Friday, October 31, 2003

When I was at lunch today, Walter Williams (filling in for Rush Limbaugh) said something wonderful.

He was discussing governmental redistribution of wealth, wherein money that might have been spent on a shovel instead is confiscated in taxes and given to someone else for cheese. That's great for the guy with the cheese, but it could put the shovelmaker out of business.

"Politicians love a visible beneficiary and an invisible victim," Williams said.

It's perfectly true. The money the government takes from you and puts towards its own particular ends is money that some other business or businesses will not be getting from you. But since we don't know who that guy is, the politician gets the credit for wherever the money does go, without the consequences for taking it from where it didn't go.
CNBC has hired Dennis Miller to do a nightly political talk show, beginning in January.

That's good news. Miller can be needlessly profane, but he's smarter than any five other talk show hosts (that means you, Bill O'Reilly) put together. And he's funnier than any 20 of them put together.
This is my favorite story of the day.

This week's edition of TIME magazine features an article about recent controversies in the Pentagon, oddly entitled "Is Rumsfeld Losing His Mojo?"

So yesterday, at a press conference, Rumsfeld was asked by a reporter if he felt he was, indeed, "losing his mojo." He responded:
...I guess the answer is that beauty's in the eye of the beholder. I don't know enough about mojo to know.
I haven't done all the research on this yet, so don't hold me to it, but I believe I'm safe in saying that this is the first time a United States Secretary of Defense has ever publicly uttered the word "mojo."

Thursday, October 30, 2003

I haven't sent a bouquet Ann Coulter's way in a while, but today she's earned it.

Always bombastic and usually entertaining, she focuses today on the New York Times' opposition to California Supreme Court Justice Janet Rogers Brown, one of President Bush's nominees to the federal bench. Once again, the Times has proclaimed a Bush nominee "out of the mainstream." Says Coulter:
According to the Times, Brown has "declared war on the mainstream legal values that most Americans hold dear." What the Times means by "mainstream legal values" is: off-the-charts unpopular positions favored by NAMBLA, the ACLU and The New York Times editorial page.

Thus, for example, opposition to partial-birth abortion – opposed by 70 percent of the American people – is "out of the mainstream."

Support for the death penalty – supported by 70 percent of the American people – is "out of the mainstream."

Opposition to government-sanctioned race discrimination – which voters in the largest state in the nation put on an initiative titled Proposition 209 and enacted into law – is "out of the mainstream."

Opposition to gay marriage – opposed by 60 percent of the American people – is "out of the mainstream."

Failing to recognize that totally nude dancing is "speech" is "out of the mainstream."

Questioning whether gay Scoutmasters should be taking 14-year-old boys on overnight sleepovers in the woods is "out of the mainstream."
I know, I know. Coulter is not particularly nuanced, and she sometimes jettisons facts in favor of a good insult. But what she points out here is inarguable.

When will the American people wake up and demand that their legislators approve judges who reflect the Constitution and their own basic views?
I'm still trying to figure out this recent column from Michael Mayo in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Roy Moore, the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, who has been at the center of controversy over his installation (and the subsequent removal) of a Ten Commandments monument in his state's judicial building, visited town to speak at a Christian conference over the weekend.
With his costly, divisive and utterly unnecessary crusade to install and keep a two-ton Ten Commandments display in the Alabama Judicial Building, he acts more like a preacher trying to enlighten souls than a jurist concerned with doing his job.
Oh, I see. As long as we're going to be objective about it.
If a preacher is what he wants to be, more power to him.

But as an elected judge representing people of all denominations (and no denomination), the concept of keeping religion at an appropriate distance from the secular affairs of state shouldn't be that difficult to muster.

It's Civics 101, right?
Well actually, no, Michael, it isn't. This is the problem with making sneering remarks about "Civics 101" when one has never actually taken Civics 101. If you had taken it (or at least a well-taught, historically accurate version of it) you'd know that not only was keeping religious speech out of the halls of government the furthest thing from the minds of the Founding Fathers, but that nearly all the signers of the Constitution were professing Christians, and that a substantial number of them had ministerial training. You'd know that during the Constitutional Convention, when the delegates were struggling to agree on anything, Benjamin Franklin (supposedly the "least religious" of the Founding Fathers) said:
In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor....And have we now forgotten this powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?

...I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business."
That was at the Constitutional Convention, Michael. So what was that you were saying about Civics 101?
"The institutions of our society are founded upon the belief that there's an authority higher than the state," Moore told me Monday. "The Declaration of Independence talks about certain inalienable rights granted by our Creator. If government forbids the acknowledgment of God, then there are no inalienable rights."

Couldn't people figure out universal human rights on their own, without God?

"That's what Hitler said," Moore said.

It takes a lot of chutzpah to so baldly reveal one's ignorance. Wouldn't you be embarrassed to ask "huh?" instead of, oh, I don't know, maybe looking it up, or doing some research? Here's a quote I found from Hitler after less than five minutes of research:
Historically speaking, Christianity is nothing but a Jewish sect...After the destruction of Judiasm, the extinction of Christian slave morals must follow....we are fighting against the perversion of our soundest instincts. ..that poison with which both the Jews and Christians have spoiled and soiled the free, wonderful instincts of man and lowered them to the level of doglike fright.
You see, Michael, Hitler believed that Christianity ran counter to our instincts, and that it was our instincts that should be followed. And, of course, he followed his.
As you'd expect from a judge, he has some reasoned arguments, pointing out inconsistencies in the government's approach to God and religion. He rattles off precedents, quotes from Supreme Court rulings to bolster his position.

He wonders why he can't keep his Ten Commandments display while the federal courthouse in Montgomery has Themis, the Greek goddess of justice, sculpted on the front. He wonders why he can swear to uphold a state constitution that invokes an "almighty God" and spend money imprinted with "In God We Trust," but he can't point out "Thou Shalt Not Kill" in a court's rotunda.

But it still feels like he's trying to go somewhere that makes me uncomfortable.
Now we get to the crux of the problem. It makes Mayo feel "uncomfortable." Michael Mayo's comfortability is, of course, our supreme Constitutional principle. But what about those arguments? What about those inconsistencies Judge Moore pointed out? Apparently, none of them matter unless we feel comfortable.
This seems less about government separating people from God than fundamentalists of one religious stripe trying to tear down walls and see how far they can go. After all, it's not as if the government is telling the 90 percent of Americans who believe in God that they can't go to their local houses of worship.
No, they're simply telling the 90 percent of Americans who believe in God that they can't mention him or acknowledge him anywhere outside the house of worship, and certainly not in government. The 90% will be held hostage by the 10%. As Bill Federer has put it, the last ones into the boat (and there was hardly any such thing as institutional atheism 50 years ago) now want to push the first ones out. One gets the feeling that if Ben Franklin had prayed his prayer in front of Mayo, Mayo would have written a similar column about him.
Moore has every right to believe what he believes. But I wonder if he's in the wrong line of work.
And I wonder if you are, Michael.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

This won't mean much to non-St. Louisans, but I received the sad news this morning of the untimely death of County Executive Buzz Westfall.

The way St. Louis is set up, it is divided into St. Louis City and St. Louis County, which are roughly divided by the man-made River Des Peres. St. Louis County is actually more populous than the City, and as County Executive for the past 13 years, Buzz was essentially the mayor of St. Louis County.

I bumped into him frequently around the time St. Louis was trying to lure the Rams. He was always happy to talk, and was as important as anyone in town to bringing the NFL back. Westfall was a bigger-than-life bear of a guy who always seemed to be having a good time. There were things I disagreed with him on (he was, after all, a Democrat), but he was frequently right (being a former prosecutor) and was impossible not to like.

He'll be missed, and St. Louis won't be quite as good without him.
For the first time ever, I had jury duty yesterday. Since the circuit court is, of course, a branch of the government, the day went just like any government day would: lots of time spent doing nothing. Out of what ended up being 10 hours spent at the Broward County Courthouse, I'd say maybe 2 hours of that involved doing anything. The other eight hours were sitting around waiting.

I got put into a jury pool with 29 other folks for a cocaine trafficking trial (this is, after all, South Florida). The defense attorney seemed particularly concerned about my employment with the Religious Right (though he was careful not to call it that), and ultimately I was not one of the eight that were chosen (six jurors and two alternates). Ah well, I could tell the guy was guilty just by looking at him....

(I'm kidding, of course. But he probably was guilty. I mean, hey, who are we kidding here?)

One good thing came out of it. Because nothing ever goes according to plan in South Florida, the Marlins' World Series boat parade on the New River just outside the county courthouse got started about 1 1/2 hours late, so I was released just in time to pop out and see it. By far, the fan favorite was Ivan Rodriguez, who made a point of having his boat go closest to the shore on both sides of the river, so the fans could get up close with him. These guys were having a great time, and it's nice to see South Florida into anything.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Embarrassed to be an American:

The United States has lost the international Rock, Paper, Scissors Championships--to a bunch of lousy Canucks on their home turf.

Here's hoping America can regain the pride later this year at the annual World Cup of Thumb Wrestling.
For what it's worth, I've discovered that an interview I conducted last month with Dr. Peter Lillback is being used as this week's edition of his national radio program, Bible Odyssey.

I interviewed him on a local South Florida radio station near the two-year anniversary of 9/11. They've titled the program "Where Was God on September 11?" If you've always been dying to know what my voice sounds like (and I know you have), this is your big chance to find out.
I see that an attempt was made on Paul Wolfowitz's life over the weekend in Baghdad. What I want to know is: where were the paleoconservatives, and do they have an alibi? After all, they hate him much more than any Iraqi could, and they love a good conspiracy theory.

The American people have some questions they want answered! Why hasn't Lew Rockwell denied his involvement yet? Why didn't Charley Reese look suprised when informed of the attack? Looks pretty bad for the paleos....
As much as I enjoyed seeing the Florida Marlins win the World Series Saturday night, I enjoyed seeing the Yankees lose even more. The Yankees have won 26 World Series titles. The Marlins entire existence has spanned 11 years.

Josh Beckett for President! Pudge Rodriguez for Secretary of State!

Friday, October 24, 2003

Well, the hometown Marlins are up three games to two. Their bullpen turns my hair a bit grayer each night. When we meet again on Monday, baseball will have a new World Series champ. Here's to the Florida Marlins hopefully vanquishing the Evil Empire.

By the way, a prediction: If the Marlins win, Joe Torre will quickly be out as Yankees manager--maybe by the next morning. Yet I don't think he will be fired by Steinbrenner. Rather, I think Steinbrenner will bury him in the New York media in a fit of pique the night they lose, and Torre will say "I've had enough of this."

With Don Zimmer apparently leaving, it'd be a good time for Torre to go too, since I have a theory that Zimmer has actually been the de facto strategic manager of the team through Torre's reign anyway.
Ah yes, you knew they couldn't be far behind. Those fine patriots at the ACLU have now decided to involve themselves in the Schiavo case.

In the case of a helpless, innocent women who has twice been ordered to her death (via starvation) by judges and who has been denied the sacraments of her religion by her guardian-husband who stands to make hundreds of thousands of dollars by her death, one would expect those heroic crusaders for individual liberties to step in, right?

Right. And step in they've done--to argue that Michael Schiavo ought to be able to kill his incapacitated wife, who has been witnessed reacting in horror when told that she is going to be killed.

It's too bad that Terri Schiavo never raped and murdered a child. Then the ACLU might be interested in preventing her execution.
I know there's been a lot here on the Schiavo case in recent days, but I think it's of paramount importance. The battle lines being drawn here represent the deep fissure that divides our entire culture; it's a perfect microcosm of the larger culture war.

Al Mohler absolutely nails it in his blog today. I'll quote him at length, because I haven't seen the issue presented any more starkly:
The most macabre angle to this case is the role of George Felos, Michael Schiavo's attorney. Felos is a well-known euthanasia advocate and he is second to none in his presentation of the "Big Lie" through propaganda. Even Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels would blush at statements made by Felos. Consider this: "The governor of the state of Florida does not have the right to trump a patient's personal choice."

Felos has the audacity to make this statement when he knows full well that Terri Schiavo left no specific instructions. Terri is the patient in this case, not Michael Schiavo. As if that was not bad enough, Felos went on to argue: "It is simply inhumane and barbaric to interrupt her death process. Just because Terri Schiavo is not conscious doesn't mean she doesn't have dignity."

The evil essence of that statement is breathtaking. George Felos claims that those who would save Terri Schiavo's life are "inhumane and barbaric." And he further suggests that their inhumanity is seen in "interrupting" Terri's death process. If this is the ethical standard, then the nation's emergency rooms should be seen as barbaric institutions, where the "death process" of thousands of Americans is interrupted each day.

George Felos is an apostle of the Church of Death. When he claims that Terri Schiavo's dignity should be respected, we must keep in mind that it is this man who has presented the courts with arguments for removing her feeding tube so that she would die of dehydration and starvation--a fate that would not be legally allowed in a veterinary clinic.
When I grow up, I want to be Al Mohler.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Some observations on the World Series broadcasts:

I don't know if I'm just getting mellow with age or what, but I'm starting to not hate Tim McCarver with every fiber of my being anymore. There was a time only a few years ago when the very sound of his high-pitched twang would send me scrambling for the remote control to hurl at my TV. Now, however, I've actually found myself thinking "Hey, that's a pretty good point" to things he's saying during the game.

He and Joe Buck are handling the announcing duties on Fox. Now, I've been listening to Buck's play-by-play since he was 22 years old. He's about the same age as I am, and we were getting started in the same business at about the same time in the same city.

When he was named to the St. Louis Cardinals play-by-play team at 22, I was fully prepared to hate his guts for the sheer nepotism of it. Here was the punk kid of legendary Cardinals' broadcaster Jack Buck taking the mic alongside Dad at an age when most kids his age where still swilling beer-bongs in the frat house. I turned on the radio, ready to pounce on the first misstep in his first season.

But there was a problem: he was good. I mean really, really good. He had a smooth delivery, wry sense of humor, and conversational style perfectly suited to baseball (combined with the ability to convey drama that suits him to football). He was gracious and affable in person. He was impossible to hate. In fact, he compelled you to like him.

Did he get the job because he was Jack Buck's son? Probably. No other 22-year-olds were considered. But while his father may have opened the door for him, his talent is what kept him there and propelled him into the stratosphere.

Now, ten or eleven years down the line, Joe Buck is THE voice of the World Series (he did his first Series at 27) and the Super Bowl on network television. He's the number one play-by-play guy in sports. And none of that has anything to do with being Jack Buck's son. Being Jack Buck's son doesn't get you the Super Bowl or the World Series. It doesn't get you the job as the go-to sportscaster at the network level. Nationally, at the age of 33 or 34, Joe Buck has exceeded even his father's accomplishments (though the elder Buck will always hold preeminence in the hearts of St. Louisans).

He is a pleasure to listen to, and makes a good team with McCarver. Much better, in fact, than Jack Buck and McCarver made doing the World Series on CBS in the early '90's. Joe Buck makes it sound easy--the truest mark of a gifted professional.
At commercial breaks during the ballgame last night, I flipped around to some of the talk shows on the news networks. Most of them were discussing the Terri Schiavo case.

The liberals were all lined up to gasp in horror that the state would dare involve itself in something like this. "It's very dangerous," they were all saying, "for the state to involve itself in personal decisions like this."

Hmmm. It's odd that I didn't hear them screaming about the "dangers" posed by the state when a state judge ordered Terri Schiavo to be killed. A cynic might even say that state involvement seemed just fine with them up until that point. What they really mean is that they don't want the democratic arm of the state to be able to overrule the appointed, unaccountable, judicial monarchist arm of the state.

Incidentally, I've discovered (to my shock) that the circumstances surrounding Mrs. Schiavo's husband are not widely known. Just to get everyone caught up, are you aware that Michael Schiavo, Terri's "court-appointed guardian" (who is desparately attempting to get the state to execute his wife) has a live-in girlfriend who's given birth to one of his children and is pregnant with another? Did you know that if Terri dies, he will receive the remainder of the $750,000 malpractice award that was ordered into a trust to pay for Terri's care? Were you aware that a nurse says in a sworn affidavit that she's heard Michael Schiavo saying things like "When is that bitch going to die?"

He is the "family" that folks like Jocelyn Elders are talking about when they say such decisions "need to be made by the family." Terri's parents, who have nothing to gain by her death and want to keep their daughter alive, are apparently not "family" enough for them.

If you didn't know these things about Michael Schiavo, you need to read Wesley Smith's article on the case which originally appeared in National Review Online. I've spent a little bit of time with Wesley, and in my mind he's the best writer in the country today on issues of bioethics. And he's co-written books with Ralph Nader, so it's not as if he's some sort of right-wing ideologue like me.
I realize that I'm not saying anything that every sports radio host in the country hasn't said ad nauseum, but who in the world does Major League Baseball think is going to be following its sport 15 years from now? Last night's game ended at 12:30am Eastern time. The previous night's game ended even later than that.

Yes, it was nail-biting excitement. But how many 11-year-old kids got to see Alex Gonzalez's shocking game-winning homer in the 12th inning? An entire generation of fans and potential fans are never seeing the game's greatest moments. I mean, they're starting these games at 8:20pm!

My devotion to baseball was settled before I had reached double-digits in age, watching the big games on television. Because my son is homeschooled, I've let him stay up and watch the games with me since I have romanticized notions about the importance of fathers and sons watching big baseball games together. But both he and I are walking death lately. Everybody in South Florida is a bleary-eyed mess this morning. Why does it need to be that way? I know it's about money, but the games are running four hours anyway. Even if they started them at 7pm, they'd still cover all of prime-time. What's the deal?

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Brian at Terrible Swift Word is a man after my own heart, combining incisive observations on sports with politics and Christianity--all my favorite subjects. It's good stuff. Check it out, especially if you're a sports fan.
As you've probably heard by now, Gov. Jeb Bush (following the passing of a bill by both chambers of the Florida legislature) has ordered that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube be reinserted, and doctors have begun administering the fluids that will save her life.

The would-be murderers of Mrs. Schiavo are screaming "unconstitutional" at the top of their lungs. While they are all for the unconstitutional weilding of power by the current judicial monarchy, it suddenly bothers them when someone else starts issuing decrees. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
Bruce Winick, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Miami's law school, said legislators in essence made "an end run around the judiciary, and that really threatens the principle of the independence of the judiciary."
No, what it threatens is the unchallenged judicial tyranny that we have been living under for years now. It finally imposes a much-needed democratic check on the runaway, dictatorial judiciary. It's about time.
As I was reading through this week's edition of TIME magazine last night, I saw an odd entertainment item featuring two familiar names that I couldn't quite place. As I racked my feeble brain, it finally came to me: the names belong to the two producers of the CBS Reagan television movie (though that upcoming film was never mentioned).

This item from TIME should give you an idea of the producers' rock-solid conservative credentials:
Now that gays are as ubiquitous on television as Law & Order spin-offs, actor-playwright HARVEY FIERSTEIN is set to break new gender-bending ground. Fierstein, who won a Tony Award for his performance as a plus-size hausfrau in Broadway's Hairspray, has signed on to play a divorced mother of two in an ABC pilot. More Roseanne than Will & Grace, the show will include "no acknowledgment that this is a man playing a woman, no winking at the camera," says Craig Zadan, who is developing the project with Neil Meron, his co-executive producer on the film Chicago. Fierstein will sport wigs and makeup for the role and may have romantic encounters.
Sounds like good, middle-American fare we can all look forward to. I think these are just the guys to present an honest, sympathetic account of the life of Ronald Reagan.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Shockingly, reports say that the forthcoming CBS television movie on Ronald Reagan, starring Mr. Barbra Streisand, is going to be an inaccurate smear-job on the former president.

According to Drudge's account:
"This was very important for me, to document everything and give a very fair point of view," says Leslie Moonves, the CBS chairman and a top Democrat supporter [he sat next to Hillary Clinton during her husband's re-nominating convention].
It just goes to show that you can never trust a guy with a girl's first name.

The Drudge scoop previews a story to appear in the New York Times about the upcoming film. According to Drudge:
The film is set to air during next month's Sweeps. It stresses Reagan's moments of forgetfulness, his supposed opinions on AIDS and gays, his laissez-faire handling of his staff members. The scenes often carry a disapproving tone.

During a scene in which his wife pleads with him to help people battling AIDS, Reagan says resolutely, "They that live in sin shall die in sin" and refuses to discuss the issue further.

The film's producers, Zadan and Meron, acknowledge their liberal politics, as do the stars of the television movie, James Brolin and Judy Davis. But Meron tells the TIMES: "This is not a vendetta, this is not revenge. It is about telling a good story in our honest sort of way. We all believe it's a story that should be told."
And here I sure that liberal has-been James Brolin would offer a sympathetic portrait of the man who won the Cold War.
The Florida state Senate has passed a bill giving Governor Jeb Bush the authority to overrule the state courts in the case of Terri Schiavo and order her feeding tube reinserted. The state House will vote on the bill tonight.

At this point in our history, I'm glad to see any court stripped of some of its power. Of course, those who would kill Terri Schiavo complain that such a move is "authoritarian" and "anti-democratic." I fail to see, however, how it is any more "authoritarian" than a state judge ordering a woman to be starved to death.

Monday, October 20, 2003

In case you missed it, it appears that a number of former American presidents have experienced posthumous conversions to. . . .the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. That's right: the Moonies.

The article from the Moonies' website even contains helpful post-mortem testimonies from these former presidents. Here are snippets from a few of them:
I, George Washington, am deeply moved to learn through Mr. Sang Hun Lee the identity of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, learn about Rev. Moon's accomplishments and philosophy, and come to a realization that he has appeared as the Messiah...

...I realize that the American people are blessed by the mere fact that the Messiah is present on American soil. Yet, they appear unable to realize this deeply. I am deeply distressed over this.
I can imagine. Thomas Jefferson, who used to be a Deist, also makes an appearance. I was hoping he'd revoke (or at least explain) his Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, but instead he simply hails the messiah/Washington Times publisher:
People of America, rise again. Return to the nation's founding spirit. Follow the teachings of Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the Messiah to all people, who has appeared in Korea. There is no inconsistency between our founding spirit and his teachings. Well-known presidents and kings from history are excited by the greatness of his philosophy of peace.
Gosh, I hate to be a critic, but it's not exactly "When in the course of human events..."

Even Jack Kennedy gets into the act!:
Those of you at the United Nations, I am John Kennedy!

I want to declare an extremely important thing to you today. The fact that Kennedy is sending a message from the spiritual world to the United Nations is something that cannot be imagined in your world, and it is very significant news. Through attending lectures of the new truth, Divine Principle and Unification Thought here in the spirit world, I have understood the direction and goal that the world must take today.
Who would've guessed that people from Massachusetts would speak broken, oddly-syntaxed English in the afterlife? Or that there would be lectures, for that matter? Sounds like fun. Like buying a time-share, only worse.

Moon even has an endorsement from Nixon on his site, which you have to admit takes a certain amount of guts even for a self-proclaimed messiah.

(Thanks to the guys at the Boar's Head Tavern for the heads up on this one.)
So (alleged) D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad is going to represent himself in his upcoming trial.

Well that's a relief. I had been afraid that the trial might end up being some sort of circus.
I see that the pope beatified Mother Theresa the other day. I think that's a great thing. She was an incredible woman, but I always felt she could use a little bit of a touch-up....

Friday, October 17, 2003

Listening to local talk radio the other day, I heard someone call up and complain that those who would "force" Terri Schiavo to remain alive aren't taking into account her "quality of life" and whether she could "ever be a productive member of society."

Words like that should send a chill down one's spine. This came not from some creepy government apparatchik, but from Joe Sixpack on his cellphone. We have become so inured to legalized murder in this country that such sentiments seem almost commonplace.

In case you are one of those who wonders what all the fuss is about, my fellow St. Louisan Bill Federer (a great guy who nearly unseated the evil Dick Gephardt from his congressional seat a couple of years ago) writes an outstanding column today wherein he delineates the crucial difference between those who are concerned with "sanctity of life" and those primarily concerned with mere "quality of life." The former is a view of life which has caused Western civilization to flourish, while the latter has historically been the viewpoint of Nazis and other would-be cleansers of society.

Federer writes of the Third Reich in 1930's Germany:
...the concept that the elderly and terminally ill should have the right to die was promoted in books, newspapers, literature and even entertainment films, the most popular of which were entitled Ich klage an (I accuse) and Mentally Ill. One euthanasia movie, based on a novel by a National Socialist doctor, actually won a prize at the world-famous Venice Film Festival! Extreme hardship cases were cited which increasingly convinced the public to morally approve of euthanasia. The medical profession gradually grew accustomed to administering death to patients who, for whatever reasons, felt their low "quality of life" rendered their lives not worth living, or as it was put, liebensunwerten Lebens, (life unworthy of life).

In an Associated Press release, published in the New York Times, October 10, 1933, entitled "Nazi Plan to Kill Incurables to End Pain; German Religious Groups Oppose Move," it was stated: "The Ministry of Justice, in a detailed memorandum explaining the Nazi aims regarding the German penal code, today announced its intentions to authorize physicians to end the sufferings of the incurable patient. The memorandum...proposed that it shall be possible for physicians to end the tortures of incurable patients, upon request, in the interest of true humanity. This proposed legal recognition of euthanasia - the act of providing a painless and peaceful death - raised a number of fundamental problems of a religious, scientific, and legal nature. The Catholic newspaper Germania hastened to observe: 'The Catholic faith binds the conscience of its followers not to accept this method'...In Lutheran circles, too, life is regarded as something that God alone can take.... Euthanasia... has become a widely discussed word in the Reich.... No life still valuable to the State will be wantonly destroyed."
Is it merely guilt by association to compare the euthanizers with Nazis, such as the Left engages in when it moronically refers to President Bush as a "Nazi"? No. The view of life promulgated by the Third Reich was integral to Hitler's being able to carry out his twisted policies. The same view which made genocide easy for Hitler is growing like a cancer in our own country.

I can't urge you strongly enough to read Federer's column. Print it. Cut it out. Hang it on your refrigerator. Send it to your friends. This is what's at stake in the sanctity of life debate.
As much as I was rooting for the Marlins to win the World Series anyway, it just increased exponentially last night, with the evil New York Yankees taking the American League pennant. Just like the Cubs, the Bosox came within five outs of a trip to the World Series, but couldn't seal the deal.

As some wit once said, "rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for U.S. Steel." The reference is a bit outdated, for course, for the 21st century, so perhaps a better way of putting it might be: "Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for the IRS." Of course they're going to win. The whole system is stacked in their favor. That's why it's so sweet when they lose.

On a side note, I covered Joe Torre for a couple of years when he was the St. Louis Cardinals manager. I like Joe Torre. The very first game I ever covered, being pretty green, I got lost trying to find my way to the locker room. I had my tape recorder with me, and was charged with the task of geting some soundbites for the post-game show I was involved in.

By the time I stumbled my way into the clubhouse, the gaggle in the manager's office had already ended. The way it works in Major League Baseball is that at the end of the game, all the reporters (radio, TV, and newspaper) congregate in the manager's little office all at once and pepper him with questions about the game. That way, he doesn't have to answer the same question over and over again. After that, the reporters fan out into the larger locker room to interview whichever individual player(s) they want to get something from. Except that I didn't know that all the reporters interviewed the manager en masse after the game.

By the time I got there, the reporters had spread out into the locker room, and I only knew that I had to get some comments from Joe Torre. Like an idiot, I went to Torre's office where he was getting changed, and said "Uh, hey, Joe, can I get some comments from you?"

I'll always be grateful for his response. Half-dressed, he took a look at me (probably recognizing "This kid doesn't know his butt from left field"), and said "sure." He sat down and answered my stupid questions for five minutes. Never did he let on that this isn't the way it's done, and that I'm supposed to talk to him when everybody else does. I never realized the grace he had extended me until I learned later how things normally work, what a breach of protocol I had committed, and how much he absolutely despised the station that I was working for, on which many of the hosts were daily calling for his firing. Despite all that, he took pity on me.

So I'll always like Joe Torre for that. But I've gotta say, I still hate the Yankees, and I still want to see them get stomped. Good a guy as Torre is, he's got enough stinkin' rings already.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Here is a vital website set up by Terri Schindler-Schiavo's family, which includes crucial information about her case, along with heartrending media files demonstrating Terri reacting to her parents, tracking objects with her eyes, and answering questions.
I've been trying to get World Series tickets online (to no avail) for the past hour. It's not looking good.

Man, I hate these fair-weather, bandwagon-jumping Marlins fans!

At least, I think they're fair-weather bandwagon-jumpers. I'm not completely sure; I haven't really paid much attention to what's going on with the baseball team until about two weeks ago...
A group wants to establish a gay fraternity at the University of Texas at San Antonio. According to an article in the Houston Chronicle:
"We want to make a place where gay people themselves could feel comfortable participating in Greek life," [Chris] Forbrich [president of the gay group] said.

"It's no different than any other fraternity, except that it attracts gay men," he said.
Boy, these guys really take seriously the phrase "Greek life." They'll be using the other Socratic Method.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

This afternoon from WorldNetDaily:
Terri Schindler-Schiavo's life-sustaining feeding tube was removed this afternoon in compliance with a judge's order as her mother and her husband Michael Schiavo, who demanded the removal, looked on.

...Doctors say if there is no further intervention, she will die in 10-14 days.

...Yesterday, the Schindlers [Terri's parents] released a videotape they believe provides convincing evidence Terri is not in the comatose condition her husband and his attorneys portray.

The tape apparently violates a court order, and Michael Schiavo's attorney Deborah Bushnell immediately responded to announcement of the tape's release, warning that if it is distributed, the Schindler family "will not be allowed to visit Terri unless [Schiavo] or his representative is present."

Robert Schindler distributed the video at a press conference yesterday in which he revealed Terri tried to convey to him she did not want to die, by bolting upright and trying to get out of her chair when told she might be killed.
As George Grant said today, "Murder by court decree is no trifling matter--nor is it the sort of thing that the church can disregard with a steadfastly averted gaze except at our own grave peril."
While I feel for the Cubs, one can see that it's no mere coincidence that they've failed to win a World Series for the last 90-some years. A fan reaches out and interferes with a potential out, a shortstop drops a routine double-play grounder--this is how you span generations without a championship.

Is it possible to feel worse for that poor schlub in the stands whose life is now ruined (at least if the Cubs lose again tonight)? He had to leave the game under a security detail last night. According to the Chicago Tribune:
Within moments, the fans down the left-field line began booing and chanting, "Get him out." The object of their scorn still sat in his front-row seat, wearing headphones and a Cubs cap, as the Marlins began to pile up runs.

"It cost us the game, pal," shouted one fan. Another fan tossed a beer cup toward the man's seat, but it fell short.

Three security guards ejected one fan after throwing beer. "I hope you're happy," the man screamed. "You cost us a [expletive] World Series."

Another fan yelled, "You could tell we're better than Boston or he'd be dead already."

Within a few minutes, Cubs security closed access to the lower levels of the stands and kept reporters out of the area. Moments later, another fan who said his name was Jim Cuthbert was escorted shouting from the area. Cuthbert said ushers took him out of the park because had gone to confront the fan who had touched the ball and refused to return to his seat.

"I said, 'What the hell is wrong with you?'" said Cuthbert, who added he caught the man's eye and challenged him to come outside. Cuthbert said the man wouldn't answer.
Do you realize that if the Cubs lose the pennant tonight, this guy is going to have to move out of town?

So how come nobody wants to attack the millionaire shortstop who gets payed to play and who dropped the inning-ending double-play ball? Is it possible that he bears just a tad more of the blame than the guy who tried to catch a foul ball that almost landed in his lap?

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

If you haven't heard about this harrowing story, you need to. George Grant has a particularly powerful treatment of it in his blog entry for 10/13. Here's an excerpt:
U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara and Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court Judge George Greer have condemned Terri Schindler-Schiavo to die by starvation--a slow and torturous death. Though she has committed no crimes, is not accused of committing any crimes, and is no burden to the state, the two men have steadfastly refused to acknowledge Terri’s statutory and constitutional rights--including her 14th Amendment right to due process.

So, why must this woman die? Because when she was just 26, Terri collapsed in her home under mysterious circumstances and consequently suffered debilitating brain damage. Because, her husband, Michael Schiavo has convinced the courts that Terri, now 39, is incapacitated and ought to have her feeding tubes removed.

Terri, although disabled, is not in a coma. She is not in a vegetative state. She breathes on her on and maintains her own blood pressure. She laughs, and cries; she says yes and no. She does however, require a tube into her stomach for nourishment and hydration.

Over a dozen prominent doctors and therapists have stated under oath that Terri is not in a persistent vegetative state and that with therapy she could be substantially rehabilitated. Indeed, Terri herself has clearly communicated that she does not want to be starved to death.

Despite these incontrovertible facts, Judge Lazarra and Judge Greer have determined that the excruciatingly cruel state-mandated execution should commence at 2 PM this Wednesday.
Terri's parents are begging to have custody of her to prevent the court-ordered murder. You can read the rest at Dr. G's blog.
Did you know that a recent poll among evangelicals showed that the number one reason for getting rid of your television is to be able to tell people that you got rid of your television?

Okay, I made that up, but if such a poll were taken and people were actually honest, I suspect it would be the number one reason. Frankly, I've had it up to here with moralistic, pietistic, evangelical blowhards who take every last opportunity to broadcast the fact that "we got rid of our television X years ago and don't miss it a bit."

Excuse me, but yes you do. If you didn't miss it, you wouldn't talk about it so much. You wouldn't stretch so hard to work it into every single conversation. You crave your old television set more than Rush Limbaugh craves his 34th Oxycontin of the day. You are obsessed with it.

There is no group more full of spiritual pride and Phariseeism than the modern evangelical we-got-rid-of-our-TV crowd (and it's close cousin, the we-have-a-little-set-that-our-unenlightened-mother-in-law-gave-us-but-we-never-actually-watch-it crowd). Well guess what, you snake-handling legalist. I do have a television, and I do watch it. Whaddya think of them apples? I watch all kinds of things on it. I watch the news. I watch sporting events. I watch the occasional movie on the weekend. And you know something? I even enjoy it! When your kids come over, I'm going to sit them down in front of it and make them watch it. We're all going to watch "Friends" together.

Later, if perhaps if I too decide to become a prideful, ill-informed, culturally illiterate ignoramus, you can show me the depot where I can drop my TV off.

(Editorial note: this characterization does not include all of those who have made the often-wise decision to jettison the boob-tube. It only includes those who claim it as their very identity.)

Monday, October 13, 2003

I'm back in South Florida, where it's very hot and muggy.

I've just read that there is a new hit TV show this season on CBS. It's called "Joan of Arcadia," and supposedly reflects a resurgance in the discussion of God on network television in the post-9/11 era. On the program, "16-year-old Joan Girardi (Amber Tamblyn) learns that God (who appears in guises ranging from a cute guy to a cafeteria worker) has plans for her."

Accroding to a story about the program in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
[T]he new shows are far heavier on questions than answers.

"We have tiny little pea brains, and God is enormous," says "Joan of Arcadia" creator [Barbara] Hall. "So the show is really a lot about posing theological and philosophical questions and not answering them."
Which sounds nice and humble. But, as it turns out, Hall actually has quite a few answers to offer us about God.

According to the story, she issued a list of "Ten Commandments" to serve as absolute guidelines for the writers of the program. They are:
1. God cannot directly intervene.
2. Good and evil exist.
3. God can never identify one religion as being right.
4. The job of every human being is to fulfill his or her true nature.
5. Everyone is allowed to say no to God, including Joan.
6. God is not bound by time - this is a human concept.
7. God IS NOT A PERSON and does not possess a human personality.
8. God talks to everyone all the time in different ways.
9. God's plan is what is good for us, not what is good for him.
10. God's purpose for talking to Joan, and to everyone, is to get her (us) to recognize the interconnectedness of all things, i.e. you cannot hurt a person without hurting yourself; all of your actions have consequences; God can be found in the smallest actions; God expects us to learn and grow from all our experiences. However, the exact nature of God is a mystery, and the mystery can never be solved.
And so one who claims we are too pea-brained to know anything about God actually thinks she knows quite a bit about Him. Or about "it," as she might put it. Though He's an insolvable mystery, she has solved much of it anyway.

Hall doesn't know much about God and would never say that someone's right or wrong about Him, except on a few minor points, such as whether He is a person, whether He acts in His universe, whether He reveals Himself to whomever He chooses whenever He chooses, whether He has exclusively revealed Himself through Christ, whether man's nature is ultimately sinful, or whether the Bible is God's authoritative word. On all those questions, she's certain the answer is "no," but she doesn't have any strong opinions on the important stuff, I suppose.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Believe It Or Not

Just across the street from my hotel in Minneapolis, there is a life-sized bronze statue of Mary Tyler Moore throwing her hat into the air, on what is apparently the exact spot where she was filmed for the opening of her TV show.

I'm not sure what to make of that. I suppose I should be outraged by the trivialization of our culture, the elevation of television, etc. But I have to admit, I actually thought it was kind of cool. So sue me.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

This morning, Sam Storms, a professor at Wheaton, delivered a message on Edwards' view of Heaven that absolutely blew me away.

The very brief crux of it was this: Heaven is not a place of stasis (as we tend to imagine it--we're plopped down into a beautiful place and that's sort of it for eternity). Rather, it is a place where our enjoyment of God will be ever-increasing. Because He is infinite and we as creatures are finite, we will never reach the end of Him, even in our glorification. The more we desire of Him, the more He will reveal to us and meet that desire. And then the more we see of Him, the more our desire for Him will be increased. Whatever we desire (which will be completely God-centered, because our desires will be sanctified) will be gladly given to us. And so on into eternity. The implications of that, if you chew on it for a while, are staggering.

I had never heard of Storms before, but his presentation (based on Edwards) of our ever-expanding enjoyment of God was worth the trip in and of itself.

This evening is J.I. Packer on The Glory of God and the Reviving of Religion.
I'm in Minneapolis for John Piper's Jonathan Edwards conference. Piper preached tonight on A God-Entranced Vision of All Things: Why We Need Jonathan Edwards Three Hundred Years Later, and in my opinion, it was literally awe-inspiring. Piper never opens his mouth without saying something incredibly profound.

I think it's supposed to be cold in Minnesota by now, but I guess they must be having Indian summer (Ahem. Excuse me--Native American summer) because it was like 80 degrees today. The leaves are turning, though, which I haven't seen in a few years. I took a cab to the hotel, but still didn't know what to tip the driver.

Heard the Limbaugh announcement on TV while waiting for my bag at the baggage carousel. After actually reading the Enquirer story about three days ago, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that he had a horrendous painkiller addiction. I must say, though, that he handled the announcement with characteristic professionalism. Even when I was a raging liberal (and I still disagree with him fairly frequently even now), I respected his broadcasting professionalism--speaking as someone who had a career in radio, he's probably the best pure radio broadcaster I've ever heard.

I have no idea how this will affect his future career, but I hope he gets it taken care of. It's impossible to not be sorely disappointed. I saw Al Franken on CNN a while ago, and he could hardly restrain his joy. He's in a weird position, because he's one of these 12-steps nuts, and he now is in the awkward position of wanting to torture Rush for something Franken militantly insists isn't a character flaw.

Friday, October 10, 2003

I've listened bemusedly over the last year or two as Rush Limbaugh occasionally does "SUV Updates" on his program. Now despite the fact that he's been quite a topic of conversation here recently, I only catch his program for about a half-hour once or twice a week. Still, I've found the SUV Update to be one of his more amusing bits.

For those of you who don't know what the SUV Update is, Limbaugh took notice of the fact that liberals harbor a visceral hatred of sport utility vehicles (SUV's). They hate them so much, and have such a strong motive for demonizing them, that they've taken to personifying these vehicles in news stories about accidents that involve them.

I've never seen a better example with my own eyes than a story which appeared here in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel the other day. It was titled "Highway Patrol hunts hit-and-run SUV that killed woman near Hollywood." Here are the first couple of paragraphs from the story:
The Florida Highway Patrol is hoping the public can provide information that leads to a sport utility vehicle that hit and killed a 55-year-old woman late Tuesday near Hollywood.

The accident happened at 11:57 p.m. as the woman, [name deleted], tried to cross State Road 7 along the 2600 block when a dark colored SUV ran over her and continued driving north without stopping. The SUV probably has damage to its right front light and the hood, the highway patrol said.
I hope they stop it before it kills again.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

I've recently realized that I lack understanding about how to tip.

Of course, I can handle a sit-down restaurant meal without any problem. 15-20% of the check. I get it. Skycaps I can handle, too. My dad always said "a dollar a bag." I've jacked it up to two for inflation, but I know that I'm within the realm of propriety there.

However, many other potential tipping situations have been popping up in my life, which I'm totally unequipped to handle. For instance:

You order a take-out meal from a traditionally sit-down restaurant (say, the Olive Garden, for example). You go up to the bar (usually) to pick up your order at the allotted time, and hand them the credit card. They give you back the slip to sign, and there is a spot there for a tip. They haven't crossed it out or anything. So are you supposed to tip in that situation? If so, how much? Who are you even tipping--the bartender who handed you your food? The cook? I know it can't be a 15-20% tip for a carry-out meal, but what if you only put down a dollar or two (or nothing), and they are grievously offended, and because they know your name from your credit card, they spit in your carry-out orders from now on?

Another difficult situation: cab drivers. I know that you are supposed to tip a cab driver, but how much? (This also applies to barbers and hairdressers as well.) Cab rides are pretty expensive as it is, but are you supposed to tip them a percentage of the fare (which is usually a total rip-off to begin with), or is it a flat rate? This is not merely an academic question since I've occasionally had to take cabs from my home to the airport, and now all those fairly scary guys who I probably insufficiently tipped know where I live.

One final, awkward, potential-tip situation: at my neighborhood Dairy Queen, which I frequent because of an as-yet-untreated Blizzard addiction, they have a tip jar out on the counter. I've pretty much decided that I refuse to tip in this situation, since Dairy Queen is simply a fast food restaurant. I don't tip the kid behind the counter at McDonald's, so I can't imagine why I'd throw extra money at the teenaged, slack-jawed, ice cream jockey who only has to scoop the M&Ms into the Blizzard cup. Still, my steadfast refusal to tip, combined with my habitual darkening of the Dairy Queen doorstep, has led to some uncomfortable glances and silences.

So I need help. When do I tip, and how much?

And don't even get me started on those buffet restaurants where you have a "waitress," but all she does is come by and fill up your water cup. Trying to think that one through is liable to explode my head.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Hey, if you have a daughter, this might be fun for her! It's the Muslim Barbie doll, Razanne. According to the story, "many Muslim Americans prefer Razanne, with her long-sleeved dresses, head scarf and, by her creator Ammar Saadeh's own admission, a not-so-buxom bustline."

The dune-buggy she's not allowed to drive and the husband doll that she's not allowed to look in the eye are sold separately.
Author who said bears are harmless fatally mauled in Alaska

From the Associated Press:
ANCHORAGE -- A self-taught bear expert who once called Alaska's brown bears harmless was one of two people fatally mauled in a bear attack in the Katmai National Park and Preserve.

[In 2001, Timothy] Treadwell was a guest on the "Late Show with David Letterman," describing Alaska brown bears as mostly harmless "party animals."

In his book, Treadwell said his several close calls with brown bears in Alaska inspired him to give up drugs, study bears and establish a non-profit bear-appreciation group called Grizzly People.
I guess they'll have to change the name of the group to Grisly People.
Michael Kinsley, a liberal whom I actually find to be somewhat reasonable much of the time, has a putrid little column in this week's edition of Time Magazine, wherein he tries to explain the left's irrational, seething hatred of George W. Bush.

For quite some time, Republicans have been bewildered by the left's frothing disdain for Bush, especially considering the fact that, frankly, he ain't all that conservative. He hasn't cut a single government program that I'm aware of, nobody who was getting big wads of taxpayer largesse under Clinton is getting any less, and yet they seem to hate him even more than they hated Reagan (if that's possible).

Charles Krauthammer recently tried again to unravel the mystery from an outsider's perspective in the pages of Time, but this week Kinsley steps up from the left to explain it all. Says Kinsley:
To start, we do think he stole the election. Yes, yes, we're told to "get over it," and we've been pretty damned gracious. But we can't help it: this still rankles. What rankles especially is Bush's almost total lack of grace about the extraordinary way he took office. Theft aside, he indisputably got fewer votes than the other guy, our guy.
Oh yes, they've been quite gracious. Gracious through the umpteen recounts (including those by leftist media organizations) that have unanimously showed Bush winning Florida. Gracious in continuing to insist that Bush "stole" an election in which he won the electoral college and in which the U.S. Supreme Court "handed him the election" by finally ordering Florida to actually obey its own written laws. Yes, we've hardly heard a peep out of them about it.
We expected some soothing bipartisan balm. There was none, even after 9/11. (Would it have been that hard to appoint a Democrat as head of Homeland Security, in a "bring us together" spirit?)
This one makes me laugh out loud. Raise your hand if you believe a Democrat Homeland Security director would have assuaged the Democrats and "brought us together." How soothing a balm did Bush's education bill authored with uber-liberal Ted Kennedy prove to be? How soothing to the Democrat spirit was the appointment of Democrat Norman Mineta (who, perhaps coincidentally, has proven to be one of the most incompetent members of the Bush administration) to his cabinet as Secretary of Transportation? Yes, had Bush only appointed a Democrat to head Homeland Security, Democrats would be singing Kumbaya right now.
(Psst! We also thought, and still think, he's pretty dumb — though you're not supposed to say it and we usually don't. And we thought that this too would make him easier to swallow.)
Ah yes, more of that Democrat graciousness we've been hearing about. Kinsley whispers it because the left has been so reticent to publicly charge the president with stupidity, as you know. In fact, this is probably the very first time you've even heard the left make the charge, so scrupulous have they been in avoiding this topic. Fine, so Bush is the dumbest guy to ever earn degrees from Yale and Harvard.
It turns out, though, that Bush's, um, unreflectiveness shores up his ideological backbone. An adviser who persuades Bush to adopt Policy X does not have to be worried that our President will keep turning it over in his mind, monitoring its progress, reading and thinking about the complaints of its critics, perhaps even re-examining it on the basis of subsequent developments, and announce one day that he prefers Policy Y.
I call this the "Joe Klein Objection." This, in a nutshell, is why Democrats were so enamored with Bill Clinton. They see handwringing indecision and waffling as virtuous. A few months ago, Klein (also in the pages of time) wrote a piece called "The Blinding Glare of His Certainty." His thesis was that the thing which makes Bush so repugnant is that he knows what he believes, and doesn't have to wrestle with each individual issue as it arises without the benefit of some interpretive philosophical framework.

"There are plenty of thoughtful, angst-ridden evangelicals, of course," Klein plaintively pointed out. Bush, however, is not one of them. He's not particularly angst-ridden, which as Klein (and Kinsley) see it is his flaw. Clinton, on the other hand, having no actual principles to operate from, saw each issue as brand new, unrelated to any others. Thus he required the obligatory period of navel-gazing onanism before reaching a conclusion based on emotions and expediency, which was subject to change again as soon as the wind shifted. In other words, to Klein and Kinsley, he was thoughtful virtue incarnate.

There's much more of the same in Kinsley's article, but I've had all I can take. Let's skip closer to the end:
Krauthammer is wrong, though, to suppose that anger is driving liberals to self-defeating ideological extremes. The mood is not suicidal. It is comically pragmatic.
This is pure wishful thinking on Kinsley's part. His television set must be broken, since he obviously has not been watching the Democrat candidates in action. Whether you like or hate Bush, there's simply no way to claim that the current Democrat approach is anything like "pragmatic." They believe they lost the 2002 mid-terms because they weren't strident or belligerent enough. Their response is to border on the hysterical, which will only benefit Bush and the Republicans.

So let me say what Kinsley doesn't have the guts to come right out and say: the left hates Bush because he's an evangelical Christian. Think I'm oversimplifying it? Who's the one member of the administration the left hates even more than Bush himself? You guessed it: John Ashcroft. Now what do Ashcroft and Bush have in common that, say, Dick Cheney (who appears to be more politically conservative than the president, and who, while still hated, is not hated on an order even approaching that of Bush and Ashcroft) doesn't share?

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Being somewhat preoccupied with work recently, I inadvertently let pass the 300th birthday of Jonathan Edwards a few days ago.

Edwards was the greatest theological and philosophical mind ever produced by America, and there is a fortunate recent resurgence in the study and appreciation of him. Al Mohler had a wonderful blog post commemorating the occasion yesterday, which provides an excellent entry-level sketch of Edwards and his impact. Mohler's blog does not provide the ability to link to an individual post, but you can find it by looking for the Monday, October 6th entry. He says:
The majority of Americans, if aware of Edwards at all, know him as the preacher of America's most famous sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Most high school and college-level anthologies of literature contain this sermon--most often introduced with apology as an example of the bizarre beliefs once held by primitive Americans. "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" became fodder for "Jonathan Edwards in the Hands of Secular English Teachers."

The plain fact is that Edwards believed in Hell and Heaven, and was certain that the most important question of human existence came down to where one will spend eternity. As Marsden helpfully explains, Edwards can only be understood by asking the question: "How would this issue look if it really were the case that bliss or punishment for a literal eternity was at stake?"
For Edwards, as for evangelical Christians today, the reality of God, His wrath towards sin, and His mercy for sinners stands at the center of an accurate, truthful view of the universe. Those who see Edwards as the product of some primitive, unenlightened era fail to do justice both to his prodigious intellect and to the unchanging truth of biblical revelation. They engage in a fallacious modernistic chauvinism that, without argument, accepts what is newest as what is best a priori.

This Friday, I'll have the pleasure of heading up to Minneapolis for a major 300th birthday celebration of the life and thought of Edwards, put together by John Piper's Desiring God Ministries. Piper is perhaps the foremost popular exponent today of Edwards' glorious vision of God, and other luminaries such as J.I. Packer and Iain Murray will join him proclaiming a "passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples."

As Edwards himself wrote (as quoted in the Mohler piece):
The enjoyment of [God] is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean.
I expect it will be the best weekend I've spent in quite some time.
I've been summoned for my first jury duty later this month. I've actually been called twice in the past, but both times (miraculously), the summons arrived literally the week I was moving out of the state in which I was called.

I'm old-fashioned in that I actually believe I'm under a moral obligation to serve, since I believe that juries shouln't only be composed, as one comedian said during the O.J. Simpson farce, of "people who are too stupid to get out of jury duty." On the other hand, I have no real desire to spend any more than about a day at the disgusting Broward County Courthouse.

Perhaps the most efficient thing to do would be to direct the attorneys to my blog, a short perusal of which should get me dismissed forthwith.
My man Discoshaman has struck upon another frightening Maria Shriver resemblance.

The bloom is falling off the lily but fast.

Friday, October 03, 2003

This is the best story I've seen in days.

Some animal rights kooks tried to free a bunch of minks from a mink farm in Washington state. According to the AP story:
SULTAN, Wash. -- An animal rights group's plan to free 10,000 mink from a farm turned deadly after many of the emancipated mustelids became cannibals while others went on a carnivorous feeding frenzy.

..."The mink are fine when they're litter mates together, but when they're not they're quite vicious and they're cannibals,'' Roesler said. "They do eat each other, and that's what we're battling.''

Days after the break-in, starving mink attacked a menagerie of exotic birds, a flock of chickens and even a Labrador retriever.
It reminds me of the old Dennis Miller routine where he wonders how "the precious mink" became a cause celebre.

"The mink is the biggest [jerk] in the animal kingdom," he said. "Every time you turn on a Marlin Perkins program, the mink's always got some helpless marsupial pinned down, and he's gnawing away at its carotid artery. Yeah, the mink's a delight. Let's seat him next to Grandma. And let me tell you something else, if the situation had been reversed, you'd better believe that the mink would be wearing your pelt around his neck. So when you hit your knees tonight, you can thank your walking-upright God that things worked out the way they did."
Houston, We Have a Problem

Rush Limbaugh, in his first program since the drug allegations broke, declined to discuss the issue at all. He said something like "Until I know what I'm dealing with here, it would be unwise for me to address it."

Something tells me Rush is going to have some 'splaining to do. While the story may not be exactly as it's been written, I've been sitting here trying to figure out one good reason for a completely innocent person to not say "This thing is the furthest thing from the truth, and it will be going away very quickly, as you'll soon see." Or even, "I don't know anything about this supposed investigation, but I will tell you this: I absolutely do not have a drug problem." I've been trying to figure out one good reason, legal or otherwise, I haven't been able to yet.

Arguments from silence don't prove anything--but it sure is a glaring silence.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Okay, I can't leave this alone. Many of the people now hammering Limbaugh don't even know what he said. I heard a caller to a local radio station this morning claiming that Limbaugh said "the only reason McNabb's playing is because he's black." I'm hearing Limbaugh's comments even compared with Jimmy the Greek's and Al Campanis'. Which is, to say the least, absurd.

Regardless of the truth or falsity of Jimmy Snyder's and Al Campanis' claims, their statements were generalizations about qualities inherent to black people. Limbaugh said nothing about anything inherent in Donovan McNabb or black people. He said that McNabb was an overrated quarterback. He did not say that McNabb was a so-so quarterback because he's black. He didn't say anything about blackness at all. He was only talking about media behavior. If anything, he's a "media-ist," since that's who his comments were about. He was referring to their behavior and characteristics, not black people's.

Whether you agree or disagree with him, how can a comment that says nothing whatsoever about black people or their characteristics be "racist"? Some say that we're a soundbite culture. No, that's too generous--our attention span isn't even that long anymore. We can no longer even discern the context within a 15-second soundbite. We only hear isolated words now.
Add Limbaugh: Over the next few days, you are about to see the media machine in full frenzy, trying to destroy someone it hates with a white-hot passion. They've been biding their time waiting to spring on him, and now that they have the ESPN incident to add to the painkiller issue they've been sitting on, and with the CIA leak story losing steam exponentially, they are going to go into full-on frenzy mode. Trust me, what you've seen on the Limbaugh story up until today is nothing compared with the next few days. The media wants to destroy him so badly they can't see straight, and you will see such disproportionate coverage of this over the next few days that it will boggle your mind.
The Tolerance Nazis were awfully silent during the last few days of the Rush Limbaugh flap. Where was Tim Robbins to warn us about the "chill wind" blowing through America as a man was being forced to quit for expressing an unpopular sentiment? Where was Janeane Garofalo to champion the cherished American right of "dissent"?

How come those who thought it was just peachy for Ted Kennedy to refer to President Bush as having committed a criminally fraudulent think it's absolutely reprehensible for Rush Limbaugh to refer to an NFL quarterback as "overrated"?

Could it be....(cue Church Lady echo) HYPOCRISY?

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

How to Write Good

How to Write Good

Tortured metaphors are the hallmark of awful writing. They are like the fleas on a dog that's just run through a field...well, you get the idea. That's why it's so much fun to read this horrendous column in today's Boston Gobe by somebody named Derrick Z. Jackson. Thanks to James Taranto's "Best of the Web Today" for bringing it to my attention.

Here's the first paragraph, with emphasis supplied by Taranto:
It is October, and the harvest from the spring's planting of troops remains a grapeless vine, withering into winter compost. Without weapons of mass destruction, Tikrit has given way to Texas, Fallujah is fading into Florida, and the idiocy of another $87 billion for Iraq is rapidly becoming apparent in the latest news from Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa. In the season of pumpkins, Bush is turning into one, with millions of Americans feeling like Cinderella after the ballyhoo of violent, vengeful patriotism. Bush hoped he could sneak back into the White House in 2004 before the clock struck midnight. It is too late.
Overlooked by Taranto, however, is the column's last paragraph, which is almost as ghastly as the first:
Abroad, the harvest is the bitter fruit of more than 300 American soldiers so far. At home, the harvest moon has been obscured by clouds, with wolves creeping around with unemployment slips between their teeth. Americans, finally understanding how they bit themselves, are beginning to bay against Bush.
This poor guy's editors must really hate him. No self-respecting copy editor would let this into a major daily newspaper unless he had a major axe to grind with the author. You might even say that the splinters from these wooden metaphors have lodged in the skin of the readership to the point where they're beginning to cause an infection, and only the tweezers of a good editor could remove them and stop our throbbing pain.
Rush Limbaugh is in trouble for saying that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donavan McNabb is overrated, and that it might have something to do with race.

According to news reports, Limbaugh, in his Sunday night ESPN gig, said:
I don't think he's been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team.
Well, I've got news for you. Limbaugh is right. McNabb is overrated. And after years of racism in the NFL keeping black quarterbacks out of the league or on the bench (see my post from a few weeks ago on that subject), the pendulum has now swung the other way. Donovan McNabb has been lavished with praise for being okay.

Is McNabb talented? Yes. Does he deserve a spot in the league? Without question. But the cold, hard facts simply don't bear out the notion that this guy is the second coming of Fran Tarkenton. Still, the race-hustlers will harangue ABC/Disney until this whole thing comes to a head. While Social Security may be the "third rail" of American politics, Limbaugh has just touched the third rail of American discourse.