Thursday, December 20, 2007

Huckabee and Tribalism

Ann Coulter attacks Mike Hucakbee from his blind side: namely, the principled evangelical right.

As far as I can tell, it's mostly secular liberals swooning over Huckabee. Liberals adore Huckabee because he fits their image of what an evangelical should be: stupid and easily led.

The media are transfixed by the fact that Huckabee says he doesn't believe in evolution.


Asked on CNN's "Larry King Live" Monday night about his beliefs on evolution, Huckabee rushed to assure King that he has no interest in altering textbooks that foist this fraud on innocent schoolchildren.

I don't understand that. Does Huckabee believe Darwinism is a hoax or not? If he knows it's a fraud, then why does he want it taught to schoolchildren?


When not evolving his position on Darwinism, Huckabee insults gays by pointlessly citing the Bible's rather pointed remarks about sodomy -- fitting the MSM's image of evangelicals sitting around all day denouncing gays. (Which is just so unfair. I'm usually done denouncing gays by 10:30 a.m., 11 tops.) And yet, Huckabee has said he agrees with the Supreme Court's lunatic opinion that sodomy is a constitutional right.
As Allah and Ace have pointed out, Coulter's examples are not particularly compelling to most voters. In fairness, I think Coulter has already said much about Huckabee's failing on more mainstream consevative issues like taxes and immigration (here and here, for instance). What she is trying to do in this article is drive a wedge between Huckabee and the type of evangelical that doesn't care about such issues, but just wants a president with a plastic fish on his lapel. In other words, to the voter who says "I don't care about politics, I just want an Evangelical like me in the White House", Coulter is saying, "Even so, Huck isn't your guy." While I think she still could have applied the same analysis to more resonant issues, (abortion for instance), I applaud her attempt at bringing critical thinking skills to bear on a subject that is all too often a matter of visceral response.

But that just higlights another concern implicit in Coulter's complaints that should be noted even by those who don't share her interest in the particular issues of Darwinism or homosexuality: what I call Conservative Tribalism. The force of Coulter's criticism is that Huckabee is willing to express the proper Evangelical pieties on such issues, but his "convictions" don't seem to translate into actual policy positions. What Huckabee supporters seem to want is not someone who will do what is right, but someone who is from the right tribe. This has been a problem in Southern politics since the Civil War, though it has usually been more characteristic of the Democratic party than the Republicans. Coulter is quite right to point out that this is "bad for Evangelicals".

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

H.R. 861: National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act

This looks interesting:

National standard for the carrying of certain concealed firearms by nonresidents
`(a) Notwithstanding any provision of the law of any State or political subdivision thereof, a person who is not prohibited by Federal law from possessing, transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm and is carrying a valid license or permit which is issued by a State and which permits the person to carry a concealed firearm (other than a machinegun or destructive device) may carry in another State a concealed firearm (other than a machinegun or destructive device) that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce, subject to subsection (b).

`(b)(1) If such other State issues licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms, the person may carry a concealed firearm in the State under the same restrictions which apply to the carrying of a concealed firearm by a person to whom the State has issued such a license or permit.

`(2) If such other State does not issue licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms, the person may not, in the State, carry a concealed firearm in a police station, in a public detention facility, in a courthouse, in a public polling place, at a meeting of a State, county, or municipal governing body, in a school, at a professional or school athletic event not related to firearms, in a portion of an establishment licensed by the State to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, or inside the sterile or passenger area of an airport, except to the extent expressly permitted by State law.'.
The intention seems to be that permit carriers living in other states can still carry firearms in non-carry states. However, as I read the bolded part, the permits do not have to be issued to a resident of the issuing state, just anyone the state chooses to issue to. At the present time, of course, no state will issue such a permit to a non-resident so the point is moot. But if this law passes and some gun-friendly state decides to issue carry permits to non-residents, it looks like this would extend those priveleges to non-carry states as well. So, if Arizona or Texas decided to issue me a permit to carry a gun in their state, my home state of California would have to honor that permit as well.

I sort of doubt that this interpretation would stand up to court challenge without specific language showing such an intent on the part of Congress. Even then, it seems that the principle of Federalism would tend to undermine such an interpretation. But it is plausible that Congress has authority to enforce an interpretation of the 2nd Amendment as applied to carry laws, so this might just be a useful method of influencing the debate. I would very much like to hear the opinions of actual law experts.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

St. John's - Baghdad

Back in business...

Michael Yon's caption:I photographed men and women, both Christians and Muslims, placing a cross atop the St. John’s Church in Baghdad. They had taken the cross from storage and a man washed it before carrying it up to the dome.

A Muslim man had invited the American soldiers from “Chosen” Company 2-12 Infantry to the church, where I videotaped as Muslims and Christians worked and rejoiced at the reopening of St John’s, an occasion all viewed as a sign of hope.

The Iraqis asked me to convey a message of thanks to the American people. ” Thank you, thank you,” the people were saying. One man said, “Thank you for peace.” Another man, a Muslim, said “All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother.” The men and women were holding bells, and for the first time in memory freedom rang over the ravaged land between two rivers.

Note: Michael Yon is completely reader-supported. Donate here to support his work.

(Via: Althouse)
Update: Instapundit has a round-up.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Newsflash: Pandering to Pagans Isn't Descipleship

Those of us who have been critical of the Seeker Sensitive project -- the attempt to "grow" churches by surveying the unchurched and adapting accordingly -- have been vindicated by an unlikely source: the Sensitives themselves:

Willow Creek has released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. The study’s findings are in a new book titled Reveal: Where Are You?, co-authored by Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Hybels himself called the findings “earth shaking,” “ground breaking” and “mind blowing.” And no wonder: it seems that the “experts” were wrong.

The report reveals that most of what they have been doing for these many years and what they have taught millions of others to do is not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples. It gets worse. Hybels laments:

Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.

This would be good news if it heralded a return to confessional orthodoxy and traditional liturgy, but alas:
Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he’s asking us to transform this planet.

Sounds like the new boss is the same as the old boss. I can't help but think of Rudyard Kipling's delightful poem, the Gods of the Copybook Headings:

We were living in trees when they met us.
They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us,
as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift,
Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas
while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed.
They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne
like the Gods of the Market Place;
But they always caught up with our progress,
and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield,
or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on
they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton;
they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses;
they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market
Who promised these beautiful things.


As it will be in the future,
it was at the birth of Man—
There are only four things certain
since Social Progress began:—
That the Dog returns to his Vomit
and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger
goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished,
and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing
and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us,
as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings
with terror and slaughter return!

Monday, August 06, 2007

One Night in Bangkok...

..makes a hard man humble.

Sloppy Bangkok policemen are being ordered to wear bright pink "Hello Kitty" armbands in a uniquely Thai twist to zero tolerance anti-crime initiatives used in New York.

Crime Suppression Division officers caught dropping litter, parking illegally or reporting late for work will get several days wearing the armbands, which come complete with the cute Japanese cat cartoon sitting on a pair of hearts.


Pongpat said the idea was based on the "broken windows" policing theory used in New York in the 1980s and 1990s. The theory argues that getting tough on petty crime leads to a reduction in more serious offences.
I know this sounds silly, but have you ever had to stand around in a Sanrio shop while your wife was browsing the shelves? It is pure torture, especiall now that Badtz Maru is losing his market share. Serioulsy, man, this could totally work.

(Food Chain: doubleplusundead -> Hot Air)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Immigration Amnesty Fails

I feel that I have forfeited the right to talk about this since I didn't have much to say when it was still a live issue. Even now I can barely bring myself to feign interest in the topic of immigration. But now that the current attempt at looking busy on the Immigration issue has gone down in flames, maybe conservatives will remember that we have more interesting things to talk about. Congratulations are in order for the many people who put pressure on their senators to defeat cloture, especially Allah, Bryan and Michelle at HotAir who have redefined citizen journalism. Though I disagree with both their position on immigration and their general assessment of its importance to national security, I have to admit that they have done a wonderful and responsible job of keeping people informed, mobilizing conservatives and combatting media bias.

An emailer to Kathryn Jean Lopez of The Corner puts his/her finger on what may be the brightest spot of this whole business:

The real victory today for conservatives is that now all the presidential candidates on our side are free to run against Bush — they've just robbed the Dems' of their most potent weapon.
That may well be true. Being strongly pro-immigration myself, I am sympathetic to Bush's sentiments on this issue, but it does seem that he has a serious case of cart-before-horse disease. I have no trouble with amnesty in principle but Mickey Kaus' objection seems irrefutable to me:
Wouldn't it make sense to get an employment verification scheme up and running (for new hires) before we trigger another wave of illegals** by proclaiming a sweeping semi-amnesty? Simon makes it pretty clear that as the bill stands the worksite system won't be ready by the time that new wave of undocumented jobseekers hits.

As I think I've said before, I'm not worried about the 12 million already here. I'm worried about the next 12 million. And the next. ...

It may be that there simply is no way to ease the process of immigration while simultaneously strengthening its security. I think there is, but it will be difficult and I don't see much evidence that anyone currently in power has the will to tackle difficult problems. But that doesn't mean you give up and take the symbolic-but-meaningless easy way out of declaring amnesty before the problem is solved. Beating swords into plowshares, though inevitable, is a result of peace and justice, not its cause.

Update: As an example of that "combatting media bias" that I mentioned above here is a hilarious example. The Wall Street Journal asks, disingenuously:
Just who sponsors Hot Air’s ad, and other similar ads popping up across the Internet, is unclear.

Even the most ignorant MSM reporter ought to know that HotAir is run by Michelle Malkin and that most of their video is homemade. Maybe Mary Lu Carnevale should ask her colleague Peggy Noonan for some tips on how this whole blog thing works.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Petition for Poland

I saw this at Touchstone Magazine's Mere Comments blog. The petition is set to be delivered Thursday, May 10, so it is somewhat time-sensitive:

The power of the radical homosexual movement in Europe has just been shown. The European Parliament just voted to condemn Poland on what they term “homophobia.” What was Poland’s crime? The Polish Prime Minister said that Polish school children should not be subject to “homosexual propaganda.”

Polish authorities have also resisted demands from radical homosexuals that they be allowed to march in the streets. If you live in any major city you know these marches where leather boys and pedophiles march freely and disruptively through the streets.

The response of the European Parliament was to pass a resolution calling these sensible actions “hate speech” and asks competent legal authorities to take action against these officials and the government of Poland.

The petition can be found here:

Friday, April 27, 2007

Terrorism and Tyranny

Sonia makes an interesting point about the morality of terrorism when practiced against tyrannical regimes (she uses the word "totalitarian" but it comes to the same thing in this context). I agree with about 2/3 of what she says. First the good points:

Who is a terrorist ? A terrorist is a revolutionary who kills civilians while fighting against a government. An evil terrorist is a revolutionary who fights against a democratically-elected government. He is evil, because he has other, less radical means a this disposal to fight against a government he hates. In a democracy, it is not necessary to kill civilians to overthrow a government. It is both more humane and more effective to simply participate in the electoral process.
This is a point I have often made when trying to explain why bombing abortion clinics is wrong from a biblical point of view. As long as there is a legitimate means of changing bad laws, even the most evil practices should not be resisted violently. People in positions of authority may sometimes be justified in starting a violent revolution, but only if other means have been foreclosed. This leads to Sonia's second good point:
But how about a revolutionary who fights against a totalitarian, non-elected government ? If there are no free elections, no free press and no opposition parties, might terrorism be the only way to fight for freedom and democracy ?
Here, I think she is being a little imprecise by conflating "terrorism" with violent opposition, but since she forms this as a question, I will let it slide for a moment. But overall I think her point is valid and often missed by the people who try to make a tit-for-tat equivalence between, say, the Mid-East terrorists who attack democracies like the US or Israel and the violent response of those democracies. What they are missing (often intentionally, I think) is that there are other ways of getting a just government to respond to your objections. Those ways are not only more humane, they are often more effective as well.

But that conflation between "terrorism" and violence which I mentioned above leads Sonia to make the following dubious claim (which I have strung together from two different paragraphs, to clarify my objection):
Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro want the United States to extradite Luis Posada Carriles. They claim he is a terrorist, responsible for blowing up a Cuban airliner in 1976.


There is no democracy in Cuba. So people like Carriles, determined to overthrow the totalitarian regime of Fidel Castro, have no legitimate and peaceful ways to accomplish their goals. For them, terrorism is the only way.
Obviously the latter half is merely an application of the general principle noted above to the particular example of Posada Carriles. But the problem is that the example she cites -- the bombing of Cubana 455 -- does not really qualify as an act against the Cuban government. While it is true that there were Cuban officials on board, and I have no problem with their assassination, destroying the entire plane with Cuban civilian and foreigner passengers is unjustifiable.

Sonia defines a terrorist as "a revolutionary who kills civilians while fighting against a government" but this is only part of the definition. A terrorist specifically targets civilians in order to cause disorder in and to weaken the will of the government in question. This tactic only works against just governments because they are actually concerned for the welfare of their citizens. Terrorism against a tyranny like Cuba cannot work because Castro has already committed greater atrocities and so is not likely to be terrorized. Also, any dissent which might result from his failure to protect his citizens from such acts of terror can be easily crushed due to his autocratic control over the country.

Of course, there may be other reasons to praise Posada Carriles, and I think on the whole the US is right to support him since he is definitely the lesser of two evils. But terrorism only destroys, it cannot be used as a force for good, even the good of opposing evil regimes.

Finally, Sonia draws a conclusion that I think is more rhetorical flourish than serious political analysis:
That's why democratic countries should never recognize non-democratic countries. Leaders who are not democratically elected have no legitimacy to govern. Like Iraq under Saddam Hussein, non-democratic countries should be invaded and their dictators hanged. Governing without a democratic mandate should be a crime against humanity, punishable by death.

Then, and only then, we will have the right to condemn all terrorists. If Cuba was a democratic regime, even a Communist one, I would be the first to call for Carriles's extradition. But because Castro was never democratically elected, revolutionaries like Carriles didn't have any legitimate, non-terrorist ways to overthrow his government. So even if civilians died because of Carriles's actions, Cuban judges, appointed by an unelected dictator, have no right to persecute him. It's Castro who should be put on trial instead of Carriles.
I ambivalent about this. I agree that democracies should avoid entanglements with dictatorships, but there are some distinctions that need to be made. Not all dictatorships descend to the level of evil that Castro's has. Pinochet of Chile and (possibly) Musharraf of Pakistan are examples of "illegitmate" governmets the alternatives to which are unquestionably worse. Also the Shah of Iran would count as a legitimate government that was by no means either democratic or just, but Carter's failure to support him in the 70s has disastrous results.

However, as I said, I think these final paragraphs are meant mostly for effect, and I generally agree with the point Sonia is making here.

UPDATE: On reflection, I didn't make my final point as clearly as I would have liked. While I agree that democracy (or at least representative, responsive government) is the best form, I am not quite as sanguine that it is the only legitimate form. There can be unjust democracies just as there can be just non-democracies. It isn't the way to bet, but it is possible.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bless Those Who Curse You

According to Voice of the Martyrs (VOM):

More than 40 Christian leaders were arrested after a video recording of them praying for Muslims was leaked to Islamic organizations. Muslims claim the Christians blasphemed the Koran by placing it on the floor and praying for millions of people that had been deceived by it. The Islamic organizations consider the video's content abusive and have released the video to the media. Among the imprisoned were parents of young children. According to sources in Indonesia, some imprisoned women and the elderly have been released.
For those of you who don't know much about Christian theology, this actually means we are winning. When the church can happily co-exist with tyranny it is not the true church. When even praying for our enemies is a cause of offense, we know that we are driving the enemy crazy. We have deprived them of all rational-seeming causes to hate us, so they resort to blatantly irrational causes. This is a harsh sort of victory to be blessed with, but it is victory nontheless. I wouldn't be surprised if Muslim converts to Christianity increase in Indonesia after this idiotic response by their government.

Unfortunately VOM doesn't provide links or video. Journal Chretien has the identical story (probably from the same email from VOM.)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Animal Welfare: Well Done

The Wolfgang Puck line of gormet cuisine products has the right idea on how to improve the status of food animals: lead by example and don't moralize.

Working with The HSUS and Farm Sanctuary, Wolfgang Puck developed a nine-point program for all operations, which includes an immediate end to the use of foie gras, more delicious vegetarian and organic options, and higher standards for animals used for his menus.


The nine points, which will be fully implemented by the end of 2007, are:

  1. Wolfgang Puck has now eliminated foie gras from the menu of all of its dining establishments. Foie gras is produced by force-feeding ducks or geese to the point where their livers swell up to 10 times their normal size.

  2. Wolfgang Puck will not use eggs from laying hens confined in battery cages. Caged laying hens are kept in such restrictive conditions that they cannot even spread their wings.

  3. Wolfgang Puck will not serve pork from producers who confine breeding sows in gestation crates. These cruel devices restrict animals from even turning around or performing many of their other natural behaviors for nearly their entire lives.

  4. Wolfgang Puck will not serve veal from producers that confine their calves in individual veal crates. This inhumane intensive confinement practice prevents calves from even turning around or walking, for months on end.

  5. Wolfgang Puck will feature delicious vegetarian options on its menus, as many consumers who want to eat well and humanely look for these selections.

  6. Wolfgang Puck will feature Certified Organic selections on its menus, as many consumers concerned for their environment and health look for these options.

  7. Wolfgang Puck will send a letter to the companies' chicken and turkey meat suppliers indicating the company's interest in Controlled Atmosphere Killing, a slaughter method involving dramatically less suffering than typical methods.

  8. Wolfgang Puck will only serve chicken and turkey meat from farms that are third-party-audited for compliance with progressive animal welfare standards.

  9. Wolfgang Puck will only serve certified sustainable seafood.

The article doesn't mention that Wolfgang Puck products, already substantially more expensive than competing brands, are likely to go up in price as a result. That doesn't particularly bother me but note that generalizing these principles to the entire food industry would likely make basic food too costly for poor people. Recognizing this tradeoff is necessary for understanding why "Animal Rights" can never be a moral issue.

Having said that, there is a sense in which care for creation is a responsibility of all men. I salute Puck for making this sort of thing available for those that want it and can afford it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

About Time: Revisited

Carol Platt Liebau notes that Bush is finally pushing back against the Democratic hype surrounding the firing of several US Attorneys. I haven't really followed this story, but her headline got my attention: "It's About Time".

My comment to Carol: Seems like we've been saying that a lot with regard to this administration, doesn't it?

There used to be a legend that presidents elected in years ending with a zero always died in office. Reagan broke that trend and, God willing, it will not be true of Bush either. But it does seem strangely appropriate to call this president "The Late Mr. Bush."

UPDATE: Orin Kerr of the Volokh Conspiracy has a different take:

President Bush seemed weak, petty, and defensive. His rhetoric struck me as absurd: Given reason to think that at least some of the U.S. Attorneys were fired for not being excessively partisan, it falls flat to object to an investigation on the ground that the investigation is excessively partisan.

I don't know that I agree since, if the acusations are indeed false, the premise of Kerr's statement is no longer "given". But, as I said, I haven't really followed this story.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

More Monarchy

Andrew has begun posting a multi-part series on the Kinship of All Believers which currently has three installments (with a hint that more may be coming). It is, as usual, a good read and I agree with most of it, especially parts 1 and 2. Part 3, posted a week ago, is partly in response to some questions I posted in his comments section which relate to an on-going debate we have been having about the merits of monarchy versus democracy. (See here, here and here for background and follow the links for his side of the story. Also note that I dropped the ball in not responding to this post.)

I say "partly in response" because many of the points he raises seem to be in rebuttal to arguments I have never made and upon which I am more or less on record as agreeing with him. I do not, of course, begrudge him the right to confont multiple opponents, but it does make the operation of forming a reponse somewhat delicate. My policy will be to ignore those parts of his argument which do not seem relevent, at the risk of leaving a potential misrepresentation of my views unaddressed. This seems both more respectful and likely conducive to brevity (though in a topic this large, brevity may be unatainable at any price). Any misunderstandings resulting from this plan will no doubt be resolved in further posts.

First, then, let us see how Andrew describes his vision of monarchy:

My original intuition is that human authority is patterned after divine authority, which is monarchical. Though human authority is analogous to divine, human authority images God’s in a real way, i.e. human authority must truly represent God’s authority in the world.

I will agree that human authority is derived from divine authority and resembles it to a degree. But to say that it "is patterned after" and "must truly represent" God’s authority is ambiguous and perhaps an overstatement. This language is certainly not biblical. Since human authority is derivative, its resemblance to its divine original is necessarily limited. So the simple fact that divine authority is "monarchical" does not imply that human authority shares this characteristic. We will return to this point, since we still need to put some content into the abstract resemblance that Andrew asserts. For the present, it is sufficient to point out that a similarity is not an identity and we cannot deduce a similarity in one point from a similarity in another.

The claim that there is no king but Christ, and so we ought to have no human kings, is at bottom an objection—a doubt—that human authority can truly minister God’s authority.

This is an unsupported assertion. Certainly such a claim may spring from such a motive, but it is by no means the only motive possible. My earliest political instincts, for instance, were largely Arthurian and it is only regretfully and through much study that I came to see that the biblical model displays a different ideal. (I am actually working on a project of re-connecting the Arthurian legend to a more biblical theory of government, but that is a topic for another time.)

As I said in the comments to Andrew’s post, I think this sentence is the crux of our disagreement and undermines his later discussion of Church hierarchy, which is otherwise quite sound. The question is not whether "human authority can truly administer God’s authority", it is what form that authority should take and how it should be structured. In other words, what is its shape and what limits (if any) should be placed upon it.

To re-phrase Jack’s question: if all believers share in kingship by virtue of being in Christ, why have particular kings to rule over the others? To some it seems that regenerate men who have the Law written on their hearts and who partake of the Holy Spirit have no need of anyone to rule over them. It is thought that saints, who of their own accord follow the law of love, have no need of any external compulsion to do good to their neighbor. While, ideally, this view is true in the realm of personal ethics, it fails to take into account that the collective action of any society must be directed by those in authority.

Here is one of those delicate points that I mentioned above that I suspect is not aimed wholly at me. The first sentence is an accurate paraphrase of my question, but the remainder of the paragraph does not obviously relate to any point I have ever made. Since we are discussing alternate theories of government, of course "regenerate men … have … need of [someone] to rule over them." And, granted that fact, the obedience due to those rulers must, within reason, be similar to the duty to obey God (Rom 13:1-7). But this only refutes the annabaptist notion of "government" which is essentailly anarchic. Christians who advocate democracy do not deny the need for government, but it is a further question what form that government should take.

I would be inclined to dismiss this paragraph as not aimed wholly at me, especially since the second sentence begins, "To some it seems". But then Andrew claims that "This misunderstanding is reflected in Jack’s following statement: 'As Schmemann points out in the quote from yesterday, we are also "fallen kings" and to that extent often require worldly punishments and rewards to keep us in line. But both biblically and theologically, this need is an aspect of judgment, not an ideal state to which we aspire.'"

Now, I admit that this confusion is partly my fault for trying to compress too many ideas into a single (short) comment. Nevertheless, the idea which Andrew refutes is not the one I was asserting. When I mentioned an ideal state, I was not primarily thinking of a world without government, but of a world without punitive government. And as I mentioned here "I do happen to believe that the bible portrays monarchy as a punishment inflicted on a people who reject God's rule and are, therefore, incapable of ruling themselves." So, to flesh out my assertion a bit more: government would certainly exist in an ideal state, but it would not be punitive and so would not be monarchical. That latter is currently an unsupported assertion, but I will defer the argument until we have more fully considered Andrew's case.

Adam was constituted the monarchical head of the race and entrusted with his dominion-stewardship before Eve was created (Gen. 2:15-16,20). While man and woman jointly exercise dominion over creation (Gen. 1:27ff.), it was Adam who was invested with rule over his wife and posterity in order to direct the God-given work of humanity.

Now, this is truly problematic. There are a couple of good points here, but on the whole the exegesis is unwarranted. Let's take this point by point:

1) Was Adam constituted the "monarchical head of the race"? I don't see any evidence for it. It is true that Adam's sin is imputed to all of his descendents (Rom 5:12-14) and so he is a "type" of Christ, whose righteousness is likewise imputed. But this does not imply that Adam was a monarch in any sense. It is certainly not the case that he was called upon to make any decisions or settle any disputes after the Fall.

2) Was Adam's authority over the animals and over his wife indicative of his authority over other men? Again there is no evidence. It is true that Adam named the animals, thus showing his authority over them, but this was a power granted to all men, not just Adam. The fact that he exercised this power independently of his wife (to whom it is also granted in Gen 1:26) only shows that a husband has authority over his wife, which is not in dispute. In order to demonstrate that this authority was a pattern of monarchical rule, it must be shown that Adam exercised it exclusively when other men were present to whom it was not granted.

3) Does the fact that Adam is the father of all men somehow imply that he is therefore a king? This is a more subtle point and it underlies much of Andrew's later argument so it is worth going into some detail. There is certainly a precedent in the Biblical narrative for the patriarchal rule of an extended family (eg Abram in Gen 14), but it is not clear whether this rule is an extension of Adam's authority which he had by nature or simply a convenient arrangement made necessary because of the Fall and men's consequent inability to rule themselves. I would of course assert the latter. A full debate of this point probably requires a separate post, and I will be glad to go into it if Andrew thinks it necessary but in support of my position let me just make two observations before we move on.

a) Of all the people mentioned in the story in Gen 14, only Abram is not called a king, and he is the obvious protagonist. (Lot, of course, is not a king either but he is a dependent of Abram at only insofar as he requires Abram's assistance.) The one king to whom Abram pays homage is Melchizedek, who represents Christ (Heb 7), so this passage tends to reinforce my view of government rather than Andrew's.

b) The rule of a father over his adult son would seem to be contradicted by the very passage that Andrew cites. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." (Gen 2:23) It is true that the law bids all men "honor" their father and mother (Ex 20:12) but only children are commanded to obey (Eph 6:1).
So what remains of the notion that Adam's authority was monarchical before the Fall? Not much that I can see. Andrew continues:
Far from diminishing Adam’s authority, the fall only reinforces it (Gen. 3:16,20; I Tim. 2:14). The woman was deceived, not Adam. Furthermore, Adam retained his headship over humanity. Any political theory which employs the fall as an excuse to soften the right of human authority to command obedience has no foundation in Genesis. The Bible makes no such argument. Any critique relying on original sin or total depravity to discredit monarchical authority is an illegitimate application of Holy Scripture. Rather, St. Paul instructs us to “honor those to whom honor is due” (Rom. 13:7).

The verses he cites in the first sentence only expand upon principles that I have addressed above. I am not quite sure if his argument is aimed at me or one of his more dispensational opponents, so I will only note that he has not proved the basis of his claim so anything that follows from that basis is moot. As I have already noted, I do not deny the need of or biblical basis for human government, only that it must be monarchical. That will become clearer in the next passage:

The Body of Christ, the Church, is not an undifferentiated homogeneous mass…there is hierarchical authority in the Church…. Given the facts of Scripture and the practice of the historic Church, we must admit no contradiction between common inheritance and the principle of hierarchy.

Hierarchy is a very good word. It technically means "rule by the holy" and was originally applied to angels or, later, to the priesthood. It has come to mean any stratification, which is a pity, but we can recover some of its old sense if we suggest that it should ideally indicate a connection between faith or wisdom -- which comes from faith (Pro 1:7) -- and the right to govern.

But in what sense is this an argument for monarchy? Certainly there can be more than one person at the top of such a scheme so there is no logical connection.

Neither does "the practice of the historic Church" show that the Church was governed after a monarchical pattern until the 4th century -- when the pattern was copied from pagan Rome:
"Following the judgement of the holy Fathers in all things, and acknowledging the canon of the 150 most religious bishops [i.e. the Council of Constinople 381] which has just been read, we also determine and decree the same things with regard to the privileges of the most holy city of Constantinople, New Rome. For to the throne of Old Rome, the Fathers gave privileges with good reason, because it was the imperial city. And the 150 bishops, with the same consideration in view, gave equal privileges to the most holy throne of New Rome; judging with good reason that the city honoured by the monarchy and the senate, and enjoying equal privileges with the old imperial Rome, should likewise receive equal rank in matters ecclesiastical, holding the second place after her." Council of Chalcedon (AD 451. Parallel Jurisdiction Canons 9, 28. Mansi, vii. 361; Bright, Canons, xli, xlvii)

So, do "the facts of Scripture" support a monarchical view? Certainly there was a monarchy in the Old Testament Church, but does that imply that this state was prescriptive? Some of my argument against this idea I have already stated here, but now it seems appropriate to go into more detail.

I have already noted above that Abraham did not function as a king. Nor do Isaac and Jacob seem to. After Jacob, God's people are divided into twelve separate tribes which seem to function independently while still acknowledging some sense of unity. I cannot see any sign of a monarchical pattern here until the time of Moses.

I have already discussed part of why I do not believe Moses' rule shows a pattern of monarchy in my earlier post, but let me note the following points:

1) Jethro points out (Ex 18:14-21) that the task of governing the people alone is "too heavy" for one man and suggests a hierarchy of subordinates, which Moses later indicates were chosen by the people for their wisdom (Dt 1:9-15).

2) Moses is never called a king in scripture. In fact he contrasts his rule with the monarchical model when he says in Dt 17:14 "When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me'"....

Joshua's reign is also not described as a kingship and his reign (as well as that of Moses) is explicitly contrasted with the kings of the nations the Israelites are fighting (Jos 12). Further, he does not inherit his authority from Moses by right of birth, as in most monarchies, but is appointed as his successor by God because of his faithfulness. There is a sense in which both of these men had a monarchical aspect to their reign, but Scripture is pretty clear in contrasting the Israelites, whose King is God, with the heathen who have human kings. There is only a single passage (Dt 17) in the Pentateuch or the book of Joshua that uses the word king in any other sense. This is not dispositive, but I think it is worth noting when talking about the Biblical view of monarchy.

The Judges do not function as kings. In the case of Deborah, Barak and Shamgar, their reigns seem to overlap (Jdg 5:6) and there are possible gaps between the judges. One of them (Gideon) explicitely refuse the offer to rule over the Israelites:
Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, "Rule over us, both you and your son, and your grandson also; for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian." But Gideon said to them, "I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you." (Jdg 8:22-23)

Further, when his son Abimelech attempts to make himself king, he is denounced in one of the most eloquent parables of scripture (Jdg 9:8-20). It is true that the end of the book of Judges seems to lament the absence of a human king "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Jdg 17:6; 21:25), but this is equally consistent with the notion that they had rejected God as their king. The extent to which there is any monarchical aspect to the judges seems to be consistent with my assertion that monarchy is generally imposed upon the Israelites as a judgment upon them for their inability to govern themselves under God's authority.

The confirmation of that principle comes during the time of Samuel, last of the judges (who may nevertheless have been contemporary with Samson). In 1 Sam 8:7, God says explicitely that, in asking for a king "they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them."

Andrew has expressed to me his view (though I don't know if he has said it in print) that this indicates simply that the time is not yet right for a monarchy and the sin condemned here is more a lack of patience or of faith. He bases this on the Dt 17 passage which seems to prophesy the future establishment of a monarchy in Israel. This is a possible interpretation, but it is not explicitly stated in the text and I don't think it could be derived from the passages in question without a predisposition to find support for monarchy. So, as I understand his case (and I may not have argued it as fully as he would wish), it is at best unproven.

However, Deuteronomy also prophesies the future apostasy of Israel, and specifies what remedy the Israelites have available:
Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God drives you, 2 and you return to the LORD your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, 3 that the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you.

Note that both passages do not say "if" but "when". If we look to the Dt 17 passage for confirmation that the monarchy is approved by God, does not this also imply that the apostasy is equally approved? Of course not, but there is no obvious difference between the structure of the two passages.

Finally, I think we can find more uncertainty in this notion when we examine the words of the prophet Hosea. He implies in three separate places that the monarchical impulse of the Israelites was not merely untimely but wrong in itself:

1. "They set up kings, but not by Me; They made princes, but I did not acknowledge them. From their silver and gold they made idols for themselves — that they might be cut off." (Hos 8:4) Note the connection of kingship with idolatry.

2. "For now they say, 'We have no king, Because we did not fear the LORD. And as for a king, what would he do for us?' (Hos 10:3) Is it a coincidence that this passage is strongly parallel to the passages in Judges?

3. "O Israel, you are destroyed,
But your help is from Me.
I will be your King;
Where is any other,
That he may save you in all your cities?
And your judges to whom you said,

'Give me a king and princes'?
I gave you a king in My anger,
And took him away in My wrath." (Hos 13:9-11)

This strongly implies both that God's ideal is for his people to have only Himself as King, as well as providing further support to the thesis that the period of the monarchy was an act of judgment and not an ideal prematurely sought.

So the "facts of Scripture" do not obviously support a preference for monarchy in the Old Testament. After the fall of the monarchy in 2 Kings, the people of God were ruled by foreigners through the remainder of the Old Testament period and all of the New Testament. There is no evidence that the Church hierarchy was ever monarchical in the New Testament period, despite what our brother in the Roman Catholic tradition would like to imply.

So what, if any, governmental system is endorsed by Scripture? Based on the examples I have cited above and in previous posts, I would suggest that they strongly imply, using modern political terminology, a constitutional aristocracy arising from the consent of the people and having a strong executive. At its best this is consistent with a representative republic such as envisioned by the founders of the United States, which has the additional desirable feature of democratic oversight. I am perfectly open to the criticism that the US does not fully realize either its own founding vision, much less the biblical model. But that is hardly to be expected in an era in which sin has not yet been fully conquered.

Andrew closes with a plaintive query:
The collective good of humanity is the eschatological Kingdom of God. This Kingdom is already present, exercising authority in the world. This Kingdom has in the past and may well in the future transform families and nations on a large scale. The restoration of Christian kingship would therefore seem be a most significant step toward bringing the nations under the obedience of Christ. I am mystified why so few men of faith cherish this ideal in their hearts.

I would respond that his vision of Christian kingship, though having much romantic appeal, is one or two steps short of perfection. Since it is sometimes necessary to go back before we can go forward, it may well that monarchy would be a "significant step" on the right path. But I look forward to a yet further step when:
"I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." (Jer 31:33f-34)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Liebau on Obama

Carol Platt Liebau has an article at Townhall discussing Barack Obama that is both very classy and very perceptive (clean and articulate, in other words). While not downlplaying his leftism, she gives a fair and refreshingly upbeat appraisal. This passage, in particular, stood out:

He listens. Certainly, Barack is a liberal’s liberal, and his leadership of The Harvard Law Review in many ways reflected that fact. But unlike many of his left-wing compatriots, he treated his ideological adversaries with respect on a personal level. Indeed, he always offered the small conservative contingent on the Review a hearing, even though his decision-making consistently showed that he hadn’t ultimately been influenced by their arguments.
This quality is actually typical of Carol, as well, which is what makes her one of the few conservative pundits consistently worth listening to. I have often suspected that most of the negativity in the political world stems from fear and lack of confidence in one's own position. I expect this from the left (since they are, after all, wrong) but I find it grievous that it exists on the right in such profusion. So nice to see someone confident enough in her own principles that she can fearlessly praise her political opponents.

Monday, March 05, 2007


You Are An INTJ

The Scientist

You have a head for ideas - and you are good at improving systems.
Logical and strategic, you prefer for everything in your life to be organized.
You tend to be a bit skeptical. You're both critical of yourself and of others.
Independent and stubborn, you tend to only befriend those who are a lot like you.

You would make an excellent scientist, engineer, or programmer.

I already pretty much knew this, having taken Myers-Briggs many years ago. I actually object to many of the questions, especially the ones that distinguish the Structure categories (J vs P) since I think they represent false dichotomies. (See, that was a P statement, even though I test as J.) But I have to admit that as broad generalizations they can be useful in understanding how people think. And they pretty much have me pegged, despite the J/P ambiguity.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Strenuous Casuistry

Mickey Kaus roasts Matt Yglesias' canard about firing incompetent teachers over a slow fire. (Mmm, Canard Roti, and on a Friday in Lent no less.)

Matthew Yglesias displays the strenuous casuistry loyal Democrats will employ to avoid the need for any confrontation with teachers' unions on the question Steve Jobs recently raised--firing lousy teachers. According to Yglesias the issue isn't firing bad teacher but attracting good ones:

... the reason politicians rarely push for it is that the actual payoff is very, very low. The issue is that there isn't this vast pool of highly effective potential hires out there. The schools with serious teacher-quality problems tend to have them because the better teachers, by and large, don't want to work there and schools have problems filling all the slots with minimally qualified people. The real action (also disliked by teacher unions, if pissing off unions is your goal) is in the certification process, who counts as a qualified teacher, and what counts as an effective teacher (here's where the accountability comes in). If in the future that created a situation where there were tons of people looking to break into the teaching field then it might make sense to expend political capital on making it easier to fire people.


a) It's easier to hire good teachers if you can fire bad ones. Competent people want to work for competent organizations. Which offer would you be more likely to take: "Come work for our school district. We weed out the deadwood and we're doing a great job preparing our kids," Or "Come work for our district and spend your life beating your head against a bureaucratic wall." Yes, teachers should be paid more--but it's weird that an idealistic liberal would think good candidates are only motivated by money. (And if you could fire bad and mediocre teachers then school districts wouldn't have to spend a big chunk of any pay raise boosting the salaries of ... bad and mediocre teachers).

b) You obviously want to do both-- weed out bad old teachers and expand the pool of potential good new teachers by allowing certification of people who haven't met the mindless credential requirements fiercely defended by the unions.** Yglesias conveniently pretends you can only do the former after the latter--"if" in the "future," after a couple of more generations have sloughed through mediocre or criminally lousy schools, we've managed to amass a huge pool of "tons" of people trying to break into teaching, then it "might" make sense to take on the union protection of incompetents. "Might." That's good of him!

c) Of course, if Yglesias shies from a confrontation now--by kicking the can off to some distant "future," and then only maybe--he'll shy from the confrontation ten years from now. Paul Glastris, in a recent bloggingheads debate on Yglesias' post, unexpectedly blurted out the real reason Dems like him don't want to confront the unions, no matter how sound and obvious the policy reasons for doing so.

**--as a means of protecting their members from uncredentialed hires who would do a better job!

Kaus doesn't address the issue of indoctrination into leftist ideology which is an essential part of the poor thinking skills of students, but his point is valid. It would be better to avoid public control of education in the same way we avoid public control of news media and other forms of thought formation. But if you are going to have government run schools it is essential to have competition or else the schools become a tool of special interests.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Are Gay People Sinners?

Pastorius has a typically thoughtful post on recent comments by someone named Tim Hardaway. Not being a sports geek, I really don't know who that is but his comments are pretty ugly:

I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States.
Read Pastorius' post for further details (including discussion of a rather interesting possible change of heart on the issue by Louis Farrakhan).

Pastorius and I have been friends for many years, and one of the things I like about him is that we can argue, often heatedly, and never get pissed off at each other. (Well, some times we do get pissed off, because we have that testosterone thing going. But we never hate each other, which is what I'm trying to say.) Here is my reaction to something Pastorius says about a quarter of the way down:
They are gay. And, they go to church. My church is not pro-gay. But, these men go anyway, because they believe that Christ was the Messiah, and that he died for their sins, and they are thankful for that fact.

And, so they go to church and contribute to our worship services, and their contributions are beautiful and appreciated.

Just as a thought experiment, substitute the word "sinners" for "gay" and see what you get:
They are sinners. And, they go to church. My church is not pro-sinners. But, these men go anyway, because they believe that Christ was the Messiah, and that he died for their sins, and they are thankful for that fact.

And, so they go to church and contribute to our worship services, and their contributions are beautiful and appreciated.

Still agree with that? Me too. And it applies to you and me both (except that my contributions are probably a lot less beautiful than yours, but whatever...)

But here is where I have a problem: when people say "my temptations are not really sins, or at least are not as sinful as yours." This is pharisaism, pure and simple, and Jesus had a much bigger beef with such people than he did with garden variety sinners who confessed their faults.

From Hardaway's quote, he seems to fall into that camp and a lot of people on the anti-gay-marriage band wagon do also. More's the pity. But my point is that gay Christians often do as well, and seem especially sensitive to have the term sinner applied to that particular part of their lives. Maybe the folks in your church don't think that way, which would be a great blessing, but there are enough out there who do that being clear on the issue is important.

I think gay people deserve to go to hell because I think I deserve to go to hell, as do all human beings, and I can't quite believe that gay people are not human. Christ's atonement is big enough for all of us, but the price of admission is confessing the sin.

NOTE: I left this comment on CUANAS but I have changed the last paragraph here for emphasis.

Tammy Bruce on the O'Reilly Factor

Tammy Bruce went on the O'Reilly Factor to talk about Bill Maher's vitriol against President Bush. (The video is at HotAir.)

For Maher and Hollywood and Leftist elites like him, President Bush represents a father figure who they resent and feel unable to please. They project their own hatred for their father or parents on who the Left traditionally sees as parents--the government. And unless they see themselves in the president (as they did Bill Clinton), their malevolence overwhelms any shred of decency or reason in the process. They resent him because he represents values they cannot match, and they're jealous of him because the American people embrace him and have given him power.

I agree with the substance of Tammy's point, but I want to amplify the bit about "father-figures". Here is the comment I left on her blog:

I don't think it is their father that most MalNars have a problem with but, rather, their Father. My evidence is admittedly circumstantial and anecdotal, but in my many conversations with such people, I find that if you let them talk they will pretty quickly turn the conversation to religion, long before the most zealous evangelist could have hoped to do so. Their objections seem to be:

1) They wish God didn't exist,
2) They are angry at God for not existing,
3) They are angry at God for not solving their personal problems, and
4) They wish God would just leave them alone.

Rational? No. But these points all come up often enough that the pattern is pretty predictable.

They often do have issues with their parents as well, but I find that they never have really good explanations for why. No specificity is what I mean. Just general "MyparentsdidnotunderstandmeandwerealwaystryingtoteachmeaboutGod" mumbo-jumbo.

I recognize that some people have legitimate and sincere questions about God and that not all atheists or agnostics fall into the MalNar mind-set. But it almost always does work the other way around.

NOTE: After reading Tammy's post and submitting that comment, I actually watched the video, and both she and O'Reilly bring up the religion angle.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dhimmi Sawyer?

Pastorius catches this important point about Diane Sawyer's recent interview with Ahmadinejad:

Diane Sawyer wears an Islamic headress to interview Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It is so important to her to get the interview, and promote her career, that she is willing to submit herself to Sharia.
Go here for the transcript.

In a world where muslims threaten violence if Westerners do not submit to their standards of behavior, Sawyer's capitulation does indeed send a dangerous signal and she ought to be ashamed. When "showing respect" can easily be interpreted as appeasement, there should be no question that an honest person should refuse.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Giuliani and Gun Control

Since the presidency will not have nearly as much power over the abortion issue as it will over gun control, this article about Giuliani's views is almost more disturbing to me than the one I discussed last week:

Rudy Giuliani addressed a potentially troublesome issue with conservative voters, saying his policies as mayor to get handguns off the street helped reduce crime in New York.

"I used gun control as mayor," he said at a news conference Saturday during a swing through California. But "I understand the Second Amendment. I understand the right to bear arms."

He said what he did as mayor would have no effect on hunting.

Look, "understanding" the Second Amendment isn't the same as defending it, and "using gun control" suggests that he doesn't really understand it all that well. There isn't really enough to this article to dissect, but if he really does think that gun control helped reduce crime in New York, he hasn't taken much time to review the statistics. Being tough on crime was probably the biggest change Giuliani made to the policies of New York, and he deserves full credit. But his approach will not translate well to the national scene (which doesn't have a police force, among other differences) and if he thinks that gun control was had a positive effect in New York, he is a very dangerous candidate indeed.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Schlussel vs Hannity

La Shawn Barber calls attention to this claim by Debbie Schlussel that Sean Hannity is using her work without attribution:

Readers of my work and of this site know that I risked my life to go undercover to Hezbollah events and rallies in Dearbornistan to bring you exclusive info on Al-Husainy, the man who delivered the invocation on Friday at the Democratic National Committee Winter Meeting. And that I've been writing about Al-Husainy since the beginning of year and before (in the Wall Street Journal).


The first night, Tuesday Night, I contacted Sean on his cellphone. He was, as usual, "too busy" and couldn't be bothered to do the right thing. He admitted he knew he used my work uncredited, and I managed to get him to promise to have me on to discuss my original work, he said, "if we talk about this again on the show." I also suggested having Al-Husainy, himself, on along with myself, since I'm only the single commentator who actually knows something--actually, a lot--about him. Sean promised that if they had the imam on, he and John Finley would have me on, too.

But, as is usual for Sean these days, he did not keep his word. Last night, not only did they rip my work off again, but they questioned it (without mentioning my name or allowing me to be on to defend it). Suddenly, Hannity was saying Al-Husainy "reportedly" was at pro-Hezbollah rallies, and Colmes claimed, "We've been unable to confirm that," and questioned my New York Post column's accuracy.

Well, that's interesting to me--they never attempted to "confirm" this in the least. Since I'm the source of the info--I WAS THERE AT THOSE RALLIES and wrote about it in the New York Post column they ripped off--why didn't they contact me? [...]

There is much more, but this is the substance of the claim. Since I don't watch TV, I didn't see the show (and probably wouldn't have been watching it anyway) and I can't see a link to a transcript on Hannity's site, I can't tell if these charges are accurate. La Shawn specifically says in her comments that she hasn't tried to contact Hannity for confirmation and strongly implies that she isn't inclined to do so. But this seems like a serious enough charge that a little more research is worthwhile.

A quick Google News search on "Al-Husainy" yeilds several stories, most of which credit Schlussel. Just counting the first page of 10 results, I found the following breakdown:
4 by Cal Thomas who cites Schlussel.
2 by Paul Barrett who supports Al-Husainy and is therefore irrelevant to our topic.
2 by David Limbaugh who cites Schlussel (but links to a story that does not).
1 by Robert Spencer who does.
1 by News Hounds blogger Ellen who attacks Hannity but doesn't mention Schlussel.

So, out of 10 or 11 stories that popped up on a 0.14 second search, only one comes from a relevant source that doesn't cite Schlussel. It seems that we can conclude two things: 1) Major conservative commentators (Cal Thomas, Robert Spencer and David Limbaugh, to say nothing of La Shawn herself) recognize Debbbie Schlussel as a prime source on this subject and 2) Hannity's failure to acknowledge this is at least a breach of courtesy. It may be that he is getting his info from sources that are not themselves properly attributed, but that is no excuse for someone with Sean Hannity's resources. If I can find this out in a few minutes, he certainly can.

I have tried contacting Hannity, but so far have (unsurprisingly) not received a reply. Others with more clout should take up the question. It must be admitted that Debbie Schlussel's posts on this subject are shrill and abrasive, which may be counter productive in generating sympathy for her complaint. But there is a principle of conservative integrity here that I think it is in all of our interests to defend.

UPDATE: Evidently my idea of posting comments on this issue in the forum has been blocked by the moderators:
And Reader Paul tells me that the chat portion of his site,, has been erasing threads where plenty of my readers (a/k/a Sean Vanity's former, now-disenchanted fans) are posting about how Sean ripped me off. All of those readers are getting banned for the reason of "Contempt of Host."
She only cites one instance, so I can't tell if this is indeed a pattern, but here is the email:
"I just signed up for this forum and noticed no postings about Debbie Schlussel and her complaints against Sean? Curious if they're being removed or I'm simply missing them? It'd be interesting to hear Sean's comments regarding the issue."

ONE PERSON REPLIED AND THEY SAID SOMETHING ALONG THE LINES OF: No one other then Debbies family and friends pay any attention to her.

I THEN REPLIED BACK: Evidentally Sean does and he's not a family member. Rush gives her credit for her work. I'll save you further embarassment by not mentioning others. Let's stick to the Sean issue. Your reply was cute but flawed.

All within a half hour I checked back again and I couldn't access the site. Check out the message I got:

You have been banned for the following reason:
contempt of host
Date the ban will be lifted: Never
[Unnecessary line breaks removed.]

I still haven't been able to get my account validated on so I can't do any primary research, but this doesn't look good. I am having a hard time understanding Hannity's motivation in all of this. How much would it cost him to give a simple acknowledgment of his sources? Even if, per my speculation above, he didn't originally get the information directly from Schlussel, it only makes sense to give her credit after the fact, especially compared to the cost in credibility and good will for failing to do so. Pride goeth before a fall...

UPDATE: Michael Reagan gives proper credit on the Hannity show. Well, this is better than nothing, but I am still disappointed.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Global Warming Fears Cause Local Freezing

From the WSJ:

Some school districts are blaming a recent federal mandate to switch to a less-polluting diesel fuel for a spate of school-bus breakdowns that left thousands of kids stranded and shivering in the extreme cold this week.

On Monday, when temperatures dipped below zero in East Allen County, Ind., 36 of the county's 155 school buses started up fine but soon conked out because the new fuel, thickening in the cold, clogged fuel filters. That same day, 30 miles outside of Pittsburgh, Hempfield area schools had the same problem with 26 of their 80 buses.

The malfunction is evidently caused by ultra-low-sulphur fuel, which has 15 parts per million sulphur compared to the normal 500 ppm. Below the fold (which requires subscription) the article admits that there are additives to the fuel which can prevent these sorts of problems, but those additives add $0.37/gallon to an already subsidized cost of $1.93/gallon (nearly a 20% increase). In other words, as usual, the attempt to solve existing problems entails other problems with unforseen costs.

But the real story here is that we have traded real suffering in the present to achieve a slight future impact on an ephemeral and unproven global "crisis". Any one of those kids could have gotten seriously ill or, God forbid, died due to standing out in sub-zero weather. The astute reader will note that this is the same sort of tradeoff we saw with the DDT ban. I still say it is not worth it.

(This post would not be complete without a totally gratuitous mention of the fact that school buses would not be nearly as vulnerable to bad government policy if the schools were privatized.)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Giuliani and Abortion

Ann Althouse discusses Sean Hannity's interview with Rudy Giuliani and the latter's aparent attempt to apeal to social conservatives. His points are fairly unremarkable and pretty much what we have heard from centrists for the past few decades. Easy to ignore, actually. But pay a little attention to what he says about whether Roe v. Wade was a good decision:

Where I stand on abortion is: I oppose it. I don't like it. I hate it. I think abortion is something that, as a personal matter, I would advise somebody against. However, I believe in a woman's right to choose. I think you have to ultimately not put a woman in jail for that, and I think, ultimately, you have to leave that to a disagreement of conscience, and you have to respect the choice that somebody makes.

Note, first of all, that he did not answer the question. But the disturbing thing about Giuliani's statement is not what it reveals about his policy preference -- which we knew and could be persuaded to accomodate for reasons of expediency -- but what it shows about his view of conservatives. The mere suggestion that conservatives would like to see women thrown into jail for seeking an abortion is insulting and shows a disturbing lack of engagement with conservative principles.

If Giuliani had been trying to appeal to liberal voters and had said, "Of course, I believe in a woman's right to choose, but I think women ought to be prevented from actually eating their babies," wouldn't that make you want to scream? But that is only slightly more exagerated than what he implies about the conservative position.

This is precisely the problem that Bush had with the Miers nomination. He wants to appeal to conservatives but he does not have a clear idea about what conservatives find appealing or, more importantly, why.

Note, also, that this proves that Sean Hannity is not a conservative ideologue but merely a republican tool. If he were the former, he would not have let Giuliani's slur go unrebuked. At least he could have made some comment to counteract the proliferation of this facile caricature. If you watch his show regularly, it quickly becomes aparent that he is only good at rebutting the Cynthia McKinney faction of the crazy-left. If he is confronted with a liberal (or centrist) that has a modicum of sense, he retreats to his list of talking points and waits for the commercial break. Maybe that is all we can expect of media pundits, but I confess that I have long since lost my patience with the lot of them.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Burma's Plan to Eradicate Christianity

I have mentioned before the fact that Burma is one of the worst persecutors of Christians (and how little attention the MSM pays to this fact). Previously this persecution has been harrassing but unofficial, but now even that line has been crossed:

The military junta of Burma has created a strategy to eradicate Christianity from the country. Entitled “Programme to Destroy the Christian Religion in Burma,” the leaked government memo, possibly drafted by a state-supported Buddhist group, delineates measures to be enacted to decrease and terminate the Christian faith within Burma.

In this latest outrageous abuse of fundamental rights, the document explicitly sights [sic - cites?] Christianity’s peaceful message as a source of exploitation, stating, “The Christian religion is very gentle – identify and utilize its weakness.” Evangelization is to be punished with imprisonment, with the end goal being that, “There shall be no home where the Christian religion is practiced.”

A roughly five percent minority, Christians have long faced religious persecution, which has often been endorsed, if not directed, by the military regime. Churches have been burned down, and Christian children have been banned from attending schools. The government has allegedly supported Buddhist monks in setting houses of worship aflame and forcibly converting citizens in predominantly Christian regions. Some 27,000 Karen, a largely Christian tribe in eastern Burma, have been forced from their homes in the past year.

The Burmese government has an extensive track record of human rights violations. The junta disregarded democratic elections of 1990 and arrested the winning party’s leader, Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi of the opposition party National League for Democracy. Kyi currently remains under house arrest, despite international advocacy on her behalf.

Joseph K. Grieboski, President of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy, expressed his indignation over the military junta’s intentions, stating, “This is proof once more that Burma is one of the world’s worst suppressors of fundamental rights. The junta’s blatant disregard for the beliefs of its people demonstrates its complete disregard for anything but its own power. We call on the international community to continue its pressure on the junta to release Aung San Suu Kyi and to begin a process of liberalization.”

World wide, Islam is the worst offender in persecuting Christians, but it is wise to remember that Buddhists and Hindus also get in on the act.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Biden Says ...

...what everyone was already thinking:

Mr. Biden is equally skeptical—albeit in a slightly more backhanded way—about Mr. Obama. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," he said. "I mean, that’s a storybook, man."

So naturally he gets in trouble.

Look, I have no love for Joe Biden and I hope his career really is over. But this comment seems pretty innocuous to me. The first word that comes to mind when I look at Barack Obama is "clean". (Clean-cut would probably be better, but no one says that anymore. Sounds too naive, too dorky.) And Obama's campaign has tried to project that image... clean as in wholesome, honest, not corrupted by the system. Does anyone honestly think that Biden meant to imply that all other black people are dirty? Or even all other black candidates? Only in Washington DC.

Any stick will do to beat a dog, and Joe Biden can use a good beating. But, really, is this the sort of discourse that we want in our political culture? Seems it wasn't too long ago that conservatives were complaining about the loss of decorum in politics. This is not the sort of thing that will restore it, if it was ever there.

Update: Obama responds graciously and comes off looking ... clean:
Asked about Mr. Biden's comments, Mr. Obama said in an interview, "I didn't take it personally and I don't think he intended to offend." Mr. Obama, who serves with Mr. Biden on the Foreign Relations Committee, added, "But the way he constructed the statement was probably a little unfortunate."

But later in the day, with Mr. Biden coming under fire from some black leaders, Mr. Obama issued a statement that approached a condemnation. "I didn't take Senator Biden's comments personally, but obviously they were historically inaccurate," he said. "African-American presidential candidates like Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would call them inarticulate."

Good job! Focus on the issue of articulateness and just pretend the C-word never happened. This, people, is how you present an image of honesty and integrity.

By contrast look at Sharpton's comment:
Mr. Sharpton said that when Mr. Biden called him to apologize, Mr. Sharpton started off the conversation reassuring Mr. Biden about his hygienic practices. "I told him I take a bath every day," Mr. Sharpton said.

Probably more likely to get repeated than Obama's response, but ultimately lowering the discourse. I don't care how many baths Sharpton takes, he's still dirty and this sort of comment just proves it.

Update: Biden attempts to explain what he really meant and digs himself even deeper:
"The word that got me in trouble is using the word 'clean.' I should have said 'fresh.' What I meant is: he's got new ideas."

Sorry, Joe, but no one is going to buy this. If you had followed my advice and stuck with clean-cut, you'd have been better off. Everyone understood what you meant the first time, but now you not only look like a bigger idiot and a dishonest one at that.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Last Sunday in Epiphany

File under neat stuff I didn't know:

This Sunday is the final Sunday in the Epiphany Season. [...]

It has been the custom of the Church for many, many years to sing hymn 54 "Alleluia! Song of Gladness" as the Recessional on the Last Sunday after the Epiphany. (The hymn dates from the 11th century.) This will be the last time the word "Alleluia" is said or sung in the Church until Easter Day. In Medieval times, it was the custom to write the word "Alleluia" on a piece of vellum or papyrus, put it in a small coffin and bury it in the church yard, where it stayed until the coffin was dug up and opened on Easter morning.

(Via email from Rev. Robert Bowman, Interim Rector at St. Luke's)