Drop Your Drawers, America

Posting has been a bit light, but it's Christmas and my work gets a bit more intense this time of year. I'm not going to say much even now - just a couple of things.

First, so far it seems I've been wrong about the association of crime with economic difficulties. Personally, I hope I continue to be wrong about that. On the other hand, if I am wrong, so are all those others who have justified anti-poverty programs as "attacking the root cause" of crime. I don't think it is a root cause, by the way, I just expect a correlation between a decrease in legal means of obtaining a living and an increase in people using illegal means to do so. We shall see.

Second, I don't care if the President comments or speaks to us shortly after every terrorist attack or not. The President's face time in front of a camera is not an indicator of how attentive he is to the problem or of his intelligence and determination in pursuit of solutions.

That said, we note that leading members of his administration are on the record as saying the system worked when it obviously did not on Christmas Day 2009. An attentive passenger worked, but the system screwed up big time. Then, when the president did speak, he referred to this guy as an "alleged" terrorist and an "isolated" event. This is not an isolated event - the guy himself has said others were waiting to try something. In other words, he's part of an organized effort containing many people. And there is no doubt this guy did, in fact, try to blow up an airplane. He is not an "alleged" terrorist so much as a failed one.

These kinds of things do suggest that the President and his entire administration are incredibly naive and spectacularly foolish when it comes to understanding our enemy. The president's response to Iranian unrest, his statements on the war in Iraq, his attempts to engage the Muslim nations through speeches like that in Cairo last year - all of these tend to buttress that perception. At a time when we need the resolve, the steel, the combativeness of somebody like Spruance or Eisenhower, we have instead Joseph Hooker, whose headquarters seem to be where his hindquarters ought to be.

God grant that I'm wrong about that, too, because if I'm not, some time in the next couple months we're going to read about a plane blowing up on approach to New York or Miami or something like that.

In the meantime, I fully expect TSA will issue a directive requiring all passengers to remove their pants along with their shoes. Periodically the announcer will come on and, right after we are told to report unattended baggage, we will be asked to carefully examine the butts of other passengers to see if we notice any unsightly bulges or misshapen thighs. Sure, it may be cellulite, but it could be explosives. Make sure you report it. Drop your drawers, America - our President already has.


Krauthammer's Fatal Concession

Charles Krauthammer is considered a leading conservative and, in many ways, he is. Nevertheless, he makes a glaring - and fatal - concession on the FoxNews All Stars - at least according to a transcript published by National Review Online's blog The Corner. He said, in regards to the feds "encouraging" banks to lend more that:
The government — the feds and the state governments are into social work, and they ought to do it, help out those who are ailing.
While it is true the government is into social work, the question of whether or not they ought to do it is in fact the question between leftists of one stripe or another and conservatives. I would contend that the government ought not do it. This is not because I believe those who are ailing ought not be helped. This is the great victory the political left has achieved in terms of the debate, and I noticed it in my own father's arguments for liberals. They have managed to frame the argument in terms of either government helping the ailing or the ailing getting no help. But these are not the only two possibilities.

Personally, I think families should take care of their own, and that when the family does not or cannot, the closest thing to family should - church, community helping organizations, neighbors, and so on. One might argue that they often don't. This, however, is not an argument for government intervention.

Governmental help in alleviating social ills has not been particularly helpful. Nearly 80 years of government social help has resulted in a bankrupt old-age pension system (Social Security), a bankrupt medical assistance program (Medicare/Medicaid), massive damage to families - particularly Black and poor families, inordinate rates of single-parenthood, crime, systemic unemployment, and devastated cities. Meanwhile, the list of things people believe should be provided for them without any investment or cost to themselves keeps getting longer and longer and longer. Personal responsibility fades and folly is encouraged. This has been the result of the New Deal and its successors under Truman, Johnson, Bush and now Obama. In addition, government efforts to "help" have eroded freedom and curtailed the opportunities available to those who could and, if allowed, would care for their own. Now, in the current effort to socialize medicine in this country, freedom and liberty are likely to take their most serious wounds since the country was founded.

We ought not concede the left's claim that government ought to be involved in social work. In a free society, a free people should do their own social work and let government stick to its own, far more limited sphere of proper authority.

Obama's Nobel Speech - Bad Theology

Others have already commented on Obama's Nobel speech. I won't go over it much. I agree that much of it was OK, which comes off as pretty good considering how rarely an Obama speech even rises to the level of OK. The rest was the same tired platitudes about how the Iraq war is bad and the Afghan war is good, which makes little sense since they are, in fact, part of the same war. It's like saying Overlord was the good war but Torch was the bad one (or vice versa) when they were both part of the European Theater of Operations in the same World War. I will say, however, that this is the first speech of his presidency where he actually sounds like a president instead of like a pedantic high school speech class student.

Anyway, this statement struck me:

War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease.
I thought Barack Hussein Obama was a Christian - a member for 20 years or so of Jeremiah Wright's congregation in Chicago. Back in Genesis, we don't have war for several generations, mainly because there aren't enough people to organize either their society or their violence. [Yes, I know there's the bit about Cain going off to build cities (for whom?).] There's violence, of course, but not war.

Even evolutionists would have a hard time saying war appeared with the first man. There being only one "first" man, it would be hard for him to wage war against others, much less organize a group for the purpose. Or did evolution happen en masse - suddenly 683 apes gave birth to humans (Neanderthal? Cro Magnon? New Yorker? - I get these early human species mixed up) in the same general area. Immediately, they split into 3 factions and began shifting alliances, organizing communities, and war.

At least, those who survived the first bout with global warming (drought) and private health care (disease) organized their communities and went to war.

Be that as it may, at least in the Torah, the morality of war and violence is questioned. Cain's murder of his brother is not left unpunished, and there are incidents of violence that are challenged throughout Genesis. War might be a fact, but it is not necessarily moral, even in the beginning of the Bible Obama says he believes. War is brought about by sin. Sometimes it is caused by sin that will not be contained except by violence (as in the case of Jihadists and other fascists). Sometimes it is caused by societies intent on pursuing sin (as in our own Mexican War of 1846 and following). But there is always and everywhere, throughout the Bible, a connection between war, and other violence, and sin. It is never accepted as if it were simply a natural disaster or tragedy in any society, because it is always and everywhere a human activity - a product of the human will distorted.

In addition to bad politics, Obama apparently is beset by bad history, bad philosophy, and bad theology. On the plus side, I'm sure he loves his children.


A Definite "No" on Health Care. Maybe.

Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill has said she will absolutely vote against any health care bill that will increase out-of-pocket costs for people (presumably "regular" people and not "rich" people - she is a Democrat) and drives up the national debt.

Since these are the only kinds of health care bills being proposed by Democrats in either the House or the Senate, one can only assume she is a guaranteed "no" vote.

But then, she is a Democrat.

She also says she doesn't think such a bill will pass because "President Obama would also reject such a bill."

Really? What in the $1,400 billion of deficit spending, the $12,000 billions of proposed borrowing over the next 5 years, the slush funds and profligacy of these piglets at the trough - what in any of this would make any sane person believe President Barack Hussein Obama would reject such a bill?

Oh. That's right. She is a Democrat.

Another "Why is this news?" Moment

Browsing through FoxNews' web site, I came across this: "Damon Names Top Leader". Naturally, I wondered what it is about. Matt Damon, an actor of some middlin' skill, plays the captain of a rugby team in a movie about Nelson Mandela produced by Clint Eastwood. So far, all well and good. He also says that "No world leader has ever surpassed the accomplishments of former South African President Nelson Mandela."

That opinion may be subject to some dispute - Winston Churchill, Queen Victoria, Mahatma Gandhi, a few Roman emperors, Martin Luther King, Jr., George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Napoleon, Mohamed, a few Chinese emperors, Alexander the Great, Nebuchadnezzar, Jesus, Moses, Cyrus the Mede, Darius the Persian, and a few others might all challenge Mandela for that claim. It rather depends on which accomplishments one considers most important or valuable. Nevertheless, it is an entirely pedestrian statement in the post-apartheid euphoria of many who were concerned about South Africa. I'm sure that, in Matt Damon's circles, it is also a very commonly held opinion, lacking as it does any truly global or historical perspective.

Why is this news?

On what basis, however, should I particularly care what Matt Damon thinks on the matter? What are his qualifications to pass such a sweeping historical judgment? He played a supporting role in a movie about Mandela. That's it. It's akin to an actor who plays a doctor on television recommending surgery or prescribing medicines.

I've mentioned before Neil Postman's book Amusing Ourselves to Death. This is one more nail in the coffin.


An Open Letter to Black Americans

Harry Reid continues in his position that those opposed to the government usurpation of health care, and with it the liberty of Americans, is a racist. Having thought about it, I offer the following as an open letter to Black Americans.

My dear fellow citizens,

Let us start with a question. Fifty years of voting 90-97% Democrat has gotten the Black American community exactly....what? The Black family has all but disintegrated. Black unemployment is near double that of Whites. The majority of those in our prisons (and those who commit crimes) are Black. The majority of crime victims are also Black. The cities where you live are, in many places, ruins - and not just because of Katrina. It isn't a hurricane that destroyed Detroit. What has voting all but uniformly for Democrats since the mid-1960s obtained for Black Americans?

I'm of Dutch descent. Some of my ancestors were involved in trading companies out of Amsterdam that trafficked in slaves. Very few, if any of them, ventured into the African interior to obtain those slaves, however. They could not risk the threat of disease or death to do so. For the most part, it was Africans, some of them the tribal leaders of the very people they were bringing to the coast, who sold your ancestors to mine for a few petty trinkets and a very, very temporary power. By the grace of God and the might of the Royal Navy, that slave trade was eventually ended and my ancestors came to see the error of their ways. I thank God that Dutch involvement in that horrid history was brief and minimal.

I see, however, the same pattern being played out today in American politics. "Chieftans", like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and the Congressional Black Caucus have sold Black Americans into poverty and servitude to the likes of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. It is not Clarence Thomas, but Barack Obama who is the "house slave", owned and managed by White Democrats. For a few trinkets and trappings of wealth, for a very temporary and fleeting power, these Black leaders have betrayed their people. Is that harsh? Yes. Is it true? Also, yes. And if you doubt me, ask yourself, how is the situation for a poor Black teenager in New Orleans better today than it was when Jim Crow lived? It isn't. His slavery hasn't changed, only his master has.

I'm not saying you should vote for Republicans like you've voted for Democrats in years past. Don't sell yourself to either party, but instead, keep your eyes focused on the prize for which you and your people have striven over the last 250 years of your history in this country. What you have now isn't the Promised Land Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. saw just before he was assassinated. This is not the dream he saw in 1963. No, this is the horrible nightmare brought on by lesser men who were content to obtain his dream only for themselves no matter what it cost their people. You have had enough of slavery. It is time to end it.

Yeah, I'm just a well off White guy, so what do I know? Maybe nothing. Ask yourself, though, those same questions: What have Democrat policies and leaders done for the Black community? How is life better, or even all that different, for Black Americans today than in 1957? Then go read a bit of Thomas Sowell or Walter Williams or Clarence Thomas or Ward Connerly or even Bill Cosby, and see how it can get better.

I cannot make you free. No other man can, either. If you would be free, you must choose freedom - with all of its attendant burdens and responsibilities - you must choose freedom for yourselves.

It is my prayer that you will do so, and soon.


Some Thoughts on Mission & Church Structure

I got an e-mail from the CRC Home Mission Board. They want more money from us.

It starts out: "My colleagues, living in time, aware of eternity, I trust for you Spirit-given awe and joy in Advent as you declare: The Son of God has come on His mission. There is hope!"

Oooookkkkaaaayyyyy. This is obviously from somebody intent on making us feel all ministery and spir'tchal. No mere "Dear brother and sisters in Christ" for him!

Either that, or it's from the DNC and they want money for Obama. It is reassuring to see, from the substance of the letter, that this is not the case. The author is indeed referring to the actual Messiah.

After asking for money during Easter & Pentecost, the author tells me that CR Home Missions will have materials available to help us through the whole of Pentecost instead of just focusing on Easter Sunday (a traditional day for CR Home Missions offerings).

Then there's a post-script that is longer than the original letter. In that, the author says, "To have eight committees for ministry to our people and one committee to reach others is a losing strategy."

I suppose I should have eight committees for outreach? What he means to be saying is that outreach should be embedded in everything the Church does and I agree with him. We are all to be witnesses to Jesus Christ. The number of committees doing something is hardly an indicator of that, however.

The Church has, in fact, three primary areas of responsibility: (1) caring for members and, in particular, for the instruction and care of those new to the faith, whether they are new by virtue of birth or conversion; (2) worship of the living God; (3) witness to that living God made manifest in Jesus. I do not think one can easily say that one of these is more important than the others. If one doesn't do the first, then the third will be but a hollow mockery. If one doesn't do the second, then what's the point of the other two? If one doesn't do the third, can one honestly claim to be doing either of the first two?

When I was with the Marines, we had 3 rifle companies in a Battalion, one Heavy Weapons company, and a Headquarters & Support company. A platoon of scout-snipers was attached to H&S. The fact that we had three companies of riflemen and only a platoon of snipers didn't mean riflemen were more important than snipers. Quite the contrary. It meant the latter was highly specialized, dangerous and focused work that not everyone could do. While everyone could shoot, not everyone was a sniper.

So also, we may only have a "platoon" dedicated to outreach in a particular and targeted way because it is specialized, focused, and sometimes even dangerous work. We expect everybody to "shoot" (i.e., witness), however. In that sense, having a bunch of evangelism committees and not very many dedicated to congregational care may well be a losing strategy, too.

Be that as it may, the author concludes by saying, "I am here, Home Missions is here, to serve the churches and help..."

Nowhere in this missive is the author identified. The "I" that is "here" apparently prefers to remain anonymous.

An oversight, I'm sure.

Reid Resorts to Tired Lies

I see that Harry Reid has resorted to the same tired charge of all those who think individuals should be wards of the state. If we disagree with him, we're racists who want to rekindle Jim Crow, stop women from voting, and start the slave trade back up. Everyone knows, after all, that Republicans are racists and bigots and homophobes.

There is no rational basis, no valid reason of any sort, to support this massive takeover of 1/6 of the U.S. economy by the federal government. He knows there is no reason for it and no argument from the left has been found to be persuasive. So he resorts to this. Senator Reid is an ass who hasn't the wit to justify work as a street sweeper much less his position in the U.S. Senate.

In fact, it is the Democrat Party today, as it was the Democrat Party in 1964, that does the most to keep Black Americans in poverty and servitude. It is Democrats and their policies who have destroyed the Black family in this country. It is Democrats and their policies who have encouraged racism and oppression in order to maintain their own tenuous hold on power. It is Democrats and their policies who have bred despair and sold Black Americans little more than lies. If by their fruits you shall know them, then Democrats - from the President to Harry Reid to the Mayor of New Orleans - are the most racist of all Americans. This is, no doubt, why former grand poo-bah of the KKK, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, still feels at home in that party.

CRC-Canada Urges Government to Fund Boondoggles

The Christian Reformed Church in Canada is upset, apparently. The news editor of our monthly rag, The Banner, notes that churches and pastors are being urged to write their members of parliament and the Prime Minister under the headline, "Canadian Government Cuts Justice Funding."

I rather hope the Canadian government has the good sense to ignore these nattering nags and go ahead with its plans. In the first place, as our dear author (one Gayle Postma) notes, funding is to be cut for KAIROS. This is an ecumenical Christian organization - the same one that paid for the CRC/Canada director's vacation to Alberta a few months ago so he could hem and haw over the oil sands.

It is conceivable that justice will be maintained in Canada without the benefit of KAIROS. I can also imagine legislators in difficult circumstances, constrained by the fiscal limitations of budgets and tax revenues, might well believe there are higher priorities for Canada than paying a bunch of people to nag them. If you are a Canadian citizen, let me encourage you to use the contact information in The Banner article referenced above to write your MP and/or Prime Minister and encourage them to find other similar organizations for which they can cut funding. Indeed, look for ways to eliminate this kind of expenditure all together.

And if you're in the U.S., write your legislators, governors and the President to encourage the same. It's bad enough we waste money on government organizations and bureaucracies. We have no need to waste it on groups like ACORN, KAIROS, Sierra Club, PETA, or any of these others. I don't have a problem with such groups' existence - only with government funding for them.

If the Christians of Canada think KAIROS is so terribly important, let them pay for it themselves. They do not need, and should not receive, tax-payer support (or the government strings that come with it).


Obama - Is He President, or Middle-School Teacher?

Obama hosted a "jobs summit". As others have noted, it is strange that very few people who actually have experience establishing and/or growing a business - i.e., creating jobs - were invited. I also find the manner in which he hosts these things to be strange. He calls all these people to the White House, breaks them up into groups so they can work on group projects, and then he comes back to check up on their work.

It's all very much like my experience of 7th grade.

This is very different from the way in which the Bush administration consulted outside experts. In the first place, they tended to consult actual experts - folks with experience in the field and not just ivory-tower theorists. They didn't ignore the theorists, but they weren't the only ones asked. They also tended to do so in an off-the-record forum so as to allow greater freedom of expression and encourage honesty. And they engaged these people over an extended period of time, circulating opinions via e-mail, and meeting more than once before settling on a policy.

Obama established his policy back in February and March, so it makes little sense to consult with people about possible policies when that policy is not only already decided but in place. He made a big show of it all - people both behave and speak differently when the cameras are on, even experts and professionals - and will likely not talk to these people again unless he needs another dog & pony show.

He says they have some "good ideas" but sounds like my 7th grade teacher telling me I had a good idea. She really meant I was friggin' nuts, but all 7th grade boys are nuts and this was a more-or-less harmless form of it. It didn't mean in the least that she agreed with me or would make the slightest effort to implement my "good idea."

Limbaugh (NB: Link will expire after today unless you're a paid subscriber) made special note of this statement from his remarks (and rightly so):
Despite the progress we've made, many businesses are still skittish about hiring. Some are still digging themselves out of the losses they incurred over the past year. Many have figured out how to squeeze more productivity out of fewer workers. And that cost-cutting has become embedded in their operations and in their culture. That may result in good profits, but it's not translating into hiring and so that's the question that we have to ask ourselves today: How do we get businesses to start hiring again?
Note the insinuation that businesses are mean because they wish to improve the productivity of their employees (and they have over the last several months) in order to turn a profit in these uncertain times. Why, the shame of it! Cost cutting has even become embedded in their operations and in their culture!!! Horrors! They should practice profligate spending, just like the Congress and I have done. That's the way to run a business. Wal-Mart ought to be just another social welfare program, like General Motors is now that the government owns it. If they don't, why, we'll take them over, too.

Jobs numbers out are not exactly encouraging, but we are told they are at least a little less discouraging. How much of that is fiddling with numbers, I don't know. I just find it odd that for the last 3 months we've been hearing from news reports that things are bottoming out, that the recovery is starting because the rate of decline has slowed, and yet every month another few hundred thousand lose their jobs. For all the "shovel-ready" projects the stimulus was supposed to fund, the number of jobs in the construction/contracting business has declined every month as well.
And if we get either health care reform or the cap & trade (energy tax) legislation Obama wants passed, expect unemployment to nearly double, if not worse.


Obama's Afghan-West Point Speech II

UPDATE: Check out this from Der Spiegel - it's shorter & better than what I've written below.

That gets us to this:

As cadets, you volunteered for service during this time of danger. Some of you have fought in Afghanistan. Some of you will deploy there. As your commander-in-chief, I owe you a mission that is clearly defined and worthy of your service.

And that's why, after the Afghan voting was completed, I insisted on a thorough review of our strategy.

Now, let me be clear: There has never been an option before me that called for troop deployments before 2010, so there has been no delay or denial of resources necessary for the conduct of the war during this review period. Instead, the review has allowed me to ask the hard questions and to explore all the different options, along with my national security team, our military, and civilian leadership in Afghanistan, and our key partners.

And given the stakes involved, I owed the American people and our troops no less.

This review is now complete. And as commander-in-chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home...

One thing we can be certain of - whenever the President says, "Now, let me be clear..." what follows is a lie, obfuscation, dissemination, or misdirection. He says it rather frequently. With all due respect, there has been a needless delay in properly equipping and supporting our troops and their mission. In fact, this administration and the party from which it comes still do not support either the troops or their mission. Which is why all the "blame Bush" material was in there - as a justification to the pacifist kooks and nincompoops who make up the bulk of the Democrat party base.

Given that he claims to take his responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief so seriously, I cannot help but wonder why he waited until after the Afghan elections to meet with his security team to develop a strategy. Does this mean the strategy he announced in March was done without the benefit of expert opinion and advice, just kind of off the cuff? But it's nice to have a clearly defined mission. In essence, this is what it is: Go to Afghanistan, tread water for 18 months, and then come home.

Oh, yeah, we'll send another 30,000 of you so you won't feel so lonely treading water out there.

That's not exactly what he said. He said:

We must deny Al Qaida a safe haven. We must reverse the Taliban's momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's security forces and government, so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan's future.

We will meet these objectives in three ways. First, we will pursue a military strategy that will break the Taliban's momentum and increase Afghanistan's capacity over the next 18 months...

Second, we will work with our partners, the United Nations, and the Afghan people to pursue a more effective civilian strategy so that the government can take advantage of improved security. This effort must be based on performance. The days of providing a blank check are over...

Third, we will act with the full recognition that our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan. We're in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country. But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan. And that's why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border...

Sounds pretty good, no? Bush couldn't have said it better or much differently. In fact, he didn't. But the clincher to all of this is his promise that in 18 months the troops will start coming home. No conditions. No caveats. No nothing. Whether they've actually accomplished this or not, whether the enemy agrees to this or not, whether Karzai's government ponies up or not, in 18 months you'll come home.

If I'm hiding in a cave in Pakistan, I'm excited. "Only a year and a half before the Yankees give up! Keep up the pressure and get Ahmed and Mohhammed to start the domestic policitcal initiatives that will destroy the puppet Karzai and his cronies! Eighteen months to victory, my brothers!" In other words, that 18 month deadline makes his whole strategy null and void. Unless, of course, he doesn't really mean it - which could well be. Obama's blown other deadlines he's given out as a sop to his base (Gitmo, anyone?).

Interestingly, eighteen months from now...would be May 2012. Possibly June 2012, depending on how you count months. That wouldn't happen to be right as the next presidential race is heading into the final lap after the primaries are done, would it? Naah. He wouldn't be that blatantly political with the props - excuse me - military members whose lives will be at risk in all this. Couldn't be.

In arguing that a deadline is necessary, he goes into the cost of the war saying, "Meanwhile, competition within the global economy has grown more fierce, so we can't simply afford to ignore the price of these wars."

We can ignore the cost of a massive government takeover of health care, of huge pork bills and so-called stimulus plans, but we can't ignore the cost of a war that is vital to our national interests. Remember - Obama is the one who says this is vital to our national interests and that it is a war of necessity. So our survival and success as a nation depends upon (at least in part) our success in Afghanistan - it's vital, after all. Except it might be too expensive. After pulling the plug on Grandma, apparently he wants to pull the plug on the United States - it's too expensive to keep us alive, I guess.

The rest of the speech is justification for his massive socialization of the U.S. economy - "building our own" nation, Peace Corps, volunteers, community organizing blah blah blah. No wonder some of the cadets nodded off.

Obama's Afghan-West Point Speech I

OK, let's have a look at the President's big Afghanistan speech at West Point.

To start with, he invokes a pet peeve of mine. He's there to give a well-advertised, much-ballyhooed speech on U.S. policy in Afghanistan and he opens it up by saying, "I want to speak to you about our effort in Afghanistan...."

In the first place: duh. We've been hearing for a week or more that you want to talk about Afghanistan.

In the second place: is there some force that might prevent you from doing what you want here? This is amateurish. You're the friggin' President at West Point. If you want to talk about something, then just talk about it already.

The next bit is a recounting of the fact that we were attacked in September, 2001 by terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda - "without regard to faith or race or station." Hello? So if they'd attacked only rich white Christians it would have been understandable? Or maybe rich Jews? Maybe if they'd only taken on poor Vietnamese Buddhist janitors, then we could see where they were coming from. In any event, it's all pretty tame right through the 420-1 vote authorizing force in Afghanistan that October and the establishment of Karzai's government. Then we get this:
Then, in early 2003, the decision was made to wage a second war in Iraq. The wrenching debate over the Iraq war is well-known and need not be repeated here. It's enough to say that, for the next six years, the Iraq war drew the dominant share of our troops, our resources, our diplomacy, and our national attention, and that the decision to go into Iraq caused substantial rifts between America and much of the world.
There's a huge problem with this paragraph - the phrase "second war". Saddam Hussein's government was pretending to have chemical weapons (and maybe actually did - jury's still out on that one) and they were known to be offering chemical weapons to Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. In effect, they allied themselves with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, making the Iraq operation part of the existing war between the U.S. and Islamofascist terrorist networks.

What is more, the legal case for launching the invasion was premised on the earlier conflict in 1991 that threw the Iraqis out of Kuwait after they annexed it. The shooting there stopped after an armistice was signed. An armistice is not a peace treaty. It is a temporary cessation of hostilities premised on the maintenance of certain conditions. The armistice in 1953 did not end the Korean conflict and the two halves of that peninsula are technically still at war, as recent naval actions have demonstrated yet again. The armistice agreed to on 11/11/1918 did not end World War I, either. The Paris peace treaty establishing the League of Nations ended it - for most nations, anyway. It was not ratified by our Senate and we established a separate peace with Germany in 1921. In other words, we were still at war with Iraq after the 1991 campaign and exchanged shots with them on several occasions. I know the battlegroup I was attached to in 2000 launched combat missions against SAM and AAA (Anti-Aircraft Artillery) sites in Iraq among other targets. What this means is that, even if it was a "second war" (see above), it was not launching a new war so much as finishing an old one.

This is, however, immaterial to Obama since his point here is that, were it not for this foolish, stupid, and wicked move by the Bush administration we would have already won in Afghanistan (hence the Kerry report just released claiming we could have captured Bin Laden, but didn't). Those chumps, you know. Well, now (sigh) we have to clean up this Bush Administration mess, too. Gosh how inconvenient.


An Anecdote on Michigan vs. South Dakota Business

I recently went to replace a hard drive in my child's laptop computer. I guessed and ordered a SATA drive, only to find her laptop was sufficiently antiquated as to use an IDE interface.

I figured I'd get an IDE drive while I was visiting her over Thanksgiving and still take care of the thing. Checking local prices, I found them all over $100 and the one store I actually checked (not all of them were open - Thanksgiving) wanted $130 for a 160GB IDE drive. No thanks.

I came back to South Dakota and went to a local store where I found the same 160GB IDE drive, but $60 less. The stores I found in Michigan would not buy the unused SATA drive I had erroneously purchased. The store here in South Dakota gave me a 50% discount on the IDE drive for it and they'll either use the SATA drive or sell it at a profit. The cost of my mistake went from $130 to $35 just by coming home to South Dakota.

Now why would an identical item cost anywhere from $45-60 less in this state? Is the cost of doing business in Michigan that much more?

No wonder people are leaving the state.

CRC Magazine Survey Says...

I'm a bit tardy in getting to it, but the CRC's magazine, The Banner, recently conducted a survey of its readership. They conducted the survey on line reaching potential readers via an e-mail list.

Guess what? Of those who answered the survey (1,035), 84% read the magazine on line and another 9% are interested (probably weren't aware it's available). They claim at the end of their little presentation that their survey has a +/- 3% margin of error.


I e-mail 75,000 people (the number of member households in the CRC, all of whom get the magazine) and 1,035 actually respond - less than 2%. This is not a random sample, but a self-selecting sample of people who are sufficiently interested in the magazine to have an opinion, and have a strong enough opinion to motivate them to respond. Well, there are almost certainly a few people in there who just like filling out surveys as well. In any event, to speak of a margin of error in such a survey is silly. That 68% of respondents read several articles or the entire magazine, for instance, only tells us that people interested in The Banner tend to read The Banner.

Interestingly, even of these respondents, only a quarter of them read it cover-to-cover. An equal number vary what they read depending on the issue (time available, article interest, etc.) while 6% read very little. Sixty-two people out of a thousand who fill out an online survey about a magazine don't really bother to read it. These must be the guys who just like filling out surveys.

The fact is, there's a very good reason why The Banner switched from a subscription-based denominational magazine to one sent out to every household - nobody would willingly pay for this stuff. They trumpet the awards they win every so often. Awards don't pay bills or attract consistent readership. I read it out of professional curiosity and the rag does have its uses, but the days are long past when it was worth the money it cost to print.

How to fix it, though? They've gone online and the editor has a blog (not a very good one, but serviceable). This is a good start, but style and medium can only do so much. It must be about content. Whether radio or television or movies or newspapers or magazines: content content content.

There has to be stuff in The Banner that cannot be found anywhere else, that is compelling and entertaining, thought-provoking and challenging. Our denominational rag hasn't had that with any consistency since Andrew Kuyvenhoven left the editorship. Right now it's a safe, bland, well-packaged, center-left boilerplate edition of denominational press releases with the occasional thought piece (though most of these are equally boilerplate) and some classified advertisements.

Why bother?

Scientific "Consensus" a Lie

I don't comment much on the environmental movement - or at least, when I look back over my posts I don't see a lot that are explicitly about the green movement. I know I've addressed it in different contexts, but these recent articles about the Climate Research Unit, East Anglia University (U.K.) warrant a notice.

I don't have anything to add to what has already been said, other than to recommend you look into it. So far, the major media (with the exception of FoxNews again) have tried hard to ignore it or say it's not important. I'd say fudging the numbers, destroying data, and demonizing other scientists so they can't get published is important. I should also hope it would make more than a few people pause before committing our nation to more billions of dollars and economic suicide.

For the record, anthropogenic global warming is not demonstrable and there is no consensus that it is occurring. In fact, the majority of the evidence suggests otherwise. Second, the fear of climate change as such (whether man made or not) is based on a ridiculous assumption - that the current climate (or that of 20 years ago) is the ideal climate for this planet and any significant variation in that climate will destroy us. This is lunacy on stilts, about as rational as believing there's a boogey man under my bed who will eat me if I don't have a night light.

The House has already passed a Cap & Tax bill and forwarded it to the Senate. Lord willing, it will die there. I hope these e-mails hacked from the CRU of East Anglia will help to kill it.