Thursday, August 31, 2006

Disturbing but Unsurprising

Given the response of students to campus recruiters in this fair state, this story is not terribly surprising, but is disheartening:
The Pierce County Sheriff's Department is searching for five people who allegedly attacked a uniformed National Guardsmen walking along 138th Street in Parkland Tuesday afternoon.

The soldier was walking to a convenience store when a sport utility vehicle pulled up alongside him and the driver asked if he was in the military and if he had been in any action.

The driver then got out of the vehicle, displayed a gun and shouted insults at the victim. Four other suspects exited the vehicle and knocked the soldier down, punching and kicking him.

“And during the assault the suspects called him a baby killer. At that point they got into the car and drove off and left him on the side of the road,” Detective Ed Troyer with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Two of Three

Both the Verbalist and the Muralist have been bit or stung by a wasp in the last two days. Something deep within me knows I will get a trifecta soon. We got through the entire summer without incident of bite, sting or sunburn and now that Labor Day is just around the corner trifecta looms.

Global Warming

I am going to make my dad cringe, but just for a minute: I believe that global warming is real. OK, now ask me if I believe that we have anything to do with it really. Sure we might have an impact but compared to volcanoes and uh, the Sun, I think we are small potatoes. There just isn't enough hard data to make conclusions that we are the catalyst of the latest global temperature trends. From Junk Science, a junk science debunker:
Humans have only been trying to measure the temperature fairly consistently since about 1880, during which time we think the world may have warmed by about +0.6 °C ± 0.2 °C. As we've already pointed out, the estimate of warming is less than the error margin on our ability to take the Earth's temperature, generally given as 14 °C ± 0.7 °C for the average 1961-1990 while the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) suggest 13.9 °C for their average 1880-2004. We are pretty sure it was cold before the 1880 commencement of record and we would probably not handle the situation too well if such conditions returned but there has been no demonstrable catastrophic warming while people have been trying to measure the planet's temperature. If we have really been measuring a warming episode as we think we have, then setting new records for "hottest ever in recorded history" should happen just about every year -- although half a degree over a century is hardly something to write home about -- so there's really nothing exciting about scoring the highest number when looking at such a short history.

Please read the whole thing, it is fascinating with handy charts. Anyway the whole point of this bit is to link you to a fun snippet from Orson Scott Card (via. Tim Blair my favorite Oz columnist):

How can you tell who someone's god is? You look to see whose name they invoke as the cause of all things, good or bad. By that standard, the god of the devout Left is Global Warming; here is the Psalm of Al, from which the faithful constantly quote (King James Version):

1. Great storms ravage our cities, and the wise man saith: Global Warming hath done this.

2. Drought keepeth all storms at bay, and the wise man saith: This also hath Global Warming done.

3. Global Warming maketh the oceans rise; it maketh deep snow to fall;

4. Flood and fire, feast and famine, typhoon and tornado, hail and lightning, all things good and bad that come from sky or sea, Global Warming hath made them all.

5. And when our homes are beneath the waves, we shall know that Global Warming in its wrath hath seen our sins.

6. For our vehicles that glut themselves on oil, for the trees we cut and land we clear,

7. For the cooling and heating of our houses, for the plowing and harvesting of our fields, we are punished.

8. Whenever we burn carbon and release it into the air, we shall know that Global Warming seeth it, and is wroth.

9. O man! Thou hast flouted the great god of the sky, and by three degrees of temperature we shall be burned,

10. For Global Warming is a jealous god, and small and annoying is man.

heh. funny

Monday, August 28, 2006

Poker Next.

The Verbalist was playing a new game with the Muralist - 3 card monte. Actually it was three juice cups and a green Duplo block but the gist was the same.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Videos to watch

A great youtube if you have been following the creation and distortion of war media narratives (or as it used to be called, propaganda, but that doesn't sound as high-falutin').

Moon is a Harsh Mistress

The problem with movies based on Bob Heinlien book are they tend to suck. Oh, yeah they have a guilty pleasure facination, Starship Troopers is a fun bug hunt but only lightly touches on the themes of civic/citizen responsibilty in the midst of a war; AND it stars Doogie Howser, Michael Ironsides and Caspar Van Dien, not exactly thespians.

So I got all excited when I saw this snippet on the Corner:
While Whedon is the writer/director of the film Serenity he is only the co-creator of the show. He worked with his friend/colleague Tim Minear, who wants to make a film version of “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.”

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress created by the doyens of Firefly? Sign me up! I cannot think of anyone else who could tackle this book without ripping out the philosophical underpinnings that make the Revolution move forward.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

So Much Explained

about our phone service:

Verizon Communications, Inc. announced a new service package for its wireless and residential customers that would charge them widely varying, but always high, fees every month depending how the communications giant feels at the time. "Our Charge-At-Whim packages offer the same mediocre quality and insufferable level of customer service you’ve come to expect," a Verizon spokesman said Tuesday. "But it adds an unjustified, arbitrary and, if you’ll allow us to boast, frankly unjustifiable method of determining just how much you’ll pay for them." Packages start at "oh, $69.99 a month, let’s say?" and went into effect about three or four months ago.


I am experiencing that startling time when a heretofore uncomprehensable child becomes understandable. Suddenly she spits out words or phrases that make sense. After a long tunnel of nothing but "mom", "dadda", and "thank you", suddenly a whole vista of words opened up before her which she has taken to with alacrity.

I sat on the edge of the bed, staring at the omnipresent baskets of laundry to put away. In toodles the Littlest (aka the Shreiker, which is thankfully ebbing). Toodles is right. She doesn't toddle in the sense of half sure steps with a hitching walk; toodling is more confident than that and there is no hitch. I expect to hear the Jetson's car pppbbbbrrrrrrip! follow her around. Anyway, in toodles the Littlest and imperiously demands "Up!"

I pick her up. She points to a Noah's Ark coat hanger gracing the wall. "Ephelum," she intones with confidence oozing from every pore. I turn my blank stare to her. She gives me a slight frown and tries again with more emphasis, "Ephelum."

"What's that sweetie?" I ask. This was not the response she wanted to elict. Her chubby little finger stabs up at the hanger, "Ephelum. Sistah."

"Oh, elephant!" I exclaim comprehending; the Muralist's predeliction for elephants having boosted comprehension. Once the general vein of topic was established her words were easy enough to pick out: zebra, dog (really a lion), monkey, panda, giraffe and "gill".

"Gill?" I question. I scanned the plack until my eyes lit on Noah. I pointed. "Man, Noah."

The Littlest shook her head, "Gill."

"No, not girl. Man. Boy. Daddy."

She laughed. "Gammpy."

Grandpa indeed.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Little cold toes on my warm legs awoke me this morning. I turned over, cracked my eyes, and looked into the Muralist's smiling face.

"Hi mom, I want hot cereal for breakfast!" she said in a stage whisper, her effort to not wake up her baby sister right across the hall.

"Ok," I replied, mind adjusting to chilly kid feet rather than warm, sleepy spouse beside me.

"Now, tickle me!" she demanded and began giggling.

Friday, August 18, 2006


[If I were an online test, I would be The Lord of the Rings Character Test]

I'm The Lord of the Rings Character Test!

I like to think that everyone is really a character in my strange fictional world - I don't care if no-one outside it has a clue what I'm on about.

Click here to find out which test you are!

Thanks to Ace

Thursday, August 17, 2006

New Blogger

I am blogging on the new Blogger Beta. So far so good. So far the interface seems much the same, but I am hardly an indepth user.


Happy is to Content as Oliver Stone is to ______________ .

a) film maker
b) well known
c) nutty conspiracist theorizer
d) all of the above

Now thanks to WuzzaDem we know that Oliver Stone has now been classified as part of the Evil Cabal which seeks to deceive us all:
"Oliver Stone, having done 'Nixon' and 'JFK' and other movies that have been quite revealing, had a chance to use his power to ask a few very damning questions," said radio show host Jack Blood, who is urging a boycott of the film. "Instead, what we have is an establishment movie that certainly condones and endorses the cover story that was given to us by the government on 9/11."

Now with Stone in the mix, there's even more intrigue. Some theorists theorize: Maybe the director himself is part of the 9/11 plot.

"Was Stone used by the Illuminati as an unknowing pawn to whitewash the 9/11 conspiracy theories to the masses?" wondered blogger John Conner.

- Sun Herald, 08.11.06

Have the planets aligned, have signs of the apocolypse been seen? (h/t: Ace)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sniper in Seattle?

Just got a call from my husband who works in the Starbucks building that there seems to be a man with a rifle off Occidental. Lots of cop in gear.

Updates as I get them.

UPDATE: 4:58

This could be it:
SEATTLE - The Port of Seattle set up a perimeter of nearly half a mile around one of its terminals Wednesday after bomb-sniffing dogs indicated that two containers from Pakistan could contain explosives.

Bomb experts determined there was no radiation after they inserted a camera inside the containers, said port spokesman David Schaefer.

However, police and bomb experts were still at the scene in the late afternoon, removing boxes from the containers.

A bomb squad used explosive charges to cut into the containers, which may have detonated any explosives therein.

Update: 5:01pm

No bombs found so far.
5:06 Nope not the ports but this:
SEATTLE -- Seattle Police and Special Weapons and Tactics teams have surrounded an apartment on First Avenue South and Occidental Avenue.

KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reported that a man armed with a gun is on the second floor.

It is unknown if there are any hostages.


No sniper and no bombs. Seems it was an angry guy with access to three handguns and a worried father. Thank God. I imagine police are a bit twitchy after the synagogue shooter.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


There is an interesting series of articles on the meaning and relevence of political labels, eg. conservative and liberal, from a spectrum of columnists which are well worth reading. Here is the intro over at American Conservative:
Since its inception, The American Conservative has been dealing with questions of what Right and Left mean in the modern context and to what extent the terms even apply anymore. Commentary memorably took up similar issues in a 1976 symposium, and, 30 years later, in a time of renewed ideological flux, we think a reconsideration is in order.

In the interest of hosting a lively discussion, we chose contributors from across the political spectrum and asked for their thoughts on the following questions:

1. Are the designations “liberal” and “conservative” still useful? Why or why not?

2. Does a binary Left/Right political spectrum describe the full range of ideological options? Is it still applicable?

Not all of these authors share TAC’s editorial orientation, but we believe there is wisdom in the council of many, and each was chosen as representative of a particular perspective.

The ever irritating John Derbyshire starts off well but begins his omnipresent "doomed, doomed" babbling and blinks at conservatism through his pessemistic myopeia.
The terms “liberal” and “conservative” are only useful as a first approximation. If you tell me you are a liberal or a conservative, I have information about you I did not have before. Much of it is probabilistic: a conservative is more likely to be a churchgoer than a liberal, though there are liberal churchgoers and conservative atheists.

I think we all have a vague sense that these words describe the “shape” of our thinking about the outside world.

Phillis Schlafly unfolds a pithy lecture on Bushism vs. conservatism and manages to nail why the President gets both laud and scorn from the GOP tent. Excerpt:
Then in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan made it politically and socially acceptable to be called a conservative.

Ronald Reagan not only made the word popular, but he was a major factor in defining conservatism for our times. By the end of the two Reagan administrations, conservative had come to mean sticking with unchanging principles based on the Constitution the way it was written, the Judeo-Christian moral code, limited government, victory over Communism, American sovereignty, military superiority, lower taxes, less government regulation, private enterprise, and “morning in America.”

vs. Bushism:
Bush ran as a conservative, but he has been steadily (some might say stealthily) trying to remold the conservative movement and the Republican Party into the Bush Party. And the Bush Party stands for so many things alien to conservatism, namely, war as an instrument of foreign policy, nation-building overseas, highly concentrated executive power, federal control of education, big increases in social entitlements, massive increases in legal and illegal immigration, forcing American workers to compete with low-wage foreigners (under deceptive enticements such as free trade and global economy), and subordinating U.S. sovereignty to a North American community with open borders.
The conservative movement must reassert its identity distinct from the Bush Party. This process has started with the revolt against the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers, against the Dubai ports deal, and against the Bush-Kennedy-McCain Senate bill to approve “amnesty light” and the admission of tens of millions of new foreign workers.

In Schlafly's laundry list of Bush's perfidious policies I must quibble with the free trade. Not that Mr. Bush is for it, but that it is an anathema to true conservatism. Rather it is the logical conclusion to our own capitalistic, free market system because the US economy does not stop at the ocean or the border.

Ross Douthat contributes also and pinpoints a phenomena:
A conservative, meanwhile, is anyone who either says no to Baconism, or who says yes, but only up to a point—and so conservatism embraces anyone who has jumped off liberalism’s fast-moving train at any point over the last five centuries. If you’re a monarchist who thinks that liberalism went wrong with John Locke and the Glorious Revolution, step on up. If you’re a West Coast Straussian who thinks it went wrong with Woodrow Wilson, then welcome aboard. And if you’re a neocon who loved the New Deal but found the Great Society and George McGovern to be a bridge too far, there’s a place for you as well.

But here’s the rub, and the reason for a great deal of recent conservative confusion: the Right actually won a victory in the latter half of the 20th century, after centuries of defeat, and turned modernity away from a particularly pernicious path. This unexpected triumph has meant that many people who became accustomed to calling themselves “conservatives” when the conquest of nature seemed to require socialism or Communism are back on board the Baconian train, racing happily down a different track into the brave new future. These are the people who insist that conservatism ought to mean “freedom from government interference” and nothing more—the Grover Norquists of the world, for instance, or the Arnold Schwarzeneggers. In fact, they are ex-conservatives, because they are no longer sufficiently uncomfortable with the trajectory of modernity to be counted among its critics. They were unwilling to give up freedom for the sake of progress, but they’re happy to give up virtue. (bolding mine)


Monday, August 14, 2006

More on '08

Austen Bay and Michael Barone have proposed a McCain-Lieberman ticket to which I respond: not if you want me to vote for it. McCain will never have my vote because of his egregious squashing of first amendment rights re:McCain-Feingold. The Wide Awake Cafe proposes a better ticket: Giuliani-Romney.
I’m at a loss to understand why some prominent conservative thinkers are seemingly shrugging their shoulders and jumping onto the McCain-Lieberman 2008 bandwagon. Some are of the opinion that McCain-Lieberman would make a good Republican team for the 2008 Presidential election..

I couldn’t disagree more. While John McCain served honorably during the Vietnam War that was what?…..Thirty something years ago. There have to be more achievements in his record of public service to compel conservatives to rally around him. I don’t see any. I have noticed that McCain has been on a very quiet tour through the Bible Belt, trying to make up for those uncalled for, hateful comments about Christians he made in the 2000 primaries.

I for one am not buying his apology tour but that’s not the only problem I have with the “maverick” Senator. The McCain-Feingold campaign finance regulation and his membership in the gang of fourteen (gatekeepers to the Supreme Court) are just two examples why McCain has been anything but a loyal Republican so I’m surprised that any Republicans or conservatives are even considering his candidacy.

That about sums it up. Island Passage and I have disagreed about McCain and Giuliani before. The arguement against Giuliani comprises of his liberal social views and his personal baggage; this, accepted wisdom says, will kill him in the primaries. A couple of things; first, Giuliani's baggage is not new and Giuliani can get some mileage out of the "hey we are all sinners" tapdance. Second, Giuliani has not been making a hindend out of himself in front of cameras and microphones. Third, Giuliani will track well with folks who find they are voting in Republican primaries for the first time. Folks who find the Democratic party has left them: that they may not like the war but, by golly, it is real and we need to win it.

There is a faction of the Republican party, I dislike the appellation neo-cons, the "hawks" who drive the party. "Hawks" consist of traditional Christians who support Israel for more than geo-political reasons, Libertarians who dislike the pacifism and isolationism growing in the Democratic party, and a whole other host of folks who use their eyes and ears and realise that fanatics tend to mean what they say. Giuliani's baggage is going to have less sway on the "hawks" than his track record as the 9/11 and "broken windows" mayor and the "RICO/take down the mob" cop. Romney is the bone to social conservatives without his religious views becoming the center of the election.

My dream candidate is not running. So I am prepared to be convinced by most any serious 2008 contender - but not John McCain.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Truth in Advertising

Glenn linked to this with the phrase "changing images of women."

The blogger was outraged at the final image that Clorox chose as a representation of our current generation. Perhaps not outraged but snippy at least. I was amused and thought well of the marketing agency that was able to correctly identify the current trends back to motherhood as an increasing popular choice of public identification amoung women.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Spend a day away from the news and what happens? Why a huge terrorist plot foiled of course. While the British papers are pointing to British/Pakistani terrorists, it makes me wonder if they were working towards a August 22 deadline to fulfill the Iranian Madman's prophesy.

Update: Via Glenn, it seems Brendan Loy has had the same thought. 2 major operations in August seems more than these guys can muster.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Those Sinister Baptists

In an article over at First Things, Ross Douthat, whom I seem to be reading alot of lately, pokes at the angry beehive of "theocracy mongers". That is, the group of folks who warn of impending theocracy in the United States.

But the various authors are in agreement about the main point, which is that something has gone terribly wrong with the separation of church and state in this country, and that America is poised to fall into the hands of people only one step from the ayatollahs. Today’s battles aren’t just a matter of ordinary political factionalism, they insist. The hour is much later than that, and nothing less than the republic itself hangs in the balance.
To understand what, precisely, the anti-theocrats think has gone so wrong, it’s necessary to understand what they mean by the term theocracy. This is no easy task. The word is often used to connote government by a specific institutional faith—Shia imams in Iran, say, or Wahhabi clerics in Afghanistan—with the clergy writing laws and a temple guard enforcing them. But the clout of institutional religion is at low ebb in American politics. No prelate wields the kind of authority that Catholic bishops once enjoyed over urban voters, no denomination can claim the kind of influence that once belonged to the old WASP mainline, and the evangelical Protestantism that figures so prominently in anti-theocracy tracts is distinguished precisely by its lack of any centralized ecclesiastical government.

Occasionally, the anti-theocrats flirt with the possibility that one institutional church or another might pose a threat to the democratic order. In American Theocracy, for instance, Kevin Phillips waxes paranoid about the Southern Baptist Convention’s role as the “state church” of the South, and he tallies, darkly, the number of Baptists who have insinuated themselves into the highest levels of American government. But for the most part, the sum of all secular fears is slightly—but only slightly—more plausible than a Southern Baptist caesaropapism.

As always, read the rest. Those who babble about the sinister theocratic influence in our nation either are clueless about actual religious practice in this country or folks like Michael Newdow who use every opportunity to expose thier own deep seated phobia that someone, somewhere just might be worshiping.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Season of Corpses

No, I am not referring to the various wars around the world but my backyard. Late summer is the season of corpses. They are littered under the fruit trees in my sideyard. Little voles and field mice, occasionally a rabbit appear for a week or two and then stop showing up. I know some of them are kills made by our aging cat, but some seem to just up and die in the shade of the apple. So in an effort to not expose my kids to the harsh reality of indiscriminate death, I distract the kids and shovel the bodies into a mass grave. I'll be glad when this is over for the year.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Red, Red Whine

If Castro dies (or is dead) Michigan* Socialists are concerned that the US might help the Cuban people form a representational democracy with free markets. The Horror!
Sister city activists and other Madisonians with ties to Cuba said today they fear the Bush administration will use the transition in power from Fidel to Raul Castro as the occasion to activate a plan to replace that nation's communist system...Robert Kimbrough, a retired UW-Madison English professor and prominent local Socialist who has gone to Cuba 16 times with Madison delegations, is also worried by the two reports.

"It is disgusting. The 2004 report said, 'We pledge to help the Cuban people, and a new transition Cuban government, as you move away from the totalitarian Communist dictatorship and toward a free and representative democracy.'

Of course the biggest bonehead is the one that works with the humanitarian aide group:
Dr. Bernard Micke, a UW Health physician who heads the Wisconsin Medical Project that takes medical supplies to a hospital in Cuba, said today that, personally, he has concerns about possible U.S. action.

"The Cubans are capable of governing themselves whether Castro is there or not. It is not a dictatorship to the degree that our government would like to paint it. This is a very functional government at the local and national levels," Micke said, stressing that he was speaking as an individual, not for the completely non-political humanitarian Medical Project.

So here we have a doctor who volunteers to get needed medical supplies to the Communist hole that has become Cuba and he doesn't want any change for the better for the people. The self governance and free markets that would bring supplies into the country and improve their daily life are bad because (drumroll):
"The United States should not be meddling.
Perhaps, you MORON, Cubans wouldn't need your aid if they had free markets. Imagine the money Cubans could make if they had trade relations with the US. Why, they could use that money to buy better food, healthcare and all kinds of things! Maybe if the communists were helped out of power the populace wouldn't have to deal with roach infested hospitals.

Let me quote from The Real Cuba website.

One of the greatest fallacies about the so called 'Cuban Revolution' has to do with healthcare. Foreigners who visit Cuba, are fed the official line from Castro's propaganda machine: "All Cubans are now able to receive excellent healthcare, which is also free." But the truth is very different. Castro has built excellent health facilities for the use of foreigners, who pay with hard currency for those services. Argentinean soccer star Maradona, for example, has traveled several times to Cuba to receive treatment to combat his drug addiction.

But Cubans are not even allowed to visit those facilities. Cubans who require medical attention must go to other hospitals, that lack the most minimum requirements needed to take care of their patients. In addition, most of these facilities are filthy and patients have to bring their own towels, bed sheets, pillows, or they would have to lay down on dirty bare mattresses stained with blood and other body fluids.

You'd think that a doctor who works to bring humanitarian relief aide could catch a clue. Alas the death of Castro seems to breaking their blue, blue hearts.

*Actually it's Wisconsin that shelters these nuts. Correction on August 4

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Call the Waaahbulance

Via John Hawkins, a pout too good to pass up:
the Senate is grappling with another urgent matter: the senators-only elevators at the Capitol are being overrun by the unelected.

At times, senators even find themselves on public elevators, an ordeal fraught with the possibility of having to push their own buttons (the senators-only elevators usually have attendants).

Worse, senators sometimes share their moving sanctums with staff members, lobbyists and T-shirt-clad tourists who apparently missed (or ignored or cannot read) the senators-only signs.

Goodness Gracious! They might sully themselves on common voters or school kids!

Enjoying Brimstone With Arafat

Castro. While not officially dead Castro soon will be. Good riddance to bad rubbish as the phrase goes. What will become of Cuba? Power struggles are on the horizon and Mario Loyola has an intersting article at National Review about the players.

In Communist societies, the fall of a dictator is often marked by a public statement about the dictator’s failing health that (a) doesn’t make sense, and (b) is not delivered by the dictator himself. That’s what we saw on Monday night, when Cuban dictator Fidel Castro issued a “letter to the people” in which he explains that he had suffered intestinal bleeding due to stress, needed an operation, and would be in bed for several weeks. The missive was coldly Orwellian in how little it said about Castro — and in how much detail it gave about those who were now “temporarily” assuming power.

The next day another Cuban official read a more entertaining letter in which Castro purports to explain (again in pure Newspeak) that because of the imminent threat from the United States, the details of his health are now a state secret. But there’s only one detail about Castro’s health that could possibly be a state secret: that he’s dead.

The real game starts now, as the realities of internal power dynamics start making for unexpected conflicts and strange bedfellows. This unstable phase of the struggle for succession is highly characteristic in Communist regimes. It may last many weeks or months, and it is doubtful, if history is any guide, that all of the initial players will survive — literally. And in this case it is almost inconceivable that when the dust settles, we will still be looking at a Communist regime.

For a sense of whose those names are that will crop up in the news read the article. It is an excellent primer and for the American-Cuban community perspective read Babalu Blog. Let me close with another snippet of Loyola's piece:

Meanwhile, it is satisfying to see how perfectly and inevitably Castro’s life is coming to a Stalinesque end. It was on March 4, 1953, that the Kremlin announced that Joseph Stalin had suffered a stroke four days earlier, and that power would temporarily be held by a group of senior leaders. On March 6, it was announced that Stalin had died the night before. At his funeral, three of the new leaders made speeches, the order of the speakers marking the new order of precedence.

Less than two weeks after that, the new premier (Malenkov, the most senior party leader after Stalin) was forced to resign his most important post. By the end of the year, the second (Beria, the head Stalin’s secret police) had been secretly arrested and executed. Two years after that, the third (Molotov, Stalin’s foreign minister) was named ambassador to Mongolia.

Out of nowhere, Nikita Khruschev had emerged to assume complete control of the Soviet Union. And of course, one fine day many years later, it was announced (and not by him) that Khruschev had resigned all political offices, due to old age and deteriorating health.… And on and on went the history of the Soviet Union, until the day it finally died, when a group of would-be coup leaders explained in a press conference that Premier Gorbachev had been taken ill, and some reporters just started laughing.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ace Responds on Mel Gibson

Ace read my post on Mel Gibson and Ross Douthat's defense of The Passion and asks:
SunComprehendingGlass quotes conservative film critic Russ Douthat standing for the proposition that of course considerations of the artist as a human being should be disregarded in an evaluation of his work.

Really? Always? Even when said beliefs directly implicate aesthetic choices he made in his works? Even when a plausible case can be made that his more noxious beliefs actually affected what he put up on the screen?

Making this more explicit: I, and other conservatives, dismissed arguable instances of unnecessary antisemitism, or at least instances of gratuitously sticking it to the Jews, in The Passion because we assumed there was no ant-Jew animus behind those aesthetic choices.

Now that Gibson is revealed to, in fact, have at least some degree of anti-Jew animus, doesn't that undermine the assumption that our defense was based upon?

I don't find this as easy an answer as Mr. Douthat. Which is not to say I disagree with him. I said I couldn't answer it myself; doesn't mean I'll insist that no one else can offer an answer.

Let me answer Ace: if the something, not just a movie, reveals the truth of a situation does that mean we should disregard the person speaking that truth?

If Gibson's movie showed the religious leaders engineering Jesus' death does it make the actuality of it less true? Douthat makes the point that Gibson emphasises the Jewishness of Jesus in his movie. I would respond not only does Gibson do that but he makes the Romans as cruel as the Jews. I think that you would have to look at the whole balance of the picture to argue if the picture is anti-Semetic. I think that Mr. Douthat and I would both agree that the balance is not anti-Semetic.

So in other words my defense of The Passion is not based on the the character of the director but whether the movie was itself evenhanded in apportioning blame while not curbing the facts found in the Bible. (No, I am not going into the "is the Bible factually accurate" arguement right now. The New Testament meets all historical document authenticity tests.)

Pardon Me While I Chuckle

From Megan McArdle comes the continuing adventures into celebrity hunger strikes. Yes, Code Pinkers and Cindy Sheehan are celebs of a weird sort:
Four of those arrested were on the 25th day of a hunger strike that is a project of CodePink. The group has issued a nationwide call for people to go on at least a partial hunger strike, if only for a few hours, to show their opposition to the war in Iraq. (WaPo)

Michael Fumento, whom Ms. McArdle links to says:
Partial? For a few hours? Does that mean if you were planning on having two Twinkies and a bag of chips between lunch and dinner you should cut out one of the Twinkies? The life of a war protestor is a harsh one indeed!

McArdle herself comments:
I have a friend who is both a peacenik, and an observant Jew; she has made fun of me more than once in the past about the wimpy Catholic notion of what a fast entails. But this makes the official RC "one meal and one snack" look positively spartan.

Growing up as an evangelical and choosing it as an adult, I have fasted many times. Fasting is about many things but not eating is the least of it. Fasting is not to draw attention to yourself, but to focus on things more important. It's to take the time you would be eating and preparing a meal to pray or do something else effective.

A rolling fast with a group of other people can be effective if you infuse your time of fasting with meaning. I once took part in a rolling fast over a month with other women to pray for elections and elected leaders from October 3rd to November 3rd. Every day one person in the group would fast the entire day, the next day the next person would and so forth. Throughout the month we prayed together and on the days when I was scheduled to fast I remember spending more time in prayer than I ever would on a normal day. The day prior to my fast day I would pray more thinking about fasting and the day after fasting I would eat with prayerful Thanksgiving.

I chuckle because it sems to me that these folks don't understand the concept of the fast. Fasting sounds self sacrificial and grand to these folks but they don't understand self sacrifice and all it is is vain posturing. Jesus taught this in Matthew 6 1-21:

1"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.


5"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9"This, then, is how you should pray:
" 'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us today our daily bread.
12Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.[a]' 14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.


16"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Treasures in Heaven
19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Giving, fasting and prayer are all intertwined with how God wants us to be, not that we draw attention to ourselves but that we place importance on things that are eternal and not ephemeral.