MSU's State News more often, for this one's rich.
MSU’s Alliance of Lesbian-Bi-Gay-Transgendered and Straight Ally Students has only two members to its fill seven leadership positions. With social relations junior Natalie Furrow as the chairperson and general management senior T.J. Jourian as the external vice chairperson, the group is left without an office manager, a treasurer, a special events coordinator, a public relations officer or an internal vice chairperson.I guess external vice is more important than internal vice. I don't remember vice being that specialized when I was at MSU.
McBride of Frankenstein-Ballot reform has created a mahn-stah. They're still counting down in the Republic of Floriduh (not to be confused with Florida) and Janet Reno's thinking about challenging the election if she comes up short in the primary against Frank McBride. As long as they keep sniping at each other and not pointing too many fingers at Jeb, that means that the Democrats will have less time and effort to winning in November, unless they and the media can spin this out of proportion to the GOP's detriment.
They Left Behind Their Logic-Patrick Carver pointed out an interesting piece in The American Prospect (not one of my typical haunts) on the Left Behind series and how author Gershom Gorenberg thinks they are influencing evangelical thought. His history of premilenialism and dispensationalism is OK but his application to conservative politics isn't
The politics begin with conspiracy: Early in the first book, a source in London tells a journalist that "a secret group of international money men" meets in a French chalet and controls global economic developments. The reporter dismisses the idea -- until the source is murdered, followed by the detective who investigates the killing. Then the conspirators, aiming to create a single world currency, pull strings to have Nicolae Carpathia appointed UN secretary-general. Doubters of conspiracy theory have been proven wrong, and readers can deduce that the cabal of bankers is already using economic unions and shared currencies to subjugate once-free countries. The conspiracy is demonic, for it will crown the Antichrist -- using the United Nations as its tool. Belief in an evil conspiracy isn't incidental. Millennialists, to use historian Landes' apt phrase, are "semiotically aroused": Everything has meaning and everything fits. The world is a novel in which every detail is part of the plot -- precisely the perspective of the conspiracy theorist, who ties every headline to shadowy rogues. The conspiracy's existence shows that one villain is behind every crime in the detective story that is human history. Conspiracy theories have a particular allure for the religious right, notes Chip Berlet, co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America, because they project a Manichaean perspective: Any dispute is between good and evil. "The Enlightenment tradition rejects the Manichaean worldview. It says we can struggle to find the truth through public debate," Berlet explains. Religious rightists, he adds, "reject the Enlightenment. For them, truth is in a book from God that has just one meaning." Everyone who disputes that truth is serving evil. In years of researching the right, Berlet says he's regularly run into an "apocalyptic paradigm" that includes demonizing opponents and linking them to conspiracies. Examples include Pat Robertson's 1991 book The New World Order, with its infamous tie between Freemasons, Jewish bankers and Bolshevism -- and LaHaye's own writings.That book helped to marginalize Robertson in my eyes, showing him to be a bit flaky. There is a cottage industry in evangelical circles of prophecy wonks, people who will see each day's news events being one more action of the Antichrist's advance men. That makes up a (vocal) minority of the evangelical community and one of the subspecies of evangelical media that is fun to criticize. A tightly-linked world monetary system would make a one-world government possible. It need not happen by some secret cabal, it could just as easily happen by well-meaning politicians and bankers wanting to minimize the costs of international trade and investment. However, a unified monetary system would likely lead to a central world government, since both monetary and fiscal policies will need to be harmonized in a single-currency system. American conservatives (and likely quite a few liberals) can see that having to be tied to European economic standards wouldn't be a good idea and would be quick to squash such a plan whether it's done by a cabal or not.
By book two of the Left Behind series, Tribulation Force, Carpathia is transforming himself into world dictator. "I want peace. I want global disarmament," he declares. Obediently, nations destroy most of their weapons and give the rest to the United Nations, renamed the Global Community. By implication, every form of international cooperation, from arms control to UN peacekeeping forces, hints at the Antichrist's machinations.No, not international cooperation but mandatory international government. By ceding authority to a world government, whether it be Kyoto or the ICC or any other international body, we can set up a scenario where less-than-helpful people will be running things worldwide, not allowing for a diversity of ideas of how to do things. Such a world government leave room for problems even if someone less malign than the Antichrist is running things.
But disarmament has its foe: the American militia movement. In Tribulation Force, the militias gather heavy weaponry, then launch a hopeless rebellion against the Antichrist. Here LaHaye is engaged in a polemic within the radical right. The story, as Berlet comments, "tells us that the militia movement's intent is good, but they don't understand the real dynamic. They recognize that the true traitors are the government. But they don't have the shield of faith." Guns are great, but the real heroes have Jesus, too.In my generic-theistic youth, I remember thinking of the good side of having private gun ownership. "If the Russians were to take over, they'd have a heck of time holding the US with all the guns we've got around." If you saw The Patriot, you have an example of how an armed citizenry can rise up against an unjust government. Liberals, thinking that government power is more useful than individual power, don't like gun ownership, for they might be on the receiving in of those guns someday if the overstep their bounds. There are plenty of gun owners in the evangelical community (I'm not one of them) but the militia movement is a non-factor in the churches I've been in.
Carpathia's program also includes "proper legislation regarding abortion," which is of a piece with "reduction of expensive care for the defective and handicapped." The pro-choice position, there- fore, isn't just wrong -- it's diabolical.You've got it.
Indeed, the underlying theme is that anyone who opposes the authors' views is doing the devil's work. That includes supporters of interfaith dialogue. In a parody of ecumenism, leaders of the world's religions join to create the "Enigma Babylon One World Faith," sponsored by the Antichrist. Its creed asserts "the basic goodness of humanity," in contrast to human sinfulness. To show their view of theological feminism, the authors make the evil religion's second-highest cleric a woman who speaks of "the great one-gender deity." But the new faith's central pillar is the Catholic Church. The Antichrist designates a Catholic archbishop as the global "Supreme Pope." Catholicism is not just a "false religion," but the devil's handmaiden -- or, in apocalyptic jargon, the "whore of Babylon." Not that prostitution helps: In the second half of the series, Carpathia discards the papacy and orders the world to worship his own image, which he installs in the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem.If you think your faith is correct, efforts to have you give part of it up are wrong. Only atheists or universalists would object to that. A universal religion is prone to corruption as much as a universal government. I haven't read that book to see whether Gorenberg's observation of Catholic-bashing is correct, but I could see liberals of every church being nudged into such a universal church, and picking off a few archbishops would seem feasible.
That, too, is a stock scene in dispensational texts: Based on an interpretation of the Book of Daniel, dispensationalists say the Antichrist must desecrate the Temple halfway through the tribulation. That requires a temple. "There remains but one more event to completely set the stage for Israel's part in the last great act of her historical drama," Lindsey enthusiastically wrote in Planet Earth, soon after the Israeli conquest of Jerusalem's Old City. "That is to rebuild the ancient Temple." The expectation is a key element in the Christian right's vocal support for Israel. Dispensationalists regard the creation of Israel as proof of their correct reading of prophecy, and they look forward to Jews acting out the remainder of the millennial novel. Rather than people, Jews are figures in a Christian myth -- a point inadvertently underlined in The Remnant when Carpathia's forces attack the desert refuge set up by the books' heroes for converted Jews. "We could lose four people, not to mention all the Israelis we promised to protect," Rayford Steele's daughter comments. Much of the series takes place in Israel, but the country's geography is entirely a product of the authors' imagination. So is the central Jewish character, Tsion Ben-Judah, a rabbi who announces that a three-year study has led him to recognize Jesus as messiah, and who immediately begins speaking like a fundamentalist preacher.Has the author not head of Messianic Jews, who are Jewish believers in Jesus, keeping their customs while recognizing that Yeshua is the Messiah? While some Jewish converts go into traditional Christian churches, there are plenty of Messianic assemblies.
Droves of other Jews also convert. More are slaughtered, though the job of murdering them is conveniently displaced to the Antichrist. Here, too, LaHaye has plenty of company. Televangelist Jack Van Impe's Web site (www.jvim.com/israel) offers the full text of his book Israel's Final Holocaust. Chuck Missler, another popularizer of dispensationalism, says in a cassette lecture that Auschwitz and Dachau were "just a prelude" to the Tribulation. Missler sees no contradiction between looking forward to that horror and backing Israel; in an interview, he told me that "there is more support for the State of Israel from fundamentalist Christians in America than from ethnic Jews." But the success of the Left Behind series, coming as some American Jewish organizations are strengthening ties with Christian rightists, raises a question: Are the tactical benefits worth the cost of an alliance with those who regard Jews as mythical creatures fated to forfeit their lives or their religion?To an traditional Jew, the evangelicals could be seen as useful idiots, whose support is based on a future history that they do not see going down.
Naturally, those who describe future holocausts reject responsibility for their vision; they insist that they are only illuminating the literal meaning of Scripture. Jerry Falwell used a defense along those lines after his public assertion in 1999 that the Antichrist is probably alive today and "he must be male and Jewish" -- a return to the medieval demonization of Jews. But as theologian Fasching says, the Bible "does not interpret itself, human beings do the interpreting." Exegesis implies both a sacred text and human autonomy. Literalism is an ideological stance intended to deny human autonomy.No, exegesis implies a text that is part of an era of history. A literalist still needs to apply what he's read to today; the error of many interpreters is in how to interpret it. For instance, the Antichrist need not be Jewish, but is referred to as male in Revelation, so Falwell is half right at least.
Perhaps the most striking scene in the Left Behind series is the climax of book six, The Assassins. Carpathia is speaking at a mass rally in Jerusalem. Out in the crowd is Rayford Steele, armed with a high-tech handgun. He prays for God's guidance, and finds himself firing what appears to be a fatal shot at Carpathia. Intentionally or not, this is an eerie rewrite of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination at a Tel Aviv peace rally in 1995 -- but the authors are on the side of the fanatic killer. In the next novel, Rayford Steele's daughter asks Ben-Judah if her father is a murderer. "I believe we are at war," answers the voice of truth. "In the heat of battle, killing the enemy has never been considered murder." Having demonized religious and political opponents, LaHaye and Jenkins suggest a method for dealing with evil leaders.There are other methods of dealing with evil leaders in a democracy, such as recall elections, impeachment and voting him out of office next time. In a dictatorship, violence is a viable option if it is preferable to surrendering under the current tyranny. Would Gorenberg have approved of the officers plot against Hitler in 1944? However, Gorenberg doesn’t seem to understand the difference between working in a democracy and working against a dictatorship. His last paragraph confused those two modes.
Given the books' audience, the response must not be to ignore them or the ideas that drive them. Neither should it be to demonize the advocates of those ideas. The Left Behind series rejects the principle of truth arising from democratic debate. Ironically, though, it has placed a set of arguments in the democratic arena, and the proper response is to debate them -- to make the ideas woven into the fiction explicit, to analyze and rebut them. This responsibility falls upon both political advocates of an open society and religious advocates of a humanistic faith. The preachers of intolerance should not go unchallenged.” The Left Behind series rejects the principle of truth arising from democratic debate.” First, the will of the people is what arises from democratic debate. If the people are ill-informed, some bogus stuff can result. Secondly, Gorenburg assumes that the readers will associate secular modern government as an analog of the Antichrist and wage jihad against it. There are some whack-jobs that would want to do that, but that’s far from the minds of the typical evangelical conservative. While a significant chunk of the Islamic world might cheer al Qaeda on in fighting against the western infidels, few in the evangelical community would have advocated the violent overthrow of the Clinton administration. Liberals fear a malevolent theocracy, and see these books creating the climate for such a government, putting statism in a bad light. Liberals also fear a non-universalist faith, for it makes them ask religious questions as if their eternity depends on it. Such a faith has values that will run counter to a “open society” where there are no moral values to be transmitted and will compete in the public square against the “religious advocates of a humanistic faith.” “The preachers of intolerance should not go unchallenged.” Which preachers? The ones who shill for universal acceptance of an amoral, universalist faith, labeling those who see God differently as intolerant? Or the ones who have a particular view of God that you don’t agree with? By implying that evangelicals will use extralegal means to enforce their will make the liberal feel more proud of their tolerance. By pointing out that the Antichrist will be rather statist in his methods allows the right to see statist activity as demonic, which makes liberals angry, just as a Christian will get a bit peeved when a Muslim cleric will dis their faith. If they are being called backers of demonic policies, the liberal will return fire. However, their pejoratives are “intolerant,” “ignorant” and “bigoted.” Gorenburg seems to be painting the evangelical community with the brush of the some of real and imagined flakes on the right in order to show that the Bible-thumpers think big government and the UN are tools of the Antichrist. Knowing that they are on the “side of the angels” (of the agnostic equivalent), they will rise up in secular indignation over the slight and be further encouraged in the rightness of their cause. However, Gorenburg has had to go through fifteen farms in order to get enough hay to make all those straw men.
Morning Musings-Just got done grading the first quiz for my Personal Finance class, and was setting up my grade spreadsheet for the course. When naming it, I had typoed in "Grace Sheet." Yep, the ones who got 8 or 10 out of 16 might need some grace. Heard an urban legend over breakfast about heat turning aspartame (a.k.a. Nutrasweet) into alcohol. Snopes is getting blocked here at WSC, but they seem to have debunked a series of anti-aspartame postings and e-mails about it turning into wood alcohol at 86°F. If true, that would make bringing Diet Pepsi home from the store when it's 90° out a bit problematic, as they lay it on thick about passing it off as a cause of Gulf War Syndrome with GIs drinking overheated soda. This other urbal legend site debunks it as well. McBride seems to have beaten Reno, 45-43, but there are still a lot of South Florida precincts not counted. Could Reno be ready to go to court, since yesterday's snafus were more prominent downstate in her home turf? It isn't the new machines-they put in new machines in the Tampa Bay area without a lot of glitches. Are they more IQ-deficient the closer they get to Miami? One local PoliSci prof and alleged humorist the local public radio station interviewed wanted to pronounce the state Flor-i-DUH. No, there are two states-Florida is situated north and west of West Palm Beach, while Floriduh is that urban strip from West Palm south. [Update 11:15AM-Patrick Carver suggests giving Floriduh independence]
Edifier du jour-I'm going to break format to do some 9-11 stuff today. I've heard two renditions of this prose poem, God in the Stairwell, the last 21 hours, both on the radio as I woke up this morning and at the chapel service at Warner Southern yesterday. Worth a read. My primary thought for today was a meditation on the later verses of America the Beautiful, which got sung at our chapel services yesterday. Here's verse two
O beautiful for pilgrim feet Whose stern, impassioned stress A thoroughfare for freedom beat Across the wilderness! America! America! God mend thine every flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law!America as freedom's highway. Cool. However, that freedom doesn't mean we're free to do anything; such freedom, as American and believers, needs to be paired with self control and a just legal system. A lack of law isn't freedom, it's anarchy, and we need to respect a good legal system and to be disciplined in what we do as citizens.
O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife. Who more than self the country loved And mercy more than life! America! America! May God thy gold refine Till all success be nobleness And every gain divine!I'm thinking of all those NYC police and fireman who gave of themselves, risking and giving their lives to help their fellow man. They loved their community more than they loved themselves. The rescue workers come close to noble success, doing their job even when it might cost them their lives. I'm also thinking of the Beamer Brigade that apparently stopped the fourth plane. Liberating strife isn't a bad metaphor for what happened on that flight, as the guys got up the courage to make a counter-attack and keep the plane from being used as a jumbo-sized Molotov cocktail, saving any number of other lives.
O beautiful for patriot dream That sees beyond the years Thine alabaster cities gleam Undimmed by human tears! America! America! God shed his grace on thee And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!The first half of this verse hit me especially. For all the cracks we make about New York, it's still the center of world economics and thus a beacon to the world. There were plenty of tears shed last September, but that American Dream lives on, undimmed by those tears. That dream isn't just an American one; the rest of the world wants to be able to have a free and bountiful life. That NYC skyline is the big icon of that patriot dream, and even short a pair of buildings, it's still a symbol of our free-market system (despite the liberal denizens) for the freedom-loving of the world to admire and the freedom-haters to despise. Yes, we have our flaws, but this is still as good a country to live in as there is or has been, given our freedoms and technologies. While a certain reflection upon our flaws is proper, we have plenty of things to take comfort and pride in. Let's not give into the siren songs of the America-lasters or the America-firsters. The xenoskeptic mood of the paleocons aren't healthy for the soul of the evangelical who is called to preach the Gospel to the nations. The religious and economic freedoms we have may be carried to extremes at times and have some unwelcome side-effects, but the system is better than others and needs to be tweaked rather than overhauled. Don't let the bad guys get us down. I've read the end of the story, and the good guys win.
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
Good Election News-Down here in electoral doofusland, it looks bad for Ms. Reno. With 18% of the precents in, McBride's up 137K-97K. The referendum for appointing the Polk County school superintendant is winning (darn) in a squeaker at the moment. Up in New Hampshire, Bob Smith is getting toasted by John Sununu Two-Two, which will help with holding the Senate seat.
UN Cover for Iraq War?- Thanks to the person who kidnapped the French president and replaced him with a double who makes sense.
Jacques Chirac, the French President, proposed a two-stage plan that would give the Iraqi leader a three-week deadline to allow UN weapons inspectors to return to the country, followed by a threat of force if the inspectors are barred or hindered.Good. Make the requirements strong enough to have Saddam be forced to turn them down, then get out the industrial sized can-o'-whuppin' and lay down the ever-loving slap. Crazy enough to work. It worked in Gulf War I, give him an ultomato and blast him when he turns it down.
Your Tuition Money At Work-The Buck article had me taking a peek at the Michigan State student birdcage-liner, the State News, and saw this head-shaker.
MSU will benefit from a visit from another prominent figure as students might have the chance to have their fears and concerns about life after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks eased by a remarkable world leader. The Rev. Jesse Jackson has verbally committed to speak on campus Sept. 15.Do those two paragraphs belong together? The Rev-run Jackson may be remarkable, but only for his ego, his desire for media attention and his two-facedness.
Evening Musings-Check out this Tony Woodlief essay on 10 good things about America. He might unjustly trash CCM, but he's en fuego. I enjoy a good Fisking, even if it's a MSU student that Stewart Buck is chopping into bite-sized bits. The med school's standard's must be down, but there are plenty of leftist doctors out there. Not good to see that the State News is just as leftist as it was when I got my MBA a decade ago. TV-Free 9-11? That's what Laura Bush is advocating. I'll be TV-free tomorrow barring big-breaking news, since I'll either be at work, eating dinner or at church until 8-ish. I'm not a big TV viewer other than sports and the occasional JAG with Eileen, so it's not a fast by any means. The bathos that will permeate the coverage won't make for overly edifying viewing. 9-11 bleeds and leads.
God and 9-11-I don't expect to get too sappy tomorrow over 9-11, but I'll have some things to say. I agree with Gary Petersen's take that the US hasn't changed much in the last year. We have a slightly better respect for a generic God and evil is an active word in the vocabulary again other than in action thrillers or spy comedies. Most of the God talk in mid-September of last year was the foul-weather friends most of us are when it comes to God. In sitcomdom, the protagonists only pray when their back's to the wall and they swear they'll go to church and be a good boy if He only lets them out of this jam. If you had a nickel for every time you've seen that scenario played out on the screen, you could take yourself and a significant other out for a real nice meal. We're only a bit less two-faced in real life. We pray a lot better when we're down than when we're up, for while we're quick to pray in the bad times, we're also quick to give God the brush-off once normalcy returns. People started going to church more to itch that spiritual scratch last September. However, the Generic God of civil religion isn't much comfort in the long haul. People will either go back to their a-theistic existence or strive for something deeper, and most of the unfamiliar faces in churches last September fell into the first camp. Bringing God into the picture also gives us the Battle of the Gods, the Generic God of civil religion and the God of the Bible. The Generic God can be worshiped by everyone, even if they don't agree on what He means to them. When the serious believer starts to substitute their hands-on God for the Generic God, the universalist will start to object, especially when you point out that not everyone can be right about God. Stewart Buck has a good piece here on that front. We'll see a lot of 9-11 memorial services, but not at my church. It's Wednesday night and a series on Revelation is starting up; as far as I know, they're not doing anything special for 9-11. Warner Southern did, they had a 9-11 themed chapel this morning which was a bit sappy, with the pastor of the on-campus church doing a Lazarus-based homily on Jesus being there in our "9-11 moments." Well, the guy was the police chaplain in Oklahoma City when the Mura building went down, so he's got some comparable war stories. What should we be praying for? The same thing I was praying for a year ago: equal doses of justice and mercy. Mercy for the people who come into harm's way in our fight against the bad guys and justice for the bad guys, whether, as Dubya put it, we bring them to justice or we bring justice to them. A year ago, we knew that a war somewhere was likely but didn't know the details. We're in the same boat today, seeing a war with Iraq on the horizon. Pray for the Iraqi people, that their pain be as small as possible while doing the job that needs to be done. Pray for the safety of the coalition forces (however big the coalition gets). And last but not least, pray that the job get done and get done with a minimum of bloodshed.
More Primary Fun-There have been equipment snafus aplenty as Florida tries to modernize the election system, and polls have been extended statewide from the normal 7PM close to 9PM. Before the national media casts this as deja vu all over again, as NPR did on the way home, note that the problems were with machines taking time to boot up or elderly poll workers being a bit dense about them, which are not the same problems that happened two years ago. Chad has left the building. Since most of the snafus were downstate, Reno wanted four counties (sound familiar) left open for the extra two hours, but McBride argued for a state-wide late closing, which Jeb Bush went with. That's nice, since Eileen's running late tonight, so 7PM would be pushing it tonight.
Primary Day-Florida's having their primary today, as are a number of other states, including New York and New Hampshire. Since Florida has a closed primary, I don't have the option of raiding the Democratic governor's race as a registered Republican. I have to settle for voting for the Republican primaries for country commissioner (where the pro-growth mayor of Winter Haven's taking on a more centrist incumbent) and state AG (Charlie Crist might be a bit of a yahoo, but after 16 years of Butterworth, you might want an anti-establisment type in there) and the ballot proposal to make the school superintendant an appointed position.
Midday Musings- Posting's have been light due to an increased school schedule. I've now got a full-time load with a 8-hour-a-week MBA class that started last night on top of my two undergrad classes and the one class I'm taking as a student. The good news is that this new MBA bunch is a better bunch of people than the MIS squirrels that will graduate Saturday, and they are responding to a fairly dry topic of Managerial Accounting fairly well. One student has a way with puns, including a malaprop of Enron "crooking the books" and a reference to the French fries and hamburger patties being raw materials at McDonald's. We even headed off into tangents on the Certified MBA exam, getting some surprisingly positive feedback. The take on quite a number of students is that such an exam if it becomes widely accepted, will allow the small-school or low-prestige school grad a chance to show he knows as much as a Harvard grad. I wonder if our program will properly prep them for such an exam-the program here at Warner's been upgraded to add more rigor since the business school took over the program from the Continuing Ed department.
Edifier du Jour-1 Corinthians 15:13-19(NASB)
12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.I thought of this Jason Steffens piece on some at-least-nominally Christian theologians that don't want to convert Jews, stating "that Jews, like Christians, have a covenant with God and that a belief in the divinity of Jesus is not necessary for salvation." Jesus' death and resurrection are the two focal events in human history to this point. To allow people to option to say that Christ's death and resurrection is a non-issue is to throw the Gospel in the dumpster. Many Christian liberals seem in their hearts to prefer to be Jewish, for that form of theism doesn't have the messy necessity of a saving faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. It makes the believer seem exclusive and intolerant and in the politically incorrect position of telling believers of other faiths that they're on the highway to Hell unless they come to Jesus. However, the rejection of Jesus' resurrection that the liberal stance implies also rejects the offer of personal resurrection upon our death. So, as tacky as it is, we need to keep teaching that Jesus rose from the grave. Moses, Buddha, Mohammed and all the other religious teachers have long since become worm food; they are was-es. Jesus is. There's a "vacancy" sign on the tomb. We dare not stop preaching that.
Monday, September 09, 2002
Midday Musings-Interesting first anniversary of the assasination of Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massood by Taliban operatives posing as reporters. I can't say that Masood's smiling down from Heaven, but one could picture him having some iota of joy wherever his soul resides knowing that his Northern Alliance troops got rid of the Taliban after his death. I'll propose this headline for later in the week- Gustav Mauls Carolina Coast. I'm getting a crash course in hurricane stuff now that getting hit by one is a real possibility rather than just being a bit of Great Lakes schadenfreude. I don't remember ever hearing of named subtropical storms before like Gustav that has formed off the Carolinas, but they seem to have cold upper currents rather than warm ones. This might be fun-early elections in Austria. The current center-right coalition is breaking up, with the right-populist Freedom Party (with the Euroweenie's favorite politician, Joerg Haider) walking out over a cancellation of a tax cut to fund flood relief. Let's see how much the EU elite try to talk Austrians out of voting for the nationalist, EU-skeptic Freedom Party. Some sports musings for dessert. I didn't get to stay up for the whole game, but David Carr looked very good in Houston's 19-10 win over Dallas. Houston might manage a winning record as an expansion club. They're the first expansion club to win their opener since the Vikings in 1961. One play that didn't show up in the statistics was impressive, where Carr threw a 50-yard laser to an open Jermaine Lewis, who proceeded to drop it. I'm still bummed that Houston got him rather than Detroit, depriving us of some Detroit Carr jokes.
Murphy Was an Optimist-Had a morning that seemed to fullful two classic scholastic nightmares, a fubared network and preparing the wrong lecture. First off, the network was down in the faculty wing of our building, forcing me to sneaker-net my handouts for today over to the library to get them printed. That was just the begining of my problems. Somehow, I had made up a test study guide for my Personal Finance class, forgetting that their exam was slated for a week from Friday and not this Friday, confusing their schedule with my Econ class, who has their first exam Thursday. To compound matters, I had a lecture on chapters 2 and the time-value-of-money appendix prepared when I should have been polishing off chapter 2 and starting chapter 3. I had a good lecture prepared, except that I brought the wrong floppy disk, leaving the Powerpoint slide back at my office. So, I'm giving the class an incomplete test handout a week early and the bogus lecture slides were left at my office. I ad-libbed my way through a good lecture on resumes, cover letters and career planning despite the disaster of a morning.
Edifier du Jour-1 Corinthians 12:18-25(NASB)
18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.A malaprop from Pastor Gibson yesterday had me backtracking in Corinthians-he would up starting to say something about praying for your "unloved saved ones." I wound up laughing as a result, getting a shout-out by the pastor-"yeah, Mark, I've got some of those, too." Yes, there are some people who might resemble the "Jesus loves you, everyone else thinks you're an [expletive deleted]" bumper-sticker. Paul tells us to go out of our way to honor and praise the more mundane members of the church. It's easy to praise the pastor or the worship leader, but not as easy to respect the 12-stepper who's struggling to keep things together after coming to the Lord a year ago. Or the run-of-the-mill family of four who doesn't stand out. We need to look after those unloved saved ones, not to mention the unloved unsaved ones.
Sunday, September 08, 2002
Let the Debate Begin-The WaPo's Robert Kaiser seems to want to be a Gaurdian columnist. We know what to do with people like that, don't we?
Why is the United States flirting with a new doctrine of preemptive war so radical it has no precedent in international law or American history -- and why hasn't this flirtation provoked our politicians to conduct a serious national debate, first of all in Congress?Let's take the first one first. We're thinking of this strike because no country has even had the combination of destructive power and willingness to use it in history. This might seem to be a preemptive strike, but can also be seen as a continuation of the First Gult War. The second answer is that no one wants to be on the side of Saddam right now. If the attack falls on its face, Democrats will be in position to Monday-morning quarteback the attack whether they are vocal about it or not. Being critical now leaves them open to charges of abetting terrorists and being unpatriotic. The smart but weasally political position is "support our brave men and women in uniform" and to have "concerns" about the war.
We're still too close to these events to see them all clearly, but it's not too soon to see that the Bush administration's initial sure-footedness has given way to a stumbling clumsiness. This has been a bad summer for American diplomacy. It isn't easy for the world's leading power to alarm all of its allies in a matter of months, but this is what the United States has done, for purposes that remain mysterious.Well, we did the easy part first, putting in a friendly goverment in Afghanistan and now are looking to clean up the other nests. Name the missteps, sir, other than not siding with those wise Europeans. This war, if it comes off, is a year in coming, and it doesn't suprise anyone in Europe. Tony Blair's not alarmed, last I check, so not all of our allies are alarmed.
That first phase was triumphant. The anxiety of last fall that somehow America and its allies would be stymied in Afghanistan, as the Soviets were two decades earlier, now seems silly. Routing al Qaeda and its protector, the Taliban regime in Kabul, proved remarkably easy. Watching joyful Afghans dancing in the streets was a joyful experience. The first phase has cost more than $30 billion and 51 American lives, but the initial mission was accomplished: no more Taliban, no more safe haven for al Qaeda. But the campaign stalled in early December, when American commanders decided not to send U.S. troops into the mountains around Tora Bora, and Osama bin Laden escaped -- at least that was the conclusion of American intelligence. Since then the war hasn't gone very well. Key al Qaeda leaders remain at large, presumably including bin Laden, though he may be dead. With or without him, our enemy can still operate. A new U.N. study concludes that "al Qaeda is by all accounts 'fit and well' and poised to strike again at its leisure." It is sobering to consider how much we still don't know about al Qaeda. German investigators have apparently established that the Sept. 11 plot was hatched in Hamburg in a cell led by Mohammed Atta, pilot of one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center. Who was Atta's superior? Unknown. Who in al Qaeda's hierarchy helped plan the attack, or approved it? Unknown. What was bin Laden's personal role? Unknown. What did the plot's authors hope would be its result -- what are their strategic goals, if any? Unknown, though bin Laden's past comments suggest some answers, such as pushing the United States out of Saudi Arabia. "Know your enemy," soldiers like to say, but we've still got a lot to learn about al Qaeda.Your suggestion to improve the situation, other than take over a lot of other countries to have full access to all their citizens?
The U.S. government has repeatedly advertised its own inability to penetrate or understand al Qaeda by issuing any number of brightly colored alerts and warnings that a new attack was imminent. Those wrong predictions suggest grave deficiencies in American intelligence, a subject our public figures have generally avoided.Would you like the down-and-dirty level of hard intelegence required to solve those deficiencies? Doing this will require hiring bad guys in order to get at badder guys. That's not something most Washington liberals like
Multilateralism was critical to the administration's early successes in the war on terrorism, which makes it all the more surprising that the Bush administration abandoned it so quickly. Beginning with the December decision to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a succession of policy choices revived the administration's reputation for unilateralism and infuriated old allies. Why did this happen?Well, everyone in the west agrees about stopping al Qaeda. We don't agree about SDI or Kyoto or the ICC. Next question.
The answer begins with the White House itself. If we know remarkably little about al Qaeda, we should also acknowledge ignorance about many of the inner workings of the administration. This is a secretive American government. In its eight months in office before Sept. 11, it took, out of public view, a series of decisions that made allies wonder if it cared about their concerns. One of those, shortly before Sept. 11, was to scuttle the long-negotiated enforcement protocol of the international convention on biological weapons -- ironically, now a dead letter as the world gets increasingly antsy about biological weapons.Let's leave off the problems of giving foreign governments free peeks into our biotech facilities and their R&D secrets, not to mention that many of the big bad guys aren't on board on that treaty
The ABM Treaty decision particularly upset the French and Germans, who considered the pact the foundation of nuclear arms control. It was followed in January by Bush's announcement in his State of the Union speech that Iran, Iraq and North Korea constituted an "axis of evil." This infuriated Europeans trying to build bridges to Iran, and South Koreans and Japanese trying to work with North Korea. The administration stuck by the term, although it never explained how these three unconnected nations constituted an axis -- "an alliance of two or more countries to coordinate their foreign and military policies," according to one dictionary definition.It ticked off the Europeans because they're more interested in profiting from Iran than from improving the lives of Iranians, ditto for the Japanese and North Korea to a lesser degree. As for the Axis of Evil, it's a bit of a streach to concider the three countries to be an alliance. However, it does bring back memories of the WWII Axis of Germany, Italy and Japan and a more linguisticly correct "Locus of Evil" would fly over a lot of people's head and still tick off the Euroweenies.
But the most important decision that fed our allies' anxiety about revived American unilateralism was last June's change of course on the Middle East. For many years the United States and its allies have differed on how best to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace; the United States has long been more sympathetic to Israeli governments than many Europeans have. But there was a qualitative change during the last year. The context for it was the war on terrorism. President Bush has said from the outset that the terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks hated America because "they hate our freedoms." But the available evidence does not support this explanation. Bin Laden's own statements and the personal histories of participants in the Sept. 11 plot suggest there are more specific reasons for the terrorists' hatred. They include American support for regimes that they detest in the Arab world; American bases on Arab territory, especially in Saudi Arabia; and American support for Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory and for Israel's military campaign against the Palestinians. Psychological alienation from modern Western culture and a radical interpretation of Islam add spice to this deadly stew. By ignoring the items on this list and denouncing an enemy that hates us for what we are, not for what we say and do -- or what they think we do -- President Bush has created an all-purpose bad guy whose existence allows him to sidestep any examination of American policy. But al Qaeda is led by Arabs from the Middle East and is deeply rooted in Middle Eastern politics and intrigue. Its grievances, however irrational, come from there.We're not ignoring the list, we're opting to continue those things. In al Qaeda's eyes, all of Israel is Palestinian territory. A independent Palestine on the West Bank coupled with a full withdrawl of the US from the region won't be enough for al Qaeda, for they will look to expand. If we do that, we'll be fighting Muslim nationalists in Germany, Holland and France a decade down the line.
The administration acknowledged the Arab connection early on by recognizing a need for improved "public diplomacy" in the Middle East, to better explain U.S. policy to Arabs and improve America's image in the region. But the problem, as American specialists and Arabs pointed out, went beyond imagery and explanation. Arabs have real grievances against the United States, first of all connected to the Arab-Israeli conflict.The Arab street might think of Palestine, but al Qaeda is more concerned about the Saudi government than Palestine. Appeasing them will only lead to a desire to grab Israel proper.
This past spring, the intensification of violence from suicide bombings and Israeli retaliations created a Middle East crisis. Ariel Sharon and his colleagues used the crisis to press their view that the Palestinians killing Israelis were no different from the Egyptians and Saudis who flew airplanes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, "is our bin Laden," Sharon said. Israel's objective, obviously, was to persuade America to make Arafat its enemy, too. The Bush administration initially resisted, but by June, when Bush declared that Arafat had to be replaced, the United States had aligned its policy with Sharon's on virtually all operational questions. The administration continued to say it favored early creation of a Palestinian state and opposed Israeli settlements in occupied territory, but this rhetoric had no visible effect on Sharon, who has demonstrated no interest in a compromise with the Palestinians. Judging by the public statements and published commentaries of Arab officials and analysts, they now see no significant difference between Bush and Sharon on the Palestinian issue. Bin Laden himself could have written this script, it so suits the goal of dividing the United States from the Arab world, including the Arab states that we have long considered our friends.9-11 did that already, given the high Saudi involvement in the attack and Saudi support of Wahhabi missions around the world that breed the jihadists that feed al Qaeda. We started to see the diference that oil money back-burnered for decades.
Potentially the most significant act of American unilateralism this year was President Bush's declaration -- at West Point, in June -- that the United States would reserve the right to act preemptively against groups or nations with terrorist intentions: "The war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt its plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge .... The only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act." Thus began a summer of talk about preemptive war against Iraq. Israelis and Tony Blair of Britain showed some sympathy for the idea, but dozens of other international leaders expressed doubts. So, remarkably, did a long list of senior Americans who had served in earlier administrations, including George H.W. Bush's two secretaries of state, James A. Baker III and Lawrence Eagleburger, and his national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft. Their unusual public statements were evidence of profound disquiet in the upper reaches of the American establishment, where the idea of a unilateral, preemptive war caused deep alarm.The "American establishment" prefers the status quo over change and diplomacy over military action unless diplomacy has totally run its course. Thankfully, Dubya doesn't have as many of the "American establishment" in his administration, Colin Powell being one exception. The current team realizes that diplomats don't want to acknowedge that diplomacy is often counter-productive if the other party isn't interested in cooperating or compromising.
Last week the ground began to shift somewhat. Bush said he would make a speech on Iraq to the United Nations and would consult with the other permanent members of the Security Council. He promised to ask Congress to approve any military action, though his lawyers had argued earlier that such approval wasn't necessary. He also promised to build the case against Iraq in public, which politicians in both parties said he had to do. But all this had the flavor of after-the-fact cosmetics; Bush gave no hint he was prepared to change his mind about forcing "regime change" in Iraq. What is the purpose of poking an American finger in the eye of just about every country in the world?Because we're right and they're wrong
What does the administration hope to gain by emphasizing unilateral options, from declaring war without Congress to telling other nations to sign up or get out of the way?The administrations doing Ocean's Eleven diplomacy-"Are you in or out?" It shows that they know that diplomacy isn't going to work in Iraq and wants to find out who's with us and who isn't.
Does such bullying ever pay off in politics, domestic or international?It did with the ABM treaty.
In a democracy, voters want to participate. In a community of nations, governments want to participate. The issue isn't whether or not to fight terrorism -- a new poll of Europeans and American released last week showed strong support for military action against terrorists. But the same poll [see William Drozdiak's article today on Page B3] showed equally strong sentiment that any such action should be taken in concert with allies, and with the support of the United Nations.I don't see that article online, so I'd have to see what questions were asked and whether a scaled-back coalition of the US, Britian and a few others was given as an option. I think if you asked the question "Should Germany and France have a veto on any actions agianst Iraq?" you'd get a majority saying no.
The Americans questioned in this poll demonstrated a lack of enthusiasm for this administration's foreign policies, a warning in an election year. Only 20 percent of Americans favored invading Iraq without the support of our allies and the U.N. On question after question, large majorities preferred acting with allies to acting alone. But public opinion hasn't yet been a factor, because the country hasn't had a debate about its global status. The United States became the only great power a dozen years ago, but we have never really confronted the implications of this fact. Our political class has largely taken a bye on the biggest questions of our time: How should the United States relate to other countries, and to international institutions? On what terms should we engage with the rest of the world? With what kind of armed forces? And what sort of diplomacy? Has preemptive war become acceptable? The attacks of Sept. 11 announced a profound change in the world. They set us on a new course. But our politicians have let us down by failing to engage the country in a great discussion of the huge questions we face. On Wednesday, when we mark the anniversary of the horror of last Sept. 11, we still won't know where we are going, or why.Do you want a debate on transnational progressivism? On the merits of surrendering soverenty to the UN over polution, biotechnology, the ICC and all other areas of life? No, I think that we have been having this debate the last year and a half, and Kaiser doesn't like what he's hearing.
Evening Musings-Got to watch more football that I planned on this weekend, due to Eileen bringing home a lot of papers to grade. She came up for air this evening just as the Tampa Bay-N.O. game went to OT, and I did the husbandly thing; "You're more important than overtime" and allowed the Bucs to lose it in OT without me. The Michigan ex-pat in me was disappointed in the Detroit whupping by Miami, but was in a curious rooting spot when Miami got into the red zone. In Blogger Bowl 2k3, I'm up against Kevin Holtsberry's Pigskins club, who's got Orlindo Mare, Miami's kicker, on his team. I was rooting for Miami to score, so that Mare would only get a point for an extra point rather than three for a field goal. Detroit's lame red zone defence allowed Miami to score 49 points, giving Kevin a mere 7 points for Mare on PATs. Going into the Sunday night game, I'm trailing the Pigskins 64-41. However, I've got Emmitt Otter going for the Cowboys this evening and Jerome Bettis going on Monday night. 240 yards and two TDs or 120 yards and three TDs between the two of them will give me my opening day win. "Cheney Defends Pre-Emption"-Well, if the Redskins game runs over, of course, they'll show the game.
Edifier du jour-1 Corinthians 14:1-5 (NASB)
1 Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. 4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.All the various things done in a church service should be designed to bring non-believers to Christ and believers into a deeper and closer walk with God. For those of you in non-charismatic churches, stick around, I'm still talking to you as well. Without interpretation, a prophetic tongue is just vacant vocalization. The same can apply to preachers who have an elaborate theology that takes years to understand. Newbies can get lost if a good sermon gets lost in doctoral-level theology. Not that things need to be watered down or that the more subtle points of theology need to be discarded, but that we need to reach people where they are.