Alpine Summit

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Kwanzaa v. Christmas

(via: Michelle Malkin) La Shawn Barber posted a follow-up to a blog post she made earlier about Kwanzaa, and the dangers for black Christians to celebrate this holiday. She provides history to Kwanzaa, and I'm taking it on her authority that she's right. I would have liked more sources cited, but whatever. It's a great post and I thought since I'm around my computer for a few hours before continuing my vacation I would post this.

One thing I have noticed about religions that have been created in the past 2000 years, is that they have always without exception (in my experiences) included Jesus in their theology somewhere. The crazy "SciFi" religions out there like Unarius even acknowledge the "problem" of Jesus (he was an enlightened alien from another planet).

Scientology has been the least inclusive to Jesus in my opinion, but even though they think Jesus was a lie made up by Xenu to confuse the thetans, they still use an eight-point cross as their symbol for eight points of enlightenment. I imagine the more pronounced parts of the cross mean those points are more important though I've never heard them claim that. Hardly compelling evidence, but he's still mentioned and I'm merely pointing out the visual evidence of that.

I would go into this more, but I have things to do today before going home and I'd like to get on-topic again. First, I loved this quote from Hebrews that La Shawn put at the top of her first post:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines.” Hebrews 13:8;9

It's interesting because once again, we see the Bible perfectly predict what people will do when they decide to create their own religion--usually involving deifying man somehow. "Jesus was an alien...no, no... he was merely enlightened and wanted us to be as enlightened as him!" No matter what people's reinvention of Christ is, they can never get around the fact that, according the gospels they are usually drawing from, Jesus claimed to be God; which means as C.S. Lewis mentioned, that saying otherwise about him means that person thinks He was either a liar or a lunatic and in either case is really no authority at all.

It's also important to notice the inherent problem with these created religions that advocate the exclusivity of a certain group of people. Jesus NEVER spoke about an "us versus them," but that we are all equal in His eyes regardless of our skin color or national origin, etc. I think La Shawn Barber is right on target with her condemnation of this ritual.

It is impossible to have a culturally exclusive holiday based in Christianity. The faith, by its very nature, forbids it.

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

On the Frontier

I'm at family's for Christmas and have very limited access to a very old computer with a dial-up connection. As a result, I will not be on the internet very much and it's probably for the best since I spend way too much time on here as it is.

Feel free to leave a comment if you want/need to and I'll probably see it... eventually. Maybe.

I hope to resume regular blogging after the holiday season, maybe after new years. Maybe I'll do a "year in review" or something.

Anyway, Merry Christmas to everyone, especially the ACLU, and have an especially happy new year.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

U.S. Doesn't Trust Democrats on National Security

A great Wall Street Journal column about how the White House is FINALLY pushing back against a hostile domestic media. The whole column is great (except for the red-hot economy part... it's bullish, but not "red-hot") and I suggest you read it. What struck me in particular is the claim that Democrats really aren't trusted when it comes to foreign policy.

What Democrats fail to realize is that as long as national security is on the front page--even if it's the war in Iraq--voters are unlikely to trust them. And this is entirely because of their perpetual defeatism. Claiming, in the words of Dr. Dean, that it "is just plain wrong" to think that that "we're going to win this war," is just plain idiocy. As Atlantic Monthly correspondent Robert D. Kaplan pointed out in the latest issue of The American Enterprise, much of the political left continues to think in a "1970s time-warp mentality." He was speaking, apparently, of the entire Democratic leadership.

I think a lot of credit is owed to Reagan for giving this patriotism back to America. Reagan ran on a very optimistic ticket of "we've been kicking ass for 200 years! We're 10 and 1 (which was actually Bill Murray in "Stripes," but you catch my drift)!

Reagan's optimism came on the tails of prisoners in Iran, a failed rescue attempt for said prisoners, a costly war in Vietnam that was all but won when we pulled out (according to some), an oil embargo, Nixon's watergate scandal, and a cold war that seemed to be in a stalemate with nobody any safer than before.

Sure, Reagan's administration had its own problems, but one thing he did for this country is give us our identity as proud Americans back. I think that optimism is still alive in America today 20 years later. People don't want to hear about how they're going to fail before even trying a thing. I also think that because of that optimism, people are recognizing more easily that saying our troops are going to lose is not, in fact, "supporting the troops" or "patriotic" in any possible permutation of the facts they can conceive.

Another quick point I'd like to make is that if it wasn't for the blogosphere and milblogs in particular, we would NEVER hear the good news from this war.

If it weren't for FOX News, talk radio, conservative magazines, and the blogosphere, it's doubtful that any good news would be heard over the chorus of the administration's critics. To a degree, this is understandable--press bias is undoubtedly real (as confirmed, yet again, by a new UCLA-led study), and indisputably anti-Bush. Hence why Cindy Sheehan's every move--not to mention those of Rep. Jack Murtha--receives blanket coverage, while the Iraqi elections have already been relegated to the back pages.

I did find it odd (not really) that the Iraqi vote was sort of glazed over by the media. They pretty much front-paged it for a day, then on to how they could make Bush look bad. Those approval numbers are far too high for their so-called "objective" tastes. One need only look at the NYT's timing of the release, of illegally obtained information, about wiretapped international phone calls with the signing of the Patriot Act renewal to see that the media obviously has an agenda hostile towards Bush's plans and, by extension, our troops abroad.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Good for This Guy

Flopping Aces has a great post roundup of an ongoing issue in Ohio about a bar owner who refused to take down a sign (written in English) that says "For service, speak English." The Ohio civil rights commission decided that was discriminatory and so he needed to take the sign down.

The interesting part is, as Flopping Aces points out, that discrimination laws only apply to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age or ancestry. True, states can expand on these (such as smoking or activity levels) but I highly doubt they have a law on the books saying one cannot discriminate based on language; I'm no law expert, though.

God forbid we expect people in this country to speak our language! What's this racist nation coming to?! Now where did I put my Canadian immigration papers?

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Freeman: "Let My People Go"

I'm not really sure about Morgan Freeman's politics--I'm inclined to believe he's quite liberal, but he got it right on this one.

Morgan Freeman says the concept of a month dedicated to black history is "ridiculous." "You're going to relegate my history to a month?" the 68-year-old actor says in an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes" to air Sunday (7 p.m. EST). "I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history."

No kidding. I'm fed up with people telling me "it's BLACK history month," or "it's (insert people group here) history month." Why do people have to be *black* people or *asian* people? Why can't they just be PEOPLE? It seems Morgan Freeman was onto this, too.

The actor says he believes the labels "black" and "white" are an obstacle to beating racism.

"I am going to stop calling you a white man and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man," Freeman says.


It's a title blacks are loathe to let go because over their years of civil rights marching and using their ethnicity as an excuse to blame others for their failures, they can't help but identify themselves as *black* people rather than just people. They've made it part of their self-identity. I consider myself a person--not a *white* person (my profile description is there merely to piss off those who make the distinction).

When a person refers to another as "black" or "jew" or whatever, I have to remind myself they aren't black--they're people. I'm not saying ignore the differences, but don't keep propping them up as some kind of identifier for a person and why that person isn't like you for the sake of creating a non-existent out-group.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Look What Some Academic Found Out

A professor at UCLA has shown that the media is liberally biased. What a surprise.

While the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is conservative, the newspaper's news pages are liberal, even more liberal than The New York Times. The Drudge Report may have a right-wing reputation, but it leans left. Coverage by public television and radio is conservative compared to the rest of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, almost all major media outlets tilt to the left.

These are just a few of the surprising findings from a UCLA-led study, which is believed to be the first successful attempt at objectively quantifying bias in a range of media outlets and ranking them accordingly.

"I suspected that many media outlets would tilt to the left because surveys have shown that reporters tend to vote more Democrat than Republican," said Tim Groseclose, a UCLA political scientist and the study's lead author. "But I was surprised at just how pronounced the distinctions are."

"Overall, the major media outlets are quite moderate compared to members of Congress, but even so, there is a quantifiable and significant bias in that nearly all of them lean to the left," said co‑author Jeffrey Milyo, University of Missouri economist and public policy scholar.

The results appear in the latest issue of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, which will become available in mid-December.


I don't think any academic study will settle this ongoing debate unequivocally because it is a subjective thing. You can't objectively quantify a subjective thing with objective methods. Having said that, I believe it's easy for any objective person to see the bias in the media by guaging the tone, commentary, and adjectives used in a journalistic piece and compare it to the current political climate.

People should realize they aren't computers. They are thinking, contemplating, self-aware creatures able to distinguish between any two concepts (liberal/conservative, science/philosophy, etc.) Any perceptive person is able to see the media is biased liberally in the same way they are able to say murder is wrong or hate is bad. Science will never prove those things without a doubt, but people will know those simple truths all the same.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

The Latest on the Roomate Saga

My roomate and I can get into some pretty heated discussions sometimes, and other times we just snipe at each other's politics/perspectives as if either of us knew what the heck we were talking about. I find it's an enjoyable arrangement except for the times when I'm just not up for arguing, then it's just a matter of placating him.

So the latest tidbit of this ongoing dialogue comes from the "Die, Hippie, Die" episode of "South Park." They describe the types of hippies and mention the pseudo-intellectual "college hippie" then cut to a scene where these hippies get out of a car with a CU Boulder sticker on it (Ward Churchill's college in case you forgot) and they run into Kenny, Stan, and Kyle, where one of the male hippies introduces himself as having just finished his first semester of college where the professor "really opened" their eyes (.wav file here).

I made the off-hand comment: "it's so true." To which my roomate (who found the entire episode unfunny--I suspect he fancies himself a hippie) replied: "and what professors have YOU had that have forced their politics on you?!" I found it a little off-putting, and it was 1:15 in the morning at the time. I wasn't really up for the argument, so I just said something to the effect of "oh, I was just being ironic." After thinking about it though, I realize that my school is actually the exception to the rule for the most part.

First off, I recall a political science professor I had one semester who tried to convince us that politics is dependent on income (i.e. the rich and powerful are conservatives--*ahem* like Ted Kennedy, and the poor and disenfranchised are liberals-- *ahem* like me). I argued the point in class, but it was blatant indoctrination of students in his own classroom. Other than that instance, and a couple of other instances I won't go into, my experience has been quite a balanced one. I've found that many of the liberal professors I have met let their views be known, but usually disclaim them as their views.

One of my friends is an education major and told me about a time where his teacher said she believed students should be allowed to grade themselves--and touted this as a legitimate education doctrine. Of course, then he asked if that meant he could grade himself in her class, to which she replied "no."

Another example is my friend who went to school in the east where the administration demanded they take down the American flag posted in the bus after 9/11 because it "might offend the foreign students." The english and political science professors (he was an IR major) were also openly hostile to anything conservative, and I would frequently hear stories about their latest attempts to use their captive audience to push their own political views.

Those are just a few of the cases off the top of my head. I'm sure if I actually researched it a bit, I could write a book about all the instances of left-wing indoctrination my friends have experienced.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Thoughts from an Unwitting Slave

A great post by an uwitting slave to Halliburton and the realization that his life is a total sham... or maybe not.

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Jane Fonda is a Moron

Jane Fonda's self-importance astounds even me (a guy who thinks people want to read his thoughts on the internet). Her latest huffing(ton) has been about how she has learned in "secret meetings" with military psychologists how our troops are trained to commit atrocities--but she supports the troops.

Fonda said "Winter Soldier" shows the psychological impact of the war on service personnel: "Starting with the Vietnam War we began training soldiers differently. In my book I talk about secret meetings I had with military psychologists who were really worried about what was happening to our combat personnel. 'We're turning them into killing machines,' one of them said to me. This began because the military discovered that in World War II and Korea, soldiers weren't killing enough (in their opinion), so they changed training procedures."

However, Fonda insists, "it's critical that we understand that the soldiers are not to blame. How they were trained, how their officers either gave the green light or turned a blind eye to what was happening on the ground is what matters. When you put young people into an atrocity-producing situation where enemy and civilian are commingled, where the 'other side' is dehumanized, we cannot be surprised by what these men report in the film."


"Our troops commit atrocities because they were trained that way, but don't blame them for it--they're just mindless automatons with no will of their own!" Real supportive, Jane. Of course, she's only talking about those who are FOR the war, I'm sure.

Fonda insists, "We have not learned the lessons of Vietnam. The returned veterans tried valiantly to tell us what the lessons were, [but] most of us turned our backs. . . . Today the returning antiwar Iraq vets are being called 'unpatriotic.' We must listen to what they have to say."

"If they are Iraq vets who don't support the war, we need to listen to them... the rest are mindless automatons." One thing I think many people HAVE learned from Vietnam (especially veterans) is to stop listening to a traitorous, lying, anti-American leftist such as Jane Fonda.

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Quagmire!

I'm so ashamed right now: just look at the latest news from Iraq:

Iraqis voted in a historic parliamentary election Thursday, with strong turnout reported in Sunni Arab areas and even a shortage of ballots in some precincts. Because of the large turnout, the Iraqi election commission met in emergency session and extended voting for one hour after long lines were reported at some sites, said commission official Munthur Abdelamir. Heavy participation by Sunni Arabs, who had shunned balloting last January, bolstered U.S. hopes of calming the insurgency enough to begin withdrawing its troops next year.

Such irresponsible management of the election, it's a quagmire! Bush lied about the true number of voter turnout. He misled us into a vote for oil. He knew there would be more than expected numbers voting and witheld this important information from the people on purpose because he's racist and only cares about white Christians. This is horrible news. END THE RACIST OCCUPATION!

UPDATE: Shamalama has an open trackback on this horrible news. Indepundit has his roundup as well.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

From the Horse's Mouth

Marine Major Ben Connable wrote an op-ed piece for the Washington Post and admonishes the moral cowards for their wrong-headed position on the Iraq war.

When I told people that I was getting ready to head back to Iraq for my third tour, the usual response was a frown, a somber head shake and even the occasional "I'm sorry." When I told them that I was glad to be going back, the response was awkward disbelief, a fake smile and a change of subject. The common wisdom seems to be that Iraq is an unwinnable war and a quagmire and that the only thing left to decide is how quickly we withdraw. Depending on which poll you believe, about 60 percent of Americans think it's time to pull out of Iraq.

How is it, then, that 64 percent of U.S. military officers think we will succeed if we are allowed to continue our work? Why is there such a dramatic divergence between American public opinion and the upbeat assessment of the men and women doing the fighting?


Why indeed, Major. My guess is perhaps some skewed reporting by the AP, Reuters, the New York Times, and Washington Post to name a few. Some would call this "bias," but that's being a little too truthful for them to accept, I think.

Read the whole column. It's a perspective straight from someone who has been there and back twice and reflects what I believe (as an "armchair academic") is really going on.

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String Theory

I hear a lot of talk from my athiest (though I think he's more of an antitheist) roomate about string theory and how our universe wasn't "created" by an intelligent being. I was slumming around google video and found this NOVA episode about string theory and the implications it has to answer some very old questions. Its implications could explain the origins of the universe. A tall order for any scientific theory, I must say.

The basic premise goes that the universe is made up of tiny vibrating strings, and they are at the center of all behavior in this universe. String theory's nature, if it's true, means there are other universes all around us. The NOVA episode used a loaf of bread as an example and described our universe as a simple "slice" of that bread (or greater existence).

The appeal for this theory in science comes from the math behind it. They mentioned that as this concept has evolved, they have come to something that looks nothing like the original theory. When they come up with one mathematical equation to explain the nature of part of the latest theory, it usually presents a problem with some other aspect of the theory. I have to say I like this one idea in the theory about us living on a "brane" (short for membrane) that is some "thin" sliver of a greater creation. There are many places in the Bible where the universe is described as being "thin" in a sense as it talks about being rolled up, like a tent, etc. It talks then about parallel universes and stuff which I might think could be heaven and hell rather than something out of a sliders episode. In terms of the math, though, I was reminded of "A Beautiful Mind" where the guy was finding secret Russian codes in Time magazine.

The problem with string theory is it's lack of empirical evidence to support it. Right now, string theory is simply a math equation that, if true, could result in other math equations that could explain the universe. The theory as it is now, requires there to be particles called "sparticles" and "gravitons." They say gravity is such a weak force in the universe because it can go to these different dimensions. If that's true, we should be able to "feel" in some sense the gravity of these other dimensions (which we don't). The latest experiments are to smash atoms together and try and measure escaping graviton particles going into the other dimension. To me, it seems like a lot is being taken on faith, and this is far from being any kind of sound scientific theory. In fact, the scientists interviewed said they could find out tomorrow that this entire field of study is a dead end, but the alure of the math is just too great.

I realize that "God did it" isn't a sound scientific explanation for the happenings of the universe, but it strikes me that this is the hottest thing in physics today and it requires as much (if not more) faith to believe than simply that there's a God and that He created the universe. Even if they somehow proved string theory to be true, it would still never explain that God didn't create the universe.

I'm interested to see if they ever prove this theory and if they do, what the actual implications will be. From what I heard though, I'm not too convinced that it will be proven a fact anytime soon.

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I Blame Bush

Michelle Malkin has quite the link fest for the Iraqi elections. For all the negative (and false) publicity against what we've been trying to do in Iraq from the MSM, I found this to be especially uplifting.

Anyone who has taken the morally deplorable position against this day (i.e. moveon.org or the Democratic party), and who blame Bush for everything bad in Iraq, MUST give him credit for this. I'm not holding my breath though.

I can't help but think how disappointed or angry leftists must be with this good news. When you take a position where you are sad or angry when something unarguably good happens, you may need to rethink your position.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Only a Democrat

This link may not last, but here's a story Drudge broke about the latest GOP video that shows how the Democrats want to cut and run.

SENATOR CALLS ON BUSH TO TAKE DOWN ATTACK AD
Sat Dec 10 2005 16:41:38 ET

Today, Senator Daniel Inouye, the Ranking Member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his service in World War II, released the following statement:

"As a Veteran of World War II, I know what it’s like to fight a war and put your life on the line every day. I also know what it takes to win a war, and I know that politics and an attack machine like the President’s plays no part in it.

"The Republican Party’s latest ad is a shameful and disgusting attempt to distract the American people from the problems in Iraq. It may improve the President’s political fortunes, but the American people and our troops will pay the price. I hope that President Bush realizes how shameful it is to play politics when what we really need is leadership, and that he will direct his Party to take down this ad immediately."

Developing...


Only a democrat would consider a video quoting their policy as an "attack." No, Mr. Inouye, an attack would be more along the lines of pushing a false statement at the expense of another. For example, oh I don't know... saying the president lied to us to go to war?

June 2003. As reports began to surface that the Bush administration might have misled the country about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, many leading Democrats were hesitant to question the administration's probity. Republicans dismissed any doubts. Senator George Allen asserted, "It's not a question." But Dean said, "We need a thorough look at what really happened going into Iraq. It appears to me that what the president did was make a decision to go into Iraq sometime in early 2002, or maybe even late 2001, and then try to get the justification afterward."


Democrats have no moral high ground when it comes to this and I think they know it. Why else do you suppose they're trotting out their war heros (and let's be clear that I'm not disparaging their accomplishments) on their side? The Democrats' position on this is by its very nature, unpatriotic. Any message that says our troops should cut and run when they are doing great things and accomplishing the mission, is unpatriotic. Democrats, true to form, are all appearance and no substance. That's why their war heros are having to come out touting this view because most people recognize the message as being unpatriotic and so the Democrats are hoping the ethos afforded by war heros will negate the lack of logos in their message.

The problem is that I've read several accounts by those who are or have been in Iraq. The actual "boots on the ground" and they're all singing a different tune. Sure, they say it's hard, but they never say its impossible--or even that they're failing.

Inouye's current politics notwithstanding, I'm always interested in reading MoH citations. You can read his here.

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Something to Think About

At my church they put small stories in the bulletin that serve to teach a lesson or give a new perspective on a well known topic. This week, the first thing in that section was a story about a boy who's family celebrated Christmas the usual way(Church, presents, tree, etc.), but with one difference: they sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus to remind them why they celebrate Christmas in the first place. So, the next day a man comes up to the boy and says "did you get everything you wanted for Christmas?" and the boy replied "No, but it wasn't my birthday."

Such materialism injected into this holiday is kind of a shame; unfortunately, it's the product of living in a capitalist society where the main event for a lot of people are the gifts. I think the holiday has changed for a lot of people from being glad in giving a gift to being glad in receiving a gift. To me, that's the dangerous slope we as Christians must not take.

Now I said all that to point out this story linked from Drudge. The Pope says materialism pollutes Christmas. For once, I actually agree with the Catholic church. For all the crap I give it, I'm going to say "AMEN" to the Pope on this one.

Pope Benedict warned on Sunday against rampant materialism which he said was polluting the spirit of Christmas.

"In today's consumer society, this time of the year unfortunately suffers from a sort of commercial 'pollution' that threatens to alter its real spirit," the Pope told a large crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square to hear his weekly Angelus blessing.


Of course, then he goes on to say it should be a "sober" celebration which I disagree with on the grounds that this should be a time of rejoicing and reveling in Christ's birth (but I guess that's a matter of preference, so I won't fault the church on this one). I liked his idea on putting the "Christ" back in "Christmas." He is urging Christians to set up nativity scenes in their homes to serve as an expression to others of their faith, and also to remind children the meaning of the holiday.

Last year, under Pope John Paul, the Vatican launched a high-profile campaign to urge Roman Catholic Italy not to compromise the spirit of Christmas through excess or dilute its message out of fear of offending a growing Muslim population.

Again, I agree here. We as Christians should never be afraid to share our faith with others because it might "offend" them. If it offends their sensibilities or their wrong-headed religion, then so be it. I couldn't possibly think of a better time to witness to others about Jesus than during Christmas. It's the most well-recognized holiday in the calendar, celebrated by atheists and others, and it's up to us to make the most of it by explaining to those people the reason for the holiday.

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Friday, December 09, 2005

Narnia

So the blogosphere is alight with many views on Disney's new movie: "Narnia." I figured I would add my two cents on the subject (which probably amounts to .000001% of the total "money supply" on this topic). Since I haven't actually seen the movie, I'm going to comment more on what people are saying about it.

I'm going to start with a column written by Paulie Tonybee at the Guardian in the UK. Tonybee is definitely an atheist who isn't just non-religious, but anti-religous. Her vitriol towards Christianity is well-conveyed. Her column has become the blanket standard for criticism for this movie.

Of all the elements of Christianity, the most repugnant is the notion of the Christ who took our sins upon himself and sacrificed his body in agony to save our souls. Did we ask him to? Poor child Edmund, to blame for everything, must bear the full weight of a guilt only Christians know how to inflict, with a twisted knife to the heart. Every one of those thorns, the nuns used to tell my mother, is hammered into Jesus's holy head every day that you don't eat your greens or say your prayers when you are told. So the resurrected Aslan gives Edmund a long, life-changing talking-to high up on the rocks out of our earshot. When the poor boy comes back down with the sacred lion's breath upon him he is transformed unrecognisably into a Stepford brother, well and truly purged.

How is Christ's sacrifice repugnant? Russell Smith makes a good point about this contention by Tonybee by using scripture:

I Corinthians 1:18 -- "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."

Things like that are what make the Bible such an awesome book to me. That the writings within it predict and respond, perfectly, to how people will react to the Christian message depending on their beliefs, criticisms, and doubts, no matter what they are. I'm not entirely sure why Tonybee considers selfless sacrifice and ultimate love "repugnant," but she does! Perhaps selfishness and hatred are preferable concepts to her; she certainly shows it in her writing.

Many say that this can be seen as simply a fantasy movie or as a Christian allegory. I would say that's true to some extent, but Lewis was a Christian apologist who, I believe, was motivated by his religion to write this series of books. You just have to see the other works he put out to see this (i.e. "Mere Christianity," "The Screwtape Letters," "The Problem With Pain," etc.) So while it is a fantasy story, Lewis deliberately wrote in the message of Christ in the story. Why? I believe it was because there is no greater story than that of Jesus.

Another perhaps more relevant theme within "Narnia" is the concept of war. Is any war a just one? Sun and Shield has a great post describing the morality of fighting the "evil" characters in the stories of "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" and "Lord of the Rings." I highly recommend it.

I'll end this post here since it's getting a little long. If you want to read more thoughts and reactions from Christians about "Narnia," you can go here. It's a really good roundup and most of those linked have links to other places ensuring hours of reading material.

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Speaking of Morals...

(Via: Michelle Malkin) The GOP has put out a great short video (about 30 seconds) showing the morally deplorable position the Democrats are taking on the Iraq war. Their platform is increasingly becoming "we need to withdraw," and "we cannot win this." Way to support the troops, guys.

These are mainstream Democrats too! Dean is the head of the entire party for crying out loud. So don't try and say this is some "fringe" contingent or something. It's the official position of the Democrats.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

To Fundi or Not to Fundi

I recently got in an "argument" (it was really just him expressing his views) with my roomate about religious fundamentalism. Specifically, Christian fundamentalism. I contended that there is no such rise in this country while he held that this country has never seen such a push in its history. So, I decided to show why I think he's wrong on both counts.

Before I start arguing about fundamentalism, here's the definition on dictionary.com

  1. A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.
    1. often Fundamentalism An organized, militant Evangelical movement originating in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century in opposition to Protestant Liberalism and secularism, insisting on the inerrancy of Scripture.
    2. Adherence to the theology of this movement.

Note in the first definition, it is characterized by (among other things) an opposition to secularism. It's important to note that I'm not saying fundamentalism doesn't exist in the government, but it isn't at such as level as my friend says it is. The way he characterizes it is as if we're going to God in a handbasket, and it simply isn't the case.

His first argument was that fundamentalism is on a rise. His reasons for this were the "oh my God! violent video games, violent and sexual TV, abortions, Teach ID, etc." people happen to be Christians and must therefore be pulling for religious dogma within the state.

As far as the ID argument goes, I'm not inclined to believe evolution because of its flaws, but I'm also not inclined to believe the Earth was made in 6 24-hour days (as I mentioned the other day). I think both theories have been soundly disproven through empirical evidence. So I think this debate is being argued by religious fundies on both sides. Those who religiously adhere to evolution as a valid theory, and those that adhere to young earth creationism as a valid theory. In that regard, I'm inclined to believe the tone of the argument is set by the fundamentalists and since it's part of the national discussion these days, is one example of religious fundamentalism in the government.

However, on such things as "bad" TV, abortions, etc... I see politicians and people making moral judgements about those issues. Simply saying: "I think abortions are wrong," is not being a religious fundamentalist. A religous fundamentalist would say something like "God, and the Bible according to my interpretation, says abortions are wrong, so we must stop abortions immediately and anyone who disagrees with me is going to hell and nobody should listen to them." I'm hoping you draw the distinction between a religous fundie, and one who derives their moral intuition from a religious base.

The discourse of political discussion in this country is more along the lines of "I think abortions are wrong" rather than "God hates fags." There is no religious message behind the actual discussion, it's merely the undertone since ultimately, morality is derived from God. I guess a skeptic would say I'm being a fundie for saying such a thing, but I challenge them to tell me where else it could come from.

My roomate's second point was that this country has never seen such religious undertones in the the public discourse since its inception. I would disagree with this as there are many examples where God was (in some cases, still is) the central figure discussed. For example the President, since George Washington, has had to place their hand on a Christian Bible when taking the oath of office. There has been the Scopes monkey trial, those "Godless commies," or how about the huge debate behind JFK's run for President? Many thought he would be a subject of the Pope and threaten the soveriegnty of America as a whole.

Even before the United States was formed, the writings of Locke heavily influenced the founding fathers in their concept of the morality of leading others. Locke used a biblical justification for human rights and human equality. Since my friend calls any public discourse on the morality of something an infiltration of "religious fundamentalism," he would have to agree that using the Bible to justify having human rights is the epitome of religious fundamentalism in the government.

This discussion came about from Jon Stewart's interview with Jimmy Carter on the "Daily Show" the other night. As with most of Carter's interviews, he was able to put forth such idiotic comments as "there is a rise of religious fundamentalism in government" without being challenged on it. As I said, I'm not saying there isn't any religious fundamentalism in the government, because I haven't kept up on every single statement of every single government official. However, from the general discussion I hear, God usually only arises when talking to other like-minded religious people as to why they believe something to be right or wrong.

When you take something at face value to simply be wrong, God won't ever be brought up. When you start asking why it's wrong, inevitably, God WILL be brought up simply because of the nature of morality. So I guess whenever the government makes a law based on the morality of something, it's evidence of religious fundamentalism: things like outlawing pedophelia, or murder, or robbery, or infanticide, or racial equality laws.

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The More Things Change...

Faced with the recent vote of no confidence in the government, the prime minister has sought to protect canadians by taking away their guns and ensuring only the police can carry them.

Prime Minister Paul Martin will propose a ban on most handguns in Canada, CanWest News Service has learned.

Sources say Martin, who will make the election campaign announcement this morning, wants to choke off the supply of handguns in this country, particularly guns brought into the country illegally and those sold on the black market.

There will be some exemptions, including maintaining the right for police to carry handguns. The prime minister is also expected to announce a significant increase in resources for police to deal with the ban.


Now if I were a Canadian, I think I would be a little worried by this news. My government has just been disbanded because of corruption, and now they want to disarm me and put more enforcement agents in the field to lord over my private life... presumably as they tax me even more to pay for all this regulation.

The main goal of this move by the PM is to curb the illegal use, posession, and sale, of handguns in the country. So where would be a good place to start in this crusade to curbe illegeal use of firearms?

The Liberals say the thinking behind this crime strategy is that if no one is allowed to have a handgun in Canada, policing authorities will be in a better position to act on anyone who has a handgun or attempts to transport or sell a handgun.

The announcement will include the banning of all registered handguns in Canada. However, sources say special arrangements will be made for gun collectors.

This crime prevention strategy will be announced as a key plank in the Liberal election campaign Thursday.


Oh! Take away the registered illegal guns first. Good plan there, Martin. I'm sure there are TONS of those floating around in your country. "To curb the use of illegal guns, I've decided to take away all the legal guns first." Does this sound outrageously stupid to anybody else?

Not only will the police be in a better position to "act on anyone who has a handgun or attempts to transport or sell a handgun," but they'll be in a better position to act on anyone period. No common defense means anyone in power is able to do what they want with little retribution from the people they are governing.

To you Canadians who aren't insane, feel free to (legally) immigrate to the U.S.! We could use more freedom-minded people: especially in the areas of Oregon, Washington, California, New York, Minnesota, Washington D.C., Illinois, Michigan, Wisconson, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusettes, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut, or even Hawaii if you'd like a change of climate.

If you're sick of living around the insane though (which I guess is why you would leave Canada anyway), there's also Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisianna, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Florida, or Alaska if you want to stay in the "great white north" region of the world.

UPDATE: Trackbacked at Basil's Blog and Common Folk Common Sense.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Old Pearl

Today is National Pearl Harbor Rememberance Day. Say a prayer for those who died in that attack, and thank anyone you know who fought (at home or abroad) to ensure freedom would live on in the world during the ensuing conflict.

When I look at my generation and compare it to my grandparents', I weep. I can't help but feel I'm a victim of their success, and for that I'm eternally grateful.

As just a quick addition: here's the list of Medal of Honor recipients from World War II. It had to be broken down into alphabetical ranges. Also remember that an asterisk next to the name means they died earning the Medal. A-F, G-L, M-S, T-Z.

Michelle Malkin has a lot of great links about today and the trackbacks coming in aren't too shabby either. So if you want to read more about today, that's a great place to go.

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OMG Cats!

AWWWWW!!!

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The War on Christianity

Sure, we all have heard about the War on Terror, but one war has been going on (in its current form) since the mid-1800's, and that is the War on Christianity. The latest story comes from Sky News where a girl was SENT HOME for wearing a crucifix to school.

A row has broken out after a teenager was banned from wearing a crucifix at a school where Sikhs can carry ceremonial daggers.

Sam Morris, 16, was reportedly sent home from Sinfin Community School, Derby, after she refused to remove a gold cross on a necklace.

She was told wearing a crucifix was not compulsory for Christians, so the necklace breached dress codes.


So let me get this straight: one religion requires their adherents to carry WEAPONS and so it's okay for them to bring those to school; but since it isn't required by her religion, a NECKLACE gets a girl suspended for two days and only allowed to return after not wearing the cross? Does anyone see a problem with this situation? I'm guessing Christ-haters wouldn't, but I do.

The implication of this story is that it shows (once again) the utter intellectual bankruptcy of "religious tolerance" because it really means "tolerance of any religion that isn't dominant, and suppression of any religion we don't like which is Christianity." The post-modern idea of "everybody is right and nobody is wrong" is a self-destructing one that has been soundly refuted as valid, and when applied leads to situations like this where a gold necklace is considered more threatening than a dagger.

Derby City Council said the ban was lawful but questioned whether it was "desirable".

You don't say! I'm all for not just religious freedom, but freedom of speech as well. If someone wants to follow the wrong path, that's their prerogative; but don't tell me I can't convince them to follow the right one or express my own faith.

I sincerely hope they fight this because it's absolutely ridiculous. For the sake of her own spirituality, I would hope this girl keeps wearing the crucifix at least under her clothes if nothing else.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Creationism and a REALLY Old Earth

Today in the student Union, there was another "we lived with dinosaurs on our 8000 year old planet" person handing out booklets on why he thinks what he thinks. I'll spare you the details as I'm sure you already know the type I'm talking about. Keep in mind though, he wasn't hitting us over the head with his Bible, but simply following the conservative Christian view of Young Earth Creationism (YEC).

Now, politically, morally, and ethically I consider myself a "conservative" or "libertarian;" however, when it comes to Christianity I would label myself a "liberal" only because the conservative view seems to be a YEC-type view on Christianity. I thought I would pen my ideas on why I believe what I believe in the form of a response to the booklet this guy in the Union gave me (here's the website referenced on the back cover if you care to read this person's ideas more in-depth). Keep in mind that what follows is written by a Christian to another Christian.

First off, we'll start with a basic "ground rule" that (I hope) can all be agreed upon. This is that the Bible is the complete word of God written down by man. This gets contentious when determining if what the men wrote down was literally what God was saying or if he was saying something similar and through our own limited comprehension, got the message but not necessarily the exact words. I'm of the opinion that there are several parts of the Bible that are interpretive simply because the message is the more important lesson and not necessarily the logistics of said parts.

So, with the ground rule in place, let's get to the heart of the issue: is the book of Genesis to be taken literally or figuratively? I contend that it is to be interpreted figuratively for three reasons. First of these reasons is that other parts of the Bible are obviously figurative (such as Genesis 3 "they opened their eyes"). Secondly, there are instances in the New Testament where Jesus says things that are obviously false when taken literally, but are actually quite true when reading into what Jesus' message really was. Finally, since Genesis is the only book Moses did not personally experience, we are reading his interpretations of what God told him happened.

So first: Genesis is to be taken figuratively. I say this because of several parts in Genesis where it mentions Adam's privileges and rights. When God said to Adam he would have dominion over all the creatures, for example. Most people take that to mean that humankind as a whole has dominion over all the creatures (or at least just the males). Now if you take the literal interpretation, you have to believe that such a charge was given only to Adam and to nobody else. We could get into birthrights and monarchy debates, but you can read Locke's "Treatise on Two Governments" for a sound rejection of that logic.

My second example I point to as evidence of a figurative interpretation of the Bible is in Genesis 3.

7And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
-Genesis 3:7 (KJV)


Now, for one who argues that Genesis is to be taken literally MUST, by the nature of their position, believe that Adam and Eve were literally blind until the 3rd chapter of Genesis. Very few people will take this stance and they will argue (correctly) that this means simply that they realized their own self-awareness. Of course, this chapter is also where we get original sin.


Next, there are examples where Jesus said things that would obviously be false when taken literally. For example, Matthew 17:20.

20And Jesus said unto them, "Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." -Matthew 17:20 (KJV)


I've never seen someone stand in front of the mountains and say "get out of my way" and the mountains moved. I could argue I've tried it myself and failed, but a sound rejection of that argument is easy ("well you just didn't have enough faith"). Since it's impossible to prove a negative, the onus is on the literal interpreter to show me that a mountain CAN be moved by faith alone simply by talking to it. Jesus' main point here was that through God, a believer can do amazing things which indeed is true. For example, the man who escaped a prison in China by walking out the front gate and boarding a plane for America using a passport that wasn't his and being honest with customs agents in both countries (they laughed thinking he was joking). I believe such miracles are possible. Another example is the spread of Christianity in hostile nations. Could a person witness to militant Muslims or deranged criminals without faith in God (as happened recently and whose name escapes me)?

Another example of Jesus speaking in figurative terms is his discussion with Nicodemus about being "born again."

2The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

3Jesus answered and said unto him, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

4Nicodemus saith unto him, how can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
-John 3: 2-4 (KJV)


Nicodemus picks up the obvious absurdity of what Jesus is saying here and Jesus goes on to explain himself that he is speaking about being born again in the spirit--not of the flesh. If anything, this is a perfect example of why a literal translation of the Bible doesn't always work and Jesus actually explicitly tells Nicodemus, only after he is confused, that Jesus explains what he meant by his words. Now suppose that Nicodemus did understand and John had not written down what Jesus meant. A literal interpretation of this passage would be that we would all have to crawl back into our mother's womb and come out again making salvation a messy (and weird) proposition.

I can extend this argument even further by pointing out that Jesus continually spoke in parables and his teaching method was to be an example, and use examples and allegories. Why is it so hard to believe God would not have done the same thing with Moses (or any other host of second-hand Biblical authors) in the book of Genesis?

Moses' account in Genesis was not directly witnessed by him (for the most part). In fact, the book is written to the point where Moses himself is leading the people out of Egypt. After that point, Moses was writing down accounts of himself and his exploits which I have an easier time taking literally.

Now, what are the implications of all this? If the universe really is 20 Billion years old, does that invalidate the Bible? I don't think so. As I mentioned above, Moses' interpretation of what God was actually saying changed from "first I did x, second I did y, etc." to "on the first day, God created..."

Also, a main argument in the booklet I was going to talk about was that when science disagrees with the Bible, we are to simply (and blindly) take the word of the Bible over the evidence we see based on the interpretation this book is advocating (literal). To me this is a dangerous position to take because blind faith and refusing to admit to being wrong leads to driving planes into buildings. It's also prideful for one holding this position because "it must be science... I couldn't possibly be wrong in my interpretation" is taking as fact that you're right because you're right, which is circular.

There are three possibilities here: first, that science is indeed wrong about the age of the universe and the literal interpretation is correct; second that the literal interpretation is wrong and the earth really is as old as science says it is; lastly that both the literal interpretation AND the scientific theories derived from the evidence so far is wrong. I'm inclined to believe that the latter of the three is the most likely given inherent problems in both theories (primarily evolution in the science aspect). Therefore, I don't believe a figurative interpretation of the Bible where a Christian can accept the age of the universe being 20 Billion years old, is in any way a conflict of scripture.

I feel this whole argument is missing the intent for which the Bible was created. It's like reading "Gulliver's Travels" and worrying about the validity of a man going to an island full of tiny people rather than capturing the underlying message the author hoped people would pick up; in this case, political satire. Likewise, people bicker about the details of the Bible when it's the underlying message that we should all heed.

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Pessimism in the Media

(Via: Brain Terminal) The WSJ's Opinion Journal mentions the pessimism in the media on the economy and makes a good point:

During a quarter century of analyzing and forecasting the economy, I have never seen anything like this. No matter what happens, no matter what data are released, no matter which way markets move, a pall of pessimism hangs over the economy.

It is amazing. Everything is negative. When bond yields rise, it is considered bad for the housing market and the consumer. But if bond yields fall and the yield curve narrows toward inversion, that is bad too, because an inverted yield curve could signal a recession.

If housing data weaken, as they did on Monday when existing home sales fell, well that is a sign of a bursting housing bubble. If housing data strengthen, as they did on Tuesday when new home sales rose, that is negative because the Fed may raise rates further. If foreigners buy our bonds, we are not saving for ourselves. If foreigners do not buy our bonds, interest rates could rise. If wages go up, inflation is coming. If wages go down, the economy is in trouble.

This onslaught of negative thinking is clearly having an impact. During the 2004 presidential campaign, when attacks on the economy were in full force, 36% of Americans thought we were in recession. One year later, even though unemployment has fallen from 5.5% to 5%, and real GDP has expanded by 3.7%, the number who think a recession is underway has climbed to 43%.

This is a real conundrum. It is true, bad things have happened. Katrina wiped out a major city and many people are still displaced. GM has announced massive layoffs. Underfunded pension plans are being handed off to the government. Oil, gasoline and natural gas prices have soared. Despite it all, the U.S. economy continues to flourish.


The funny part is that everything he mentions regarding the mechanics is true. That's the way business and economics works. As economists say: "there is no such thing as a free lunch." Whenever one part of the economy gains, another loses simply because they're on opposing sides of the economy. As Evan Coyne Maloney says:

It sure isn't reported that way. If all you had to go on were the establishment media portrayals of the economy--as opposed to, you know, actual evidence--you would certainly be left with the same impression that the Democrats tried to impart during the last presidential campaign: namely, that we're mired in the worst economy since Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression.

It's funny, though. Just a few years ago, the general tone of economic reporting seemed a lot sunnier. Go back to the 1996 election and compare, for example, the unemployment data with that from the same point in the 2004 campaign. Notice any difference in the numbers? How about people's perceptions of those numbers?


I think it all depends on who is in the White House at the time that determines whether any numbers on the economy are portrayed as "good" or "bad" when, no matter who's in the White House, they're usually neutral.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Why John Bolton Was a Good Choice for the UN

(via LGF) John Bolton told off the UN the other day after they passed six more meaningless resolutions for the Jews to hand over more of their land to the Palestinians.

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the United Nations
General Assembly demonstrated its irrelevance today by adopting six resolutions
on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including non-binding calls for Israel to
withdraw from the West Bank and Golan Heights.

The General Assembly, consisting of all 191 member governments, passed
resolutions very similar to measures introduced annually by Arab nations for at
least 30 years. The U.S. was joined by no more than seven other nations in
rejecting the resolutions, which won up to 160 votes.

"These resolutions are purely symbolic,'' Bolton told reporters at the UN.

"It is one reason why many people say the UN is not really useful in solving
actual problems. We have been making enormous progress toward solutions in the
Arab-Israeli conflict, and that progress has benefited from UN participation,
but it does not benefit from needless repetition of meaningless resolutions in
the General Assembly.''

Bolton, who has pressed UN member governments to reduce the number of
General Assembly resolutions, said it was up to them to ``decide they want to do
things that are relevant.''


Good job, Mr. Bolton! The reason I don't think much of the UN is because it is completely useless and impotent. It's original conception of being a world forum where governments can peacefully come together to hash out issues with input from other governments is a great idea! The problem is that the UN in its current form is nothing more than a bunch of people sitting around passing resolutions utterly convinced of their effectiveness in the world.

Any good the UN may do, their corruption is not worth it. Anyone who says it is, I would like to see them say that it was worth it for Hitler to come to power in Germany simply because he helped them out of the depression. If you disagree with my characterization, just look at the oil for food scandal. Because of UN corruption, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died because they were making too much money to care about what Saddam was doing--even though they knew anyway.

Kudos to John Bolton for representing the right side of things!

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Awesome Video

I was looking through the hits I got for the past couple of days and noticed someone from Maryland on the USMC servers. So, this morning I decided to check out their website as I tend to do from time to time. I noticed a link to this video on their main page and is superbly done.

I especially like the ending of this video; it reminded me of Galloway(Demi Moore) in "A Few Good Men:"

Lt. Weinberg: Why do you like them so much?
Galloway: Because they stand upon a wall and say, "Nothing's going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch."


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Friday, December 02, 2005

Another Friday, Another VDH Paper!

This week, Victor Hanson talks about the lack of coverage on the part of the White House on the moral authority of going to war in Iraq.

In short, every day the American people should have been reminded of, and congratulated on, their country’s singular idealism, its tireless effort to reject the cynical realism of the past, and its near lone effort to make terrible sacrifices to offer the dispossessed Shia and Kurds something better than the exploitation and near genocide of the past — and how all that alone will enhance the long-term security of the United States.

That goal was what the U.S. military ended up so brilliantly fighting for — and what the American public rarely heard. The moral onus should have always been on the critics of the war. They should have been forced to explain why it was wrong to remove a fascist mass murderer, why it was wrong to stay rather than letting the country sink into Lebanon-like chaos, and why it was wrong not to abandon brave women, Kurds, and Shia who only wished for the chance of freedom.


I'm entirely sick of having to be the one on the defensive with leftists when discussing this war. The fact of the matter is that their position of opposing this war was (and is still) morally reprehensible to me. Sure people are dying, Americans, Iraqis, and other nationalities, but far more died (or would have died) had we not done anything at all.

Read his whole paper, it's another home run for VDH.

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Why I Think Journalism Is Stupid

I recognize the need for people to tell others what's going on in the world--there's definitely a market for it. HOWEVER, one common denominator I've noticed about any news service is that you have people who are experts in journalism trying to tell laypersons what an expert in a completely different field said. In other words, people good at telling stories might not understand the situation they're writing a story about. I know this was the case with me when I wrote for my school paper. This is one such case.

If you read the caption, it says "a protester watches a presidential helicopter..." As Confederate Yankee points out: "president of what?" They certainly aren't talking about Bush's helicopter; because this is how he rolls:


I bet it's got a sweet sound system. Anyway, note that the tail rotor on Bush's ride is much smaller than the president's of country x (not to mention a different orientation). Confederate Yankee wonders what country's president is in the picture, but I'm more interested in why CNN would feature such a president when they're talking about Bush?

Remember when you're reading a news story, keep in mind it was written by someone who's an expert at writing stories not necessarily an expert in anything else.

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

And the Media Bias Continues...

Nothing says "let's tour the Whitehouse and view Christmas decorations" like "what do you think of all the dead soldiers in Iraq," right?

ABC’s Jessica Yellin, live on Wednesday’s Good Morning America, exploited First Lady Laura Bush’s tour of White House Christmas displays, cards and decorations to hit her with an emotion-laden inquiry about regretting the war in Iraq: “Have you ever met with a mother whose own loss has made you question, even for a moment, whether the U.S. should be in Iraq?" Mrs. Bush replied with how “every loss is too many” and said that “I want to encourage Americans to reach out to our military families who suffer the most.” Yellin followed up by continuing her agenda: "And do you hope the U.S. will be out of Iraq by this time next year?" Yellin posed her serious questions about three minutes into Mrs. Bush’s descriptions of the cards and ornaments in the East Room.

Okay look, I'm not against the media asking these sorts of questions--though their very nature is biased towards the perspective of the one asking them. What I AM against is asking them when they have ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with the subject a 'journalist' is supposed to be covering. Here's a wild out-of-the-blue idea: when you're covering a topic, why not stay on-topic? Hmm. I should win a pulitzer or something for the greatest discovery in journalism ever!

Anyone who doesn't see this example as anything but politically motivated is either willfully ignorant or just plain stupid.

UPDATE: Disposable wisdom mentions something I thought about but didn't bother to mention:

How could we expect her to resist? and how could we expect her to face her friends at the next cocktail party or spinning class if she didn't ask those kind of hard hitting questions we have come to expect of the great minds at ABC news. Edward R. Murrow and George Clooney would be proud.

and the stinger:

Somebody get me a Prevacid please? I think I'm going to be sick. Oh by the way thank god for Laura Bush she has more class than anybody I know. Including my self.

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"With All Due Respect, Sir..."

Floating around the Internet today, I came across this blog by Major K. who is an infantry officer in Iraq. He posted a great perspective about all the bloviating about timetables and pullouts.

We are far from having done all we can do. Part of the US Military Culture that makes us so effective is our qualitative approach. This is especially the case in combat units. In my 13 years in the service, I have heard: "We work to a standard, not to a schedule" a countless number of times. Quitting time comes when the task is accomplished to standard, which is almost never 5pm

...

This country has a culture with different sensibilities from our own. Like many others in the world, this has never been a full-scale first world nation. When it was growing, starting to move toward that end and prospering, it was taken over by what can only be called a mafia family and driven into the ground by 3 horribly destructive wars leaving its people in fear, it's infrastructure destroyed, and the landscape crawling with thugs and criminals formerly employed by the government or recently released from prison. The land mass is about the size of California and population is greater than that of Texas. What has happened to this country makes hurricane Katrina look like spit on the sidewalk. THERE IS A HUGE MESS TO CLEAN UP AND A CULTURE TO REHABILITATE, not to mention an army to rebuild. Three years, with fighting continuing, is a blink. It took over a dozen years to get from the declaration of the Declaration of Independence to the ratification of the US Constitution, and there were still several rebellions and a horribly bloody civil war to follow. The Iraqis are way ahead of the power curve on a historical basis.

We left this this job half done before, and the vipers' nest remained. Thousands of Shia in the south were murdered because they thought we would help them in their uprising. Our aircraft enforcing the UN mandated no-fly zones were fired upon daily - read: Acts of War. And this remained a preferred retirement home/vacation spot/training academy/financial endowment for terrorists. It was not the only one, but it was a prominent one. Now the terrorists have been put out of the government and into the shadows, where for three years they have been hunted. We have culled the herd, but the population is still large enough to warrant keeping the guard dogs busy. If we leave or give notice, we will, like in Somalia, leave the power to be restored to the vermin. Saddam will have been replaced, but it will be the same vermin surrounding the new boss. If you ask me, I really don't care if my cement shoes are made by Gambino or Gotti. Iraq was not a peaceful place before we came here, it will be worse if we leave before we have met the standard. It's going to take a few more years. If I have to do another tour, so be it. I won't like it, but I'll do it because it needs to be done.


I think this is a great characterization of Iraq's history in the 20th century. Oddly enough, if I can insert some politics into this for a moment, the shia that were murdered after they thought we would support them is blamed on Bush 41 because he encouraged them to do so and then didn't specifically say he wouldn't be helping them.

The back story of that, though, is that Bush was contemplating going after Saddam but knew he did not have a mandate from the UN. It was clear he would never get one, either. Since the protesters and their "blood for oil" signs were heralded in the media as 'the people of America,' Bush gave 'the people' what they wanted and we all know how that turned out. Unfortunately, his concience told him he should encourage the shia to take an active role in ousting Saddam themselves (another conention of the left's argument as to why we shouldn't be there now, by the way).

Now 'the people' want the same thing again-- and who do you think will get blamed when Iraq descends back into chaos after such a move? I seriously doubt 'the people' now would have the moral courage to say that they would hold themselves accountable.

I'm adding Major K's blog to my blogroll because I DEFINITELY want to read more from this guy. I highly recommend you do the same.

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Killing Cancer

As I perused Instapundit page, I saw a link to The Will to Exist, run by a soldier in Iraq. He had the greatest analogy I've heard yet about why timetables are a bad idea.

It’s sad that so many Iraqis and others are dying over here. However, when you discover you have cancer the treatment is always the same - attack it at the source. You don’t wait for it to spread. And when is the last time you heard a doctor putting a limited timetable on cancer therapy? I can picture it in my mind. “Mr. Smith, we have seen some progress with your tumor. It’s shrinking. But we need to move on now. The timetable for treating you has passed. Good luck.”

I'll count myself lucky if I ever come up with something as deeply illustrative yet fantastically simple.

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Honoring Muslims Dishonors Americans?

I've received this e-mail several times before and may have agreed with it a few years ago, but today I'm less inclined to subscribe to the call this e-mail makes. My sister sent it to me today and I replied with some thoughts I felt I should reproduce here.

As much as I hate Islam, it’s important to recognize that this is in fact, part of a series of religious holiday stamps that have nothing to do with specifically promoting Islam. Says snopes:

The EID stamp is often mischaracterized as a "Christmas stamp" even though it has nothing to do with Christmas other than that it is part of a series of U.S. postage stamps commemorating several diverse celebrations (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Thanksgiving) which sometimes occur at roughly the same time of year. (The Holiday Celebrations Series of stamps also commemorates celebrations occurring at distinctly different times of the year, such as Cinco de Mayo.) The statement "[Muslims] don't even believe in Christ and they're getting their own Christmas stamp!" is nonsensical, akin to protesting Hanukkah stamps because "Jews don't even believe in Christ but they have their own Christmas stamp."

It’s also notable that the proceeds go directly to the USPS and not to any specific Islamic group. Snopes makes the point that boycotting this stamp is purely symbolic and will not hurt anyone. Though I do blame our countries latest woes partially on Islam, I blame the people who perpetrate these things more. To say that Islam is entirely responsible for terrorism, while demonstrably true, isn’t. I would say Islam is the catalyst for such horrific acts, but is not the cause. Those who wish to perpetrate evil on another will find a way--they just find it in Islam.

The underlying issues of simple hatred of the west and finding an outlet for said hatred through Islam is the greater issue here. We should keep in mind that there are millions of Muslim-Americans living in America now that have no part of terrorism and are, in fact, productive members of society.

While the Koran does say to “lay low until you’re the majority power in a country, then take over,” I’m not going to lump those peaceful Muslims (whom I think are apostates according to other parts of the Koran) in with people like Zarqawi or bin Laden just yet.

It’s important to remember that our troops are not fighting Islam in the Middle East right now; they’re fighting terrorists whose objective is to hurt us. Their religious motivations are irrelevant and therefore, I don’t think it would be a “slap in the face” to those who died to buy these stamps.

I'm not sure if I've posted a link to this before, but I AM sure I haven't posted it enough. Steven den Beste wrote up an absolutely superb justification for war in Iraq and it primarily deals with bringing stability to the region, and defeating obvious threats to our lives and sovereignty as Americans.

Remember: we aren't fighting Islam, we're fighting Islamic terrorists who have shown themselves to be a real threat to our country-- not "our" religion; America is a secular nation after all.

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