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Saturday, April 19, 2003

Geopolitical Reflections-We might be in for some even tougher diplomatic struggles with the Iraq war all-but-over. One of the things that crossed my mind is this perverse thought: would the US have the chutzpah to effectively dissolve the UN? If the French and Russians insist on unacceptable conditions for releasing the sanctions, why not ignore the sanctions? Picture this scenario. President Bush goes on national TV
While the United Nations stated with good intentions, the present reality is sorely lacking It has a dysfunctional Security Council with French and Russian vetoes determined to protect despots and corrupt financial interest. The General Assembly has a majority of its votes made up of the diplomatic representatives of dictators and despots, creating the oxymorons of Iraq heading up a disarmament committee and Libya heading up a human rights committee. While the UN Charter contains noble goals, the reality is of a entity that restricts freedoms rather than encourages them. It does not represent the values that we as Americans hold dear. It has become a body undeserving of American finances and American respect Therefor, the United States is withdrawing from the UN effective immediately. We have revoked the diplomatic credentials of all UN staff; they have 72 hours to leave the country. The UN can restart itself in Geneva, but it will do so without US backing or US money. The United States will honor all other bilateral or multilateral treaties it has signed, but any future UN decisions will have no effect in the US unless separately approved by the United States.
The US and its allies will then start selling oil from Iraq, with the proceeds being deposited in countries outside the UN. The UN will have no good recourse. Do they seize US assets in UN countries? The US would then retaliate by seizing a like amount of assets of UN counties in the US. International trade and commerce would likely come to a halt between the UN block and the US block if the UN tried to place sanctions on the US and its allies. Given the scenario of two mutually-exclusive trading blocks, one outside the UN and one inside, would the French and Germans stick to their guns? We might be heading in that direction, for the French don’t seem to want to play nice.

Born in America But Not an American?-That's what Anne Wilson would like to see; she's railing on the market for Mexican moms going across the border to give birth so Little One has US citizenship. I've got a big problem with that-such a plan will create a class of residents that aren't citizens even though they were born in the US. I remember hearing stories about Kuwait, where only people whose ancestors were Kuwaitis in the 1920s are eligible. That leaves children of newer immigrants without a country; they're officially citizens of their parent's (or grandparents if the family's been there two generations) home country but may have never been there. If you couple the Wilson plan (is that Pete or Anne or both?) with tighter naturalization requirements, you'll have a class of people born in the US who can't vote and aren't citizens. That's a recipe for disaster in the long run, worse that having a few middle-class Mexican kids with US citizenship. Comments, y'all?

Tampa Musings-Eileen's at the Tampa Convnetion Center taking teacher-certification tests today; I earned a stack of husband points by driving her into Tampa and dropping her off; that way she's only thinking about the test and not thinking about driving into the downtown of a big city. I've been hanging out at the Temple Terrace library in metro Tampa with my laptop making up two exams for Monday and typing up some notes for my Investments class-we're covering international investing and I felt that my comments on the EU and Canada might pique the interest of my gentle readers and also allow me to catch any blatant errors before I hand this out Tuesday. [Update 7PM-I added stuff on Japan, the Asian Tigers and the rest of the developing world while hanging out at Burger King this afternoon; I also tweaked the Canadian part a little]
Current International Financial Issues
EU-There are two big events on the EU horizon. The first is the admission of ten new countries to the EU in 2004, formally accepted last week; most of the new members are from the formally-communist parts of central and Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, and Cyprus). This will add a block of lower-wage counties that could grab jobs away from an already-rough job market in the current EU. It will also add a block of countries that just got away from communism a decade ago that are more free-market oriented that the French and Germans. The second issue will be about the form that the EU will take. France and Germany are looking for it to take on more governmental roles, moving power to EU HQ in Brussels and away from the member governments and being allowed to pass laws by majority vote rather than by the consent of all countries. Others, such as the British, are leery of a giving away more sovereignty. The same players split over the Iraq war, with the French being very fervent in stopping a US-led invasion; Germany and Belgium were also vocal in opposition. The British were a key ally in the war, with their troops taking over Basra while the US went for Baghdad. Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark all supported the US-UK invasion plan, as well as most of the new eastern members. This split tends to break down on liberal-conservative lines, with the pro-centralization, anti-war camp being to the left (France’s ‘conservative’ Chirac government is well to the left by US standards) while the skeptical-of-centralization-and-pro-invasion camp tends to the right (British Prime Minister Blair’s New Labour government’s centrist by European standards). Some pundits have suggested that these splits might cause the EU to split in two before the end of the decade, with a French-German lead social-democratic EU being left by the more free-market-oriented countries. Investors in Europe will have to look at the possibility of increasing regulation from a centralizing EU, decaying civil sphere as increasing unemployment from completion from the new eastern members, and increasing Muslim unrest among sizable immigrant communities in France, the Netherlands, Germany, and the UK. Declining birthrates will mean a greater burden on younger workers to look after their grandparents; immigration to meet the need for younger workers will exacerbate the immigrant-native frictions already coming to the surface. The Franco-American (oh-oh Trade War-ios) diplomatic riff over Iraq and other issues will add to a volatile mix where investments in continental Northern Europe are going to be very dicey. Britain, Ireland and Eastern Europe might be good investment locales, as well as southern Europe (Italy, Spain and Portugal). These countries have less baggage than their Northern continental colleagues. Canada-I’ve been a big critic of the Chretien government, but this might be a good time to look to put some money in the Great White North. The Canadian dollar seems to be rebounding against the US dollar, the Liberals’ win in Quebec earlier this month shows a move away from separatism, and the next prime minister is likely to be economically to the right of Chretien, whether it be Alliance party (the main party of the right; the big-C Conservatives are smaller and centrist) leader Stephan Harper or, more likely, former Liberal Finance Minister Paul Martin. Martin, former Canadian Shipping Lines owner (he just gave the company to his sons to get away from conflict-of-interest questions) has a lot of support from Bay Street (Toronto’s financial district); thus, the investment climate would seem likely to improve either way. There are a lot of things that need attention by the next government. Federal reforms seem to be a big issue; while Quebec has kicked the pro-secession Parti Quebecois out of power, there isn’t a lot of love for Ottawa there or in Alberta, where conservatives have been not-so-quietly talking about secession as well. The national health care system needs to be reexamined and partly privatized. Taxes, especially capital taxes, will need to be lowered if the Canadians want to compete with the US. However, the moves for reform seem to be headed in the right direction. A true Canadian economic revival might be two elections away, as the Canadian right hasn’t coalesced around either the more centrist Conservative party nor the more free-market-oriented Alliance Party that broke off from the Conservatives a decade ago; that splintering of the right-half of the Anglophone political spectrum all-but insures a Liberal win in the next election. If a Martin government has the courage to institute reforms in the mid-00s, the Canadian economy could rebound nicely, but the Liberal attachment to national health insurance and other big-government items might be hard to shake; Martin may have fights with his left wing like Blair is having in Britain. Japan-The tiger that scared the US shi silly in the 70s and 80s has gone into hibernation for over a decade; the computer-generated boom in the US in the 90s didn’t make it across the northern Pacific. Banks are burdened with bad real estate debt that they’re unable to foreclose on due do the poor real estate market. The industrial policy that lent support to the electronics and automotive industries, making them the most productive in the world, hasn’t worked as well in the computer era. The keiretsu system of conglomerates has helped to drive debts higher and accountability lower. The political system is unstable, not having settled into a stable pattern after the breakup of the Liberal Democratic Party a decade ago. A mama-san and papa-san retail sector shows the growth of consumer spending. Deflation has led to near-zero interest rates, taking monetary policy out of the picture. The Japanese are overdue for a recovery, but they’re overdue for a recovery like the Detroit Lions are overdue for a good team; it’ll happen someday, but probably not next year. There’s a lot of pent-up demand for goods that could help boost the economy if Japanese consumers got into spending mode. Better utilization of women in the workplace could spur things along as well; the Japanese are a couple of decades behind the US in getting women into positions of authority. One big train-wreck waiting to develop is the low birthrate creating a bad elderly-to-worker ratio; Japan doesn’t have an immigrant mind-set, so importing workers is a more difficult proposition than in the US or Europe. If Japan makes the right reforms, it could have a good second-half of the ‘00s, but that’s a big if. China-The billion-person market tempts quite a few investors, but the political risk of dealing with the Communist government is very large. If you’re ready to play financial Calvinball, their can be some profits to be made. However, if you don’t like the idea of the Party changing the rules in the middle of the game, this might not be the place for you. Beijing has largely lived up to its promise to keep Hong Kong’s legal and economic system intact until mid-century, so there might be a Hobbesian element to Chinese Calvinball. Caveat Investor. The Asian Tigers-A mixed bag. South Korea and Taiwan seem to morphing into mature democracies and are all-but-ready to be moved off of the “developing country” list. Both have problems on their plate. Korea is in the process of reforming the chaebol system of mega-conglomerates and making cautious overtures of rapprochement with the North; a warming earlier in the decade has cooled with an increase in belligerence from the North and an acknowledged resumption of their nuclear weapons program. One point to ponder-Korea is nearly a majority-Christian country, the only country I can think of that became that way without Western colonialization. Taiwan has to keep an eye on Beijing who wants to reclaim the “renegade province;” the two governments have growing economic ties despite the irredentist rhetoric from the mainland. Singapore and Malaysia seem to be riskier bets. The prospects for political unrest in both countries make investments there less secure. Malaysia may find itself increasingly isolated from the west if the pro-Muslim attitude of the current government continues. The largely benign autocracy of the Lee regime in Singapore has create a pro-business, pro-Western climate, but the political and free-speech restrictions might have finally worn out their welcome; look for a lot of civil unrest like we saw in Korea in the late 80s as Singapore moves away from the one-party system. Developing Nations-India is an increasingly good financial bet. A well-educated middle class is starting to turn India into a software powerhouse; Bangalore is turning into the Asian Silicon Valley. The current Hindu-centric BJP government has turned away from the socialist and anti-foreign-investment leanings of the Congress party and is trying to tap into the Indian diaspora for investment help. Nuclear saber-rattling with Pakistan and attacks on Indian Muslims and Christians by BJP-affiliated thugs give some indigestion to the investor, but India has a big up-side. The Philippines seem due for a continued economic revival. The political system seems to be stabilizing and an educated, English-speaking workforce could be the next Asian growth story if they can avoid the political turmoil and corruption that has slowed them down for the last quarter-century. Muslim rebels in the south are a downside, as is a tendency for making politics a contact sport, but not enough to avoid it. For those with a strong stomach, Israel is another promising country. Close ties to the US, a good computer industry and a free-market-oriented government (the last election moved out the devoutly-Orthodox but pro-social-spending Shas party and brought in a militantly-secular libertarian party in its place) bode well for the Israeli economy. The Palestinian problems still loom, as does a possible war with Syria, but the US presence in Iraq make those more likely to be solved in the Israeli’s favor. Chile seems to be the best bet in South America; the Pinochet years were lousy for civil rights but good for economics and the democratic successors have kept the free-market economic system. Membership in an expanded NAFTA isn’t far around the corner. Much of the rest of South America is in flux, as leftists have taken over dysfunctional economies in Argentina and Brazil, Venezuela has a dysfunction democracy currently led by an autocratic socialist and Columbia has to fend off Marxist rebels. Things were looking promising a decade ago, but it may take until the end of the ‘00s before most of South America works out the political and economic kinks. Mexico is another good long-term play. There’s a bit of bad blood at the moment between the Fox and Bush administrations over Iraq (Mexico has a temporary seat on the UN Security Council and wanted to spend more time with inspections), the death penalty (Mexico vocally protests the execution of Mexicans convicted of murder in the US) and immigration issues. However, the free-market-oriented Fox government should improve the Mexican economy over the long haul as Mexican wages improve with greater access to the North American economy via NAFTA.

Edifier du Jour-Mark 15:33-39(NASB)
33 When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" which is translated, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?" 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, "Behold, He is calling for Elijah." 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, "Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down." 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. 38 And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"
Jesus' question in verse 34 was answered in verse 38. He was forsaken so that God could dump the sins of the world onto him and end the seperation between God and man. Prior to this, He only showed himself once a year to the high priest in the Holy of Holies. With Jesus' sacrifice, the Holy of Holies has been made wireless, accessable in the hearts of those who believe.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Irregularities that Ex-Lax Can't Help-A John Edwards fan in Little Rock (no Clinton connection that I can see at first glance) was pulling a fast one by getting his paralegals and law clerk to give $2000 each to the Edwards campaign and the reimbursing them. The Edwards campaign is returning the money-"Once we learned of the irregularities associated with donations from this law firm, we returned all the contributions received from employees of this firm." That isn't an uncommon routine. Another trick is to have your kids give $2000 each-"Yes, little Susie is such a fan of the governor's that she wanted to give part of her college money to him. She is precocious for a three-year-old, isn't she?"

Afternoon Musings-One interesting cheap shot I saw in the op-ed section of the Winter Haven News Chief; a cartoon from Anne Tennaes (her Slate page-grab the 4/13/03 one from the drop-down)-Caption-The Iraqi info minister takes a new job as the Administration Economic Policy Spokesman. With left finger in air, he proclaims "A $726 billion tax cut will grow the economy and create jobs." No, that not what Baghdad Bob would say, 'cause that would be true; how much it would grow the economy would be an open question, but the direction isn't. If that were him, he's say "The tax cut will increase revenue and cause the infidel Democrats to lose 100 seats in the House in the next election." It's the first Friday after the US has taken Baghdad, and that means the immans are rousing the rabble into protesting for an Islamic state. Ain't gonna happen, gentlemen. However, look forward to plenty more Fridays like this; they have the freedom to want to be surpressed by Sharia without Saddam in charge. The Pope's encyclical on communion (thanks to Jesus Gil for the link) is ruffling some feathers. Gil points out a passage on Mary and the Eucharist that could easily lead to a theological food-fight; I'm holding my big spoon of mashed potatoes until I give the encyclical a better read-over.

Political Musings-Ben links to a pair of interesting pieces-the first is to some polling on Barbara Boxer; she's only getting a 38 percent reelect figure versus a 43 likely-to-vote-against figure, but only Pete Wilson has the name recognition to beat her among people the Field Poll tested. That would be an unmitigated disaster for Republicans, as we'd revisit Wilson's anti-Latino reputation from Prop 187 and get a bad blend of Pat Buchanan and Olympia Snowe if elected. Ahh-nold is the first choice for Ben, but I'd hold off on the Vienna sausage and place an order for some Rice pilaf. Californians are used to being Condi-sending. The second is on the Lousiana governor's race and the perreinal fear of a fragmented Republican field resulting in a double-Democrat runoff. Outgoing governor Mike Foster's backing boy wonder Bobby Jindal; with six Republicans running, the fear is that they'll split the conservative vote. What tend to happen is that the candidate that starts to get ahead of the rest of the GOP candidates starts drawing support and a few of the candidates mired in the low single digits throw their support to the chosen one, who then nudges out Democrat #2 and gets into and often wins the runoff.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due-Bene links to this Chicago Trib blog piece; old hat, but yet another piece showing how we're slowly seeping into the broader culture. I haven't commented on The Agonist/Stratfor plagiarism issue yet. This doesn't seem to be rocket science, for two basic rules seem to apply. The first is one most bloggers should have picked up by now in school-cite your sources. If it's someone else's idea, give them credit. If you're using their idea in your own words, you just give then credit and if you quote them verbatim for more than two or three words, you put quote marks or blockquote the passage to denote that the words aren't yours. The second rule is the blogger rule-provide a link if there is one. Blogs don't have to follow MLA or APA guidelines on citation; providing a hyperlink is the blog standard. If the page in question doesn't allow to link to a post, point out where the information is on the site. The Agonist went 0-for-2 on these rules. Even if he had referenced Stratfor, linking to a subscription-only site is frowned upon and if the information was privileged, he might have a copyright issue even if he didn't have a plagiarism issue. I'm not sure if anyone used the phrase "fact-check your a**" to the Trib reporter, but the Blogosphere is more robust that the Papa Blog quote of "To be fair to the world of blogging, he was caught by another blogger ... That's how the blog world works -- it's inherently self-policing."

Edifier du Jour-Other people likely will comment on Golgotha today, but the story of Peter on Good Friday dawn hit me this morning. Mark 14:27-31, 66-72(NASB)
27 And Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away, because it is written, 'I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP SHALL BE SCATTERED.' 28 "But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee." 29 But Peter said to Him, "Even though all may fall away, yet I will not." 30 And Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times." 31 But Peter kept saying insistently, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" And they all were saying the same thing also.
I was doing a little channel-surfing last night while Eileen was checking e-mail. Our PBS outlet had a Nature show on Indian elephants and the Indian people who have to shoo away the elephants from their homes and rice paddies without killing their "gods." Such an obvious display of false religion brought a comment from Eileen that they were worshiping creation rather than the Creator who sent his Son to die for them. When directly confronted with something that goes against your faith, it's easy to come against it. It's when the attacks are coming from a angle that they're harder to fend off.
66 As Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, "You also were with Jesus the Nazarene." 68 But he denied it, saying, "I neither know nor understand what you are talking about." And he went out onto the porch. 69 The servant-girl saw him, and began once more to say to the bystanders, "This is one of them!" 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders were again saying to Peter, "Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too." 71 But he began to curse and swear, "I do not know this man you are talking about!" 72 Immediately a rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, "Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times." And he began to weep
A couple of shows that got surfed into come to mind. In the 7:30 slot one of the local channels was carrying The Hollywood Squares. I hadn't seen the modern version and should have rolled on, for the 70s version was on the risque side for its day and the '00 version would likely be even worse. It took far longer than it should to change the channel, hoping that the first raunchy quip was an aberration; only Alf seemed to be free of sexual innuendo. Likewise, a Fox show on game show bloopers was in a comparable mental gutter that I was slow to pick myself out of. Even the parts of the show that weren't raunchy were making fun of people's denseness. That's just two little examples from last evening; it was a reminder of why I don't watch much TV and got rid of cable TV last month. I may have not been actively denying that Jesus is my Lord, but I was ignoring his instructions. Philipians 4:8 came to mind "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." What I was watching last night didn't meet those specs. I knew they didn't meet those specs. I watched them anyway for a time. It's not the big denials that are going to drag us down, it's the little ones that will start the process. You can start to tell yourself that it isn't that bad; then your definition of what isn't that bad starts to get bigger and bigger and the number of passages of the Bible you're having to chuck out the window gets bigger and bigger. I don't want to hear that rooster crowing in my life. Even if you do hear that rooster, you can still do a 180 and return to the narrow path. Peter's such an encouraging character; he had an amazing ministry despite the fact that he had to hop from place-to-place, for he always had a foot in his mouth. Yet God used Peter to be the Rock that he built the church around, the first on the list of Popes and the leader of the early Jewish Christians.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Dinnertime Musings-Sioux Falls' Bishop Robert Carlson bishop told Tom Daschle to stop refering to himself as Catholic-he's been out of communion for two decades after divorcing and remarrying, but his work for NARAL pulled the bishop's chatty ring. May he be the first of many; one blogger I read earlier today (I'll provide the link when I relocate it) called it the end of the Cuomoization of Catholic politics, where politicians can take their church teachings on an a-la-carte basis and not be called on the carpet for it. [Update 4/18 12:30PM-If it were any closer, the link would have bit me-It wasn't a blogger, but the Weekly Standard piece I'm ^%&^% linking to had the "Cuomoism." Sorry, J Bottoms. ] The Michigander in me wears a little black today-the Red Wings got the broom from the Mighty Ducks last night, losing 3-2. A hot goalie is what wins in the playoffs, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere was just that, standing on his head for four games. Reform-oriented politician Sergey Yushenkov got assasinated in metro Moscow today. When that happens in the Netherlands, it's front page news; in Russia, it's another day at the office; Yushenkov is the second member of his party assasinated in the last 12 months. Some good news from the EU summit that was listed under the fold-a number of NATO countries will be sending peace-keeping forces "that would operate outside the auspices of the Surrender Monkeys EU and Nato." It's interesting how a number of news organizations don't like to capitalize all-cap acronyms-the BBC does that a lot.

Chile Con Friedman-Orrin Judd bounces off of this AP piece reporting on Colin Powell apologizing for the 1973 coup in Chile-"It is not a part of American history that we're proud of[.]" The State Department denied that the US had a hand in the coup. This CNN piece from 2000 looked at CIA knowledge of the coup, but evidence points away to direct instigation of a coup; the Nixon administration didn't like Allende and worked against him in public opinion, but didn't start the coup. Orrin replies with
Of course we did it and we should be proud of that. Had we done the same for Cuba in the early 60s and were it, like Chile, now a model of economic freedom and development, there'd still be some nitwit wringing his hands over how mean we were to Castro. It is, in fact, Cuba we owe an apology, not Chile.
I've raked Orrin over the coals for his support of a Cuban invasion in October 1962 before.One of the problems with making a parallel with Chile and Cuba is that the Allende government that was overthrown was popularly elected. The second problem with the parallel was that it was largely a internal military coup that got rid of Allende; the US didn't mind the coup and likely nudged it along, but it seems to have been a home-grown effort. By contrast, we've seen no significant internal uprising in Cuba that we could have coaxed along; we would have if it were there. Before we go forward, a quick history of the Allende years is helpful. This history of the era seems to be fair, pointing out Allende's election in 1970; it was a close plurality in the midst of a nasty recession that needed to be confirmed by the National Congress. The Allende regime proceeded to nationalize most key industries, often without compensation to the owners of the nationalized companies. The result of the socialist agenda was hyperinflation and middle-class unrest that led to the 1973 coup that put General Pinochet in power. There are two main reasons why people on the right want to justify the coup despite the human rights abuses of the Pinochet years. The first is that it makes the coup proper made sense at the time, both from a humanitarian sense and from a geopolitical sense. The coup itself seemed to be in Chile's best interest, given the basket-case that the economy had become. It wouldn't be the last time kicking out an elected government made sense. For example, Musharaff's coup in Pakistan has been a net plus for the country, as he led the military in taking over a dysfunctional. We've also seen "autocoups" by Fujimori and Yeltzin that were seen to be improvements at the time as well as the forced removal of the Philippines' Joseph Estrada via massive protest. Democracy is important, but there are times where extralegal measures are called for The second reason is the Pinochet government understood economics, bringing in some free-market reforms that American conservatives like. The Pinochet regime turned to "the Chicago boys," a group of Chilean economists trained at the University of Chicago, to revamp the economic system. Chile's privatized social security system is a model that many proponents of Social Security reform point to. Liberals like to get their digs in at Milton Freedman and other Chicago-schoolers by pointing out their connection to Pinochet. Of course, the Pinochet regime is the poster boy for the liberal human rights crowd; a thug they can bash for killing and torturing people with a clear conscience because he's a conservative, and a conservative with ties to Nixon and the unreformed CIA. Part of this is the searching-under-the-streetlamp effect; a relatively free Chile allowed for a lot of documentation while more brutal socialist regimes lacked the freedoms to bring such abuses to light. Another part is the association of Pinochet with the he's-our-SOB school of politics of the Cold War issue; talking about the Allende coup takes the leftist back to the bad old days before the rightist thugs started to get toppled. Another part of it is that the economic reforms Pinochet put in place are still there; the popularly-elected governments of the 90s and today kept most of the free-market reforms and merely improved on human rights. If they can discredit Pinochet, they've got a shot at discrediting the free-market reforms. Liberals seem to be focused on Pinochet for the wrong reasons and conservatives have some cause to try and look at the good side of his regime, but let us not forget the large number of people killed and tortured by his thugs. Chile's a better place today than in 1973. However, we can have economic growth and stability without disappearing people. That's a message that needs to be sent to Riyadh and to Singapore and to Beijing.

Edifier du Jour-Exodus 12:1-13(NASB)
1 Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 "This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. 3 "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, 'On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers' households, a lamb for each household. 4 'Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. 5 'Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 'You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. 7 'Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 'They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9 'Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. 10 'And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire. 11 'Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste--it is the LORD'S Passover. 12 'For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments--I am the LORD. 13 'The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
It isn't an accident that Jesus was crucified during Passover week. It helped that Passover brought all devout Jews to Jerusalem and that His death and resurrection would be news around the region, but also that He takes the place of the Passover lamb. He's unblemished; one of the reasons that a mere man couldn't be the Messiah was that He had to be perfect. His blood protects us from God's wrath. It is the blood of the lamb that protected the Hebrews from the killing of the firstborn. It's the blood of the Lamb that protects us today from an eternity away from God. That blood wasn't placed in secret-it was applied to the doorposts for the world to see. We need to apply the blood publicly as well, to let the world know that we are spoken for. As Jews remember how God got them out of Egypt this week, Christians remember how God got us off the highway to Hell this week as well.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

But it's Kosher Plutonium, Sir-I bet this went over in Jerusalem about as well as serving BLTs at a seder; Colin Powell backed a Syrian proposal to create a WMD-free zone in the Middle East. The problem is that the biggest WMDer is Israel, who's had a nuclear capasity for about a quarter-century. To update Tom Lerher-"'The Lord's our shephard', says the psalm, but just in case, we better keep the Bomb." I don't know about the chemical and biological stuff that the Syrians are claiming to be in the Israeli arsonal, but they do have nukes. Give the Syrian foreign ministry some credit for a very good diplomatic counterpunch-"Over there! Israeli Nukes!" Meanwhile, they want to get us to ignore some of the specials Syria picked up at Saddam's Going Out of Business sale.

Evening Sports Musings-I got to watch some of Orlando's final regular-season game; they lost to Milwaukee in a game that had the seventh seed on the line-Orlando now gets to play Detroit in the first round. Rewind the tape three years-Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins to Detroit for Grant Hill in a forced sign-and-trade. Grant's played a grand total of 47 games in three seasons, doing his best Sam Bowie imitation. Would Orlando trade Hill for Wallace straight-up today? Ya, youbetcha! Good luck for us Piston fans. It's interesting to see the lack of pro sports fandom down here; with the exception of the Bucs, things are very low key. You don't here casual conversation about the Magic or Lightning here compared with the talk about the Pistons or Wings back in Michigan. Is it a lack of tradition? More outdoor things to do? Eating too many of those hot boiled peanuts (one Florida thing I don't yet get)? Too much college football on the brain? Nice Terry Pluto piece comparing LeBron James to Carmello Anthony; Pluto, who's from James' home town Akron Beacon-Journal, make the case for Anthony being a better #1 pick. Pluto also pointed out that the D-Rays have signed John Rocker to a minor-league contract. Maybe he can explain those hot boiled peanuts. Strangely, none of the Bay-area (Tampa Trib, St. Pete Times, Lakeland Ledger) papers have reported on it yet; I had to Google for an Atlanta Journal-Constitution piece to confirm it. This is one of the salary cap casualties-Junior Seau becoming a Dolphin and only for either a fourth or fifth rounder. The best analogy I can think of was when San Francisco got rid of Y.A. Tittle, trading him to the Giants for a no-name guy name Lou Cordileone who replied "They traded me for Tittle? Just Me?" I remember reading about that story as a kid and I'm surprised that I'm about to ruin a Googlewhack for "me for Tittle?" Tittle went on to lead the Giants to a NFL title. May Junior do likewise. Oh, yeah. Some guy for the team formally known as the Washington Bullets played his last game this evening. This time, I think His Airness is retired for good. The best two-guard in history, to be sure, and probably the best player in history. He could shoot, pass, dunk (ya think?) and play defense. There may be a more complete package someday (infuse #23 with Magic's passing skills, maybe) but don't count on it.

Afternoon Musings-It looks like the state is going to buy at least part of Cypress Gardens, saving the actual gardens part and scrapping the amusement park part; a few activists in the last few days were citing Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales as a model. I'll get to see Bok on Sunday; Eileen's joined the Lake Wales Chorale and is doing a sunrise service there. I am not looking forward to the 4:30AM alarm, but I have a much happier wife now that her singing talents have a outlet; she's used to being in some sort of choir and our church just has a praise band and not a full-fledged choir. Oh, yes, now we can take the sanctions off Iraq. That seems like a no-brainer, but will France pull some sort of snitty move to block the end of sanctions? I like this quote from the BBC piece
EU foreign ministers meet in Athens to try to work out a common position on the future of Iraq as the UK's Jack Straw urges anti-war countries like France and Germany to accept there is a new sheriff in town reality in the region.
So SARS is the Cold From Hades? It's been found to be a form of corona virus, the same type as the common cold. It's not too much like a standard cold virus, but at least they're now in the ballpark. The EU's meeting in Athens should have been a big happy-happy as the 10 new members were formally voted in. Instead, the Paleoeuropean and Neoeuropean blocs are sniping at each other over Iraq put a lid on the punch bowl. Mr. Carr snickers with glee over at Samizdata-"I hope that the paladins in Washington realise just what an opportunity they have here to screw the French royally. There are festering divisions here that are just begging to be exploited." Paybacks are a she-dog, ain't they?

Evil on Two Legs-When I heard about the capture of Abu Abbas come over the radio this morning and that his team had killed an American in a cruise-hijacking in 1985, a few old mental files came up. Achille Lauro-the name of the liner. Leon Klinghoffer-the elderly Jewish-American guy who was killed off; shot and dumped overboard. How the Italian government at the time screwed us by letting Abbas go after we had captured him and delivered him to them. When you kill off a old guy in a wheelchair just because he's of the wrong faith and no threat to you, that's just about as hard-core evil as it gets. This guy taping himself raping an 18-month-old comes close, but having a lack of respect for not just life, but for basic mercy for the old and infirm, makes Abbas a guy who doesn't deserve to walk away as the PLO would like him to.

Edifier du Jour:Mark 13:13-32(NASB)
13 "You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14 "But when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 15 "The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house; 16 and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat. 17 "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 "But pray that it may not happen in the winter. 19 "For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will. 20 "Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days. 21 "And then if anyone says to you, 'Behold, here is the Christ'; or, 'Behold, He is there'; do not believe him; 22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 "But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance. 24 "But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, 25 AND THE STARS WILL BE FALLING from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. 26 "Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory. 27 "And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven. 28 "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 "Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 30 "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 32 "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
Well, I think I may have just turned into a post-tribber. “Did they start doing Star Trek cereal?” That post-tribber, Earnest, not Post Tribbles, the sweet, round Corn Puff-like thing being test marketed in a alternative universe near you. Verse 24 points to the fact that there will be a big tribulation and, only later, in verse 27, does Jesus come and gather His elect. Back up in verse 19, it state that the it will be the Mother of All Tribulation, so it’s unlikely that the manure-hitting-fan Antichrist era will come after that. I’m not that familiar with the standard pre-trib documentation, but they’d have to do some fancy exegesis to explain this away. The only thing I could conjure up is that the gathering of the elect here will be of the people who came to the Lord after the Rapture during the tribulation. That seems to be a bit of a stretch. A few comforting thoughts from this: the first is that that we won’t know when Jesus is coming back. So many people are thinking that the end is near, but we can’t count on it happening this year. One of these years Pastor Russ is going to be right, but it wasn’t last year. Also, we don’t have to be worried about Jesus sneaking up on us; it will be obvious when He comes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Will Reconstruction Work?-Here's part two of my reply to Wood's Connexions piece from last week, the part I was too weary to want to tackle on Friday. He has a valid point that the reconstruction of Iraq will only work if the Iraqis want it to work. He uses the example of Afghanistan, where nation-building is not overly smooth.
Take Afghanistan. I was depressed to read a couple weeks ago that even under the new Afghan government, resentment against the US (and Britain even more so - after all, it was our mess first, history fans) is at a peak. Are they ungrateful? No, because they don't consider us to have saved them.
Part of the problem with Afghanistan is that we used local anti-Taliban militias as our proxies with help from our airpower and special forces. The militias, of which the Northern Alliance was the most prominent, were largely the remnants of the warlords that were running Afghanistan in the early 90s before the Taliban came in. At first, the devout seminarians seemed an improvement over the corrupt warlords until their Sharia-on-steroids rule started to unfold. Today, we largely have a return to the pre-Taliban warlords with the US playing chaperone. Given that there aren't that many US troops on the ground, it's hard for the US to clean up a lot of the warlords without having an knock-down-drag-out with them. With the exception of northern Iraq, where the US took a page out of the Afghanistan book and used the Kurds as their proxies, the troops doing the job are ours (or our Anglospherian buddies). We've got a better shot at producing a clean, coherent government without the warlordism of Afghanistan. Some of that seems to be happening in the early going, as the US let local clerics set up their own patrols in the soon-to-be-renamed Saddam City section of Baghdad. However, the ratio of GIs to hostile natives is a lot higher in Iraq. Wood also questions how universal the desire for democracy is. There are plenty of places where democracy has been dysfunctional; much of Africa went the way of "One man, one vote, one time" and then the "George Washington of [insert country]" ignored the original's two-term limit and ran things until he died of natural causes or lead poisoning. However, with a bit of chaperoning, a functioning democracy can emerge from Iraq. There doesn't seem to be that deep a bitterness that would stop Iraq from functioning; there's a Sunni-Shiite friction and the issue of the Kurds, but a federal Iraq should work well. If we can avoid the warlordism of Afghanistan, a functioning democracy should emerge. You don't have the fervorous Islam in Iraq that would be likely produce a theocracy. It might take a while to develop a set of national leaders; the allies may be stuck overseeing the country as a whole for a while as they develop local leaders to emerge. Appointing such leaders too early may result in both warlordism and the cries that the anointed leaders are mere puppets. I'd like to see the US work towards creating a bottom-up approach of developing local leaders and then forming regional and then national governments of the Iraqi's choosing. Doing it from the top-down will result in a lack of long-term legitimacy of the resulting government. The key will be having the US and its friends spending the time, manpower and money to do it right. If they do, Wood and others with comparable doubts will nod their heads and say that they were surprised that they had what it took to get it right.

How Moral Is Our Foreign Policy?-I'm going to give Wood's Connexions piece from last week another once over, getting past the historical nit-picking and look at the overall message of Wood's piece. I'll break up my reply into two parts, addressing the first part on the morality of foreign policy first, then following up with a look at the post-war prospects in Iraq this evening. Wood questions whether we have the moral high ground. This come accross as being pessimistic about the morals of Anglo-American foreign policy. I've stated in the past that where we have intervened in the last decade has largely been to the benefit of the citizens of the country in question. That gives those actions some moral stature, even if less-than-altruistic reasons were used to make the decision to intervene. One of the things I was reflecting on this morning as I gave Wood's premise a second look is that the errors we make in the modern era are of omission rather than comission; it's what we don't do that is more damning than what we do. We'll tend to interevene if there are bad guys who threaten our economic or geopolitical interests. We don't intervene when there are bad guys who don't threaten our interests (Zimbabwe, Congo, Liberia/Ivory Coast, Burma) and we definately don't intervene when the bad guys aid our long-term interest (the Saudis, Singapore, some of the 'stans). Where US foreign policy is hypocritical is intervening where there are strategic interests and ignoring ones that have merely humanitarian interests. However, I don't think that makes are actions in Iraq immoral. It makes inaction in places like Liberia and Zimbabwe immoral, but it doesn't make action in Iraq immoral. There are good humanitarian reasons to go into Iraq, but there needed to be stragegic reasons to do so for a critical mass of American public opinion to be behind such an action. A purely humanitarian invasion would be a very hard sell and would require a massive loss of life if we didn't go to justify to the US public. Most voters are selfish and don't see an American GI's life being equal to that of a person in Country X; there has to be a high return-risk ratio before they'll accept such an invasion. We did the right thing for less-than-humanitarian reasons, but it was the right thing nonetheless. What we have to look to in the future, if we are to have a godly foreign policy is the ability to speak truth to power even if it means losing out of some money. We might have to go into some dyfunctional countries where there isn't a strategic reason. We might have confront countries that can hit us in the pocketbook for standing up for moral values and human rights. Being human, it's hard for any country to be perfectly altruistic, laying their lives out for mankind without expecting any return for their efforts. However, we're moving into an altruistic foreign policy. The good thing is that most of that altruism is also good for us, for establishing freedom around the world will be good for us in the long term as well.

Searching For God-Down in this neck of the woods, the United Methodist Church is conducting a billboard campaign with the slogan "Search parties conducted weekly." The cynic in me was saying that if they're searching for their lost membership, they could find their former parishioners on Sunday morning at more evangelical churches, at the golf course or at home watching Bob Villa. However, let's get past the cheap shot and get to what they meant to say. On Sunday mornings, they're conducting a search for God. A search presumes that we don't know where the object is. It's not a matter of us finding God, for God is already here. The trick is for us to be available to be found by God; found to believe in Him and to be willing to do His bidding. What the church can do is get the person in a position to be open towards God. If it is a search party, it isn't to find God but to prepare the lost. I'm thinking about Coast Guard or Navy rescuers who will drop out of a helicopter to get the troubled mariners in the water ready to be winched up. God knows where we are, we just need to be God's tools to get people in a position where God can winch them up into His kingdom.

Google Fun-Here are some hits from this morning- "Malkovich shoots Fisk"-I actually had a excerpt from an article that had the actor ticked at the Blogosphere's favortite hackey-sack. From French Google-"neocons and evangelist christians" That should be "evangelical" but close enough. "bye bye syria iraq regime"- May it be so. "paper artifical inteligence"- The problem is, Data can't spell his way out of a paper bag. "brittany spears morphed boobs"- sorry, can't help you there.

Morning Musings-Pym Fortuyn's assassin only got 18 years for the murder, as the judges opted not to give him life in prison. I think Mr. Van der Graaf would be lucky to get off with only a life sentence in the US. I might be reading too much into the results, but the Liberals win in Quebec points that province into the Anglosphere and not into the paleoeuropean sphere. I don't like the fact that it was the Liberals who won, but party leader and presumptive premier Jean Charest is an ex-Conservative (he was the party leader in the federal parliament after the Mulroney-Campbell meltdown) who joined forces with provincial Liberals to form a federalist common front; more Howard Baker than Jean Chretien. The WNBA might be heading into the dustbin as the NBA brass is giving the players until Friday to agree to a new labor deal or else shut down this summer's season. Not too many people will mourn it's passing. I did enjoy having it on during the summers as extra channel-grazing fodder; the games were more entertaining than the critics make them out to be. However, the business idea of the league made me queasy; a shortened summer schedule and being a effectively wholly-owned NBA subsidiary that gave the owners something to put in the arenas during the summer when there isn't any basketball or hockey and a lot of the concerts go to outdoor venues. It also gave the owners some chits to spend on feminist groups; the $12m subsidy might well pay for itself with a few more girls getting interested in basketball and making women's groups a bit less vocal at the next wife-beating or statutory rape charge of a power forward. I'd suggest that the women hoopsters might be better off with a winter-based schedule and independence. You can supplement the Independent Women's Basketball League with the league starting the Hoopsters restaurant chain, where the waitresses all wear basketball uniforms.

Edifier du Jour-Mark 12:13-17(NASB)
13 Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. 14 They came and said to Him, "Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? 15 "Shall we pay or shall we not pay?" But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, "Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at." 16 They brought one. And He said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" And they said to Him, "Caesar's." 17 And Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at Him.
It's interest that as I go through the Holy Week section of the Gospels that this passage shows up on my radar on April 15th when we're rendering unto Uncle Sam and Aunt Jennifer. As we look through scripture, we see a pattern of civil obedience interrupted only by insisting on the freedom of speech to preach the Gospel. Our tax money may well go to less-than-moral things, be they abortions or unjust wars or family-protection departments that screw things up royally, but we're supposed to obey the laws of our governments. In the US and many other places, we're blessed with a representative democracy, where we can elect our leaders, and get rid of ones that don't serve us, as they did yesterday in Quebec. God's not a God of anarchy but of order, and he allows goverment to create order. He's also a God of freedom, and we need to work at keeping a goverment that allows us a wide swath of freedom within a basic order.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Great White North Musings-There was a Charles Barkley quip that the world is serious crazy when the "best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy, the tallest basketball player is Chinese, and Germany doesn't want to go to war." Add a Canadian golfer winning a major. Mike Weir grabbed the green jacket yesterday in a playoff. What's not so crazy is voting the PQ out of office in Quebec; the provincial elections are today. Polls suggest that the Liberals are doing well, but in the last election, they won the popular vote overall but the PQ won more seats. I'm hoping that the statist PQ get shown the door, but I wish it wasn't the Liberals who would be the ones to do it. For both of you Canadian political junkies out there, here's a live National Post feed of the latest returns. [Update 9:20PM-It looks like the Liberals are in. With 122 of the 125 ridings posting, the Liberals are leading in 71.]

October, 2028: Kansas University Dedicates the Self Center-Roy Williams is heading to North Carolina; a press conference later this evening is to make it official. Baggy Slims reports that the natives in Lawrence are a bit restless. In the long run, I think this is a move that will help both schools. At 53, Williams is likely to be starting the downslope of his coaching career. He give the cache of a coach with character who can get to the Final Four. Had he taken the job just after Dean Smith retired, it would have been a no-win situation for him; it's hard to take over for a legend. Now there's enough time elapsed so that Williams can have his own program. If the rumors from The Rattler are true, Illinois coach Bill Self, a former KU assistant, is heading to Lawrence. At 39, he's 14 years younger than Williams and can have a two-decade run at the school. With roots in Oklahoma (OSU player, ORU and Tulsa coach) and recruiting connections in Big Ten territory, he's a good candidate to keep the Jayhawks going deep into the Big Dance each year. To update what I said two weeks ago, "Self and Crean seem to be class acts that would be worthy successors to Dean Smith Roy Williams and yet have the job be a distinctly upward move."

Where Are the Lava Lamps and Fondue Pots?-Steven Den Beste reports on an ABC piece on Saddam's love nest
However, I think we may have finally found what's needed to make even them recoil in disgust. The message has to be tuned to the audience, after all, and the discovery of what is apparently Saddam's love nest, complete with mirrored bedroom, must surely offend Europe's effete elite. After all, it's just so bloody tacky!
But this home was different: beanbag chairs, a garden of plastic plants, a sunken kitchen and a room for a servant, all 1960s-style. The sunken wet bar was stocked with 20-year old Italian red wines and expensive cognacs, brandies and Scotch whiskeys, the same brands found in several presidential palaces.
The only thing that was missing was pink plastic flamingos. (And Italian wine? Not French, for God's sake? Who in their right mind would admit to drinking Italian wine in polite company, no matter how good it might actually be?)
I thought that the shag carpet was missing, too. However, my hopes were dashed when I got to the end of the ABC piece
The home's 1960s look parodied in the series of "Austin Powers" spy spoofs inspired a round of imitations from soldiers slogging door to door. "Yeah, baaabeee," said Carter, doing his best imitation of actor Mike Myers' character. "Shagadelic," another soldier shouted. Indeed, the carpet was navy blue shag.
Now, an orange shag would have the coup de grace to all good taste.

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Can of Whuppin'-This has been a busy 72 hours; I didn't have any blogging time on over the weekend, so I'm playing catch-up on the news. The Iraq war seems to be truly in garbage time, as Tikrit fell with "less resistance than we anticipated." Ever since the US made the move in metro Baghdad, the Iraqis haven't covered the spread. At this point, the issue seems to be turning to restoring order and tracking down the last of the holdouts. Some of the holdouts seem to have snuck over in fellow Baathist Syria. Whether we wind up getting phase two of Operation Baathwater may depend on how much Syria is helping and whether the US wants to take advantage of having a lot of troops in the neighborhood. The US is talking trash about Syrian misdeeds, including a chemical weapons capability; however, the US just showed that they can walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Before the war started, I would have figured the chances of Operation Baathwater actually occurring would be about 2%, it's gone up to about 30%. I remember one generally-pro-war blogger (I'll link to it if I find it) pointed out that the ease of our win might encourage more such wars of liberation; an easy Iraqi win might have the White House wanting to play double-or-nothing. One thing it might have done is hit the North Koreans over the head with a clue stick; they're now talking about multilateral talks when before it was just-with-the-US-or-nothing. Another positive move that might be caused by the show-of-force is a possible solution in the West Bank coming from Sharon; a retreat from settlements in return for giving up the right of return to Israel proper. With the US in the region, this might be something that a more-moderate Palestinian faction might accept. If the US removes Syria and Lebanon from play, or at least get them to behave a bit better, it gives Israel a spot to negotiate from strength.

Intelligent Idiotarians and Other Apparent Oxymorons-My fisking of a less-than-pro-war piece at Connexions got a pained reply from Wood. I wasn't in the best of moods on Friday afternoon and I was more than a bit condescending in tone; I have to remember not to do a critique when I’m feeling cranky, for it doesn’t come out overly edifying. We may well have been speaking past each other, Wood looking at things from a British perspective that might alter the view of Pinochet vis-a-vis Argentina. I'd like to point out that Wood isn't an idiot. Where he might have gotten that from was my response to Josh's comment. Josh kicked off the comment section with
Mark, I see "Fiskable" posts like this so often it tires me. I'm impressed you had the patience to comb through it all
I replied with
I must stick to a steady diet of anti-idiotarians, for that was the biggest whopper I've seen in a while.
I'm just about to retire the word idiotarian and its derivatives as unfairly critical of liberals and paleos, putting it into the dumpster that I put Euroweenie and EUnich into. The people who wind up getting that pejorative are generally as intelligent as the bloggers labeling them. However, their backgrounds give them a slant that differs from the small-l liberalism that is the native ideology of the Blogosphere. They'll view things from a different perspective and weight the pros and cons of a topic differently and add in factors that we might ignore or discount. For instance, Robert Fisk, the man who has been verbed by the Blogosphere, would have roughly the IQ of the average blogger, plus or minus 10 points. However, he's been brought up into a view of the world that is decidedly anti-Anglospherian, as he seems to over-weigh the negatives of Western culture and political economy and under-weigh the positives. His writing shows more a lack of wisdom than idiocy. I have a standard line when I start my classes-there's no such thing as a dumb question. There are ignorant questions. Dumb means you can't learn; ignorant means you haven't yet learned. Ignorance is curable. Our "idiotarians" aren't dumb, just either ignorant and/or misguided. Wood's essay might well be "idiotarian" in the parlance of conservative blogdom, but he's not an idiot. Nor is Connexions an idiotarian web site; it's a notch to my left, but it's well written and thoughtful. When I disagree with Rev. Hall, I generally do so agreeably. Wood noted that he was ambivalent about the war; however, his critiques of the war seem to be rather pessimistic about the post-Cold War changes in US and British foreign policy. We're not angels, but I think there is a lot less realpolitic than there was in the 70s or 80s. There's still too much realpolitic and too little practical altruism. He'd like me to give a fairer shot at his piece, and I'll try to do that within the next 48 hours.

Edifier du Jour-Mark 11:1-10
1 As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, 2 and said to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. 3 "If anyone says to you, 'Why are you doing this?' you say, 'The Lord has need of it'; and immediately he will send it back here." 4 They went away and found a colt tied at the door, outside in the street; and they untied it. 5 Some of the bystanders were saying to them, "What are you doing, untying the colt?" 6 They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission. 7 They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it. 8 And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. 9 Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting: "Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!"
Yesterday was Palm Sunday, which prompts this verse (or the companion verses in the other gospels) to be read. Pastor Dave pointed out yesterday how potent Jesus' presence was. He had his disciples hot-wire a donkey and used "'The Lord has need of it" as their excuse. If you tried that today, the owner would have your poor demented soul committed at best or arrested at worse. Instead, the owners of the colt didn't seem to put up a fuss. It might have been an act of humility, riding in on a donkey, but he did put on a show in the process. Coming down the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem would have been a route easily seen from the city; people could check out the commotion from there. Earlier in Jesus' ministry, he downplayed his messiahship; here, he's pulling out a few of the stops. I had understood that Hosanna translated to "Save," Dave mentioned that would be better translated as a more-emphatic "Save now!" That's what he we in town to do; (if I can borrow from Clay Crosse) a man on a cross saving the world.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Evening Musings-No, I haven't fallen off the planet. Blogger was down this morning and I was busy with church and taxes for the rest of the day. More free ice cream tomorrow

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