Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
--C.S. Lewis--

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

No Death Penalty For Child Rape

"However devastating the crime to children, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion, 'the death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child.'" Very true. It's nowhere near punishment enough. However, since our country refuses to burn, flay, disembowel, impale, or stone child rapists, modern forms of execution are the closest thing to justice we can obtain in this life.

While the dissenting justices, especially Alito, had some eloquent objections, I think the one that captures this injustice the best was the response given by the little girl's mother. "The girl's mother was reached by The Associated Press following the court's decision Wednesday. 'We don't talk about that,' she said and hung up."

P.S. Kudos to Obama for having the courage to denounce the verdict in the strongest language available to a gutless Dem. Ok, that was unnecessary, but seriously, he didn't need to comment and I'm glad he did. I haven't heard anything from McCain yet.

P.P.S. Ok, McCain did release a statement saying he found the ruling, "profoundly disturbing". Am I the only one who thinks that, while temperance is often a good thing, society would benefit by a little bit of apoplectic language from time to time? Couldn't Obama or McCain have mustered harsher words?

In case you're not with me yet, here's some context. This is a decision that stays the execution of a man who, after previously having sexually abused an 8 year-old on 3 occasions (including one actual rape), then raped another 8 year-old. According to the prosecutor's brief she suffered "a vaginal injury which had resulted in profuse bleeding. A laceration to the left wall of her vagina had separated her cervix from the back of her vagina, causing her rectum to protrude into her vagina. Additionally, L.H.’s perineum was torn all the way from the posterior fourchette, where the vagina normally ends, to the anus." He then forced her to lie to the police, whom he only bothered to call after he called in to work to tell them he wouldn't be in because his daughter had, "become a woman" and arranging for the bloody carpet to be cleaned? How about showing a little bit of outrage?

Exercises In Onanism

6,000 hippies in one spot. Can you imagine the smell? Probably a combination of Otto's bus and unwashed feet.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What Would Reagan Think?

I'm currently reading this book, a collection of speeches written by Reagan himself. One piece, entitled Nigeria (pages 16-17) struck me. Written in 1979, Reagan decries the influence that Nigeria was reportedly able to exert on the US, which in turn guaranteed that Robert Mugabe would end up as president of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe instead of the non-violent Bishop Muzorewa. (though Reagan was unaware of this further development at the time)

As a short recap for those who are unaware, Rhodesia was much like South Africa in that it had a black majority ruled by a white minority. The country was under extreme external pressure to reform, and finally agreed to do so. The white population brokered an agreement that they felt would allow for a peaceful transition that would give the black population power while protecting them from reprisal. It called for elections with a set number of seats reserved for whites. Mugabe's violent ZANU party and it's equally violent ally ZAPU did not participate. After Bishop Muzorewa won, his government was refused recognition by the rest of the world. Despite it's advocacy of non-violence, and the established thuggery of Mugabe, the international community (always a defender of good versus evil) forced negotiations that lead to a second election in 1980. Due to his widespread violence and intimidation, this time Mugabe participated and won. Ever since then, he's dragged his country further into poverty, violence, and chaos. (Another foreign policy victory for the Carter administration.)

The violence currently going on in the country simply underscores how bad the decision was. Reagan blamed it at least partially on pressure from Nigeria. So how was a dinky, third-world dictatorship able to pressure one of the world's two great super powers? Oil sales. After all, the 1970's were a time of poor economic growth and high oil prices. A major exporter like Nigeria would have been capable of severe harm by cutting off the spigot.

30 years later, the president of the US is begging the Saudis to produce some extra barrels of crude while the US economy continues to slow. Meanwhile, the Saudis use that money to export radical Islam and abuse their hired help, while running one of the world's most repressive regimes. And yet, every REALISTIC opportunity to strike a blow for freedom while moving toward energy independence has been blocked by the left in this country; meanwhile they insist on wasting money on disasters like ethanol and hamstringing the economy in the name of global warming. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Whew!

Apparently the Large Hadron Collider won't be destroying the earth anytime soon. I was worried.

Now if we could just clear up that whole, "scientists accidentally shorten the lifespan of the universe" thing…

They're Stealing Our Jobs!

Yeah, that's right. Those dirty, stinkin' primates are at it again. Take your stinking paws off our jobs, you darned dirty ape!*


*I am fully aware that monkeys are not apes. Please don't e-mail me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hope For All But The Helpless

Miss Jessen is an exquisite example of what antiabortion advocates call a "survivor." Well into her third trimester of pregnancy, Gianna's biological mother was injected with a saline solution intended to induce a chemical abortion at a Los Angeles County abortion center. Eighteen hours later, and precious minutes before the abortionist's arrival, Gianna emerged. Premature and with severe injuries that resulted in cerebral palsy. But alive.
Had the abortionist been present at her birth, Gianna would have been killed, perhaps by suffocation. As it was, a startled nurse called an ambulance, and Gianna was rushed to a nearby hospital, where, weighing just two pounds, she was placed in an incubator, then, months later, in foster care.
Gianna survived then, and thrives now, because, as she told me recently with a laugh, "I guess I don't die easy." Which is what the abortionist might have thought as he signed his victim's birth certificate. Gianna's medical records state that she was "born during saline abortion."


Unfortunately for any future Gianna Jessens, if the candidate of "hope" is elected, there will no longer be any hope for infants like her. Twice Mr. Obama has opposed legislation that would have defined such a child as a "person" once she survived the abortion attempt and made it outside of her mother's body alive. At that point, how can anyone argue that continued attempts to kill her are merely a case of a woman exercising "choice" regarding the workings of her own body. In fact, how can anyone call this anything but a clear case of infanticide? Maybe John McCain should ask Senator Obama about what hope such babies should cling to once he is in office.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sex and the Single Christian

Rod Dreher has an interesting post up today regarding Sex and the City, and how the church handles chastity. Apparently Christianity Today reviewed and RECOMMENDED the movie. Some people were rightly not amused. Read it, it's worth the time.

It's a tough issue, and I think Rod hits on something when he says the church generally mishandles the issue (or doesn't handle it at all). How many sermons has your pastor preached on abstinence lately? If so, does the advice go any deeper than "don't do it"? Are single Christians holding their peers accountable in a firm, but gentle way? Are we expressing the true value of sex as one part of a committed bond? It's easy to avoid the issue. After all, we've been beaten up and called "prudes" so often by the world. We like to think of it as a "private" sin because it helps us excuse our inaction. Too bad that no sin is actually private. All sin damages our relationship with God, while also having earthly consequences. If the church is a connected body, how can we excuse standing by if our friends are doing something foolish? Isn't damage to one part of the body damage to the whole?

Just before Shannon and I got married, I was with a group of Christian men, and mentioned something about having to move all of her stuff while finalizing a wedding. He was genuinely surprised that we weren't shacking up already. I'm not trying to make mention of my own holiness. I have no more ability to resist temptation than anyone else out there. Fortunately I was marrying a godly woman, and even more fortunately, I have people in my life who refuse to stand by and allow me to make dumb choices. I would never have been in a position to shack up even if I wanted to. But that obviously isn't that case for most Christians or he never would have been so surprised.

I don't have any answers, other than to get involved in a loving way. We have perfect examples of how to handle sin in Paul's letters. How many churches actually follow the pattern he lays out? Do we ignore anything else so callously? Why do we let that one slip?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Seriously?

Come on people, I don't want to be subjected to inappropriate imagery any more than anyone else, but she's a friggin' mermaid! It's objections like this that allow people to take Christians less than seriously when we take stands on REAL issues.

Haditha Marines

The persecution of the Haditha Marines continues to fall apart. By my count, we now have 6 people who've been cleared out of 8 indictments. I wonder when Prime Minister Maliki, the various reporters who jumped on the bandwagon, and especially John Murtha will be asked to answer for their reckless condemnations?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Setting The Bar Low

Anyone who knows me well knows the absolute lack of respect I have for the world of academia. While it retains pockets of sanity, generally outside of math and the sciences the lunatics are running the asylum. If you need proof, look no further.

A study by professors from the University of California, Santa Cruz and the University of Kentucky has found that 90% of girls between the ages of 12-18 have experienced sexual harassment and that sexism is "pervasive" among adolescent girls. Wait! Before you go running to lock your daughters in their rooms, here is some important information. Some of the forms of sexual harassment experienced were "unwanted romantic attention", "teas(ing) due to appearance", and "demeaning gender-related comments". That's right, when that scrubby-looking guy sits down next to you at the bar and offers to buy you a drink ladies, you have a case for sexual harassment. If someone tells you "girls have cooties" or calls you "bug-eyed", you also have a case.

Now I will be the first to admit that buried among all the nonsense there is almost certainly some real sexual harassment going on. But, only on a college campus can someone define sexual harassment so loosely while keeping a straight face and receiving taxpayer funding. (Uh, oh. Since we're talking about college, lets hope no "queer studies" faculty are reading this post. Using the phrase "straight face" might be too heteronormative.)

Moreover, the young women being influenced by blithering idiots like these are being taught that they are victims. No society in which 90% of the female population believes itself to be victimized can remain healthy. And they ARE being taught this. The study itself notes that, "Girls who had been exposed to feminist ideas, either through the media or an adult such as a mother or teacher, were more likely to identify and report sexist behavior than were girls who had no information about feminism." Worst of all, this does a real disservice to society's attempt to fight real sexual harassment. How can we separate the wheat from the chaff if everyone is being taught that any behavior they don't like constitutes harassment?

My favorite part of this whole exercise in thickheadedness was this, though. According to the author, sexism comes in three types: "sexual harassment, sexist comments about their academic abilities, and sexist comments about their athletic abilities". So, according to this author, when I tell my wife she "hits like a girl", or acknowledge any gender differences, I'm displaying sexism. I hate to display my staggering knowledge of the biological sciences and human physiology so audaciously, but apparently I have no choice.

Most mammals display sexual dimorphism. That's merely a fancy way of saying that the genders aren't physically indistinguishable. One of the key differences among mammals is that in most cases, the male of the species is larger. This generally makes them more effective at performing a wide variety of arduous physical tasks. Noting this does not give the female of the species a fit of the vapors...unless the species in question is human. Though we display obvious sexual dimorphism (in capacity for muscular hypertrophy, lung capacity, skeletal structure, hand and foot size, and the relative size of various regions of the brain), the idea that this might have any practical consequences in terms of physical or cognitive performance is enough to send feminists running for their hangin' ropes.

Only on a college campus can you have a biologist tell you that men have a larger frontomedial cortex, amygdala, and hypothalamus, while women have larger frontal and medial paralimbic cortices, and a larger Broca's area, then turn around and be told by a women's studies professor that there is NO CONCEIVABLE WAY that this measurable, established fact has any practical consequences. Even when these comparisons are potentially complimentary, (the Broca's area for example, controls language processing and speech) they have to avoid them out of fear of losing ground elsewhere. I wouldn't be foolish enough to assert that I know with certainty that these differences have any material consequences. The human brain is the least understood organ in the body. Only the mindless orthodoxy of college campus feminism claims that sort of certainty.

Citing sources:
http://cercor.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/11/6/490
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080515072645.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_differences_in_humans

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Odd

I wish Ted Kennedy all the best in his attempts to beat his cancer. It would be a terrible way to go, and I'd hate to see a family that's dealt with so much trajedy have to deal with that too. However, having said that, what's the deal with this line, oddly placed in a NEWS story about his illness? "Kennedy's bravery is legendary, but this is a lot to ask of a 76-year-old man, doctors admit." Why exactly is Kennedy legendary for his bravery? He is not a war hero like his brother (not his fault, he just feel into the wrong age group), and his behavior in the only moment of physical danger he encountered was not exactly the stuff of legend...well, at least not a positive legend. He has been a formidable warrior in the Senate, but leading from the mainstream of his party in a safe seat in a liberal state isn't exactly proof of his legendary courage. I'm not trying to attack the poor man, it's just a seriously weird statement. Is it just a little bit of hagiography for a potentially dying man that also convinently gives the author a hook for her piece? Can anyone tell me when he's demonstrated this legendary bravery?


**Hat tip: Jonah Goldberg at The Corner**

Today Might Be Interesting

For weeks, the conventional wisdom has been that Obama would finish the race strong with big wins in South Dakota and Montana. That would emphatically close out his campaign, and probably provide real encouragement for Hillary to bow out gracefully. As far as I can tell, this was based primarily on old polls and the results in neighboring states. The neighboring states really don't tell us much however, because they were caucuses, in which Obama has generally overperformed.

But now, the Clintons may see a gleam of light at the end of the tunnel. The total number of delegates involved isn't much. There are 31 up for grabs, not enough to catch Hillary up (she's currently about 120 pledged delegates behind) even if she won all of them. But the polling is looking different. ARG has Hillary up by 26 points in South Dakota, and Obama only leading by 4 in Montana (caution: ARG tends to produce extremes.) This is the only real polling that has been done in either state in a while.

So what would a split decision, or worse (for Obama) a double win for Hillary, mean? Montana's total population is around a million people, South Dakota has about 800,000. That means that, assuming the results are relatively close to ARG's numbers, Clinton will probably gain on Obama in the popular vote, though she'll only net a few delegates. Right now, if you estimate the results from the caucus states that didn't release official results (which is probably unfair to Obama since he won those states), and give Obama all the uncommitted Michigan votes (which is unfair to Hillary since many of those voters would have chosen Richardson or Edwards), Obama leads by a slim 44,000 votes. That means that Hillary, who is already touting her "popular vote" lead by not counting the uncommitted Michigan voters at all, might end up with a VERY SLIM majority no matter how you slice the votes. Coupled with her fairly convincing argument that she is the better candidate to face John McCain, I wonder if such a result might encourage her to take it all the way to the convention floor. After all, even if Obama hits the "magic number" of delegates in the next few days, none of those delegates are actually obligated to vote for him based on anything but their word (and Hillary has seen how much some of their commitments are actually worth).

Of course, real life is usually far less entertaining that that. Obama will probably win both states, Hillary will bow out and agree to help Obama reunite the party for November. But for today, I'll keep dreaming.

**Just in**
As I was about to hit the "post" button, the news flash came in that Obama has reached the necessary number of delegates. Just remember, the current delegate totals are a chimera. Many of the states have not finished their caucus processes, and as I said above, not one of the super-delegates is required to vote for Obama. He'll try to play this up, but I doubt it will discourage Clinton much, though it may suppress turnout in tonight's vote.

That's Awesome

Barack Obama is now officially wussier than the French. Move over cheese-eaters, there's a new surrender-monkey in town.

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Thought

One of the arguments against the war that we hear all the time is that Iraq isn't better off now that Saddam is out of power. The line of reasoning generally goes something like this. "Yes, Saddam gassed the Kurds. Yes, his secret police fed people into wood chippers. Yes, he killed hundreds of thousands of his own people in a pointless war with Iran. But that was all a long time ago. More recently he was a pussycat (at least relatively speaking), and so more civilians have died due to the invasion than he would have killed had he remained in power."

Ok, let's assume for the moment that life is the only quantifiable benefit to be considered in determining whether Iraqis are better off. Let's also accept for the moment the premise that Saddam wasn't directly killing any significant number of Iraqis and wouldn't have done so in the future had he stayed in power. That is not the same as arguing that his being in power wasn't leading to countless deaths. Remember, there were sanctions on Iraq from the end of the Gulf War until 2003. Those sanctions probably led indirectly to the deaths of thousands of Iraqis. (All the estimates are mostly conjecture, and range from 100,000 to 1.7 million)

Granted, at the time, people wanted to blame the West, not Saddam for these deaths, just as they now blame America for Iraqi civilian casualties rather than the terrorists actually killing them, but the truth is a little different. Saddam was directly responsible for the continuance of these sanctions. Had he truly reformed and offered evidence of his change, the western world would have been glad to lift them. On top of that, the UN introduced the Oil-For-Food program precisely to avoid starving the Iraqis and cutting off their medicine. With the complicity of many corrupt European officials, Saddam redirected a large percentage of the funds intended to save the lives of little children into his own lavish projects.

Ignore These Stories

There is no success in Iraq. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! These stories can be deceptive. Remember how we were told Maliki was too beholden to the Shia militias and would never tackle guys like Sadr? He sure messed that up by sending his troops in to take out the Mahdi army. Almost as badly as the Iraqi people messed up the predictions of disaster before they went to the polls. And how about the 18 benchmarks set up for Iraqi success. 12 completed and progress on another 5! If you were one of those fools who actually accepted the notion that George Bush isn't pure evil and success in Iraq is possible, things like this might trick you into believing that we're winning the war and shouldn't quit now. But don't worry. Keep the faith. Don't let anyone confuse the issue with an appeal to facts. Barack Obama will make sure we run far, fast, and quickly once he's elected. That will make us much safer and more respected, just as our reactions in Vietnam, Desert One, Beirut, and Somalia did.

Are Conservatives More Truthful?

According to this article they seem to be. While I'd love to just blandly accept this as true, I seriously doubt that it is. The problem with all studies like the ones cited in this article, whether they pick on conservatives or liberals, is that they ask the wrong question. For most people, their political outlook is not so much a core component of their identity so much as it is the natural result of those traits that do make up the core of their identity (did that make sense?). Therefore, assuming the study itself is methodologically sound, I don't think that it asks the right question. By focusing on political identity rather than the underlying reasons for that identity, the survey is picking up the effects of those underlying ideals rather than any meaningful affect that political ideology has on honesty.

For example, conservatives tend to be more religious than liberals. Religious conservatives tend to think of their religious materials (the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Koran, the Upanishads etc) as divine and therefore holy, whereas religious liberals tend to see these same materials as manmade and therefore flawed. In this context it makes sense that these religious differences would lead to a difference in levels of honesty. After all, a command from Almighty God carries far more weight than an ethical system that evolved over the centuries through the efforts of men.

Another example that springs to mind is age. Young people tend to be more liberal, and grow conservative as they age. I think it's also entirely within the realm of possibility that young people have less solid ethical foundations than their elders. This difference could also very well account for the split in honesty between the two sides of the political spectrum.

In short, people who look at partisan affiliation as an explanation for behavior are still a level too high. They need to go deeper.

I Wonder

Now that Obama has lost by a landslide margin to Clinton in Puerto Rico, just as he did in West Virginia and Kentucky, will the media go digging around for evidence of racism? Or are stories about the racism of voters who overwhelmingly reject Obama only newsworthy when they involve white southerners?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Gnostic Gospels, Part 3

So, with all of that background, the big question becomes this. Were they right? Scholars claim that at least some branches of Gnosticism weren't a separate religion, but a separate belief within the confines of the early Christian church. What we consider to be Orthodox Christianity is really a matter of what was chosen at the church counsels, while everything else was forcibly supressed.
There are a few problems with this argument. One of the biggest and most glaring problems is that the earliest of the Gnostic gospels didn't appear until the mid-to-late second century. Most of them showed up in the 3rd and 4th. This is as opposed to cannonical Christian writings, which even most secular scholars date back to the first century. By the time of the Gnostic writings, the Christian church had already accepted the four Gospels and the Pauline epistles as cannonical in practice. The catholic epistles took a little longer, and weren't fully settled until the ecumenical councils, but the Pauline epistles were in common usage and fully accepted by about the year AD 100, while the Gospels achieved this status by AD 150 or so. That means that by the time the first Gnostic books were written, the cannonical gospels had already been in circulation long enough to gain universal acceptance.
In fact, when you read people like Elaine Pagels, you'll find that the NEVER mention the Pauline epistles. They just kind of conviniently ignore them, because the Pauline epistles are the earliest Christian documents, the easiest to date, and some of the clearest indications that Jesus was accepted as divine right from the start of Christianity.
Another reason not to accept the claim that the Gnostics were just another form of early Christianity is the fact that they are totally segregated from each other. If all of these writings were floating around, each with as much legitimacy as the next, we would expect to see them intermingled, right? And yet we NEVER DO. Codexes and scrolls (a codex is a fancy word for "book") would contain multiple documents on one scroll/codex. For instance, we always find the Pauline letters together on a single codex, and almost always find the four gospels printed together on a single codex (sometime John gets it's own, and sometimes we only have part of what we know was once a larger codex, so one or more of the books is missing). But what we NEVER find is a scroll containing Gnostic writings AND cannonical Christian writings. They were never printed together, which means they weren't being printed by the same people.
So, to sum up, we have a totally distinct group of people, writing hundreds of years after the events of Jesus' life, claiming that they and only they, know the real truth about what he taught. These people are wholly separate from the mainstream of Christianity, and all of the earlier writings directly contradict them. This doesn't make all that convincing a case does it?

Here are a few good online resources for futher study.

http://www.answeringinfidels.com/ An apologetics site.
http://blog.bible.org/bock/ The blog of Dr. Darrell Bock, author of such books as The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back (which is on my Amazon wishlist, should anyone want to buy it for me...)
http://www.carm.org/lostbooks.htm Another apologetics site.

"If You Come Back Here And Get Beaten Up..."

"...you have been warned." Awesome. Expect more incidents like this to come. Remember, in the modern western world, the only true crime is telling someone else that they are wrong. Especially if you're a conservative Christian.