|One Nation, Under God...||
"The real democratic American ideal is, not that every man shall be on a level with every other man, but |
that every man shall have liberty to be what God made him, without hindrance." --Henry Ward Beecher
Check this cat out:
Friday, April 18, 2003
Posted 11:33 AM by WiN
Pastor found moonlighting as bank robber
The pastor of a church just up the street from my house decided to augment his income by making anonymous withdrawals from various area financial institutions.
Guess the bake sales and car washes didn't generate quite enough revenue for the missions fund.
Thursday, April 17, 2003
Posted 2:44 PM by WiN
Only 71% for Bush
John Cole goes off on the Daily Kos because Kos think's Bush's approval ratings aren't high enough. I'd give it an 8.5 on the rant-o-meter. Check it out.
Posted 2:31 PM by WiN
Kindness can be a 'weapon'
Another great post from Joe Katzman at Winds of Change - Kindness is a Weapon, Too.
As the POWs head back for treatment and "decompression," and the allies lay the foundations for a new Iraq, these stories need to be told. In a region awash in hate, they offer kindness. In a region awash in bluster, they offer an example of quiet courage that ties to deeper cultural stories of hospitality and kindness. In a region where pride is purchased with death, they offer a kind of pride purchased instead with grace and decency under pressure.Amen.
Posted 2:18 PM by WiN
Baghdad Bob R.I.P
Two Iranian newspapers claimed Tuesday that Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, aka "Baghdad Bob" and "Comical Ali", hanged himself hours before coalition forces took control of Baghdad. (link from Sgt. Stryker via Winds of Change). Hokiepundit's post on Sgt. Stryker is hilarious - a fitting tribute.
Posted 1:42 PM by WiN
Iraqis - Rich and Poor
No sooner had the regime bitten the dust than the looting began and the Rakasans were monitoring it as best they could while securing the airfield. That's when Capt. Christian Teutsch of Richmond, Mass., arrived, our escort to the fiesta going on over there.I recommend you read the whole thing.
Posted 1:05 PM by WiN
If you are disgusted by self-puffery, you may want to avert your eyes. Guess what the ol' referrer logs just revealed? If you look in the Yahoo! directory under Weblogs > Politics, guess who you'll find? Give up? Moi! One of 62, right there next to Glenn Reynolds, Josh Marshall, Mickey Kaus, Eric Alterman, Gary Hart(!) and Andrew Sullivan. I
Posted 12:48 PM by WiN
Who/where is 'Salam Pax'?
One of the great stories during the run-up to the war in Iraq was the emergence of blogger 'Salam Pax' (a seeming pseudonym made up of the word for 'peace' in arabic and latin). It has now become one of the great mysteries of the day, as he/she has not posted since about the time coalition bombers hit one of the major information centers in Baghdad (where he was supposedly blogging from) which may have ended his ability to connect to his ISP. Some even suspected that his less-than-complimentary comments about the Ba'athist regime may have occasioned an unwelcome visit from a government official.
Anyway, Steven den Beste has a theory on who 'Salam Pax' may have been (hint: the guy's name is Raed, and the name of Pax's blog was 'Where is Raed?'). That apparently got The MinuteMan to thinking about another blogger who lives in New York (Raed was arrested in New York) who has had some blog problems of late, and who's site is now permanently down, Diana Moon of Letter From Gotham. He thinks the two may be tied together. Go see what you think.
Posted 10:13 AM by WiN
Bush - unbeatable
Now that the war in Iraq is in the mop-up stage and liberated Iraqis are in the process of taking the first steps to self-rule, some are already reading the tea leaves for the 2004 presidential race. Although Democrats may hope for a replay of the 1992 collapse of Bush I, a close look at the circumstances surrounding both races points to an almost insurmountable advantage for Bush II in 04. Terence Jeffrey, editor of Human Events, makes a convincing case for a Bush win by discussing some important differences in the political climate between 91 and today. This strikes me as the most salient argument he makes:
Bush II has a solid Republican Party behind him. Bush I did not. Seven months before the Gulf War, he had dropped a bunker-buster on his own political base. In 1988, candidate Bush won the devotion of conservatives by declaring, "Read my lips: No new taxes." In June 1990, he betrayed that pledge by offering to negotiate "tax revenue increases" with Democratic leaders.Jeffrey also points out that, while Bush II has not been a hard-line conservative in many of his initiatives (a pork-riddled education bill and the protectionist steel tariffs, to name two), he has stood staunchly behind the twin pillars of conservative policy, tax reduction and strict constitutionalism in the judiciary, that will energize support on both sides of the conservative political spectrum. That, combined with his impressive post-9/11 leadership and strong national defense policy, should serve to draw support at the polls from both self-identified conservatives and moderate swing voters.
On the other side of the ballot, the wide Democratic presidential field is busily re-evaluating strategy in light of the swift coalition victory in Iraq and the administration's continued successes in the international war on terror. Vocal anti-war candidates like Howard Dean had their hopes for broad Democratic support toppled along with Baghdad statuary, while pro-liberation candidates like Joe Lieberman must work overtime to try to win radical leftist peaceniks to his cause. Wafflers like front-runner John Kerry may have a hard time convincing the broad middle that he would be as tough on terror as Bush while implementing sound fiscal policy that would jump-start a moribund economy without cutting taxes. Almost any compromise tax bill that crosses Bush's desk will serve to speed the slowly-gathering momentum towards economic recovery and produce a steady growth trend in the stock market that would send positive signals well in advance of the fast-approaching election cycle. Another wild card for Democrats is a possible (threatened) independent candidacy by Al Sharpton that would siphon off a large part of the crucial black vote.
What could derail the Bush train? A couple of unlikely, but quite possible, events. Probably the worst possible scenario would be a total breakdown of budget negotiations that delay implementation of any tax relief until too late to affect the economy going into next Spring. Tax regulation changes, particularly those that stimulate business investment and reduce dividend taxation, must remain retroactive to January of this year. The second, probably less harmful, scenario would be a total collapse of the rebuilding process in Iraq, marred by sectarian and tribal squabbles and intermittent terrorist violence. The administration has taken the right first steps, but must remain highly focused on re-establishing order, selecting and training native administrators and implementing a quick and orderly withdrawal of coalition forces. There are a multitude of ways the rebuilding process could go disastrously wrong, but all indications are that the right people are at the tiller to guide it through the treacherous waters ahead.
So how will it all pan out? The Democratic primaries will probably narrow to a two or three-man race very quickly due to the compressed schedule. I look for Lieberman and Kerry to be the front-runners going into the convention. If Kerry is nominated, he will go negative early on and could get trounced. If Lieberman gets the nod, with an Edwards or Gephardt to shore up his chances in Middle-America, it could be a relatively tough race if he stays principled and doesn't race left in an attempt to siphon off black votes from Sharpton. A Gephardt or Edwards at the top of the ticket would be a reversal of the Bob Dole debacle for Democrats. In any event, the chances of W keeping the oval office seat warm for Colin Powell or brother Jeb are looking pretty darned good, both now and for the foreseeable future.
UPDATE: This article in yesterday's New York Times (link requires registration - hat tip to Just One Minute) takes another look at the Democrats' gloomy prospects for 2004. A few Democratic quotes caught my eye:
"The big difference (between now and 1991) is that the first gulf war ended," a prominent Democratic senator said. "This administration will never end the war. And because they never end the war, they will have an ongoing advantage. An open-ended war on terrorism that will never end and that keeps people constantly on edge. A never-ending military commitment in Iraq that might lead to other commitments beyond Iraq also keeps people focused on national security."An administration that starts a war that it 'will never end'? Can you say, "Kennedy/Johnson"?
"There's no question that the president has been strengthened at least in the short run," Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, said. "If people can't envision a candidate as their commander in chief in a dangerous world, they're not going to listen to you. The threshold has now been raised, and we need to nominate someone on those grounds."Hmmm, wonder why he didn't say "Dukakis-like results"? Could it be because someone else happens to be from Massachusetts?
"We're going to see a re-do of 1992, where former President Bush had high ratings after the gulf war and started plummeting because of the economy," said Art Torres, the California Democratic chairman.Yeah, count on that. Those sky-high approval ratings may 'plummet' into the mid-to-high 50's before next November. Here's one more we'll categorize under 'a firm grasp of the obvious'
Dr. Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont who opposed the war, drew considerable attention, and contributions, by presenting himself as an antiwar candidate.No, no it doesn't.
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Posted 3:24 PM by WiN
Ok, now I'm depressed
This sounds way too familiar. Thanks a lot, John. Sheesh.
Posted 8:48 AM by WiN
Let my people go?
Ask anyone what is the most famous phrase uttered by Moses and they will almost invariably say "Let my people go" (did anyone else ever sing that old spiritual at summer camp?). But, as Rabbi Daniel Lapin points out, that was not exactly what he said.
Many people, both Jewish and Christian, mistakenly believe that Passover is a holiday celebrating freedom and liberation. Not so quickly, Harold. Moses never said "Let my people go." What he actually said was "Let my people go so that they may worship me in the desert." God did not free the Jews from being servants; he just freed them from being servants to Egypt. Henceforth they were to be servants to Him. Nothing but a switch of bosses.Hmmm. Makes a difference, doesn't it? Lapin also makes a couple of very provocative statements:
Imagine being able to go back in time and re-script the twentieth century. Personally, I would have granted victory to Germany's Kaiser in World War I. Just think of it; no World War II, certainly no Lenin, no communism and no Soviet Union. How about saving millions of lives that were lost to the scourge of socialism, both national as in Germany and Marxist in Russia. And for a bonus-no France to clutter up the twentieth century. Yes, I would certainly have let Germany win the first world war.What a concept! I happen to believe that learning to respect authority and 'follow orders' is one of the most important concepts I can teach my children. If they can't learn to do it now, from someone who loves them and wants only the best for them, how will they fare in the big, wide world? Not very well, I'm certain. What employer wants to work with an employee who is disrespectful and/or who fails to do what's expected of them? None that I'm aware of. And if you're not respectful and obedient where the law is concerned, well, you end up with a whole different set of problems.
The more I learn about God and how he deals with us, his children, the more I am convinced that He is the perfect role model for me as a father to my own children. A good father guides his children firmly at first, giving them more and more freedom to make their own choices (and mistakes) as they mature. But he realizes that, at some point, he must let them make their own choices about their lives or he is crippling them as people. As hard as it is, he must let them suffer the consequences of foolish choices so that, hopefully, their choices will be better in the future. Lapin sums it up nicely:
...Passover focuses as much on the slavery in Egypt as it does upon the redemption. The slavery had a purpose, namely to teach us that all people are enslaved. One's only choice is whether to be enslaved to God's rules or to a variety of grotesque human ideologies. Paradoxically, true independence comes not through the abolition of all rules but through the acceptance of Divine rules. Moses urged Pharaoh to let the people go. Not to free them from all authority, but to allow them to serve the One Authentic Authority.The best job I can do as a dad is teach my children to respect authority, and then impress upon them the fact that all authority ultimately belongs to God. The sooner they can learn to hear God's voice, and obey Him quickly and explicitly, the better their lives will be. And at least as far as I'm able, I want to do everything I can to make their lives the best they can be.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Posted 12:41 PM by WiN
Quoting John Malkovich
"The French say that everybody else has a self-interest [in Iraq]," Malkovich said. "But none is more obvious than theirs. And they're absolutely blind to it."Sounds like he's given this whole business some intelligent thought. What a concept.
Posted 11:31 AM by WiN
It's Blog Your Pet day
(In case you hadn't heard)
Check it out over at The Daily Rant - pics of lots of sweet, cuddly and just plain lovable puppies and kitties from blogs far and near.
UPDATE: I scanned over the pics too quickly, it seems. There's also a pig and two hens. And waaay too many cats.
Posted 10:56 AM by WiN
I posted yesterday, the second day of Holy Week, on the resurrection of Jesus. I posited that the resurrection is the crucial tenet of the Christian faith. In fact, if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, then he was a madman and his followers are all, and have been, fools. Fools, that is, in the sense that we have put our total trust in something that cannot be proven but must be accepted on faith, and with which we (hopefully) align our total lives accordingly. For us to believe that what we believe does, in fact, impart life to us, while all other beliefs of man down through the ages have led only to death and the grave, is not unique to our faith. What is unique is our belief that the human originator of Christianity, unlike those of other religions, is still alive.
The Bible, our holy writ, tells us that Jesus has always been alive, that he was with the great 'I Am' when He created the universe, that he came to earth as a human at the proper time in history, and that he was put to death, but that he proved his divinity and the validity of his message by coming back to life. He then went back to Heaven with his mortal body intact and is still there to this day, interceding on behalf of humanity, until the time is right for him to return to earth, again as a man, and claim all those who belong to him.
So this brings us to a very determinative point in the difference between Christianity and all the other religions that have been formulated during mankind's short stay on this planet. Christians claim that the person who brought The Truth to them is alive, and that all others who claimed to do so (Muhammed, Joseph Smith, Zoraster, the Buddha, Confucius, Abraham, etc.) are dead. A bold claim, and one that must be taken very seriously, for if it isn't true then Christians would have no better claim to having the Way to Eternal Life than any other religion does. One might just as well set up one's own religion to suit oneself (which is a common solution).
What it boils down to is, what will you believe? Will you believe that there is no 'Higher Being', that we are simply the highest rung on the evolutionary ladder and our thoughts, words and actions have no lasting meaning in the grand scheme of things? Will you believe that the 'Higher Being' is within yourself, and/or within mankind as a whole, and we are whatever we choose to make of ourselves, that our actions (or inaction), words (or silence) and thoughts are the sole determinant of our fate? Will you believe that there are many 'gods' and one only has to choose the right one for the right occasion and perform the proper oblation or incantation to induce him/her to help you out, or that you are at their whim? Will you put your trust in an 'enlightened' fellow man and follow his or her example, hoping to find fulfillment?
Or will you believe that there is a God, one God, who created the universe and all that is in it, including you. That not only did he create you, but he knows you and cares very deeply about you. That he, even though he is a 'spirit', took on the form of a human so that he could communicate the most important message that we could ever hear - that he exists, he loves us, and he wants us to continue to exist, after this life is over, in fellowship with him. And that in order to emphasize the importance of this message he performed a miracle that would prove his divinity as a 'messenger' - he put life back into a dead body more than twenty-four hours after it had died an excruciating death.
Now if you must 'prove' all this happened, beyond a shadow of a doubt, then you're not ready for any form of 'religion' that I know about. But if you are willing to expend some of what some people call 'faith', to believe in something that you can't actually detect with your senses or reason out with your intellect, then you are ready to make a crucial decision that will affect you forever.
UPDATE: An interesting essay comparing the lives of some historical figures who inspired great followings and/or major religions.
Posted 10:03 AM by WiN
Rally for the troops in Norman
Our local AM news station, KTOK, lobbied hard to get the final Glenn Beck Rally For America to be held in Oklahoma City. Glenn's listeners apparently voted for West Virginia (home of Jessica Lynch), but Norman will hold a Rally for American Troops on Monday, April 28th. Also, note the blog that message is posted to, camedwards.com. Cam is the host of the morning show (6-9 a.m.) on KTOK and has a very nice start on his blog - he was even prescient enough to link to me!
Good luck on your blog, Cam, and I hope to see a you and a bunch of other Oklahomans in Norman supporting our troops on the 28th.
Monday, April 14, 2003
Posted 8:30 AM by WiN
If the resurrection was faked
Yesterday was Palm Sunday, which begins the most important week in the Christian calendar leading up to next Sunday's celebration of the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. For Christians, the most crucial tenet of our faith is the bodily resurrection of Jesus more than 24 hours after he had been declared dead and taken down from the cross, wrapped in burial cloths and sealed in a tomb. On this single event hinges the entire legitimacy of the Christian faith and by extension the disposition of the eternal souls of the millions upon millions who have placed their trust in this Savior. If Jesus of Nazareth was not the Messiah, if he was not send by the Great 'I Am' to redeem his people through His death and resurrection, then we must conclude that He was a madman and that His followers were, and are, fools. One of our principle tasks as Christians is to present the facts of history to those who do not know God, to explain the ramifications, and to ask them to make a choice. Death, or life. Bondage, or freedom. Despair, or hope.
One of the great apologists of our generation is a man named Josh McDowell. A former skeptic who set out to disprove the authenticity of Christianity, he ended up coming up with so much evidence supporting the Christian faith, he wrote the book for which he is most recognized, Evidence That Demands a Verdict. He looks at the story of Jesus and the various accounts of the early church and ask questions like "What would I have done if I had faked the resurrection?" Here is a comprehensive list of his essays on the topic of the veracity of the resurrection, from his web site. If you are not fully convinced of the authenticity of this historical event, or don't know its' ramifications for your individual life, please go take a look. Your 'verdict' on this evidence is the most important decision you will ever make. I urge you to do it now - your life depends on it.
Posted 7:55 AM by WiN
Looting slows in Baghdad
The AP is reporting that looting is slowing in Baghdad as joint U.S. - Iraqi patrols fan out over the city to patrol the streets and watch for looters. Of course, the reason looting may be slacking off is that all the low fruit has already been picked. But it's got to be reassuring to Baghdad residents to see some semblance of order returning. Their sense of normality has been severely shaken in the past few weeks, with nightly bombings, then jubilant street demonstrations, then massive lawlessness (kind of like Dinkeytown, Minnesota).
There are also some indications that looted items are being recovered. The article mentions a mosque where people are bringing their ill-gotten gains to be claimed by the owners. Marines have also set up checkpoints at some of the main routes out of the city to look for stolen material being carried away. Which leads to this quote:
Local men, desperate to see calm return, helped the Marines translate and point out the guilty.Heh.
Posted 6:52 AM by WiN
With the war on Iraq drawing to a close, it's a good time to remind President Bush and his administration that there are many Americans that stood by, and continue to stand by, his decision to fight terrorism and defend our country by taking down Saddam's regime. Please take a minute of your time and go to the Patriot Petitions site to sign an online petition showing your support for the liberation of Iraq (the banner at the top of this blog is linked to the petition site). I would also strongly recommend that, when you sign the petition, you also sign up to receive The Federalist email newsletter. It is one of the top sources of conservative news and views anywhere, it's free and it's a great read each Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
My Bloginality is INFP
AN OPEN LETTER IN SUPPORT OF THE PEOPLE OF IRAN FROM THE WEBLOGGING COMMUNITY
We are not politicians, nor are we generals. We hold no power to dispatch diplomats to negotiate; we can send no troops to defend those who choose to risk their lives in the cause of freedom.
What power we have is in our words, and in our thoughts. And it is that strength which we offer to the people of Iran on this day.
Across the diverse and often contentious world of weblogs, each of us has chosen to put aside our differences and come together today to declare our unanimity on the following simple principles:
- That the people of Iran are allies of free men and women everywhere in the world, and deserve to live under a government of their own choosing, which respects their own personal liberties
- That the current Iranian regime has failed to create a free and prosperous society, and attempts to mask its own failures by repression and tyranny
We do not presume to know what is best for the people of Iran; but we are firm in our conviction that the policies of the current government stand in the way of the Iranians ability to make those choices for themselves.
And so we urge our own governments to turn their attention to Iran. The leaders and diplomats of the world's democracies must be clear in their opposition to the repressive actions of the current Iranian regime, but even more importantly, must be clear in their support for the aspirations of the Iranian people.
And to the people of Iran, we say: You are not alone. We see your demonstrations in the streets; we hear of your newspapers falling to censorship; and we watch with anticipation as you join the community of the Internet in greater and greater numbers. Our hopes are with you in your struggle for freedom. We cannot and will not presume to tell you the correct path to freedom; that is for you to choose. But we look forward to the day when we can welcome your nation into the community of free societies of the world, for we know with deepest certainty that such a day will come
A personal note: I have only had one Iranian acquaintance in my life, but I definitely considered him a friend. While I was in college (second time round) I had a part-time job as a self-serve gas station attendant. The senior employee was an engineering student named Rahim. The school I attended had (and probably still has) a significant middle-eastern student population, a lot of them in engineering. This was also during a period (mid-eighties) when Iran was not a popular place to be from (Iatolla Khomeini era). Since he was obviously middle-eastern, people would sometimes ask him, "Where are you from?" to which he would reply, with a sly grin "Persia".
He was not very political, so the topic of Iranian politics rarely came up. Occasionally he would show me some propaganda sheet he had picked up on campus, written in Farsi, and translate some of it for me. He also delighted in the ridiculous political cartoons showing Uncle Sam in various uncomplimentary poses. He seemed to regard the whole thing as humorous, but he got very serious when he spoke on rare occasion about the danger his relations back home faced from the oppressive regime. He had married an American and intended to stay here, at least until things got better back home.
I can't count the number of times he helped me out with work-related situations like swapping shifts and taking over for me in emergency situations. I gladly did the same for him. He was especially enamored with a nice "fuzzbuster" I had that I used for my many trips to Dallas. He borrowed it for a couple of trips he had to make to El Paso, where a former professor was holding a term paper of his "hostage" and he was negotiating to have the paper approved in order to get credit for the course, which was holding up his degree. He returned from his trips singing the praises of the magical device.
I lost track of him, of course, after I quit the job but to this day he is the face of Iran to me - friendly, helpful and a little mischievous, with a heart of gold. I wish him and all the people of Iran good will and the blessings of freedom.