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Sunday, February 29, 2004

John Hawkins at "Right Wing News" constructs a very realistic series of events that would result in a national recognition of same-sex marriages even though that issue could not win at the ballot box. Consider that each pebble in this avalanche isn't some stretch of the imagination; each step has already occurred in the recent past on other issues. It can happen

Friday, February 27, 2004

Marcland pointed out a Washington Post article that further illustrates the speed at which we're zooming down the slippery slop:
[ACLU attorney] John R. Bushey Jr. will argue that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last year striking down anti-sodomy laws also should apply to adultery, said Kent Willis, executive director of the ACLU in Virginia.

"When this case came to us," Willis said, ". . . it seemed absolutely clear that the state could not criminalize private adultery any more than it could criminalize private sodomy."

If it's no longer a crime, could it then be argued that it's no longer grounds for divorce? Stay tuned.

This isn't really news (it's been circulating for weeks), but Matt Drudge is reporting National Journal's formalized numbers proving that John Kerry was the #1 most liberal senator in 2003 (and there's no reason to think this is an aberration).

Keep this in mind when the media start tossing out labels. There's no way that Bush is anywhere near as conservative as Kerry is liberal, but the easy prediction is that George will be labeled far more often than John is.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Blacklisting in Hollywood? I blame Joseph McCarthy.

Francis Beckwith has a better idea than suing to stop the same-sex marriage license hand-out in San Francisco. I think it might be both more persuasive in stopping it, but would point out the hypocrisy.
Here's the plan: Have about 50 folks go to San Francisco city hall and request marriage licenses, but not for gay marriages, rather, for other sorts of "unions" that are also forbidden by the state: three bisexuals from two genders, one person who wants to marry himself (and have him accuse the mayor of "numberism," the prejudice that marriage must include more than one person), two married couples who want a temporary "wife-swap lease," a couple consisting of two brothers, two sisters, or a brother and a sister, an adult mother and son, and a man who wants to add a second wife and a first husband in order to have a "marital ensemble," etc., etc. Let's see if the mayor will give these people "marriage" licenses. If not, why not? If not, then the jig is up and the mayor actually has to explain the grounds on which he will not give licenses to these folks. But what could those grounds be? That it would break the law? That marriage has a nature, a purpose, that is not the result of social construction or state fiat? If so, then what is it and why?

Don't forget horses. But what's the larger point?
The street theatre I am suggesting will show that once marriage is defined merely as a contract between consenting adults rather than as an institution grounded in our natures as men and women, recognized and honored by the wider community, then marriage simply does not exist.


Wednesday, February 25, 2004

While I haven't yet seen "The Passion of the Christ", I read the NY Times review of it rather incredulously. Typically when one reviews a movie based on a book, being familiar with the book itself is helpful. (Imagine something like, "I've never read Tolkien, but these 'Lord of the Rings' movies don't make me want to. Bilbo just happens to find a ring in the middle of a mountain? How did he get there? Why was he there? Where's the backstory?") While Mr. A. O. Scott seems to have a passing knowledge of the big picture, some of his statements contradict that assumption. And even his own views seem to be in conflict with themselves.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. To be honest, you'll find that I agree with much of what Mr. Scott has to say about the story itself and how he describes the presentation of that story. Yet you'll also find that we come to vastly different conclusions.

Please note that I've not copied each and every sentence of the review here, even though a good portion of it is. The link above will take you there, but I did want to say at the outset that Mr. Scott's words, in italics below, are not all of what he said, only those on which I wanted to comment.

I have to quote in full the first couple of paragraphs to set the stage, because the opinion he's expounding here is brought up specifically again at the end, but also in different forms throughout the review.

Good and Evil Locked in Violent Showdown

There is a prophetic episode of "The Simpsons" in which the celebrity guest star Mel Gibson, directing and starring in a remake of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," enlists the help of Homer Simpson, who represents the public taste (or lack of it). Homer persuades Mr. Gibson to change the picture's ending, replacing James Stewart's populist tirade with an action sequence, a barrage of righteous gunfire that leaves the halls of Congress strewn with corpses. The audience flees the theater in disgust. I thought of Homer more than once, with an involuntary irreverence conditioned by many years of devotion to "The Simpsons," as Mr. Gibson presented his new movie, "The Passion of the Christ," to carefully selected preview audiences across the land, making a few last-minute cuts, and then taking to the airwaves to promote and defend the film. It opens on Wednesday nationwide.

Given the Crucifixion story, Mr. Gibson did not need to change the ending.

Keep that last sentence in mind. We'll be back.

"The Passion of the Christ" is so relentlessly focused on the savagery of Jesus' final hours that this film seems to arise less from love than from wrath, and to succeed more in assaulting the spirit than in uplifting it.

I would agree, and to a very real extent, I would hope that it assaults the spirits of those watching it. Christ's death was our wrath visited upon him. For the Christian, there will be an uplifting of the spirit when we consider that he did this for us, while at the same time realizing that this "documentary", as it were, actually documents the consequences of our own actions. The sins we commit caused this. This may be an assault on the spirit, but only because that is the essence of this story. The Gospel accounts of the crucifixion are an assault on our pride, our dishonesty, our immorality. But if you don't realize why this assault on the spirit is happening, you don't reap the benefits. In short, your spirit will be lifted up more than by any other story if you recognize the assault for what it is.

By Mr. Scott's standard, then, the movie succeeds. It's just that the uplifting of the spirit is more up to him than to Mr. Gibson.

Mr. Gibson has constructed an unnerving and painful spectacle that is also, in the end, a depressing one.

That is to say, there is no Hollywood ending to make you feel good about yourself just the way you are. Wouldn't that be changing the ending?

It is disheartening to see a film made with evident and abundant religious conviction that is at the same time so utterly lacking in grace.

Depends on how you use the word "grace". If by that he means "seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion" or many of the other definitions, you are correct. But then again we're talking about a crucifixion and a look at human nature, not The Nutcracker. However, if, by the word "grace", he means "divine love and protection bestowed freely on people", then this movie depicts the epitome of grace, of divine love bestowed freely.

We see which definition Mr. Scott prefers next:

Mr. Gibson has departed radically from the tone and spirit of earlier American movies about Jesus, which have tended to be palatable (if often extremely long) Sunday school homilies designed to soothe the audience rather than to terrify or inflame it.

Again, I'm going to agree with Mr. Scott on this, but then I see this as a positive rather than a negative. Donald Sensing has a very in-depth posting on this very subject that Christians, and people reviewing Christian films, ought to read with regard to the "palatable" Jesus vs. the battling Jesus that we see in the Gospels. The Good Shepherd ain't no wimp. The battle between good and evil isn't as simple as Star Wars and almost never graceful. Finally a film is portraying it as it truly is. If this is terrifying, it ought to be.

His version of the Gospels is harrowingly violent...

So are Matthew's, Mark's, Luke's and John's. They weren't writing a screenplay, of course, so some details are not there, but also they knew their audience. For example, when the Gospels say that Jesus was scourged, the folks back then knew what that meant. Mr. Scott almost blames the movie for defining that word for this generation's edification:

Once he is taken into custody, Jesus (Jim Caviezel) is cuffed and kicked and then, much more systematically, flogged, first with stiff canes and then with leather whips tipped with sharp stones and glass shards.

Scourging was "harrowingly violent", so yet again I must agree with Mr. Scott that his review is accurate and reflects the accounts as written. I do hope he doesn't consider this a "Bad Thing".

The audience's desired response to this spectacle is not revulsion, but something like the cowering, quivering awe manifested by Mary (Maia Morgenstern), Mary Magdalen (Monica Bellucci) and a few sensitive Romans and Jerusalemites as they force themselves to watch. Disgust and awe are not, when you think about it, so far apart, and in Mr. Gibson's vision one is a route to the other.

And that is, I believe, one of the main reasons Mr. Gibson made this movie. For too long the cross has been presented in too much a sanitary manner. The four words "Jesus died for you" have no meaning without context. The early Church knew what that meant. We've forgotten it. Christian and non-Christian alike should know what this really means before they embrace or dismiss Jesus. He didn't just die, he suffered as well, with each lash of the whip being just as much a part of the penalty paid for us as his ultimate death. Reminding us of that will be disgusting, but the individual who embraces his sacrifice will be given that sense of awe when the realization hits that all this was done for that individual as much as for anyone else.

By rubbing our faces in the grisly reality of Jesus' death and fixing our eyes on every welt and gash on his body, this film means to make literal an event that the Gospels often treat with circumspection and that tends to be thought about somewhat abstractly. Look, the movie seems to insist, when we say he died for our sins, this is what we mean.

And again, for the original readers of the Gospels, circumspection was good enough. They knew what was meant. So if I may predict thoughts, I daresay that Mr. Gibson's primary reason for making the movie is embodied in that last sentence. Never mind "the movie seems to insist"; I think that's its whole reason for existence.

To halt the execution would thwart divine providence and refuse the gift of redemption.

Anyway, this is a film review, not Sunday school. The paradox of wishing something horrible to stop even as you want it to continue has as much to do with moviegoing as with theology. And Mr. Gibson, either guilelessly or ingeniously, has exploited the popular appetite for terror and gore for what he and his allies see as a higher end. The means, however, are no different from those used by virtuosos of shock cinema like Quentin Tarantino and Gaspar Noé, who subjected Ms. Bellucci to such grievous indignity in "Irréversible." Mr. Gibson is temperamentally a more stolid, less formally adventurous filmmaker, but he is no less a connoisseur of violence, and it will be amusing to see some of the same scolds who condemned Mr. Tarantino's "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" sing the praises of "The Passion of the Christ."

Well we can partially thank Hollywood for the appetite for terror and gore. Had someone made this movie in the 1940s, it would have had a very different look to it, to be sure. In order to get the point across in today's environment, one has to speak today's language. But unlike a fictional movie where blood and guts come from a writer's imagination or a director's preference, the violence in this movie is basically a retelling of events as they happened. And even more so that in other historical movies, the violence visited upon Jesus, in a sense, is the story, because to the Christian, what was done to him is both because of us and is what saves us.

Thus there is no real discrepancy among those who disapprove of gratuitous violence while praising "The Passion of the Christ". There is a very real difference, although to many of this generation's moviegoers that difference may be lost on them.

We'll skip some of Mr. Scott's review of the style and tone (especially since it gave away an element of the movie I'd preferred to have been surprised about, so I won't spoil it for you), but I will mention that when he says, "But the style and tone of "The Passion" are far from what is ordinarily meant by realism", I get a good chuckle, considering what much of Hollywood calls "based on a true story".

Is "The Passion of the Christ" anti-Semitic? I thought you'd never ask. To my eyes it did not seem to traffic explicitly or egregiously in the toxic iconography of historical Jew hatred, but more sensitive viewers may disagree. The Pharisees, in their tallit and beards, are certainly shown as a sinister and inhumane group, and the mob they command is full of howling, ugly rage. But this on-screen villainy does not seem to exceed what can be found in the source material.

Thanks to Mr. Scott for noticing. Again, this has much more attention to the "source material" than most Hollywood offerings, I would contend.

Mr. Gibson a few weeks ago reportedly expunged an especially provocative line of dialogue that referred to the Jews: "His blood be on us, and on our children." That line comes from the Book of Matthew, and it would take a revisionist to remove every trace of controversy and intolerance from a story that rests squarely on the theological boundary separating Christianity from Judaism.

More thanks to Mr. Scott for wishing to put aside revisionism.

That Mr. Gibson did not attempt to transcend these divisions may be regrettable, ..

Wait, I just thought he said it would take a revisionist to ignore them.

but to condemn "The Passion of the Christ" for its supposed bigotry is to miss its point and to misstate its problems. The troubling implications of the film do not arise primarily from its religious agenda: an extreme, traditionalist Roman Catholicism that has not prevented "The Passion" from resonating, oddly enough, with many evangelical Protestants.

A hearty "Amen" to bringing the two together on a subject they agree upon. Once again, not a Bad Thing.

What makes the movie so grim and ugly is Mr. Gibson's inability to think beyond the conventional logic of movie narrative.

There's that "source material" problem. God needs better writers, eh?

In most movies - certainly in most movies directed by or starring Mr. Gibson - violence against the innocent demands righteous vengeance in the third act, an expectation that Mr. Gibson in this case whips up and leaves unsatisfied.

Forgiveness of sins leaves one unsatisfied? Don't knock it until you've tried it. Would it have been better to have Jesus, after rising from the dead, give the Romans and the High Priest a good, old-fashioned smiting? From what I've heard, there is either a resurrection scene or a reference to it in the movie, but apparently that's not good enough. The ending, according to the "source material", is what it is, the art of scriptwriting notwithstanding. Would Mr. Scott have wished it to be changed?

(Oh, and the third act, while it has been written, hasn't been played out yet. See Revelation 20 for the "righteous vengeance" part, and further on for the upside.)

On its own, apart from whatever beliefs a viewer might bring to it, "The Passion of the Christ" never provides a clear sense of what all of this bloodshed was for, an inconclusiveness that is Mr. Gibson's most serious artistic failure.

Go back to the "source material". It's all there. And I suspect that, too, is part of what Mr. Gibson is encouraging by making this film.

The Gospels, at least in some interpretations, suggest that the story ends in forgiveness. But such an ending seems beyond Mr. Gibson's imaginative capacities. Perhaps he suspects that his public prefers terror, fury and gore. Maybe Homer Simpson was right after all.

Or maybe Mr. Scott would like a revisionist ending, contrary to any of his protestations. The problem is, the story of Jesus' life isn't simple, isn't neatly packaged, and is frankly not all that sanitary. Early on in this review, Mr. Scott said "Mr. Gibson did not need to change the ending", and now says that the ending ought to be "forgiveness". Yet the violence he decries here is, in fact, the conduit for that forgiveness. I have to wonder what Mr. Scott would consider to be the real ending.

"The cross is rated 'R'", so my pastor said a couple weeks ago, and so for the first time in his life he's recommending an 'R'-rated movie. The cross is disturbing, offensive and, for those of us who realize that we ourselves are characters in this movie, terrifying. Mel Gibson has nothing to apologize for. Hopefully, the message of this movie will get us apologizing to God and to each other for our sins against both.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Donald Sensing:
Why, pray tell, should those persons have such enormous power over the people of Tennessee, or any other state?

Who is he talking about, and what power are they wielding? Read his full posting.

Michael Newdow, he of "under God" infamy, lost a bid to end the prayer at presidential inaugurations. And from the 9th Circuit no less. This time around they said that he did not suffer "a sufficiently concrete and specific injury" to pursue his case.

I gotta wonder what the sufficiently concrete and specific injury was for his daughter to hear the words "under God"? And I wonder (though this might be beating a dead horse) if seeing nudity on broadcast TV, when none is expected, is just as sufficient and specific. Would the 9th Circuit let me sue Janet Jackson and/or MTV? Sneaking something up on me that I don't want my children to see, or to see myself, is more of an issue than is hearing the idea that some people believe in God, yet the folks cheering on Mr. Newdow would doubtless regard me with contempt.

One of the posts at The Corner shows an E-mail that Jonah Goldberg received from a gay person dealing with same-sex marriages. This person (don't know gender, based on the E-mail) thinks that Andrew Sullivan's remarks constitute "hysterical screeds", but nonetheless is against the FMA. Here how it is put:
It's not that I think support for gay marriage is a no-brainer. Andrew's just deluded in thinking that way. But he's right that the FMA singles out one group of Americans for permanent exclusion from an important civil institution, as if we were the lepers of the American polity.

So it singles out groups of 3 who want to marry? Or 4? Or members of NAMBLA to their "significant other"? Or perhaps guys who want to marry their horses? Yes, and 2 adults of the same sex as well.

But if it affects all those folks, can you really call it "singling" out?

Don Sensing has an extremely well-reasoned post about the church's attitude toward homosexual marriage vs. heterosexual divorce. What's interesting is that, for all its depth, it sorta just came to him upon receiving an E-mail about one of his previous posts. I'm not even going to excerpt it, because his points need to be read in full, not in sound-bites.

Monday, February 23, 2004

"Considerettes Radio" files another entry with a comment on the alleged boxing in of Osama bin Laden. While the report's been denied by a U.S. military spokesman, I commented on how the left might react to the capture of bin Laden given their reaction to the Hussein capture (which I covered here). The short answer: They'd rather let Manson out on bail if it would keep Bush out of the White House. For the long answer, listen in. In addition, "the Kimmer" notes that the folks who are really politicizing the war on terror are instead accusing Bush of doing it.

“Considerettes Radio” on The Kim Peterson Show (WGST, Atlanta, GA) 2/23/2004 6:10pm EST (332K)

Andy Roony blasts Mel Gibson.
My question to Mel Gibson is: "How many million dollars does it look as if you're going to make off the crucifixion of Christ?"

Does anyone know if he asked that same question of Martin Scorsese about ''The Last Temptation of Christ"? I'm just asking.

Well, OK, I'm doing more than that. I'm betting that either it didn't even show up on his radar or he was apathetic about it. I guess it's OK to make movies based on religious figures that make no pretense of accuracy, but try to be true to the text and the detractors come out of the woodwork. I'd really like to find out what, if anything, Rooney said back then and compare it to now. A search of turned up nothing, and Google was no help either.

I'd be very interested to find this, but I gots my suspicions.

(A Considerette Thank-You to Don Sensing for linking to this post. His point is true: "But Doug, don't you understand? The double standard is the standard from certain commentators.")

A U.S. military spokesman is denying that they have Osama bin Laden boxed in. Stay tuned....

Sunday, February 22, 2004

For those of you who picked up the BlogMatrix RSS feed, looks like the service is no longer available. Thus, the buttons have disappeared. However, you can still pick up the new Blogger feed with the XML button to the left.

Looks like Ralph Nader has joined the "Bush/Cheney 2004" re-election campaign. Which is to say, he's decided to run for president again.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Whether or not the story is true that US special forces have Osama bin Laden surrounded (London's Telegraph is skeptical given the source, but reporting it anyway), it will be extremely interesting to see how the left responds to the news. If it's anything similar to their reaction to the capture of Saddam Hussein, swing voters really ought to sit up and take notice.

Here's hoping it's true, if for no other reason that we'll all be better off, regardless of the reaction.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Even I didn't think the rush would come so early. Nevertheless:
The number of illegal aliens caught crossing into the United States increased dramatically just days after President Bush proposed a guest-worker program that would give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants now in this country, according to the union that represents the Border Patrol's 9,000 field agents.

This is news, but it shouldn't be. Bush needs to stick with conservative principles. Trying to make nice with Vicente Fox and pander to the American Hispanic community is only going to make matters worse for border states, not to mention that terrorists could be in this sea of humanity (the NY Post covered it back in April, 2003, and while you can't go that far back for free on their website, the text of it is at the (currently on hiatus) blog Drumbeat).

Not to mention Mexican's chanting "Osama! Osama!" to American soccer players. That gives me a warm fuzzy. Yeah, I want those fans streaming across the border.

Note to Dubya: Don't try to out-liberal the liberals. They'll still hate you with a passion, so you won't pick up any votes from them, and the policies fail the smell test anyway. Now go do the right thing.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

No matter where you stand on the music file swapping issue, this is an interesting development:a NJ woman is countersuing the RIAA.
Through her attorneys, Michele Scimeca contends that by suing file-swappers for copyright infringement, and then offering to settle instead of pursuing a case where liability could reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the RIAA is violating the same laws that are more typically applied to gangsters and organized crime.

"This scare tactic has caused a vast amount of settlements from individuals who feared fighting such a large institution and feel victim to these actions and felt forced to provide funds to settle these actions instead of fighting," Scimeca's attorney, Bart Lombardo, wrote in documents filed with a New Jersey federal court. "These types of scare tactics are not permissible and amount to extortion."

She's got a point there.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

The old Wildlife license plate in Georgia that raised money for the Georgia Wildlife Resource Division had a picture of a quail and a pine tree on it. The newly redesigned one has a picture of a bald eagle on it. The bald eagle is an especially good symbol for Georgia since, as an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article notes:
Bald eagles are native to Georgia and one of the state's best conservation stories. They nearly had disappeared from Georgia in the 1970s. Today the birds have more than 80 known nesting areas, and their status has improved from endangered to threatened.

Perfect, wouldn't you say? Oh no, not to environmentalists. See, their problem with this new plate, the reason why everyone from a canoe and kayak operator in Athens to the CEO of the Georgia Wildlife Federation don't like this new plate is that behind the eagle you see >gasp< an American flag.

Mike Moody, the kayak operator: "Why did [the state] pick that tag? I have friends who refuse to buy it because it's so rah-rah....I'm a patriot, but I'm not a gun-toting, flag-waving, Bush-loving patriot."

Jerry McCollum, Georgia Wildlife Federation: "I thought it was feeding off the patriotic mood our country was in."

Who in the world would see a flag as a de facto symbol of guns(!) and George W. Bush, or would feel some consternation at the slightest hint of patriotism? If these folks ever get upset about someone questioning their patriotism, we'll just have to ask how they actually do show it, if at all.

Oh, and the state of Georgia is laughing all the way to the bank.
The proof is in the sales. In its first two months, the new license plate brought in $946,941 — more than half what the old tag averaged over an entire year.

The eagle-and-flag plate has outsold another Wildlife Resources Division tag — featuring a deer and bobwhite quail and aimed at preserving hunting grounds — by 49,839 to 23,895.

Actually, this should be good news to these poor, concerned environmentalists. But politics, even when that political connection is wholly imagined, trumps the birds and the fish and the trees. Give me a good, old-fashioned conservationist any day of the year, one who knows that "hunting" and "conservation" are not contradicting ideas. That's not a political statement, but to environmentalists it appears that they take it that way, to the detriment of the wildlife they claim to care about.

Junkyard Blog takes the Mayor Newsom / Judge Moore comparison to much deeper levels. He refers to a post by Eugene Volokh, law professor and well-known legal blogger, in which Volokh points out some differences between the two that, in Eugene's mind, make them different enough that he thinks Newsom's acts are OK while Moore's aren't. He makes interesting legal points, but not to the extent that I agree with him, because in both cases the men involved believe that they are acting according to their respective states' constitutions, regardless of who's telling them how to perform otherwise.

JYB, while he notes his lack of legal schooling (i.e. none, same as I), does note that legal precedent is on Moore's side (as I noted yesterday in linking to the pictures of religious symbols in our nation's capitol), while Newsom has none of that. I'd also note that they party that put a huge premium on making every vote count--"will of the people" and all that--is going directly against that will expressed in their 60% vote to maintain marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Read Bryan's whole post, and especially note on who's actions will really make more of a difference in the culture at large, and, given that, how liberals reactions are inversely proportional to said difference.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Blogrolled memeorandum, an automated site that lists hot news stories of the day and links to bloggers talking about them. A great aggregation of news and views.

If you missed last night’s interview on ABC of Mel Gibson and his movie “The Passion of the Christ”, here’s ABC’s report on it. I’ve had a family member see this already, and it’s been suggested that I read the Gospels over again (as well as fast & pray) before watching it, and to realize that “almost everything in your life will seem stupid compared to what you’ll see”.

Be there.

More fallout from the war, the good kind. Doom-sayers insisted that the war in Iraq would destabilize the region. Turns out it did, but not the way they thought. One regime that was in desperate need of destabilization was Libya, and Junkyard Blog details how that’s good for everybody.

San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom is channelling Judge Roy Moore:
Newsom argues homosexuals should be able to marry based on the California Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law. The 36-year-old mayor, who began his term Jan. 8, insists he merely is fulfilling his duty.

Quoting Moore during the height of the 10 Commandments Monument flap:
"Like all judges in the state of Alabama, I'm sworn to uphold the constitution of the state of Alabama," Moore has declared. "Like all judges state and federal, I'm sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution. Those constitutions are premised on a belief in God. I am bound by my conscience to acknowledge that God upon whom that oath depends. I'm committed to do my duty." .

I’d love to hear what Newsom’s view of Moore was.

There’s an interesting debate on NRO’s The Corner blog about the “gay marriage” licenses being handed out by the mayor of San Francisco. It’s basically NRO v Andrew Sullivan, the battle of the conservatives. I think the NRO folks make a better case, but they link to Sullivan’s posts so you can judge for yourself. The most recent NRO post on it is here, but Stanley Kurtz posted a whole bunch on it starting here (that’s the first post in the bunch; scroll up to go in chronological order)

Monday, February 16, 2004

...and speaking of vanity, here's the first entry in what I’m dubbing “Considerettes Radio". What I’m planning on doing is occasionally getting on a radio show and spew my right-wing venom discuss issues I’ve covered on this blog. What’s my purpose in doing this? I dunno, maybe hearing it instead of reading it will make it more persuasive. Or maybe I’m making audition clips for my own wildly popular radio talk show. Regardless, hope y’all get a little kick out of me making a fool of myself on the air.

This was recorded this afternoon on WGST on the Kim Peterson show. I talked about the topic of a previous blog entry where a woman from Boulder, Colorado said she handed out same-sex marriage licenses back in 1975 and stopped when, among other things, a man wanted to marry his horse. Items to note:
  • The item was not from a Boulder newspaper website, it was an AP news wire item on the San Jose Mercury News site with a dateline of Denver.
  • I was driving home from work, so I apologize for the stammering. (But I did use the hands-free earpiece on my cell phone.)
  • There’s a small skip in the audio where I mentioned that the state attorney general declared that marriage was between a man and a woman (but if you read the article, you knew that.)
  • My web host doesn’t do streaming MP3 audio, so you gotta download the whole enchilada before you hear it.
  • The clip comes with a free English lesson from Mr. Peterson himself.

“Considerettes Radio” on The Kim Peterson Show (WGST, Atlanta, GA) 2/16/2004 5:40pm EST (254K)

UPDATE: Much thanks to Junkyard Blog for the link here. Will we start hearing your voice on the radio soon? :)

Lesson 1 in the "separation of church and state" issue: Would any of these depictions of religion in our nation's capitol pass ACLU muster? Answer: Most likely not. Follow-up question: Then what do the folks at the ACLU know about the First Amendment that its writers didn't?

Same-sex marriage licenses a new thing? Not according to former Boulder, Colorado County clerk and recorder Clela Rorex.
As a newly elected political rookie in 1975, Rorex was approached by a same-sex couple who asked if she would issue a marriage license. After securing a legal opinion from the Boulder County district attorney at the time, who said state law did not preclude issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Rorex issued the license.

She's very proud of what she did, "prouder than ever", to be a precursor to what is happening now. But will she continue to be proud when things continue now as they did then?
Soon after [a ruling by the state attorney general that marriage was a union between a man and a woman], Rorex stopped issuing licenses, especially after a man came in trying to get a license for himself and his horse, Dolly. Rorex told him the horse was too young to get married without parental consent.

Not that it was nutty, not that it was immoral, but simply because of the age of the horse.
"I issued licenses because I didn't want to be legislating morality," Rorex said, adding she knew little about homosexuality at the time and did not know many gay people.

I have a feeling she knew little about what she was really doing to society, if it turns out the only reason to preclude a man/horse marriage is a question of age. She got a peek down the slippery slope, and promptly shut her eyes.

It's nice to know that Kerry is asking Democrats to stop the AWOL jabs at Bush, although I wonder who's listening. Will Terry McAuliffe? Or how about the Washington Press corps (who (and I love to keep pointing this out) ABC News itself said has "a good number of biases and predilections", all on the liberal side of things).

Kudos to Kerry. Now, let's see if it makes any difference at all. It's time to get our history straight.

Well, and perhaps Kerry needs a lesson in this area himself. In the same news article that reported Kerry's wish to stop the AWOL charge, there was this:
Still, Kerry claimed Bush failed to apply Vietnam lessons to Iraq, and he referred derisively to "Richard Nixon and his war in Vietnam" - though it actually began under Democratic President Lyndon Johnson or, some say, President John F. Kennedy.

Seeing this doesn't give me a warm fuzzy about Kerry truly giving Bush a fair treatment, although he's working on it, it seems.

Looks like Alexandra Polier has come out to categorically deny a relationship with John Kerry. I can take that at face value, although, as is noted in today's AP story (emphasis mine),
In a separate statement, Polier's parents, Terry and Donna Polier of Malvern, Pa., dismissed the "completely false and unsubstantiated" allegations about their daughter.

"We love and support her 100 percent and these unfounded rumors are hurtful to our entire family," the statement said. "We appreciate the way Senator Kerry has handled the situation, and intend on voting for him for president of the United States."

The statement did not address purported quotes by Polier's parents in the British tabloid The Sun that were harshly critical of Kerry.

The original statements can be found here. There's that, and the original comment from Wesley Clark that took this story from the rumor mill (it had been going around before Clark said anything) to full-fledged story (and I don't hear any Democrat yet dissing Clark over rumormongering; that charge they leave for Matt Drudge who had the audacity to report what a presidential candidate said). I'm not going to consider this an issue unless more comes of it, but those two items are annoying, and ought to be so even for Kerry supporters.

(And then reports like this show up, saying that an American TV network has a taped interview of Polier from last December discussing her relationship with Kerry.)

UPDATE: ...and then reports like this appear where TIME magazine (that bastion of right-wing ideological reporting...or not) says of Miss Polier, "She would joke that she was dating the next president of the United States, says a source.”

And reports like this from the BBC that quote a Washington Post London correspondent:
"We've been down this road many, many times before. We are extremely reluctant to follow this kind of thing up unless there is a really, really compelling public interest. We don't feel there is any reason to until it reaches a threshold.

"All we have at the moment is that the woman's parents, who are republicans, don't like Senator Kerry.

Except they just got through saying they liked Kerry and planned on voting for him. But this contradiction doesn’t rise to the level of “news” for the WaPo folks.

I know, I know, I just finished saying I wasn’t going to consider this an issue until more real information came out, but the contradictions in this story keep popping up faster than the Whack-A-Mole game at Six Flags. It’s worth keeping in the back of your mind for later when the press incessantly needles Bush over a story with far fewer contradictions.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

John Hawkins has it right about the Janet Jackson exposure at the Super Bowl. If nudity on the most-watched TV show of the year isn't the line of demarcation, what is? Do folks who are so condescending about the whole thing have any standard? Is there any line at all for them?

I have a Linux machine at home and one of the things I do with it is capture the audio stream of a number of radio shows with a bit of software called "Streamripper". I like using it under Linux because I can run a periodic "cron" job to run Streamripper at different times during the day, rather than do it manually on a Windows machine. My wife asked me why I do this, and I told her it's to record the hour or two of shows that, based on my schedule, I might actually call in and get on the air to say something. (I've actually been on the Sean Hannity show, but only for the 5 seconds each person gets during his "Trash the Lines" segment. I've also been on Doug Stephan's "Good Day" a couple of times, but alas he doesn't send out a Shoutcast-type audio feed that Streamripper could pick up.) If I do get anything on the air relative to things I've been blogging about, I thought it'd be cool to make them available here.

She looked at me, smiled, and asked with a chuckle, "Isn't that kinda' vain?"

I replied, "Well, no more so than having a blog." >grin<

What a difference a couple of days make. First this reader commentary by Todd Smyth on way-left-wing BuzzFlash, which says:
Gossip maven Matt Drudge has slapped together several different hair thin rumors that have been around for months to make one seemingly plausible thread. Alleging Senator John Kerry may be under suspicion by other news sources to have had a conversation with a woman that is not his wife. When the woman in question, Alex Polier, a Journalist (not an intern) traveled on assignment to Kenya, Matt Drudge reported that the mystery woman has fled the country. A key part of the report that is easily overlooked is this statement: "There is no evidence the pair had an affair." John Kerry has flatly denied the rumor on the Don Imus show, Friday morning.

Todd takes Kerry's denial at face value. Could be giving Kerry the benefit of the doubt, or it could be blind faith in his guy. Wonder if Mr. Smyth will give more or less credence to this story from the London Telegraph today:
"This is not going to go away," one American friend of Miss Polier said yesterday. "What actually happened is much nastier than is being reported."

Stay tuned to the BuzzFlash contributor archives and see if Mr. Smyth even notices this development.

Friday, February 13, 2004

32-to-0, 11-to-0, 9-to-0 and 18-to-1. Sports scores? Nope, they are the ratios of Democrats to Republicans in 4 departments at Duke University. The Duke Conservative Union wanted to discuss this situation, but it's gone way beyond that. In response to the stats cited by the DCU, Robert Brandon, philosophy chairman, gave this insightful pronouncement:
We try to hire the best, smartest people available. If, as John Stuart Mill said, stupid people are generally conservative, then there are lots of conservatives we will never hire. Mill's analysis may go some way towards explaining the power of the Republican Party in our society and the relative scarcity of Republicans in academia.

As James Taranto is wont to say, if he were a Republican, that would be hate speech.

The good news is that some folks are waking up and taking notice.
Robert Munger, chairman of the political science department, said he was impressed by Duke's intellectual diversity, which he called "relatively healthy" compared to other universities.

Still, Munger recalled a recent meeting in which he heard a fellow department chairman say it was Duke's job to confront conservative students with their hypocrisies and that they didn't need to say much to liberal students because they already understood the world.

"There was no big protest [at the meeting], and that was wrong," Munger said.

Munger said the history department's political makeup surprised him, however.

"Thirty-five Democrats and no Republicans? If you flip a coin 35 times, and it ends up heads every time, that's not a fair coin," he said.

The people who say, 'I don't think ideology is appropriate in hiring would have to look at the process that provides such a skewed outcome," he said.

And what of other types of diversity?
"Basically, it's sheer hypocrisy that on one hand racial diversity is important in education, but intellectual diversity isn't," Duke senior and DCU member Madison Kitchens said Thursday.

Precisely. Once again, "diversity", in the dictionary of the liberal, goes only skin deep.

Here's hoping that the arrogance of those like Robert Brandon will give way to some common sense.

UPDATE: Via Instapundit we get Brandon's full response, and a devastating fisking of it by Carey Gage. The Payoff Paragraphs(tm):
I don't doubt that Brandon denied the charge of hiring bias, but despite that denial, his Mills quote establishes beyond any doubt the contempt in which he holds conservatives, thus making the denial completely meaningless. Think of his statement as applied to minority candidates, instead of conservatives:

We try to hire the best, smartest people available. If, as the Grand Wizard of the KKK said, stupid people are generally black, then there are lots of blacks we will never hire.

Would you believe someone who said that and followed it by denying that there was no racial discrimination in his hiring policies? I wouldn't.

Skin deep, like I said. When you try to apply their liberal bias to race, their much-hyped dedication to "diversity" melts away in the torrent of hypocrisy.

A new reciprocal blogroll for Aaron Meck doth appear. Enjoy.

Consider this: It takes Matt Drudge to report on big stories that cast Democrats in a bad light (scoops dealing with John Kerry and the Clinton's Lewinsky scandal), and he still gets called just a gossip columnist, even after the mainstream media has picked up the story he broke. Recall that the mainstream media reported on the infamous Lewinsky blue dress 7 months after Drudge reported it.

But take the George W. Bush "AWOL" allegation, an allegation that the media has hashed, rehashed and rehashed again, every time Dubya's run for any office, and they still spend most of a news conference trying to find anything scandal-worthy.

The comment by ABC News' "The Note" blog seems to be right on the money, and the Washington press corps is determined to prove it right over and over.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Name the source of this quote:
Like every other institution, the Washington and political press corps operate with a good number of biases and predilections.

They include, but are not limited to, a near-universal shared sense that liberal political positions on social issues like gun control, homosexuality, abortion, and religion are the default, while more conservative positions are "conservative positions."

They include a belief that government is a mechanism to solve the nation's problems; that more taxes on corporations and the wealthy are good ways to cut the deficit and raise money for social spending and don't have a negative affect on economic growth; and that emotional examples of suffering (provided by unions or consumer groups) are good ways to illustrate economic statistic stories.

Did this come from the Media Research Center? From Rush Limbaugh? From The Wall Street Journal'sJames Taranto? If you guessed Taranto, you're almost right. He noted it in his Best of the Web Today column.

But the source is none other than a blog run by ABC News called The Note! There's quite a bit more, and it's worth reading. (Do it soon, though. I don't see anything resembling "Permalinks" on the site, so if it scrolls off, it may be gone forever.)

The views are certainly not news to anyone with a reasonable set of eyes and ears that not only take in the news itself, but personal views of reporters that have been made public. What's "Note"-worthy here is that the official website of a major media organization is finally coming right out and admitting what it has, for so long, tried to avoid, discount, or deny. And now, in black and white, here it is for all the world (including Eric Alterman, et. al.) to see, read, and really digest.

This is monumental, but will those who deny such bias really be swayed? Hold not thy breath. As Taranto predicts, "The times may be changing. Of course, you just know the left-wing 'media critics' will jump on this as evidence that the media are actually biased in favor of conservatives." Of course, that's not much of a "prediction". It's simply a matter of believing that what has happened in the past, regardless of how nutty, will just continue to happen.

ABC News, welcome to the blogroll. This is going to be interesting.

UPDATE: Looks like the closest thing to a permalink to the entry is here. (Thanks again to Taranto for chasing that down.)

Just a reminder of what Novak said back in September when the Plame affair hit the streets: "According to a confidential source at the CIA, Mrs. Wilson was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operative and not in charge of undercover operators." This, in spite of all the titles the media gave her to the contrary. Keep that in mind when reading new stories that call her an "operative", an "agent", or an "undercover officer". The media is really hoping for a scandal here, and manufacturing it via innuendo if it can't find one.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Is the term "born-alive abortion" a contradiction in terms? No, just the logical next step to abortion, and going on more often that you may think.

Rosemary, over at Dean's World, has links to show's multiple personality disorder regarding an independent investigation of pre-war intelligence. They demand one thing, and when you give them precisely what they want they turn around and dismiss it as partisan, which, ironically, is quite the definition of "partisan".

As Rosemary says, MoveOn meet Sybill.

Friday, February 06, 2004

OK, one more time. Why did we go to war with Iraq?

Jobless recovery. Or not.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The nation's unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent in January to the lowest level in more than two years as companies added just 112,000 new jobs - fewer than expected but enough to keep alive hope for a turnaround in the struggling job market.

That's good news, and so is this:
The jobless rate fell 0.1 percentage point last month to the lowest level since October 2001, when it was 5.4 percent, the Labor Department said Friday. January's rate matched the 5.6 percent posted in January 2002.

And so is this:
Employers added new jobs last month at a pace not seen in three years. The last time payrolls expanded more than 112,000 was in December 2000, when companies added 124,000 positions.

All this great news, and yet:
But economists were disappointed, saying they had expected a larger increase of 150,000 new jobs or more.

They must've lost a bet or something. The economy is trundling right along and they're disappointed. And it's not even as bad as they think it is:
Some economists think hiring really is occurring in the economy, but it is not being reflected in the Labor Department's monthly survey of business payrolls. In the separate survey of households, employment jumped by 496,000 last month.

The household survey counts self-employed workers and contract workers, which are increasing. The survey of businesses does not.

"They're not recording the outside contractors - they're not reflecting something that is tremendously fundamental now to the American corporate scene, and that's outsourcing to outside contractors," Mayland said.

You'd think this would be fantastic news for Democrats who are (allegedly) for the small businessman and against big corporations. Let's listen to them celebrate, shall we?

(Hold not thy breath.)

But listen to who is celebrating:
The US economy strengthened considerably in December, leading the global economic recovery and leaving Europe and Japan behind, the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said today.

You're welcome, folks. Even the Canadians.

"How soon they forget." Cliche? Not really.
In four of the five states for which exit polls are available — Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Carolina — Democratic voters placed national security/terrorism at the bottom of the list. Only in tiny Delaware, on the east coast and not far from Ground Zero, did Democrats place more emphasis on the issue — and even then, it was in next-to-last place.

I wonder how many of these Democrats ever said something about "never" forgetting 9/11. Well, at least with more fervor than, say, never forgetting to visit their dentist at least once a year. How can you "never" forget, and then go on as if it never happened?

The creator of BottomFeeder, Jim Robertson, E-mailed me yesterday and said that he's fixed the Atom functionality for use with how Blogger mangles interprets the Atom specs. Well it seems to have done the trick, so no need to wonder any longer if it's worth a try; it is.

(And for BF users, click on System | Check for Updates, and you'll get the fix.)

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Yesterday, in his "Best of the Web Today" column, James Taranto referred to John Kerry's wife Teresa as an African-American. Apparently, that generated an avalanche of E-mail criticizing him for that characterization, since she is white. But, as Taranto notes today, Mrs. Kerry was born and raised in Mozambique, and is a naturalized US citizen. "Born in Africa, citizen of America--that's the definition of an African-American, right?", he asks.

After a discussion of an E-mail that disputed this, Taranto gives his parting shot in his classic style:
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines African-American as a synonym of Afro-American, which in turn means "an American of African and especially of black African descent." So apparently under common usage an American who was born and raised in Africa is less of an African-American than one whose family has been here for centuries. Even so, we have a dream that African-Americans will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the continent of their origin.

Humorous, yet deadly accurate.

Governmental mission creep:
ATLANTA -- Georgia lawmakers are considering a first-in-the-nation law that would require drivers who smoke to roll down the windows before lighting up with children in the car.

Best line in the article:
"That's not to say that smoking in a car with small children isn't wrong. It's horribly wrong," [State Senator Eric Johnson] said. "But if we're going to make everything bad for you illegal, and then fine you $15 for doing it, we could balance the budget just on that."

Legislating what you do in your car is not all that far removed from legislating what you can do in your living room. How soon before hey mull over a law requiring all windows in a house be open if people are smoking?

Silly, you say? Banning smoking in cars would've been called that 10 years ago.

Apparently, according to this post by the creator of BottomFeeder, the Blogger Atom feed is just a tad bit different from feeds they'd tested on. Atom's spec hasn't reached the 1.0 stage yet, so I guess a "Your Mileage May Vary" disclaimer is in order, depending on your news aggregator.

I'm betting they'll have this worked out soon enough, although, like James Robertson says, "This is what I love about early adoption of in-development specs - everyone goes their own way, and tool builders end up having to support all the variations." Ain't programming fun? >grin<

Judge William Young sentenced Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber", on Thursday, Jan. 30th. I don't recall hearing it elsewhere, but the speech he gave to Reid after sentencing should remind us why there's a war going on, and what we're fighting for.

James Lileks has a great comeback for Patrick Stewart's "wet blanket" toss onto the whole idea of manned space missions. Jean-Luc, we hardly knew ye.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

David Limbaugh has a great article on all the ways that Kay vindicates Bush. Required reading before screaming "BUSH LIED!" one more time.

From the Washington Times:
BOULDER, Colo. — A few years ago, Jeff O'Holleran said he began to realize that he was different from the other boys he knew.

"I started having certain thoughts," said Mr. O'Holleran, 19, a student at the University of Colorado (CU).

And he came out of the closet yesterday.
Yesterday, he said, it was time to come out of the closet. In the middle of a crowded university dining area, he took to the podium and announced, "I'm Jeff, and I'm a conservative."

His tongue-in-cheek revelation came during yesterday's "Conservative Coming-Out Day," an event sponsored by the College Republicans that combined a mischievous sense of humor with a serious message on academic bias.

Too funny. And right on the money.

If marriage is no longer just the union of a man and a woman (as it no longer is in Massachusetts), then how soon will groups of 3 or 4 wishing to marry make their claims? This is not an "if", but a "when", given the direction the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court is forcing the legislature. If you are in favor of homosexuals marrying, but against groups of 3 or more marrying, what possible lines can you be drawing that would prevent the latter, but allow the former? And if you allow the former, what will you say to NAMBLA if they manage to reduce or abolish the age of consent, and ask for marriage between men and boys to be duly honored?

Homosexual marriage will be a bell that, once it tolls, cannot be un-rung. This is a one-way slippery slope. If you advocate going down it, do you really understand what's down there waiting for us?

A Perfectly Cromulent Blog is hosting this week's Carnival of the Vanities. I mention this because, well, um, OK, I have an entry.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Such words to describe a bake sale?
Sullivan denounced the bake sale as "inexcusably hurtful" and "abusive," insisting the Sons of Liberty's fall event "did not meet the administrative requirements we routinely impose on such activities."

"Sullivan" is President of William & Mary College Timothy J. Sullivan. Well what could be so hurtful and abusive about a bake sale?
A student group at the College of William & Mary fought successfully for restoration of their "affirmative-action bake sale," a satirical event designed to show harmful effects of race-based admission policies.

Around the nation, a number of similar protests by conservative campus groups have been shut down after raising the ire of school officials and some students. At Southern Methodist University in Dallas, for example, a bake sale was shut down after the Young Conservatives of Texas posted a sign saying white males had to pay $1 for a cookie. White women, on the other hand, were charged 75 cents. It was 50 cents for Hispanics and 25 cents for blacks.

If giving people certain advantages because of their race is so "inexcusably hurtful" and "abusive" in such a little thing as a bake sale, why is it a Good Thing when the same advantage is given in other areas, like, say, college admissions?

And as this (alleged) bastion of free speech, an American college, what's the latest news on this protest?
The Sons of Liberty group at William & Mary said it was public exposure and pressure from a group called the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, that caused officials to reverse their position after shutting down the the Nov. 8 event.

Stifling dissent at an institution that, statistics show, leans so heavily liberal? Imagine that. Can't blame Ashcroft for this.

I agree with the morning guy Tom Hughes on WGST that the Super Bowl halftime show, with or without Janet Jackson's exposure, was pretty much a freak show passed off as entertainment. I'd also agree with him that we don't need to go back to "Up With People", to be sure, but there's got to be a happy medium here. However, for those of you who were offended to have you or your children watch the R-rated halftime show, Howard Dean has some advice:
Howard Dean, a physician and a Democratic presidential candidate, on Monday dismissed as "silly" a government inquiry into whether indecency rules were broken during the broadcast of the Super Bowl halftime show when pop diva Janet Jackson's bodice was ripped to expose her right breast.

In the culture war, it's pretty clear what side he's on. Wonder if he's president, will he be doing a "Timberlake" on his interns?

Monday, February 02, 2004

"Bush, Blair nominated for Nobel Peace Prize", says the headline from the Australian Broadcast Corporation. As distasteful as this may sound to anti-war activists, I'll bet they'd get the votes of most Iraqis. True, they still are subjected to bombings at this point, but compared to the mass graves & the treatment of women and children by the Ba'athists, they are certainly more at peace now than they were before.

Peace is still not just the absence of war, and sometimes war is necessary to bring a true peace.