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Saturday, August 09, 2003

Incorruptable Wealth-Before he went off on his 11-church preaching day, Richard Hall made this comment regarding Ahnold
When asked what qualified him to be Governor of California he replied (and I'm paraphrasing) that he was passionate about his goals, never gave up and (to a cheering crowd) had gone from being an Austrian farm boy to the highest paid entertainer in the world. It's unimaginable that anyone running for public office could make that sort of statement -- I mean to say, referring to your wealth just isn't done old boy! Then he made things even clearer, saying in effect that he had enough personal wealth to mean that he could never be bought by special interests. I wonder if that means that the only politicians we can really trust are the super wealthy?
Yes. But there are two types of wealth that can give protection from corruption. The first is massive wealth, where a billionaire might not be swayed by a multi-thousand dollar bribe. However, even rich people can get stoopid-greedy; Martha Stewart seems to have trashed a nine-figure fortune trying to illegally protect against a five-figure loss. The wealth that is more incorruptible is a wealth in the Holy Spirit. If we are rich in spirit, we can turn down temptations even if we're relatively poor. I'd rather have that kind of official than a rich guy.

Morning Musings-I don't get Peter Ueberroth's candidacy. Had he run in 1990, right after he was baseball commissioner, or in 1986 on the heels of his LA Olympic success, I could see it. A decade past his prime, more like two. Now, he seems to be just another corporate fat cat. He doesn't have a prayer of winning, given that the centrist Republican territory is already well staked out by Ahnold. I wonder who (or what) is putting him up to it. The votes he gets won't come from the left; they'll come from the center. This makes him convinenent for liberals looking to pull off a Bustamante 25% plurality. If Ueberroth is more of a closet Bloomberg, he could be carrying water for the left. Are there business interests that might have him favor a Democrat in the statehouse? ___ There seems to have been more going on at Baylor than just the Dennehy murder; the school's put itself on two years probation and seen the basketball coach and AD resign. Baylor's at least nominally a Baptist school, but has been drifting towards a more secular outook in recent years; however, even otherwise devout schools can have bad apples in their midst. Dave Bliss' resignation comes as a surprise. He look like the model coach in the Dennehy case, saying all the right things to the national media, but Dennehy seems to have been getting money under the table from one of Bliss' assistants, and when the assistants are up to no good, the head coach goes.

Edifier du Jour-Joel 2:21-27
21 Do not fear, O land, rejoice and be glad, For the LORD has done great things. 22 Do not fear, beasts of the field, For the pastures of the wilderness have turned green, For the tree has borne its fruit, The fig tree and the vine have yielded in full. 23 So rejoice, O sons of Zion, And be glad in the LORD your God; For He has given you the early rain for your vindication. And He has poured down for you the rain, The early and latter rain as before. 24 The threshing floors will be full of grain, And the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil. 25 "Then I will make up to you for the years That the swarming locust has eaten, The creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you. 26 "You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied And praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; Then My people will never be put to shame. 27 "Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, And that I am the LORD your God, And there is no other; And My people will never be put to shame.
You can sometimes get into trouble transferring modern-day America for Israel in prophecy, but my mind can't help doing so here. Where we are at, both physically and culturally is a materially-blessed place. We may credit the Industrial Revolution, good crop soil and availability of natural resources, free-market economics and the taking advantage of poor people elsewhere, but that credit stops short if we don't acknowledge God as the primary source. One of the problems with being fat and happy is that we tend to ignore God when things are going good. The liberals in the crowd will chalk it up to better education taking people away from the superstitious faith they had when they were ignorant of science and culture. Nay, it is the wealth that the better educated have that will also draw them away; the vast majority of Americans can't pray "Give us this day our daily bread" with any fervor, for we're not sweating that. I may jokingly pray "Give us this day our daily PowerPoint" when I've procrastinated on my class preparation, but I'm not typically praying out of material need. If I can invoke the classic Doxology they used when I was a kid (and still do in many quarters)-"Praise God from whom all blessings flow." Let's not forget that.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Programs, Get Yer Programs!-Ya can't tell who's on da ballot withotta program! Who's in other than our Terminator?
Left:
Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante Insurance Commish John Garamendi Green Candidate Peter Miguel Camajo Arianna Huffington
Right:
Bill Simon State Sen. Tom McClintock
Center:
1984 LA Olympic CEO Peter Ueberroth
So, how will this play out? Beats me, but I've got the afternoon off to think about it. At this point, there are four candidates on the left of Ahnold and two to his right. Garamendi's bio has him as a rancher-businessman, which might play to moderate voters who might not be ready to send a political rookie to the statehouse. However, the longer bio shows a stint in the Clinton Interior department as Deputy Secretary and in the Peace Corps and as a consumers-rights record in the state legislature. He's also an animal-rights backer, if this factoid is correct. There's enough of a neoliberal streak here where his handlers can spin him as an alternative to Ahnold, which might be the Democrat's plan. However, he looks more like his former boss, Bruce Babbitt, than a DLC type. What about Bustamante? He's in his second term as LG and served as a state assemblyman, making it up to Assembly Speaker in '96. However, he seems to be a fairly standard-brand liberal, if his official biography is any indication
In the Legislature and the Lieutenant Governor's office, Cruz has focused on education, the environment, health care and consumer protection issues. He worked with Republicans and Democrats to reduce class sizes in California schools, to enact a $1.7 billion middle-class tax cut, to reform welfare and to lower student fees at state universities and colleges.
Nothing there that deviates from the liberal songbook, except that they actually cut taxes at one point. Which, if any of the candidates on the left can break through to 30%? If I were the Democrats, I would market Bustamante as your classic liberal and market Garamendi as your New Democrat type, hoping that Garamendi drains votes away from Ahnold more than he drains votes away from Bustamante. The big question comes from the right. Bill Simon has his name in the ring, as does Tom McClintock. McClintock's run statewide in the past, losing a close race for State Comptroller in '94; a lot of conservatives think he might be the best choice in the race. I don't see Simon getting past Ahnold, but if Simon is smart, he could drop out and endorse McClintock, leaving only one major conservative in the race.
Mark's seat-of-the-pants prediction
Schwarzenegger 28
Bustamante 22
McClintock 17
Simon 14
Garamendi 7
Camajo 4
Huffington 3
Others 5
I'm not sure if conservatives should groan and back the Terminator. If Simon endorsed McClintock, there's a 30% conservative vote that could snag a plurality if the left can hold Ahnold in the high 20s.

Plano Speaking-The big Episcopal Conservative shindig will be in Plano, TX on October 7-9 (link via Ben). At least the conservatives are respectful of the native religion, getting in after Monday Night Football and leaving before Friday high school games. Here's what I think the kicker piece is, one that should put an OOOHH in everyone's mouth
What is Plano and what will happen there? 1. It is a gathering of bishops, clergy and lay leaders who embrace biblical faith and teaching and who reject the actions of General Convention, to be held October 7-9, 2003 at Christ Church, Plano, Texas. 2. We will pray, worship, study the Word and preach the Gospel. 3. We will hear reports on actions of specially-convened diocesan conventions. 4. We will prepare a detailed petition and proposal for the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates, who will meet October 15-16, 2003 5. We will offer training and specific help with canonical, legal and financial issues. 6. We will build relationships and organize our network
In other words, they'll be cooking up an alternative structure for conservative Anglicans in the US and presenting that a week afterwards for approval by the Anglican poobahs. However, I think the title of primate belongs to the House of Bishops, our Bozo Bonobos.

Rush Vs Blogs?-I've got the day off, so to speak. I just had one of my wisdom teeth pulled this morning, so if what I say lacks wisdom, I can take that as an excuse. Lileks does what I was tempted to do the other day-fisk this The Hill piece unfavorably comparing blogs to Rush. He does the fisking better than I, as usual. A few quick notes on the piece. Does the average blogger do as much pre-blog research as Rush does pre-show? No. However, the political bloggers typically give the news a read-over and blog on what interest them. However, the strength of blogs is their number and diversity of knowledge. We've got lawyers, economists, scientists, professors and political aides in the mix that has a broader knowledge base than Rush has in his offices. Do we have the audience that Rush has? No one does. Does The Hill have more readers than the Washington Post? No, but both political blogs and The Hill serve a comparable purpose, to provide information and analysis to political geeks. What we lack in reach, we'll make up in caliber of audience. The big political journals only have readership in the low six figures (if that), yet that small audience carries the message to a larger populous. As we as funny as Rush? Some of us are in that ballpark. As a textual medium, we lack the tone of voice and ability to do imitations that radio gives. However, given the limitations of print, many of the good political bloggers can match wits with Rush without being spotted too many points; if he tied half his brain behind his back with bloggers, he'd be toast. Blogs aren't designed to be multi-media extravaganzas; the occasion picture may show up, but multimedia isn't the blog game. No, we're not Rush. But collectively, we might be the National Review and New Republic combined.

Edifier du Jour-2 Corinthians 6:14-18
14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 17 "Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE," says the Lord. "AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. 18 "And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty.
Usually, this verse will be used to discourage dating/marrying a non-believer, but it also can be use to discuss having common-cause with unbelievers. It can be taken too far, where minor doctrinal disagreements can make someone an "unbeliever" to be shunned, but there is good advice there. The King James uses "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers..." in verse 14, giving the classic phrase for the topic. Many people will strive to create unity where there is none. In many denominations, you have people who truly don't share the same faith. They'll throw out scripture where it's inconvenient. They'll approve of things that are clearly disapproved of in the Bible. They'll question the need for salvation and personal acceptance of Jesus. They'll even question the divinity or even existence of Jesus. One's thoughts turn quickly to the Episcopalians right now, but a large number of denomination have such people on board. At some point (and the mythical person above has past that point) the theological errors amount to unbelief. That makes it hard to have broad ecumenical unity, for it's hard to be united with someone who's praying to a vastly different god than yours. If you bring up this point actively, you look like a narrow-minded bigot-"Who are you to say who's got a proper faith?" Well, it looks like this verse is saying that we're children of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit to discern who to fellowship with and who to give the left-foot of disfellowship to. It might mean we have some new denominations form in the next few years, but so be it.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Intifada 2.0?-That's what Iraq is starting to feel like. The latest bombing of the Jordanian embassy smells like something Hamas would do. The nearly-daily sniper attacks and bombings are designed to get the Americans to go home. There are three problems with that Baathist hard-case strategy. The first is that the Iraqi people aren't behind the Baathists, whereas a plurality of the Palestinians seem to be behind the autoboomers there. The bad guys are being turned in at a steady rate, so this appears to be a scorched-earth strategy. There's only an outside shot that they'll win, but to give up would likely mean spending a long stretch in jail. The second is that the Baathists have a finite amount of resources. The Palestinian terrorists have plenty of help from overseas, while the Baathists have little but what they had stashed overseas and underground while they were in power. I don't see them getting more than a token amount of help from Arab militants elsewhere. The Baathist resistance is a finite well that is going dry quickly. The third is that they don't have a cause that excites the Iraqi people. Returning to a thuggish government isn't a great idea, and Ahmed Doe knows that. If they let the Americans do their thing, they'll have something resembling a representative democracy in a year or two. If they resist, they get Return of Saddam. That's one sequel the Iraqis don't want to see at the theaters. We may have people striving for a third option, some sort of Islamic state, but if we show efforts at an honest democracy, the Islamist minority can get nudged aside. Liberals and paleocons will likely bring up the prospect of a quagmire, and there will be a partial truth to their critiques; this is bloodier than most of us counted on. The peace is almost more deadly that the war. However, when we're done over their, we'll have one more democracy and one less tyrant, and the lives spent making it so will be lives well spent.

Morning Musings-Total Recall II is on. Ahnold announced on Leno last night. The other good news is that Feinstein announced that she's not running. At this point, Arianna Huffington is the closest thing to a credible candidate from the left that's got their hat in the ring; Loretta Sanchez is toying with the idea of throwing her's in now that DiFi's bowed out. Advantage-Terminator. Disadvantage-Gray Gentleman. With Feinstein out of the race, Ahnold has the middle of the political spectrum to himself. Feinstein could have won 35-30, but a garden-variety liberal will lose 35-25. Lileks is back from Server Limbo-and puts two into orbit on Ahnold and on Bishop Robinson. This isn't encouraging-somebody (likely Baathist hard-cases) bombed the Jordanian embassy. Pray that King Abdullah stays the course and keeps leaning to the west.

Edifier du Jour-Ephesians 1:9-12
9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
It's been a hard stretch for me the last few days, as allergies, caffeine withdrawal, high blood pressure and a tough MBA class to teach has got me logy, depressed and overwhelmed. This is the kind of verse (and the kind of God) that keeps me from crawling into bed and telling the world to go away. God has a purpose for us. We may not be able to see it, but it's there. God reveals the details on an on-going basis. Also, we have more than just an implicit purpose for our lives; we have an inheritance as sons of God that the world can't take away. The Estate Tax can't touch it. Executors can't steal it. Our Father isn't going to blow it before He dies, for He doesn't die.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Edifier du Jour-3 John 1:11
11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.
Part of the problem with the Church today is the tendency to mimic our culture rather than mimic God. It's easy to fit in, but spiritually deadly. The world will want us to get rid of the old rules and get with the program. The problem with the program is that it marches us straight off a cliff, physically (by increased STDs) emotionally (by depriving us of proper intamacy with God and others) and spiritually (by ignoring God). The world's program avoids the slow back road to Heaven and hops us on the Autobahn to Hades.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Now Playing-Hokie and the Schismatics-It took a day longer than planned, but the Episcopalian House of Bishops ended their denomination as they know it by voting 62-55 to confirm Gene Robinson. The weeks and months to come will see conservative churches take off to greener theological pastures and some conservative parishioners of remaining churches vote with their feet. The next few months won't be pretty, but pray that the things that need to be done in the Body of Christ get done. Pray for everyone involved, including the liberal camp who seem to be held captive by the secular left of American culture.

Evening Musings-Feeling much better than I did this afternoon. I had a nice dinner out with Eileen this evening, got a birthday package from my parents and sister, a call from them and from my friend Rose, and a presentation of Happy Birthday from the Cabbage Patch Chorale on our living room love seat. Back a month ago, Illinigirl recommended a British movie, Bend it Like Beckham. I wondered at the time if that has some sort of Austin Powers-type double entendre. No, David Beckham's famed for his curving kicks. His first Real Madrid goal came today on such a free-kick bender. I'm still getting my mind around what this means to British soccer fans. The closest parallel I can think of was when Edmondton traded Wayne Gretzky to the LA Kings. However, the Kings didn't have Mario Lemieux playing with him. Real Madrid has Brazilian superstar Ronaldo as well. I'm no soccer expert, but that's one heck of a twosome. If you're lurking out their, Senor Gil, I'd like some feedback on what that one-two punch means. Kobe's scandal's good for the NBA? So sayeth Mark (Open Mouth, Change Feet) Cuban: "From a business perspective, it's great for the NBA. It's reality television, people love train-wreck television and you hate to admit it, but that is the truth, that's the reality today[.]" As long as it means more ad revenue, they're happy to get the Jerry Springer crowd to watch.

Last One Off Blogger, Turn Out the Lights-Part II-Amy Wellborn's moving over to TypePad, the MT hosting project. On my first of this series, John Adams comment on when I was going to make the jump. TypePad might just be it. I looked into Jatol back around Memorial Day, and even had signed up for server space, but MT set up was more than I was up to at the time, and I took the one-week free cancellation option. Right now, I'd like a server that I can stash pictures and graphs on. I'm teaching an on-line Microeconomic class this fall in October, so I'd like to have some place to stash supply and demand graphs for the class without having to beg space off the school's servers. Also, I'd like to have a place to put archives and other stuff, so I'd like more than just a blog space. I'd like to see how Amy and others fare with TypePad. Blogger seems to have fixed its archive problems, but I like the built-in-comment capability of MT. YACCS is worth the price, but not by much.

Birthday Musings-I just turn a double-blackjack today. For some reason, 42 is more sobering than 40 or 41. I spent my 40th at a family reunion for Eileen's great aunt and uncle, making sure to be out of town in case the black crepe brigade decided to show up. I was too busy finishing an MBA class to notice my 41st last year. However, I'm feeling much older this year, and it might be the high blood pressure problem I'm having. I've been working out at the school gym on a regular (shooting for 3X/week and fitting in 2 on average) basis for the last month and trying to watch my weight, but my blood pressure's jumped from around 90 (high, but not problematic) up to 106 in the last month. I've been on blood pressure medication for the last week. I'm been feeling a bit logy as a result and a bit depressed. I'm trying to cut out caffeine-I've switched to water at home and have finally kicked the free Diet Pepsi habit at work. However, the weight problem that I've been fighting for a long time coupled with the high blood pressure have me feeling very mortal. I've always seem to feel about 12 or so; somehow I went from feeling like a pre-teen to feeling like an old man. Given my relatively new career and new wife, I'm not going through a mid-life crisis, I'm just getting started with life. However, the lost years of 21-24 after getting my B.S., a year getting my act together after coming to the Lord at 24, two years for my BBA, another 1.5 years for my MBA, six years working on a doctorate, 2.5 years running a computer store and 3.5 years working as a temp accountant left me at age 41, newly married and starting a career as a college professor. The Devil wants to have me focus on my girth, my high-blood pressure and how much of my life I've wasted. God wants me to look at a loving wife, a good job, a good church family, an even better blog family, and a God who loved me so much that he sent His son to die for me. We have to play our lives as they lie; it doesn't matter how many strokes we took to get the ball there, the shot is still the same. I've got a good future ahead of me and I'm developing the discipline to be around awhile to enjoy it. I'm finally in a place where I can really contribute to society, both by my teaching and being a husband and writing down my thoughts here. It might of being a round-about way to get to where I got, but I'm here now, and God wants me to enjoy it. So, even if I see the legal-age signs at restaurants and note that I was becoming "legal" when the current crop of 21 year olds was getting born, I can rest easy. Yes, I'm not a kid anymore. Yes, I can live with that. Life is good.

Sabermetrics R Us-Bobby A-G has this comment from yesterday
Not to get too deep into it, but thus far I've pulled this year's team batting stats, calculated the hitting efficiency (hits/runs) for each team, then ranked the teams and compared the teams' ranking for this ratio with the other offensive numbers. Although one might not expect it, for some teams there is a significant gap between their rankings for On Base Percentage (OBP), Slugging Percentage, or On Base Plus Slugging (OPS) and their rank for hitting efficiency. This suggests that hitting efficiency might have value as a batting stat that isn't present with OBP or the other stats. Some initial team information has seemed to back this hypothesis up, as well. It seems that a general statement may be made to the effect that a team with a high OBP or OPS ranking but a significantly lower hitting efficiency ranking indicates an underachieving, untimely-hitting, and/or "less lucky" team in terms of offense, while a team in the opposite position (low OPS ranking, high hitting efficiency ranking) indicates an overachieving, timely-hitting and/or "more lucky" team in terms of offense. Thus, teams like Atlanta and Boston, for example, have high rankings across the board, indicating that they play up to their offensive potential. Teams like Detroit and Los Angeles have consistently low rankings, indicating that they just don't have much offensive potential. A team like Kansas City has a efficiency ranking 5 or 6 spots higher than its OPS ranking, indicating that it may be "luckier" or have "more timely hitting" than its peers. This would reinforce my subjective observations that KC seems to get a lot of hits at the right time. Minnesota, on the other hand, who many consider to be underachieving, has a efficiency ranking 5 or 6 spots lower than its OPS ranking, indicating that it has the offensive firepower, but it doesn't use it at the right time. This is, of course, a quick summary and leaves out some caveats (The most important? This stat doesn't necessarily reflect on record, since pitching and defense are equally important in that area.) and details, but I thought that the initial results were interesting enough to pass along for you baseball fanatics out there.
I gave the numbers a once-over, pulling results from ESPN, and here are my results. I included three statistics-OPS (On Bace Percentage +Slugging Percentage) LW (Bill James' Linear Weights)-
Walks and Hit Batters *0.33+ Singles *0.46+ Doubles*0.8+ Triples*1.02+ Homers*1.4+ Steals*0.3+ Caught Stealing*0.6- Outs*0.25
and hitting efficiency (runs/hits). James may have changed the parameters, but those are the ones that I have hard-wired from The Hidden Game of Baseball from the mid-80s. Here's the American League stats
RNK NAME R OPS OPS Rank LW LW Rank HE HE Rank
1 Boston 673 0.862 1 249.27 1 0.581 1
2 Toronto 635 0.814 2 171.01 2 0.565 3
3 Texas 583 0.801 3 149.2 4 0.549 5
4 NY Yankees 582 0.8 4 166.62 3 0.573 2
5 Kansas City 578 0.768 7 109.24 6 0.561 4
6 Seattle 568 0.777 5 134.44 5 0.54 7
7 Baltimore 553 0.763 8 103.81 8 0.519 9
8 Minnesota 529 0.769 6 108.4 7 0.491 11
9 Chicago Sox 522 0.76 9 93.37 9 0.541 6
10 Anaheim 505 0.747 10 74.4 10 0.507 10
11 Oakland 504 0.734 11 64.92 11 0.532 8
12 Tampa Bay 497 0.73 12 61.6 12 0.481 13
13 Cleveland 471 0.718 13 32.95 13 0.487 12
14 Detroit 364 0.659 14 -56.38 14 0.427 14
Here, the OPS seems to be a better predictor of one's run ranking than hitting efficiency. The more cumbersome Linear Weights model is even better, but OPS is a good quick-and-dirty measure. Kansas City is a bit of an outlier here, but their team speed (#2 in steals) doesn't show up in either hitting efficiency or OPS. Here's the National League stats
RNK NAME R OPS OPS Rank LW LW Rank Hitting Efficiency HE Rank
1 Atlanta 632 0.832 1 201.97 1 0.427 1
2 St. Louis 628 0.82 2 188.56 2 0.471 2
3 Colorado 624 0.798 3 157.11 3 0.502 5
4 Houston 537 0.751 7 82.93 7 0.494 4
5 Philadelphia 535 0.755 6 101.02 6 0.485 3
6 San Francisco 528 0.768 4 105.08 5 0.502 6
7 Cincinnati 524 0.75 8 82.91 8 0.516 9
8 Florida 523 0.766 5 109.78 4 0.514 7
9 Montreal 507 0.734 13 64.24 13 0.515 8
10 Pittsburgh 503 0.737 12 70.55 10 0.546 13
11 Chicago Cubs 494 0.745 9 76.28 9 0.527 10
12 Arizona 492 0.744 10 68.9 11 0.544 11
13 Milwaukee 487 0.738 11 68.45 12 0.544 12
14 NY Mets 470 0.709 15 21.87 15 0.588 16
15 San Diego 467 0.716 14 41.51 14 0.556 14
16 Los Angeles 379 0.654 16 -52.68 16 0.57 15
Florida is the big underperformer. They're the #1 steal team; it might be that they run themselves out of innings in practice with that league-leading 48 times caught stealing. Montreal is a positive outlier. It seems that OPS and LW worked better in the American League, while hitting efficiency seems to work better in the National Leauge, better predicting OPS outliers Montreal and Florida. However, OPS still has the edge overall.

The Sane Wing of the Democratic Party-Lieberman started singing clearly from the DLC Songbook yesterday
"Some Democrats, on the contrary, still prefer the old, big government solutions to our problems," Lieberman said in a speech to the National Press Club. "But, my friends, with record deficits, a stalled economy and Social Security in danger, we can't afford that." Lieberman pulled his punches when it came to naming the former Vermont governor directly, but he did make reference to him. "I share the anger of my fellow Democrat with George Bush and the wrong direction he has taken this nation. But the answer to his outdated, extremist ideology is not to be found in the outdated extremes of our own," the Connecticut senator said. After the speech, Lieberman denied to Fox News that he has a fixation with Dean. "This wasn't a speech in response to Howard Dean alone. Howard Dean is obviously the surprise of the year so far," he said. That surprise is unwelcome to Lieberman, who sees himself as the heir to Clinton centrism.
Here's an interesting question for Tim Russert to throw at him next time he's on-"You've called both the president's policies and the policies of your Democratic rivals outdated and extreme. If those policies are outdated, at what time were they appropriate?" However, he is coming out with a pro-war stance and noted that repealing the tax cuts would be a economic disaster to the average taxpayer. I don't think Dean's emergence is bad for the Lieberman campaign. If you have Kerry, Dean and Gephardt (and Edwards if he can gain some traction) fighting over different flavors of the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party®, Lieberman can win some 35% pluralities in a four-man race. He'd likely lose a head-to-head with Kerry or Gephardt and be even-up with Dean, but division on the left is his best friend.

Fritz Sitz-Good news for the Republicans-Earnest Hollings isn't going to seek reelection next year. South Carolina is about as conservative as states get, so with Hollings and his good-ol'-boy charm gone, the Republicans have a great shot of picking up a seat. Question for the peanut gallery-who plays Hollings in Filibuster-the Movie? My candidate-Foghorn Leghorn.

Edifier du Jour-Jeremiah 18:1-6
1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD saying, 2 "Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will announce My words to you." 3 Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. 5 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 6 "Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.
I was reading this passage and The Potter's Hand started going in my mind. He is constantly remaking us. I started to think about the metaphor of the ceramics process and how it applies to the spiritual life. We're only malleable if we're somewhat wet. That moisture comes from the Holy Spirit; if we lack a spiritual lubricant, our clay doesn't want to move out of it's current position. Jesus offered the woman at the well living water; for the spiritual animal, it supplies life, but for the spiritual claymation-character-in-the-making, it gives the ability to adjust yourself easily to the Potter's wishes. The Potter can use dry clay, but he has to break it up and remoisten it; that process isn't easy, so we as the clay had better get wet. To turn soft clay into a hard pot or some other piece of kitchenware, it's often fired in a kiln (archeology buffs can correct me, but I'm thinking they did that in the BC as well). We often have to go through fire in order to burn off impurities and to give a holy glaze to us (on some days, we all have that glazed-over look). That's not easy either, but God uses trials to burn off our impurities and draw us closer to him.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Little Red Ridings-We're getting some good news north of the border; the seemingly-pending passage of same-sex marriage may be hitting a wall. Normally, MPs are supposed to vote the party line or else, but this one has been declared an "free vote" where MPs can vote their conscience. About half the Liberals are opposed to the bill, which may doom its passage. Mark Cameron has come good linkage and commentary on the subject. This Angus Reid piece notes that the Canadian public might be 55-45 in favor of same-sex marriage, but it might be closer to 50-50 in voting strength, since younger voters vote less. The problem might be with blue collar rural voters who may be more culturally conservative than city slickers. One of the keys to Dubya’s victory in 2000 was winning over such rural voters, winning normally-Democratic areas like West Virginia and beating Gore in Tennessee on the strength of rural voters who didn't care for the Democrat's pro-gun-control and sexually-permissive platform. Since the last election, the term "Red State" has come in to play to describe the more rural, more culturally conservative states that Bush carried. Also, the term has also come to imply the old-school persona of those areas. There may well be some "red ridings" in Canada that Liberals have carried for the last decade, but may lose to the Alliance Party if they stay with their stands on legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage. The color-terms don't translate well, since red is the Liberal color, blue is the Conservative color and green is the Alliance color. However, the concept of blue-color conservatives leaving the small-l liberal party, especially in Anglophone Canada and Ontario in particular, still applies. Some of the MPs from such area will vote no on this free vote, but a smart Alliance (or Bloc Quebecois) campaign could point out that the next vote on supporting moral decline might not be free. The guy who looks the worst in all this is the presumptive Liberal party successor to Chretien, Paul Martin, who is taking a page out of the Cuomo Songbook and claiming himself a good Catholic while supporting same-sex marriage. Could the backlash drive the PRI Liberals from power next year? We shall see.

Pinning the Claudometer, Episcopal Style-Catch this latest development from the Gene Robinson saga-I think MSNBC just inadvertantly made a clueless headline-
Episcopal bishops indefinitely postponed their vote Monday on whether to approve the church’s first openly gay elected bishop while last-minute allegations of inappropriate conduct are investigated.
I'd think that having a homosexual lover for a dozen years would be sufficiently inappropriate conduct, but don't mind me. It seems that he's been hitting on some of his parisioners. That might stall the Robinson vote, but I don't think that it will stop the schism.

Server Fun-Even though his site got fubared, Lileks left this message today-The header stated "LILEKS (James) is temporarily hosed" and had a picture stating that "The server crashed and took the #$*%# site down." I made sure to quote the symbol-curse symbol-by-symbol. If you like you Cohen well-flagellated, Charles Austin has moved over to Spleenville. He's sneaking up on his 100th scourging.

Winning By Losing-Here's a thought for the conservative Episcapalians/Anglicans in the Peanut Gallery; isn't losing today's fight on Gene Robinson better than winning it? If the conservatives rule the day in the House of Bishops, we're back to the status quo ante of a liberal-listing church with plenty of de-facto Unitarian bishops and pastors. If the church is to be cleaned up, it would need to be done by ousting bishops and pastors who fail to follow a Biblical line. However, those would need to be done on a case-by-case basis and would be very messy. It might merely put off a schism for a few years, for the clean-up process would make a few enemies among the tradtionalist block, and future votes might go the other way. If the de-facto Unitarians rule the day, we'll see a schism where the conservative churches will bolt and form a seperate organization with apostolic coverage coming from outside the US. They'll still be in the Anglican traditon, but more committed to a standard Christian faith. This way, the liberal element in the church will be isolated and the fence-sitting parrishes will stay put rather that risk the unknown. I'd think the evangelical Anglicans in the crowd would rather have an American Anglican Church with half the members but standing for something rather than the status quo. If the Anglican polity readings of the conservatives are correct, churches can reaffilitate with another Anglican subset without having to leave the church building in the hands of the Episcopal Church. The next few months will be interesting.

Last One Off Blogger, Turn Out The Lights-Midwest Conservative Journal's up and moved.

Edifier du Jour-Psalm 97:1-7
1 The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; Let the many islands be glad. 2 Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. 3 Fire goes before Him And burns up His adversaries round about. 4 His lightnings lit up the world; The earth saw and trembled. 5 The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. 6 The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples have seen His glory. 7 Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, Who boast themselves of idols; Worship Him, all you gods.
Two pieces brought this passage to mind; the first was Waileia's mention of Tom Friedman's Google piece from June. It's provocatively titled "Is Google God?" People tend to give divine attributes to things that are significantly more knowledgeable or powerful than themselves. There's probably a better word for it, but if giving non-humans human characteristics is call anthropomorphic, theomorphic sound about right for giving non-divine but potent stuff god-like status; I thought was coining that out of thin air, but someone beat me to it. It's a theological twist to the old Arthur C. Clark concept that really high-tech stuff looks like magic to a non-techie; it can also look like a miracle. However, such man-made stuff only has a partial knowledge of the universe. Even if we could have Google tapped into our brain directly, we'd only scratch the surface of what God knows. Google is knowledgeable but nowhere near omniscient. The other piece that gave me pause on this report on the World Transhumanist Association1 meeting at Yale earlier this summer. Here was part of an evocative opening paragraph
International academics and activists, they met to lay the groundwork for a society that would admit as citizens and companions intelligent robots, cyborgs made from a free mixing of human and machine parts, and fully organic, genetically engineered people who aren't necessarily human at all. A good many of these 160 thinkers aspire to immortality and omniscience through uploading human consciousness into ever evolving machines.
This was a secular crowd trying to achieve what only God can give. While some of the modest modifications on the near horizon, like artificial eye implants, don't challenge our definition of human, others do. If people are trying to upload their memories onto a computer (or a young, healthy clone of themselves) in order to achieve immortality, they are heading towards a living hell. Not only are they trying to claim immortality and achieve omniscience, but they are doing so while keeping God out of the loop. Striving in that direction is a lonely endeavor, for living forever in a fallen world is a low-grade hell. That is one of the reasons God blocked the way to the Tree of Life, for an immortal and sinful man is doomed to be apart from God forever. Those who try to cheat death will ultimately fail, but even when they succeed, the success may be not what they wished for. People have a God-spot in their souls. Some people substitute sex, others the occult, yet others with belief in extraterrestrials; the hard-core Transhumanists are substituting technology as their god, one which will lead them to a day of greater knowledge and indefinite lifespans. While some of the technology that they are coming up with will prove useful, they have went and essentially theomorphized technology and science. I look at the last verse in the passage above-"Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, Who boast themselves of idols..." ; too many people today are serving false gods of various shapes and sizes, whether it be sexual freedom or technology or money or any number of other down-scale deities. They are looking for satisfaction in all the wrong places. 1 Link via Instapundit

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Afternoon Musings-Every one knew that Gigli was a bomb, but not that big of a bomb. Oops, that's Gilgit in the dateline. Still, one wonders if some sort of foul play is involved in the no-mans-land of NW Pakistan. Here's a cute line from the Fox piece
Construction crews frequently use explosives to clear land for roads and other projects in the mountainous area -- home to K-2, the world's second-tallest peak. The government is trying spur economic growth in the poor region and make it more accessible to tourists.
Yes, especially ones from Afghanistan and the Saudi entity. Right now, it's very inviting to the Taliban and friends. Good news and bad news for the United Methodists. The good news is one Rockford church fired a church music director for not giving up his male lover; the bad news is another Methodist church hired him. At least he's not a bishop. Yet. Futbol is back-Tampa Bay got past the Jets in the pre-season opener, 30-14. Rookie QB Chris Sims looked good in the second half. That's at least four second-generation QBs that I can think of. Jack Kemp's son Jeff got some NFL time about a decade ago, not to mention Brian Griese and Payton Manning. Any others I haven't remembered? You might count Marquis Tuiasosopo, but his dad was a defensive lineman. Two great old-school tongue-tripping NFL Polynesian names: Mosi Tatupu and Manu Tuiasosopo.

Edifier du Jour-Psalm 95:1-6(KJV)
1 O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. 3 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. 5 The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. 6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
I had to go with the King James today, for "joyful noise" is the term that was on my heart this morning. However, recall who that noise is being directed towards; the rock of our salvation. That can be a problem with worship; we're not doing that to feel good, we're doing it to offer up a sacrifice to the King of Kings. We're also supposed to come with thanksgiving (for some, "and Christmas and Easter but not much else"). How many of us remember to go into church thankful? We may sing a song of thanks, but I have to work towards an attitude of gratitude. Think of that as you're getting ready to go this morning, or next Sunday for most of you who'll read this after Sunday morning.

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