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Conservative commentary served up in bite-sized bits.
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- Clayton Cramer
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Thursday, April 27, 2006
Today is the "Day of Truth".
Christian students at more than 700 high schools across the nation will join today in an event to counter homosexual activism.
Participating students wear T-shirts and hand out cards with the following text:
I am speaking the Truth to break the silence. Silence isn't freedom. It's a constraint. Truth tolerates open discussion, because the Truth emerges when healthy discourse is allowed. By proclaiming the Truth in love, hurts will be halted, hearts will be healed, and lives will be saved.
And that is what we need, regardless of the issue; the Truth.
Doesn't this school system have anything better to do with its time and money?
After seven years, a court case involving a kindergartner's drawing of Jesus for a class assignment in the Baldwinsville school district will go to trial in federal court in Syracuse.
The details of the "offense" are an example of political correctness and sensitivity training run amok.
In June 1999, Antonio Peck was told to create a poster about the environment. Peck drew a picture depicting Jesus praying and two children kneeling before a rock with the word "savior" on it. The words "The only way to save our world" were across the top, according to earlier reports. Peck was told by his kindergarten teacher Susan Weichert to redo the assignment.
This was a kindergartner's picture, for goodness sake. The supposed "tolerance" of other views in the school system has reached a new low, and keeps digging with each passing appeal. The school system will simply not allow religion to be tolerated.
Staver said the family ultimately wants the school district to adopt a policy that states "whenever students respond to class assignments they should be able to present religious perspectives," Staver said.
Is it any wonder so many religious families opt to homeschool?
(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
President Bush on Wednesday named conservative commentator Tony Snow as White House press secretary, putting a new face on a troubled administration.
I think Snow's engaging manner will be a breath of fresh air after a number of press secretaries, from both parties, that have been tiresome to watch (though Ari Fleischer was a little better).
And if putting a Fox News contributor on the White House staff somehow "proves" that Fox is in the hip pocket of this administration, what did the hiring of George Stephanopoulos by ABC "prove" about ABC? Just askin'.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
The ACLU has lost another Ten Commandments display ruling.
The American Civil Liberties Union suffered another defeat in its quest to bar the Ten Commandments from the public square today as the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a display of the Decalogue in Kentucky is constitutional.
These kinds of lawsuits should be considered frivolous at this point. The Supreme Court was pretty clear that the Ten Commandments, as part of an overall historical display, isn't a problem. The only reason the ACLU could possibly be continuing this sort of harassment is to drain defendants' money, and hope that such a drain will cause others to cave who would otherwise prevail in court. It's not about (and I don't think it was ever about) what's constitutional and what isn't. It's been about who the ACLU can scare into compliance.
Bad news for Democrats.
Consumers shrugged off higher gasoline prices in April and sent a widely watched barometer of consumer confidence to its highest level in almost four years, a private research group said Tuesday.
Relying solely on a single economic factor to win elections for you is a losing strategy. Glad to see that people aren't (yet) forgetting that there's more to the economy than the price at the pump.
Are you OK with Iran having nuclear technology? Do you believe that they'll act responsibly with it?
If so, does this modify your attitude?
The remarks on sharing nuclear technology by Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, came as he met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
But do you think that Iran, on an IAEA-dissing binge lately, breaking their current treaties, and considering leaving the Nonproliferation Treaty, will care whether or not such a transfer would be legal? All of a sudden, trusting Iran means trusting by extension anyone they might deem worthy of nukes.
(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out and Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)
If it was proposed that the United States reduce the following pollutants (based on 1970 levels)...
...would you consider that a reasonable proposal and ask the government to sign it? If we didn't sign it, would you consider it proof that we don't care about the environment? Do you believe that the free market or our own legislation couldn't possibly do this without an international treaty?
You'd be surprised. That's exactly what we have done, all without the Kyoto Protocol. The Wall St. Journal covered
the "Index of Leading Environmental Indicators", which is published annually around Earth Day and it has its own web site as well.
The WSJ reminds us that the dire predictions of today are coming from the same people and groups that have a poor track record.
This year, for example, Vanity Fair has inaugurated an "Earth Issue," comprising 246 glossy, non-recycled pages of fashion ads, celebrity worship and environmental apocalypse. Highlights include computer-generated images of New York City underwater and the Washington mall as one big reflecting pool. The magazine also includes a breathless essay by U.S. environmental conscience-in-chief Al Gore. The message is that we are headed for an environmental catastrophe of the first order, and only drastic changes to the way we live can possibly prevent it.
The democratic process, the free market and scientific advancement really don't get enough credit in all of this. Treaties from on high that try to micromanage the process are a type of environmental socialism that has been shown not to work so many times in other ares of human behavior.
(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out, Blogger New Network and Redstate.)
Monday, April 24, 2006
At about the same time that the movie "The Da Vinci Code" comes out, Dr. James Kennedy's TV special called "The Da Vinci Delusion" will hit local television. Check out the site to find out where and when it will be broadcast in your area.
I heard about this from the April 20th podcast of Active Christian Media, hosted by Stacy L. Harp. It's truly amazing the fully-discredited lies that this book, and thus this movie, will present as "fact". Listen to the podcast for some of the more blatant examples. If you don't want to deal with all the podcast logistics, you can just click on the link that plays the show by itself. However, if you do have "podcatcher" software (lots of free ones out there, not just iTunes), I recommend subscribing to this show.
UPDATE: Stacy has more details in her latest post on Blogger New Network.
Friday, April 21, 2006
Today's Odd "Considerettes" Search Phrase - was dr. who at the white house today (#1! at Ask.com)
If so, then we really have been visited by aliens!
Thursday, April 20, 2006
I was wrong. Let's make sure we state that first.
Almost 2 years ago, I went on the record in predicting that Al Franken's show on Air America wouldn't last 2 years. Well, it's still around. The network has managed to weather poor ratings, financial troubles, and a full-blown financial scandal. It's had some help from big money backers (instead of listeners), an HBO special for some nice PR, and a media that has trumpeted its successes and muted its problems. Air American and Al Franken got by with a little (or a lotta) help from their friends.
I tried to find a recent comparison of Air America and the Salem Radio Network. SRN has a couple of slates of hosts; one for specifically Christian stations, and one for the general market with right-of-center hosts. The latest information I could find was from, of all places, Mother Jones magazine from last December.
Today Salem is the second-fastest-growing radio chain in the nation. The left—which for years dismissed evangelical activists as out-of-touch zealots—has nothing on the radio dial even close to Salem’s reach and influence. Air America is broadcast on 70 stations and owns none. Salem owns 103 stations in the nation’s largest markets and broadcasts to more than 1,900 affiliates. It owns radio stations in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, and Atlanta. In fact, it doesn’t own just one station in those markets. It owns two—sometimes more. In Los Angeles it owns four. In Honolulu it owns seven. It also owns 62 websites and a magazine publishing division.
Now, SRN's been around a pretty long time, but they only recently had a full day's worth of talk radio programming. Bill Bennett's show, for example, started around the same time as Al Franken's. And yet a year ago, Bennett was the 25th biggest talk show in the country, and none of the Air America hosts beat him. I've heard anecdotal evidence that the trend has continued, but can't find stats online at the moment. (Perhaps when the official 2 year anniversary of AAR arrives on May 1.)
In any event, while I was wrong with my prediction, I'm crying all the way to the radio. Them I'm smiling.
A briefing was held recently dealing with the Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship. This is a short declaration on the matter of caring for the environment in light of the love of God and the liberty He gives us, while considering sound science, sound economics and the needs of the poor. From Amy Ridenour's National Center blog:
Before a packed audience today on Capitol Hill, the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance (ISA), along with the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty and the Institute on Religion and Democracy held a lunch briefing at which top theologians and policy experts articulated a vision of Biblical stewardship based upon the Cornwall Declaration.
If this sounds like an ECI redux, there are some differences.
Speaking about the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI), a statement signed by some members of the evangelical community that promotes the theory of catastrophic man-made global warming, Beisner said "[We] disagree with their assessment of the scientific evidence of the extent of human contribution to global warming, their prediction of the impact of climate change on human communities and the rest of the ecosystem, and their prescription of major reduction of carbon dioxide emissions as a solution to the alleged problem. The ECI does not specify how much emission reduction is needed to achieve its goals [to counteract global warming]. [This is] to ignore one of the most important aspects of the climatology debate: How much benefit would be gained at what cost to the global economy. And the global economy is not just an economist abstraction. It is real people who depend on that economy for jobs, income and the food, clothing, shelter, transportation and all other goods that they need."
Sometimes, considering cold economic facts is just as much good stewardship as reducing car emissions or turning off the lights.
I will say this in criticism of the briefing. They're a bit too critical of the ECI.
Paul Driessen, senior policy advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality, admonished celebrities, media and wayward religious leaders who are "twisting common definitions of ethics, morality, social responsibility and compassion for the poor to justify global warming agendas."
I respect, and in some cases know, some of the signers of the ECI, and I really don't think they're deliberately trying to twist words or have some overarching global warming agenda. Some may, but those I know don't, best I can tell. Now, I think the ECI may play into the hands of those with such an agenda, giving them a supposed common cause with evangelicals, but I don't think that was the intent.
While that part was a little much, Driessen goes on to give some criticism I tend to agree with.
Driessen also noted, "It is often the very policies they promote that actually represent the greatest threats to the world's poor. Over two billion of the world's people still do not have electricity for lights and refrigeration in their homes, for hospitals and clinics, for schools, shops, offices and factories, for wastewater treatment and other modern technologies that we often take for granted," he said. "And yet these poor countries are told they mustn't build coal or gas-fired electrical power plants, because First World countries are concerned about global warming."
Sometimes, turning on the lights is just as much good stewardship as reducing car emissions.
The over 1000 signers of this declaration include a number of people I respect, just as I respect a number of ECI signers. The Cornwall Declaration, however, includes more than just evangelicals. There are Jewish and Catholic as well as Protestant signers. Sometimes, gathering a group like this together leads to a least-common-denominator, watered down mission, but so far it doesn't appear that way.
This Cornwall Declaration is definitely worth a look.
See also: Cybercast News Service report.
UPDATE: Jordan Ballor of the Acton Institute has an excellect comparison of the two tacts taken by the ECI and the Cornwall Declaration. His article is "Preserved Garden or Productive City? Two Competing Views of Stewardship".
(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out, Blogger News Network and Redstate. Comments welcome.)
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Mark Steyn's latest is a must-read. It's about how Iran got where it is today and what it may mean if it does go nuclear. It's rather long but full of historical lessons on what worked, and what didn't (most notably appeasement), in the past and how to apply it to the present situation. If Western powers are kowtowed when Muslim extremists burn buildings, imagine how timid they'll be when those folks have a nuke available to them (marked "from Iran with love"). And, as his history lessons show, this antagonism on the part of Iran didn't suddenly begin when Bush sat down in the Oval Office; they've got a long tradition of it. Steyn is under no delusion that dealing with Iran now will be easy by any stretch of the imagination, but dealing with it later will be nigh well impossible.
This short take doesn't do it the least bit of justice, so I recommend sitting back and taking in the whole thing.
Monday, April 17, 2006
In its never-ending quest to become the supreme oxymoron, the United Nations has in the past had its Human Rights Commission chaired by the countries with the worst violations of human rights. The next step in that quest is this.
Under threat of United Nations Security Council sanctions for its own nuclear program, Iran has been elected to a vice-chair position on the U.N. Disarmament Commission, whose mission includes preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
So Iran gets to help make the rules regarding nuclear arms. Amazingly, Iran was voted into this position, unlike the HRC where countries take turns being the head honcho round-robin style. At least the UN had a little fig leaf to work with there, but this time the emperor really is naked.
Some people think we just need to clothe the emperor properly, i.e. fix the problems with the UN. The real problem, however, is the emperor himself who continues to defend his wardrobe malfunctions. It's time to start over.
(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out, Blogger News Network and Redstate. Comments welcome.)
My sister and her husband hosted a Seder Supper last Thursday. I've attended a number of these in the past. It is amazing how so many of the portions of the Seder point to Jesus. But there was a little preliminary item that a friend of theirs presented before the Seder that I want to write about this time. This friend gave us his "Reader's Digest" version of how he came up with the date of the Last Supper, Jesus' last Seder, which was interesting, but more interesting to me was the information that was presented as an aside on the way to his finding.
In the book of Matthew we find a lineage of Jesus, going back through his father Joseph. In verse 6 we see that Joseph was a descendant of King David (and hence his requirement to go to Bethlehem during the census called when Mary was pregnant with Jesus). Through this we see that Jesus was indeed heir to the throne of David, one of the requirements of the Messiah. However, there a hitch in this lineage. In verse 11 we find that the lineage goes through Jeconiah aka Jehoiachin, and therein lies a problem.
Back in the book of Jeremiah (chapter 22, verse 24-40) God passes judgement on Jehoiachin, prompting an exile to Babylon. But that's not all. In verse 30, God specifically tells Jehoiachin that his lineage on the throne is done.
This is what the LORD says:
Thus none of his descendants will take that throne anymore, as though he were childless. But if Jesus is his descendant, doesn't that therefore void His claim to that throne.
Normally, yes. However, God's amazing plan for Jesus gave Him that right anyway. In the book of Luke, we find Jesus' lineage through Mary.
[Quick aside: Each of the 4 Gospel writers emphasized a different aspect of Jesus. In Matthew, He is King. In Mark, He is Servant. In Luke, He is Man. In John, He is God. A King and a Man have official lineages, but a servant nor God do not. Interesting. Additionally, the lineages, as we'll see in a bit, fit with the portrayal of Jesus in those books.]
This lineage also passes through King David (verse 31), but through a different son. In Matthew, it goes through David's son Solomon, who was David's actual successor to the throne, though it was not a legal succession. Since Solomon's mother was Bathsheba (I Chronicles 3:5), she convinced David to name Solomon as the heir instead of the legal heir, the older son Nathan. And who do we find in Jesus' lineage on Mary's side? Nathan.
Thus, Jesus has both the royal and legal right to claim the throne of David, and also breaking the curse on the royal line since He can claim legal right. It's just one more of those amazing "coincidences" that God works out to show those who are watching that He's in control. Prophesy is fulfilled, not just in and of itself, but in a way that that is both elegant and meaningful. I'm sure some readers have heard this before, but it was new to me (or perhaps I just remembered it this time--the handout helped) and I wanted to pass it along.
Happy belated Easter.
(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Self-government without self-control is self-defeating. This Paul-Harvey-ism keeps being proved true, and nowhere more so than in the Palestinian territories.
In a revelation that surprised many here associated with the deal, it emerged this week the charitable foundation of Microsoft founder Bill Gates largely was responsible for transferring to the Palestinians the high-tech Jewish greenhouses of the Gaza Strip prior to Israel's evacuation of the area.
"Thanks for the spare parts, Bill. Sorry we threw stones."
But Gates may not have got his money's worth.
According to reports, the greenhouses were looted by gunmen following Israel's withdrawal. Computer equipment and, in some cases, entire greenhouses were stolen. The theft has put out of action about 70 acres of the roughly 1,000 acres left by the Jewish communities, according to Al-Masri.
These were not just nifty places to grow plants. The produce was bug-free and would have been immensely beneficial to the Palestinians. But now they're unable to reproduce this success on their own, so who do they turn to?
As WND reported, Palestinian farmers have had trouble reproducing the bug-free produce previously generated by the Jewish owners. The Palestinian owners reportedly asked the U.S. governmental development group USAID to hire former Jewish Gaza greenhouse owners as consultants for their declining vegetable businesses.
Yup, they come to us and to, ironically, Israel. They cut off their nose to spite their face, and now they want to borrow noses.
In what appears to be a face-saving maneuver, the manager alleges he's recovered it all.
Al-Masri yesterday said the Gaza greenhouses are fully functioning and are producing at full capacity. He also said most of the stolen greenhouse equipment has been recovered by the Palestinian Authority police. His claims could not be independently verified before press time.
We'll see about that, especially those dismantled and dispersed for parts. The wider the dispersal, the less likely that is true.
Looks like we have a bit of a protest backfire going on.
Recent images of seas of illegal aliens marching in cities across the U.S. are having a far greater negative than positive impact on the foreigners' cause, according to a new poll.
Guess the word "illegal" means something other than "unlawful" to Democrats. Breaking the rules, hoping the feds will give you a shortcut to citizenship, and doing an end-run around those in the process of doing this legally, is no big deal for the Left. Any wonder why they can't get folks to believe that they stand for the rule of law?
The story pointed to by the link has a photograph of protestors holding up a sign saying "This is our continent, not yours!" Sorry, but that's not going to make any friends.
The lefty blogs have been all over a report that one report back in 2003 gave the opinion that the trailers found in Iraq were not bio labs, as Bush claimed. Unfortunately, these folks are falling for the talking points the media is hoping they'll take away from their reports. The Media Research Center is all over this, noting that the Washington Post report did make a small note of the fact that 2 other reports did suggest that they could be bio labs. But the way the story was written, it was easy to miss and was very late in the article, after "the jump" from the front page the the continuation page deeper in the paper (a jump that papers know many people don't make, certainly not TV reporters).
Once again, the claims that Bush lied are, in fact, lies themselves. The Left is so ready to believe what they want to believe, don't confuse them with the facts, or when they do know the facts, don't expect them to give it a fair airing.
Further details about Saddam's quest for nukes comes from Christopher Hitchens. It's been widely known (and dismissed out of hand by Democrats) that Iraq approached Niger about...something. Joe Wilson insists it wasn't about enriched uranium. But as Mr. Hitchens points out, when you send your top IAEA rep to talk to Niger, it's extremely unlikely he's talking about banana exports.
In February 1999, Zahawie [the aforementioned IAEA rep] left his Vatican office for a few days and paid an official visit to Niger, a country known for absolutely nothing except its vast deposits of uranium ore. It was from Niger that Iraq had originally acquired uranium in 1981, as confirmed in the Duelfer Report. In order to take the Joseph Wilson view of this Baathist ambassadorial initiative, you have to be able to believe that Saddam Hussein's long-term main man on nuclear issues was in Niger to talk about something other than the obvious. Italian intelligence (which first noticed the Zahawie trip from Rome) found it difficult to take this view and alerted French intelligence (which has better contacts in West Africa and a stronger interest in nuclear questions). In due time, the French tipped off the British, who in their cousinly way conveyed the suggestive information to Washington. As everyone now knows, the disclosure appeared in watered-down and secondhand form in the president's State of the Union address in January 2003.
The appearance of forged papers in connection to this has cause the aforementioned dismissals by Democrats. Hitchens does not deny the existence of the forgery, although he points out how pitiful the forgery was; easily discovered under slight scrutiny.
But this doesn't alter the plain set of established facts in my first three paragraphs above. The European intelligence services, and the Bush administration, only ever asserted that the Iraqi regime had apparently tried to open (or rather, reopen) a yellowcake trade "in Africa." It has never been claimed that an agreement was actually reached.
And that's precisely what Bush said in those 16 words in the State of the Union address. Hitchens goes on to examine what motive(s) there might be to produce such a crude forgery, but I want to hit on another point regarding it.
A NATO investigation has identified two named employees of the Niger Embassy in Rome who, having sold a genuine document about Zahawie to Italian and French intelligence agents, then added a forged paper in the hope of turning a further profit. The real stuff went by one route to Washington, and the fakery, via an Italian journalist and the U.S. Embassy in Rome, by another. The upshot was—follow me closely here—that a phony paper alleging a deal was used to shoot down a genuine document suggesting a connection.
Someone tried to overplay their hand, but that doesn't mean that the meeting didn't happen, and in fact there is still good intelligence, and paperwork backing it up, saying that it did.
Still, the Left will continue allege that the case for war was built in a bunch of lies and ignore evidence to the contrary (evidence that has been around for at least 3 years). Read, as Hitchens says a few times, the first 3 paragraphs of his article over and I hope you'll wonder, given the evidence, why you ever believe Joseph Wilson (if you ever did, that is).
Hat Tip: Mark Kilmer at Redstate.
(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Some folks thought that the "War on Christmas" was mostly a self-fulfilling prophesy by the Christian Right. Think again. At least with Easter, the war's been formally declared.
A media company that produced a best-selling documentary asserting that Jesus Christ never existed today launches its "War on Easter," encouraging volunteer atheists to plant copies of the film "The God Who Wasn't There" in churches across the United States.
Iran is a bit closer to nuclear technology than previously thought.
Iran has successfully enriched uranium for the first time, a major development in its quest to develop nuclear fuel, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani said Tuesday.
Yup, what we need now is an even more strongly worded UN report. Or how about promises of US aid if they stop pursuing this? Never mind that it'll encourage other countries to try to go nuclear so they can get a shot at some cash. (Oh, and if you think Ahmadinejad would take the money and be nice, you're only half right.)
And while all these oh-so-stern looks continue, a country who's leader said he wants to wipe Israel off the map continues merrily on its way to be able to do just that. If we wind up making military strikes against Iran to prevent these madmen from getting the bomb, there's no doubt in my mind that the anti-war crowd will say we should have let the negotiations "work". Well, for future reference, this isn't working, and if we wait until after they have the bomb, negotiations won't be possible. I certainly hope Iran can be persuaded, but based on everything up to now, it doesn't look like that's going to happen.
Speaking to a crowd in northeastern Iran, Ahmadinejad was quoted by state television as saying, "Enemies can't dissuade the Iranian nation from the path of progress that it has chosen."
(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out and Blogger News Network. Comments welcome.)
Monday, April 10, 2006
The French government throws in the towel.
French President Jacques Chirac has announced that the new youth employment law that sparked weeks of sometimes violent protests will be scrapped.
This is what comes of the entitlement mindset. Some folks get some benefit from the government and soon they believe it is, not simply a benefit, but a right that they are entitled to. Liberal politicians here should take note. (Actually, conservatives should, too.)
What really makes this sad is that in this case, as I've mentioned before, the people are asking to return to a situation that actually works against them in the guise of a worker benefit. As with most liberal ideas (sounds good in theory, fails miserably in practice), it took the French government longer to figure this out that one would have hoped, so now when they try to correct the problem, the rioters think they're losing something. ("It must be bad if my union leader says it is.") The liberal entitlement nanny-government mentality is so ingrained that the Kool-Aid drinkers only see things through the us-vs-them, rich-vs-poor, worker-vs-corporation lenses. Sounds like American liberal class warfare politics, which it is.
And, as I said before, such economic policies have produced a stagnant French economy and rampant unemployment. But now, the rioters have made their point; we want to protect our jobs by continuing policies that cause unemployment. That may sound crazy, but no more crazy than the economic platform of our very own American Democrats.
What will the repealed law be replace by? Free market reforms? Nah, too conservative.
The new package of measures includes offering state support for employers hiring young people who face the most difficulties in gaining access to the labour market.
They're going to pay employers to hire those whom they can no longer fire. That might help a little, if at all, but it's not the root cause of the problem. The problem is the idea that companies shouldn't be allowed to fire workers. The worker/employer relationship is a give and take one, but when you give all the rights in that relationship to the worker, naturally the employer will have to protect himself in other ways. In this case, the employers don't hire as freely. The result is high unemployment. And when employers can't fire people, and thus there is one less big incentive to work hard, you get a stagnant economy.
This isn't a surprise to conservatives, nor apparently to liberals who've watched their finely tuned theories fall apart before them. But it's a lesson lost to those who've grown up in the liberal French mindset.
(Cross-posted at Stones Cry Out. Comments welcome.)
Global Warming Update: Professor Bob Carter (a geologist at James Cook University, Queensland, Australia) has some points to note about the temperature trends being used to predict global warming, and what they've been recently showing.
For many years now, human-caused climate change has been viewed as a large and urgent problem. In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco. Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).
Read the article to find out