Blog Archive


Thursday, January 28, 2010
In the ongoing debate over what a useful reform of the health care insurance system might look like, conservatives usually mention tort reform (and rightly so) as a necessary step in reducing health costs. Of course, since the Left is completely in the pocket of trial lawyers, nothing gets done. But before we moan about how terrible it is that we have to pay $500 a month in health care premiums because of all the evil lawyers, let us not forget where the fault really lies: we the people. If we Americans weren't greedy little misers who saw every catastrophe as a pay day and every accident as a get-rich-quick scheme, we wouldn't be in this mess. Sure, many of the trial lawyers in the pernicious medical litigation system are snakes and to be despised. But you can lead a person to court all you want but you can't make him sue. We complain about health care costs, but, ironically enough, WE are the reason they're so high. We've become a deeply litigious society.

If Americans would come out from under the heavy burden of health insurance, they must see the true enemy, and it is us. We are both the Pied Piper and the residents of Hamelin; both demanding payment and deploring the cost. If we are to be free, we must repent and turn away from our inclination to sue. And this starts with the Church (1 Corinthian 6:7).

Don't forget what happened to the children of Hamelin...
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Here is a heartening reflection - by a supporter of "abortion rights", no less - on this past week's anniversary of Roe v. Wade and what the future holds.
I went to the March for Life rally Friday on the Mall expecting to write about its irrelevance. Isn't it quaint, I thought, that these abortion protesters show up each year on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, even though the decision still stands after 37 years. What's more, with a Democrat in the White House likely to appoint justices who support abortion rights, surely the Supreme Court isn't going to overturn Roe in the foreseeable future.

How wrong I was. The antiabortion movement feels it's gaining strength, even if it's not yet ready to predict ultimate triumph, and Roe supporters (including me) are justifiably nervous.

As always, we in Washington enjoy an up-close view of the health of various causes because of the city's role as the nation's most important setting for political demonstrations. In this case, I was especially struck by the large number of young people** among the tens of thousands at the march. It suggests that the battle over abortion will endure for a long time to come.

** This was very true of my experience at the March for Life last Friday at the Minnesota Capitol. It was amazing to see that the MAJORITY of the 6000+ marchers were younger than 30 years old. This isn't a dying fight, but one that is just getting started. May it not take another 37 years to finish it though!

Pastor Douglas Wilson is to thoughtful Christianity what Dr. Theodore Dalrymple is to cultural and socio-political discernment. One is the most brilliant and witty Christian writer alive today, while the other is the most profound and droll writer on this planet. I have learned so much from Dalrymple's essays and books; particularly how to discern the worldviews and consequences behind words and ideas and what it looks like when the ideals of the liberal intelligentsia (even learned that word from him) are enacted into social policy. Likewise, in the last year or so, I've come to appreciate what a similar gift Pastor Wilson has in opening one's eyes to the truth in new and inventive ways; in this case, how the Christian faith and life intersect. If you were to ONLY read two authors this year, I would be hard-pressed to find anyone better than these two.

With that said, Wilson has a great post this week in which he focuses on the idea of distant moral guilt where one is or at least feels guilty for the actions of some far-removed corporation which happens to supply said person with goods (e.g. Walmart and the controversy over "sweat shop" labor), though his thoughts apply to many other areas of Christianity as well.
In God in the Dock, Lewis addresses in his typical trenchant way the dangers of national repentance. And, of course, one of the first things to note is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with national repentance, the real kind. But sinners have a consistent way of foisting the guilt of their moral failings off onto the backs of the nearest available abstraction -- the age, the nation, the corporations, or the trends.

But the fundamental moral duties in Scripture are individual.
Now the reason it is wrong to invert everything like this is that obsessing about distant sin far, far away is almost always for the purpose of making room for sin near at hand (the personal kinds of sins that people commit against other people), or to atone for that same kind of personal guilt. It is either trying to get rid of guilt or make room for it, or both.

The bizarre moral duty to assume responsibilty for corporations on the other side of the world that might be doing something wrong is a moral duty that has been brought center stage and foisted upon us by a drunken, stoned, fornicating, sodomizing, porn-watching, unborn child murdering generation. And so what happens when blind men lead?
Tuesday, January 26, 2010

(HT: Steve G.)
"What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects - with their Christianity latent." - C.S. Lewis
Monday, January 25, 2010
A caller to Hugh Hewitt's radio show this evening made a great comment on the current health care bill. First, some background. As you may know, the bill currently nearing its (hopefully permanent) demise in the Senate has in it the requirement that all health insurance providers would eliminate any pre-condition dis-qualifiers. In other words, it would no longer matter how sick a person was, the law would require that the insurance company to which that person applied would provide full coverage notwithstanding the person's medical condition. So if some terminally ill patient came to ABC Insurance Co., they couldn't be turned away. Now there are some pretty clear problems with this provision.

One, obviously, is that it infringes on the freedom of an insurance provider to reject unwise contracts. If I ran a little insurance company on the side, I would be forced to sign a contractual agreement to pay for the care of anyone who came to my door.

Two, removing the ability to deny coverage means that someone has to foot the bill. Undoubtedly, the insurance company won't ultimately be the one, or they will go out of business. The cost will necessarily be passed down to all of their customers. Ultimately, only the big insurance companies will survive, but not before everyone is paying significantly more in premiums than they are currently paying. Guess who then comes to the rescue and nationalizes saves the entire health insurance world? That's right, the original creators of this Ponzi scheme, the U.S. government. Only then, they'll blame the big bad insurance companies for the high premiums... sound familiar?

So with that in mind, here is the comment from the caller: why do we stop with only eliminating pre-existing conditions for health insurance? Why not get rid of pre-existing conditions for life insurance and auto insurance as well? It shouldn't matter that someone has had a history of accidents and tickets on their driving record. Don't you realize how hard it is to pay for car insurance when your premiums are $500 a month? A lot of people are unable to afford car insurance, which means that legally, they can't drive. Which in turn means that it is very hard for them to hold a job, which means that they can't support their families.

Down with "pre-existing conditions"!
Mark Steyn has an insightful piece in this week's Maclean's on the increasingly ridiculous amount of airport security and its inverse relation to efficiency.
[TSA security officials] never look at you. Because they’re not looking for terrorists. They’re looking for things, and an ever-growing list of them.
I wonder how far out the “security” perimeter will eventually be drawn. Just as the micro-regulatory coerciveness of the pre-9/11 airline cabin has now spread to the airport, so eventually post-9/11 airport “security” will spread way beyond—all because the prevailing political culture cannot tell the truth about what’s happening.
"One day, kids, you too will be able to eloquently read someone else's tendentious speeches off teleprompter screens."
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thirty-seven years ago today, the SCOTUS case of Roe v. Wade was decided. Since then, nearly 50 million babies have been murdered in utero. That is more than twice the population of Australia, three times the number of residents of the Netherlands, and five times the number of Haitians currently fighting to survive. The abortion rate in this country skyrocketed during the 70's and peaked in the mid 80's. Since then, the rate has steadily decreased to the point that it is now about 70% of where it stood 25 years ago. The reason: evangelicals and ultrasounds.

At first, the only ones who cared about abortion were Catholics... it wasn't on evangelical Christians' radar. But that changed when the great evangelical Christian, Francis Schaeffer, marched with Catholics at the clinic just down the street from my home here in Minneapolis in the late 70's and wrote several books on the Christian necessity of involvement in the public sphere. Today, many evangelicals probably think that the evangelical Church has always been vehemently pro-life... but it was not so until one man stood up for life.

Another reason for the decline in abortions is the technological advances in ultrasounds and other prenatal equipment which now allows the medical staff and parents of babies to see the life inside the woman. The pro-life crisis pregnancy center across the street from the clinic where Schaeffer marched thirty years ago recently received a 4D ultrasound machine which has helped further open the eyes of the women who visit the clinic.

And such close-up views (and sounds) of unborn babies are not just changing the hearts and minds of women; abortion doctors and nurses are also fleeing their jobs. This article in next week's issue of "The Weekly Standard" details several such wonderful stories.
Pro-choice advocates like to point out that abortion has existed in all times and places. Yet that observation tends to obscure the radicalism of the present abortion regime in the United States. Until very recently, no one in the history of the world has had the routine job of killing well-developed fetuses quite so up close and personal. It is an experiment that was bound to stir pro-life sentiments even in the hearts of those staunchly devoted to abortion rights. Ultrasound and D&E bring workers closer to the beings they destroy. Hern and Corrigan concluded their study by noting that D&E leaves “no possibility of denying an act of destruction.” As they wrote, “It is before one’s eyes. The sensations of dismemberment run through the forceps like an electric current.”
For those who can make it, there are Marches for Life at every state capitol building in this nation. We're winning the fight, let's not let up with victory ever-increasingly in sight!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
This is GREAT news for those in this country who still appreciate free speech.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
Didn't someone say these Cowboys were supposed to be good?

As you pray this week for those suffering in the desolation of Haiti (which has now become apocalyptic due to the earthquake), remember also those stuck in the hell of North Korea. They've suffered under communist rule for over 50 years now, which means most North Koreans have never known freedom. This week, the blog covering all of Theodore Dalrymple's work reprinted an old essay by the venerable doctor about a visit he made to North Korea in 1989 under the pretense of being a British communist. What he saw reminds me of a scene right out of the movie "The Truman Show" where everything in the town of Seahaven is an empty set and were one to look behind the elevator, the jig would be up. Dalrymple offers us a look behind the North Korean "elevator"; it is astounding and horrendous:
I went several times during the festival to Pyongyang Department Store Number 1. This is in the very centre of the city. Its shelves and counters were groaning with locally produced goods, piled into impressive pyramids or in fan-like displays, perfectly arranged, throughout the several floors of the building. On the ground floor was a wide variety of tinned foods, hardware and alcoholic drinks, including a strong Korean liqueur with a whole snake pickled or marinated in the bottle, presumably as an aphrodisiac. Everything glittered with perfection, the tidiness was remarkable.

It didn't take long to discover that this was no ordinary department store. It was filled with thousands of people, going up and down the escalators, standing at the corners, going in and out of the front entrance in a constant stream both ways - yet nothing was being bought or sold. I checked this by standing at the entrance for half an hour. The people coming out were carrying no more than the people entering. Their shopping bags contained as much, or as little, when they left as when they entered. In some cases, I recognised people coming out as those who had gone in a few minutes before, only to see them re-entering the store almost immediately. And I watched a hardware counter for fifteen minutes. There were perhaps twenty people standing at it; there were two assistants behind the counter, but they paid no attention to the 'customers'. The latter and the assistants stared past each other in a straight line, neither moving nor speaking.

Eventually, they grew uncomfortably aware that they were under my observation. They began to shuffle their feet and wriggle, as if my regard pinned them like live insects to a board. The assistants too became restless and began to wonder what to do in these unforeseen circumstances. They decided that there was nothing for it but to distribute something under the eyes of this inquisitive foreigner. And so, all of a sudden, they started to hand out plastic wash bowls to the twenty 'customers', who took them (without any pretence of payment). Was it their good luck, then? Had they received something for nothing? No, their problems had just begun. What were they to do with their plastic wash bowls?
They milled around the counter in a bewildered fashion, clutching their bowls in one hand as if they were hats they had just doffed in the presence of a master. Some took them to the counter opposite to hand them in; some just waited until I had gone away. I would have taken a photograph, but I remembered just in time that these people were not participating in this charade from choice, that they were victims, and that - despite their expressionless faces and lack of animation - they were men with chajusong, that is to say creativity and consciousness, and to have photographed them would only have added to their degradation. I left the hardware counter, but returned briefly a little later: the same people were standing at it, sans brown plastic bowls, which were neatly re-piled on the shelf.
I did not know whether to laugh or explode with anger or weep. But I knew I was seeing one of the most extraordinary sights of the twentieth century.

I decided to buy something - a fountain pen. I went to the counter where pens were displayed like the fan of a peacock's tail. They were no more for sale than the Eiffel Tower. As I handed over my money, a crowd gathered round, for once showing signs of animation. I knew, of course, that I could not be refused: if I were, the game would be given away completely. And so the crowd watched goggle-eyed and disbelieving as this astonishing transaction took place: I gave the assistant a piece of paper and she gave me a pen.

The pen, as it transpired, was of the very worst quality. Its rubber for the ink was so thin that it would have perished immediately on contact with ink. The metal plunger was already rusted; the plastic casing was so brittle that the slightest pressure cracked it. And the box in which it came was of absorbent cardboard, through whose fibres the ink of the printing ran like capillaries on the cheeks of a drunk.
Department Store Number 1 was a tacit admission of the desirability of an abundance of material goods, consumption of which was very much a proper goal of mankind. Such an admission of the obvious would not have been in any way remarkable were it not that socialists so frequently deny it, criticising liberal capitalist democracy because of its wastefulness and its inculcation of artificial desires in its citizens, thereby obscuring their 'true' interests. By stocking Department Store Number 1 with as many goods as they could find, in order to impress foreign visitors, the North Koreans admitted that material plenty was morally preferable to shortage, and that scarcity was not a sign of abstemious virtue; rather it was proof of economic inefficiency. Choice, even in small matters, gives meaning to life. However well fed, however comfortable modern man might be without it, he demands choice as a right, not because it is economically superior, but as an end in itself. By pretending to offer it, the North Koreans acknowledged as much; and in doing so, recognised that they were consciously committed to the denial of what everyone wants.

But the most sombre reflection occasioned by Department Store Number 1 is that concerning the nature of the power that can command thousands of citizens to take part in a huge and deceitful performance, not once but day after day, without any of the performers ever indicating by even the faintest sign that he is aware of its deceitfulness, though it is impossible that he should not be aware of it. One might almost ascribe a macabre and sadistic sense of humour to the power, insofar as the performance it commands bears the maximum dissimilarity to the real experience and conditions of life of the performers. It is as if the director of a leper colony commanded the enactment of a beauty contest - something one might expect to see in, say, a psychologically depraved surrealist film. But this is no joke, and the humiliation it visits upon the people who take part in it, far from being a drawback, is an essential benefit to the power; for slaves who must participate in their own enslavement by signalling to others the happiness of their condition are so humiliated that they are unlikely to rebel.
"There is something awfully nice about reading a book again, with all the half-unconscious memories it brings back." - C.S. Lewis
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Harry Reid has recently gotten a bit of flack for some private comments he made about Obama awhile back. In the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Ward Connerly wondered if we can learn from this "teachable moment."
What followed [Reid's] public apology was all too predictable. Mr. Reid personally called President Obama and a handful of presumed leaders of the so-called African-American community—Julian Bond, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson among them—to beg forgiveness for his racial sin.

To no one's surprise, all of those to whom apologies were extended responded by accepting Mr. Reid's apology and saying that the nation had more important issues to deal with, such as health care and national security.

As I have observed coverage of this incident by the media and captains of the African-American community, I cannot help but be reminded of former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who made remarks praising Strom Thurmond in 2002. Mr. Lott said of the segregationist: "When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we [Mississippians] voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years either."

When Mr. Lott's controversy erupted, he apologized repeatedly and sincerely to one and all—even groveling on Black Entertainment Network—all to no avail. Black leaders were unforgiving and persisted in demanding that he either resign from his position or be removed. In the end, they got what they wanted.

When Rush Limbaugh wanted to buy into the St. Louis Rams last year, many of the same individuals who instantly accepted Mr. Reid's apology expressed outrage over allegedly racist statements made by Mr. Limbaugh, despite the fact that zero evidence of these statements existed. They demanded that his participation in the bid be rejected. Ultimately, they got what they wanted.
[I]t's hard to avoid the conclusion that the spirit of forgiveness is universal—except when it comes to conservatives.

For my part, I am having a difficult time determining what it was that Mr. Reid said that was so offensive.

Was it because he suggested that lighter-skinned blacks fare better in American life than their darker brothers and sisters? If so, ask blacks whether they find this to be true. Even the lighter-skinned ones, if they are honest with themselves, will agree that there is a different level of acceptance.

Was it because he used the politically incorrect term "negro"? If so, it should be noted that there are many blacks of my generation who continue to embrace this term. In fact, "negro" is an option along with "black" and "African-American" on the 2010 Census.

Was it because he implied that Mr. Obama might be cut some political slack because of his oratorical skills or his looks? If so, that fact was not harmful to Joe Biden, who was elected vice president after praising Mr. Obama as "articulate" and "clean-looking."

Or, finally, could it be viewed as offensive that Mr. Reid suggested that blacks often have a distinctive way of speaking? If that is, indeed, the offense, then I will offend a lot of individuals when I assert that I can tell in probably 90% of the cases whether an individual is black merely by talking to him on the telephone.

In short, this incident does not rise to the level that it prompts me to join the parade of those who urge Mr. Reid to resign because of it. There are far more substantive matters over which the Senate majority leader's performance should be judged—and I find his performance seriously flawed on any number of them.

Still, to quote President Obama, from another race incident, "this is a teachable moment." This one doesn't warrant a beer summit, but it does require serious reflection for the good of our nation.

We are too quick to take offense about race when none was intended. Some are too anxious to manufacture outrage over matters that do not justify the attention that we give them. And we are too quick to politicize race. {emphasis added}

As far as I'm concerned, Messrs. Bond, Sharpton, Jackson and a host of other Americans formerly identified as "negroes" have forever forfeited the right to be outraged whenever a Republican or a talk show host makes an inappropriate or "insensitive" racial comment.
If the health care bill passes, every American will be required to buy health insurance or face jail time. If that comes as a surprise to you, time to WAKE UP! If it doesn't, what may surprise you is that there is a clause in the current bill to allow people (like the Amish) to opt out based on their religious conscience.
The Amish, as well as some other religious sects, are covered by a "religious conscience" exemption, which allows people with religious objections to insurance to opt out of the mandate. It is in both the House and Senate versions of the bill, making its appearance in the final version routine unless there are last-minute objections.

Although the Amish consist of several branches, some more conservative than others, they generally rely upon a community ethic that disdains government assistance. Families rely upon one another, and communities pitch in to help neighbors pay health care expenses.
It seems like the American Church is long overdue in following in the BIBLICAL footsteps of its Amish sister. All Christians should be helping each other pay for health care expenses rather than relying on the teat of state aid. If this bill passes, we should all grow a "religious conscience" and begin co-ops where the local church cares for each other's needs, as the early church did.
"[When I was an atheist] my argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it?... Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist - in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless - I found that I was forced to assume that one part of reality - namely my idea of justice - was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning." - C.S. Lewis
Monday, January 11, 2010
Dr. Dalrymple wrote an excellent column this month for the New English Review discussing the current global economic recession and where the blame should be laid. The version of the crisis here in America had several causes, not least of which was the sub-prime mortgage industry. The government should take a lot of the blame (of course they don't) for supporting the proliferation of bad loans. But perhaps the fault lies not just with some bank execs, mortgage brokers, or politicians. Perhaps we the people need to recognize that the bulk of responsibility falls on us... after all, as Dalrymple points out, "while you can lead a man to a loan, you cannot make him borrow." This whole issue serves as a perfect case study of how dumb legislation and governmental policies can drastically affect the moral behavior of a citizenry. If a policy encourages a certain behavior, no matter how vile that behavior may seem, a society will begin to embrace it. Look at welfare. Welfare encourages laziness, improvidence, and a sense of entitlement... so it is no surprise when those who receive welfare, rather than rise out of their low estate, sink farther down into them and become permanently stuck there. But, as Dalrymple discusses, this doesn't leave the masses innocent in the ordeal just because some self-preening mandarins enabled their vice.
Like many people, no doubt, I have been reflecting of late on an economic crisis that does not yet appear to me to be quite over, since many of its causes are still in operation, and despite the recovery everywhere of the stock markets. The crisis hardly affected me personally, but no man is an island and all that; besides, crises have a habit of eventually engulfing even those who thought themselves immune from their effects. It would only take a little inflation for me to start feeling some serious anxiety on my own behalf.

In the meantime, the search for people to blame continues. This is hardly surprising, because blaming is so much more fun than the supposedly more fruitful and intellectually mature activity of explaining.
There can be no doubt, I think, that bankers and assorted financiers have been amply excoriated, as far as I can see quite rightly, in the press and elsewhere. Nor have governments entirely escaped their share of the blame. Both by acts and omissions they created the circumstances in which crooked, or at least less than scrupulous, practices could escape detection. Moreover, all western governments (as far as I can see) have been operating Madoff schemes for many years, the main difference between Mr Madoff and themselves, apart from the matter of scale, being that governments can coerce contributions while Mr Madoff could merely solicit them. Whether this makes western governments or Mr Madoff the more villainous, I leave to moral philosophers to decide.
Having blamed the bankers and the governments, however, it is now time to turn the spotlight of blame onto ourselves: if by ourselves we mean the common or ordinary people. Here, on the whole, criticism has been much more muted or reticent, no doubt because it is not exactly bon ton in our democratic age to suggest that ordinary people are fully as capable of every human vice as those who rule over them.

But the fact is that it is not only governments that have been improvident and have spent well beyond their means; millions, scores of millions, of perfectly ordinary people have done so as well, and have behaved not only as if there were no tomorrow but as if there could be no tomorrow. In so far as they thought about their debts at all, they thought they could merely walk away from them, as if to do so were of no moral or characterological significance. Another day, another default, seems to have been their motto.

It could, I suppose, be said in their defence that almost everything possible has been done to encourage them in their improvidence. In the United States successive governments encouraged, indeed required, banks to lend money to people whom the banks knew to be bad risks.
No doubt it was very wrong of banks to offer credit to the uncreditworthy: but while you can lead a man to a loan, you cannot make him borrow. To give a feckless man a credit card is both wrong and feckless; but the man to whom it is given does not cease thereby to be feckless himself when he spends money he is never going to have.

Moreover, the figures for personal indebtedness, in America, Britain and elsewhere, suggest that fecklessness or improvidence are far from being the characteristics of a few individuals but have rather become almost normal, at least in the statistical sense. The idea of cutting one's coat according to one's cloth, or of taking pride in owing nothing (in the financial sense) to anyone, has disappeared among us.
How people behave is determined by what they believe; and if they come to believe that slow accretion is the policy of fools and that maximum consumption in the here and now is the only meaning of life, it is hardly surprising if what you get is an orgy of speculation combined with insouciant expenditure.

Of course, there is a wealth of question-begging in the phrase 'if they come to believe,' for how do people come to believe anything? Why do they change their minds, such that those things that once seemed to them good now seem to them bad, and vice versa? Still, enquiry must stop somewhere if we are to hold an opinion about anything; the search for ultimate or final causes of social phenomena often conceals a cowardly refusal to say anything that could possibly be contradicted by anyone or that risks refutation. And it doesn't really matter how people come to believe what they do believe, so long as it is accepted that what they believe is what causes them to behave as they do.

No doubt a twenty-third century revisionist historian will then come along and say that the whole debate is beside the point in any case, since there was no decline in the financial probity and prudence of the population in the years specified. This will be proved by a re-working of the statistics, which will show that the supposedly high levels of personal indebtedness were really nothing of the kind. Everyone layman will end up thoroughly confused and not knowing what to believe.

Really, though, it is all quite simple. Our banks were no good; our government was no good; and we were no good. Apart from that, everything was fine.
Mark Steyn wrote a scathing piece this week on the failure of the Obama administration to properly and honestly address Islamic terrorism. Here's a snippet:
Not long after the Ayatollah Khomeini announced his fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the British novelist suddenly turned up on a Muslim radio station in West London late one night and told his interviewer he'd converted to Islam. Marvelous religion, couldn't be happier, Allahu Akbar and all that.

And the Ayatollah said hey, that's terrific news, glad to hear it. But we're still gonna kill you.

Well, even a leftie novelist wises up under those circumstances.

Evidently, the president of the United States takes a little longer.

Barack Obama has spent the past year doing big-time Islamoschmoozing... at the end of it the jihad sent America a thank-you note by way of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's underwear: Hey, thanks for all the outreach! But we're still gonna kill you.

According to one poll, 58 percent of Americans are in favor of waterboarding young Umar Farouk. Well, you should have thought about that before you made a community organizer president of the world's superpower. The election of Barack Obama was a fundamentally unserious act by the U.S. electorate, and you can't blame the world's mischief-makers, from Putin to Ahmadinejad to the many Gitmo recidivists now running around Yemen, from drawing the correct conclusion.
Again, to be fair, it isn't just Obama. Last November, the electorate voted, in effect, to repudiate the previous eight years and seemed genuinely under the delusion that wars end when one side decides it's all a bit of a bore, and they'd rather the government spend the next eight years doing to health care and the economy what they were previously doing to jihadist camps in Waziristan.

On the other hand, if we are now at war, as Obama belatedly concedes, against whom are we warring? "We are at war against al-Qaida," says the president.

Really? But what does that mean? Was the previous month's "isolated extremist," the Fort Hood killer, part of al-Qaida? When it came to spiritual advice, he turned to the same Yemeni-based American-born imam as the Pantybomber, but he didn't have a fully paid-up membership card.
The broader psychosis that manifested itself only the other day in an axe murderer breaking into a Danish cartoonist's home to kill him because he objects to his cartoon is, likewise, a phenomenon of Islam. This is not to say (to go wearily through the motions) that all Muslims are potential suicide bombers and axe murderers, but it is to state the obvious – that this "war" is about the intersection of Islam and the West, and its warriors are recruited in the large pool of young Muslim manpower, not in Yemen and Afghanistan so much as in Copenhagen and London.

But the president of the United States cannot say that because he is overinvested in a fantasy – that, if only that Texan moron Bush had read Khalid Sheikh Mohammed his Miranda rights and bowed as low as Obama did to the Saudi king, we wouldn't have all these problems. So now Obama says, "We are at war." But he cannot articulate any war aims or strategy because they would conflict with his illusions. And so we will stagger on, playing defense, pulling more and more items out of our luggage – tweezers, shoes, shampoo, snow globes, suppositories – and reacting to every new provocation with greater impositions upon the citizenry.

You can't win by putting octogenarian nuns through full-body scanners.

All you can do is lose slowly. After all, if you can't even address what you're up against with any honesty, you can't blame the other side for drawing entirely reasonable conclusions about your faintheartedness in taking them on.

After that cringe-making radio interview, Salman Rushdie subsequently told The Times of London that trying to appease his would-be killers and calling for his own book to be withdrawn was the biggest mistake of his life. If only the president of the United States was such a quick study.
Read it all here.
"If Christianity only means one more bit of good advice, then Christianity is of no importance. There has been no lack of good advice for the last four thousand years. A bit more makes no difference." - C.S. Lewis
Friday, January 08, 2010
This guy was a class act last night!
Thursday, January 07, 2010
As I mentioned in my last post, reporter and commentator Brit Hume (pictured above) got into a little trouble with the liberal intelligentsia because he suggested that Tiger Woods turn away from Buddhism and turn to Christianity. Ann Coulter, in one of her best columns, wondered this week what the fuss is all about.
Someone mentioned Christianity on television recently and liberals reacted with their usual howls of rage and blinking incomprehension.
In The Washington Post, Tom Shales demanded that Hume apologize, saying he had "dissed about half a billion Buddhists on the planet."

Is Buddhism about forgiveness? Because, if so, Buddhists had better start demanding corrections from every book, magazine article and blog posting ever written on the subject, which claims Buddhists don't believe in God, but try to become their own gods.

I can't imagine that anyone thinks Tiger's problem was that he didn't sufficiently think of himself as a god, especially after that final putt in the Arnold Palmer Invitational last year.

In light of Shales' warning Hume about "what people are saying" about him, I hope Hume's a Christian, but that's not apparent from his inarguable description of Christianity. Of course, given the reaction to his remarks, apparently one has to be a regular New Testament scholar to have so much as a passing familiarity with the basic concept of Christianity.

On MSNBC, David Shuster invoked the "separation of church and television" (a phrase that also doesn't appear in the Constitution), bitterly complaining that Hume had brought up Christianity "out-of-the-blue" on "a political talk show."

Why on earth would Hume mention religion while discussing a public figure who had fallen from grace and was in need of redemption and forgiveness? Boy, talk about coming out of left field!

What religion -- what topic -- induces this sort of babbling idiocy? (If liberals really want to keep people from hearing about God, they should give Him his own show on MSNBC.)

Most perplexing was columnist Dan Savage's indignant accusation that Hume was claiming that Christianity "offers the best deal -- it gives you the get-out-of-adultery-free card that other religions just can't."

In fact, that's exactly what Christianity does. It's the best deal in the universe.
God sent his only son to get the crap beaten out of him, die for our sins and rise from the dead. If you believe that, you're in. Your sins are washed away from you -- sins even worse than adultery! -- because of the cross.

"He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross." Colossians 2:14.

Surely you remember the cross, liberals -- the symbol banned by ACLU lawsuits from public property throughout the land?

Christianity is simultaneously the easiest religion in the world and the hardest religion in the world.

In the no-frills, economy-class version, you don't need a church, a teacher, candles, incense, special food or clothing; you don't need to pass a test or prove yourself in any way. All you'll need is a Bible (in order to grasp the amazing deal you're getting) and probably a water baptism, though even that's disputed.

You can be washing the dishes or walking your dog or just sitting there minding your business hating Susan Sarandon and accept that God sent his only son to die for your sins and rise from the dead ... and you're in!

"Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9.

If you do that, every rotten, sinful thing you've ever done is gone from you. You're every bit as much a Christian as the pope or Billy Graham.

No fine print, no "your mileage may vary," no blackout dates. God ought to do a TV spot: "I'm God Almighty, and if you can find a better deal than the one I'm offering, take it."
In a boiling rage, liberals constantly accuse Christians of being "judgmental." No, we're relieved.

Christianity is also the hardest religion in the world because, if you believe Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead, you have no choice but to give your life entirely over to Him. No more sexual promiscuity, no lying, no cheating, no stealing, no killing inconvenient old people or unborn babies -- no doing what all the other kids do.

And no more caring what the world thinks of you -- because, as Jesus warned in a prophecy constantly fulfilled by liberals: The world will hate you.

With Christianity, your sins are forgiven, the slate is wiped clean and your eternal life is guaranteed through nothing you did yourself, even though you don't deserve it. It's the best deal in the universe.
About a year ago, political commentator Andrew Breitbart started a blog called Big Hollywood, which serves as an online oasis for conservatives who make their living in Hollywood and as a portal for Hollywood-related columns written from a conservative perspective. Check it out sometime; they have some good movie reviews.

Recently, there was a bit of a dust-up over news reporter Brit Hume's comments on Fox News where he advised Tiger Woods to turn away from Buddhism and turn to Christ if he wanted true forgiveness and healing. You can find more on Brit Hume on Denny Burk's blog. Anyway, I found this solid post on Big Hollywood by Adam Baldwin (of "Chuck" fame) which really hits the mark.
On Fox News Sunday, panelist Brit Hume offered a hopeful New Year’s message for the fallen Tiger Woods:
“Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether he can recover as a person, I think, is a very open question… the extent to which he can recover, it seems to me, depends on his faith. He’s said to be a Buddhist, I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So, my message to Tiger would be: ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith, and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.’”
As an avid golfer, Christian man, and therefore a witness to the historic fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Mr. Hume clearly offered his message in good faith with honest concern for both Tiger’s future and for that of his family, friends, fans and business associates.

Sadly however, some drones of Secularism have reflexively stomped on their Political Correctness brakes; stinging at Mr. Hume with personal demonization, as if he’d somehow committed a sin against their totalitarian faith...
Forgiving all that for now as merely clumsy bombast, their point — and others’ like Tom Shales is clearly to intimidate Americans. It is to thwart and punish people who speak publicly in Jesus’ name. It is to force people into adhering to Secularism’s unwritten rulebook and principles, not the Bible or First Amendment — whither the Free Exercise Clause?
Secularism conveniently provides its followers a comfort of religious (and/or political) false-neutrality.

But, Secularism is not an impartial philosophy, it is an ardent competitor in the arena of ideas, and must be treated accordingly.

Hunter Baker defines Secularism as “a radical concept that involves the privatization of religious belief: [i.e.] when we are together in the public square, if we are ‘virtuous and civil’ then we will not speak of religion at all, we will confine it to our private lives and presumably – many elites believe – when we do that, religious belief will eventually disappear.”

From their scornful pedestals, Secularism’s faithful entitle themselves to preach intolerance towards varying viewpoints as a means to stifle civil public discourse into one party rule.
My wife and I went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie. I'd give it 3 out of 4 stars. It's very entertaining, reasonably faithful to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work, and well-made. The only qualm I have with the film after some thought is that the main plot is a bit of a logical stretch and Holmes isn't quite as deductively brilliant as one would expect (I figured out some of the plot reveals before he did, which should not happen). The main takeaway I had from the movie is the intense desire to read through my copy of the whole Holmes set. Here is a good review of the movie (includes a couple other review links at the bottom which are worth noting).

Dalrymple also chimed in this past week on the topic of Sherlock Holmes after a visit to India, where the crime novels are particularly popular.
Conan Doyle tells of how old men come up to him to tell him that they remembered with fondness reading the Sherlock Holmes stories in their childhood, though in fact they could not have done so because the stories had not yet been written when they were children. It is as if Conan Doyle had managed to express something for the first time that lay hidden deep in the human psyche. It is not only that once you have read Sherlock Holmes you never forget him; it goes far deeper than that; it is that you felt there was never a time when you had not read him.

The popularity of the Sherlock Holmes canon is not of a superficial kind, like that of the latest pulp-fiction bestseller, but — if I may so put it — of a deep and abiding kind. For Sherlock Holmes attracts not only the casual reader, those of average intelligence or ability, but the deep student and the brilliantly gifted.
Conan Doyle’s fundamental humanity and decency, as evident in his life as in his work, shine through the [Sherlockian] canon. This in itself is a matter of interest, if it is accepted — as I think it should be — that the canon is itself a manifestation of literary genius. We have been so persuaded that genius and disgraceful conduct go together that we find it difficult to believe that an affable man such as Conan Doyle can be possessed both of goodness and of superior talent; indeed, appalling conduct is sometimes itself taken as evidence of the greatest talent. If geniuses are badly behaved, ought that not to mean that the badly behaved are geniuses?
Conan Doyle no less than Holmes himself was an enemy of injustice, and his instinct for when it had been committed was strong. The unusual generosity of Conan Doyle’s feelings is evident in the story “The Yellow Face,” written at a time when racial prejudice, if not quite universal, was at least very strong indeed. The story revolves around the fact that an Englishwoman has had a child in Atlanta, Ga., by a black husband, an excellent man, who died in the great fire there. Returning to England, she falls in love with and marries a man called Grant Munro, from whom she desperately tries to conceal the evidence of her “shame,” the child she had by her first husband. When Grant Munro discovers the mixed-race child, however, he does not react as his wife expects: “It was a long ten minutes before Grant Munro broke the silence, and when his answer came it was one of which I [Dr. Watson] love to think. He lifted the little child, kissed her, and then, still carrying her, he held his other hand out to his wife. . . . ‘I am not a very good man, Effie, but I think that I am a better one than you have given me credit for being.’”
No film, however good or bad, can add to or diminish the luster of Conan Doyle’s inspired creation. There is no doubt that this great and good man added enormously to the pleasure and instruction of the human race. Of how many of us can this be said?
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Investor's Business Daily has a piece this week on a new study which shows that CO2 doesn't pose a risk to the Earth after all. What? You mean God knew what He was doing? Astonishing!
A new study shows that Earth's ability to absorb carbon dioxide from all sources, including man, has remained unchanged for 160 years. As it turns out, there may be no carbon to offset.

A major tenet of the global warming religion, straight from the Book of Gore, has been that the ability of the earth to handle increasing CO2 emissions is finite and that once the "tipping point" is reached, the earth will warm uncontrollably. Well, another climate domino has fallen — the myth that man-made CO2 is leading to climate catastrophe.

This "settled science" has been upended by an unsettling (for warm-mongers) new study out of the University of Bristol in England. Unlike the Climate-gate charlatans at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, Wolfgang Knorr of Bristol's Earth Sciences Department followed the data where it led instead of trying to manipulate it to "hide the decline" in global temperatures the earth has experienced in the last decade.

The new study, published in the online journal Geophysical Research Letters, does not deny that increasing amounts of CO2 have been generated as the world has industrialized, eradicated disease, produced agricultural abundance and improved man's standard of living. It does show that only 45% of man's emissions, not 100% as warmers claim, stays in the atmosphere, and that includes the carbon emissions of the private jets that flew to Copenhagen last month and the limos that drove the occupants around.

The rest is absorbed by nature, and that percentage hasn't changed since 1850. Knorr arrived at that figure by relying solely on measurements and statistical data, including historical records extracted from Antarctic ice. He did not rely, as the CRU did, on badly written computer models with built-in fudge factors to direct the data to a foregone conclusion.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Mark Steyn has his usual witty analysis in full gear this week, this time taking on the recent attempt by a Nigerian Muslim to blow up a jet over Detroit.
On Christmas Day, a gentleman from Nigeria succeeded (effortlessly) in boarding a flight to Detroit with a bomb in his underwear. Pretty funny, huh?

But the Pantybomber wasn't the big joke. The real laugh was the United States government. The global hyperpower spent the next week making itself a laughingstock to the entire planet. First, the bureaucrats at the TSA swung into action with a whole new range of restrictions.

Against radical Yemen-trained Muslims wearing weaponized briefs? Of course not. That would be too obvious. So instead they imposed a slew of constraints against you. At Heathrow last week, they were permitting only one item of carry-on on U.S. flights. In Toronto, no large purses.

Um, the Pantybomber didn't have a purse. He brought the bomb on board under his private parts, and his private parts weren't part of his carry-on (although, if reports of injuries sustained in his failed mission are correct, they may well have been part of his carry-off). But no matter. If in doubt, blame the victim. The TSA announced that for the last hour of the flight no passenger can use the toilets or have anything on his lap – not a laptop, not a blanket, not a stewardess, not even a paperback book. I can't wait for the first lawsuit after an infidel flight attendant confiscates a litigious imam's Koran as they're coming into LAX.
The only good news was that the derision was so universal that the TSA promptly reined in some of their wackier impositions a couple of days later. But by then Janet Incompetano, the Homeland Security secretary, had gone on TV and declared to the world that there was nothing to worry about: "The system worked."

Indeed, it worked "smoothly." The al-Qaida trainee on a terrorist watch list, a man banned from the United Kingdom and reported to the CIA by his own father, got on board the plane, assembled the bomb, and attempted to detonate it. But don't worry 'bout a thing; the system worked.

Twenty-four hours later, Secretary Incompetano was back on TV to protest that her words had been taken "out of context."
But by then the president of the United States had also taken to the airwaves. For three days, he had remained silent – which I believed is a world record for the 44th president. Since Jan. 20, 2009, it's been difficult to switch on the TV and not find him yakking – accepting an award in Oslo for not being George W Bush, doing Special Olympics gags with Jay Leno, apologizing for America to some dictator or other... but across the electric wires an eerie still had descended. And when the president finally spoke, even making allowances for his usual detached cool, he sounded less like a commander-in-chief addressing the nation after an attempted attack than an assistant DA at a Cook County press conference announcing a drugs bust: "Here's what we know so far... As the plane made its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport, a passenger allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device... The suspect was immediately subdued... The suspect is now in custody and has been charged..."

Etc., etc., piling up one desiccated legalism on another: "Allegedly..."

"suspect..." "charged..." The president can't tell an allegedly alleged suspect (which is what he is in Obama fantasy land) from an enemy combatant (which is what he is in cold, hard reality). But worse than the complacent cop-show jargonizing was a phrase it's hard to read as anything other than a deliberate attempt to mislead the public: the president referred to the Knickerbomber as an "isolated extremist." By this time, it was already clear that young Umar had been radicalized by jihadist networks in London and fast-tracked to training in Yemen by terror operatives who understood the potentially high value of a westernized Muslim with excellent English from a respectable family. Yet President Obama tried to pass him off as some sort of lone misfit who wakes up one morning and goes bananas. Could happen to anyone.

But, if it takes the White House three days to react to an attack on the United States, their rapid-response unit can fire back in nothing flat when Dick Cheney speaks. "It is telling," huffed the president's Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, "that Vice President Cheney and others seem to be more focused on criticizing the administration than condemning the attackers."

"Condemning the attackers"? What happened to all the allegedly alleged stuff? Shouldn't that be "condemning the alleged isolated attacker"? The communications director seems to be wandering a bit off-message here, whatever the message is: The system worked, so we're inconveniencing you even more. The system failed, but the alleged suspect is an isolated extremist, so why won't that cowardly squish Cheney have the guts to condemn the attacker and his vast network of associates?

The real message was conveyed by Fouad Ajami, discussing the new administration's foreign policy in The Wall Street Journal: "No despot fears Mr. Obama, and no blogger in Cairo or Damascus or Tehran, no demonstrator in those cruel Iranian streets, expects Mr. Obama to ride to the rescue." True. Another Iranian deadline passed on New Year's Eve, but the United States will set a new one for Groundhog Day or whenever.

And, just as the thug states understand they now have the run of the planet, so do the terror cells. A thwarted terror attack at Christmas is bad enough. Spending the following week making yourself a global joke is worse. Every A-list despot and dime store jihadist got that message loud and clear – and so did American allies already feeling semi-abandoned by this most parochial of presidents. Expect a bumpy 12 months ahead. Happy New Year.
Monday, January 04, 2010
So today marks the third anniversary of the start of this ol' blog. I've posted exactly 500 times in that span, and my tastes in subject matter have changed slightly over the years. Once or twice I've come close to shutting it down (for lack of readership or motivation), but since it primarily serves as a way for me to think out loud (while not annoying my wife with my political, theological, and cultural rants), and the fact that the readership/commenting has increased steadily over the last year, I've kept it going and hope to do so for the foreseeable future. So with that in mind, I thought it would be fun to go back through the archives and highlight a handful of posts which still strike my fancy or are worth a second look (or first look, as is more likely for most readers).

An Atheist Applauds Christianity
Questioning Emergents
Piper and the Prosperity Gospel
Communism Never Dies
A Great Book on Culture
Abortion in Europe
Climate Change 35 Years Ago
In-roads into Islam
Is Your Wife a Calvinist?
Lewis on Intellectuals
The Case Against Organic
Thought Police
Chuck Norris Pounds Pluralism
A Great Book on Evil
It Will All be Worth It
How a President Affects Abortion
The War Over Evangelicalism
Network TV Eviscerates Pluralism
Canterbury Loves Sharia
We Are All Josh Hamilton
Positive and Negative Rights
Avoid High Places
A Myth of Capitalism
RIP, Emergent Church
Christ in the Garden
Penn and Proselytizing
Christians and Capital Punishment
See God's Holiness
Driscoll on Devotions
"Clothed in Rainbows..."
The 10 Cannots
After one commenter on my Ave Atque Vale post mentioned that remembering that the ultimate end of all people, celebrities included, is death can be the best available lead-in to the Gospel, I thought a follow-up post with a few pictures of their graves might further drive home that very point.

Dr. Dalrymple wrote a fun little poke at the seeming futility of New Year's resolutions last week.
Until she was well into her 80s, my mother used to make New Year's resolutions. I am not sure whether this indicates that hope, effort or self-deception spring eternal in the human breast. Or perhaps all three at once.
Does there come a time in life when we wake from the dream of self-improvement, when we can accept with a good grace that our character, our habits and our tastes are fixed, and that this must be true of other people as well as of ourselves? One of my recurring New Year's resolutions is to remain calm, polite and good-humored in the presence of opinions that not only differ from mine but (what amounts to the same thing) are either stupid or wicked.

The problem is that no one seems willing to meet me halfway. So it is not really my fault if I cannot stick to my resolution.
I would add that, on a serious note, there is a lot of truth to this. Outside of Christ, Dr. Greg House is right, people never change. That's why it is all the more amazing when Jesus does change a life.
I'm shocked that global warming/climate change/being "green" didn't make this list from the New York Times. I guess it just gives us one more hint that 2009 was the year that warm-mongering died.

It seems there is no end to the totalitarian project over in California.
Bay Area air pollution inspectors found 47 violators burning wood fires illegally during Christmas Day's Spare the Air alert — which was declared because cold, unhealthful air had been forecast.

The tally was more than double the 22 violators detected on Thanksgiving, when the Bay Area Air Quality Management District also called a Spare the Air alert.

Violators get written warnings for a first offense and $400 fines for a second offense.

While critics have bashed the air district for intruding on a holiday burning tradition, a spokesman for the agency defended the Christmas crackdown Monday, saying it was done to protect public health from soot that can trigger asthma attacks, and aggravate other respiratory and heart problems.

"We know a lot of people like to burn on this holiday, but it's our duty to protect public health," said Ralph Borrmann, the spokesman.
The biggest problem here isn't the government. Governments tend to do this sort of nanny-state thing. It's in their blood. What is disconcerting is the behavior of the citizenry. They're reporting people for BURNING A FIRE IN THEIR HOUSE!!! This is the Soviet Union all over again.

(HT: Steve M.)
As a child, I had the pleasure of reading the Tintin comic books, pretty rare for an American kid. My dad grew up in Africa, where he was originally introduced to Tintin, one of the most famous and loved comics in the world (Charles de Gaulle even once remarked that his "only international rival [was] Tintin" and Andy Warhol called Tintin's creator, Hergé, one of his most important influences). Yet here in the US, few people have heard of Tintin, Captain Haddock, or Professor Calculus. That is about to change. Next year, Steven Spielberg is releasing a movie based on three of the Tintin comic books, with he and Peter Jackson intending on doing at least one more Tintin movie later. Jamie Bell will play Tintin, Andy Serkis (Gollum from The Lord of the Rings) will be Haddock, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost will play the Thom(p)son Twins (that should be hilarious!), and Daniel Craig will appear as Red Rackham (the villian). Recently, the New York Times wrote a piece on the late Hergé here. Keep your eyes open for this release, it is sure to make millions overseas!
Sunday, January 03, 2010

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1,370,000 aborted babies, which in pennies stacks 1 1/4 miles high.

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »