Friday, August 29, 2003

Al Mohler has an excellent post on his blog today succinctly tracing the fallacious path by which courts began building a "strict wall of separation" between church and state. Mohler says:
The First Amendment does not even mention the separation of church and state. Who came up with this? As most Americans know, it was Thomas Jefferson, who in a now-famous 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut stated, "I contemplate with sovereign reverence the act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and state."

With one letter, Jefferson set the course for a reinterpretation of the First Amendment. His terminology of a wall of separation between church and state, once widely adopted, would become the catalyst for a legal and political revolution at the intersection of government and religion. Generations of judges came to understand their role to be the protectors of Jefferson's wall. The historical sequence that leads from Thomas Jefferson's letter to Judge Myron Thompson's order is clear and undeniable.
It's also interesting that Thomas Jefferson has become the Rosetta Stone by which judicial activists interpret the First Amendment of the Constitution. Do you know where Jefferson was during the framing and ratification of the Constitution? Thousands of miles away in Paris, where he was the U.S. ambassador to France. Thomas Jefferson did not write or ratify one word of the United States Constitution.
I had a chance to interview Herb Titus, who is one of the attorneys for Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, on a radio program here in South Florida yesterday. Titus made a wonderful statement, and while I know it has been said before by others, it bears repeating over and over again. Listen up, Richard Land and Jay Sekulow: "The rule of lawyers is not the same thing as the rule of law."

If Land, Sekulow, and others think that Moore is violating the "rule of law," I'd love to ask them a simple question: What law? What specific law has Moore broken? Answer: there is none. Judge Myron Thompson cannot point to a single law that Chief Justice Moore is (or was) in violation of.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

My apologies for the slowness of things around here for the past ten days or so. I had an unusual spate of travel which took me on seperate trips to the Washington D.C. area and Philadelphia. I don't have any immediate future travel plans, though, so hopefully I'll be back to daily posting again.

One brief note on the Roy Moore affair, which has unfolded quite a bit in my absence: It's sad to see how deeply even conservative evangelical Christians have imbibed the notion that the federal government has ultimate jurisdiction in every conceivable matter. I watched Richard Land on O'Reilly last night saying that Judge Moore is "hurting the cause" by "defying" the law. Of course, Judge Moore's position all along has been that the federal court has no jurisdiction in the matter. To say that he is defying the law by ignoring the federal court order is to assume the very premise being challenged. If the federal judge is not the rightful authority in this matter, than Judge Moore is certainly not defying the law.

We've become so brainwashed by the notion that the federal government is supreme in all matters that we a priori rule out even the possibility of ever challenging its jurisdiction in any specific case. Under Land's (and those like him) reasoning, all that is now required for a federal judge to have jurisdiction in a case is for that judge to decree that he has jurisdiction. At that point, the matter is closed, because any questioning of it would be "defiance."

Monday, August 25, 2003

Okay, I know I've been a little superficial lately, since I've been travelling, and haven't had much time for in-depth reflection and punditry on the day's news.

That having been said...

More on Whoopi. What's the deal with the eyebrows? I mean, she doesn't have any! Who in the world shaves their eyebrows? When you look at her, you don't immediately notice that she has no eyebrows--it is instead just part of the overall disturbing effect. I just can't imagine her looking in the mirror and saying "Oh yeah, this is almost the look. It just needs one more thing. Hmmmmm. Wait! I've got it! Eyebrow removal!"

Thursday, August 21, 2003

My hope that Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's case could be a turning point in the federal judiciary's monarchial reign over the American people is fading rapidly. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court (unsuprisingly) rejected Moore's request for an emergency stay of the appellate court ruling that the Ten Commandments monument must be removed from the judicial building.

The deadline for the removal of the monument passed about 45 minutes ago (as I write this), and it appears that some prominent Christians are beginning to get cold feet about the case. Sadly, this includes Alabama attorney general Bill Pryor, of whom I wrote glowingly only a few weeks ago. Rather than taking a stand against the judicial monarchy, Pryor has apparently decided to heel.

An email newsletter from Doug Phillips' Vision Forum provided the best synopsis I've seen today, and since I can't find a link for the same piece on their website, my hope is that they won't mind my quoting at length from it. I think it's that important. Says Phillips:
This Friday, the Supreme Court of Alabama will meet to consider holding Chief Justice Roy Moore in contempt of court for his refusal to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama State Judicial Building. Also to be determined is whether the other justices will invoke a procedural technicality in the law by which they can independently act to remove the monument.

We are looking at the very real possibility that the finest, most courageous, and most godly Chief Justice this nation has seen in more than one-hundred years will be routed by a man slated by President Bush to join the very same court that has declared it unconstitutional to acknowledge God as the source of our laws.

The proposed coup d’├ętat against Chief Justice Moore was initiated and staged by Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, who has vowed to remove the monument. Pryor, who originally claimed to support Justice Moore, has been under tremendous pressure from groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State to act against the Chief Justice, or suffer severe political consequences. Pryor was recently nominated by President Bush for a spot on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Earlier today, the United States Supreme Court denied a petition by Chief Justice Moore to block the federal courts from acting to remove the Ten Commandments monument. Counsel for the Chief Justice made the case in their filings before the Supreme Court that he should be allowed to “establish justice by acknowledging the guidance and favor of Almighty God, placed upon him by his oath of office and the Constitution of Alabama.”
Unfortunately, Moore now has unneeded opposition from his Christian flank:
Among those who seek to rally behind the Chief Justice, a growing number are expressing profound disappointment with Christian commentators who have used the Ten Commandments debate to attack the Chief Justice for his strategy, including Jay Sekulow, Marvin Olasky, and Richard Land - three Christian leaders who have publicly criticized the Chief Justice before the press for his strategic stand.

Sekulow, the founder of the American Center for Law and Justice, expressed public concern that the Chief Justice was pushing a constitutional showdown. Richard Land of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention described Chief Justice Moore’s actions as “deeply disturbing.” Appearing on The 700 Club, WORLD Magazine editor Marvin Olasky twice criticized Chief Justice Moore for choosing to fight on “the wrong ground.”

Those who are close to the case recognize that such criticisms are rooted in fundamental misconceptions about the constitutional issues present, as well as an implicit capitulation to the philosophy of pragmatism, a philosophy Olasky recently defended in a WORLD Magazine article.

The strength of Chief Justice Moore’s strategy is precisely that he is challenging long-held faulty premises. He is standing on the foundations. Howard Phillips, father of yours truly and founder of the Conservative Caucus, responded this way: “We should recognize that there is a division within the Christian community between Christians who take the Bible and the Constitution literally, as distinguished from those who give priority to commentaries and who rely on Supreme Court rulings which are themselves unconstitutional to the degree they disregard and set aside the plain text and precise words of the Constitution.”
Phillips then concludes with a call to action:
....your phone call to the Governor and the Supreme Court Justices might make a difference. The governor has it in his power to stop the efforts of the Attorney General. Furthermore, there are three Supreme Court seats up for office in 2004. The current Supreme Court Justices need to know the broad grassroots opposition to any decision to support the federal court’s unconstitutional and extra-jurisdictional demand that Alabama be prohibited from acknowledging God, as required by the state constitution.

Please consider calling the following numbers to urge the leaders of Alabama to stand by the Chief Justice in acknowledging God as the source of law.

Attorney General Bill Pryor: (334) 242-7300
Governor Bob Riley: (334) 242-7100
Justice Gorman Houston (Senior Associate Justice): (334) 242-4588
Justice Harold See: (334) 242-4608
Justice Champ Lyons: (334) 242-4352
Justice Jean Brown: (334) 242-4245
Justice Bernard Harwood: (334) 242-4594
Justice Tom Woodall: (334) 242-4578
Justice Lyn Stuart: (334) 242-4585
Justice Douglas Johnstone: (334) 242-4598
If Christians don't have the guts to take a stand here, they may as well never take a stand against judicial tyranny again. "Oh goodness, a Constitutional crisis! We can't have that!

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

I just don't get it: some further entries

* Tom Green

* Rosie O'Donnell

* Tim Allen

* Chris Tucker

* Garrison Keillor

* Rob Schneider

What can I tell you? I just don't get it.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Auto racing is not a sport. If it were, the car would be the athlete. Keeping a machine working well may require much skill and endurance, but so does brain surgery, and that's not a sport either.

Other things that, while perhaps skillful, perhaps challenging, perhaps beautiful, are not a sport:

* Horse racing (see above, but substitute "horse" for "car")

* Figure skating

* Synchronized swimming

* Skateboarding

* Weightlifting

* Anything else where the result is based on subjective judging rather than objective scoring (that means you, ballroom dancing and any boxing match where nobody is knocked unconscious....)

* Anything you can smoke a cigarette and drink a beer while doing (sorry bowling and golf....)

I'm glad we cleared that up.
Whoopi Goldberg--I just don't get it.
Though you probably wouldn't have known it by watching the news over the weekend (where there seems to have been almost a total media blackout), a crowd of thousands turned out for the rally in support of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore in Montgomery on Saturday.

A constitutional crisis is brewing, and it's not just a "Christian" issue. This represents the best opportunity in recent years for taking a stand in challenging the federal government's right to interfere with the self-government of a state.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Augustine, Aquinas, Edwards, and Isaac Newton--What Retards!:

I don't even know where to begin with this op-ed by Nicholas Kristof in today's New York Times. Sadly, this is about as good as Christians will ever get from the Times, since Kristof is the one person at the paper who has been publicly willing to admit that the Times is totally out of touch with tens of millions of Americans. Evangelicals are as alien to the Manhattan denizens at the Times as steak sauce is to Sudanese kids.

In the piece, Kristof says that the most fundamental divide between America and the rest of the industrialized world is religious faith.
Americans believe, 58 percent to 40 percent, that it is necessary to believe in God to be moral. In contrast, other developed countries overwhelmingly believe that it is not necessary. In France, only 13 percent agree with the U.S. view.
Now to me, that fact alone ought to be proof-positive of the virtue of religious faith and the deleterious results of the neglect of God. But in reading the article, one gets the vague sense that Kristof actually sees this as some sort of negative. As if we ought to be emulating the French.

What it all seems to boil down to for Kristof is a dichotomy he perceives. There are intellectuals, you see, and then there are stupid religious people. And never the 'twain shall meet:
The faith in the Virgin Birth reflects the way American Christianity is becoming less intellectual and more mystical over time. The percentage of Americans who believe in the Virgin Birth actually rose five points in the latest poll.

My grandfather was fairly typical of his generation: A devout and active Presbyterian elder, he nonetheless believed firmly in evolution and regarded the Virgin Birth as a pious legend. Those kinds of mainline Christians are vanishing, replaced by evangelicals. Since 1960, the number of Pentecostalists has increased fourfold, while the number of Episcopalians has dropped almost in half.

The result is a gulf not only between America and the rest of the industrialized world, but a growing split at home as well. One of the most poisonous divides is the one between intellectual and religious America.
On can be religious or one can be intellectual. Kristof's grandfather was evidently one of the "good ones"--the ones who disingenuously denied the tenets of the faith they had sworn to uphold. The ones who made up their own religion as they went along, denying anything the Bible said that didn't fit their own preconceived notions of what God is capable of. This denial has, of course, eviscerated the mainline denominations, which Kristof laments. As it turns out, a god who does nothing miraculous or supernatural, and instead only has a few moralistic fables to tell us, doesn't really motivate anybody to get out of bed on Sunday morning.

If only those nutty Christians would stop actually believing that God might be who He says He is, America, the most successful and powerful nation on earth, could become more like France--an embittered, impotent, also-ran. Which is what the New York Times has desired all along.


(Addendum: I see that Hugh Hewitt has an excellent--and much more eloquent--post today dealing with Kristof's column. Hewitt points out that in addition to his bias, Kristof also demonstrates extremely shoddy academic research.)

Thursday, August 14, 2003

If you want to get goosebumps, take a listen (on Windows Media Player) to Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's comments today as he announced his intention to defy the federal circuit court ruling that the Ten Commandments monument must be removed from the state's judicial building.

Moore says:
Now, once again, Judge [Myron] Thompson seeks to force his will on the people of this state, afflicting the judicial system, and threatening to drain huge amounts of public funds from the state of Alabama. But this time, this time, the object is to take away our right as a state to acknowledge God. Our state motto is "We dare defend our rights." We should never allow the threat of financial penalty to deter us from the defense of an inalienable right. Alabama will never give up its right to acknowledge God....I have no intention of removing the monument of the Ten Commandments and the moral foundation of our law.
I'm telling you, this could end up being a Very Big Deal.
There is a great truth here somewhere:

The other day, our 11-year-old son asked my wife "Why are girls always so worried about who's mad at each other? I don't care about all that stuff--I'm just looking for someone to play baseball with."

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

As much as I hate to admit it, Fox News is dead wrong in their dopey lawsuit against Al Franken. First of all, there is (and ought to be) a pretty wide legal berth given to satire. And secondly, all they are doing is adding to Franken's cache with his target audience.

According to Drudge today, the book is now sitting at the top of Amazon.com's sales rankings a month before publication. His sources say that Fox News filed the suit at the urging of Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly and Franken have been trading barbs since an ugly incident a few months ago at a booksellers convention, where the two wound up shouting at each other (with Franken coming off as an unhinged crybaby) on C-SPAN.

As an aside, can I just say that I find Bill O'Reilly to be a pompous, opportunistic putz? His Howard Beale faux-populism strikes me as hollow and calculated, and one gets the impression that he would change his views tommorrow if he sensed such a thing would buy him greater success. It's ironic that Franken apparently attacks O'Reilly in his "Look at the Right," since O'Reilly isn't on the "right" even by so-called "neocon" standards. He has no identifiable principles--everything appears to be based on off-the-cuff gut reactions.

Fox News' suit won't even make it into court, nor should it. O'Reilly has a nightly pulpit (and a fair amount of book sales to his own credit) which ought to be the proper forum to address Franken if he's feeling defensive. But he oughtn't go running to some judge. It makes him look like a sniveling, thin-skinned whiner.
There's an article (registration required) in the newest issue of World magazine about the impending confrontation between the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and the federal judiciary. A massive rally is planned in Mongomery for this Saturday in support of Chief Justice Roy Moore, and I've been told by someone close to the situation that Judge Moore is planning to have a press conference on Thursday evening. In it, he will announce how he plans to respond to the court order to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judicial Building.

My money is on him not budging. It promises to be an interesting and crucial weekend for this case.
Badonicus goes on a field trip

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Dennis Prager has written a wonderful column today on the pathology of liberalism. "How," he asks, "can decent and often very smart people hold liberal positions?"

Though Prager is not a Christian, he precisely demonstrates why one cannot be consistently Christian and politically liberal (at least as it is defined today):
..."feelings" and "compassion" are two of the most often used liberal terms. "Character" is no longer a liberal word because it implies self-restraint. "Good and evil" are not liberal words either as they imply a moral standard beyond one's feelings. In assessing what position to take on moral or social questions, the liberal asks him or herself, "How do I feel about it?" or "How do I show the most compassion?" not "What is right?" or "What is wrong?" For the liberal, right and wrong are dismissed as unknowable, and every person chooses his or her own morality.
This explanation is so simply, yet so demonstrably, true. Speaking as a former flaming liberal, I can attest to the revulsion of absolutes that underlied my philosophy.

Liberals may caterwaul about Prager's characterization, but I defy them to disprove it.
All those jokes you were making in the security line at the airport about strip-searches are no longer parody, at least not in my neck of the woods. According to today's South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
A Miramar man says an overzealous security guard at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport ordered him to remove his pants and then fed them through an X-ray machine at a checkpoint as bystanders looked on.

Martin Holness, a 34-year-old truck driver, said he was humiliated when he was forced to stand in his gray-and-black boxer shorts before his trip to Chicago on July 17.
The airport denies it, but neither side disputes the fact that this guy was standing at the checkpoint in his underwear. According to the folks at the security checkpoint, he took off his pants by his own volition.
The guard countered that Holness pulled down his own sweat pants and handed them to the officer after two quarters in his pocket set off the metal detector. According to a written incident report, Holness lost his composure after setting off the metal detector, barked that he had "nothing to hide'' and removed his own pants without provocation.
It's difficult to know whose version is true, but this much I do know: I'm flying next week for a business trip, and I'm going to pick out my dainty unmentionables extra-carefully that morning.

Monday, August 11, 2003

I've just discovered that at 6 foot 2, I've squeaked into my own special interest group! According to columnist John Leo, the founder of the new Tall magazine is calling for "an inspirational culture of height."

I've never thought of myself as unusually tall, but according to the magazine's founder, in order to be a member of Tall Culture, one only need be a 6 foot 2 man or a 5 foot 9 woman.

And it even turns out that I've been experiencing discrimination and didn't know it! As Leo points out:
Associating tallness with menace has been a recurring theme in popular entertainment. Many 7-footers have never fully recovered from seeing those sky-high characters in "Yellow Submarine" trying to slaughter everybody with apples. You can't do this with short or handicapped people. Depicting tallness as evil may well be the last safe prejudice to have in America.
Not to mention knee-bruising airline seats and humiliating foreign car egresses. However, such discrimination is an outrage, and it cannot stand for long.
This is why activists are demanding a height-friendly college curriculum (reading "Wuthering Heights" is a must). On the agenda, too, are height-themed dormitories where tall and pro-tall students can mix their distinctive cultures. Maybe a Ph.D. could be offered in tallness studies. There is even talk that dismissive phrases like "That's a tall tale" (which sadly associates height with lying) may be declared hate speech by the Irish parliament, or even by the whole European Union.
It's about time.
I was watching the old Cary Grant movie "The Bishop's Wife" the other night, when a nauseating thought occurred to me: the bishop's wife is now a guy.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

I watched the driving/nursing/child-endangering mom on O'Reilly last night, and the verdict is in: guilty of extreme creepiness. She was found innocent, however, of child-endangerment, though she was using her child as a potential airbag on the Ohio Turnpike.

Both she and her husband turned out to be hyper-verbal, high school forensics types, who also apparenly do all sorts of stupid and/or dangerous things in an effort to challenge the government's authority.

Memo to "Christian" moms (actually, not all of you--just those of you in sects/cults/fringe groups who will loudly claim to be Christians in court) who are planning to murder your children, group-marry one guy, or suckle your infant while hang-gliding: when you show up in court, would it be asking to much for you to slap on a little makeup and wear something besides the roomy burlap jumper? I'm not saying you have to change your whole way of life--I'm only talking about the public appearances in court and on Good Morning America. You'd really only have to jettison the Rapunzel-haired, Patti Smith-in-a-nursing-bra look for a couple of hours.

My wife's an actual Christian, and I don't like to see her stereotyped as a bland, hollow-cheeked Stepford drone, but some of you cult gals are making it difficult. Thanks for your consideration. Now you can go back to filling up the bathtub.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Two outstanding things I saw in a recent issue of World Magazine, which are worth a look. They require a free registration to view, and if you aren't already signed up, you ought to be.

First was an excellent column by Russell Board, a missionary to Japan, called "Everything in its place: The triumph of secularism is its ability to tell society what goes where." In it, Board gives one of the most beautifully concise appraisals of secularism and its largely successful effort to marginalize Christianity that I've seen. Observes Board:
The secularist neither affirms nor denies the existence of God. He simply dismisses the issue by insisting that it doesn't matter. It is only a religious dispute after all; it doesn't affect real life. Stock prices and soccer practices are more important, more real to him, than sacred precepts or speculative philosophy.
Today's ACLU types insist that the Founding Fathers intended a purely secular government. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, but the secularist agenda has now pervaded all of our institutions.
The secularist takes church-state separation as a prescription for all of life. He places religion in an isolated compartment, quarantined away from the school, the workplace, and the halls of government....To the secularist, freedom of religion means the liberty to put whatever you want in the box labeled "religion." Just be sure to keep your boxes in order. No religious stuff in the boxes labeled "government," "science," or "public education." Got it? A place for everything, and everything in its place.
Indeed.

The other piece in the same issue is an instructive look at the tolerance mavens who comprise the National Education Association (NEA). The story centers on the NEA's recent annual convention, and relates the treatment of David O'Neal, a California convention delegate.

Poor Mr. Neal made the mistake of simply proposing a motion that the delegates affirm (as the entire U.S. Congress has done) that the words "under God" remain in the Pledge of Allegiance. One delegate after another then took the podium amid much wailing and gnashing of teeth to denounce such a motion.
The assembly's jumbotrons showed a delegate intoning, "Might does not make right. The majority cannot bludgeon the minority!" even as the NEA's majority bludgeoned Mr. O'Neal...

..."Fellow delegates!" a male teacher huffed in opposition to affirming God in the pledge, "what is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right!"
After a while of this, O'Neal withdrew his motion, though that didn't calm the ire of his fellow teachers:
Soon several delegates circled the defeated Mr. O'Neal amid the convention aisles. "You are trying to force God on me and I don't appreciate it!" one man in a Hawaiian shirt and baggy shorts yelled, pointing his finger in Mr. O'Neal's face. An older man with gray hair pulled back in a ponytail nodded in agreement.
Guess what, folks? If you have kids in the public schools, these are their teachers. Good luck.
Bret McAtee attempted to post some observations in the "comments" section here yesterday, but unfortunately my new system apparently ate them. He has since posted those observations at his own blog, which you can check out here.

Through all of this recent controversy, I've learned a number of positive things about the paleoconservative movement. While I certainly don't agree with everything the movement seems to believe, I think many of them would be suprised to know that I share their views on an increasingly substantial number of things (though the personal abrasiveness of some of them can make it a difficult movement to stomach). I have been heartened to see many of the paleoconservative stripe come here to unambiguously condemn the racist rantings of a few who claim the "paleo" banner.

Bret's article is a good contribution, and I think he makes some valid points--even the ones directed at me. Where I disagree with Bret is in an analogy he uses in discussing my (and others) recent characterizations of paleoconservatism:
The problem of course is that all of this is what is called the genetic fallacy or more familiarly known as guilt by association. These moderates that are on crusade against classical Conservatism are by in large fine Christian gentleman, even if their politics is at war with their Theology, but one wonders what the level of their own angst would be if others tried to tar them with the David Koresh brush. David Koresh was a Christian. These neo-con's are Christians. Therefore David Koresh and Neo-cons have a great deal in common.
I do not think this analogy holds up because one would be hard-pressed to find any links to David Koresh (or the like) on any randomly chosen Christian site. One would have to make at least several degrees of link-to-link-to-link to find anything like Koresh and his ilk. However, I found links to the racist swill at the Little Geneva site through the blogs of most of the people here who identify themselves as paleoconservative.

Please understand, I'm not attributing the views expressed at Little Geneva to the majority of paleos who visit here. Most have made it clear that they do not share those views. What I am pointing out is that I didn't have to go very far to find it in the literature that they linked to. It was only one degree of separation away.

Simply being a Christian does not put me in the same league as Koresh, the Ku Klux Klan, or Fred Phelps. On that, Bret and I are agreed. However, if one were to find on my blog all sorts of links to folks who spoke glowingly of Koresh or the Klan, I would have, at the very least, opened myself to the accusation of being sympathetic to such groups.

As I become more and more convinced that racism and anti-semitism does not lie at the heart of the paleoconservative movement, my hope for them is that they will turn their attention towards expelling the racists, who currently don't feel all that uncomfortable there, from their movement. The movement will not take any ground if racists are allowed to comfortably hold their views within it. As Mark Horne (himself a paleoconservative) said in a recent post, "don't even be seen with them."

Thursday, August 07, 2003

For those who are interested in the television pundit shows, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is scheduled to appear on Hannity and Colmes tonight on Fox News.

If you are unfamiliar with him, Judge Moore (who is a Christian) installed a 2 1/2 ton granite monument in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building depicting the Ten Commandments, which are, of course, the basis for all law. Needless to say, militant secularists were crawling all over one another to sue him (mostly the usual suspects: the ACLU, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, etc.), and a federal appeals court recently ruled that Judge Moore must remove the monument. Though Moore is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, the circuit court this week lifted a stay, and ordered the monument removed by August 20.

It could get very interesting, because Chief Justice Moore is enormously popular in the state of Alabama (whose people elected him to his current positon after a similar dispute when he was a lower court judge), the governor is on his side, and he has shown no inclination to remove the monument whatever the ruling.

I've had some firsthand experience with the enormous personal appeal of Judge Moore, and his enemies are making a huge mistake if they underestimate him. He appeals to people on a very gut level, and also brings some refreshing, long-overdue Constitutional argumentation to the table. While too many Christians have tried to play within the boundaries set by liberal, activist courts (i.e. trying to prove that whatever it is that they want to do fits within the court-imposed "Lemon test," for instance), Moore is challenging the entire edifice that the liberal innovations have been built upon. He doesn't try to play by the Lemon test--he rejects the Lemon test. It's his postion that the federal courts have no jurisdiction in the matter, let alone any authority to force him to disobey the Alabama state constitution, which invokes "the favor and guidance of Almighty God" to "ordain and establish the...Constitution and form of government for the State of Alabama."

The militant secularists hate him in a way they hate few others, a fact which becomes evident in any Google search on his name. They know that this is a strategic case. There could be a lot riding on this, and Chief Justice Moore might just be the right man to stand for truth in the coming tumultuous days.
I'm having trouble figuring out the mass appeal of the Kobe Bryant case. I'm not talking generally about why some cases (particularly those involving celebrities) become massive media events; I understand that well enough. What suprises me is the extent to which this case in particular has grabbed the attention of the entire nation.

When I was doing sports radio, I used to gauge the relative celebrity of an athlete by applying what I called the "Mom Test." My mom is not a sports fan. I can recall her watching maybe two sporting events in her life, and even then under duress. Thus, for an athlete to break into her consciousness, he has to have reached an unusual level of celebrity; he (or she) has to have achieved noteriety and name recognition among non-sports fans. When my mom knows who an athlete is, he has pervaded the culture enough to pass the "Mom Test."

I understood the interest in the O.J. Simpson case because he shattered the Mom Meter. There wasn't a person in America who didn't know who Simpson was even before he hacked his wife and her friend to death. Other athletes, past and present, who would pass the Mom Test: Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Pete Rose, Wilt Chamberlain, Muhammed Ali, Mike Tyson, and Michael Jordan, to name a few. Even Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant's teammate with the Lakers, appears to pass the Mom Test, probably because of his unlamented movie career and ubiquitous commercial presence.

Which brings me to my dilemma: Kobe Bryant does not pass the Mom Test. Sure, she knows who he is now. But before this case, she didn't know him from a hill of Beans. I also asked a notoriously sports-ignorant co-worker of mine if he had ever heard of Kobe Bryant. "No, not before this," he said. Kobe Bryant is a basketball superstar, but as best I can tell, his pre-rape fame was mainly confined to sports fans. Any case involving a famous athlete would be big national news, no question. But this case is reaching O.J. proportions, without Bryant having nearly the pre-alleged-crime celebrity that Simpson did. Last night, they were actually breaking in on radio stations to carry that little, useless pre-trial hearing live.

So what is propelling this case to the heights it's reaching? In the Simpson case, though the coverage was outrageously overblown, I believe the media was merely feeding a pre-existing national appetite for coverage. It seems like in this case, the media is trying to recreate the "glory" of that case during the dog days of summer.

The whole thing reminds me of a funny scene in the movie "Groundhog Day." Bill Murray, after reliving the same day hundreds of times, finally spends a nearly perfect day with the object of his affection, Andie McDowell. The day culminates with a completely spontaneous snowball fight between them and some kids, and at the end of it all, McDowell is falling in love with Murray, having seen his spontaneous, loveable side. Then Murray wakes up the next day only to find that he's starting the same day over yet again. Wanting to get back to the point where he had nearly won her, Murray tries to recapture the magic by recreating the the events of the previous day, this time going through the same motions stiffly and awkwardly, culminating with a bizarre, completely non-spontaneous snowball fight with the same kids.

I get that same feeling from this case. The media is trying to recreate the day, mechanically going through the motions of throwing the snowballs. They're trying to create an appetite rather than feeding one. In the movie, Andie McDowell was repulsed, In real life, the American people seem to love the counterfeit nearly as much as the original.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Discoshaman's Blog Has Moved:

For those of you who, like me, enjoy Discoshaman's pungent observations (and especially for those of you who don't, but can't live without him--you know who you are), be aware that his blog has moved to a new location. Make sure you update your links and blogrolls accordingly! The address is now: http://www.postmodernclog.com
While we have gone 'round on some serious theological disagreements, kudos to Mark Horne for his well-stated observations on the perniciousness of racism, the Christian's biblical obligation to renounce it, and the paleoconservative movement's need to flush such nonsense out of itself: Some free anonymous advice for a paleo-something blogger friend
Here's a frightening story run on AP and the Washington Post over the weekend that a friend just sent me. If you've been disturbed by the decision-making "process" of the Supreme Court lately, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Conservatives have long known that the Supreme Court has little regard for the American Constitution and the intent of its framers anymore, but it is still jarring to see it stated as baldly as this. According to the story:
The Supreme Court is looking beyond America's borders for guidance in handling cases on issues like the death penalty and gay rights, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Saturday.
As you may have seen, the Court cited international law in the Lawrence and Bollinger cases last month, which drew withering criticism from Justice Antonin Scalia. But according to Justice Ginsburg, this is the way it ought to be. It would be mere chauvinism to believe that Americans ought to be governed by their own laws and their own Constitution.
"Our island or lone ranger mentality is beginning to change," Ginsburg said during a speech to the American Constitution Society, a liberal lawyers group holding its first convention.

Justices "are becoming more open to comparative and international law perspectives," said Ginsburg, who has supported a more global view of judicial decision making.
But she's not done yet. She sends the American Constitution Society out with a word of encouragement:
"While you are the American Constitution Society, your perspective on constitutional law should encompass the world," she told the group of judges, lawyers and students. "We are the losers if we do not both share our experiences with and learn from others."
What world opinion has to do with the U.S. Constitution is a mystery to me, but it does affirm what we already knew: whatever criteria are being used to "interpret" the Constitition at this point, what it actually meant to those who wrote it is not among them.

But hey, on the bright side, at least the Associated Press finally identified someone as a "liberal group."

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Okay, it's quiz time again. Who said the following?:
President George W. Bush, squirming like a worm on a hook trying to explain why after 90 days we've found no evidence of chemical or biological weapons in Iraq, keeps calling up the past.

"We know Saddam had chemical weapons because he used them on his own people," Bush says quite often with his little-boy smile, as if that explained everything. Of course, what he neglects to mention is that the incident he is referring to occurred in 1988 — 15 years ago. Since then, Iraq has never used chemical or biological weapons on anybody.
Pausing to note the conspicuous absence of the word "nuclear" in the "no evidence" declaration, was it:

A). Howard Dean

B). Reuters

C). Maureen Dowd

D). Molly Ivins

E). Another of the kooks on the "paleoconservative" right

If you answered "E," you're catching on. The article even cites approvingly, as evidence against Bush, a "well documented article" from--get ready for this--an Australian publication called Green Left Weekly. That article goes on to mostly rehash another article from the meticulously well-documented New York Times.

As Discoshaman so excellently pointed out recently, the paleo movement has suddenly woken up a little drunk in bed naked with Noam Chomsky. The fact that this movement is even reading the Green Left Weekly to try to find stuff on George W. Bush shows that it does not have nearly so much to do with "conservatism" as it does with hating the president.

Monday, August 04, 2003

I had forgotten, until I saw it again over the weekend, how terrific Martin Scorcese's seriously underappreciated 1983 film "The King of Comedy" is.

It is a darkly funny, often surrealistic look at celebrity fixation in American culture, and it presciently anticipated where we were headed--in a world before the term "stalker" had become a household word. It's a topic with which Scorcese has more than a passing interest--psychotic drifter John W. Hinkley once shot the President of the United States to impress Jodie Foster, whom he had become obsessed with after seeing her in Scorcese's "Taxi Driver."

"The King of Comedy" is one of Robert DeNiro's finest performances, and Jerry Lewis is suprisingly strong in a straight role as a Johnny Carson-type late night talk show host. Knowing what we know now, it's one of the rare films that's actually better twenty years after it was made.

It also inspired the best line from one of my favorite shows ever. On "The Larry Sanders Show" (Garry Shandling's brilliant, erstwhile, behind-the-scenes satire of late night comedy), sidekick Hank Kingsley begs for a shot guest-hosting in Larry's absence, and is finally granted the opportunity to audition in a test program. When Larry later checks in with producer Artie to see how the disasterous audition has gone, Artie replies to him, "Does the name Rupert Pupkin mean anything to you?"
Okay, the new comments system is up and running, replacing the extortionary scam perpetrated by the godless jackals at SquawkBox.

Happy commenting to all.
Please excuse me for a moment while I post a few words for the benefit of new bloggers doing Google research out there on the SquawkBox comments system:
SquawkBox.tv

Unethical business practices

Rip-off, ripoff, rip off

Scam

Cheat, cheated, cheaters

Extortion racket

Reputation

Unreliable, reliable

Bait and switch

Hijacked

Thank you for your patience. Now back to our regular programming.
After posting a message at Squawkbox's "customer service" forum pointing out that I hadn't really been "asked" to upgrade, and asking just exactly what the policy is on how much usage is considered "heavy," I received this reply:
You have been banned from this forum.
I'm getting a sneaky supicion that they don't really want to talk about this....

Sunday, August 03, 2003

The Continuing Saga of the Hijacked Comments System

SquawkBox, instead of communicating by email, has a forum where support questions can be posted. I started a thread over there pointing out that I was a bit nonplussed to find my comments suddenly being held for ransom. I explained that I normally get no more than five comments per day on my blog. Here's part of the response from the kid from Squawkbox:
Typically, 5 posts a day for a week is not sufficient to fall into the "heavy usage" category. It's the aggregate activity on the account since creation, plus various other criteria that determine usage.
In other words, "we make it up as we go along." He then adds:
I hope you can appreciate that by asking people who make sustained/heavy use of the service to upgrade, we can keep the service running for everyone.
Now, apart from the fact that I'm being "asked" to upgrade the way that Charles Lindbergh was "asked" to donate to the Hauptmann family scholarship fund, hadn't he just told me before that five posts a day would not fall into the "heavy usage" category? And what does fall into the "heavy usage" category? Would it be too much to ask that they pull that secret formula out of the vault and let their customers have a look-see at it? Am I paranoid to think that this is the very definition of "arbitrary?"

It's their product, they have a right to be totally arbitrary if they want. But it seems to me like that might not be the best way to build a product or develop a customer base.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

As you may have noticed, the jackals at SquawkBox are holding my comments system hostage until I send them some money. I have a free account, but they have decided that I use it too much (though they don't actually tell you how much is too much--they just flip a coin somewhere and pull the plug). Without notice, they simply say "We've decided that we want you to send us money now."

Here's the message you'll receive if you click on the comments box:
This commenting account (SBX-GWPXCDUDJ) has expired.

This means that the account owner has not renewed or upgraded their account. SquawkBox Basic/free accounts must be upgraded if they are heavily used over a prolonged period of time.
Here's the fun of it. How "heavily used?" They don't say! Over how "prolonged [a] period of time"? They don't tell you! Apparently they decide the way the Supreme Court does these days: if it feels heavy and seems prolonged to them, then that's that. I had a lot of activity for 48 hours this week. Evidently that is "prolonged."

Of course, it's free (initially) and it's theirs, so they can do whatever they want with it. Still, good faith would seem to call for at least some honesty and candor up front when bringing people into their system. They could do a six-month free trial, for instance, or set a limit on the number of comments allowable under the free system (and actually tell their customers what it is). But instead, they're more interested in sucking you in for a while and then slamming down the money hammer.

My comments will be down until I can get things straightened out. I apologize for the inconvenience, and I apologize in advance if any or all of your previous comments end up disappearing permanently. (Part of the beauty of pulling the plug in the middle of the night without notice is that the victim cannot back up his comments files. Just a coincidental benefit to them, I'm sure). If I do end up paying for a commenting system, it certainly won't be with SquawkBox. I would take my $22 (or whatever it is) and set it on fire in my front yard before I'd send it to those weasels now.

Tim Berglund, I'd look elsewhere right now if I were you, before they get you dependent on them and then pull their extortion racket.

Friday, August 01, 2003

I'm not a big fan of the president's spending policies so far. However, I am a big fan of the notice I got in the mail yesterday informing me that my child tax credit (read: refund) will be arriving in a few weeks.

Of course, the Democrats are even using this is a club against Bush. They claim it's unfair to the poor, since the poor don't get a check in the mail for their kids.

Which has given me an idea. Tonight, I'm going to go down to Pro Player Stadium and demand a ticket refund from the Marlins. When they ask what game I had tickets for, I'm going to say "What tickets? I didn't buy anything. If you're going to sit there and tell me I had to buy tickets first just to get a ticket refund, you'll be exposing your horrid prejudice against people who can't afford tickets. Tommorrow, I'll have thousands of people down here who've never bought a baseball ticket in their lives to picket you. Now knock off the unfair behavior and give me my refund."

I'll let you know how it goes.
Okay, just a little more fun before we're done. Despite delicate conditions at home, Little Geneva (see controversy below) has boldly posted today's observations. In them, he laments the fact that:
to speak out in this way against Muslims or Buddhists or Hindus or atheists in general elicits little or no protest from fellow Christians.
He then goes on to speak out against...well, I'll let you guess. But I'll give you a hint: it's not Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, or atheists in general...again.

But before the rant begins, he provides a little humor to lighten the mood, since things have been too serious lately:
For additional context, it is helpful to know what Martin Luther thought about Jews. (For those who don't know, Lutheranism is the official Christian flavor in Germany.) But first, a little joke from Luther: "Did I not tell you earlier that a Jew is such a noble, precious jewel that God and all the angels dance when he farts?" Yes, that's a real quote from his book On the Jews and Their Lies.
Are your sides splitting with laughter yet? Me too! I'll bet he's got a million of 'em! Or maybe two million at most. Certainly not six million--that would be a gross Zionist exaggeration....