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Friday, July 18, 2003

Unnatural Acts With Back Bumpers-This was an interesting Lakeland Ledger piece about a speed trap increased enforcement zone on I-4 north of Lakeland where they've got a 55MPH construction zone in a generally 65MPH territory. I don't travel that stretch much, but it's narrow and bumpy enough do justify a 55.
"Just about everybody's doing 10 miles over the speed limit," said Jesus Lopez, the undercover trooper shooting a laser speed detector at approaching westbound motorists. Lopez, who stood just west of the U.S. 98 overpass, spared a majority of speeders and ticketed only those exceeding 70 mph.
That's about right. The general pattern of drivers is that they want to go 65-70 regardless of what the posted speed limit is. If you go 55-60 in a 55 zone, you get people flying past you at warp speed. I try to stick at about 5MPH over the speed limit; before the legalism police come out, even police officers will both tell you that you have a de facto 5MPH cushion and to, where feasable, to move along with traffic.
Motorists are urged to slow down to avoid construction workers and navigate the often narrow lanes lined with concrete or other barriers. Lt. Sterling King, the FHP's public information officer, said many motorists follow the pack rather than risk having other cars and trucks ride their bumpers.
Yes, the ones that have "I'm not tailgaiting, I'm DRAFTING!" bumperstickers along side "Comment on my driving?-call 1-800-EAT-S**T." The ones that have the level of hell just above telemarketers reserved for them. Repeat after me -"Forgive us our tresspasses, as we forgive those who tresspass against us."
"Time is more valuable than money to some people," he said. "They take the risk. It's just ridiculous."
I haven't seen this bumper sticker in a while-"Drive like Hell, you'll get there."

Morning Musings-Linking to a Lilek's piece is almost redundant, for he's rarely not on his A-game. Well, if he's got umpteen other things going down, the Bleat does get a bit sparse that day. Today wasn't one of those, with good commentary on Blair's speech and some cute Gnatisms
Door opens. They gone eachu in life! "Yes, but as I said, close the door or they’ll get in the house and bite your butt." Pause. My butt is in the house. Technically accurate, since she was leaning out of the doorway. It sounded like some sort of preschool hip-hop assertion: my butt is in the house, y'all. It made me wonder once again how the word “butt” got lodged in her vocab. I should have tried for something a bit more elegant, and made her use the word “Fundament" or "bottom" or "tushie" or "bifurcated arse-wad." But butt is is, and we're stuck with it. That will be the worst word she ever hears, though - my years of radio stuck an FCC filter on my tongue, and I regard my daughter the way I'd regard an open mike. This house is my station, and the call letters are WDAD.
Yes, Gnat is in the house once again, and her dad's living up to Hugh Huwitt's praises. This is accounting geek stuff, but it might interest some of the more economics-oriented people. I was supposed to go over "differences in international and domestic financial reporting procedures" with my International Business and Finance class, which I wound up doing. Trouble is, I never covered comparative accounting beyond the general knowledge that the rest of the world didn't follow the US's Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Luckily, I found that those differences are being phased out, as most developed countries are heading towards a set of International Accounting Standards by 2005. The EU's acceptance of the IAS is flowing through the European Commission even as we speak. There's only a little bit of tweaking that American GAAP will have to do to be IAS compliant, but European accounting will need a serious overhaul. This was an interesting article from a Czech accountant and academic explaining the differences between the IAS, modern European accounting and American GAAP. The Canadian government's in the process of codifying same-sex marriage, already legal in Ontario via court order, by submitting a bill before parliament. Meanwhile, the long-awaited Massachusetts case is still on hold.

False Witness-Not too long ago, we had a plagarism case here where a check in the Properties section of a Word document reveiled the original author of a piece, which was not the student who submitted it. Ben links to this Ramesh Ponnuru piece that echoes that case; he busts the Traditional Values Coalition for passing along anti-drug-importation proporganda written up for them by the big drug manufactures lobby PhRMA; the PhRMA lobbyist's name was in the Properties section. PhRMA wants to stop importation of cheap Canadian drugs, and I can make a honorable case against such importation. When the Canadian government forces drug companies to sell drugs at just above the marginal cost of making the drug, it saps the drug company's profitability, forcing the US consumer to pick up more of the drug company's fixed cost, a lot of which is R&D to make the drugs in the first place. That raises prices here in the US and cuts into the amount of R&D being done for fear of free riders sapping profitability. However, PhRMA oversold their case, they got the TVC to lobby hard, stating that the bill allowing the importation of foreign drugs would allow the abortion-inducer RU486 to be imported. That's the kind of factoid that will get pro-lifers in the TVC constituancy hot and bothered; TVC started to go after pro-life backers of the bill with the PhRMA-produced pieces. Problem is, RU486 isn't affected by this bill-the drug has to be given directly to, and administered by, doctors, so it isn't affected by the bill. If it were true, the TVC using PhRMA flyers would have been odd-looking but not that unseemly. Given that the claim is false, it looks like a sell-out. I've always been a bit uneasy with the TVC; it might be a northerner's reflexive distaste for a Mississippi conservative (this feeling well predates Trent Lott) or their aggressive promotion and stridency, but I've always felt something wasn't quite right with them. I hope that this is just a one shot deal, rather than an NRO move into a MetroCon-TheoCon food-fight.

Edifier du Jour-1 Corinthians 10:21-24
21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we? 23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.
I'm more used to the NIV translation of verse 23-"'Everything is permissible'--but not everything is beneficial.' Everything is permissible'"--but not everything is constructive." It takes it out of the stiff business-law-text sound of the NASB. However, after a second look at the NASB version, which generally is more of a word-for-word translation than the NIV, I start to like it. There are lots of things you can do legally that aren't profitable. I'm just waking up after a four-hour International Business class last night, so I'll use an example from class. Back when Chevy had the Nova, legend had it that they had trouble marketing it south of the border, for "no va" means "it doesn't go" in Spanish. Was it lawful for Chevy to market the Nova that way? Yep. Was it profitable? As the story goes, not until they renamed it the Caribe for the Hispanic market. [Update, 8:45- A quick Google showed that the No va story is an urban legend, but one that made its way into business textbooks and my lecture last night; I'll have to e-mail the class the link.] There are a lot of things that are legal in this country. As of earlier this year, consensual sodomy's now legal nationwide. However, I'm not breaking down the doors to do so, for I know it's both immoral and unhealthy. On a less black-and-white issue, skydiving's legal. However, the expense and the risk of death make that hobby an unwise use of my time and resources, even though it might be fun once you got over any fear of heights. It's legal but not profitable. There are a lot of things that are legal that are wrong, and a few things that are good that are illegal (like taking a left turn on a red when the coast is totally clear). However, we're to refrain from doing those good-but-illegal things out of respect for authorities (unless they bump directly against the Gospel; my left-hand-turn doesn't quite qualify) and to refrain from doing those legal-but-unprofitable ones in respect for both God and ourselves.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

The Mid-Major Banishment Act-Ben pointed to this ESPN piece noting the ACC's desire to have a championship game with but 11 members. It will be interesting to see how the other conferences vote on this. The Big 12 and SEC may not like it, for more championship games will weaken the ratings of the existing ones. The mid-majors won't like it. Why? It has a high likelyhood of blocking them from a possible BCS payday if they have a top-10 team. Let's say that if this passes, the ACC, Big 10 and Pac 10 set up championship games. Between the three games, one upset should take place, and the regular-season champ now is in line for an at-large big. Generally, it's going to be big conference runner-ups that will get those spots anyways, but this will increase that tendancy. Time to set up a Division 1.5 tournement, the big boys don't want to let the mid-majors play.

ST&P, The Kleptocrats Edge?-Before yesterday, you would have marked yourself a truer geopolitics geek than I if you could have said something intelligent about Sao Tome and Principle. They had a coup there yesterday while the ST&P president was visiting Nigeria (how many times has that been a coup MO?), it's neighbor on the mainland. Normally, this wouldn't interest me that much, but ST&P is sitting on top of a shipload (actually thousands of tankerloads) of offshore oil, thus the leaders of the country are sitting on a big wad of potential wealth. One would hope that ST&P manages its oil wealth better than Nigeria has, where in made the kleptocrats who were in charge wealthy but that wealth didn't trickle down much to the citizenry. My new friend on the left, the Uniblogger, lit into the Nigerian government and Big Oil the other day, citing the execution of regional activist Ken Saro Wiwa, who's become something of a martyred secular saint to the NPR crowd. What killed Saro Wiwa wasn't Big Oil but the Nigerian kleptocracy. Activists have butted heads with Big Oil elsewhere and lived to tell the tail. Democratic, law abiding governments will politely shove activists aside rather than kill them off. Authoritarian governments arrange for lead poisoning, either by executing them on trumped up charges, as seems to have been the case with Saro Wiwa, or by gangland-style assassinations, as is often done in Russia. While oil companies may have helped the Nigerian government in general, if they arraigned for Saro Wiwa's kangaroo court, they'd have their butts in a sling and rightfully bled dry in lawsuits. The coup leaders in ST&P have pledged to have quick elections. Pray that they do so, so that a government of the people can manage the oil wealth rather than the kleptocrats on 1990s Nigeria.

Edifier du Jour-1 Corinthians 9:3-12
3 My defense to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we not have a right to eat and drink? 5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6 Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working? 7 Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock? 8 I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, "YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING." God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10 Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. 11 If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.
There are a lot of churches that have "working" pastors; when I went there, Sunrise Baptist in Midland had a "bivocational" pastor who had a day job at Dow Chemical and preached on Sunday. For a young church, as Sunrise was, it was good on the finances, as the lack of a pastoral salary and cheap rent on the downtownish church that Midland E-Free outgrew meant that they were saving for their own digs at a very nice rate. However, not every pastor happens to be a chemical engineer who can swing that. That's one of the reasons pastors spend more time then they'd like plugging for money. Even in evangelical denominations where you'd expect a respect for God to be high, giving hovers in the 3% realm, IIRC. If you had a church of 100 people with, say, 35 households. If everyone gave 10%, you could support two pastors at the average congregational salary and still have a salary-and-a-half to pay for church maintenance, missions and other day-to-day stuff. At 3%, you have a poor pastor at 75% of everyone else's pay and 30% of a salary to keep the church building from disintegrating into wood chips. Pastor's aren't supposed to live in the lap of luxury, but if they're doing a full-time job, they at least deserve to live as well as you do. Remember that when the offering plate scoots by next time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

New Hit Counter-To better work with the NZ Bear's Ecosystem, I've added a Site Meter on the side. Let's see how the two meters work.

Going to the Mat-With the big deficit numbers as wallpaper, let's pull up Josh's latest essay on fiscal irresponsability. He takes apart my call for a RINO hunt here
He places the blame squarely at the feet of RINOs ("Republicans In Name Only). But if it's a small number number of deviant Repubs, why has the Republican Congress increased the budget by 50% since 1995? Most Republicans, not a select few, have supported these increases. Indeed, the Republican Congress has doubled Bush's spending requests in the past, and his proposed 4% increase is likely to be a floor, not a ceiling to new growth. Nay, if it is the fault of RINOs, then RINOs infested the party. And if RINOs now run the party, the very term becomes contradictory. If a majority of irresponsible Republicans in Congress aren't enough to convince you the party isn't serious, surely the party's leader - the President - is evidence enough. George W. Bush is set to become the biggest spender in the White House since Lyndon Baines Johnson. So we now have most Republican Congressmen, and the party's leader, not only withholding spending cuts, but actually increasing spending faster than Democrats ever dreamed.
Yes, sad but true. Even if the party is only 2/3rds conservative and 1/3 moderate, that conservative majority is often lacking in political courage. I'm not sure if it was The West Wing or The American President where one of the aides, when faced with a lack of willingness to spend political capital, asked "Why not take that 60% approval rating out for a spin?" Why not? They're afraid of being mao-maoed by the left if they cut spending. This isn't anything new; Reagan wasn't exactly a great budget cutter, either. Republicans have historically been fearful of cutting the budget, or even trimming projected increases. I'm seeing the effects of "No Child Left Behind" right now down here; it seems to be hurting the kids it was intended to help-more on that later today. Republicans should push for less federal intervention, not more, both from a fiscal standpoint and from a federalist standpoint.You have too many conservatives who want to keep their political capital in the garage under a blanket for fear it will get dinged up by the liberals and the media and opt for Liberal Lite instead of real reforms. Is the moderate Republican bloc the biggest problem, or are gutless conservatives more of a problem? Josh seems to be plugging for the latter. However, the fewer moderates that are around, the more a conservative victory is achievable. Many reforms are stillborn for the lack of votes; if you can't get a majority of the Senate behind you, let alone 60 votes to break a filibuster, you often don't push too hard. A bigger conservative contingient in Congress will give them a little more spirit, for more things will be possible if there are 45 or 50 conservatives in the Senate rather than 30 or 35.

Springtime for Dean-The second-quarter fundraising figures are out, and Dean's in good shape. Kerry leads the Democratic pack in money in the bank with $11 million, but Dean's $6 million warchest will have a big supplement from federal matching funds; 60% of his donations are expected to qualify, denoting that his grassroots are as strong as avertised However, the fun paragraph came at the end, where the Dean for America Hollywood Division fell out. Conservatives with sensitive stomachs should not read this just before breakfast-
The Dean campaign had what appeared to be the brightest list of glitterati, who are backing his antiwar bid. The actors, directors and authors on his donor list included Robin Williams, Ted Danson, Christopher Guest, Carl Reiner, Bradley Whitford, Alec Baldwin, Christopher Lloyd, Paul Newman, Mary Steenburgen, Joanne Woodward, Susan Sarandon, Barbra Streisand, Janeane Garofalo, Norman Lear, Aaron Sorkin, Mel Brooks and Stephen King.
Where do I start. Lear- Mr. People for the ACLU American Way, who was a good writer a quarter-century ago. Is Dean Meathead grown-up? Sorkin-Josh Bartlet in the flesh. It's a good thing for NBC that he's off The West Wing, for the shows might of counted as soft money contributions with him at the quill. Brooks- It does have a bit of a feel of The Producers. Make the most imaginably liberal candidate possible and plan to pocket the campaign contributions when he bombs, then stand aghast in horror when people flock to vote for him in droves. King-Which of the books describes Dean? How about Carrie? The outcast geeky kid progressive who reeks havoc on her high school prom party when's she's felt ignored and shunned for too long.

Praying Against Your Enemies-part 2-Joshua Claybourn weighed in on yesterday's post with this comment
Show me where Robertson prayed for their illness. I read the transcript and all I saw was that he prayed the Justices' would take their current illnesses as reason to step down. That's hardly praying for bad things to happen to them.
Good point, Josh. Let's look at the transcript from the CBN site; here's what I think is the contentious passage
Would you join with me and many others in crying out to our Lord to change the Court? If we fast and pray and earnestly seek God’s face, then He will hear our prayer and give us relief. One justice is 83 years old, another has cancer, and another has a heart condition. Would it not be possible for God to put it in the minds of these three judges that the time has come to retire? With their retirement and the appointment of conservative judges, a massive change in federal jurisprudence can take place.
No, unlike Dr. Malveaux, he isn't directly wishing anyone ill. However, Supreme Court justices tend to stay on the court until their health makes it necessary to step down. If he's merely looking for God to change hearts, why not ask God to get younger liberal justices like Souter or Breyer to retire, or better yet, to get them to have a less-liberal view of the Constitution? My implication of what Robertson was praying for was for their health to deteriorate enough so that they'd want to retire. It may not have been intended, but that's how I read it. There a violent, vengeful part of my spirit that would like a Culture Jihad. However, it's not a part of me that I like and one I try to keep from controlling me. I want to love my enemies, not wish them ill, and Robertson's snarky tone plays too well to my inner jihadist.

Secondary, not Phony-Tom Friedman has a column up on Iraqi reconstruction that is one word shy of being excellent. However, that one word takes it from being truly Pulitzer Prize worthy to being leftist propaganda (Yes? The two are positively correlated? No, it only seems that way.). Here's the problem child, with my italics added
For me, though, it is a disturbing thought that the Bush team could get itself so tied up defending its phony reasons for going to war — the notion that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction that were undeterrable and could threaten us, or that he had links with Al Qaeda — that it could get distracted from fulfilling the real and valid reason for the war: to install a decent, tolerant, pluralistic, multireligious government in Iraq that would be the best answer and antidote to both Saddam and Osama.
Had Friedman substituted secondary for phony, he'd have gotten away with it. He would have given credit for a grand humanitarian vision to President Bush. However, as Friedman wrote it, it credits Bush not with a grand humanitarian vision but dishonesty. WMDs was a secondary reason and al Qaeda was a tertiary reason, but they weren't bogus. Were regime change the only reason for kicking Saddam out, there were plenty of other countries more needy, such as North Korea and Zimbabwe. If regime change were the only reason, a majority of Americans wouldn't have been behind it, nor would it be worth the risk. Right now, Bush is having some bad PR over WMD intelligence; not finding any significant evidence as of yet gives liberals ammunition to use against the president. Friedman, working at the epicenter of the current flap, seems to have succumbed to the liberal cheap shot. Friedman may be left-of-center and prone to internationalist conventional wisdom at times, but he's not been a Democratic hack. Today seems to be an exception.

Edifier du Jour-1 Corinthians 8:4-9
4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. 7 However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8 But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. 9 But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
We don't have to worry much about food sacrificed to other gods these days, but we have other issues that can be devisive. Card-playing is one; the evangelical crowds I've run in frown on gambling, but other card games such as Euchre, Spades or Bridge were just fine. However, one gal in my old Friday night group came from a very-old-school church that banned cards all together. She had since left that church, but she was uncomfortable playing cards. If she was with us during the hang-out time after our Friday-night study, we'd typically skip playing cards that evening. If someone comes from a more legalistic background, it will take time from them to "loosen up," if they ever do. You may have the freedom to do more than Mr. Pharasee, but you're not a better Christian because of it. Nor should you feel you're any less a Christian for doing something sinless that another church says is wrong. You don't shove your freedom down other people's throat, nor should you feel condemmed if someone else tries to shove their rules down yours.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

An Apology and a Critique-I got a e-mail from the Uniblogger, a left-of-center blog not to be confused with the cheesecake-peddling Unablogger. In two porn-oriented posts last year, I had typed in Uniblogger by mistake, thus people Googling for Mr "Slightly right of Left, but left of Centre commentary" saw him falsely categorized as a pornographer. I went back in and change the offending posts, but Google hasn't gotten rid of the old cache, so my anti-porn commentaries are still #10 in a Uniblogger Google search. He (I'll assume male until proven otherwise) seems to have started up in June. Now for the critique. He has a piece on Israel and Palestine today that calls for a rebuttal
Rarely is it mentioned that the state of Israel was imposed on the Middle-East in 1948; rarely do we read that Palestinians have been living in exile since they were evicted from their homes to accomodate this imposition; and rarely do we read that they are now living in what amount to concentration camps policed and humiliated by Israeli soldiers. All that we hear are tales of bloodthirsty zealots who will not stop terrorizing Israel until they have bombed it from the face of the earth.
Let's go through this a phrase at a time- Israel was imposed on the Middle-East in 1948- The UN did plan to divide up Palestine into two countries, Israel and Jordan, roughly along the pre-1967 borders. However, the local Arab countries objected, and Israel had to fight to come into existence with little formal international help in 1948. From an Arab point of view, it was an imposition. Palestinians have been living in exile since they were evicted-True. However, we also don't hear much about the Jews kicked out of Arab lands at the same time. The Palestinians didn't get fair value for seized property, but neither did the Arab Jews. Two wrongs don't make a right, but restitution should be a two-way street, something Arab countries don't want to talk about. They are now living in what amount to concentration camps-True, but it was the Jordanian government that set up those "refugee camps" so that a half-century later, the grandchildren of the original refugees are still homeless. Rather than integrate the refugees into Jordanian culture and accept Israel's existence, they put them in temporary camps, keeping the hope alive of defeating Israel and returning them to their old home. Two generations along, that hope is about all poor camp kids have. To call them concentration camps is to make the Israelis into modern-day Nazis, or at least Soviets. Merely being ruled by Jews will be humiliating to them. All that we hear are tales of bloodthirsty zealots-True. You don't hear about good news much. However, those zealots tend to kill off the moderates who want to something other than wage eternal jihad against Israel, so the good guys tend to lay low. He closes with a good paragraph worth repeating
Reality, in fact, is far more benign: far from any desire to inflict terror on Israeli citizens, most Palestinians want what we all want: to earn a living, raise a family, celebrate holidays, and live to see their grandchildren. This may be a generalization, but it is a far more accurate and helpful stereotype than the assumption that all Palestinians are terrorists.
All true, but there are enough irredentist jihadists that make life miserable for the good Palestinians by making a mutually-agreeable peace problematic.

Scrapping the 11th Commandment-There has been a lot of rhetoric about how un-conservative the Republican Party is. This National Review piece venting at creeping liberalism got a lot of people talking. Kevin, Josh, Tactitus and lots of others have already chimed in on this one. Jeffery Collins' comments finally chrysalized my thoughts
I'm long since convinced that we have a problem. What concerns me is that I can't think of a viable solution and I haven't seen one proposed by anyone else. Should we withhold political and monetary support from the Republicans? Will that really gain us anything but Democratic victories? Should we switch parties? To what exactly? The Libertarian Party in America is a bad joke. The Reform party died a quick death. Where can we go.
To borrow from this morning's Edifier, the best thing to do is to stay right where you are. The Republican Party, as a whole, is a conservative party. If conservatives were to jump ship and form an American Alliance party, a la the small-c conservative Canadian Alliance party, it would look a lot like the current Republican party shed of it's liberal/moderate wing. The AAP would have to spend a lot of effort developing a new political infrastructure while allowing the RINOs and status-quoans the institutional backing of the existing GOP. If we look at Canada as a case study of starting a breakaway conservative party, the prospect isn't good. There's more of a conservative base in the US than there is in Canada, so the prospects of the AAP would be better. The AAP would be the party of choice in most of the South, the mountain West and rural areas in the Midwest. However, many Senate seats that the old Republican Party holds might shift Democratic when AAP senators lose 10-15% to a centrist Republican protest vote. For instance, let's look at Rick Santorum's reelection campaign as a AAP senator. He'd win 53-47 against a generic Democrat mano-a-mano, but might lose 43-40-17 if a centrist Republican screws things up. Losing a few seats every two years would give control of the Senate to the Democrats. Even if most of the GOP defected to the AAP, you'd still have quite a few moderate Republicans stay put. People like Voinovich, Dewine, Lugar, Warner, not to mention the northeastern RINOs et all would stay put and would have more power as the swing vote to organize the Senate. A split center-right vote will create enough Democratic pluralities to likely give the House over to the Democrats, or a Democratic-moderate Republican coalition at best. Thus, the answer isn't leaving the party, it's minimizing the number of RINOs elected to office. This will require scrapping the 11th Commandment of not speaking ill of a fellow Republican. We can group the problem children into three groups.
Moderates in Conservative Moderates in Swing Moderates in Liberal
States States States
Ben Nighthorse Campbell Mike DeWine Lincoln Chaffee
Elizabeth Dole Pete Domenici Norm Coleman
John McCain Mike Fitzpatrick Susan Collins
John Warner Arlen Specter Olympia Snowe
Kay Bailey Hutchenson George Voinovich
Lisa Murkowski
Richard Lugar
In the first group, the moderates in conservative states, you pull out all the stops and mount a serious primary challenge. A good conservative will win in these states and a primary win would be achievable. For instance, Virginia is much more conservative than John Warner and Alaska is more conservative than Ms. Murkowski. If the primary challenge fails, the moderate will go on to an easy win and we'll be no worse off. The second group are the moderates in swing states. By running a conservative in one of these states, we run the risk of losing one of the seats. In liberal-leaning Illinois, a conservative candidate would be vulnerable, but in Ohio, anyone with an R at the end of his name could beat Jerry Springer, given that he gets the nod next year. Depending on how moderate the senator is and how good the Democratic opposition is likely to be, the moderate may be harder to beat. If the race is dicey for the conservative, the moderate incumbent will pitch to party regulars and say "I can win easily; that Neanderthal running against me probably won't" and get more votes than he deserves. If conservative groups have limited funds, they might be better off focusing on the first group before coming here. The third group is almost a lost cause, with the possible exception of Minnesota. I don't see either Rhode Island or Maine electing a conservative unless Satan himself gets the Democratic nod. Rod Grams did win a Senate seat in Minnesota, but the planets would have to align just right for a conservative to win there (a big Independence or Green vote, maybe); you could make a case to slide Minnesota into the middle column. The strategy for conservatives should be to challenge moderates in primaries where there is a solid expectation of improving the Senate as a result. Some of these senators are nice people; Josh will likely rise to Richard Lugar's defense. However, politics is a contact sport. If done with a honorable and charitable spirit, a primary fight can be held without wounding the survivor beyond repair. Spector, McCain and Murkowski are the best targets for 2004, with Campbell and Hutchinson being worth going after as well. In the case of Specter, if Pat Toomey wins the primary, he can offset his conservatism with a populist message-"The Republican fat cats in Washington didn't want me to win. I'm not going there for the fat cats, I'm going there for the people of Pennsylvania and of the United States of America." Conservatives can win. There are a lot of places where primary challenges are feasible and needed.

The Black Lion in Winter?-The NAACP is having their convention in Miami Beach and most of the Democratic presidential contenders were in attendance. Gephardt, Lieberman and Kucinich were no-shows. NAACP chief Kweisi Mfume (gesundheit!) gave the AWOL candidates both barrels
"In essence, you now have become persona non grata," NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said of the Democrats who passed on the event. "Your political capital is the equivalent of confederate dollars."
Let's talk "code language," shall we. One would expect the NAALCP to lay the bigotry card on thick with Republicans. However, is it in the NAACP's best interest to smear as racists some of its best allies? From globalstewards.org, we have this NAACP Civil Rights Report Card for 2001-2002 for the six Democratic candidates who are members of Congress:
Edwards 94%
Gephardt 89%
Graham 97%
Kerry 100%
Kucinich 89%
Lieberman 94%
None of the guys on the list are the second coming of Jesse Helms, although the three no-shows were in the lower-half of the bunch (Lieberman's tied for third). If a voting with the NAACP 90% of the time gets you branded a confederate sympathizer if you don't show up to kiss Kweisi's ring, it shows the disconnect with reality that Mfume and company have with modern American life. A though came to me as I came home from my office this afternoon; is the NAACP having the same type of decay that the NCC is having? The black churches that make up the core of the NAACP's following are losing membership to newer, less political churches. As more affluent, more evangelical members bug out, the remnant gets more and more liberal and less and less powerful. All the NAACP is offering is a gospel of victimhood and of bitterness.

Praying Against Your Enemies-Often wrong but never in doubt, Pat Robertson has stuck his foot in his mouth again, praying for illness to strike liberal Supreme Court justices (link via Sully). Just after getting raked over the coals for his backing of outgoing Liberian president and business partner Charles Taylor (I'll let Bryan Preston do the honors; he throws in a Campolo dig for even-handedness), he lets loose with this. The sad part is, part of me wants to agree with him; we'd don't want to kill off Stevens or Ginsburg or O'Connor, just get them unhealthy enough to step down. That would be in the long-term best interest of the country. However, when I thought about that sentiment, I backed off a step and remembered that we're supposed to pray for our enemies, not against them. When I remember what I felt when Julianne Malveaux wanted the same treatment for Clarence Thomas, wishing him a high-cholesterol, heart-attack-inducing diet, I stepped back three more steps. We need to upgrade the Supreme Court, but wishing ill health upon our political enemies isn’t the way to do that. It’s that type of rhetoric that leads the more unhinged among us to arrange for lead poisoning of abortionists. Had Eric Rudolph done his bombings at Stevens and Ginsburg’s houses rather than at an abortion clinic, we would have different decisions in the UofM and Texas sodomy cases. However, that doesn’t make assassinating people correct. The rhetoric of Robertson is a few steps away from launching a jihad against liberal politicians and judges, of encouraging a real Culture War. It may come to that someday in the future, where the US government gets sufficiently corrupted that the Red States look to gain independence, but not today.

Midday Musings-Preston and Regan have moved the Junkyard Blog over to MT. The center text column needs some widening, but otherwise looking good. It won't change world politics, but Rush Limbaugh is going to be part of ESPN's NFL pregame show, doing a opening essay and given the right to buzz in up to three times a show. I haven't listed to his show much lately, but I did just now (lazy summer schedule has me in the car wandering in at noon) his sub today posited the thought of the fun Rush could have if he could interrupt Peter Jennings three times a show. I'm getting a steady trickle of Google hits for "triclavianism." I had posted on it back last month, which seemed to prompt a rebuttal from Objective Ministries, who posted a clarification the day I called them on their steadfast opposition to the doctrine. How do you say "Admiral 2.0" in Czechoslovakian? The Spurs signed Radoslav Nesterovic today, filling a gap left by David Robinson's retirement. He won't fully replace Robinson, but he's a legit 7-footer who can score in double-figures. It appears the Spurs may be taking the Oakland As school of shopping, replacing a superstar in parts, picking up two good free agents rather than one big-ticket player. Claudette is making landfall between Corpus Christi and Galveston; looks like my in-laws are in for a wet time of it today up in Houston.

ESPN Tort Center?-I remember an old Earl Warren line-"I always turn to the sports pages first, which records people's accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man's failures. " Not any more. A quick glance at the sports headlines has slugger Albert Pujols about to be suspended for slugging a pitcher for some chin music, Chris Webber pleading to criminal contempt charges in order to keep his butt out of jail, ousted Alabama football coach Mike Price suing the school for $20M (great behavior to endear you to your next school, Mike) and further stuff on Kobe's rape case. That leaves off the Randy Simon story; the Pirate first baseman bopped a sausage mascot with his bat last week, knocking her off her feet. Simon was charged with disorderly conduct and fined by a Milwaukee court. Yes, you can expect the wurst behavior for athletes these days.

A Darn Good President-In the middle of the current WMD intelligence flap, Dubya had this telling line-""I think the intelligence I get is darn good intelligence. And the speeches I have given were backed by good intelligence[.]" There are two things telling about the quote. The obvious first thing is that Bush is backing up the CIA and other intelligence agencies rather than roasting them slowly over a mesquite flame; at least in public, people might be privately taken to the woodshed, but we've yet to see it. The second is the use of "darn good." A more worldly Texan would have used "damn good" as his adjective of choice and not be raked over the coals for using it in today's culture. I remember hearing cases where the occasional barnyard expletive has gotten into the President's vocabulary in private, but he is a refreshing change from the bleepable Clinton vocabulary. One of the most damaging things of the Nixon tapes was the obscenities that came out of Tricky Dick's mouth; as a tweenager, I was introduced to the phrase "expletive deleted" in Watergate transcripts. One of the reasons Jimmy Carter won in 1976 is that he presented himself as a squeaky-clean Sunday-school teacher. Back in 1979, when Ted Kennedy was mopping the floor with Carter in early primary polls, Carter said of Kennedy that he'd "whip his a--". At the time, this was doubly shocking, both that Mr. Baptist using the phrase and actually thinking that he'd get a can of whuppin' out on Teddy (which he did). Sometimes a slide into "locker-room" language can be costly; Dick Armey got into trouble by substituting a word that rhymes with bag for Barney Frank's last name, and Steve Largent's use of the full version of BS in an interview may well have cost him the governorship of Oklahoma last year. To a Bright, the use of non-profane cuss words like daggum or darn or shoot would seem quaint at best and hypocritical at worst. However, such clean cuss words at least strive to honor a God-fearing culture. In an era where nothing is sacred in popular culture, guys and gals who go out of their way to keep their language clean deserve a salute. I'd say "a tip of the hat", but who wears hats anymore?. Last night, I saw the tail end of an NBC news piece on Gerald Ford and the Ford alumi (70s footage of Rummy and Cheney with hair!) in the current administration. Despite some of his economic flaws, Ford was (and is) a good guy. You can say the same of Bush 41. Dubya follows in that tradition, with a more conservative, West Texas evangelical flair. As much as we might want someone who sees eye-to-eye to us on all the issues, there is something to be said about having character and grace, of being a good guy. He may not go to the mat as often as we like or pull an economic boner like steel tariffs, but his character gets him a few free economic passes in my book.

Tropical Storm Musings-Hurricane season is upon us. Being a Michigan native, I used to view hurricanes a bit like watching NASCAR highlights-"Oooh, isn't that a nasty crash?" They looked spectacular, but didn't affect me personally. However, now that I'm living in Florida (albeit about as inland as you can get) and have in-laws in metro Houston, I now have the Tropical Storm page of Weather.com bookmarked1. Claudette seems to be just missing Eileen's folks, heading towards Corpus Christi; they might get some extra thunderstorms from the northern edge, unless she tries to hook north. We got lucky last year; no tropical storms found their way to Polk County. Quick question that has been running through my mind since Claudette was born. I refer this to Fritz Schranck-if an article is only slightly having a firm grasp of the obvious and doesn't quite rank a Claude, can we give it a Claudette? 1Yes, I'm an IE user now, but I still call them "bookmarks" in my mind, for I cut my Web teeth on Netscape. Plus, it's hard to verb "favorite."

Is the Democratic Party Operationally Bright?-I stepped into some later feedback from the Dennett Bright rights article; Dean Esmay has an interesting piece both declaring himself a Bright and distancing himself from the depth of anti-religious fervor of the group. PoliBlog summed up my sentiments with this bon mot-"Announcing that one hold a secular humanist view of the universe, and renounces the supernatural at an academic conference is like announcing that one likes beer at a frat party." As I went to bed last night, my mind turned to this piece from last fall, "Our Secularist Democratic Party." The secularists that Bolce and De Maio map out are marked by a dislike of evangelical/Fundamentalist Christianity. They vote overwhelmingly Democratic and support leftist positions on sexual and reproductive issues. This bloc only makes up about 15% of the electorate, but it has more veto power over the course of the Democratic party than religious conservatives do in the GOP. Dare I say that Bolce and De Maio are talking about Brights? One of the things that makes Brights staunch Democrats is the animosity that they feel towards "Fundamentalists." The feelings described by Bolce and De Maio mirror the put-upon animosity of Dr. Dennett. The driving force seems not as much agnosticism but an anti-religious and anti-conventional-morality spirit. To call Brights agnostic gives them a wishy-washy moniker; they're not just unsure about God, they're sure that the Bible is horse s**t. Brights can't become Republicans as the party is presently constituted; making the Republican platform libertarian on sexual issues would drive away both religious conservatives and many old-school religious moderates. A Bright-friendly platform might pick up some seats in California and the Northeast, but would be a disaster elsewhere. Bright animosity towards evangelicals would make it hard, if not impossible, to include both blocs at the same time. Evangelicals would have to be driven out of the party in order to include the Brights. That would create a conservative party that would supplant the Bright Republican party in the South and rural Midwest, leaving the Bright Republicans success only in more-secular areas of the country. That leaves the Brights staunch Democrats, since they have no place else to go, save a Green protest vote; a religious Democratic nominee might move the Green vote up to 10%, driven by POed Brights. Since they're a third of the Democratic primary electorate, they can derail Democratic nominees that aren't sufficiently secular in their world-view; hence we see Joe Lieberman, Dick Gephardt and Dennis Kucinich backtracking from anti-abortion stances as they began to see national office or leadership in Congress. When Brights combine with church-going liberals who are operationally Bright in their politics (yes, I'm talking to you, NCC, Hillary and Jesse), they make up a majority of the primary electorate, holding the Democratic party captive to a libertine world-view. The Democratic Party thus is operationally Bright in most of the country; there are some rural areas, some areas of the South and more-religious black districts where God-fearing folks can get a Democratic nomination, but not too many. Baring a Great Awakening that will being large numbers of Brights to Jesus, you're not going to see a unBright Democratic Party for a while.

Edifer du Jour-1 Corinthians 7:18-24
18 Was any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not to be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God. 20 Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. 22 For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord's freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ's slave. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.
You can cite the Bible to back up change-oriented themes, such as the Gospel pitting parent against child or Jesus clearing the money changers out of the temple, but Paul is putting in a plug for a status-quoian stance on life here. One thing I remember hearing from my dad a few year ago is that unless otherwise noted, God wants you to be doing what your doing now. Change is disruptive to relationships and to communities. Unless that change is clearly beneficial, the status quo should be preferred. Moving down to Florida uprooted Eileen from her circle of friends in Midland; she's still working on finding new roots here. However, in this case, the move was beneficial, for it allowed me to advance my career (and likely Eillen's, if and when she lands a teaching job, for she couldn't have taught without an Education degree in Michigan) . So, if the back of your mind is saying "Should I be doing something else?", ask who's prompting it. If there are clear reasons why you should change things up, it's likely from God, but if it's a vague unease about your current position, it's either just you or Ol' Sloughfoot.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Why do Philosophers Wear Tank Tops?-In order to better gaze at their navels. There is something mildly obscene about a XXL tank-top, but I'll put one on tonight. Kevin Holtsberry got out his belly-button-binoculars the other day:
Blogging is not conducive to serious study and reflection. Unless you don't mind not being read by anybody or you are already famous and can get viewers that way. The only way to get consistent readers is to post regularly. This makes it hard to read and study, for example, and still have a life.
I think you can have serious thought in a blog. There's an old saying in blogdom that there are two basic classes-linkers and thinkers. Some of the good thinkers may only post every other day, but have something interesting to say when they do. For instance, Louder Fenn, one of the early Catholic bloggers, has gone to a weekly model with Monday posts. That would roughly parallel the niche of a weekly magazine or small-town weekly newspaper. The weekly news magazine will, by its time-table, have to work on a big-picture analysis, for any breaking news when it goes to press will be old news by the time it gets mailed to readers. Likewise, analysis blogs may not be breaking any news, but may do a good job of analyzing the news. Often, there is a further niche of meta-analysis, where one will take the analysis of bloggers and on-line columnists and add another layer of depth. Such meta-analysis can get almost cliched in the link love, but adds to the collective understanding of an issue. The other model I mentioned above is the weekly small-town newspaper. Many blogs that focus on vignettes of the writer's lives have a timelessness that allows for something other than a 24/7 news cycle. A Possumblog spiel on a weekend with the kids, a Greg Hlatky blurb on his latest dog show or a Lileks Gnat essay need not cover what was in the Gray Lady this morning (yes, Lileks publishes every weekday, but he's only timely when he wants to be). Such essays will be good next week or the week after (or even ten years from now). Not everyone can post twenty times a day like Glenn Reynolds, nor does everyone want to. Spudlets has a good summary of good blogging
1. Be able to write posts with something resembling standard English (or whatever language happens to be your native tongue) so that people can understand the thought you are trying to communicate. 2. Post on stuff that interests you. 3. Find others who are like-minded, and leave comments or e-mails to them and develop relationships. 4. Post when you want to on things that you have at least a semi-strong opinion or interest. Posting a couple times a week is helpful to maintain traffic. If that gets to be too much of a chore, then maybe blogging is not for you.
I have enough stuff that interest me to produce three or four post each day. Sometimes I have a page-long post on a topic; other times, I'll only have a sentence or two to say (those go into the "X musings" category). Those sentences may not be serious reflection, but sometimes a good sentence can say more than a page. Blogs aren't newspapers. When they're merely from-the-hip opinion, they're a one-man op-ed page. When they're better-thought-out essays, they're more like a good on-line magazine. People like Kevin shouldn't worry about posting 5 times a day; if he produces one good one a day, he's ahead of the game, and he does that fairly often.

Basketball Musings-Don't expect the Lakers to run away with the title, even with Payton and Malone; Magic's given the go-ahead to unretire #32 for Malone. There are four things that come to mind that would stop a Laker juggernaut towards a title. The first is age; Malone's 40 and may start to have injury problems. Shaq has a lot of miles on his odometer, as does Payton. The second is the possibility that Kobe's rape charge will stick. I have no clue whether the change has any merit, but if it does, the Fantastic Four gets trimmed by 25%. The third is that Shaq and Karl may have a hard time coexisting in the paint. Malone's never worked with a legit low-post presence while at Utah; Mark Eaton and Greg Oestertag didn't exactly scare anyone with their inside game. Lastly, can this Odd Quartet share the basketball without driving each other crazy? There's a lot of ego there, more than on many clubs; the '76-'77 Sixers comes to mind, with Dr. J, George McGinnis, Chocolate Thunder et al. Remember that that talented bunch lost in the finals to Walton, Maurice Lucas and a bunch of role players in Portland. On the upside, the four of them may not have to be on the floor together much. Kobe can swing from 2 to 3 and Payton has the size to play both guard spots. Even if one of the Fantastic Four is hurt, suspended or in foul trouble, the team will still have a lot of fire power with the remaining three stars. The Mavs and Spurs have the ability to match them, if they can get a good free agent for next year. It should be interesting.

The African Inside Straight-The presidential contenders seem to be looking to take advange of reports that intelegence reports on Iraqi buying uranium from Africa were bogus. What any opposition looks for is some scandal that they can attack, for something other than mere Monday-morning-quarterbacking to sling at the administration of the day. They're not getting traction elsewhere, so they'll play the long-shot that this will have legs However, there are four problems with the Democrats' case here. (1) The claim that was in the State of the Union address may very well still be true. The basis for doubt is a report from Joseph C. Wilson, who did some cursory research in Niger and found no evidence of a uranium buy. This Clifford May NRO piece does a decent job of debunking Wilson. Just because he didn't see or hear about a buy in Niger didn't mean it didn't go down in Niger, and it especially doesn't mean that Saddam's boys didn't try it elsewhere in Africa. Also, it was the British who had the evidence, not the US, and the Brits are sticking to their story. (2) Even if it were bogus, it doesn't tip the scales towards inaction in Iraq. The president laid out a laundry list of evidence of Iraqi WMD activity in the SOTU, of which the African fissionables were just one piece of many. How many people with a straight face would say "Jeez, if that African story wasn't there, I wouldn't have supported the war"? (3) There seems to be no evidence that the administration knew they had bogus information. At the moment, we don't even have information that it was truly bogus, let alone that the administration deliberatly used bad information to pad their evidence. (4) If the Democrats want to hold the President responcible for having his facts 100% accurate and accuse him of deception when a factoid proves bogus, let's hold them to the same standard. Let's fact-check their kiesters as well, calling them on citing faulty research from special interest groups or misquoting the president or putting false spin on facts.

Edifier du Jour-1 Corinthians 6:1-8
1 Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? 4 So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, 6 but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers? 7 Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.
This is an interesting passage that brings back some memories. I just finished the final paperwork earlier this morning for dissolving the corporation, MacroNet Computers, that I had back in the late 90s. One of the contributing factors of the store's demise was a cybercafe-type-establishment that stiffed us for about $10,000 of computers we built for them. The proprietor of the store went to my parent's church, and I toyed with the idea of invoking this passage before being told how unrealistic it would be to go the pastors of my nemesis' church and call for some sort of binding arbitration brokered by a church member. We wound up getting about 20% of our money back in an out-of-court settlement just before we were slated to go to trial on the case; the loss didn't put us out of business, but it didn't help matters. Since most of the believers we do business with aren't in the same church, there would seem to be no good way to effect some sort of Christian Arbitration Bureau that would settle legal disputes between believers. In this litigious society, it would be hard even for two fellow church members to have a third party from church serve as arbiter for a dispute. That says a lot about our society and our churches. I don't know if you could set such a beast up. It would require a lot of churches to commit to have their members to refer cases to them if both parties were believers and have churches require, or at least strongly encourage, people use such non-judicial arbitration before going to the courts if the other party wasn't willing to go along.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Vive la Quebec! Vive la Quebec Langue!-The French took one in the neck when the French language police, the Académie française, adoped the Quebec word for e-mail, courriel, to be the official French word. It tweaks courrier, French for mail, giving it the el-ectronique ending. The French look down upon Quebec about as much as the English look down upon American mauling of the Queen's language, so this is a coup for Quebec and a blow for the fromage-mangeurs.

Evening Musings-While I was up north, Gaans Deens finally got his Superblessed site up and running. The side link has been changed accordingly. His unborn unit's a boy, named Nathan (July 2 post). Kevin points out pending trouble in Buckeyland; Maurice Clarett was given substitute oral exams for a class he dropped out of. I've sung as much praise of Jim Tressel as a Michigan fan can; now he needs to clean house if the allegations are true. I don't know whether the NFL would let him play this year if he's kicked out of OSU-in the past, they've held secondary drafts for players whose eligability changed after draft day. Say a prayer for Eileen; she's got what looks to be a good job opportunity possibly coming her way tomorrow, if our contact is correct. We'll know more tomorrow.

Letters from a Birmingham Hotel-I wanted to use that headline Friday morning, but I couldn't get the hotel phone to hook up to AOL. The next time I head through Alabama, I'm going to ask if I can get a day membership in the Axis of Weevil. I know that I don't meet most of the other good-'ol-boy requirements for membership, but if I may invoke the greater spirit of Calvinball and get Terry Oglesby (a.k.a. Possumblog) to do a creative waiving of the AoW rules.

Edifier du Jour-1 Corinthians 5:1-8
1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father's wife. 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. 3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
This is not a PC passage, for it will require churches to clear out the obvious sinners in their midst. Not that everyone doesn't sin from time to time, but the people who are practicing sin, whether it be sexual sin, as the incestuous relationship in verse one, or other ongoing sins. A church member who has a unrepentant vice can drag down other believers into it. Also, if such sin is not confronted, it brings on the idea that the sin isn't really that bad. In the Jewish pre-Passover preparations, the house was cleaned out of any leaven to prepare for the high holy day. Paul's suggesting that we clean house from the yeast of sinful lifestyles. We're seeing a number of denominations wrestling with whether they want to conform to culture and edit the Bible to allow for extramarital sex or whether they want to take the Bible at face value. If they opt for being baked goods filled with the leaven of modernity, they may "rise" but quickly fall flat, for the bubbles do not provide spiritual structure. Unleavened spiritual bread may look less appealing at first to the outsider, who's used to the taste of the world, but it provides better nourishment in the long run.

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