Wednesday, October 19, 2005

More misinformation

Oct 19, 2005 6:39 AM

This line says it all: Unspoken, of course, is the near-pathological fear among many journalists that shining a positive light on Iraq might inadvertently refract toward President George W. Bush.
It's galling to think that the man you've spent the last 6 years attempting to portray as stupid or evil is being proven right. Can't let word of that reach the American people.

Vetting the news through a glass half-empty

Oct 19, 2005
by Kathleen Parker

Here are the headlines you may have missed: "Iraqi democracy takes bow to standing ovation, global applause" Or "Iraqi voter turnout another blow to al-Qaida." Or perhaps: "Joyful Americans dance in streets as Iraqi voters approve new constitution."

Fat chance. In some towns and cities, Americans who rely on the local paper for news might not have known there was a constitutional referendum in Iraq on Saturday. Or that there was almost no violence. Or that more than 10 million Iraqis voted, including many Sunnis.

Sure, many Sunnis opposed the referendum, but many more apparently didn't. Early ballot counts as of Monday seemed to indicate that the constitution had passed, from which we might infer that more Sunnis than not found the constitution acceptable.

Not perfect, but acceptable. Workable. Amendable.

What matters is, they voted. They went to the polls and practiced democracy - again - in a country that three years ago staggered under tyrannical rule. So that even a grouchy old headline writer might concede that this was rather fabulous news.

Instead, the American print media have been relatively muted in reporting the referendum. Given that ballots are still being counted, some caution is appropriate. But surely there's some ground between cautiously optimistic and spiritually stingy.

Curious to see how the story played across the country, I took a tour of America's front pages, which are available at the Newseum's Web site ( It's fascinating to see how different newspapers play the same news stories on a given day, and how that play may reflect the paper's community.

There also may be a lesson buried in the bold type as to why increasing numbers of Americans have been finding alternative news sources, principally among blogs. Often, traditional news sources and the blogs reflect different realities, as with the story I tracked.

The tone of a majority of newspapers I viewed both Sunday and Monday was restrained to tepid. With some exceptions, headlines conveyed that familiar "yes, but" qualification. As in, "Yeah, sure, Iraq got a new constitution and took a giant stride toward independent self-rule, but life is still hell and, by the way, six American soldiers died."

Admittedly, my cursory review hardly qualifies as scientific, but a quick survey suggests that the public's perception that the media take a glass-half-empty approach to news coverage, especially the war in Iraq, is justified. Here, for instance, is The Baltimore Sun's Monday headline: "Arguments begin over count of Iraq vote."

The Augusta Chronicle and The Orlando Sentinel chimed in with: "Disputes surround early tally" and "Disputes erupt on Iraq vote results," respectively. The Louisville Courier-Journal took the fire-'n'-brimstone path: "Passing constitution won't end Iraq's woes."

There indeed may be arguments over the vote count. We know something about that in this country. And there may be some Sunnis protesting. That seems inevitable. We can easily predict that Iraq's woes will continue for a while longer. But do such sidebar notes really convey the gist of the day?

While a majority of newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, highlighted likely passage of the constitution on their front pages, others buried the story inside. Neither The Detroit News nor The Detroit Free Press ran a story on their front pages.

The Times-Picayune in New Orleans skipped the referendum in favor of continuing post-hurricane stories on its front page. Understandable, though arguably "Honk if you're sick of traffic" might have held a couple of days. As a footnote, papers that serve smaller communities tended to play the referendum story more prominently and positively than did larger papers.

The Port Huron (Mich.) Times Herald, for instance, greeted readers with: "Iraq takes first step into future," while the Bucks County Courier Times in Levittown, Pa., led with: "Iraq's new era." I'll have what they're having.

Given the geopolitical importance of Iraq's becoming a fully functioning democratic country - and America's wish to extricate herself as soon as possible - no story trumps the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum.

Unspoken, of course, is the near-pathological fear among many journalists that shining a positive light on Iraq might inadvertently refract toward President George W. Bush. Only The Washington Examiner let Bush get near an upbeat headline, with: "President hails Iraq on charter."

No, it isn't over yet in Iraq, but so what? In some circles, the 2000 presidential election isn't over yet. And neither is the American experiment. Jefferson, Madison and Adams didn't get it all exactly right with their constitution. The U.S. still embraced slavery, and there was no franchise for women. We slogged on.

And so, apparently, will the Iraqi people. With or without our applause.


It's Bush's fault

Oct 19, 2005 8:11 AM

Look who's picture was on hand at the vote on Saturday!

This picture from Getty Images didn't make the front pages for some strange reason(?).


Where did they get that idea?

Oct 19, 2005 6:25 AM

When I got to this line in the article, I laughed out loud: "They think we are distorting the picture. We are not telling the truth. They think we're against the American soldiers." Duh!

All the news is a stage

Oct 19, 2005

This is a monumental week in Iraq. On the heels of the country's historic constitutional referendum, the trial of Saddam Hussein for his role in the 1982 massacre of 140 men and boys in the Shiite town of Dujail begins. For the Iraqi families of the murdered, it is a day of reckoning they never thought they'd see.

You might think this would be a moment to give the victims and their families center stage. Think again.

The victims of Saddam are being overshadowed by media reports about terror-apologizing "human rights" activists decrying the "show trial." Meanwhile, journalists are complaining about courtroom security procedures. "I'm not even allowed to take a notebook and a pen with me into the court," CBS correspondent Lara Logan told "The Early Show." And Washington Post reporter Jackie Spinner is irked by accusations of bias. "When you're the media in Iraq, (American readers) don't believe what we're telling them," Spinner told the Decatur (Ill.) Herald and Review. "They think we are distorting the picture. We are not telling the truth. They think we're against the American soldiers."

Wherever did we get that idea? Let's revisit the mainstream media brouhaha last week over President Bush's question-and-answer session with some of our soldiers in Iraq. The Associated Press, NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell and others in the Bush-bashing press corps accused the White House and 10 soldiers from the Army's 42nd Infantry Division of "staging" the event. (This is the same hypocritical media that eagerly abetted the staging of anti-war agitator Cindy Sheehan's Endless Summer tour of discontent.) Vicious anti-war activists smeared the soldiers as "stooges."

Sergeant Ron Long, an Army combat medic, was one of the participants. He gave his side of the story (which the media has chosen to ignore, of course) on his personal blog ( "I believe that it would have been totally irresponsible for us not to prepare some ideas, facts or comments that we wanted to share with the President," Long noted. He explained further:

We practiced passing the microphone around to one another, so we wouldn't choke someone on live TV. We had an idea as to who we thought should answer what types of questions, unless President Bush called on one of us specifically.

President Bush told us, during his closing, that the American people were behind us. I know that we are fighting here, not only to preserve our own freedoms, but to establish those same freedoms for the people of Iraq. It makes my stomach ache to think that we are helping to preserve free speech in the U.S., while the media uses that freedom to try to rip down the President and our morale, as U.S. Soldiers. They seem to be enjoying the fact that they are tearing the country apart. Worthless!

Sgt. Long is dead-on. The smearing of our troops, who were accused of helping stage the capture of Saddam and now stand accused of staging their support for President Bush's goals in Iraq, is especially galling to military family members who have watched the media shamelessly manipulate and fake the news with impunity for years.

Indeed, as NBC News was indulging in its Bush-deranged feeding frenzy over the "staged" talk with the troops, one of the network's crack reporters, Michelle Kosinski, was rowing a canoe in a few inches of water in New Jersey to create the illusion of dangerous flood conditions. The illusion was comically destroyed when two men walked in front of the camera with water barely reaching their ankles.

NBC News, of course, knows all about staging events (you remember those faked GM truck crash tests). The rest of the mainstream media know whereof they speak as well -- from Cokie Roberts' faked U.S. Capitol backdrop on ABC News to CBS's manufactured National Guard memos on "60 Minutes" to the bogus reports of Jayson Blair, Mike Barnicle, Janet Cooke, Diana Griego Erwin, Mitch Albom, Stephen Glass, Eric Slater and Jack Kelley.

As they spin the Saddam trial and deride our soldiers in Iraq, the lesson is clear: These media masters of theater are incapable of delivering real drama and good news unless they control the script.

Fortunately, you control the remote.

Michelle Malkin is a syndicated columnist and maintains her weblog at


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Why the Becket Fund should be a household name

Oct 18, 2005 10:45 AM

I would like to add to this my own resounding.....YES!
My personal favorite of the different points made here is the need to have "A vigorous commitment to religious liberty that is not based on the notion that all religions are somehow equally true, but in the truth that all human beings have rights. It is moral truth, not moral relativism, that underwrites our freedom, including our religious freedom."
I don't remember who the minister was but several years ago a friend of mine was at a meeting where the separation of church and state in the public schools came up.....Christian people were defending the idea of keeping Christianity out of the schools because "if they let us in, they'd have to let everyone else in too" -- This particular minister said, "Let them in -- let's see who's God can send down fire."
I am convinced that true Christianity [as opposed to the many groups & organizations that borrow it's title] is more powerful & more persuasive than anything anyone else has to offer. The love of God is more magnetic. The truth of God is more enlightening. The presence of God is more joyful. Christians need never fear the competition. We have something much better to offer.
October 18, 2005, 8:27 a.m.
Fighting for The Right to Be Wrong
Seamus Hasson on religious freedom.

A National Review Online Q&A

Kevin Seamus Hasson is founder and chairman of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a law firm specializing in religious freedom. Hasson is author of the recently released The Right to Be Wrong: Ending the Culture War Over Religion in America. Hasson recently talked to NRO about the book and Becket's work (always in the ranger's hair, he might call Becket smarter than the average law firm).

National Review Online: Seamus, you wrote the book on religious liberty. Literally. Some Democrats suggest that since the White House has used her faith to justify the Harriet Miers's Supreme Court nomination (nevermind if that was wise or incredibly not), they are entitled to make religion an issue in her confirmation hearings. What say you?

Seamus Hasson: The Constitution is very clear about this: "No religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public trust under the United States." I discuss the long and sorry history of religious tests in America at various points in The Right to be Wrong. The most immediately relevant point, though, is this: There's no tit-for-tat escape clause that says gee, if a sitting president mentions a nominee's religious background then we get to declare open season on religion here in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Any senator who directly or indirectly explores a nominee's religious faith as a reason to oppose that nominee is violating his or her oath to uphold the Constitution. The proper venue to redress that violation is the select committee on ethics. The Becket Fund took out a full-page ad in the New York Times prior to the Roberts hearings warning that we will file an ethics complaint against any senator who uses religion as a basis for voting against confirmation. That goes for Harriet Miers's nomination and any other future nominee too.

NRO: You've been fighting court battles for religious liberty for over a decade at the Becket Fund. What's the most frustrating case you lost?

Hasson: Well, none actually. So far, thank God, the Becket Fund is undefeated in court (although I should add we're behind in the fourth quarter in a couple cases currently.)

I like to joke that we have an unfair advantage — we're right. Seriously, there is tremendous force that can be brought to bear if we tee up the issue correctly. On the other hand there is a great amount of energy to be wasted if we don't. If we insist on fighting the culture war as if it were a contest over who God is, both sides will be in their respective trenches for a very long time. But if we fight it on the question of who we are, then we really can end it. Religious liberty, properly understood as a human right, is something that can unite a wide variety of Americans against a common enemy — religious oppression.

NRO:You're undefeated? Why isn't Becket a household name?

Hasson:Well, gee, and all this time I thought we were a household name . . . .

NRO: There's always a household or two in the dark, man. We're a busy country.

Going outside the American household: You do both domestic and foreign work, don't you? What foreign work are you doing right now that's close to your heart?

Hasson: We're representing a mosque in Azerbaijan that the government is trying to close because it teaches tolerance for all. We're also representing Christians in Sri Lanka against a government-sanctioned program of violence by militant Buddhists, of all people.

NRO: What do you think is the biggest threat to religious liberty in the U.S. today?

Hasson: The biggest threat comes from people who think that religious truth is the enemy of human freedom — that the only good religion is a relativist one. When Andrew Sullivan says something called "fundamentalism" is the seedbed of terrorism, he's making this fundamental mistake. At a more amusing level, when school officials ban Valentine's cards (because after all, the holiday is named after St. Valentine), but tell schoolchildren they can still send each other "special person cards," that's the same basic error. In Lansing, Michigan, public-school bureaucrats worried that the Easter Bunny isn't secular enough, now offer "Breakfast with the Special Bunny."

Practically speaking, the threat comes from lawyers, judges, and political elites who think that nativity scenes and menorahs are like secondhand smoke — something that decent people shouldn't be exposed to in the public square.

This theory of our Constitution is not only wrong, it is inhuman. If we frame the battle for religious liberty correctly, both the courts and the vast majority of Americans — and not just Christian conservatives — will be on our side.

Aren't you going to ask me what the second biggest threat to religious liberty is?

NRO: Chill there; patience is a virtue.

Hey, I have a question! What's the second biggest threat to religious liberty in the U.S.?

Hasson: The second biggest threat is believers who let themselves be goaded into accepting the same false dichotomy between truth and freedom, only on the other side. They fall into the secularists' trap and think that in order to defend the truths of faith they have to oppose the whole idea of human freedom. Like the bureaucrats in a Cobb County, Georgia, jail who tried to prevent Catholic priests from ministering to prisoners because they were afraid some Protestant prisoners would decide to convert. A threatened Becket Fund lawsuit fixed that, but the episode still provided secularists with ammo for their argument that there should be no such things as official chaplains at all.

When people of faith go that route, and accept the secularist premise that truth is opposed to freedom, we surrender the high ground in the culture war.

My goal in The Right to Be Wrong is to persuade all Americans that we can end the culture war honorably. There can be "pluralism without relativism": A vigorous commitment to religious liberty that is not based on the notion that all religions are somehow equally true, but in the truth that all human being have rights. It is moral truth, not moral relativism, that underwrites our freedom, including our religious freedom.

By the way, this is a big issue the Muslim world is wrestling with: Thoughtful Muslims are struggling to understand how they can have an Islamic society without the state imposing Islam coercively.

Some people say they need a Reformation that separates mosque and state. I've argued that what they really need is a Vatican II: They need to discover within the roots of their own tradition the human truth that undergirds religious liberty: Coercing conscience is wrong, because human beings are born with an innate thirst for transcendence, a demand to search for the true and the good, and the need to express that truth in public, not just private. And that can only be done with integrity when it's done freely. That development within Islam would go a long, long way towards guaranteeing the religious freedom of people in Islamic countries. Muslims and Christians can't agree on who God is, but we can agree on who we are.

NRO: Do you think there's any real interest in this idea in Islamic countries?

Hasson: Well, I've been invited twice to make religious-liberty arguments on Al Jazeera. So yes, I know first-hand there is an enormous hunger out there, especially among young people, for a new vision about how one can build a democratic, stable, and free society without incorporating atheism into the heart of government. State-sponsored atheism is how many of them see the current church/state separation as typically promoted in the West. That's another thing we're trying to change, with this book, The Right to Be Wrong, as well as in a host of other ways at the Becket Fund.

NRO:The Iraqi constitutional debates on this note are really a milestone moment for that part of the world aren't they?

Hasson: You can't overestimate how important they are. But I still have to emphasize that, as important as it is, the new Iraqi constitution won't supplant — and cannot limit — the full human right of religious liberty.

NRO: In your book, you dub these two sides in the culture wars, the "Pilgrims" and the "Park Rangers." What's that all about?

Hasson: Well, I call the pilgrims after the Pilgrims. I realize they were a brave little band of Christians who helped give birth to our country and did other things we all have reason to be grateful for, but in terms of religious liberty, their halos need readjusting. The Pilgrims weren't in favor of religious liberty for all, they just wanted a refuge where they could live in perfect purity, apart from everyone else. From the very first they tried to suppress the religious expression of the non-pilgrim artisans who traveled with them-Anglican Christians mostly. Pilgrim Gov. William Bradford not only banished the Anglicans' clergy, he actually forbade Anglicans from publicly celebrating Christmas.

Other colonies did far worse things. The Massachusetts Bay Colony, for example, solemnly hanged several Quakers on Boston Common simply because they persisted in preaching their faith.

In fact, the Quakers were persecuted almost everywhere from colonial times through the Civil War. Their heroic patience in the face of over a century of legalized persecution in America eventually persuaded most of America that religious persecution is always a bad thing. The story of this intense moral struggle in American history is not well-enough known. But the Quaker persecutions gave birth to the idea of conscientious objection, an important component of religious liberty for all. It wasn't radical secularists who gave us that idea, it was believers.

NRO: How about an example?

Hasson: Here's one of the more moving stories in my book: In North Carolina, during the Civil War, military officials singled out Seth Laughlin, a recent Quaker convert who objected to military service, for special attention. He was beaten daily and literally hung from his thumbs. When that didn't work, he was court-martialed. Finally they brought Seth before a firing squad. He asked for permission to pray. The officers thought he was going to pray for his own soul, but instead Seth Laughlin prayed for theirs: "Father forgive them, they know not what they do."

One by one the firing squad dropped their rifles.

Some things people of good conscience just know are wrong, even if the law tries to tell them it is O.K.

NRO: So I guess it is safe to say that no Hasson kids have ever dressed as pilgrims for any fall festivals?

Hasson: And we really lay down the law about park-ranger costumes on Halloween.

NRO: Yeah, what about those Park Rangers? How do they make it into your book?

Hasson: Oh, that's from one of my favorite stories. In The Right to Be Wrong, I call it, "The Case of the Sacred Parking Barrier."

In San Francisco, in 1989, a crane operator sloppily left a granite parking barrier in the formal tea garden in a city park. Like bureaucrats everywhere, park administrators just couldn't be made to move it. Until one day a group of New Agers noticed it looked like a Shiva Lingam (a manifestation of a Hindu god). The little band of believers rejoiced and began worshipping the parking barrier.

Whereupon, the bureaucrats suddenly roused themselves and announced they had a duty to prevent worship on (not to mention of) public property: The sacred parking barrier had to go.

Here's the thing: Nobody could have mistaken parking-barrier worship for an officially established religion, even in San Francisco. And if folks in San Francisco could come to the park to admire the shrubbery, why couldn't they come to worship the parking barriers?

But Park Rangers are people who think they have a duty, in the name of separation of church and state, to suppress other people's religious expression, no matter how harmless. As I said earlier, they're currently the greatest threat to religious liberty.

NRO: Have you ever considered Yogi Bear as your mascot?

Hasson:No, but we've thought about putting a picnic basket in our logo. The board keeps voting it down, though.

NRO: What do you want people to walk away from this Q&A thinking about?

Hasson: The Amazon page where they can buy the book.

* * *


Monday, October 17, 2005

Practical compassion

This is an excerpt from Rick Joyner's Word For The Week #42 on Goodness. I suppose I liked it so much because it expressed my own feelings towards the many well-intentioned howbeit ineffective examples of "good works" we see in our society today. A government program that leaves people worse off than they were can hardly be called "good". And yet, too many well-intentioned programs implemented in the past 30 years have had disastrous results but to change them or remove them results in seeming mass hysteria and accusations of lack of compassion, racism, hate {? -- the ultimate accusation in this day & age} for the poor....who are being victimized by the very programs that were supposed to be their salvation.

Like the irony of the increase of Black Entrepreneurship under the Bush administration although the left accused him of giving tax breaks to the rich. Clinton on the other hand raised taxes to have plenty of hand-out money to give to the poor which kept them poor while it crippled the over-all economy . Who did the better work?


In Tolstoy's classic novel, War and Peace, Count Pierre is filled with compassion for his serfs and desperately wants to help them. He talks about it frequently and sincerely wants to do it. His friend, Prince Andrey, is not motivated by compassion as much as he is in sound business principles and good management, but because he runs his estates so efficiently his serfs are several times as well off as Pierre's. Pierre certainly talked about helping the serfs more, and really wanted to, but who did the most good?

In my opinion this is pretty typical of the difference between liberal and conservative politics in our country. I think, in many areas, liberals have a right heart toward people and issues, but their remedy often leaves conditions actually worse and inevitably become a huge waste of resources. Conservatives, and those who are motivated more out of sound business and management principles, often are simply wanting to develop more markets rather than actually having compassion, but they still often do far more good for people. This is why Winston Churchill once said, "If you are not a liberal when you are twenty you have no heart, but if you are not a conservative when you are forty you have no mind."

Government is prone toward bureaucratic remedies that will inevitably become so inefficient that only a fraction of the resources will actually get to the needs. The same has happened to many large charities and has also happened to many church programs and ministries. Can this be why the Lord, who certainly emphasized the condition of the heart, also taught a lot about pragmatic economics, such as with The Parable of the Talents?

There are far more references in Scripture about financial planning and management than any other subject, including love and compassion. This does not mean that financial planning and good management are more important than love or compassion, but it does mean that it takes more of our attention and focus to do things efficiently, and that is how God wants them done.

Would it be better to have the money to feed five thousand people every day or the spiritual authority to multiply a couple of hamburgers into enough food to feed that many? I think we would all choose the latter, but the Lord said that He would not trust us with "true riches," which are access to the resources of heaven, unless we are faithful with our "unrighteous mammon" (Luke 16:11). This is why we have a responsibility to be givers, and share the material resources we have been blessed with. But let us also have responsibility to see that it is done in a way that actually helps people and really does some good. True goodness is much more than just having good intentions—it is actually healing people, setting them free, and leading them to the Source who is alone the answer to all human needs.


Black Entrepreneurship Grows Under Bush's Leadership

First paragraph says it all. Hooray for the tax cuts!
sidebar: but I've enjoyed watching supply & demand in action as the gas prices have been nose-diving in response to people driving less.
Business & Economy
Black Entrepreneurship Grows Under Bush's Leadership

by Jerry Bowyer
Posted Oct 14, 2005

Bill Clinton, once called America's "first black President," did not have nearly as much positive impact on entrepreneurship among African-Americans as President Bush has had thanks to Bush's supply-side tax policies.

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation recently released a study of entrepreneurship in America. As the chart below shows, the rate of black entrepreneurship—defined as the percent of adults age 20 to 64 who start a new business as their main job—increased 0.02 percentage points during the last five years of the Clinton Administration, which is as far back as the data go. Since then, the rate has increased to 0.04 points. During the first four years of Bush's term, in other words, the increase in the percentage of African-Americans' starting new businesses each year is double the increase Clinton saw in his last five years in office.

The rate of Latino entrepreneurship actually decreased 0.02 percentage points during the last five years of the Clinton Administration. Since Bush took office, however, it has increased 0.12 points. In fact, the Latino business start-up rate is considerably higher than the non-Latino white rate.

Entrepreneurship has ripple effects in the communities where it occurs, creating new jobs. The recent surge in African-American entrepreneurship is probably the single most important economic indicator of African-American economic progress.

(Click chart for larger version.)

Mr. Bowyer is author of The Bush Boom and an economic adviser to Blue Vase Capital Management. He can be reached through

another reason to take PBS off the federal books

Trust me, Big Bird will find a sponser.
from Human Events
PBS Peddles New Online Leftist Indoctrination to Children

by Mac Johnson
Posted Oct 17, 2005

Back when she would still admit she was a liberal, Hillary Clinton once famously observed that "It Takes a Village" to raise even a single child. And a whole village is just what liberals believe is necessary to counteract the influence of the child's parents, who may be dangerously "un-progressive" in their teachings.

Or maybe it takes a whole world to raise your child for you. If so, PBS, the Public Broadcasting System, has just the world to do it: EekoWorld! Built with your tax dollars, EekoWorld is a whole complex of games, cartoons, and narrated stories aimed at young children on the "PBS Kids" website.

"" is so heavily promoted during children's programming on PBS, that it was among the first complex word sets that my son learned to speak. Whenever the third parent, I mean "the television," would sing the PBS Kids jingle, "P-B-S Kids!" my little internet junkie would quickly add "dot org!"

Keep in mind that this was before Buster the Rabbit decided to teach the PBS kids about Lesbian couples making children and maple syrup in the mountains of Vermont, so I didn't think anything about letting the boy, now 4 years old, watch unlimited PBS, which I figure I've paid for already anyway. Plus, various Muppets and kind neighbors did a fair job of adding to my meager knowledge of reading, writing and bottlecap collections back when I myself was a cub left to the tender flickering embrace of the third parent.

I wasn't, therefore, very concerned about the boy seeing blatant political propaganda while he watched PBS. I mean: it's children's programming. It's not like I was letting him watch Frontline or Bill Moyers or anything really bad.

Oh, how naïve I was.

The invasion of my home by the joint forces of EekoWorld began about 14 seconds into my shower one morning. The bathroom door opened. I heard a series of tiny footsteps walk across the floor and there was a knock on the opaque shower door, about three feet off the ground.

"What?" I asked. "Um, Dad, you need to get out of the shower now. You're taking too long," replied the boy. "Why --do you have something at school today that we need to be early for?" I said. The very serious reply came back "Um, No. But you are using too much water, and that could kill all the fish."

"Hmmm…." I wondered. It all became clear the next day.

"Um, Dad, what does 'NO' look like again?" I was asked. You see, the host of EekoWorld, Cheeko, had asked the boy a question for extra points and the answer was apparently supposed to be "No." The questions in the EekoWorld game are spoken, but the child must click on the written answers. Wow, I thought, good old was teaching the boy to read while I spent some quality time with FoxNews in the other room. So I went into the next room to see what game he was playing and show him "No."

There, spread out across the screen of my trusty iMac, was EekoWorld -- a paradise over which my boy had total control of all policies, decisions, and development. Right there, I should have known that a liberal had come up with the concept for the game.

Cheeko, a winged monkey with the body of a shark and the tail of a snake (whom I'm fairly sure might be the beast from Revelation, by the way) was hovering over EekoWorld waiting for an answer to his question, which he repeated periodically in a voice that sounded a lot like Eleanor Clift in the midst of a "McLaughlin Group" free-for-all with Pat Buchanan, but even more shrill (and who knew that was possible?).

Cheeko cawed forth the question again: "People want to drill for oil in this area even though it is a wildlife preserve. What is your vote?" Below the freakish FrankenMonkey were two potential votes, "YES" or "NO." The Texas part of me immediately took over. "Well, yes, for Pete's sake," I thought. I'd drill for oil through the family cemetery if I thought it would reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 0.00001%. So I clicked "Yes," much to the horror of the boy, who knew very well what "No" looks like, but just wanted me to come play the game with him. "NO, DAD, DON"T!" he cried. But it was too late.

Cheeko pounced on us. Being a liberal abomination, he was too worried about our self-esteem to tell us that we were wrong, but squawked out instead "Here's a better choice. Oil keeps our homes comfortable and provides us with electricity, but removing oil from a wildlife preserve can hurt the land, plants, and animals. -8 points." "MINUS EIGHT POINTS!!!???" the boy shouted, then looked at me as if I had stepped on his goldfish and said "Why did you do that, Dad?"

The "World Health" score of EekoWorld immediately dropped eight points. A pallor settled upon the creatures. There, in the midst of paradise, stood my ill-chosen gang of oil platforms each continuously spurting forth copious torrents of oil from their derricks, choking the sea with filth. "WHO IS THIS MALEVOLENT MONKEY?" I cried. Ok, actually I cried a mild obscenity in front of the boy, but I can't reprint it here.

So I decided to begin my investigation into EekoWorld, an investigation that was accelerated a day or two later, when the boy began crying at dinner because we were having Tilapia and it "might be the last one in the Ocean." He used the word "overfishing" in a sentence. "CHEEKO!!!!!! LEAVE MY BOY ALONE!" I cried (or something like that.) After restoring the boy's appetite by explaining that Tilapia are evil fish that kill baby dolphins just for sport, I hastily infiltrated EekoWorld.

"This area has a lot of paved parking lots. Should another one be added?," Cheeko shrieked at me, while hovering over a city by the oil-choked bay. "SAY 'NO' DAD!" was shouted from the dinner table. "Have you ever tried to park in Boston, Monkey-Devil?" I cried out as I clicked "YES!" Cheeko than lectured me about runoff from leaking automotive oil pans. Minus 8 points.


I installed some windmills and got back the eight points. And unlike Cape Cod, no one sued to preserve their ocean views. So the EekoLiberals are not very realistic. They're not EekoHypocrites.

I watched a cartoon about the Tundra, in which Matt, an ignorant white kid, is educated about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by Arvaaluk, an Eskimo kid. I mean "Inuit kid." I mean "youthful Arctic-American." Ok, I mean "Eskimo kid," dang it. Arvaaluk explains the risk drilling presents to wildlife, but then explains our need for oil. "I can see both sides of this issue," replies Matt. Hmmm? Balance? Oh, there's no need for balance. Arvaaluk then explained that there's probably not that much oil there anyway and we could save a lot of gas if we would just inflate our tires properly. Thus, there's no need to drill in ANWR. Stupid Matt! (I checked my tires; they are inflated properly, so NOW can I drill in ANWR? PLEASE?)

I learned that the Tundra must be protected because it consumes more carbon dioxide than it produces. By logical extension, I thought, we should kill baby Pandas, since they produce more carbon dioxide than they consume.

I visited the "EekoHouse" and learned about the need to bathe shoddily to save water. Also, I learned that I am entirely too warm in the wintertime. Then I was told "You can join a local environment group to learn more. Ask you parent or teacher about a group in your area."

For some reason, at that moment, I remembered a conversation I'd once had with a Chinese friend about how her teachers had directed her to join the Communist Youth as a child. Her entrance exam, which she bravely forfeited, was to write an essay criticizing her imprisoned father's political beliefs. Silly, unconnected thought, that --since the scale of the two offenses were, of course, quite different. But it has always struck me that there is a certain kind of political zealot who seems to think it is perfectly acceptable and even clever to mess with the minds of other's children.

Much of EekoWorld was perfectly benign, of course. I'm all for proper tire inflation and thicker home insulation. Heck, I once even ran a composting booth at Earth Day back in College. I like my planet and want it to continue at least long enough to see a solid conservative majority on the Supreme Court (which could take centuries at this rate). But I think PBS has seriously overstepped its bounds when it begins using my forcibly collected tax dollars to pay for cartoons instructing my children how they should vote when they grow up, that ANWR should remain uselessly barren, or that they should ask a teacher about joining Greenpeace or the Young Unabombers Society.

Others have pointed out many times, in the continuing debate over the wisdom of funding of PBS, that there is an inherent conflict of interest in the Federal Government choosing "preferred" information and programming to promote, via its own tax-funded network. The public debate determines the Government in a democracy. The Government therefore has no business determining the public debate.

And when a government-owned network spends so much of its efforts attracting an audience of children, this moral issue is magnified substantially. Telling my children what to think about political issues is just plain wrong. It should be stopped. The government should get out of the broadcasting business entirely, and let PBS be funded solely by "viewers like you."

Take that, Cheeko.

It's morning in Iraq

And who knew -- probably not the American people due to the MSM black-out of any positive news coming out of Iraq. To borrow from the following article: To put it more bluntly, how long will the devotion to disinformation of the MSM continue?
We Won... Again!

By Stephen Schwartz Published 10/17/2005

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We won again! For a second time, the Iraqi people proved the Western mainstream media, Islamist radicals, self-righteous and nihilistic war protestors, disaffected Democrats, and neo-isolationists wrong: the referendum on the new constitution was successful. The Sunni minority participated in the polling and those among them voting "no" were swamped by the positive outcome.

Iraq will have its new constitution. The transforming intervention led by President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair will succeed. The global sweep of bourgeois revolution will continue, centering on Iraq's neighbors: monarchical Saudi Arabia, statist Syria, and theocratic Iran.

But how long will the Western media get the post-9/11 story wrong before they understand that they, the MSM, are a major part of the problem?

For many months, the MSM and their assorted political allies have indoctrinated the world in despicable lies:

· That the Wahhabi terror in Iraq, financed by and recruited among radical Saudis, was an "insurgency" or "resistance" caused by the actions of President Bush.

· That the Sunni Arabs in Iraq backed the alleged insurgency, were uniformly opposed to the constitutional process, and would prevent its completion.

· That anti-Shia blandishments by Saudi and other Sunni rulers would seal Sunni opposition to the new reality in Iraq.

In recent weeks heightened discussion in Washington, and in centers of Islamic debate I visited, such as Jakarta, focused on these claims. Muslims knew the Sunnis would prefer to take advantage of their new right to vote, and would favor a constitutional order in Iraq rather than continued violence. The meddling of the Saudis was considered gross and embarrassing. Muslim leaders I met were more interested in the future of the "Shia-con" phenomenon, i.e. of Iraqi Shias aligned with the U.S. neoconservatives.

What does it mean to be a "Shia-con?" Nothing very different from what it means to be an ordinary neoconservative: bedrock belief in governmental and personal accountability, entrepreneurship, popular sovereignty, and a place for religion in public life. Sunni intellectuals with whom I met pointed out that "neocon" has become a term of abuse in the Muslim world no less than in the West. But when exposed to the foundations of neoconservative thought, they expressed approval.

Nonetheless, moderate Sunni Muslims who tried to tell Western media and government the facts about the probable outcome in the Iraqi constitutional election were ignored. Instead, numerous MSM reporters applied the practice they have pursued since the Sandinista era in Nicaragua: they found radicals and marginal, anonymous grumblers, and presented their clichés as the voice of all Iraqi Sunnis.

Egregious, incorrigible examples of the Stalinist dialectic in the MSM continue even after the Iraq vote. The London Guardian, on Sunday, October 16, published a "news salad," tossed and retossed with vinegar and oil: a sequence of paragraphs seeking to perpetuate the Sunni issue as the sole topic of interest in Iraq. It tried to portray the Sunni vote for the constitution as contributing to further violence in Iraq. The argument, as convoluted as a tantric Yoga exercise, went like this: Sunnis voted, but against the constitution (actually, only some of them voted that way); although they voted in a process to accept the constitution they will not accept it; supposedly, all Sunnis are aggrieved about the share-out of petroleum revenues… blah, blah, blah. A "news salad" is the journalistic equivalent of "word salad:" according to a dictionary, "a jumble of extremely incoherent speech as sometimes observed in schizophrenia."

The pattern is no different from the nonsense reported about Nicaragua, which was supposed to vote for Sandinismo in 1990 but didn't; about Milosevic and his Serbian thugs, who purportedly would fight to the end if confronted by NATO forces, but also didn't; about Saudi women, who supposedly are happy not to drive cars, but aren't.

Regarding the Saudi/Wahhabi utopia, the kingdom south of Iraq still harbors hundreds of clerics inciting violence on the northern side of the border. The sermons of these clerics are posted on websites daily. Some are made public by Western-based Saudi dissidents. But they are mainly ignored by the MSM.

To put it more bluntly, how long will the devotion to disinformation of the MSM continue? Will MSM "journalists" ever be called to account for their consistent misrepresentations?

In dealing with the constitutional process in Iraq, and many other aspects of the present global crisis, Western reporters and commentators should moderate their tendencies towards complicated predictions, especially when they know so little about the religion and culture with which they are dealing. Islam and the Islamic world are much simpler than they think:

· Muslims have middle-class values. Even those who are refugees because of war and terror maintain such attitudes.

· Those who are frustrated in their middle-class ambitions, in such countries as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, may turn to radicalism.

· Most, however, will repudiate extremism in the interest of personal security, which happens to be a fundamental principle of Islamic governance.

These are the lessons of the Iraqi constitutional vote. Now let's have some reporters and commentators put aside their prejudices and start with such simple matters, and learn what they can about them. The result would be no news for Muslims, but might be Pulitzer Prize material in the West.

Right on the money

From The American Thinker:

Harriet and the Pundits of Doom
October 17th, 2005

Most of the time modern liberals seem to think with their glands, while conservatives think with their brains. Until Harriet Miers, that is. In the last few weeks the roles have suddenly switched, and my favorite pundits are throwing the heaving vapors all over the carpet. What's going on? It seems that some people have turned against Harriet Miers before very many facts came out. Indeed, the biggest complaint on the Right seems to be that we can't read her articles or opinions, so we must assume she is not qualified. If Miers hasn't published, she must perish. Can we all take a deep breath and calm down? Maybe we can find enough facts to make a reasoned choice. Here are some. First, does Harriet Miers have any judicial philosophy at all? Some commentators suggest that because she has no written philosophy, she can't possibly have any deep and clear judicial convictions. That strikes me as pure malarkey. In fact, Ms. Miers was in charge of picking Bush's judicial nominations, including Chief Justice John Roberts. How could she do that for five years if she lacks a real understanding of constitutional philosophy? Or did she just pass out the beer and chips? On what basis would such an unflattering assumption be made?So one source of evidence is Miers' role in judicial selection. On that count, it seems to me, she scores pretty well. The Bush judiciary is exactly the "deep bench" that Miers' critics like to point to: "Look at all the great judges Bush could have picked!" Well, it was Miers who helped to build that deep bench. A second source of evidence is Miers' written briefs as an attorney and head of a major law firm. Legal blogger Beldar has some details about Miers' cases. Here is one for Walt Disney Corporation, which doesn't hire fools for lawyers. That case went into" ... a thicket of both constitutional and nonconstitutional issues … acomplicated mix of factual and legal issues involving both agency andcontract law. Ms. Miers … took an extraordinary interlocutory appeal, and won in the San Antonio Court of Appeals. ... she filed a persuasive brief in the Texas Supreme Court, and then did not have to appear for oral arguments on the merits … precisely because her brief was so persuasive. ... (Now how stupid was that, writing such a good brief?)"A third source of facts is Miers' education and career. To quote Ann Coulter, one of the problems is that "The average LSAT score at SMU Law School is 155. The average LSAT at Harvard is 170. ... Whatever else you think of them, the average Harvard Law School student is very smart."But here, Ann Coulter is confusing averages with top scores. At the high end, the smartest law students at MSU may be better than average Harvard students, and statistically, some could even be better than Harvard's best. That might be true for SMU students who were too poor to apply to Harvard, as was Miers , apparently. As an educator myself, I know too well that higher education is no guarantee of wisdom or even deep knowledge. I'm sorry to say it, but it's true. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln didn't go to top law schools. Quite a few Justices of the Supreme Court didn't, and of course most of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee didn't either. If people can prove their worth without going to Harvard or Yale, it must be conceivable that Harriet Miers
could be qualified for the Supreme Court. A fourth question is whether Miers' life reflects a consistent philosophy and point of view. Edmund Burke once wrote that "there is no qualification for government but virtue and wisdom." [1] Does Ms. Miers' life, as a mature adult, reflect that kind of virtue and wisdom? This one gets pretty subjective, but take a look at what we know. I must say that I like what I see. Fifth and finally, we will have the evidence of our own eyes. In the confirmation battle Ms. Miers will be questioned for hours on C-SPAN. All the Judiciary Committee members will want to look good to their most heated supporters. Harriet Miers is going to be put on the spot, politely but very, very thoroughly. I think she'll pass with flying colors. But we'll see. Stay tuned. They report, you decide.

litany of firsts

Armstrong Williams has a good article here. He made one excellent observation but then only touched on one half of its explanation. That all the Meirs-bashing is merely infighting over the selection of judges. And it's true -- The left has a lot to lose. They've advanced their agenda through the courts for decades because they couldn't advance it through legislation.
The fact of the matter, however, is that the hysteria of some on the right is boiling down to the same thing -- a fear that perhaps they won't be able to advance their agenda through the courts if they can't control the selection of the nominee. That Constitutional thing keeps getting in everyone's way. Only the President gets to appoint Supreme Court Justices and the Constitution allows him to appoint anyone he chooses -- that power is balanced by the necessity of the Senate ratifying his choice. In recent history, the left has turned the ratification process into a freak-show with Senators, whose only commitment was to their biased agendas, grandstanding for their constituates . Now the right seems to be attempting to do the same thing.
One of the more ridiculous attacks is the implication that only Harvard or Yale is adequate to produce a Supreme Court Justice....someone has pointed out that the average IQ from SMU is 155 while the average IQ from Harvard is 170. Either number should be perfectly capable of a faithful interpretation of the Constitution. Considering some of the decisions handed down recently one tends to think that perhaps diligence, detail-orientation & commitment to the original intent of the Constitution might be more useful than a powerful IQ. Instead we get the Supreme Court's 'living definition" of public use whose purpose is to allow spendthrift politicians to seize vast swaths of private property to generate more tax dollars to feed their bloated budgets. Goodbye fifth amendment.
Again, I find the bias revealing. Everyone [left & right], at least as is being reported by the MSM, is focused on what she is not -- i.e. a Judge [however the Constitution she will be sworn to uphold doesn't stipulate that as a requirement] but everyone is desperately avoiding drawing attention to what she is. Here's a short list:
Her record is a litany of firsts: first female hired by the prestigious Dallas law firm, Locke Purnell Rain Harrell. She went on to become the firm's first female president. She was the first female president of the State Bar of Texas, served on the Dallas City Council and became a senior White House official. Those are impressive credentials that are just flat out being ignored because she didn't attend an Ivy League school. This is ludicrous. Or, as Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland observed, "They're saying a woman who was one of the first to head up a major law firm with over 400 lawyers doesn't have intellectual heft." What a joke.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Good article on Meirs

It's never wise to generalize but it has been appearing that those who actually know Harriet Miers find her more than adequate to the task -- and that those who are bellyaching appear to be doing so because either she didn't meet some personal expectation that the President never promised them or because she is depriving them of the fight they had been anticipating being able to wage and win against those who have in the past so misused the judicial process.

The issue should not be what are her personal viewpoints -- but what is her position concerning the constitution. That was the promise made by the President: to appoint someone in the tradition of Scalia and Thomas who "will faithfully interpret the law and not legislate from the bench." The left has flagrantly used the judiciary to invent rights and take away rights at their political whim by sidestepping the legislative branch of government for decades. Our agenda should be to restore our Constitution to it's place as the ultimate law of the land.

I personally enjoyed the sub-title Lucianne added to this headline -- "The truth will set you free not make you hysterical"

Valerie found Meirs profile in the Washington Post .

My ultimate take on the hysteria comes from my belief that this is above all a spiritual battle -- and it isn't the first time [and I'm sure won't be the last] when the enemy will use even those who believe they stand for righteousness to accomplish his purposes. Many prayers have gone forth concerning the Supreme Court for years and now millions of people across our nation pray daily for this President. We know the Lord holds the heart of the King in His hand and will direct it as a watercourse where He wills. Now it is time to extend those prayers as a covering over those who must ultimately vote for or against confirmation because this is a time when even the elect may be deceived. Above all -- we must extend to them the grace of God for godly wisdom and courage and insight. The very fact that there is such opposition & confusion is evidence that this is a spiritual fight and must be fought with spiritual weapons.


The Harriet Miers I Know

Published: October 14, 2005

Los Angeles

WHITE House speechwriters first learned the name Harriet Miers in January 2001, when drafts started reappearing full of corrections, instructions and particularly annoying requests for factual substantiation. In the campaign, life had been simpler, the editing and fact-checking a little more casual. Now the old ways wouldn't do anymore because "Harriet said" this or "Harriet said" that. Who was this woman, and could the staff secretary please confine herself to secretarial duties?

We had a few things to learn about the job of the staff secretary - the person who controls all paper passing through the Oval Office - and above all about the caliber of the woman behind the editing. And now that fellow conservatives in Washington are asking variations of the same question about President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court - Who is this "crony," "cipher," "hack," "functionary" or, as my former speechwriting colleague David Frum has called her, this "petty bureaucrat"? - I think I can help with the answer.

When you know Harriet Miers, it's funny to think of her as the subject of such controversy. Yet already her notoriety is such that even the most innocent of virtues can be thrown back at her as inadequate - "not even second-rate," as a National Review Online posting said, "but third-rate." She's a detail person. Diligent and dependable. Honest, kind, modest, devout and all that. A real mediocrity.

Her qualities are disappointing only in comparison, of course, to all those perfectly credentialed lions of the law we keep hearing about. Her critics couldn't run to the TV studio and expertly discourse about her. Therefore, she must be a nobody.

My friend David Frum expresses the general complaint when he asks, in his blog, when did Harriet Miers "ever take a risk on behalf of conservative principle? Can you see any indication of intellectual excellence? Did she ever do anything brave, anything that took backbone?" To translate: When all the big-thinkers were persevering year after year at policy institutes and conferences at the Mayflower Hotel, or risking all for principle in stirring op-ed essays and $20,000 lectures, where was Little Miss Southern Methodist University?

If four years observing the woman is any guide, the answer is she was probably doing something useful. But whatever she was up to, it's not good enough. Harriet Miers, says Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, is undoubtedly a well-meaning person, but he was expecting "brilliance," and her selection signaled "weakness" and "capitulation." Mr. Kristol also suggested how the Miers nomination could be withdrawn. In the tone of Michael Corleone laying out some general instructions, he said that with Ms. Miers out of the way, "the president's aides would explain that he miscalculated out of loyalty and admiration for her personal qualities," adding, "and he could quickly nominate a serious, conservative and well-qualified candidate for the court vacancy."

When it was Mr. Kristol's charming friend John Bolton whose fate was in question, that was family business, and for the president no price was too high for loyalty. But Harriet Miers, who is only the president's friend, is now to be led away like Carlo in "The Godfather" with his "ticket to Vegas." Quickly replace her with some credentialed luminary, and in a week no one will even ask where the woman is.

Overlooked in all this caviling is the actual ability and character of the person in question. Indeed, about the best quality to recommend Harriet Miers just now is that she is not at all the sort of person who goes about readily and confidently dismissing other people as third-raters, hacks and mediocrities. She has too much class for that.

It is true that Harriet Miers, in everything she does, gives high attention to detail. And the trait came in handy with drafts of presidential speeches, in which she routinely exposed weak arguments, bogus statistics and claims inconsistent with previous remarks long forgotten by the rest of us. If one speech declared X "our most urgent domestic priority," and another speech seven months earlier had said it was Y, it would be Harriet Miers alone who noted the contradiction.

The accounts of the nominee's work habits are also true. But even better, when the lights went on at 5:30 a.m. or so in office of the staff secretary or the legal counsel, she was not starting the day with a scan of the newspapers in search of her own name. And all of us who leave our White House jobs and go on to write and trade on our service to the president could stand to learn more from Harriet Miers about service to a president. Whenever she was in the room, calmly listening and observing, you knew that on any matter, great or small, at least one person involved had in mind only the interests of the president, the office and the nation.

Surely the most pertinent conclusion to be drawn from Harriet Miers's low profile is that this is not a person susceptible to the charms of news media flattery. Already we have read suggestions that, should the next justice find a comfortable place in the liberal wing, the "O'Connor court" could well become the "Miers court." But I can assure the editorialists, too, that all such offerings to vanity will go untaken. They can save their catnip for the next nominee.

It may be, in fact, that a details person is just what the Supreme Court needs right now. If anyone can be counted on to pause in deliberations over abortion cases, for example, and politely draw attention to small details like the authority of Congress and of state legislatures, or the interests of the child waiting to be born, it will be the court's newest member. As a justice, however, she will command the kind of respect that has nothing to do with being conservative, or liberal, or anything else but a person of wisdom and rectitude.

Although it is conceivable that President Bush has had his fill of advice from overreaching pundits, that is not why he chose Harriet Miers. Maybe he didn't want somebody who had been planning for 20 years for a place on the Supreme Court. Maybe he has looked around every so often and noticed that the least assuming person in the room was also the most capable and discerning. Or maybe he remembered how the hardest-working person in the White House found time to prepare the will of a terminally ill 27-year-old colleague, and to spend nights and mornings staying with her and praying with her.

Whatever his reasons, what America got is a nominee of enormous legal ability and ferocious integrity, and in the bargain a gracious Christian woman only more qualified for her new role because she would never have sought it for herself. And in a few years, when the same critics we hear now are extolling the clarity, consistency and perhaps even the "brilliance" of judicial opinions, that's when you'll know it's the Miers court.

another debunking

October 13, 2005
Another Katrina Media Myth Down The Drain

Remember the "toxic soup" that flooded New Orleans, the one that the media widely reported was so polluted that mere momentary exposure could burn the skin and create potentially mortal illness for Katrina victims? As with the widespread gunfire, rapes, and murders, the toxic soup turns out to be another media myth. The Washington Post reports that an extensive look at the floodwaters reveals that its composition appears equivalent to floodwaters anywhere else:

The floodwater that covered New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was not unusually toxic and was "typical of storm water runoff in the region," according to a study published yesterday.

Most of the gasoline-derived substances in the water evaporated quickly, and the bacteria from sewage also declined over time, the scientist leading the study said. The water's chief hazard was from metals that are potentially toxic to fish. However, no fish kills have been reported in Lake Pontchartrain, where the water that once covered 80 percent of the city was pumped.

"What it most looks like is the storm water that is present in New Orleans every time it rains," said John H. Pardue, an environmental engineer at Louisiana State University, who headed the team whose research was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. "We still don't think the floodwaters were safe, but it could have been a lot worse. It was not the chemical catastrophe some had expected."

Of course, this is good news for the people of New Orleans who had to suffer from exposure to the water, but other than that, it makes little difference. The damage caused to structures comes from the water itself, as well as the mud and silt that come along with it. The rot that sets into structures throughout the basin will likely require total or near-total reconstruction efforts.

It does, however, demonstrate the toxic combination of hyperbolic media and sensational events. Not content with reporting the news that happened before their eyes, media outlets had to reach beyond the news to report events that never happened, all without doing even basic research to determine the veracity of their reports. How difficult would it have been for NBC or the New York Times to get a test of the water before unleashing reports on the so-called toxic soup? How about getting reporters to verify accounts of rapes and murders by the score before airing such rumors to a repulsed nation?

How many people did these reports turn away who might otherwise have offered assistance?

Laughably, the media gave itself a big pat on the back within days of the Katrina disaster, declaring themselves vindicated after a year of CBS memo debacles and Eason Jordan embarrassments. Only much later can we see that they learned nothing over that past year and have moved themselves even closer to the National Enquirer in terms of credibility. Instead of congratulating themselves, the media needs to eliminate the hysterics that drive the news coverage during unfolding catastrophes to make sure that they don't contribute even more damage to the victims and the nation.

Monday, October 10, 2005

All we are saying....

Is Give FREEDOM A Chance!
Another reality check -- emphasis added:


Peace is not the answer

  • Calls to end Iraq's bloodshed are hardly noble when those who would triumph slaughter teachers as children weep.

  • By William Shawcross, William Shawcross' book, "Allies: Why the West had to Remove Saddam," has just been updated and republished in paperback by PublicAffairs Press.

    IT SEEMS UNLIKELY that many of the so-called peace marchers who trooped through Washington and London two weekends back listened on Thursday — at least not with an open mind or sympathy — to George Bush's cogent explanation of why coalition troops are fighting and dying in Iraq.

    You did not see in those demonstrations, after all, many banners reading, "Support Iraq's New Constitution," "No to Jihad" or "Stop Suicide Bombers." The crimes committed daily against the Iraqi people by other Arabs who wish to re-enslave them seem to be of little interest to Michael Moore, Jane Fonda and their followers. Rage against the daily assaults on children, women, anyone, by Islamo-fascists and ordinary national fascists is not fashionable. Only alleged American crimes are cool to decry.

    It's hard to think of a more graphic illustration of the horror the U.S.-led coalition is fighting in Iraq than the mass murder on Sept. 26, in which terrorists disguised as policemen (a New York Times headline called these butchers "fighters") burst into a primary school in Iskandaria, south of Baghdad, seized five teachers (all Shiites) and shot them dead. Children stood weeping through this atrocity.

    Why do crimes like this make so little impression on those Americans and Europeans who want the coalition to abandon Iraq? The demonstrators think of themselves as moral, but it is hard to think of any policy more amoral than abandoning Iraq to such an enemy.

    Iraqis are dismayed by the mistakes made by the coalition. They don't like the continued presence of foreign troops. But they like the prospect of being abandoned prematurely to the terrorists even less.

    One of the most publicized new icons of the U.S. peace movement, grieving mother Cindy Sheehan, has attracted attention in the vibrant new media that have grown in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. All the Iraqis I know totally disagree with her public declarations that her son died for nothing. Those fighting the coalition approve and exploit her words.

    "Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia," as the Islamo-fascists in Iraq call themselves, understands Western doubt and self-criticism. Its members are trying to create an impression of a country submerged in bloody chaos. They want to convince a world where understanding comes only from brief television images that Iraq has gone to hell. That is a lie.

    Iraq was always complex — it is now vibrantly so. Despite the terrorist campaign to kill it, the country has become a school for free expression and for government elected by the people. The dread silence of half a century has given way to millions of opinions — as in the U.S., or any society that sees itself as free.

    Sunni negotiators have refused to accept the draft constitution. That is certainly a setback. Now Sunnis' grievances — many of which are valid — need to be addressed peacefully. Fortunately, political discussion never stops. Three hundred conferences on the constitution have been held throughout the country, allowing 50,000 people to express their views. The 150 new, uncensored newspapers, the scores of radio stations and half a dozen TV channels that have been set up are all talking about this and other matters of political progress.

    The constitution may not be perfect. But, as the commentator Amir Taheri points out: "This is still the most democratic constitution offered to any Muslim nation so far."

    That is thanks to the sacrifice of Casey Sheehan and others. It should be a source of pride in the United States. Thanks to the coalition Iraqis have more confidence in their future than we do. Iraqi refugees are not fleeing abroad in vast numbers, as happened during previous crises. The Iraqi dinar has strengthened, not weakened, against the currencies of other oil-producing nations. The mistakes that have been made in Iraq since its liberation do not alter the fact that the overthrow of Hussein has given Iraqis a chance they never had before and has shaken the ramshackle, corrupt and dictatorial foundations of the Middle East.

    That, of course, is why there is such bloody resistance. U.S. soldiers are being killed not by romantic nationalist insurgents (as some liberal journalists and marchers like to pretend) but by an unholy grouping of Saddamite gangsters furious at losing power, Syrian and Iranian agents intent on creating mayhem and then theocracy, and Islamo-fascists who want to enslave the world and whose local Pol Pot, Abu Musab Zarqawi, boasts of seeking to murder as many of Iraq's majority Shiite population as he can.

    Zarqawi has also declared that if he is victorious, he will use Iraq as a base to drag down other regional governments and to mount attacks on the United States. Osama bin Laden has said that "the Third World War is raging in Iraq. The whole world is watching this war." All of which makes the antiwar opposition in the U.S. and Europe remarkably shortsighted and self-indulgent. We in the West have a vital stake in delivering on our promises and ensuring that terrorism does not move on to other victims, with even greater bloodlust.

    The sacrifice of U.S. soldiers, of their coalition allies and of Iraqis is horrifically painful. But if we can stay long enough to enable the Iraqis to lay the firm foundation of civil society, their deaths will not be in vain. We should leave when the elected Iraqi government asks us to do so.

    It is the promise of freedom that the fascists who murdered the Iraqi teachers last month want to destroy. It is astonishing and discouraging that those who think they were taking the high ground in marching though Washington do not understand this.

    good point

    from yet another article on the hyperbolic fires of hysteria flamed by an untrustworthy media:
    "I don't need reporters to supply righteous indignation. I can handle that on my own. What I need is reporters who separate rumor from fact and just tell me what they know for sure actually happened."
    And I would add that I don't need reporters to provide political commentary or campaigning disguised as news. That I can supply on my own an aside even Dan Rather is now reported to have had "doubts" as to the validity of his last big story.

    Sunday, October 09, 2005

    worth reading

    If We Do Not Lose Heart
    Francis Frangipane

    "He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time." Daniel 7:25

    The prophet Daniel warns of a time when Satan, through the Antichrist, will seek to wear down the strength of God's saints. How this occurs in the final hours of the age remains to be seen, but on one level this battle already is going on today: Satan seeks to wear us out through delays ("alterations in times") and in compromise of God's Word ("alterations in law").

    The final effect of what seems like never-ending delays is that believers are worn out. Do you know anyone who is weary with his or her battle? Are you yourself weary? I know many who seem trapped in situations that should have been remedied months and even years ago but the battle continues against them. Situations and people, often empowered by demonic resistance, stand in opposition to the forward progress of God's people. As a result of satanic spiritual resistance, many Christians incrementally accept this resistance until a quiet, but weighty, oppression rests on their souls.

    This battle to wear out the saints may be rooted in conflicts with children or spouses; perhaps it is some unresolved issue or division within their churches. It may be a work conflict or health battle, yet on and on it goes. Like a skilled and masterful thief, the enemy daily steals the joy, strength and passion of Christians, and many do not even realize what they have lost or how much.

    The scale is actually larger than our personal struggles. Consider the various conflicts in the world. Some have continued for generations. We can understand why, even in the midst of great worship and praise by the redeemed, there is a place under the altar in heaven where the saints continue to ask, "How long, O Lord?" (Revelation 6:10). Fifty-eight times in the Bible, from beginning to end, the phrase how long is echoed by those who grew weary with waiting.

    Sometimes the delays are God-ordained to perfect faith; as we seek Him He helps us grow. On the other hand, there is a vicious attack against us to oppose and delay the fulfillment of God's plans for us until we grow weary and quit. Satan is the dragon whose goal is to "drag-on" the battle with draining, wearying delays. He persists until we wear out, give up and quit praying.

    Additionally, as situations stretch beyond reasonably expected conclusions, weariness of soul can also exacerbate the original situation, leading to fleshly reactions or just overreactions, which also need resolution. We lose patience, eventually seeking relief rather than victory. This compromises the standards of God and conscience.

    There is a reason the book of Revelation mentions the word perseverance seven times. Over and over again we see those who persevered and overcame. It is one thing to have vision, another to have godly motives, but neither will carry us to our objectives by itself. We must also persevere.

    The root of the word persevere is the word severe. We must face the fact that en route to victory our trials may get severe. Likewise, it is with severe faith - severe or extreme steadfastness - that we inherit the promises of God (see Hebrews 10:36). James tells us: "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).

    Endurance. Perseverance. Steadfastness. These are the qualities that breed character, that transform the doctrine of Christlikeness into a way of life. "Let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect." The key to perfection, to a life "lacking in nothing" is perseverance.

    Weariness of the Mind
    Have you grown weary? You are not alone. Part of the weariness we feel comes from faulty thinking. If we had known the battle was going to take as long as it has, we would have prepared for it more realistically. Every building plan will probably take twice as long as we assume; every virtue will take a year, not a weekend, to be truly worked in us. It may take a generation for some of our loved ones to be saved. If things happen sooner, we can rejoice. But we must guard ourselves lest we prepare only for the easiest of breakthroughs; some things will not manifest without time and tears.

    You may think that it sounds like unbelief to expect difficulties. I don't think so. I think it is wisdom. Wisdom is not the enemy of faith. I have found that if I don't trust God and relax, I become anxious, fretful and distracted. I have also found that the Holy Spirit will not descend and rest in power upon a man who is fearful and controlled by his external circumstances. Jesus' spirit stayed in abiding peace, yet still He accommodated delays as part of life's package. He was often delayed by the huge crowds or urgent needs of the people around Him. People died waiting for Jesus to show up. Did He become anxious? No, He stayed focused on the Father and without losing His trust in God, simply raised the dead.

    At some point we must come to the conclusion that God knows when we are growing weary in battle - be it praying for the salvation of a loved one or one more frustrating delay in reaching our vision. We must trust that He knows our battle and that He has a miracle conclusion waiting us. I know a dear pastor who labored long and hard with a new building project, but it was constantly being delayed. It was first scheduled for completion in September, then rescheduled for December, then January and then February. Finally, with weariness in his voice, he called and asked if I could join him for their dedication. It was set for the first week of March.

    "When exactly do you need me?" I asked.

    He answered, "March fourth."

    Suddenly the Holy Spirit illuminated my heart. I told him that God had chosen this date prophetically. The Lord wanted that church, as an army, to "march forth" into their destiny. In a flash, the weariness weighing upon him was gone; joy and a sense of destiny swept his soul. The delay wore him out, but the delay in the hands of God became inspirational.

    Dear ones, let us persevere. We just do not know what the victory will look like when we finally break through. Consider Joseph. Betrayed, enslaved, slandered and forgotten, he had to endure to reach his destiny. But the time finally arrived, and never in his wildest dreams could he have imagined that the outcome would be so wonderful.

    What we become is more important to God than what we do for Him. Our struggle, though we may have been delayed time and again, deepens our character. Maintaining our standards when pressed, finding grace when stretched, makes us true men and women of God. The Almighty One is in control. He knows how to take what was meant for evil and transform it into something good, even using the devil's own devices to bring him down. God has something marvelous in store for us otherwise the enemy would not be fighting so intensely. Indeed, Scripture tells us that Satan rages worst when he knows his time is short (see Revelation 12:12).

    Character Before Breakthrough
    We mentioned Daniel earlier as a prophet who warned about Satan's ploy to wear down the saints. God gave him a vision of the end of the age. Here is what he wrote: "I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them" (Daniel 7:21). This is the nature of the battle. There are times we feel war storming against our souls, overpowering us. But the prophet said the sense of overpowering continued only "until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom" (Daniel 7:22).

    There is a principle here that, once understood, will lead to victory in our battles. There will be a time, inevitably, when we feel overpowered. Yet if we endure, if we climb higher into God, if we refuse to lose our trust in God, a time will come when the Ancient of Days enters our circumstances. Looking at our newly developed character, which has grown strong through perseverance, He will pass judgment in favor of our cause. God looks at our character, forged in the fire of overpowering delays and battle, and says, "Good, this is what I was waiting for."

    Whatever your battle, whether you are praying for your country or standing for your children, whether your cry is for the lost or for the end of some local or personal conflict, remember the words of Paul: "Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary" (Galatians 6:9).

    Master, I ask that You work in me the character that perseveres until the end. Forgive me for being such a wimp. Help me to grow up, to stand up until the harvest I have sown spiritually bears fruit. Thank You for not giving up on me! In Jesus' name, Amen.