Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Pawlenty for Prez in 2008?

The left-of-center New Republic grades a list of possible 2008 presidential candidates who aren't on the short-list. Here's how they rank Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty:

Tim Pawlenty. In his primary race against self-financed multimillionaire Brian Sullivan, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty deployed this choice line: "We need to be the party of Sam's Club not just the country club." With his working class roots, which, perhaps taking a cue from John Edwards, he didn't hesitate to mention, Pawlenty sold the message well. Though he won with only 44 percent of the vote in a three-way race to succeed Jesse Ventura, he's become quite popular.

Pawlenty came into office as a small government absolutist, but he's since wavered. While remaining steadfast to his no-new-taxes pledge, which probably won him the election, Pawlenty has been shifting course to favor financing a wide array of middle-class-friendly public amenities, such as stadiums and a pricey commuter rail system. The move has yielded serious political dividends. The same goes for his showy gesture of establishing a state government website designed to facilitate the importation of prescription drugs from Canada. Naturally, he's also pushed for environmental protections and merit pay for public school teachers, perfect for seducing soccer moms. It's a Potemkin centrism of small-bore policy proposals that would make Bill Clinton weep. He bucks the party line just enough to get attention, but not enough to raise hackles. He's done all this while taking right-wing stances on gay rights, abortion, the death penalty, and concealed weapons, views shared by a majority of Minnesotans, including many Democrats. Very crafty.

Most importantly, Pawlenty comes from a region, the Upper Midwest, that looks increasingly vulnerable to Republican appeals. With the South and Mountain West solid as ever, taking Minnesota and Wisconsin would make for a canny strategic maneuver.

Overall Grade: B-
Things to Work On: $ # ~ &

[here's the meaning for the symbols]

$ Sure, we claim to like politicians from hardscrabble backgrounds, but secretly we want to be ruled by top-hat-wearing toffs swaddled in gold lamé.

# While you may have sworn undying loyalty to George W. Bush, our Maximum Leader, one is alarmed by your failure, thus far, to cover yourself with elaborate tattoos proclaiming said undying loyalty. That or you endorsed John McCain in 2000.

~ You should have won your home state for the prez. This ain't no disco.

& If you're going to win reelection, win big.


Business and World Poverty

In Wayne Grudem's excellent book, Business for the Glory of God, he writes:
"I believe the only long-term solution to world poverty is business. That is because businesses produce goods, and businesses produce jobs. And businesses continue producing goods year after year, and continue providing jobs and paying wages year after year. Therefore if we are ever going to see long-term solutions to world poverty, I believe it will come through starting and maintaining productive, profitable businesses" (pp. 80-81).

A recent column by David Brooks--entitled "The Good News About Poverty"--points out that we are now in the 11th month of the most prosperous year in human history. The poorer countries are leading the way, and the developing world is leading this surge. "Write this on your forehead: Free trade reduces world suffering."




O'Reilly the Weenie

"Once again, O'Reilly's defensiveness about the Internet is making him look like a weenie." Glenn Reynolds make the convincing case.

Lemony Snickets

Dear Reader,

If you are interested in a profile of the author behind the pseudonymous "Lemony Snicket," do not click here.

You have been warned.

The Has-Been-Media Shakeup

Tony Snow--an excellent broadcaster himself--has some thoughts on the Network News Shakeup:

The Has-Been Media are preparing for the most exhaustive and significant shakeup in the history of television news. Tom Brokaw has stepped aside at NBC, and Dan Rather will exit stage left in late March (can Peter Jennings be far behind?). In addition, two lions of the print press, Bill Safire of The New York Times and David Broder of The Washington Post, have announced plans to hang up their spurs.

Most of this was bound to happen. Safire and Broder have been at it a long time; both have tired of the deadline grind and would like more time to sculpt their thoughts and reminiscences. Brokaw also read the handwriting on the wall. He chose wisely to move out while atop the heap, knowing the Golden Age of network news has drawn to an end. (The guy has uncanny survival instincts, including a sense of impeccable timimg.)

But then there’s Rather. Having survived in the piranha-like conditions of the network newsroom for nearly a quarter century, Rather finally fell prey to a combination of personal foibles and inspired back-biting. When the already-grim ratings picture suddenly began to look hopeless, CBS execs shoved Rather off the ship, describing his “transition” as an amicable decision, agreed upon mutually. That’s a lawyerly way of saying he cried uncle, panting and screaming, but only after they subjected him to a brisk, sustained session with the bastinado.

As a result of his leaving and Brokaw’s opportunistic escape, the news business has entered a Wild West phase – a time of riotous experimentation and no-holds-barred competition. This is a good thing, because journalists have lived too long in a bubble of their own connivance and design. The average reporter in America is far more adept at identifying an impudent cabernet than in locating a local church (forget about an Elk’s Lodge – any Elk’s Lodge).

Broadcasters and scribes tend to look at the American public with finicky disdain – as if a journey into a suburb were akin to peering over the edge of a smoldering trash dump, searching for a debris-munching rodent. They not only have lost contact with Mainstream America; they have taken an active dislike toward it.

Network news since the Cronkite era has thrived on snob appeal. People watched the evening news broadcasts so they could learn how adopt a posture of suave boredom. Networks dispensed a steady stream of fashionable opinions and factoids, which viewers could save up for use in a debate at the company cafeteria: “Yes, but Cronkite said…” That sort of thing worked for many years, but the networks, unsupervised and untethered to terra firma, inexorable spun out of orbit. The facts and opinions dispensed by the mavens moved from being merely shocking to becoming impossibly implausible, and with the possible exception of the Streisand Brigades, everyone figured out that bias had driven away any pretense of even-handedness.

The 60 Minutes II imbroglio did Rather in not because it seemed a departure from the norm, but because it seemed too perfectly to capture the arrogance and determined ignorance of the Has Been Media. Rather did what most editors do out of habit (something I have done not only out of habit, but out of a sense of obligation as an editor). He stood behind his wayward reporter, rather than demanding a quick accounting for the story and inflicting proper discipline. Instead, Mary Mapes still earns a salary at CBS, while a nameless news producer got fired for reporting in a timely fashion the death of Yasser Arafat.

Brokaw, Rather, Jennings and other old lions know a new age is coming, and so they’re muttering a bit as they leave the stage. Who can blame them? The world in which they acquired wealth and celebrity has crumbled with startling speed. A new order has arisen. Journalism, no longer a redoubt of the illuminati, has become a vessel of grubby democracy. Anybody – literally, anybody – can play these days. They can insert their views in a weblog. They can call talk radio. Eccentric plutocrats, such as George Soros, get to spend bundles on advertisements in any and all media.

But Bill, Dan, Dave and Tom haven’t fallen prey to a predatory press. They have become the latest generation to realize that history did not commence with them and will not pause to prevent their passing. Don’t weep for them: They have enjoyed a splendid ride. They have been to the journalistic mountaintop, and then some; virtually any one of us would love to have been fortunate enough even to tag along for part of their journeys.

Yet, now the fun comes to people like you and me – for it is our opportunity and obligation to make the press smarter, humbler, and fairer than ever before.

I’m game for the challenge. How about you?

Brooks on Stott

Three cheers for David Brooks, a conservative Jewish commentator at the New York Times who understands evangelicals.

Who Is John Stott?

Tim Russert is a great journalist, but he made a mistake last weekend. He included Jerry Falwell and Al Sharpton in a discussion on religion and public life.

Inviting these two bozos onto "Meet the Press" to discuss that issue is like inviting Britney Spears and Larry Flynt to discuss D. H. Lawrence. Naturally, they got into a demeaning food fight that would have lowered the intellectual discourse of your average nursery school.

This is why so many people are so misinformed about evangelical Christians. There is a world of difference between real-life people of faith and the made-for-TV, Elmer Gantry-style blowhards who are selected to represent them. Falwell and Pat Robertson are held up as spokesmen for evangelicals, which is ridiculous. Meanwhile people like John Stott, who are actually important, get ignored.

It could be that you have never heard of John Stott. I don't blame you. As far as I can tell, Stott has never appeared on an important American news program. A computer search suggests that Stott's name hasn't appeared in this newspaper since April 10, 1956, and it's never appeared in many other important publications.

Yet, as Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center notes, if evangelicals could elect a pope, Stott is the person they would likely choose. He was the framer of the Lausanne Covenant, a crucial organizing document for modern evangelicalism. He is the author of more than 40 books, which have been translated into over 72 languages and have sold in the millions. Now rector emeritus at All Souls, Langham Place, in London, he has traveled the world preaching and teaching.

When you read Stott, you encounter first a tone of voice. Tom Wolfe once noticed that at a certain moment all airline pilots came to speak like Chuck Yeager. The parallel is inexact, but over the years I've heard hundreds of evangelicals who sound like Stott.

It is a voice that is friendly, courteous and natural. It is humble and self-critical, but also confident, joyful and optimistic. Stott's mission is to pierce through all the encrustations and share direct contact with Jesus. Stott says that the central message of the gospel is not the teachings of Jesus, but Jesus himself, the human/divine figure. He is always bringing people back to the concrete reality of Jesus' life and sacrifice.

There's been a lot of twaddle written recently about the supposed opposition between faith and reason. To read Stott is to see someone practicing "thoughtful allegiance" to scripture. For him, Christianity means probing the mysteries of Christ. He is always exploring paradoxes. Jesus teaches humility, so why does he talk about himself so much? What does it mean to gain power through weakness, or freedom through obedience? In many cases the truth is not found in the middle of apparent opposites, but on both extremes simultaneously.

Stott is so embracing it's always a bit of a shock - especially if you're a Jew like me - when you come across something on which he will not compromise. It's like being in "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood," except he has a backbone of steel. He does not accept homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle, and of course he believes in evangelizing among nonbelievers. He is pro-life and pro-death penalty, even though he is not a political conservative on most issues.

Most important, he does not believe truth is plural. He does not believe in relativizing good and evil or that all faiths are independently valid, or that truth is something humans are working toward. Instead, Truth has been revealed. As he writes:

"It is not because we are ultra-conservative, or obscurantist, or reactionary or the other horrid things which we are sometimes said to be. It is rather because we love Jesus Christ, and because we are determined, God helping us, to bear witness to his unique glory and absolute sufficiency. In Christ and in the biblical witness to Christ God's revelation is complete; to add any words of our own to his finished work is derogatory to Christ."

Politicians, especially Democrats, are now trying harder to appeal to people of faith. But people of faith are not just another interest group, like gun owners. You have to begin by understanding the faith. And you can't understand this rising global movement if you don't meet its authentic representatives.

Not Falwell, but Stott.


Monday, November 29, 2004

To Glorify God and Enjoy Him Forever

Here is B. B. Warfield on the first question and answer of the Westminster Catechism (What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.) From <>“The First Question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism,” in “The Westminster Assembly and Its Work,” The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, vol. 6 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2003), pp. 379-400.

The peculiarity of this first question and answer of the Westminster Catechisms, it will be seen, is the felicity with which it brings to concise expression the whole Reformed conception of the significance of human life. We say the whole Reformed conception. For justice is not done that conception if we say merely that man’s chief end is to glorify God. That [p. 397] certainly: and certainly that first. But according to the Reformed conception man exists not merely that God may be glorified in him, but that he may delight in this glorious God. It does justice to the subjective as well as the objective side of the case. The Reformed conception is not fully or fairly stated if it be so stated that it may seem to be satisfied with conceiving man merely as the object on which God manifests His glory—possibly even the passive object in and through which the Divine glory is secured. It conceives man also as the subject in which the gloriousness of God is perceived and delighted in. No man is truly Reformed in his thought, then, unless he conceives of men, not merely as destined to be the instrument of the Divine glory, but also as destined to reflect the glory of God in his own consciousness, to exalt in God: nay, unless he himself delights in God as the all-glorious one.

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Read the great Reformed divines. The note of their work is exaltation in God. How Calvin, for example, gloried and delighted in God! Every page rings with this note, the note of personal joy in the Almighty, known to be, not the all-wise merely, but the all-loving too.

Canada Busy Sending Back Bush-Dodgers

(hat tip: MT)
Canada Busy Sending Back Bush-Dodgers

by Joe Blundo

The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration.

The re-election of President Bush is prompting the exodus among left-leaning citizens who fear they'll soon be required to hunt, pray and agree with Bill O'Reilly.

Canadian border farmers say it's not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal-rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night.
"I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn," said Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota.

The producer was cold, exhausted and hungry.

"He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn't have any, he left. Didn't even get a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?"

In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences, but the liberals scaled them. So he tried installing speakers that blare Rush Limbaugh across the fields.

"Not real effective," he said. "The liberals still got through, and Rush annoyed the cows so much they wouldn't give milk."

Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons, drive them across the border and leave them to fend for themselves.

"A lot of these people are not prepared for rugged conditions," an Ontario border patrolman said. "I found one carload without a drop of drinking water. They did have a nice little Napa Valley cabernet, though."

When liberals are caught, they're sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives. Rumors have been circulating about the Bush administration establishing re-education camps in which liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer and watch NASCAR.

In the days since the election, liberals have turned to sometimes-ingenious ways of crossing the border.

Some have taken to posing as senior citizens on bus trips to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs. After catching a half-dozen young vegans disguised in powdered wigs, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior-citizen passengers.

"If they can't identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we get suspicious about their age," an official said.

Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage and renting all the good Susan Sarandon movies.

"I feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can't support them," an Ottawa resident said. "How many art-history majors does one country need?"

In an effort to ease tensions between the United States and Canada, Vice President Dick Cheney met with the Canadian ambassador and pledged that the administration would take steps to reassure liberals, a source close to Cheney said.

"We're going to have some Peter, Paul & Mary concerts. And we might put some endangered species on postage stamps. The president is determined to reach out."

Vaclav Havel

Glenn Reynolds (aka: Instapundit) writes an op-ed piece in the Wall St. Journal arguing the case for former Czech President Vaclav Havel as a successor to Kofi Annan.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Target, the Salvation Army, and Scrooge

As many of you know, the Target Corporation is no longer allowing the Salvation Army to stand at its doors to collect change. The result will be a loss of $9 million in donations for the Salvation Army.

Hugh Hewitt explains why the Target suits should re-read Dicken's Christmas Carol this year.

Supporting the Troops

K-Lo at the Corner posts some ways to help the troops:

1. http://www.uso.org/pubs/93_325_1391.cfm

2. Just looking around on the USO site see that they need $$ for phone cards. In most forward areas there are phone centers for the soldiers and Marines to call back to the US but they need phone cards (which they typically pay for at the PX). The PX is always out of phone cards though for some reason. Anyway the USO has come up with 'Operation Phone Home' to get phone cards to these guys so they can...phone home.

3. www.soldiersangels.com is a good one if people want to 'adopt' an individual soldier/Marine/sailor. The only thing is, packages need to be sent by this Saturday to make it to either Iraq or Afghanistan by Christmas.

4. www.operationgratitude.com is another good one- just send $$, they send packages. Their holiday drive is already completed but it doesn't mean the guys in the field don't still need stuff.

5. www.ustroopcarepackage.com also sends packages to the wounded soldiers at Walter Reed, and in Germany and Kuwait. The guys especially need underwear, socks and sweats.

The US gov't has also launched a site entitled America Supports You.

Why Bush Has No Fear

This article by Charles Krauthammer--Why Bush Has No Fear--will thrill the hearts of conservatives and cause fear and trembling (and of course anger) to arise in the hearts of liberals!

New Book

The book Reclaiming the Center: Confronting Evangelical Accommodation in Postmodern Times, is now available.

Crossway is making available the table of contents, opening chapter, closing chapter, and the endorsements.

"Alexander" the Terrible

John Podhoretz says that Oliver Stone's new film, Alexander, is "one of the colossal catastrophes of all time." Ouch.

NPR vs. Talk Radio

The Evangelical Outpost argues that--all things considered--NPR is better than talk radio.

Why Koffi Must Go

From the editors at the National Review:

U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan should either resign, if he is honorable, or be removed, if he is not. The mild-mannered Annan may not himself be corrupt. But he has presided over no less than the largest corruption scandal in the history of the world, Oil for Food. Never has the U.N. been more disrespectable or useless. Moreover, Annan's response to the scandal has been inadequate to the point of disgrace. That he still holds his post is testament to the culture of impunity that pervades the organization.

As they say, read the whole thing.

World Mag on the Bloggers

World Magazine gives a nice overview of Hugh Hewitt and the blogging revolution: Year of the Blog.

Koffi, You're Fired!

Nice new cover at National Review.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Vaclav Havel

Instapundit says he should replace Koffi Annan as secretary-general of the UN. He'd get my vote.

CT vs. WorldMag

Christianity Today vs. World Magazine on single-issue politics.

Rather Resigns

Scrappleface has the inside scoop:

Dan Rather Scrambles to Confirm Story of His Resignation

(2004-11-23) -- Veteran CBS News anchor Dan Rather this afternoon said he was "scrambling like a gila monster on hot sand" to verify allegations that he will step down from his role on the CBS Evening News in March 2005.

"If this is true, I want to break this story," said Mr. Rather as he rushed from his office to track down a hot tip on the story. "I received a fax from a Kinko's in Texas indicating that I'm relinquishing the anchor desk, but we need to run this past several handwriting experts and get it fully vetted before we break into programming with the announcement."


Monday, November 22, 2004

Don't Go There!

Bill Clinton tells Peter Jennings: "You don't want to go here, Peter. You don't want to go here. Not after what you people did--you, your network--what you did with Kenneth Starr." Quite an entertaining exchange!

BTW, here's the video of Bush rescuing his secret service agent.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The President and the Secret Service

Remember how John Kerry treated the secret service agents assigned to protect him?

Dem presidential candidate John Kerry called his secret service agent a "son of a bitch" after the agent inadvertently moved into his path during a ski mishap in Idaho, sending Kerry falling into the snow.

When asked a moment later about the incident by a reporter on the ski run, Kerry said sharply, "I don't fall down," the "son of a b*itch knocked me over."

Contrast that with what what happened on Saturday night, as reported by the Washington Times:

President Bush broke up a fight last night between his lead Secret Service agent and a Chilean security detail, pulling the agent through a wall of men trying to bar his bodyguard's access to a state dinner.
Mr. Bush and first lady Laura Bush arrived at 8 p.m. local time yesterday at the Estacion Mapocho Cultural Center for the official dinner of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
After the first couple posed for photos with Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and his wife, the four entered the doorway with a line of Chilean security guards and uniformed police closing quickly behind him.
The president's lead agent approached the line of men as quickly as it closed and demanded to be allowed through. Within a few seconds, the confrontation began to escalate with voices being raised and shoving in all directions.
"You're not stopping me! You're not stopping me!" yelled the agent, as captured by several television cameras. "I'm with the president."
During the fracas, another Secret Service agent was roughly pulled from the tumult and pushed against a concrete wall by Chilean security. A few seconds later, after posing for yet more pictures about 15 feet inside the doorway, Mr. Bush and the rest of the party turned to enter the dining room. But the president quickly turned his head to the growing din just outside.
Mr. Bush calmly turned right as the other three continued on and inserted himself into the fight. The president reached over two rows of Chilean security guards, grabbed his lead agent by the shoulder of his suit jacket and began to pull.
The tape of the incident, viewed by reporters last night, could not pick up any words the president might have been saying as he worked to get the agent through the line.
A few Chilean guards turned their heads and noticed that the arm draped over their shoulders was that of the president, and the line softened. Mr. Bush pulled his agent through, who was heard to say, "Get your hands off me" as he passed roughly through the doorway.
Mr. Bush then adjusted his shirt cuff and said something to the first dignitary he passed as a grin crossed his face.
According to Secret Service sources, the man Mr. Bush pulled through is a high-level agent and one of the president's personal favorites.

Check out the sobering and insightful email about this to Powerline.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Condi and the Racist Left

A press release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

Black Activists Condemn Anti-Rice Hate Speech

Civil rights Leaders Criticized for Ignoring Attacks on Conservative Minorities


President Bush's nomination of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state has resulted in harsh liberal criticism that members of the black leadership network Project 21 consider racist.

Along with their condemnations of offensive commentators and cartoonists, Project 21 members also are critical of self-professed civil rights leaders who are remaining silent on current and previous racial attacks on black Bush Administration officials.

Over the past few months, and peaking this week with her appointment, cartoonists have been using Dr. Rice's race as a point of ridicule. Demeaning political cartoons by Pat Oliphant and Jeff Danziger accentuate Dr. Rice's black features and feature her speaking in rural southern dialect. Garry Trudeau called her "Brown Sugar" in his "Doonesbury" comic strip. Earlier this year, cartoonist Ted Rall questioned Dr. Rice's race in a comic suggesting she was President Bush's "house nigga" and needed "racial re-education." Universal Press Syndicate distributes Oliphant, Trudeau and Rall. The New York Times distributes Danziger.

On November 17, radio host John "Sly" Sylvester called Dr. Rice "Aunt Jemima" and secretary of state Colin Powell "Uncle Tom" on his WTDY (Madison, Wisconsin) radio show. Sylvester, who also is the station's program director, is refusing to apologize, but has said, "I will apologize to Aunt Jemima." The station's owner, the Mid-West Broadcast Group, is declining to discipline him.

In late October, a conservative host at WISN in nearby Milwaukee was suspended for a week for calling an illegal Mexican immigrant a "wetback."

While some local leaders have condemned Sylvester's comments, the Madison chapter of the NAACP has so far declined to make a statement. Project 21 asked the NAACP's national leadership to condemn Rall's racist cartoon in July, but no action was taken. Jesse Jackson and the National Association of Black Journalists were also contacted at the time. They took no action.

"To hear the leftists tell it, conservative blacks have become the new 'trash class' of American society," said Project 21 member Michael King. "And with the continued cricket-filled silence from the professional civil rights crowd, the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons give tacit permission and acceptance of such language and tactics."

King's comments are echoed by Project 21 member Mychal Massie: "The recent racist attacks and mimicry of Condoleezza Rice are infuriating and despicable. Even more insufferable is the deafening silence of the elite liberals. I believe their silence is proof positive of their personal racist attitudes. Obviously condemning racist attacks against a man and woman who are conservative and black is not a worthy undertaking for them.

Project 21, a non-profit and non-partisan organization, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 371-1400 x106 or Project21@nationalcenter.org or visit Project 21's website at www.nationalcenter.org/P21Index.html.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

"They're Not Bad Guys Especially, Just People Who Disagree With Us"

Here's who Chris Matthews thinks we are fighting in Iraq: "an enemy soldier --a rival, I mean they're not bad guys especially, just people who just disagree with us, they are in fact the insurgents, fighting us in their country..." Wow. To read the whole quote and to see Hugh Hewitt's interaction with it, click here.

Hugh writes: "Very, very few people watch Chris Matthews, I know, but he is representative of a group of refugees from the '60s who just won't grow up and who refuse to learn. Isn't there anyone at MSNBC who understands that their network will never get out of the cellar with Olberman and Matthews weighing them down? . . . Matthews let the inner correspondent show, and it is remarkably outside of the mainstream." Not only is it out of the mainstream, it is the worst form of moral equivalency--and I do indeed fear that this is the typical mindset of MSM.

$21 Billion

Norm Coleman's Senate Committee on Government Affairs has discovered that Saddam Hussein may have skimmed $21 billion (!) from the Oil-for-Food program. $21 billion. That's twice the previous estimate.

I confess that "a billion" seems a bit abstract for me.

Here are some ways to put it into perspective:
  • a billion seconds ago it was 1972
  • a billion minutes ago it was A.D. 102
  • a billion hours ago it was the "Stone Age"
  • If all of Saddam's $21 billion were in dollar bills and you wanted to count them (at a rate of $1 per second), it would take you 665 years, 332 days of continuous counting.
  • Let's say that you made a book, and on every page you printed 1000 dollar signs on every page. If the book contained 21 billion dollar signs, it would be 21 million pages long, 42 million inches thick, and would be the length of 11.5 football fields placed end-to-end.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Canaanite Worship and Abortion: A Scripture Meditation

Deuteronomy 18:10: "Never shall there be found among you one who causes his son or his daughter to pass through the fire."
O. Palmer Robertson comments:
"By offering human sacrifice, the Canaanite worshiper attempted to convince the gods of the depth of his devotion and to coerce them to fulfill his personal desires. The worshiper actually expected to determine the course of the future through this repulsive practice of offering human sacrifices to the gods.
"Scripture does not provide a great amount of detail about this practice of causing a son or daughter to 'pass through the fire.' But the procedure was followed widely among ancient peoples. The Carthaginian god Moloch took the form of a human figure with a bull's head. His arms were outstretched to receive children offered in sacrifice. This metal image was heated red hot by a fire kindled inside the idol. Children were laid on the idol's arms and rolled into the fiery belly of the god. Flutes and drums drowned out the cries of the victims. Mothers stood by without shedding a tear to display their willingness to make these offerings. This abominable practice shows the extent to which humanity will go in attempting to determine the course of the future.
"It might be assumed that modern man has gotten well beyond these ancient brutalities. Yet the modern practice of abortion, particularly partial-birth abortion, is often not far from those earlier ways of sacrificing children in order to satisfy personal desires. An effort to determine the course of the future by abominable actions contrary to the will of God may lie at the root of a great deal of the modern practice, just as much as it did in ancient days."
O. Palmer Robertson, The Christ of the Prophets (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R, 2004), pp. 49-50

A Christmas Carol: Musical

On November 28, NBC will air a new musical version of Dickens' classic The Christmas Carol:

This two-hour movie musical based on the long-running Madison Square Garden stage production, stars Emmy Award winner Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier") as Scrooge -- in the timeless classic by Charles Dickens with Emmy Award-winner Robert Halmi ("Gulliver's Travels") as executive producer. Tony Award winner Jason Alexander ("The Producers”; "Seinfeld") stars as Jacob Marley, while Jesse L. Martin ("Law & Order"), Tony Award winner Jane Krakowski ("Nine the Musical," "Ally McBeal"), and three-time Golden Globe nominee Geraldine Chaplin ("Mary, Mother of Jesus," "Mother Teresa") star as the ghosts of Christmas Present, Past and Future, respectively. Jennifer Love Hewitt ("Garfield: The Movie") also stars as Emily, Scrooge's lost love.

The trailer can be viewed here.

Norm!

Norm Coleman vs. Kofi Annan, the UN, and the "oil-for-food" scandal.

Supreme Court Watch

If there are Supreme Court vacancies during Bush's term--which seems highly likely--Hugh Hewitt's personal favorites for the vacancies would be Judge J. Michael Luttig, Judge Michael W. McConnell or Judge John Roberts. In this morning's Wall Street Journal, Melanie Kirkpatrick runs down the short list of 10 possible nominees.
A couple of days ago, Powerline wrote about the CIA's war against President Bush. They pointed to a NYT article by David Brooks. Here is an excerpt:


Now that he's been returned to office, President Bush is going to have to differentiate between his opponents and his enemies. His opponents are found in the Democratic Party. His enemies are in certain offices of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Over the past several months, as much of official Washington looked on wide-eyed and agog, many in the C.I.A. bureaucracy have waged an unabashed effort to undermine the current administration.

At the height of the campaign, C.I.A. officials, who are supposed to serve the president and stay out of politics and policy, served up leak after leak to discredit the president's Iraq policy. There were leaks of prewar intelligence estimates, leaks of interagency memos. In mid-September, somebody leaked a C.I.A. report predicting a gloomy or apocalyptic future for the region. Later that month, a senior C.I.A. official, Paul Pillar, reportedly made comments saying he had long felt the decision to go to war would heighten anti-American animosity in the Arab world.

White House officials concluded that they could no longer share important arguments and information with intelligence officials. They had to parse every syllable in internal e-mail. One White House official says it felt as if the C.I.A. had turned over its internal wastebaskets and fed every shred of paper to the press.

The White House-C.I.A. relationship became dysfunctional, and while the blame was certainly not all on one side, Langley was engaged in slow-motion, brazen insubordination, which violated all standards of honorable public service. It was also incredibly stupid, since C.I.A. officials were betting their agency on a Kerry victory.

As the presidential race heated up, the C.I.A. permitted an analyst - who, we now know, is Michael Scheuer - to publish anonymously a book called "Imperial Hubris," which criticized the Iraq war. Here was an official on the president's payroll publicly campaigning against his boss. As Scheuer told The Washington Post this week, "As long as the book was being used to bash the president, they [the C.I.A. honchos] gave me carte blanche to talk to the media."

Nor is this feud over. C.I.A. officials are now busy undermining their new boss, Porter Goss. One senior official called one of Goss's deputies, who worked on Capitol Hill, a "Hill Puke," and said he didn't have to listen to anything the deputy said. Is this any way to run a superpower?

Meanwhile, members of Congress and people around the executive branch are wondering what President Bush is going to do to punish the mutineers. A president simply cannot allow a department or agency to go into campaign season opposition and then pay no price for it. If that happens, employees of every agency will feel free to go off and start their own little media campaigns whenever their hearts desire.

Powerline later posted to this Newsday report, which, if accurate, seems to be welcome new indeed:

The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources.


NPR

Keep this in mind the next time NPR does their annual beg-a-thon. (Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

What an Egghead!

<>James Carville: served sunny-side up!

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Edwards, Kerry, and 2008

Jonathan Last argues against the emerging conventional wisdom to the effect that "John Kerry was a lousy candidate." But he doesn't think too highly of John Edwards.

Edwards's only electoral victory came in his 1998 Senate race against a 70-year-old first-term senator. Then he lost every presidential primary save South Carolina, delivered a disappointing convention speech, was beaten in the vice presidential debate, and was an ineffective campaigner for Kerry down the stretch. His supposed strength was that he could connect with Southerners, but forget carrying his home state: Edwards couldn't even carry his home precinct. Never has so large a reputation been created by so little actual success.

My opinion is that the only reason that people get excited about Edwards is his boyish good looks. (And his hair!) His main--only?--message--is about "two Americas": one where the people have complete financial security and no worries, and the othere where a 10-year old girl "somewhere in America," goes to bed "praying that tomorrow will not be as cold as today, because she doesn't have the coat to keep her warm."

The irony is how out-of-touch this scenario is. John Tierney of the NYT wrote back in February: "After all, clothing has become so cheap and plentiful (partly because of textile imports, which Mr. Edwards has proposed to limit) that there is a glut of second-hand clothing, and consequently most clothing donated to charity is shipped abroad. The second-hand children's coats that remain in America typically sell for about $5 in thrift shops." The same article quoted Robert E. Rector of the Heritage Foundation: "Since the typical American family below the poverty line has a car, air-conditioning, a microwave oven, a stereo and two color televisions with cable or satellite service . . . it was implausible to assume the family could not afford coats."

If your main message is this trite and off-base, I don't see how Edwards could be considered a plausible presidential candidate in 2008 or beyond. What about Kerry, who has indicated to friends that he's considering another run in 2008? Kerry's brother told the Boston Globe that John Kerry will "be a voice for the 55 million people who voted for him." There's only one problem. Virtually no one voted for John Kerry. Those 55 million votes were votes against George W. Bush. Besides, you know you ship is sunk when the editors at the left-of-center New Republic respond to the idea of Kerry running again by writing: "Our reaction to this is ... how to put it? Well, here goes: No. Please. Stop."

Which leaves....Hilary. (Discussion will have to wait for another day.)

Things That Make You Go "Hmmmm"

CBS has fired a producer responsible for interrupting the last five minutes of their hit show CSI to announce the news that Yasser Arafat had died.

But no one has yet been fired at CBS for running a story built entirely upon forged documents and unstable sources intended to damage the President of the United States during wartime.


The Bigoted Christian Redneck Myth

Krauthammer punctures the Bigoted-Christian-Redneck-as-an-explanation-for-Bush's-victory myth that's being peddled by liberal pundits.

Then there's Ted Rall--the cartoonist who is not only a bigot and a racist [and I don't use those terms carelessly], but also has the unfortunate combination of being a cartoonist who can't draw and is unfunny--who writes:

If militant Christianist Republicans from inland backwaters believe that secular liberal Democrats from the big coastal cities look upon them with disdain, there's a reason. We do, and all the more so after this election.... So our guy lost the election. Why shouldn't those of us on the coasts feel superior? We eat better, travel more, dress better, watch cooler movies, earn better salaries, meet more interesting people, listen to better music and know more about what's going on in the world.

Man. If only we could find out where these "cooler movies" were playing! If Rall is so hip and smart, is "cooler" really the best term he can come up with? And if he and his disdaining friends are so smart, why do they keep making comments like this that lose elections?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Arafat the Monster

Here is Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe. After reading this, ponder the fact that the UN is giving Arafat a head-of-state tribute and has ordered their flags around the world to be flown at half staff, and that Jacques Chirac said: "I came to bow before President Yasser Arafat and pay him a final homage.

* * *

ASSER ARAFAT died at age 75, lying in bed surrounded by familiar faces. He left this world peacefully, unlike the thousands of victims he sent to early graves.

In a better world, the PLO chief would have met his end on a gallows, hanged for mass murder much as the Nazi chiefs were hanged at Nuremberg. In a better world, the French president would not have paid a visit to the bedside of such a monster. In a better world, George Bush would not have said, on hearing the first reports that Arafat had died, "God bless his soul."

God bless his soul? What a grotesque idea! Bless the soul of the man who brought modern terrorism to the world? Who sent his agents to slaughter athletes at the Olympics, blow airliners out of the sky, bomb schools and pizzerias, machine-gun passengers in airline terminals? Who lied, cheated, and stole without compunction? Who inculcated the vilest culture of Jew-hatred since the Third Reich? Human beings might stoop to bless a creature so evil -- as indeed Arafat was blessed, with money, deference, even a Nobel Prize -- but God, I am quite sure, will damn him for eternity.

Arafat always inspired flights of nonsense from Western journalists, and his last two weeks were no exception.

Derek Brown wrote in The Guardian that Arafat's "undisputed courage as a guerrilla leader" was exceeded only "by his extraordinary courage" as a peace negotiator. But it is an odd kind of courage that expresses itself in shooting unarmed victims -- or in signing peace accords and then flagrantly violating their terms.

Another commentator, columnist Gwynne Dyer, asked, "So what did Arafat do right?" The answer: He drew worldwide attention to the Palestinian cause, "for the most part by successful acts of terror." In other words, butchering innocent human beings was "right," since it served an ulterior political motive. No doubt that thought brings daily comfort to all those who were forced to bury a child, parent, or spouse because of Arafat's "successful" terrorism.

Some journalists couldn't wait for Arafat's actual death to begin weeping for him. Take the BBC's Barbara Plett, who burst into tears on the day he was airlifted out of the West Bank. "When the helicopter carrying the frail old man rose above his ruined compound," Plett reported from Ramallah, "I started to cry." Normal people don't weep for brutal murderers, but Plett made it clear that her empathy for Arafat -- whom she praised as "a symbol of Palestinian unity, steadfastness, and resistance" -- was heartfelt:

"I remember well when the Israelis re-conquered the West Bank more than two years ago, how they drove their tanks and bulldozers into Mr. Arafat's headquarters, trapping him in a few rooms, and throwing a military curtain around Ramallah. I remember how Palestinians admired his refusal to flee under fire. They told me: `Our leader is sharing our pain, we are all under the same siege.' And so was I." Such is the state of journalism at the BBC, whose reporters do not seem to have any trouble reporting, dry-eyed, on the plight of Arafat's victims. (That is, when they mention them -- which Plett's teary bon voyage to Arafat did not.)

And what about those victims? Why were they scarcely remembered in this Arafat death watch?

How is it possible to reflect on Arafat's most enduring legacy -- the rise of modern terrorism -- without recalling the legions of men, women, and children whose lives he and his followers destroyed? If Osama bin Laden were on his deathbed, would we neglect to mention all those he murdered on 9/11?

It would take an encyclopedia to catalog all of the evil Arafat committed. But that is no excuse for not trying to recall at least some of it.

Perhaps his signal contribution to the practice of political terror was the introduction of warfare against children. On one black date in May 1974, three PLO terrorists slipped from Lebanon into the northern Israeli town of Ma'alot. They murdered two parents and a child whom they found at home, then seized a local school, taking more than 100 boys and girls hostage and threatening to kill them unless a number of imprisoned terrorists were released. When Israeli troops attempted a rescue, the terrorists exploded hand grenades and opened fire on the students. By the time the horror ended, 25 people were dead; 21 of them were children.

Thirty years later, no one speaks of Ma'alot anymore. The dead children have been forgotten. Everyone knows Arafat's name, but who ever recalls the names of his victims?

So let us recall them: Ilana Turgeman. Rachel Aputa. Yocheved Mazoz. Sarah Ben-Shim'on. Yona Sabag. Yafa Cohen. Shoshana Cohen. Michal Sitrok. Malka Amrosy. Aviva Saada. Yocheved Diyi. Yaakov Levi. Yaakov Kabla. Rina Cohen. Ilana Ne'eman. Sarah Madar. Tamar Dahan. Sarah Soper. Lili Morad. David Madar. Yehudit Madar. The 21 dead children of Ma'alot -- 21 of the thousands of who died at Arafat's command.


Thursday, November 11, 2004

2004's Biggest Losers

Don't miss Daniel Henninger “2004's Biggest Losers: How Dan Rather and the Media's Kings Lost Their Crowns:

. . . Big Media lost big. But it was more than a loss. It was an abdication of authority.

Large media institutions, such as CBS or the New York Times, have been regarded as nothing if not authoritative. In the Information Age, authority is a priceless franchise. But it is this franchise that Big Media, incredibly, has just thrown away. It did so by choosing to go into overt opposition to one party's candidate, a sitting president. It stooped to conquer.

. . . Authority can be a function of raw power, but among free people it is sustained by esteem and trust. Should esteem and trust falter, the public will start to contest an institution's authority. It happens all the time to political figures. It happened here to the American Catholic Church and to the legal profession, thanks to plaintiff-bar abuse. And now the public is beginning to contest the decades-old authority of the mainstream media. . . .

. . . This was the election that brought the reality of the Information Age to politics, not just the promise. . . .

I'm not suggesting that Big Media has lost power. Anyone who can package and drive a particularized version of the news on that scale can move opinion, as clearly happened with Iraq the past six months. But these institutions are no longer viewed as authority figures as in the past; now they're just teams in the pro political league, like everyone else.

Ramesh vs. Hugh

Ramesh Ponnuru responds to Hugh Hewitt on the Specter debate.

Flashback: With 43% of the popular vote



Update: In fairness to Time Magazine, I should note that in their Nov. 3, 2004 post-election article on Bush, they wrote: "This time, of course, his [Bush's] claim of a popular mandate is incontrovertible."

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Republicans and Conservatives

Well, I realize that this whole blog could soon end up just citing one Jonah Goldberg column after another, but I can't resist pointing to yet another helpful column, which explains why he's a conservative first and a Republican second.

Just War?

Yale Law School's Stephen Carter pens a thoughtful piece in Christianity Today on the issue of just war, especially as it relates to defending another nation that is being attacked. This has obvious implications for the situation in Sudan. I encourage you to read the whole thing to see the broad framework of his point, but here's the upshot:

I am not offering a settled answer to this question. The literature of just-war theory is strongly divided on many issues. I insist on two propositions, however. First, the morality of humanitarian intervention has nothing to do with whether others agree that the action is appropriate. (Although, as I have noted, international opposition might render it impractical.) Second, to refuse to protect the people of another country simply because they are not fellow citizens is, to say the least, uncharitable.

The genocide at Darfur is a timely, bloody reminder that the challenge will not go away. We Christians must ponder how best to meet it.

Those interested in more on contemporary defenses of just-war theory may want to check out Darrell Cole's When God Says War Is Right: The Christian's Perspective on When and How to Fight, and Jean Bethke Elshtain's Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World.

The Generosity Index

Which states--red or blue--give more to charity for their income? You've got questions; Michelle Malkin has answers. Maybe this will cause the blue states to abandon their hopes for secession!

Fallujah

Here is a helpful satellite map of Fallujah with markings to indicate mosques, seized positions, and major landmarks. If you're not reading the Belmont Club, you are missing some very fascinating reading. Of course, it's not just a thrilling novel--it's real, with life and death in the balance. May God bless these troops.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Affirmative Action in American Law Schools

Richard Sander, Professor of Law at UCLA, is set to publish in this month's Stanford Law Review his article "A Systematic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools." (He has posted online both a draft and a summary of the article.)

Sander, by his own testimony, is a political liberal and a civil rights lawyer. He considers himself to be a supporter of affirmative action, assuming that the benefits outweigh the costs. In the course of his study, however, he was suprised and dismayed to learn that these law-school affirmative-action programs fail at the most basic level in achieving the goal of producing more and better black lawyers.

Here is what he found:

1. The levels of racial preferences at American law schools are very large and remarkably homogenous across institutions, operating in ways that are generally hard to distinguish from racially segregated admissions.

2. Black students admitted through preferences generally have quite low grades in law school – not because of any racial characteristic, but because the preferences themselves put them at an enormous academic disadvantage. The median black student starting law school in 1991 received first-year grades comparable to a white student at the 7th or 8th percentile.

3. These low grades substantially handicap black students in their efforts to complete law school and pass the bar. Only 45% of black law students in the 1991 cohort completed law school and passed the bar on their first attempt; in the absence of preferential admissions, I [=Sander] estimate that this rate would rise to 74%.

4. The job market benefits of attending an elite school have been substantially overrated; regression analysis of job market data strongly suggests that most black lawyers entering the job market would have higher earnings in the absence of preferential admissions, because better grades would generally trump the costs in prestige.

5. It is far from clear that racial preferences actually cause the legal education system to produce a larger number of black lawyers. Careful analysis indicates that 86% of blacks currently enrolled in law schools would have been admitted to some law school under race-blind policies, and the much lower attrition rates that would prevail in a race-blind regime would probably produce larger cohorts of black lawyers than the current system of preferences produces.

In the case of blacks, at least, the objective costs of preferential admissions appear to substantially outweigh the benefits. The basic theory driving many of these findings is known as the “academic mismatch” mechanism; attending an advanced school where one’s credentials are far below those of one’s peers has a variety of negative effects on learning, motivation, and goals that harm the beneficiary of the preference. Over the past several years, a wide range of scholars have documented the operation of the mismatch mechanism in a number of fields of higher education.

[JT: the bold above is my emphasis]

The date for this study may be viewed here.

Finishing the Job in Fallujah

The editors at National Review explain why we are fighting in Fallujah, and how it is time to finish the job.

Charles Krauthammer on the Election Bush Almost Lost

How Bush Almost Let It Slip Away

By Charles Krauthammer


Most presidential elections are character- or theme-driven. This one was event driven. That's what happens in wartime. You can spin all the theories you want about how Abraham Lincoln won re-election in 1864, but if Sherman had not taken Atlanta, Lincoln would have lost. In the election of 2004, events were once again in the saddle. Given how Bush's term started, the election should never have been close. After 9/11 and America's swift crushing of the Taliban, President Bush had the political world at his feet. Over the next few years, he could easily have coasted to victory, crowning his achievement with the equally astonishing establishment of a democratic and pro-American government in Afghanistan just weeks before his own re-election. He would have won in a landslide.

Instead, and against all personal political calculation, Bush wagered it all on Iraq and nearly lost his presidency. The 2004 election hinged on Iraq, in three political incarnations: Iraq, the war; Iraq, the first presidential debate; Iraq, the media magnet for countless bad news stories. Together they very nearly overthrew Bush.

It certainly was not John Kerry doing the overthrowing. The only reason it was tight is that the Democrats picked a candidate singularly weak on Iraq. Kerry reflected precisely their own ambivalence. He could never articulate a consistent and coherent alternative policy. The entire Democratic Convention was an exercise in avoiding the issue. Kerry spent four days talking not about Iraq but about Vietnam. This glaring non sequitur gave Kerry the distinction of having a convention with no bounce. Even worse, by gratuitously bringing up Vietnam, a still bleeding psychic wound, Kerry opened himself to weeks of politically damaging attack from embittered fellow swift-boat veterans.

By mid-September the challenger should have been far ahead. For months the war news had been devastating for the President: the mounting casualties, the absence of wmd, Abu Ghraib, the kidnappings and beheadings. The President's popularity, once 90%, began to dip below the fatal 50% mark. Yet Kerry could do nothing. If the election had been held Sept. 29, it would have been a Bush landslide. Enter Iraq in its second incarnation, the foreign policy debate of Sept. 30, and Kerry was reprieved. This debate, devoted overwhelmingly to Iraq, was a calamity for the President. Kerry held to two declarations—I really had only one position on Iraq, and I have a plan on how to win it—that went unchallenged by a confused and agitated President. Those 90 minutes undid months of advertising (abetted by Kerry's numberless about-faces) that had portrayed Kerry as inconsistent, cynical, weak and uncertain.

It was the President who looked weak and uncertain. Kerry, looking presidential, instantly passed the "Commander in Chief" threshold, just as John Kennedy had in his 1960 debates. The President's enormous lead collapsed.

In the subsequent weeks, what was left of Bush's lead was ground away by, as always, Iraq—a steady drip drip drip of discouraging news punctuated by the occasional sensation amplified by an eager and often partisan press. The finale was the 380 tons of explosives that had disappeared, only possibly on Bush's watch, out of a total of more than 650,000 tons left behind by Saddam Hussein. Banner-headlined, it dominated the news—and Kerry's attacks—in the final week of the campaign.

With the election hanging in the balance, the campaign awaited some improbable development to tip the scale. Re-enter Osama bin Laden. The irony could not be richer, the circle more complete. By reminding us of 9/11 and the war on terrorism, bin Laden invoked the only thing that could trump Iraq—and save the President. His chilling reappearance reminded us of our peril, put Iraq in perspective and played precisely to the President's success and strength—success and strength that he so squandered in Baghdad. Bin Laden was never one to remotely understand the American mind—he spectacularly misjudged 9/11—and he pulled his nemesis over the finish line.

The Belmont Club vs. MSM

SoxBlog praises The Belmont Club:

The battle rages in Fallujah. The U.S. military, at last unleashed from political worries and other domestic concerns, is finally setting things right.

So what’s really going on there? If you turn to the New York Times or even FoxNews for your coverage, you’ll have little idea beyond the fact that two Marines were killed when their bulldozer over-turned in the Euphrates. You’ll also learn that an explosion of some sort appears to have wounded a few other Marines. Beyond that, you’ll have no idea what’s occurring beyond the alleged chaos of a “wild firefight.”

But if you turn to the remarkable Belmont Club blog, you’ll learn what’s actually happening from a strategic and tactical perspective. You’ll see how the American military is truly a frightening killing machine, and that the soldier we saw promising “hell” to the Jihadis on the news this weekend most certainly knew what he was talking about. Read the Belmont Club and you’ll gain an appreciation for the capabilities of the incredible U.S. military and maybe even feel hopeful that victory in this “war on terrorism” is indeed attainable. You’ll also see that what’s going on there is anything but a chaotic “wild firefight” but is instead the carefully planned and meticulously executed destruction of a dangerous enemy.

The difference between the Times’ coverage and the Belmont Club’s coverage could hardly be more stark. The Times’ coverage benefits no doubt from eye-witness reportage. But if the Times’ reporters have any knowledge of military strategy or tactics, this knowledge is carefully concealed. If they have any understanding of what’s going on beyond the explosions they personally witnessed, they've got this reader fooled.

The Belmont Club’s Wrectchard, on the other hand, knows and understands military tactics and strategies. Wretchard might well benefit from his distance from the battlefield, for his website offers perspective that the MSM’s coverage sorely lacks.

The Belmont Club’s coverage today brilliantly illuminates the potential of the blogosphere. Here’s an entity that actually understands what’s going on in Fallujah and brilliantly deconstructs the events there for his less knowledgeable audience. This isn’t really a disparagement of the Times’ coverage; they’re doing the best they can and the physical courage of their reporters is to be lauded. But the Belmont Club actually understands the topic at hand inside and out. It’s no wonder their analysis is vastly superior.

If everyone knew about the Belmont Club, would anyone rely on the Times?

* * *

I should also mention that the Fourth Rail has a very helpful map of Fallujah that helps us visualize what's going on there.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Red America, Liberal Arrogance, Feelings, and Metaphysics--All in One Post!

One of the most interesting aspects of the post-election punditry is how the Left has shifted from mocking Bush as an idiotic moron, to now mocking the heartland--the red states--as a bunch of backward buffoons. Hence, Brian Reade, written in the UK's The Mirror, describes us as "self-righteous, gun-totin', military lovin', sister marryin', abortion-hatin', gay-loathin', foreigner-despisin', non-passport ownin' red-necks...."--I'd finish the quote, but this is a family blog after all, so I'd better not! (By the way, in a post below I inadvertantly implied that this column by Reade was written by Michael Moore. Moore posted it on his site, and I assumed Moore wrote it--and of course, he endorses it, so my point remains. As I'm sure Michael Moore makes this site a part of his regular reading, I wanted to apologize 'bout that, big fella.)

Anyway...today Jonah Goldberg penned a classic column, proving once again why he is one of the best conservative writers around. It contains some helpful points. The difference between the NYT's Maureen Dowd and the NYT's Paul Krugman? "As we all know, one's a whining self-parody of a hysterical liberal who lets feminine emotion and fear defeat reason and fact in almost every column. The other used to date Michael Douglas."

After having a little bit of fun with these so-called "intellectual" elitists who are disgusted with us regular folks, Goldberg turns his targets to Bill Maher. I find it very difficult to watch Bill Maher whenever he is on TV. (Thankfully, I rarely have that opportunity!) I find him seriously unfunny. Much of it has to do with the fact that he is not just an atheist, but a disgusting, obnoxious atheist who ridicules religion. Well Goldberg--who is Jewish and not particularly religious by his own admission--caught Maher's show the other night, and offers these perceptive thoughts:

But even worse was Maher's mindless righteousness about his own atheism. For years Maher has been auditioning for his Profile in Courage award by saying "brave" things about the unreality of Jesus and the silliness of religion. Every mention of religion causes a dirty smile and joyful sneer to spawn across his face. The other night he was pounding the table with great satisfaction for having the courage to be a "rational" person and hence an unbeliever — and of course the audience was applauding like so many toy monkeys.

There's no time here to dismantle fully the edifice of condescension and ignorance constructed by Maher and Smiley (I put Dowd in a different category). But what offends them so much about religion is that it is a source of authority outside — and prior to — politics. What has offended the Left since Marx, and American liberalism since Dewey, is the notion that moral authority should be derived from anyplace other than the state or "the people" (conveniently defined as citizens who vote liberal). Voting on values not sanctified by secular priests is how they define "ignorance." This was the real goal of Hillary Clinton's "politics of meaning" — to replace traditional religion with a secular one that derived its authority not from ancient texts and "superstitions" but from the good intentions of an activist state and its anointed priests. Shortly before the election, Howell Raines fretted that the worst outcome of a Bush victory would be the resurgence of "theologically based cultural norms" — without even acknowledging the fact that "theologically based cultural norms" gave us everything from the printing press and the newspaper to the First Amendment he claims to be such a defender of.

What Maher, Raines, and Smiley fail to grasp is that all morality is based upon transcendence — or it is merely based on utilitarianism of one kind or another, and therefore it is not morality so much as, at best, an enlightened expediency or will-to-power. It is no more rational to vote based on a desire to do "good" than it is to vote based on a desire to do God's will. Indeed, for millions of people this is a distinction without a difference — as it was for so many of the abolitionists progressives and civil-rights leaders today's liberals love to invoke but never actually learn about.

Love, in fact, is just as silly and superstitious a concept as God (and for those who believe God is Love, this too is a distinction without a difference). Chesterton's observation that the purely rational man will not marry is just as correct today, because science has done far more damage to the ideal of love than it has done to the notion of an awesome God beyond our ken. Genes, hormones, instincts, evolution: These are the cause for the effect of love in the purely rational man's textbook. But Maher would get few applause lines from his audience of sophisticated yokels if he mocked love as a silly superstition. This is, in part, because the crowd he plays to likes the idea of love while it dislikes the idea of God; and in part because these people feel love, so they think it exists. But such is the extent of their solipsism and narcissism that they not only reject the existence of God but go so far as to mock those who do not, simply because they don't feel Him themselves. And, alas, in elite America, feelings are the only recognized foundation of metaphysics.


Interview with Crossway Books

Here is an interview Crossway Books conducted with yours truly regarding Jonathan Edwards and the book I co-edited on his life and thought: A God-Entranced Vision of All Things.

More Incredible!

More praise for "The Incredibles" at The Corner and at Christianity Today!

I Still Don't Quite Understand...

Jon Friedman, a commentator for CBS MarketWatch, writes:

The Bush political team intuitively understood the tone of the U.S. voters much better than the media did. To be honest, I still don't quite understand how certified media junkies like me could have been so wrong.

I read the New York Times and the New Yorker religiously. I watch CNN and the networks' evening news programs as well as the gabfests on Sunday mornings, too.

Go figure.

No comment.

(Hat tip: OpinionJournal.com/best)

Breaking News: Major Bombshell

This just in folks! Broadcasting & Cable is reporting that "Players involved in the notorious 60 Minutes II story, reported by Dan Rather, which employed dubious documents regarding President Bush’s National Guard service, may have been rooting for a John Kerry victory."

Remember, though, this is thus far unconfirmed. I have highlighted the word "may." We simply don't know for sure who Rather & Co. were rooting for. But if this is true, it is a major bombshell. As always, if there are any further developments, Between Two Worlds will bring it to you in real time.

Alfred Kinsey

Expect to be hearing more in the coming days about a movie called Kinsey, starring Liam Neeson as Alred Kinsey (1894-1956), the controversial founder of "sexology." The movie opens Friday, and it has already received rave reviews. (You can see the trailer here.)

But first, you should read Joe Carter's disturbing new article, "Sex, Lies, and Kinsey: What the Film Won't Tell You About Alfred Kinsey."

Incredible!

Frederica Mathewes-Green reviews The Incredibles in this morning's National Review Online, and argues that "this is a superhero action movie about the sanctity of marriage."

Moral Values and the Democratic Party

Saturday's Wall Street Journal editorial helpfully summarizes the divide between Republicans and Democrats with regard to the moral values debate. (I've added bullets to break down their summaries.)

This is a Democratic Party in which

  • nostalgia for tradition is too often considered racism,
  • opposition to gay marriage is biogotry,
  • misgiving about abortion is misogyny,
  • Christian fundamentalism is like Islamic fundamentalism,
  • discussion about gender roles is sexism,
  • and confidence in America's global purpose is cultural imperialism.

To put it mildly, this is not the values system to which most Americans adhere.

A Hairbrush Away from the Presidency

In case you missed it, the latest edition of Newsweek contains a behind-the-scenes look at the Kerry and Bush campaigns. The reporters were granted significant access, under the condition that they hold their reporting until after the campaign was finished.

The following story about Kerry is just priceless. Saturday Night Live could not have written it better! You have to remember to read the Kerry quotes in Kerry's voice:


Kerry could be cranky. He was not a petty tyrant, like some bosses. He could be generous to his staff, who stayed loyal to him. But "he will whine constantly," said one top aide, quoting Kerry's bouts of petulance: " 'I'm not getting enough exercise, I'm overscheduled, I didn't get the speech on time'—on and on, ad nauseam." . . . Kerry's personal aide, Marvin Nicholson, had to grin and bear it. Kerry had met Nicholson, 33, at a windsurfing shop in Cambridge, Mass., where Nicholson was working; he later caddied for Kerry at the Nantucket Golf Club. Now the 6-foot-8 University of Western Ontario grad was, in effect, his valet, serving his personal needs. The two men were close friends, but Nicholson was still the servant.

The morning after the Feb. 3 primaries, which vaulted Kerry into a virtually insurmountable lead, the candidate was fuming over his missing hairbrush. He and his aides were riding in a van on the way to a Time magazine cover-photo shoot. Nicholson had left the hairbrush behind. "Sir, I don't have it," he said, after rummaging in the bags. "Marvin, f---!" Kerry said. The press secretary, David Wade, offered his brush. "I'm not using Wade's brush," the long-faced senator pouted. "Marvin, f---, it's my Time photo shoot."

Nicholson was having a bad day. Breakfast had been late and rushed and not quite right for the senator. In the van, Kerry was working his cell phone and heard the beep signaling that the phone was running out of juice. "Marvin, charger," he said without turning around. "Sorry, I don't have it," said Nicholson, who was sitting in the rear of the van. Now Kerry turned around. "I'm running this campaign myself," he said, looking at Nicholson and the other aides. "I get myself breakfast. I get myself hairbrushes. I get myself my cell-phone charger. It's pretty amazing." In silent frustration, Nicholson helplessly punched the car seat.


The Southern Presidents

Interesting fact pointed out by George Will: "By Jan. 20, 2009, all the elected presidents for 44 consecutive years will have come from three Southern states — Texas, Arkansas, Georgia — and Southern California."

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Michael Moore

One of the sweetest results of the Bush victory was that Michael Moore was silent for a couple of days. But, of course, we knew that wouldn't last forever. He's back, calling the United States a "fearful, backward-looking and very small nation." Gee, from the sounds of this you'd almost think that Michael Moore Hates America!

Fallujah and the Blogs

With new attacks set to go underway in Fallujah, I've decided to bookmark The Belmont Club and The Green Side to make them part of my daily reading--probably something I should have done a while ago.

For those who don't know, the Belmont Club is written by anonymous blogger who uses the pseudonym "Wretchard the Cat." It contains an incredible military insight--so much so that a number of folks in the blogosphere are convinced that the author is a military historian or was formerly involved with the CIA or special-ops. Wretchard tells us, however, that he's currently a software developer and has never been in the military or served as US gov't employee or agent.

The Green Side contains letters from Marine Major Dave Bellon (Operations Officer of 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in Iraq) to his father.

I think both will be well worth reading in the days ahead.

Bush Impersonator

Steve Bridges does an incredible job of impersonating George W. Bush. (You may have seen him on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.) You can watch some video clips here.

Chief Justice Clarence Thomas?

It sounds as if President Bush is exploring his options for nominating Clarence Thomas to be the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. I think that would be an excellent move.

Friday, November 05, 2004

No Mandate, No Enclave?

E.J. Dionne huffs, “A 51-48 percent victory is not a mandate.” And Joshua Micah Marshall—responding to the President’s claim that his reelection was a “broad, nationwide victory”—writes: “He must be kidding. Our system is majority rule. And 51% is a win. But he's claiming a mandate. ‘A broad, nationwide victory’? It would almost be comical if it weren't for the seriousness of what it portends. This election cut the nation in two. A single percentage point over 50% is not broad.”

In the last 60 years, only one Democrat—Lyndon Johnson—received a percentage of the popular vote as high as President Bush’s (see below). And as we know, no one has ever received so many votes. Are these guys saying that only Clinton and Kennedy and Truman didn’t have broad victories and couldn’t claim a “mandate”?

  • Clinton in 1996—49.2
  • Clinton in 1992—43.0
  • Carter in 1976—50.1
  • Kennedy in 1960—49.7
  • Johnson in 1964—61.1
  • Truman in 1948—49.6

Dionne also complains: “Even Democrats have talked about their party's being confined to an ‘enclave.’ Enclave? Blue America includes the entire Northeast, all of the West Coast but for Alaska and much of the upper Midwest.”

Well, let’s go to the map. Yep, it’s an enclave.

Update: Sorry for the inadvertant link to the 2000 map--it's now been fixed. BTW, here's the 2000 map if anyone cares. Also, for those who disagree with the above: Are you willing to say , then, that only one Democrat has had a presidential "mandate" in the last 60 years?

Update 2: A friend writes:

I would agree with those who say that 51% of the vote doesn't give the president a mandate. But is that the whole story? I think Bush does have a mandate because he 1) won the election by more than 50% of the popular vote 2) increased his party's majority in the House 3) increased his party's lead in the Senate 4) having been reelected the voters saw him for four years and thus approved of his policy, not just what he said he will do and 5) helped gain more governorships for his party (I think this is true).
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the Republican party has been given a mandate.

I think this is true and a helpful way of putting things.

Note that my original post wasn't making the case for a "mandate"--an obviously ambiguous term. I'm just wondering if all those "there's no mandate!" folks were saying the same thing about Clinton.

Update 3: A reader alerts Instapundit that the popular-vote gap has widened, 52-47, for a difference of over 4.5 million votes.

Specter

The editors at National Review explain why Specter shouldn’t be the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And Kathryn Jean Lopez provides the phone numbers for the other Republican members of the Senate committee. It’s worth a quick call. And NoSpecter.com will soon have some handy tools to click and fax/email/petition.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Monergism.com

Here’s an interview with John Hendryx, who runs one of the finest Reformed websites you'll ever see, Monergism.com.

Elizabeth Edwards

Shortly after John Edwards gave his concession speech yesterday, Elizabeth Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer. Our prayers are with them.

Direct Email for Bill Frist

bill_frist@frist.senate.gov

Specter

Here's the link (hat tip: The Corner) on Arlen Specter's press conference.

When Bush was asked in the final debate to list three mistakes in his first term, I think campaigning for the re-election of Specter would have been a good response.

The Specter Specter

Specter--the pro-choice Republican Senator from Pennsylvania who was re-elected with the help of the Bush White House and who is seen as the most likely person to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee--publicly warned Bush yesterday not to have an abortion litmus test for Supreme Court Judges. The Corner is reporting that there will be a new public statement forthcoming from him.

I agree with K-Lo at the Corner: "call and e-mail Bill Frist (and your Republican senators, if applicable) today. I’m pretty certain an overwhelming outcry from conservatives in the next few days is the only way Arlen Specter can be kept from becoming a huge obstacle. So get to work. Frist’s number is 202-224-3344."

The Biggest Loser

The Wall Street Journal editorializes:

The President's opposition went all-in, as they say in poker, with the most relentlessly partisan performance by elite cultural institutions that we've ever witnessed. Hollywood, CBS, and the New York Times threw everything they had at Mr. Bush, and the country rejected their values and agenda, not his.

And Peggy Noonan opines:

Who was the biggest loser of the 2004 election? It is easy to say Mr. Kerry: he was a poor candidate with a poor campaign. But I do think the biggest loser was the mainstream media, the famous MSM, the initials that became popular in this election cycle. Every time the big networks and big broadsheet national newspapers tried to pull off a bit of pro-liberal mischief--CBS and the fabricated Bush National Guard documents, the New York Times and bombgate, CBS's "60 Minutes" attempting to coordinate the breaking of bombgate on the Sunday before the election--the yeomen of the blogosphere and AM radio and the Internet took them down. It was to me a great historical development in the history of politics in America. It was Agincourt. It was the yeomen of King Harry taking down the French aristocracy with new technology and rough guts. God bless the pajama-clad yeomen of America. Some day, when America is hit again, and lines go down, and media are hard to get, these bloggers and site runners and independent Internetters of all sorts will find a way to file, and get their word out, and it will be part of the saving of our country.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Harry Reid: The Next (Pro-Life) Senate Minority Leader?

Do you know who Harry Reid is? If not, you probably will soon be hearing a lot about him. Until last night, he was the second-ranking Democratic member of the U.S. Senate. With Daschle's defeat, Reid is in a good position to become the Senate Minority Leader. Reid is a practicing Mormon and a senator who has earned the respect of both Democrats and Republicans.

Those of us who are concerned about pro-life issues have been focused upon the election of pro-life candidates. But I, for one, had not yet seen that Daschle's defeat could set things in motion for a moderately pro-life Senate Minority Leader. Some pro-choice activists seem to be worried.

Despite signing a letter to President Bush pushing for an expansion of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, Reid voted in favor of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, voted in favor of the both the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2000 and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, voted in favor of repealing the use of Dept. of Defense facilities for privately funded abortions, and voted against a non-binding sense-of-the-Senate resolution declaring Roe v. Wade "an appropriate decision" that "secures an important constitutional right." In 2003 Reid received a legislative score of 29% from NARAL Pro-Choice America (one of the lowest scores for Senate Democrats), and a 55% rating from the NRLC (one of the highest scores give to Senate Democrats). Reid has also been involved with filibustering President Bush's judicial nominations, so I'm not making any rosey predictions. I simply note that it would be interesting indeed if the Senate Minority Leader was a moderately pro-life Democrat.