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Showing posts from August, 2006

Sick

A new British TV "docudrama" portrays the assassination of President Bush.

Supposedly the story examines how the War on Terror has affected the theoretical American response to such a thing.

The more twisted elements of the Left and even of the Democratic Party have called for the President's assassination ("jokingly," as a rule) several times over the past six years. But until now, nobody has had the bad taste to dramatize it.

Sick.

HT: Drudge

Pathetic

Sore loser John Kerry is still whining about losing the 2004 election, reviving long discredited charges by Robert Kennedy, Jr.

Truly sad.

HT: Drudge

ADDENDUM: Here's more on the Kerry charge that Republicans tried to "suppress" the vote in Ohio.

ADDENDUM II: This guy points out something the story didn't make clear: that in raising that old, tired Ohio nonsense, Kerry himself didn't actually claim that the election was stolen- just that the Republicans cheated.

No, they didn't.

This season is headed down the tubes

Pope Benedict to embrace Intelligent Design?

A great deal of ink has been spilled about the Catholic church's embrace of evolution during Pope John Paul II's watch. But now, his successsor- Pope Benedict XVI- is reportedly getting ready to endorse Intelligent Design.

Intelligent design, of course- despite the repeated statements to the contrary by those on the cultural Left- is not simply another way of saying "Creationism." The latter has to do with the notion that the world was created in six literal 24-hour days, as related by Genesis 1. Intelligent Design, on the other hand, is merely the idea that the universe didn't come into being by accident- an affirmation any consistent theist would have a hard time questioning.

So why the ruckus? Because classical Darwinism is more than simply evolution through natural selection. It's specifically evolution through random natural selection. The randomness is an important part of the concept- and as much a matter of metaphysics rather than science as the affirma…

Armitage was Novak's source

Here is how Robert Novak found out about Dorothy Plame being a CIA employee.

Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's Number Two at State, was the source- and there was neither malice, nor political intent, nor any violation of the law involved.

Note once again that the first person to disclose that she worked undercover for the CIA was David Corn.

The whole thing is a non-story.

HT: Real Clear Politics

A funny thing happened on the way to the planet Pluto...

New Horizons lifted off last January on the way to a planet- the last one we hadn't sent a probe to.

In the meantime, the deficiency has been remedied in an unanticipated way by the IAU decision to demote Pluto.

Imagine its surprise- if space probes had emotions- to arrive at merely the second-biggest Kuiper Belt Object instead!

Still, the value of this Pluto/Charon/Kuiper Belt mission isn't lessened by the IAU decision. We know comparatively little about that part of the Solar System, and New Horizons should drastically increase our information about it.

The probe's closest approach to Pluto will be on July 14, 2015.

The other man from Hope

Chamberlainism in contemporary England

Here is a book review by Daniel Johnson of the New York Sun on Melanie Phillips' Londonistan- a frightening book which argues that the one European country we tend to identify with Tony Blair's hard-headed realism toward the Islamofascist threat in fact stands in relationship to it more like Neville Chamberlain's England did to the Nazi threat prior to the outbreak of World War II.

Certainly the polls have for a long time belied our benign image of the current attitudes of the British nation toward the current World War III. Perhaps we need to bring our perceptions more into line with reality.

HT: Real Clear Politics

Why eight planets?

Here is a cogent explanation by Dr. Michael Brown- the discoverer of 2003 UB313- of the IAU decision to define our solar system as containing only eight full-fledged planets.

Looking at it the way he lays it out, the IAU's point, I think, is easy to see.

Like Ceres in the 1880's, Pluto simply turned out to be simply the biggest (and with the discovery of 2003 UB313, not even the biggest any more!) of a whole different class of objects which resemble each other much more than they resemble the other planets.

Good on ya, John!

I'm gonna be on radio!

Brian Butcher- the President of the Des Moines Astronomical Society- and I will be on WHO Radio here in Des Moines tomorrow (1040 AM) at noon Central Daylight Savings Time to take calls about the demotion of Pluto from planetary status.

Give us a ring!

Did the Russians sell the Iranians nukes in 1991?

Why have we never heard...

Pluto fired

Pluto is no longer a planet.

And in the end, it was probably the only solution that made sense. If Pluto and 2003 UB313 were to be considered planets, it would have been impossible, finally, to exclude the hundred or so other sizable, round Kuiper Belt objects with eccentric orbits out there.

As it is, we have eight planets, all of them orbiting on the same plane and all of them something other than big iceballs. It's a sad day, in many ways. But in retrospect, the IAU couldn't have made any other decision.

Also sadly, the article- along with numerous blogs mentioning this story- continue to wrongly assert that "Xena" was ever intended as even a nickname for 2003 UB313 outside the small circle of astronomers who discovered it.

It was a joke, people. They called another object they discovered on Christmas Eve "Santa," and its moon "Rudolph!"

Pluto demotion seems imminent

The proposal that Ceres, Charon and 2003 UB313 be declared planets under a definition which would also have opened the doors to forty-one other candidates has been defeated by the International Astronomical Union General Assembly.

Thursday (very early; the meeting is in Prague) the Assembly will decide on another option. The most likely outcome is to demote Pluto- easily the smallest current planet, which follows an eccentric orbit and is basically just a big comet- and go with an eight planet solar system. Obviously, that would take 2003 UB313- a similar body to Pluto- out of the running, too.

Pluto and 2003 UB313 are the largest of as many as a hundred similar, icy objects on the fringes of the solar system, in what is known as the Kuiper Belt.

This picture will give you a good idea of the relative sizes of the objects in question.

The Iranian nightmare

Ann Leslie of the British newspaper The Daily Mail explains exactly why Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should give us all nightmares.

More "fear mongering," to invoke a phrase recently used by a liberal commenter on this blog. And this fear- like the others the Left would rather ignore- is all too real.

HT: Drudge

A nightmare that is real

This may be the scariest prognosis for the future of Western civilization and the world you have recently read. But what makes it so scary is that we know in our bones that it is true.

The possession of nuclear weapons by North Korea and Iran means nothing less than the virtual inevitability of their falling into the hands of terrorists. From now on, it's not airplanes flying into buildings or biological agents being released in subways we need to fear. It's nuclear attacks by the like of al Quaeda.

Nor, as the article points out, is the hatred which comes from a once-proud civilization having to confront its own current backwardness and poverty in the face of technological, cultural, political, and conventional military power of countries like the United States and Israel apt to abate any time soon. The Islamic world as a whole seems unlikely to catch up.

All in all, it's a bleak prospect for all of us. I wish there were some clear course of action which would reliably rend…

Miracles never cease

Buchanan: The barbarians are at the gates!

The uber-Nativist, Pat Buchanan, has a new book out.

Buchanan claims that the West is going the way of the Roman Empire- because of illegal immigration.

He advises the suspension of legal immigration for ten years, as well as a program of deportations and a double wall along the whole length of the U.S.- Mexican border, as our "last chance" to frustrate La Reconquista.

That I think Buchanan is- shall we say- a bit marginal doesn't stop me from agreeing that we have a serious problem here (one in twelve illegal immigrants have criminal records). Nor to I disagree that we need to get control of our borders.

But Buchanan himself frightens me almost as much.

HT: Drudge

A sad commentary on a once brave former ally

It's no longer just a matter of their having told Colin Powell before the UN Iraq vote that they'd support us, and then stabbing us in the back. Now they've reneged on their promise to send a peace keeping force to Lebanon.

It raises a regrettable, but obvious question: Can you trust anything the French say?

HT: Real Clear Politics

The elephant on the ramparts

Another major terrorist plot foiled. Ho-hum.

It's amazing how many people fail to ponder the fact that we have not had a successful terrorist plot on American soil since 9/11, and that now we're even helping protect the Brits. Certainly the Democrats and their allies in the MSM don't notice.

You'd think they might. It's sort of a major point, and rather hard to miss. If it's not exactly the elephant in the living room, it's certainly the one on the ramparts- the one whose watch, by any objective standard, has been a singularly effective one in protecting us from the terrorist threat ever since the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were hit, and war was declared against us. Whatever criticisms of the waging of the war on terror the Left might want to make have to start- if they are going to have any credibility at all- by explaining away the rather substantial point that the administration's policies, by any objective standard, have rather spectatularly succee…

The Democratic two step

Michael Goodwin lays out for us the evolving Democratic strategy for approaching Iraq: 1) deny that there's any connection between the war in Iraq and the wider war on terror; and 2) misrepresent history to suggest that the Democrats who voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq were really only voting to scare Saddam Hussein.

The first would be a disaster, if it ever actually became the basis of policy; the second is simply a lie.

HT: Real Clear Politics

A second proposal

As I predicted, the new model of the solar system is being widely criticized by astronomers.

The proposal- which would promote the largest asteroid, Ceres, and Pluto's largest moon, Charon, to the status of planets, as well as recently-discovered 2003 UB313- would be predicated on a definition of the word "planet" under which literally dozens and perhaps ultimately a hundred bodies in the outers solar system would probably qualify.

So now, a second proposal will be considered by the IAU General Assembly on Thursday: demote Pluto- and presumably Charon and 2003 UB313- to the status of something less than full planets.

The secondary "dwarf planet" status was part of the original proposal. Apparently the second proposal would make a distinction between "planets" and "dwarf planets," rather than treating the latter category as a subset of the former.

And so, the adventure continues...

The Old Self's fascination with the Law

Wonderful post at Crue Tectum on the seductiveness of the Law.

Amazing how easy it is even for Christians to forget that the Christian life is not about either our being good or making ourselves good by our own efforts. It's about Christ being formed in us as we live by the constant supply forgiveness and renewal provided by our baptisms, nourished by the Word and the Sacraments- and as the Holy Spirit does through these what the authors of all those Christian best-sellers give us instructions for doing ourselves.

Do we aspire to holiness? Sure. One cannot be a believer in Christ without desiring to please God without lives; contrary to the common error espoused by some in the "Evangelical" movement, to be a believer is by definition to be a disciple. The Holy Spirit will not permit any heart in which He resides to be comfortable with sin!

But we don't supply that holiness. God does.

The Old Self loves the Law, and can't abide the Gospel. Discuss.

John Podhoretz is wrong

We in the West have not evolved to the point where we're too morally advanced to oppose evil effectively. In fact, common sense would seem to rather clearly dictate that such a state of affairs is no moral advance at all.

Rather, we've morally deteriorated- and we'd better get a grip on ourselves, fast!

I remember a European once commenting on this blog in that the United States is morally inferior to Europe for allowing capital punishment. Now, I am not a supporter of capital punishment, because there is too great a danger of a mistake, and no way to rectify one if it's discovered. But that the commenter in question was able to seriously argue for Europe's moral superiority over the United States on the ground that, in principle, executing murderers is more immoral than killing the terminally ill and the unborn and the otherwise inconvenient members of our species, as is done in Holland, or legalizing drug abuse and prostitution, as is done in more than one European…

One city

On a day when the New York Timestried harder than usual to to make the case that Iraq as a whole is a lost cause, Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics answers with the case to the contrary.

To keep the situation in perspective, bear in mind that Iraq is a nation the size of California. While the intramural violence and the struggles of rival ethnic, political and religious groups whose conflicting aspirations were all ground down under Saddam Hussein's heel are certainly nation-wide, that is in one very significant sense profoundly misleading.

Most of the trouble is limited to Baghdad- one city. That city is the capital, and by far the most important piece of real estate in the whole country. But it is still only one city in a nation the size of California.

Certainly the various ethnic and religious groups which the tyranny of Saddam Hussein held together in one arguably artificial nation-state are asserting their identities- and petty rivalries and hatreds as well- in a violent and des…

2003 UB313's own discoverer on the IAU committee's proposal

What makes a planet?

Most people, when first confronted with a proposal to make 44 new planets in the solar system, seem to react by looking blankly for a second, then shaking their heads and muttering something about astronomers being crazy.

Astronomers are not actually crazy, at least most of them. Astronomers have needed a good scientific definition of the word 'planet' for many years now and this one works well for scientists. It doesn't, however, work terribly well for the rest of the world. The solution is the one that should have happened long ago: a divorce of the scientific term 'planet' for the cultural term 'planet.' No one expects school children to name the 53 planets (most, in fact, don't even have names). If I were a school teacher I would teach 8, or 9, or perhaps 10 planets and then say 'scientists consider many more things to be planets too' and use that opportunity to talk about how much more there is in the solar system. But a…

Here's a summary of the actual definition

Here is a summary of the IAU committee's actual definition of a "planet-" the first in history since the ancients simply coined the term to describe an object which moved against the background of the stars.

The high points:

1) The object must orbit a star- but not be itself a star;

2)) The object must have sufficient mass to be round, or nearly round;

3) The object must not be a moon (to answer Eric Phillips' question, in view of the fact that Pluto and Charon orbit each other, Charon is no longer to be considered a moon of Pluto, and the Pluto/Charon system has been redefined as a double planet).

Says committee member Richard Binzel, "Our goal was to find a scientific basis for a new definitition of 'planet,' and we chose gravity as the determining factor. Nature decides whether or not an object is a planet."

The downside to the definition: dozens of other objects may qualify- and 2003 UB313 discoverer Michael Brown suggests that the new definition- whi…

BREAKING NEWS: IAU committee proposes 12 planet solar system

The verdict is in- and the International Astronomical Union will vote on it next Thursday.

A committee of the IAU has recommended that Pluto remain a planet- and that its largest moon, Charon, also be considered a planet, in effect recognizing the solar system's only double-planet system; that 2003 UB 313 be considered a planet; and that Ceres, the largest of the asteroids, be considered a planet.

Ceres, Pluto and Charon and 2003 UB313 will be relegated to a new category: "dwarf planets."

If the proposal is adopted, according to IAU rules 2003 UB313 will be named after a deity of the underworld in some pantheon or other.

"Goofy's" discoverer on the impending IAU proposal

Dr. Michael Brown of Caltech, discoverer of 2003 UB313 ("Goofy;" three early photographs showing its movement against the stars are at the left) says that the definition of "planet" (and hence the resolution of the status of both Pluto and "Goofy") a committee of the International Astronomical Union appointed for the purpose will announce tomorrow will be voted on by the IAU next Tuesday, August 24.

He also gives a quite lucid summary of the reasons for the controversy, and the various things the IAU might decide to do about it. Interestingly, he gives my definition of a "planet" (any object with enough mass to be round, which is not a moon) the best chance of winning out, at about 40%. However, he also points out- and this, I did not realize- that if that is the definition that is adopted, we will go overnight from having nine planets to having 53! The asteroid Ceres- which was called a planet when it was discovered, but later demoted when other…

Save the McNeil River brown bears!

The decision to allow the brown bears- protected for decades, and so tame that they have absolutely no fear of human beings- on Alaska's McNeil River State Wildlife Sanctuary to be hunted is nothing less than disgraceful.

Ok. I admit that I personally don't see the sport in hunting. I've only done it once (for coyotes, in rural Nebraska), and frankly I hated it. Killing things simply does not give me, personally, a thrill, and in fact the idea of doing it for fun gives me the creeps. But I do not condemn hunters out of hand- and especially those who, like deer hunters here in Iowa, hunt for meat (even meat they don't strictly need as a part of their diet). Even trophy hunting, where animals have a chance to make use of their normal instincts and survival skills, is something I can understand.

But where is the sport in shooting tame bears? I would think that hunters themselves would be up in arms about this particular proposal. Anybody who would participate in such a &quo…

Jimmy Carter just keeps getting more and more bizarre...

... and I keep wondering how in the world I was ever fooled so badly by this man.

His strong suit was always his claim to be a man of conscience. Calling Israel's self-defense against Hezbollah unjustified simply is the latest evidence that his vaunted moral compass has been somehow demagnetized. Does he seriously believe that aggressors should be given a free pass if they hide among innocent civilians? How could any country which operated with that set of rules ever defend its own people?

It's arguable that according to the classic "just war" criteria, Carter has a point. But given the amount and kind of force required, was Israel's response truly not proportional? And it was not the people of Lebanon- even those who willingly shelter the terrorists- who were Israel's targets. It was the terrorists themselves, who simply could not have been attacked in any other way.

The classic "just war" criteria- which badly need to be revised in light of contempo…

Calling an Indian-American a monkey is neither sensitive nor smart

George Allen has just about fallen off my list for 2008.

As much as I'd like to believe that the Senator simply stuck his foot in his mouth when he addressed an Indian man as "macaca," the man speaks French. French as in macaque. If he didn't intend to call the man a name which is an ethnic slur in his own mother's culture, one has to wonder what in the world was going on in the man's mind.

Allen, it should be noted, has apologized, and says that he did not intend a racial slur. It's doubtless true, as some observe, that he was singling the man out because he was a Webb campaign worker rather than because of his ethnicity. But how much of an excuse is that? It's still a racial slur in his own mother's Tunisian French!

I think this will turn out to be a fatal wound to his White House hopes. It's true that Democrats tend to get a lot of slack on racial issues (as in Hillary Clinton's comment about Gandhi running a gas station in St. Louis, a…

Even the radicals agree with me

This remarkable column by DeWayne Hickman makes the same point I and a great many others have been making about Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont for the past week: Lamont, not Lieberman, speaks today for the Democratic party.

Never mind that Hickman thinks that Lamont's position is good, and Lieberman's bad. This from a guy who thinks that Cousin Maxine, one of the House's most radical and irresponsible members, is somehow less than dangerous simply because she accurately represents the views of a wacky district.

This from a guy who thinks that Saddam didn't have those piles of WMD's he admitted having, and played a twelve-year shell game with the UN to try to hide, prior to the period immediately leading up to the invasion.

If people as far from the American mainstream as DeWayne Hickman say that Lamont is their man, and Lieberman is not, I'd say the case has been pretty much made.

HT: Real Clear Politics

We may learn Pluto's fate- and "Goofy's-" on Wednesday

The International Astronomical Union will announce a "simple and scientific" tentative definition of the word "planet" on Wednesday.

While this may surprise some people, the word has never had an official definition before- leading to controversy about whether or not Pluto (pictured with the largest of its three moons, Charon) and other Kuiper Belt Objects like 2003 UB313 (which I have arbitrarily taken to calling either "Mickey" or- more appropriately- "Goofy") qualify.

The discovery of the slightly-larger 2003 UB313 confronted the IAU with the challenge of deciding whether it- and, by implication, Pluto- should be classifed as planets, or as something else. Both- like Kuiper Belt Objects in general- are essentially icy comet-like bodies, whose orbits lie outside the common plane of the other eight planets in our solar system.

Many astronomers believe that Pluto- by far the smallest of the planets, discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930- should neve…

A riddle

Q: What's the difference between Hezbollah and the Chicago Cubs?

A: When the Cubs get their butts kicked, they don't claim to have won.

Yepsen on extremism and 2008

Though I'm sure he scores no points with his employers with it, David Yepsen of our local Leftist rag, the Des Moines Register, has an interesting column today on Ned Lamont, liberal extremism, the foiling of the lastest terrorist plot, and 2008.

He needs to be corrected on a couple of historical matters, though. In 1968, anti-war Democrats (and I know, because I was one of them) did not oppose Hubert Humphrey because he was Lyndon Johnson's vice-president. We opposed him because his position on the war (and the bombing halt in particular) were the same as Johnson's. And nearly all of us ended up voting for Humphrey when, in a major speech during the last week of the campaign, he finally endorsed the bombing halt.

Interesting, too, that Yepsen apparently sees Mitt Romney as the presumptive GOP nominee, probably because of his massive lead in organization here in Iowa.

HT: Real Clear Politics

On the reading of many books

The Aardvark has tagged me with a book meme. It's a particularly difficult one, since it involves citing one book in each category (though some participants, including Oryceteropus Afer himself, have fudged a bit by sometimes mentioning two or more).

Anyway, here goes:

1. One book that changed your life.
The Hammer of God, by Bo Giertz.

2. One book, other than the Bible, which you've read more than once:
The Sunne in Splendour, by Sharon Kay Penman.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island:
The Bible.

4..One book that made you laugh:
The Collected Writings of St. Hereticus, by Robet McAfee Brown.

5 One book that made you cry:
The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

6. One book that you wish had been written:
A Precise Theological Explication of the Matters at Controversy in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in 2006, by C.F.W. Walther.

7. One book that you wish had not been written:
The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren

8.One book you're currently reading:
The Machine Cru…

White Hen assimilated by Seven-Eleven collective

A chain of Chicago convenience stores I've always been fond of has been bought by Seven-Eleven, and is going to be assimilated.

White Hen Pantries will soon be no more.

And with it goes its catchy jingle:

When you...
Run out,
Run out- to White Hen!
When you run out of anything,
Run out to White Hen!
When you...
Run out...
Run out...
To....

It's the kind of thing that runs through the mind for days after hearing it. But alas, it will now be but a memory.

A philosophical question that needs an answer

Traditional Leftist economics considers deficits rather unimportant. That's what we heard, at least, during the years when Democratic presidents were running them up.

Largely by gutting the defense budget and eliminating other spending necessary for national security, Bill Clinton actually eliminated the deficit. That the accomplishment was unsustainable in the long run didn't stop the Left fromm "ooohing" and "ahhhing." Suddenly, deficits were bad- or at least getting rid of them was good.

When in the wake of 9/11 President Bush began his program of wasteful spending for such unnecessary things as restoring America's ability to defend itself and project power, the chorus on the Left intensified: deficits bad. Bad, bad, bad.

But now, the deficit is going down- and the President gets credit for it neither from the Left nor from the MSM media. Hence the question: If the deficit falls in the forest, do you hear it?

HT: Real Clear Politics

Taking after Adolph

I don't agree with Alan Dershowitz about much. But he's right on target with this analysis of Hezbollah's real war aim- and the objective of Iran in the Middle East, even as it has been the objective of the Palestinians and the Arabs of the Middle East generally ever since 1948: finishing what Adolph Hitler started.

Rangel says that 'Islamofacist' is a bigoted insult

Rep Charles Rangel (D-NY) says that using the term 'Islamofascist' is religious bigotry, since we didn't call Hitler a 'Christianfacist.'

Nor was he a Christian, though he was baptized as a Roman Catholic. Hitler was a Neo-Pagan. And he certainly didn't make Christianity central to either his program or his critique of his enemies.

But then again, who expects logic from Charlie Rangel?

The neo-McGovernites strike back

This morning's Real Clear Politics features several whines by admirers of neo-McGovernite Ned Lamont that the portrayal of his victory over Sen. Joe Lieberman in Tuesday's Connecticut Democratic primary as a triumph for extremism are unfair.

I choose the word "whine" quite deliberately. Their arguments are absurd, and don't even touch the compelling logic of the characterization of Ned Lamont as an irresponsible extremist (even if there is one issue in which he is not as far left as some are). And yes, it is the Democrats- the party which for six years has responded to the Bush administration, not with coherent arguments, but mainly with personal attacks and name-calling- whose petty partisanship is responsible for the toxic state of American politics today. Calling a thing what it is is not mean. Calling George Bush a diabolically clever moron is not only abusive, but transparently silly. Yet that is what the Democrats have done for six years, and it is no small…

Peace, love, and Ned Lamont

A Democratic friend of mine- a reasonable person, sort of like Joe Lieberman himself, whose opinions I recognize as carefully considered and well thought-out even when I disagree with them- has sent me this article explaining why Ned Lamont's victory in the Connecticut Senate primary is an utter disaster for the Democrats.

I agree. The age of Clintonesque "triangulation" is over. The Democrats- driven mad by the frustration of losing twice to George W. Bush- have done the Republican party the favor in this dark hour of once again becoming openly what it has always been at heart: the party, not of Bill Clinton, but of George McGovern.

My friend is looking for a comfortable third party. For myself, the Lamont victory merely encourages my impression that no matter how deep the hole we Republicans manage to dig for ourselves, for the foreseeable future we can count on the Democrats to dig themselves one that's deeper.

Incidentally, that same friend has made it clear for yea…

Presbyterians publish book accusing Dubyah of plotting 9/11

I have a cousin who is a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA). He once noted that, with the fall of the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, North Korea, and the Presbyterian Church are about all the Communists have left.

As is the case with most of the so-called "mainline" Protestant denominations, the moonbattery of the PCUSA is beyond belief. But this time, the Presbyterian moonbats have outdone themselves.

The denomination's official publishing house- John Knox Press- is actually publishing a book by process theology heretic David Ray Griffin claiming that George W. Bush, rather than Osama bin Laden, plotted the attacks of 9/11 in order to provide an excuse for going to war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I continue to be amazed at the willful naivete of my former parishioners in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, who steadfastly refuse to acknowledge all evidence of its whacked-out character. But the notion that any layperson in the PCUSA could be in denial about that sad a…

Maybe the base isn't all that disillusioned after all

Getting the base to the polls remains a way for even a party in a weak political position to do better than expected- and despite predictions of electoral disaster for the Republicans this November based at least in part on the disaffection of that base, the GOP looks a great deal stronger in that department than is generally assumed.

Don't get me wrong; I am anything but sanguine about the Party's chances of doing more than hanging on to both houses of Congress by the skin of its teeth. But it's not quite as far in the dumpster as some think.

Democrats may yet be frustrated in a fourth consecutive national election.

The passing of a pioneer

Yesterday I neglected (inexcusably) to note the passing of Dr. James Van Allen, retired professor of physics at the University of Iowa, whose experiment on America's first satellite, Explorer I, led to the discovery of the Van Allen Radiation Belts which circle Earth. He also played a leading role in the early Pioneer program, which sent probes to the edge of the solar system. Dr. Van Allen was 91.

He twice appeared on the cover of Time Magazine, and was universally acknowledged as one of the greatest astrophysicists of our age. But the accomplishment of which he was proudest was having taught basic astronomy to thousands of University of Iowa undergraduates.

Triumph of the Moonbats

Joe Lieberman has lost the Connecticut Democratic Senate nomination to neo-McGovernite Ned Lamont- but has vowed to continue his battle for re-election as an independent.

A battle he will win. Tonight's victory for the extremist wing of the Democratic party will ring hollow come November.

Classic

This guy really doesn't understand the difference between his buffoonery and what Bonhoeffer meant by "religionless Christianity."

By definition, the uncomprehending religious liberals who try to claim Bonhoffer don't understand him; if they did, they'd condemn him instead of trying to claim him! Bonhoeffer was not endorsing unbelief!

But then, why should their incomprehension be surprising? The empty, bankrupt liberal "Christian" tradition has been embracing theological words while denying their meaning for decades.

Bottom line: there is a vast difference between following Christ without necessarily becoming obsessed with churchmanship, and simply igoring Christ while continuing to call oneself a Christian. And no a mount of buffoonery will lessen that difference

Shhh! Don't tell the mainline churches! It would upset them, the dears- at least as long as it took them to remind themselves that neither words nor ideas mean a thing as long as they serve t…

Anybody got a cigar?

Despite being an immigrant to Iowa who personally enjoys participating every four years in that precinct caucus thing you may have read about, I have long been of the opinion that America would be better off without it.

Even in old-fashioned primaries, the most motivated voters- the party activists, who tend to be on the far reaches of the political spectrum- tend to dominate. But in the Iowa Caucuses, they sweep all before them.

More, you see, is involved in caucus participation than merely showing up for a few minutes and expressing one's choice in the quiet of a nice, private voting booth. The caucuses- especially for the Democrats, whose business for the evening not only involves a "beauty contest" straw poll, but the actual assignment of delegates to county conventions (who choose delegates to state conventions, who choose delegates to the national convention) based precisely on presidential candidate preference. It also involves memorializing the county and state par…

A theocrat behind every tree

One of the sillier phenomena in contemporary American life is the bizarre inclination of radical secularists- people who can't seem to understand that the official institutionalization of their personal views of ultimate matters is as much a violation of the First Amendment as the institutionalization of any other sectarian viewpoint- to see a theocrat behind every tree.

This will become a remote danger only when a particular religious viewpoint is sufficiently dominant to make its theology stick at the polls. Ain't gonna happen- as even a rudimentary bit of rational reflection about the diversity of this nation would quickly make clear.

In any case, Ross Douhat of the Atlantic Monthlyherein examines some of the more recent exhibitions of irrational "theocracyphobia" by Kevin Phillips and several other authors who- while demonstrably ignorant and transparently naive about both Christianity in general and "Evangelical" Christianity in particular- are for the …

Reuters pulls doctored photo

Reuters, like Dan Rather before it, has been busted by the blogosphere.

The wire service has pulled a the doctored photo of Beirut to the left, which shows the devastating effects of a Photoshop attack on the city.

Though in fairness, the article linked to above is wrong in one respect: Reuters did not confess to having intentionally altered the picture!

ADDENDUM: In fact, Reuters has pulled all its pictures by this particular Lebanese photographer- who seems to have a penchant for- ahem- augmenting his work.

HT: Drudge

Project Orion, the Ares, and the future

The successor of Project Apollo, which will return American astronauts to the Moon, will be called Project Orion, and the rocket which will send American astronauts back to the Moon and then onward to Mars will be called the Ares.

This Project Orion should not be confused with the 1960's plan by the same name to develop a nuclear spaceship.

This is about more than beating the Chinese back to the Moon. This is about more than the supply of helium 3 on the Moon, which could potentially solve our energy problems for the foreseeable future. This is about renewing the benefits to our economy we enjoyed from Project Apollo- about stimulating our economy, employing more people, making the kind of huge leaps in every area of science which nearly always happen on the way to somewhere else- and, of course, facing up to the reality of our destiny in space.

What it is, above all, is about time.

HT: MarsBlog