Saturday, October 12, 2002

Morning Musings-I'm off on a road trip today. I'll be teaching the next three Saturdays, so we're off to Ocala to visit an old seminary buddy of Eileen’s. Expect posting to be non-existent 'til tomorrow. A lot of blogs ripped Nobel Peace Price chair Gunnar Berge's comments about the message of the prize. So did the rest of the committee. Check out this Jeffery Collins post on political economy. Yes, "capitalism" is like democracy; it's the worst form of economics with the exception of everything else we've tried. If Socialism actually worked as promised, I'd be for it, too.

Edifier du Jour-Matthew 5:1-8(NASB)
1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, 3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Jesus isn't here for the pastors or the millionaires, He came to die for the little guy. That's not to say there's a wealth cap on salvation, but Jesus' message was to the poor, both materially and spiritually. This is one of those passages that people turn to when they need a warm fuzzy from God, for this is the passage where Jesus speaks to the down-and-out. The kingdom belongs to those people who know they are in need of the Holy Spirit. The people who mourn have a Counselor. The people who are earnestly seeking God will find Him. It also gives props to people our society doesn't respect; the gentle and merciful. Gentleness isn't prized in the culture- people are encouraged to be tough and ruthless. Mercy isn't prized either. However, Jesus represents the soft (dare I say feminine) side of God. Liberals don't like the rules and ethnic cleansing of the Old Testament (conservatives don't like that much better, but respect God's order and timing) but love Mr. Beatitudes. However, Love Incarnate is also Mr. Tough Love. He proceeds to go after the Pharisees like Charles Austin goes after Richard Cohen. This is a loving Savior, but one whose love includes correction. He's the parent who says "I'll make it all better"; he's also the one who says "You're going out looking like that?" or "No, everyone's not doing it, 'cause you aren't." As Christians, we need to show both sides of Jesus, the Mommy side and the Daddy side. The Beatitudes have the Mommy side in full bloom, but sometimes we have to clear the temple of the moneychangers. Equal parts grace and justice. Not easy to do.

Friday, October 11, 2002

Dual Purpose-Interesting piece in the NY Post (via Christianity today) on a evangelical band who does secularized anti-violence concerts in public schools and while doing so puts in a plug for an unfettered evangelical outreach concert in town off campus that week. Of course, secular groups complained. A similar strategy is used by Reggie Dabbs, who has given a sufficiently secularized motivational speech in the public schools in my hometown of Midland, then holds a evangelical rally off campus at the Center for the Arts. Quite a few kids were brought to the Lord in those rallies; my sister helps lead the youth ministry at her church and can testify to the effects. A few leftists complained (often pastors of liberal churches whose kids might be influenced), but as long as the on-campus speeches were primarily secular, things were cool.

Den Beste on a Roll-One of these great "wait a half-day and someone else will express it better than you" pieces on the Iraq vote
We will now observe one of those marvelous paradoxes which keep appearing in politics. Since Bush won't require UN authorization for war, he'll get it. If the bill which passed Congress had included a requirement for UN authorization, it would not have happened. Isn't political logic grand?
If the French and the Russians know we're going in with or without them, they'll come on board in order to make some minor tweaks to the plans. It we had to ask for their support, it wouldn't come at all easy. At this point we're at "Are you in or out?" They'll probably want to be in, at least on paper.

"No, No! Hanging's inhumane. Use a firing squad, Mr. Musharraf."-"Pakistan is heading for a hung parliament after the first general elections since the overthrow of the last democratically-elected government three years ago." Getting serious, the elections showed no grand trend except that the Islamic parties did a bit better than expected. The party loyal to Musharraf, the Pakistan Muslim League, got the most votes, but far from a majority. He'll either have to deal with at least one of the two older secular parties who he shoved aside to grab power, most likely the Pakistan People's Party of former PM Benazir Bhutto, who came in second.

Anti-Trust Regulation Ain't Dead; It's Just on the Critical List-The FCC shot down a proposed merger between Dish Network's EchoStar and DirectTV's Hughes Electronics. How these two thought this would fly is beyond me.
"The combination of EchoStar and DirecTV would have us replace a vibrant competitive market with a regulated monopoly," said FCC Chairman Michael Powell. "This flies in the face of three decades of communications policy that has sought ways to eliminate the need for regulation by fostering greater competition."
Mike, take the clue stick you've been using to good effect and give your dad a few whacks.

"Think" Tank?-Head-scratcher in the National Post on a report from the Conference Board of Canada, an economic think tank. However, not much thinking seems to be put in the tank on this one-
In its annual report on the Canadian economy, the board said Canada's per capita income was US$29,000 in 2000, compared with US$35,000 in the United States. By 2010 the report says that gap will double, with Canadians earning US$40,000 to the Americans' US$52,000. The board, an Ottawa-based economic think-tank, argues the decline in incomes will mean fewer tax dollars for governments to spend on hospitals, schools and the environment and will lower Canadians' quality of life compared to that of Americans. "Canada's capacity to fund first-class health, education and social services through to 2010 depends on its ability to boost income per capita," the board said in its 145-page report.
The problem is that it's the bloated government that is causing the income stagnation. The reason the US outperforms Canada is that the cost of investment in Canada is greater due to the higher taxes; Canadian investments have lower take-home pay. Having an economy that grows at American rates will require an economy that looks like America, not Europe. Note that the piece says that the "decline in incomes will mean fewer tax dollars;" last I checked, 40,000 is greater than 29,000, unless math is done differently in Canada. It might be a lesser percentage of American per capita GDP, but it is an increase. If our befuddled economists friends here want the high "quality of life" that single-payer medicine and more-generous unemployment gets, then they have to find some way to increase GDP in that bad tax environment. Good luck.

That Allusion's for the Dogs-OK, Fox, why the "Cruella De Vil" quip in the front-page teaser of this Katherine Harris piece? Would you open a Jeb Bush piece with "He's no J.R. Ewing?" Her problem is that she had no national track record before she hit the national stage and became the bad cop of the piece for those on the left. A conservative women draws extra pieces of scorn from the left, just as conservative blacks get the Uncle Tom or "house Negro" routine. Lacking a good cliche for a women helping the conservative establishment ("traitor to her gender" just doesn't hunt as rhetoric), the left needs to turn to pop culture. However, blocking a presidential election and skinning puppies for a fur coat (Cruella was the villainess in 101 Dalmatians) doesn't equate. "Mr. Spielberg, this is Terry McAuliffe. We need more female arch-villains to be able to tar those Republicans females with. What do you mean, it's bad box office? Where are your priorities? Make sure you get a black female one; Condi's coming down the pipeline."

Deflation in our future? Orrin Judd links to a Financial Times piece taking about fears of deflation. The fall of the stock market has effected demand, but it has also effected supply, as the cost of capital has gone up due to investor’s fears of bogus accounting driving up risk premiums. We aren’t coming out of a classic recession when we have truckloads of excess capacity in the economy; a few industries, such as telecommunications, do have such problems, but not the economy as a whole. Thus, unlike Japan, we have the problem of excess demand being potentially inflationary if not offset by an increase in aggregate supply. At this point, I don’t see either a change in fiscal or monetary policy spurring the economy at this point. The Republicans are going to have to fight to keep the tax cuts put through last year and interest rates are low enough to prevent too much stimulative rate cuts. So, any economic growth is going to have to come naturally rather than via policy changes. A Republican win next month might be helpful in that the tax cuts might be seen to be more permanent and under less threat of repeal, thus giving people more confidence in their coming to pass. What can drive the supply side of the equation in the next few years? Factor prices are one big place were we could see some improvement. Once order has been restored to the Middle East, oil prices should come down. In the short-term, we might see higher oil prices until the manure hits the fan in Iraq, but I would expect lower oil prices by 2005-2007 assuming Saddam doesn’t do some sort of scorched-earth thing destroying oil fields in the area as an act of vengeance. Not only will lower oil prices effect consumers directly at the pump, it will lower the cost of producing other goods. Technology will continue to improve productivity. Wireless applications will be a productivity driver in the supply chain. There will be some consumer applications, such as WiFi Internet broadband or wireless interaction with appliances, but I see more business applications that consumer ones, driving the cost of production down. In the technology area, I don’t see any new consumer product coming up that will get people rushing into stores. There is a coming boomlet in digital TV in the middle of the decade as analog broadcasting ceases; sales of digital TVs or digital converters will go up. Outside of that, the computer market seems to be maturing and growth in the consumer electronics sector will have to come from the next big home appliance. The one growth area in consumer economics will be in health care. This is the one big area that will keep deflation at check. Productivity increases will be consumed in large part by added expenditures in health care. GDP will grow, but take-home pay won’t, as more will need to be spent on health care premiums. There will likely be a productivity improvement here, as the added health care spending will result in more productive employees; modern developments allow workers to get back to work quicker than before. For instance, we’ve seen VP Cheney have heart surgery without missing much work. I’ve seen in up-close this semester; one of my older MBA students had a shunt inserted without missing a week of class. So, in the absence of a new consumer product on the shelves, I see increased medical costs going up against the decrease in factor prices (especially oil) and increases in technology-driven productivity. If the Middle East shapes up well, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some mild deflation in the US by mid-decade.

Senate Iraq Vote-This is the list of the roll call for the Senate resolution on Iraq. It was 77-23, with Lincoln Chaffee being the lone Republican against. The Democratic list was interesting, with quite a few suprises. You can see a north-south split in the Democratic party, with Graham being the only southern Democrat voting against the resolution other than Porkasaurus Rex (must...control...fists of...death). Cleland and Landrieu voted for the bill, as did some unlikely supspects such as Hillary, Teddy and Schumer. Tom Harkin voted for the resolution, but both of Michigan's senators voted no. The two votes that realy stick out are Paul Wellstone and Lincoln Chaffee. Wellstone might lose his seat as a result of his vote, and Chaffee now sticks out as the most liberal Republican. The GOP better get a two-seat edge if they want to really run things, or do something like offer Zell Miller a committee chairmanship in return for voting for a GOP majority leader.

Nobel Fallout-I agree that Carter has his blinders on too many times, as K-Lo points out here; when he goes overseas, he must subscribe to the rule "If you can't say anything nice, don't say nothin' at all." However, Mr. Reynolds, saying that al Qaeda deserves the prize more is one of the cheaper shots I've seen coming out of you site. Go get the blood out of your caffeine system and give things a second look.

Edifier du Jour-Matthew 5:9-12(NASB)
9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Verse nine came to mind this morning when I saw that Jimmy Carter had won the Nobel Peace Prize. I had vented back in May about peacewishers who talk peace but do little to achieve it. However, I think that I'll not apply that name to Carter. Despite his liberalism on a number of fronts, the most disturbing being bolting the Southern Baptists to hook up with the theologically center-left Cooperative Baptist splinter group, I have to give him credit for bringing people together via free-lance diplomacy, and has had a few successes over the years. Also, I'll give him credit for bringing human rights off the back burner during his presidency. He might be frequently misguided, but seems to want to strive for peace, so I pray that God overlooks the other missteps in Carter's life and gives him credit for his efforts for peace. For the rest of us, we also need to be peacemakers. That's not to say we need to be wimps, but that we need to strive to find understanding between people at odds with one another, looking for common ground and soothing anger. Sometimes, there isn't a diplomatic solution and a person needs a 2-by-4 applied upside the head, but in most situations, a peaceful solution to a dispute can be achieved. We're called upon to do so when and where we can. Those passages of verses 10 and 11 remind us to pray for those people behind enemy lines, where being a Christian can cause imprisonment and death. Plenty of those to talk about; I'm planing to start a weekly series on the topic, pointing out groups we need to pray for who are suffering for their faith. We have a fairly cushy life in the US and most of the rest of the Blogosphere; but we will get rewarded when we are dissed for our faith.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Beauty School Dropout-We might have a GOP Torch in Montana; Senate candidate Mike Taylor dropped out, being 19% back in the polls and after an attack ad looking at his ownership of a beauty school made him look corrupt and effeminate. No--late-swapping laws are on the books in Montana (where they actually follow election laws), so it's either up to the blue-skinned Libertarian or a write-in campaign to get rid of Max Baucus. The early favorite to be that write-in candidate is RNC chairman and popular former governor Marc Racicot, but he might not be interested. He could help get the GOP back into control of the Senate if he did run, so expect some serious arm-twisting from Washington heavyweights.

Morning Musings-Nice piece of the Kings retiring the Great One's 99. Was it fourteen years ago that he went to LA? Another one of those tempus-doth-fugit things. Nice piece on a tough battle north of here for Floirda's 5th district, where Democrat Karen Thurman will have her hand full fending off state senator Ginny Brown-Waite in a GOP-leaning revamped district. Another interesting piece involves the new 24th district, where GOP state Speaker of the House Tom Feeney is looking to move up to Washington. Some lobbying work that Feeney did on the side (seemingly legal but close to the line) is being scutinized. Come, Mr. Tally Man, he's just gone bananas. Not quite, Belefonte has had a bitter, today's-NAACP, edge to him for a while and it just went off at his vision of "house negro" Colin Powell. There are a lot of house negros on the left as well, it's just on a different plantation. A smirk-inducer here for Clippers center Wang Zhizhi-he opted out of playing for the Chinese national team this fall to prep for the NBA season and is persona-non-grata with the Chinese basketball authorities for an "absence of professional standards, indiscipline and indifference to the interests of the nation." Let's see, who tries to block Google and ban non-governement churches, showing indifference to the interests of the nation? Good Bleat (are their bad ones?) on blogs as international coffee-shop conversation. Has the Washington Sniper started the third battle of Manassas? If so, he's gotten out of his Maryland stomping grounds and started to include northern Virginia. The plot thickens.

Not Just A CD Player-I always wondered why I was good with kids-now I know.

Edifier du Jour-Matthew 4:18-22(NASB)
18 Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
After "taking his divinity out of storage" after His baptism, Jesus must have added a level of magnatism. This is a guy who gives a screwy job offer and has people drop everything and follow him. Was there more said than was mention here? Did Peter and the gang see the baptism and know that Jesus was special? Or was Jesus just so compelling in person that when He said jump, people asked "How High?" The other interesting thing is that Jesus didn't raid the local Jewish seminaries for his A-team, he picked up blue-collar guys. This helps to point out that this is a much simpler faith that simple people can understand. We intelectuals want to make it complex when it's very simple; God's perfect, we're not and Jesus came to die and bridge that gap.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

O Solo Fide-Heddle's got the comment section a-jumpin' on this post on James 2. Here's chapter 2, verses 14-26 from Luther's favorite epistle (not!)
14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works."
I've always thought that James was preaching against cheap grace, that people can't just say they believe without showing some transformation. A alleged faith (sorry, I'm borrowing from Rich Mullins' Screen Door) without any works is as good as dead and called into question the validity of said faith.
19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?
As useless as a "Bring 'em Back Alive" bumper sticker on a hearse.
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected;
So far I'm still with you. Works perfects faith. OK, then the exercise of ones faith, a.k.a. works, builds up faith. I'm scraping off a quarter-century of rust from my high school physics class, but "work is defined as a force acting upon an object to cause a displacement." The force is the our faith (courtesy of the Holy Spirit), the object is our mind and the displacement is the godly activities than ensues.
23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS," and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
Yes, we are justified by works, but works can be seen as the application of faith rather than a free-standing thing in itself.

Expansion Draft-The EU has approved ten countries for addition by 2004. I'm not sure that's a good thing. It could be good if the more free market ex-communist countries (of the ten, only Malta and Cyprus aren't) give more of a pro-business tint to the EU. If could be bad if the EU stifles economic growth in these countries. The big question will be whether eastern Europe will be a good influence on the EU, remembering all too well what central planning looks like, or whether the EU will be a bad influence on eastern Europe. Cyprus' entry doesn't bode well for Turkish hopes for getting into the EU; that gives at least two anti-Turkey EU countries. Bulgaria and Romania are now looking at a 2007 admit date while Turkey is off the calendar. It's a bad day for the secularists in Turkey. There is one major hurdle left-Ireland still needs to sign off on expansion-they vote on the 19th. Irish PM Bertie Ahern is quoted as saying "The applicant countries have worked so hard for a decade to achieve this - and it's within our power to tell them to go to hell." Or you could vote no and spare them the flames. Our Irish expert James Haney points out that a campaign financing scandal is hurting the establishment, thus a no vote is a real possibility

Midday Musings-Ben points out this interview with JC Watts, where he toys with the idea of getting back into politics in 2008 after his kids have grown up. Could he literally be retiring to "spend more time with his family?" Good news on the baseball front, the Tigers are about to hire Alan Trammell as their new manager. Not every good player is a good manager, but he has the credibility as a Hall-of-Fame-level shortstop (Old Timers Committee selection in about 2025?) to keep the Detroit fans happy. He'll have to get Ilich to open up the pocketbook some and get a key free agent or two, but that's the best move the Tigers have made in 18 years. The NBA pre-season started in earnest (and a lot of other towns) yesterday-I'm interested in the Pistons butt-ugly win over Toronto, where the starting guard duo of Hamilton and Billups had a grand total of zero assists. If that keeps up, Chauncey Billups may become Chauncey ("I like to watch") Gardner, coming off the bench for Chucky Atkins or getting some DNPs if Pepe Sanchez gets any playing time. It's good to see Grant Hill healthy-he had a solid outing but Orlando collectively stunk up the joint last night. Where would Detroit be if Hill had stayed? Can you say "lottery pick?" In 20-20 hindsight, Wallace and Atkins for Hill was a good trade, albeit a forced sign-and-trade deal. San Antonio seems to be cooking well-I was thinking of former Piston big guy Mikki Moore as we had our Life cereal the other day; he seems to have landed on two feet with the Spurs, joining two likable former Cavs from my Ohio days, Danny Ferry and Steve Kerr on the Spurs bench. Add that to the Twin Towers (one point, David?) and Tony Parker and I may have discovered my new favorite non-hometown team.

Someone's Been Watching Too Many Movies-the Washington Sniper case has a wierd twist-a note on a Death tarot card-"Dear policeman, I am God.'' If the card is connected to the shooting, rather than being some third party's sick joke, we've got a certified nutcase on the order of Son of Sam. [Update 5:30AM 10/10-Ibidem has identified the movie-The Jerk-"Die, you random [person conceived out of wedlock]!!!"

Exploring Reason 17-CIA Director Tenent didn't help the cause of the war effort, but he put on the table the possibility of a Iraqi counter attack with WMDs. That is a valid fear, as I layed out last night, and one we need to factor into the mix. However, such a threat will only grow as he gets more and more weapons over the years.

Stand in the GAAP-Part I-Setting the Standards-This is an interesting Krugman piece where he has got his poison pen out after House Financial Services Committee chairman Michael Oxley, likening his cooperation in accounting reform, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, to Al Capone helping the Untouchables. The act sets up the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board to (Duh) oversee the accounting industry. Krugman is going to war over the proposed new chair of the PCAOB, TIAA-CREF's John Biggs. There are a number of things that this does, much of it good. Here's a summary from the AICPA. However, there are a number of things in the law that could be manipulated in the law. One thing that interested me is Section 108 on accounting standards, which is open to a lot of mischief by the wrong leadership. Currently, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is in charge of coming up with generally accepted accounting principals (GAAP). In part b, the SEC can recognize such standards only if the standard-setting body meets certain standards-here's the AICPA summary of this section
(1) be a private entity; (2) be governed by a board of trustees (or equivalent body), the majority of whom are not or have not been associated persons with a public accounting firm for the past 2 years; (3) be funded in a manner similar to the Board; (4) have adopted procedures to ensure prompt consideration of changes to accounting principles by a majority vote; (5) consider, when adopting standards, the need to keep them current and the extent to which international convergence of standards is necessary or appropriate.
I got a chuckle out of the list of the seven FASB directors-Krugman will have a field day if he finds out that the chairman, Edmund Jenkins, came to the FASB from Arthur Andersen. The majority of them came from non-CPA jobs as their last stop before the FASB. The wording of part five in the act is trouble on the half-shell:
(v) considers, in adopting accounting principles the need to keep standards current in order to reflect changes in the business environment, the extent to which international convergence on high quality accounting standards is necessary or appropriate in the public interest and for the protection of investors
However, the international convergence and public interest clauses could be used to change accounting standards in ways that may help a political agenda. Financial accounting is designed to tell outsiders the state of the firm, so as to protect creditors and to give investors a fair and honest appraisal of the assets and liabilities of the firm. GAAP has been designed over the years to do just that. If the wrong people get placed on the PCAOB, GAAP's goals can be changed from informing investors to maximizing taxable income or going along with more statist European standards for doing business. I could see a scenario where the EU passes accounting reform that doesn't make sense from an informational standpoint but does help a leftist agenda; article 108 could then be used to force GAAP to change in the name of "international convergence." Other changes could be done in the "public interest," uniquely defined by the board. Thus, getting the right people on the board is important. Krugman would like a PCOAB chief that has a more liberal agenda that Mr. Oxley or I would. I don't know where Biggs is on these issues, although being a professor's pension fund manager (my 403(B)'s run by TIAA-CREF) might lean him a bit to the left. He might be a honest reformer, but if Krugman likes him, I'll need to check further.

Edifier du jour-Matthew 4:17(NASB)
From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
When I read this passage this morning in the NIV, the kingdom was "near." Here, in the more word-for-word NASB, the kingdom is "at hand." My Webster's New World Dictionary in my office has two definitions for "at hand:"
1 near; close by 2 immediately available
It you take definition one, the translations are the same, but if you take definition two, it takes on an entirely different meaning. Many people are comfortable with the idea of God and his kingdom being near; they aren't comfortable with the kingdom being here. You can be an active part of that kingdom now, as Jesus' gift of eternal life is there for the asking; call now, operators are standing by. All it takes is to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and turning away from your old worldly life (repentance). If the kingdom is merely nearby, you have some time to goof off before its arrival. If the kingdom is immediately available, you have the current option of choosing it or not choosing it (yes, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, I haven't gone off the free-will edge). The Phat Translation: "Do a 180 to Jesus, for the kingdom of heaven is in the house!"

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Twenty-One Reasons To be Against a War With Iraq-"Xian," apparently the writer of this Salon-based blog, has an interesting comment on my grouchy post this morning. Turns out he's more of a skeptic than a liberal.
You may think that because my blog is at Salon that I fit some stereotypical political viewpoint (liberal? leftist? radical?), but you might be surprised if we got down to brass tacks...I find it curious that so much of the warblogger world connects the dots from al Qaeda to Iraq without dissent. The case can be made, but are you a "paleoconservative" if you believe in fighting one but not the other?
First, at this point, I see only a moderate amount of links between Iraq and al Qaeda. If we're going to be invading people for their al Qaeda links, Iraq is fairly low on the list. There seem to be some connection, but not near enough at this point to justify an invasion. Next-you can be of almost any stripe short of pro-Wahhabi and have been supportive of our war in Afghanistan. However, there are many reasons to be against a war in Iraq-I've listed 21 of them below.
(1) Pacifism. Some people don't want to settle things with force, even if there are bad guys with weapons opposing them. (2) Admiration of the Arab cause. They might think that the Arabs in general are more worthy than the US (3) Anti-Jewish feelings. If Saddam hates the Jews, he gets brownie points (4) Distrust of the US establishment (5) Lack of confidence in the positive aspects of American culture and economics (6) Multilateralism-Not wanting to do anything without the UN's approval (7) A trust in the power of diplomacy. (8) An unwillingness to use state power of any kind to solve a problem. This appeals to some libertarians and anarchists (9) An underapprecation of the power of evil. Many people don't realize that some people don't want to play nice. Some are like the aliens in Independence Day ("What do you want us to do?" " DIE!") (10) An underapprecation of the scope of the problem of Saddam and WMDs. (11) A distaste for "empire," of applying America values overseas (12) An overvaluing of American lives (13) An undervaluing of Middle-Eastern lives (14) A unwillingness to spend money to help overseas (15) Fear of disrupting the flow of oil (16) Fear of casualties on both sides (17) Fear of retaliation with WMDs from Iraq (18) Fear of an al Qaeda counter-attack (19) Fear of angering the "Arab Street" (20)The mess of setting up a new government in Iraq (21) Fear of setting a very bad precedent
Of these twenty-one problems, Items 4 to 11 are a leftist response to the war, while items 11-14 are the paleocon response. Some leftists can fall prey to 1 and 2 while both can sometimes fall prey to 3. They only share a distaste for overseas activities. Many leftists were shaken by 9/11 and accepted the war against al Qaeda and Afghanistan. We had multinational backing and the scope and size of the evil of al Qaeda broke through loud and clear, so many of the items that will get in the way of a leftist attack on Iraq were overtaken by events in 9/11. There is unanimity amongst most bloggers that items 1 to 14 are irrational and/or selfish. People espousing those views are prone to being Fisked. However, you can rationally be against a war with Iraq with items 15-21; these items will only encourage the leftist or the paleocon in their opposition. Let me look at each of these seven problems as rationally as I can. Fear of disrupting the flow of oil-If the war is prolonged, it might disrupt shipping of oil out of the Persian Gulf and do a number on the economy. However, this can be used as blackmail in the future if Iraq develops WMD and is willing to use them. If the manure hits the fan with Iraq, this will be a problem. The hawk sees that we will likely have to tangle with Saddam at some time in the future if we don't do so know, so the disruption is discounted by the fact that it's bound to happen anyway Fear of casualties on both sides-Our smart weapons aren't perfect, but the number of civilian casualties goes down from conflict to conflict. People are going to die in this battle. However, the hawk factors in the idea that if we don't do anything, many more lives will be lost via WMDs. Fear of retaliation with WMDs from Iraq-The sooner we go in, the smaller the counterattack. Better now than later. Fear of an al Qaeda counter-attack-That's a hard one. We might prompt some actions, but al Qaeda likely has a finite number of cells which will be used at some time. It might move up attacks that would have happened anyway as well as attacks that would not have happen. Fear of angering the "Arab Street"-It might do the opposite, giving the US respect as someone who can and will kick butt and take names. I think it's likely a wash. The mess of setting up a new government in IraqIt won't be easy, but leaving a power vacuum is more dangerous in the long run-witness Afghanistan after the Russians left. Also, a successor government should be better for almost all Iraqis Fear of setting a very bad precedent-OK, we have established that we can take out very evil dictators that are threatening us with WMDs. Not too many people fit that description. Right now, North Korea would be the next on the list and no one else come in close. Despite the "Axis of Evil" rhetoric, Iran is safe from invasion as long as it isn't hosting or financing al Qaeda or others. My rational for supporting an attack is to get rid of a dictator who has not been bashful about using WMD in the past and is heading towards acquiring more of them. It will help the Iraqi people, the people of the region and the people of the world. The attack isn't without cost, and until recently, the costs seemed a bit too high. However, I think that if you combine snuffing out a threat to the region and helping bring a civilized government to Iraq, the invasion would be worth it.

Wait Until I Get You Into The Pernicious Psalm Zone-Possumblog tells this sorrid tale of plagiarism at Garner-Webb University, where a basketball player cheated in a religion class and the school president wiped off the F for cheating in order to get the player eligible; Calvinball, indeed. Yes, you do get plagiarism in theology classes; not everyone who goes to a Christian college is a believer (mom and dad might have decided for Junior or people might like our local BBA and MBA programs) and even the believers can be tempted. Dr. Varner mentioned a story of plagiarism in his Understanding the Bible class (which I dropped, unfortunately-my MBA schedule got in the way) in the recent past. If that happened here at Warner Southern, I think the president would be run out of town on a rail or a good hunk of the faculty would be heading elsewhere in short order.

EU Perestroika-Mark Steyn is on as usual as he dissects the US-as-Evil-Empire crew, essentially asking 'Yeah, what'ya gonna do about it?" Den Beste is on a similar groove, dismissing the possibility of a beefed-up European military to serve as a counterbalance to the US. If Europe is having a hard time affording it's current big-government levels, an added EU bureaucracy will only make things more expensive and to add to the military budget on top of that is well neigh impossible without trimming some of the governmental programs. Den Beste states that the likely outcome of all this EU military posturing is that nothing will come of it, that if given a choice between a militarily independent Europe or a "socially progressive" Europe, they will choose big government over the big bombers. The scary thought might be that they will make the military choice and realize that if they want to keep up with the US as a military power, that they will have to free up their economy to grow as fast as the US, for they could not afford to keep up with the US with their stagnant economy. Sounds like the guy with the birthmark on the forehead, right? If the EU elites make the choice to scale back their big-government system in order to afford a big military budget, that gives a wedge that the free-marketeers in Europe can use to neuter the EU and their own big government programs. If people like Giscard want to be the EU Gorby, there are plenty of British, Dutch and Italian Yeltsins who could use the opportunity to turn the reform of the EU into the disintegration of the EU. This should happen eventually without a beefed-up military budget, but we might speed things up a decade if this scenario plays out.

Blind Squirrel Finds Acorn-Via Stewart Buck, we get this news out of the Ninth Circuit that they have upheld Prop 227, which severely curtailed bilingual ed in California. When the Ninth Circuit tells the multicultis where to stick it, its a good day for the good guys. It's not that the immigrant kids won't get to learn English; they get a one-year bilingual immersion program before being advanced into normal English-speaking classes. It's taking them out of the cultural ghetto enclave and taking away their separateness that ticks off the activists .

The Detroit Card-Back up in my old home turf of Michigan, they had the first gubernatorial debate and Dick Posthumus held his own. This Detroit News focus group seemed to lean towards Granholm, but this on-line poll on the debate was 50-41 Posthumus (caveat-it's unscientific and the News leans right). A mini scandal seems to be brewing where new Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was looking to trade get-out-the-vote work in November for some key Detroit appointments in a new administration. There's a long-standing tradition with Michigan Republicans to try and make Democrats look like they are too pro-Detroit. Given that Detroit proper is overwhelmingly Democratic, the GOP will try and point out that the Democrats will try to ship more outstate money towards Detroit. That kind of pitch was easier with Coleman Young was major, as the ploy has class and racial overtones, and a yahoo black mayor was easier to pick on. Dennis Archer was more of a technocrat and less easy for the Republicans to caricature. Kilpatrick isn't well known outstate yet, so this horse-trading letter might allow the GOP to make Granholm look like a Detroit liberal. It has to be done with a deft touch, preferably with independent expenditures, so Posthumus plays good cop while the attack ads fly from outside. The other line of attack could be to the Bonior Democrats, blue-collar churchgoers who might be put off by Granholm's solid abortion-right stance. She's got a 12-point lead in the polls and Posthumus has four weeks to get rid of it. I may be whistling past the graveyard, but I think he does have a shot. It'll be more like 51-49 by Election Day than 55-45.

Morning Musings-Google Fun-"Lula Da Silva Hugo Chavez devil." I wouldn't go that far, but neither of them are good news. "English Football Season Forcast?" Sorry, wrong form of futbol. Near-perfect timing for the Presidents decision to intervene in the west coast longshoreman's lockout. Note that the 80-day cooling-off period will take us just past Christmas, so that Santa can get his stock of Asian goodies. You thought he had his elves doing all the work? Nah, he subcontracts, too. Also, any continuation of the lockout would come about the 28th, just far enough away from Christmas so that the nasty Christmas Eve openers ("The shipping companies are putting a lump a coal in the longshoremen's stocking by promising a return to this fall's lockout") won't be as pronounced. This is downright chilly. The Knicks fined Spreewell $250K for not reporting his broken hand and told him not to come back until he can make "a positive contribution." The Knicks might be shopping Spree, but how many takers will there be for such damaged goods? Every dog has his day, but this is the week of the dog in the baseball playoffs. Atlanta, Arizona and the Yankees all are swimming with the little fishies, while San Francisco Giants and St. Louis (Ram's are 0-5, this is the sports god's solace) Cardinals square off in the NL while Minnesota (Contract this!) Twins and Anaheim Angelsgo at in the AL. What's with Holtsberry's Pigskin team-does he have a swimsuit model for a sister? 2-1-2?

Not Miss Congeniality, Miss Conception-I'll say one thing about a good Fisking, the reader gets to see the original piece and the reader is free to figure out whether the writer of the original piece is accurate or not. The other way of trashing a piece is taking a money quote and going to town on it. An even sneakier way of trashing is to distort the quote, by a loose paraphrase. Exhibit A from the "History News Network." Thomas M. Spencer, a professor from a slightly-less obscure school said that
I love it when he says that it's because liberals are overly emotional and conservatives pay attention to "facts and detail." Give me a break.
Unless he's pulling a quote from somewhere else in my history, here's what I actually said
Blogs pay attention to facts and attention to detail. Liberalism tends to be more emotionally based.
Note that I didn't say that liberals were overly emotional, just more so that conservatives. I'll posit that, on economics and the environment, they may tend to be more risk-averse than conseratives and thus tend to favor the protection of a welfare state. The guy who bases his "opinions on evidence rather than on raw feelings" just decided to go to the Bellesiles School of Research on this paraphrase. The other trick is to start to name-call or to give some exagerated positioning on the political spectrum. To Mr. Spencer, I'm a "self-acclaimed right-winger." I may refer to myself as a conservative, but have yet to acclaim myself as a "right-winger," and you can look it up. Better yet is this Salon piece, where I'm categorized as a "Reynoldsist." He obviously hasn't been reading me for long, for I've trashed him for his stands on sex and stem-cell research. The Salon blogger assumes that everybody who whips on liberals is subject to "groupthink." If so, why is Reynolds so secular and I'm so outspokenly religious? Or are we only subject to the Warblogger Mind Meld when Iraq and al Qaeda come up? I'm not used to being misquoted or critiqued from the left, as opposed to a good conservative-libertarian food fight, where we're used to the rules of engagement. Well, I if start getting quoted in MSNBC more often, I'll have to start developing a tougher hide.

Edifier du Jour- Matthew 4:1-11(NASB)
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." 4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" 5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, 'HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU'; and 'ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.'" 7 Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'" 8 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, "All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me." 10 Then Jesus said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'" 11 Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
This is one that is frequently quoted, so I'm not likely to add too much insight to the mix. Jesus could have used his powers for selfish gain; He didn't. He could have used them to show off, and He didn't. The third didn't make sence, since He had the world in His hands in the first place; why be second banana to Satan when he, loosely speaking, was already "second banana" to God Himself. The message I get out of this is that we're not to show off, to avoid being self-centered and to know our place with God.

Monday, October 07, 2002

"A Student of Stalin"-I didn't get a chance to see the President's speech tonight, but the text sounds like something that the President could deliver with a good combination of moral indignation and resolve. The passage that got to me from the text was this passage
The dictator of Iraq is a student of Stalin, using murder as a tool of terror and control, within his own cabinet, within his own army and even within his own family. On Saddam Hussein's orders, opponents had been decapitated, wives and mothers of political opponents had been systematically raped as a method of intimidation, and political prisoners had been forced to watch their own children being tortured. America believes that all people are entitled to hope and human rights, to the non-negotiable demands of human dignity. People everywhere prefer freedom to slavery, prosperity to squalor, self-government to the rule of terror and torture.
While there's been a lot of flap about comparing him to Hitler, Uncle Joe is a much better analogy. Khruschev coined "cult of personality" to describe Stalin's omnipresence in the USSR of the 30s and 40s; many dictators have followed that recipe, but Saddam is one of the better ones at it. Saddam also will turn on people on a dime like Stalin and be as ruthless in crushing dissent. He even looks a bit like that Georgian. I can't manage to get a good picture of Saddam to post, so check out this Stalin site, then this BBC piece on Saddam, and you tell me they don't look a lot alike.

Evening Musings-As I mentioned in passing in the Jesse Jackson piece below, Lula, the populist-leftist candidate, got held to 47% in the first round, while the ruling party's candidate, Jose Serra, got 23%. Since many of the lesser candidates were closer in ideology to Lula, it will be a struggle for Serra to win. Let's hope he does, since a leftist Brazil will quickly turn into a basket case. Couple that with Chavez in Venezuela and the clueless Peronistas in Argentina and you have trouble on the half-shell in South America. This isn't good, either-the spree shooter's still on the rampage, shooting a kid in Maryland this morning-the bullet links it to the previous shootings. Football wasn't very good to me this week. My Florida Blogistas had their best game of the year, only to be beat by ten by Sulik's Asslym Idiots; Sulik's darn Tampa defence produces like they sold their souls to the Fantasy Devil and Maddux channels Joe Montana. My game-picking talents in Spudlets' ongoing contest are in the tank for the week, as I'm looking at .500 for the week if Green Bay hangs on to their current lead.

A Republic, If You Can Get It-I've found this current flap in Canada amusing; the Queen is making a state visit to Canada, and the question of continuing the monarchy is in play. Not everyone in the Commonwealth likes the idea of having their governments being ruled on paper by a "old bitty in London"; the Australians had an referendum in 1999 where they turned down changing the country into a republic, but only by a 46-54 margin. The current deputy PM, John Manley, put his foot in his mouth by calling for an end to the queen's rule in Canada on the eve of her visit. This isn't news, as Manley had said this in the past; however, the timing of the statement was lousy, and rather liberal Liberals became staunch monarchists, moving away from Manley almost as fast as Daschle moved away for McDermott and Bonior. Other than symbolism, what would Canada gain from becoming a Republic? They could convert the Governor General into a European-style President, whose job is to greet dignitaries at airports, go to state funerals and official ask the largest party to form a government after the election. Whoopee! Be still my heart! The Triple-E Senate would make more sense than a Republic if you want to reform Canada's political structure, giving a better check to a runaway House of Commons.

Daddy Warburgs-Phil Gramm is going back to live under the laws he's helped write as a Vice Chairman at UBS Warburg, a big Swiss-based brokerage firm that bought out Paine Webber a while back. He was an econ professor at Texas A&M and his wife Wendy, a fellow econ prof, headed up the CFTC, the main futures-regulatory body, during the Bush 41 administration. Not a bad pair of brains to pick on finance and economics.

Mickey-Mouse Planet-Part II-This Fox piece points out a Kuiper Belt object half the size of Pluto. Astronomers are opening up the prospect of downgrading Pluto from a planet to the reigning king of the Kuiper Belt objects, but this piece today holds out the prospect that Kuiper Belt objects bigger than Pluto might be found. I had blogged on Pluto's status back in March

I Love the Smell of a Well-fisked Alliteration in the Morning-Our favorate blogging marsupial has this Rev-run Jackson piece, declaring the president's policy on Iraq "divisive, dangerous and diversionary." OK, lets look. Divisive-It shows the left for the America-lasters that they tend to be, dividing the swing voter from the Democrats. Dangerous-It might be dangerous to the dictators Jesse gets to play kissy-face with. Jesse can always go to Rio and claim political asylum if Lula wins the runoff. Diversionary-It diverts liberals from scaring the voters on Social Security and their usual class warfare routine. It's also deliciously destructive and damaging to the Democrats demonstrated desire to dominate DC. Doesn't look bad from here.

The Dubya Report-Card. Didn't see this Paul Cella post until just now, and I'll tend to disagree on all three of his points.
(1) Broadly, the principal failure of the administration since September 11 in my view has been clarity of purpose. (2) The administration has at times exhibited a distressing unwillingness to vigorously argue its views; instead, it seems to prefer the fait accompli approach, or, as the Democrats so elegantly put it, the “my way or the highway” approach. (3) But a similar ham-handedness has characterized much of the administration’s dealings with Europe in general.
I may come back to elaborate further, but here's a quick pre-dinner look. Point 1-Fighting a terror network isn't an easy thing, nor are the successes going to be front-page news. I don't think we would want the President to be seen "focusing like a laser-beam" on al Qaeda, pulling a Jimmy Carter 1979-80 and retreating to a bunker mentality. I don't think a declaration of war on Afghanistan would have helped, and al Qaeda's isn't a country. Points 2 and 3-Many of the things we're disagreeing with Europe on don't have good middle grounds. Is there some level where we'll accept the UN snagging Americans and whisking them away to a ICC tribunal? Is Kyoto salvageable? No on both counts. Most of the disagreements with Europe are areas where they want to have veto power on American economic, judicial and military decision-making. Most of us in the Blogosphere want no part of the US being part of an EU-plus that they would like to evolve the UN into; the changes run counter to the basic American psyche. "Like Hell we will!" might not win any prizes for diplomacy, but on most of the fights, it's the straight-forward response to a global socialist power-grab.

"No, I Can't Grant Cert-You're Breath's Not Bad Enough"The Supreme Court turned down Forrester's appeal. OK, legal eagles, what is the possibility of having a federal district or appeals court work on this one? After the Supreme Court's turned it down, what is the GOP's next move. Could this thing wind up in the Senate as the arbiter of its own elections? Let's say that Lautenberg wins 52-48 and the Senate winds up in Republican hands after a Jim Talent election. Now that Article 1 Section 4 was turned down, let's try Article 1, Section 5 of the US Constitution
Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.
Would the outgoing Senate approve the results or the incoming one? If the Senate finds New Jersey in violation of Article 1, Section 4, would they have the power to seat Forrester, since the Lautenberg line was illegally added? Or could they hold the seat vacant until a new election was held? I haven't a clue of any good precedents; lots of questions, and I'm looking for the answers.

Sports Musings II-"Stanley Stanley"-It looks like a repeat's an order for the Red Wings, but you can't get the Little Caesar’s Guy out with my catch phrase quite yet. Most all of the key parts are back with the exception of Dominik Hasek, who retired after snagging the Cup. Mike Illich (who owns both Little Caesars and the Wings) being the Steinbrenner of hockey, he whipped out the checkbook and signed Curtis Joseph away from the Leafs. The Wings don't rebuild-they reload. The key question is whether all the remaining long-in-the-tooth Wings will hold up in front of Cujo. At some point, this collection of future Hall-of-Famers will start playing like old-timers. Out west, it looks like the Avs will be back. I think Patrick Roy will want a rematch with the Wings bad. There have been two times when Roy has been facialed that bad; last May when the Wings lit him up for six goals in a 7-0 Game Seven whuppin and when they lit him up for nine goals in his last game with Montreal; he was shipped off to Colorado shortly thereafter. San Jose and Dallas could challenge and give the Wings an interesting second-rounder, but it looks like yet another Out east, it looks like a free-for-all. Defending eastern champ Carolina will have trouble getting past Washington if Jagr and the crew stay healthy. Ottawa should surprise in the Northeast if Lalime can improve in goal to match a good offence and if the Habs can give any offensive support to Theodore, they can make a run for the division title. You can throw the Atlantic in a hat and pick from Philly and the three metro NY teams. So, my prediction for the year will have Detroit repeating as President's Trophy winner for regular season champs. Colorado will win the Northwest and San Jose the Pacific. Detroit beats the Avs for the West title. The Rangers, Washington and Ottawa win the three eastern divisions, with Ottawa winning the eastern first seed. Montreal comes out of the five seed to surprise everyone (well, when Theodore is on a roll, it's not a surprise) and win the Eastern playoffs against Ottawa, losing to the Wings in a hard-fought six-game series.

Sports Musings I-College Football at the 3/8ths Pole. At this point, there are too many permutations to figure out a clear path to the national title. At this point, we’re looking at the Texas-Oklahoma winner getting dibs on one spot in the Fiesta Bowl if they can run the Big 12 table. The Miami-Virginia Tech winner can say the same, although Miami’s schedule with both Florida State and Tennessee is a bear. If no one comes out of the Big 12 or Big East undefeated, Georgia has a shot of coming out of the SEC, but games against Tennessee and Florida will not be picnics. Once again, the Big Ten’s out of the championship loop unless Ohio State runs the table. Oregon’s the only undefeated Pac 10 team , and NC State has a zero in the loss column, but I don’t expect them to run the table. Next weekend has a surprisingly important game-Notre Dame at Air Force. The Irish have three toughies left with Florida State, USC and Air Force; if they run the table, they could easily be Fiesta bound. Air Force is the Great Mid-Major Hope; they could be the first non-BCS conference team to make a major bowl if they beat Notre Dame and run the table, but being in the Mountain West will keep them out of the top two in all likelihood. Predictions for the big 4 Bowls Fiesta-Miami (12-0) vs Ohio State(12-0) Sugar Florida (10-3) vs Texas (12-1) Rose- Oregon (11-1) vs Notre Dame (11-1) Orange- Florida State (9-3) vs Virginia Tech (11-1)

Terrorism or Crime Spree?-There’s been some debate on whether the shootings in the Washington area are terrorism; another shooting occurred in front of a middle school in Maryland this morning. They are terrorism in the sense that they terrorize the people in the metro DC area. However, they are not terrorism in the modern sense of punishing a population in order to achieve a political goal. I don’t want to trivialize the word “terrorist” so that mass murderers like Son of Sam or Ted Bundy would get the title-they had no political motivation for their crimes. At this point , there doesn’t seem to be a pattern to the killings, nor any claims of responsibility. When the culprits are found, it’s more likely to be a deranged person(s) who is killing for the fun of it or for some other irrational reason. It doesn’t seem to be something al Qaeda would do.

Primary Reform-Nice piece from Dr. Weevil on open primaries spinning off of a Cynthia McKinney sour grapes lawsuit on her primary loss. Open Primaries, such as they have in Georgia, Alabama and Michigan, are open to manipulation. In those states, you get a primary ballot for the party of your choice-it need not be a party you agree with. If there isn't anything interesting going on in "your" primary, you can raid the other party's primary, either voting for the candidate you like (like Majette in Georgia or John McCain in Michigan's 2000 presidential primary) or the candidate you think is easiest to beat or (as Dr. Weevil did) vote for the candidate most likely to give your opposition the blackest eye. As a young Democrat, I raided the Republican primary on occasion, voting for Bush in 1980 and a conservative bomb-thrower for the Senate a few years later (I don't remember if it was '82 or '84). Had I stayed in Michigan long enough, I would have been tempted to raid the Democratic gubernatorial primary this August; only an interesting state senate GOP primary would have kept me from doing so. There are two good solutions to the problem of open primaries. One is the closed primary, where you have to announce the party of your choice well in advance of the primary. This winds up disenfranchising the voters of a minority party in a district where there is a clear majority for one party-in strongly Democratic districts, Republicans are a non-issue, while in strongly Republican districts, Democrats can be ignored. The second solution is a non-partisan primary, such as is done in Louisiana. If someone gets 50% in the primary (now officially the general election in Louisiana), they win; if not, the top two vote getters go to a run-off. This will allow the minority party voters to choose between the least toxic of the two majority-party candidates if their candidate stands no chance, or to strategically vote for a moderate from the other party instead of their own guy; who'd get crushed in a run-off. A third solution would be preference voting, as Australia has, although I don't want to start requiring people to vote. It would require quite a bit of voter education (don't even think about getting Palm Beach on this system) but would allow people to vote their heart then help decide the election. It would give people outside of the classic Democrat and Republican axis a shot and be a bit harder to game.

Edifier du jour-Matthew 3:13-17(NASB)
13 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" 15 But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him. 16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."
It's interesting that Jesus got baptized, for he had nothing to repent of personally. At Golgotha, he took the sins of the world upon himself. Was he simply setting up a custom to follow, or did something more happen when he got dunked? God spoke audibly from Heaven that day, something that doesn't happen elsewhere in the Gospels. This baptism "fulfill[ed] all righteousness," so that coupled with the vote of confidence from God points to this as something significant. The message of repentance and remission of sins via baptism seems to be the significance; Jesus was giving a endorsement to John the Baptist's message in this way. Once Jesus had intimately identified Himself with that message, God officially gave the Father's Seal of Approval to the project

Sunday, October 06, 2002

Evening Musings-A hangout day with Eileen, so little blogging. Good news from Brazil-in looks like the leftist candidate Lula just missed 50% in the first round, meaning the center-right can possibly beat him in a runoff. More feedback on the bad New Statesman piece. We're now getting serious blog recursion, Paul Musgrave has a fisk of a fisk of the origional piece.

Swap "Emotional" for "Risk-Averse"-My fisking of a Guardian article, and the statement that "Blogs pay attention to facts and attention to detail. Liberalism tends to be more emotionally based" got this guy hot and bothered. It was a little over the top, but I think it's valid nonetheless if you consider that a lot of the core of the economic liberal is a tendency to dwell upon the low-probability outcome in economics. Most of us are risk-adverse in that we'll prefer a $100 in our pocket to a 50-50 shot at $200; the general theory is that losing a dollar is more painful than gaining a dollar and that we will tend to err on the side of sure things in order to maximize our well-being. You say, "wait, that sounds conservative, to not sign off on an iffy proposition." However, in economics, it's the liberals who prefer the big government they know to the free market they don't. They'd rather have a smaller government benefit rather than a iffy but larger expected benefit from a freer-flowing economy. For conservatives, this means explaining the benefits of a free market economy and that the added income they are likely to get from a lower-tax environment is significantly higher than the government goodies the liberals will promise with the tax money. Voters will be from Missouri-the conservative will have to show them the money before they get out of their risk-averse "conservatism." Also, people tend to overstate the importance of long-shot events; even if they know the odds, they will act like the odds of something bad happening are a lot higher. If there's a 1% chance that the stock market will have lose to inflation over a 30-year period, the risk-adverse person will tend to act like its 20%. "What will we do when we privatize Social Security and the stock market goes in the tank?" The same thing we'll do if we keep up the status quo-raise taxes and cut benefits. Many environmental policy fights are cropping up from the parts-per-billion low-impact effects of some pollutants, where the response to stop them outweighs the risk. Democrats tend to be fearful of the market and its creative destruction, not knowing if they might have their business or their job destroyed in the process. They also miss the vast potential for wealth-creation that a free market enables. This is a rational fear if coupled with a lack of knowledge. Some of the fear is irrational, but a lot of it is standard risk-aversion coupled with a lack of knowledge of how free markets work. I can speak from experience, as I became more conservative as I went to business school, not from some sort of Stockholm Syndrome but from understanding how taxes and regulations slow down the economy. I stopped worrying and learned to love the free market. With a little reeducation, other liberals can too.

Edifier du Jour-Matthew 2:1-7
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: 6 'AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.'" 7 Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.
It's interesting how God can use a worldly thing for good. Astrology/Astronomy isn't concidered a godly predictive tool, yet these wise guys figured out where the Messiah was to be born by "His star." A supernova, perhaps? One wonders how many other astrologers had false alarms before this.However, this information was potent, for the chapter goes on to have the wise men woshiping Jesus, after God used nature to send a subtile message.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?