Thursday, June 30, 2005

Rush Limbaugh's Stack of Saddam Stuff

Rush Limbaugh, and I don't care at this point what you think of him, compiled an amazing list of mostly pre-war articles detailing what we thought, at the time, about Saddam. Worth perusing.

Beer Core Value For One California Church

Hat tip WorldmagBlog.
"Beer is one of our core values. We enjoy it and like to drink it. Drinking is part of our culture and a great way to spend time with others," said Pastor Justin Bragg of The Resolved church. "The American church has perpetuated this separatist movement that we shouldn't mix with nonbelievers. We want to go where people are. We don't expect people to come to us. In [Pacific Beach], people are at the bars, parties, and drinking beer, so this is where we go." The Resolved church plans to have a Theology on Tap night for people to meet over a few pitchers of beer to talk about God. "We definitely hold to scripture, so we don't get drunk when we go, but we believe we need to be in the world, not of the world," said Bragg. "It's messy and I know we will make errors along the way, but our confidence is in Christ, and we rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us." Pastor Duane Smets added, "We see it as being missional that we are just hanging out with other people. Loving people with no agenda in the time we spend with others. We really want to care for others and help them out. Most nonbelievers just need a hug. We want to take down the barriers that a lot of churches have put up. Some churches think that the gospel means that you don't drink, smoke, and that you vote for Bush. Jesus didn't seem to have any qualifications with the people He hung out with, and He wasn't involved in politics or military things."

Last Sunday night, seven people gathered in an 850-square-foot apartment in Pacific Beach to read and study the Bible. Pastor Smets opened the service with lyrics from the band Bright Eyes and a prayer from Ansem of Canterbury. "The Bright Eyes song conveys words of longing by a non-Christian and the prayer of Ansem is a prayer of satisfied longing [in God]," said Smets. Pastor Justin Bragg preached a sermon on Romans 1:18. Pastors Smets and Bragg rotate the preaching each week. After the sermon, people pray and take communion, using as the elements a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine. A song from Sigur Rós played in the background during the communion time. "During communion, we will play Johnny Cash, Radiohead, or even an old hymn on the stereo," said Pastor Smets. "It is a time of reflection where people deal with their soul and God."

There is no better combonation in the world than theology and beer. Here is the church's website, which is under construction. I'll pray they honor the Lord by serving a few craft beers.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Constantly Changing Rationale for War?

For those with short-term historical memories. From Feb. 2003. Hat-tip Hugh Hewitt.

From here.
In his State of the Union address, President Bush offered at least four justifications, none of them overlapping: the cruelty of Saddam against his own people; his flouting of treaties and United Nations Security Council resolutions; the military threat that he poses to his neighbors; and his ties to terrorists in general and to Al Qaeda in particular. In addition, Bush hinted at the possibility that Saddam might attack the United States or enable someone else to do so. There are so many reasons for going to war floating around—at least some of which, taken alone, either are nothing new or do not seem to point to Iraq specifically as the obvious place to wage it—that those inclined to suspect the motives of the Administration have plenty of material with which to argue that it is being disingenuous. So, along with all the stated reasons, there is a brisk secondary traffic in 'real' reasons, which are similarly numerous and do not overlap: the country is going to war because of a desire to control Iraqi oil, or to help Israel, or to avenge Saddam's 1993 assassination attempt on President George H. W. Bush.

Yet another argument for war, which has emerged during the last few months, is that removing Saddam could help bring about a wholesale change for the better in the political, cultural, and economic climate of the Arab Middle East. To give one of many possible examples, Fouad Ajami, an expert on the Arab world who is highly respected inside the Bush Administration, proposes in the current issue of Foreign Affairs that the United States might lead 'a reformist project that seeks to modernize and transform the Arab landscape. Iraq would be the starting point, and beyond Iraq lies an Arab political and economic tradition and a culture whose agonies have been on cruel display.' The Administration's main public proponent of this view is Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, who often speaks about the possibility that war in Iraq could help bring democracy to the Arab Middle East. President Bush appeared to be making the same point in the State of the Union address when he remarked that 'all people have a right to choose their own government, and determine their own destiny—and the United States supports their aspirations to live in freedom.'

Iraq and 9/11

9/11 had to do with terrorism. Iraq supported terrorism. Somehow, if you make that argument, you are arguing Iraq planned 9/11.
The president needs to be talking about Saddam and terror because that’s what will get their attention in Damascus and Teheran. It’s not about the great experiment in democratization — as helpful as it would be to establish a healthy political culture in that part of the world. It’s about making our enemies know we are coming for them if they abet and harbor and promote and plan with the people who are trying to kill us.

On that score, nobody should worry about anything the Times or David Gergen or Senator Reid has to say about all this until they have some straight answers on questions like these. What does the “nothing whatsoever” crowd have to say about:

-Ahmed Hikmat Shakir — the Iraqi Intelligence operative who facilitated a 9/11 hijacker into Malaysia and was in attendance at the Kuala Lampur meeting with two of the hijackers, and other conspirators, at what is roundly acknowledged to be the initial 9/11 planning session in January 2000? Who was arrested after the 9/11 attacks in possession of contact information for several known terrorists? Who managed to make his way out of Jordanian custody over our objections after the 9/11 attacks because of special pleading by Saddam’s regime?

-Saddam's intelligence agency's efforts to recruit jihadists to bomb Radio Free Europe in Prague in the late 1990's?

-Mohammed Atta's unexplained visits to Prague in 2000, and his alleged visit there in April 2001 which — notwithstanding the 9/11 Commission's dismissal of it (based on interviewing exactly zero relevant witnesses) — the Czechs have not retracted?

-The Clinton Justice Department's allegation in a 1998 indictment (two months before the embassy bombings) against bin Laden, to wit: In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.

-Seized Iraq Intelligence Service records indicating that Saddam's henchmen regarded bin Laden as an asset as early as 1992?

-Saddam's hosting of al Qaeda No. 2, Ayman Zawahiri beginning in the early 1990’s, and reports of a large payment of money to Zawahiri in 1998?

-Saddam’s ten years of harboring of 1993 World Trade Center bomber Abdul Rahman Yasin?

-Iraqi Intelligence Service operatives being dispatched to meet with bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998 (the year of bin Laden’s fatwa demanding the killing of all Americans, as well as the embassy bombings)?

-Saddam’s official press lionizing bin Laden as “an Arab and Islamic hero” following the 1998 embassy bombing attacks?

-The continued insistence of high-ranking Clinton administration officials to the 9/11 Commission that the 1998 retaliatory strikes (after the embassy bombings) against a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory were justified because the factory was a chemical weapons hub tied to Iraq and bin Laden?

-Top Clinton administration counterterrorism official Richard Clarke’s assertions, based on intelligence reports in 1999, that Saddam had offered bin Laden asylum after the embassy bombings, and Clarke’s memo to then-National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, advising him not to fly U-2 missions against bin Laden in Afghanistan because he might be tipped off by Pakistani Intelligence, and “[a]rmed with that knowledge, old wily Usama will likely boogie to Baghdad”? (See 9/11 Commission Final Report, p. 134 & n.135.)

-Terror master Abu Musab Zarqawi's choice to boogie to Baghdad of all places when he needed surgery after fighting American forces in Afghanistan in 2001?

-Saddam's Intelligence Service running a training camp at Salman Pak, were terrorists were instructed in tactics for assassination, kidnapping and hijacking?

-Former CIA Director George Tenet’s October 7, 2002 letter to Congress, which asserted:

Our understanding of the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda is evolving and is based on sources of varying reliability. Some of the information we have received comes from detainees, including some of high rank.

-We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda going back a decade.

-Credible information indicates that Iraq and Al Qaeda have discussed safe haven and reciprocal nonaggression.

-Since Operation Enduring Freedom, we have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of Al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad.

-We have credible reporting that Al Qaeda leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire WMD capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to Al Qaeda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs.

-Iraq's increasing support to extremist Palestinians coupled with growing indications of relationship with Al Qaeda suggest that Baghdad's links to terrorists will increase, even absent U.S. military action.

Philly's High Wage Tax Hurting City
"When companies consider a move, the city gets eliminated before the competition starts. You certainly see companies already here holding down employment," Fisher said.

City employment has been hit hard in the last decade both by a reduction in the number of square feet of Center City office space and a rising vacancy rate, which some real estate experts believe will reach 20 percent when the Comcast Center skyscraper opens in 2007.

The study launched a campaign to make reducing city business taxes a central issue in the 2007 race for mayor. Mayor Street's office did not have an immediate comment on the study. Street is completing his second term as mayor and is not eligible to run again.

The cost and complexity of city taxes have stunted the growth of the Center City office market for more than a decade, said Wayne Fisher, a senior vice president of the Grubb & Ellis Co. real estate firm and a Center City District board member.
"When companies consider a move, the city gets eliminated before the competition starts. You certainly see companies already here holding down employment," Fisher said.

New York Times Article On American Pale Ales

Like English Pale Ales, except with more assertive hops. Not mentioned in the Article: English yeast strains produce more flavors; American versions have a "cleaner" taste. Not better or worse. Just different. But I like the UK versions better.

How to Deal With a Supreme Court Ruling Effectively
Furious over the recent Supreme Court ruling that lets local governments grab private property for new development, a gadfly yesterday asked a New Hampshire town to seize the home of Justice David Souter.
Logan Darrow Clements sent a letter to the town of Weare, N.H., proposing to build "The Lost Liberty Hotel" and "Just Desserts Cafe" on Souter's property.

"The justification for such an eminent domain action is that our hotel will better serve the public interest as it will bring in economic development," he wrote. Clements, who runs a California media company, added, "This is not a prank."

His crusade was not on the agenda of the town's selectmen last night, but "they've gotten hundreds and hundreds of faxes and E-mails about this," said Republican state Rep. Neal Kurk.

Souter was one of the five justices who ruled it was legal for New London, Conn., to raze a working class neighborhood to make way for upscale development.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Property Rights As the Foundation of All Other Rights

Philadelphia Phillies Milestone

The Phillies lost their 10,000th game in their history. That makes them the losingest franchise in sports history. Ever.

Congratulations Phillies!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Supreme Court Is So Absurd They Are Amusing

First, the Supreme Court has destroyed any reasonable meaning of the Commerce Clause and thereby states' rights.

Then, they eviscerated the "public use" provision of the 5th amendment.

Now, they've turned their sites on the 1st amendment. That's swell. You can't have 10 commandments in a courthouse but you can on government property. You may have 10 commandments if it is a secular enough setting. Most believe that distinction is based on the fact that the Supreme Court itself has 10 commandment etchings, etc.

Somehow, a religious display creates an official governmental church or something like that.

Are they reading some bizarro Constitution I'm not aware of?

Can I Live?

Rapper is happy his mother didn't abort him, so he writes a song about it. He should be on Oprah soon. Seriously, he is scheduled to be on her show.
Cannon's new music video "Can I Live?' tells a tale that's very different from the gangsta's paradise of dirty dancing and booty calls. In the song, the hip-hop pop star tells his life story or at least the beginning of it and his mom's close call with an abortion.

Cannon, 24, appears in the video as a ghost and sings, "Mommy, I don't like this clinic. Hopefully you'll make the right decision, and don't go through with the knife decision.'

A scared teen, his mother was on a gurney that's how close the call was but got up, and, at least in the video version, ran.

He points out to his mother something she got on some level or else she wouldn't have gotten up: "That's a life inside you, look at your tummy. What is becoming Ma, I am Oprah- bound. You can tell he's a star from the ultrasound.'
Nick Cannon will never know how many late-night debates or changes of heart he'll prompt when someone is surfing and runs into "Can I Live?' but at least one mother is already grateful to him. With a scheduled abortion a few days away, she called the Rachel's Vineyard crisis-pregnancy hot line (877-HOPE-4-ME). After many conversations, a counselor sent her a link to the video.

According to Theresa Burke, founder of the group, the mother's reaction was, "Well, now I know I can't do it.' It's a tough road, but this mother, relays Burke, saw "the gift and value of human life' this "survivor' sings about in "Can I Live?' Instead of the abortion, she went for an ultrasound and saw her twins.

Maybe Cannon will have a cameo in their video 24 years from now.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Alanis Morissette Actually Knows What Irony Is
VH1: You also did "Ironic." Do people still give you a rough time over it?

AM: God bless that little non-irony song! The sweetest irony is that it's a song called "Ironic" and it's not filled with irony. The best moment I had surrounding that song was in a bookstore in New York. Someone came up to me and said, "You do realize that song is not filled with ironies." I just nodded my head silently. And she said, "Is that the irony?" I just nodded my head and she walked out! [Laughs] It was such a sweet moment.

Hugh Hewitt More Eloquently Explains the Vietnam-Liberal-Iraq Connections That I've Been Attempting To Explain For About a Year Now
On May 4, 2000, officials of the U.S. Forest Service started a fire in the Bandelier National Monument. The was was supposed to be a "controlled burn," but the Service miscalculated conditions on the ground and the weather forecast was wrong, and the fire became a runaway disaster, eventually consuming 235 homes and 47,000 acres. The Service did not intend to start the fire, but it surely caused the destruction, and it admitted responsibility. No criminal charges were brought. The United States government paid for the losses not covered by insurance.

If the Forest Service were to initiate another controlled burn in the same spot under the same conditions and with the same weather forecast as it did in 2000, the public would be outraged. Not only would the Service' proclamation of innocent intent be insufficient to quell the anger, but demands for criminal investigation into culpability would surely follow.

Indeed, if any controlled burns get away from the Service for years to come, they will be under immediate suspicion of fecklessnes and and best gross negligence. The public assumes they should know better, and the Service will be held to a much higher standard of care for years to come, a standard that will brand them as arsonists in fact if not in intent if any more of their experiments in forest management result in the destruction of private property, especially homes.

The Democratic Party and its liberal/left supporters negligence with regard to southeast Asia in the '70s bought about the deaths of millions and the enduring communist governments of Vietnam and Laos and the desperate circumstances of Cambodia. They did not intend that result. In his famous testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry predicted of the aftermath of a unilateral withdrawal of American troops that the United States would have "an obligation to offer sanctuary to the perhaps 2,000, 3,000 people who might face, and obviously they would, we understand that, might face political assassination or something else." His blindness was neither unique nor even notable. They did not see the carnage coming, or the consequence of American retreat from Vietnam as it would manifest itself in Africa, Central America and ultimately in Afghanistan.

Now the same Democratic Party, the same liberal/left, the same John Kerry and Ted Kennedy and some of the same anti-war protestors grown old and respectable are urging that timelines for unilateral withdrawal be set, the words "bug out" and "quagmire" and back, and once again an ally is beginning to feel the full support of the Democratic Party like a knife in the back. The same tactics, the same denunciations, the same theater that cloaked the approach of disaster are in play in D.C. The Democrats want to start a controlled burn.

If they succeed again, the deaths will surely occur far away and by the hundreds of thousands if not millions.

But they will also occur here. The president knows this, as does the vice president, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State. What Rumsfeld must have been thinking when Kennedy ranted on about the need for the controlled burn to begin in Bandelier Monument immediately.

What Rumsfeld could not say, Rove did, and good for him. More and more people should say it, and are saying it. Serious people don't have to rely on MSM for repackaged talking points from the left. There are new voices and new sources, and they know the one key political fact: The leadership of the Democratic Party is now committed to a strategy of retreat that will inevitably lead to disastrous defeat and the deaths of Americans here at home. They have reverted to type, and the type is naive and dangerous. Their intentions don't matter, and their predictions can't be trusted. The voters have taken away most of their matches. In 2006, they should take away the rest.

Bad News For the Live 8 Concert

Phillip Johnson Plans a Series of Articles Complaining About 'Christianity Today' Article He Doesn't Like

Blogs, even if no one reads them, are theraputic.

'An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States' Rears Its Ugly Head

My friend Jess and I hid a note for all posterity in what we determined was the most boring book in the high school library. This is the second time in the last year I have found a prominent reference to it.
For the past hundred years the attack on private property has been central to the Progressive assault on the Constitution, beginning with J. Allen Smith's The Spirit of American Government (1907) and continuing most importantly with Charles Beard's An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution (1913). Smith and Beard portrayed the constitutional protection of private property by the founders as the weapon of an elite interested in preserving its privilege. (By the time scholars got around to debunking Beard's book in particular -- few serious works of history have been as definitively disproved as Beard's -- the damage had been done.) Today the Progressive assault on property rights continues in the scholarship of liberals such as University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Obviously, We're Having Technical Difficulties

May be a good time to change the template.

Euro Lefties Funding Iraqi Insurgents

We hate America so much let's screw the Iraqis?

Supreme Court on Property Rights
Justice Thomas framed this anomaly nicely:

The Court has elsewhere recognized “the overriding respect for the sanctity of the home that has been embedded in our traditions since the origins of the Republic,” … when the issue is only whether the government may search a home. Yet today the Court tells us that we are not to “second-guess the City’s considered judgments,”... when the issue is, instead, whether the government may take the infinitely more intrusive step of tearing down petitioners’ homes. Something has gone seriously awry with this Court’s interpretation of the Constitution. Though citizens are safe from the government in their homes, the homes themselves are not.

Groveling Over Gitmo Is Not Good In The Fight Against Terrorism

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Walter Williams Argues Against Seatbelt Laws
Let's start with the question: Who owns Walter E. Williams? Is it President Bush, the U.S. Congress, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or do I own myself? I'm guessing that any reasonable person would agree that I own Walter E. Williams. The fact that I own myself means that I have the right to take risks with my own life but not others'. That's why it's consistent with morality to mandate that my car have working brakes. If my car doesn't have working brakes, then I risk the lives of others, and I have no right to do so. If I choose not to wear a seatbelt, then I risk my own life, which I have every right to do.

Of course, if it's stipulated that President Bush, the Congress or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania owns me, I have no such right; I'd be risking their property. Some might rejoin by saying, "Williams, if you're not wearing a seatbelt, and don't do us the favor of dying in an accident and become an incapacitated vegetable, society will have to bear the expense of taking care of you." That's not a problem of liberty and self-ownership. It's a problem of socialism.

Getting Beyond the 'Amnesty' Word on Immigration

Good 'out of the box' thinking here.

My grandmother was an illegal immigrant (she was 3), so I try not to be too hard on illegals. On the other hand, it's illegal. People who want to come here to live the dream I have no problem with. But we have to secure the border. And there needs to be some sort of orderly system that respects the law of the land.

I'm Listening to Ted Kennedy Lecture Rumsfeld Right Now

He's being a lot more respectful than I would be. "How's it feel to be responsible for the Killing Fields senator?"

Kerry Misses Vote on His Own Bill

Is this common in Congress?

Study Shows Adult Stem Cells Have Same Ability As Those From Babies

I Think the Dems Just Walked Into Karl Rove's Trap

Supreme Court Rules Government Can Take Private Land And Give It To Rich Developers

This is when you need a check and balance. Following their expansive reading of the Commerce Clause, this is no surprise. And it is truly horrible.

5-4 decision. If you are curious what judicial activism looks like, read the majority opinion.

Matthew May Not Accepting Sen. Durbin's Apology

Personally, I wasn't offended because Nazis and Pol Pot's regime were used in an analogy. I was upset because the analogy itself is wrong.

It also confirms to the terrorist-loving world that we are a bunch of spineless ninnies.

From another article on American Thinker:
Thus, the left’s fascination with Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and civilian casualties. By concentrating on our sins – both real and imagined – they can take the focus off what the enemy is doing both to our troops and the innocent civilians who are increasingly being targeted for death and place it on an impossibly high moral plane that if we were to live up to, our chances of winning in the end would be substantially diminished. Hence, their most recent argument that it’s perfectly alright to refer to American soldiers and the American government as Nazis because we’re not “different enough” from Hitler’s thugs. This kind of sophistry is impossible to answer. Since they never define what “enough” means, the left can paint the military with the broadest brush possible. If an interrogator drops a Koran on the floor, we’re no better than the Nazis. If we turn up the air conditioning, Pol Pot couldn’t have done worse.

It’s madness.

Anti-Americanism and the 6 Day War

Tigerhawk is rapidly becoming one of the best blogs on the web. This post, in particular, is a must read.
If you read just one book on the Arab-Israeli conflict, I unreservedly recommend Michael B. Oren's Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. It is both immensely interesting and -- true to its cover blurb -- "riveting reading."

The book is full of interesting anecdotes and detail about the both the personalities -- Egypt's Nasser and 'Amer, Jordan's Hussein, and Israel's Ben Gurion, Dyan, Rabin, Begin, Eshkol, Sharon, America's Lyndon Johnson and his team of advisors, and critical Russian players -- and the historic geopolitical struggle that swirled around them. I was most interested, though, in Oren's account of the Nasser's Big Lie -- that Egypt's embarrassing defeat was the direct consequence of American and British intervention.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Sports Fines Are Rarely Paid In Full By Athletes

Hat tip to Augie.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Lois Lane Will Have Dark Hair

Monday, June 20, 2005

Some Dems Giving Credence To "Iraq War Was On Israel's Behalf" Talk

In their hatred of Bush, I wonder how much damage they will do. Hopefully by the time they regain the White House, sanity will have been restored to the party.

Fatherhood & Atheism (mp3)

Pyschology professor sees a link between strong atheists and dissatifaction with fathers.

I'm sure exceptions can be found, but this makes sense. If you were disappointed by your earthly father, your Heavenly Father probably isn't going to be too high on your list.

NJ Legislature Making It Incredibly Difficult to Change Wholesalers (pdf)

To be charitable, it seems they didn't have small breweries in mind when the wrote this bill. Maybe they were looking to protect wholesalers from the likes of BudMillerCoors. But do they really need protecting anyway?

Philadelphia Inquirer Article on Dogfish Head Brewery
There are no talking frogs, no hot chicks wrestling in mud, no blimps, and no free neon sign giveaways to promote Dogfish Head beer. Calagione knows there is simply no point in a small brewery competing with Big Beer at its own game, a gambit that focuses on anything but the weak flavor of its drink.

So Calagione, the Massachusetts-born son of a successful oral surgeon, has evolved his own strategy of alt-commerce. It's a sort of marketing jujitsu that positions Dogfish as the anti-cheap beer, with shiny caps and poetic run-on labels printed on fancy paper usually used for wine bottles. The push to break previous price barriers reflects not only the expense of making his high-alcohol beers, which require more barley, exotic ingredients and aging time, but also what Calagione calls his "evangelistic" mission to elevate beer's blue-collar image to an esteem equal to that of wine.
But Chateau Jiahu presented other challenges, including how the ancients began fermentation of the rice. The brewers could use a mold cake traditionally used in Chinese rice wines, or they could chew and spit the rice into a bowl and let the saliva enzymes go to work - a rustic East Asian technique.

"Sam was definitely all about chewing the rice," admits Dogfish Head distillery manager Mike Gerhart. "He really wanted saliva to be one of the ingredients on the label. But you've got to pick and choose your battles."

So mold cake it was, imported directly from the University of Beijing. And the final result is a surprisingly golden brew. Part sake, part beer, part honeyed muscat wine, it has a a sweet nose and a soft champagne fizz but a surprisingly dry flavor that finishes with a whiff of smoke and funky fruit that clings to your throat.

The first batch of Chateau Jiahu has been served exclusively in the Rehoboth brew pub, and may or may not go into mass production.

New York State to Create Beer Trails for Tourists

A great idea. It seems this legislature gets it.
A bill making its way through the Legislature aims to create a New York state beer trail, similar to those the wine industry has successfully used to attract millions of oenophiles to the Finger Lakes, Hudson Valley and eastern Long Island. Sponsors of the legislation say it will highlight the reemergence of breweries in New York and help brewers cash-in on the popularity of their oatmeal stouts, India pale ales and bitters.
"People travel all over the United States to go to beer Meccas and events and they make it a point of looking up local breweries and special beer bars in towns they are visiting," Daniels said. A trail would be "helpful for brewers and tourism as well. There is a population of people interested in good beer. They like to try out local breweries and beer they can't get in their home region."

Or you can also pick up Lew Bryson's book on New York's breweries.

How Anti-Vietnam War Groups Betrayed a P.O.W.

Hat tip to TigerHawk.
Acting on a request from the North Vietnamese, students in a so-called anti-war organization in the United States researched public records and formulated biographies on Americans captured in Vietnam. After reading Lt. Rowe's biography, his Viet Cong captors became furious. They marched him into a cramped bamboo hut and forced him to sit on the damp clay floor. Several high ranking Viet Cong officials were staring down at Lt. Rowe. They held out a piece of typed onion skin paper.

"The peace and justice loving friends, of the National Liberation Front, who live in America, have provided us with information which leads us to believe you have lied to us," they informed Lt. Rowe. "According to what we know, you are not an engineer . . . you have much military experience which you deny . . . You were an officer of the American Special Forces."

Lt. Rowe sat dumbfounded, unable to comprehend that his own people would betray him. He felt it was over. He had lied to the communists for five years. Worse in their eyes, the Viet Cong had believed him. They had lost face and, for that, he would be punished. Soon after, the Viet Cong Central Committee for the National Liberation Front sent orders to Rowe's camp ordering the cadre to execute the uncooperative American prisoner.

On the day Lt. Rowe was being led to a destination for execution, he and his small group of guards were caught on the edge of an American B-52 saturation bombing raid. The guards scattered, leaving Lt. Rowe with only one. Lt. Rowe knew he had nothing to lose. He bided his time until the remaining guard carelessly moved to Rowe's front, whereupon Lt. Rowe bludgeoned him with a log and escaped.

He was later killed by a Vietnam-friendly person in the Phillipines, who is set to be released shortly.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Let's Just Pretend Superman 3 and 4 Didn't Happen

I was reading Entertainment Weekly's cover story on the new Superman movie. The new director has a lot of respect for Richard Donner's previous work. So much so, the new movie isn't retelling Superman's origins at all. It is actually a sequel to Superman 2.

Ignoring Superman 3 and 4 is a stroke of genius. I like Superman 3 well enough. I was also a huge Superman fan and a kid at the time. Superman 4 was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. My grandfather took me to see that at the movie theater. God bless his soul.

Maybe they will explain how Lois Lane went from this

to this

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The United Church of Christ Can't Determine If Jesus Is Lord

I agree with Dr. White. Write "Ichabod" on the door and lock it up.

Tiger Hawk Examines Lessons-Learned From Our 90's Engagement of North Korea

My general though is that China could shut down North Korea in a heartbeat but chooses not to.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Various and Sundry

I was wondering how my old friend Augie was doing and found him via Google. He picked an excellent name for his blog. I'm partial to Puritan writings so "various and sundry" works for me. "Inchoate" would be even better.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I Wonder If They Know Better

In the upcoming weeks, you will see a lot of blather about the Downing Street Memo. I suggest you actually read it yourself. You will see that, in context, the document proves that the UK and the US believed there were WMDs in Iraq. Also the word "fixed" doesn't necessarily mean "fabricate" in British English.

Batman Begins

It is kind of weird seeing a new Batman movie. The first Batman movie, in June of 1989, was accompanied by a whole mess of hype. It was my favorite movie of the summer, but nothing could live up to that hype. Remarkably, the movie has held up very well over the years.

The movie also helped get me into Batman comics, so I'm steeped in Batman lore. Alas, I gave all my Batman comics to Augie. I'm not sure if I regret that or not, but I left them in good hands.

Then, came Joel Schumacher.

Joel Schumacher's first Batman movie, Batman Forever in 1995, was good enough. It was enjoyable and different, which was needed after Tim Burton's efforts. Those penguins with rockets still have me scratching my head. But Joel Schumacher has the distinction of killing off the franchise, which the current movie is trying to rescue. Batman & Robin, made in 1997, was so utterly bad. I knew, even as a Batman fan, it wasn't going to be good. But this one was bone-chilling bad. It even made Batman Forever worse. If you can make a movie retroactively bad, you've taken bad to a whole new level.

So how's the current movie? It is loosely based on Batman: Year One, which was a great storyline from the 80's by Frank Miller. But it doesn't follow it so closely that they have to pay Frank Miller money.

I thoroughly enjoyed, but as you can tell by now. I'm a Batman geek. Heck, I've seen how Vader became Vader and a new Batman movie this summer. My inner-kid/geek is thrilled.

Ra's Al Gul is in the film as well. Now that is something I didn't quite expect. Too bad his daughter wasn't in the movie. If you understood that last comment, you too may be a Batman geek.

Update: I forgot that Fantastic Four is coming out this year. I was never a Fantastic Four fan, but it has Jessica Alba and the Commish in the movie. It's hard to beat that.

Liberals Don't Understand Militant Muslims. Why?

Let me clarify this. Many liberals. Liberals like Senator Lieberman and Ed Koch understand the situation pretty well.

Karl Marx was not all wrong. Am I really saying that? Absolutely.

Marx understood clearly that people derive a sense of value and worth to their work and jobs. And when they became mere cogs in a machine, people lost a sense of self-worth. Unfortunately, Marx's lack of understanding of human nature prevented him from postulating an adequate solution to this problem.

Marx, because of childhood experiences, viewed everything in terms of economics. His father was an Orthodox Jew. When the family moved to a predominately Lutheran area, his father converted because it would be better for business. Marx began to see everything in terms of economics.

Socialism and communism eventually, over time, took root. And while they are able to explain a lot, ultimately they fall short. And they fall short because they fall short in their understanding people.

Liberals, who are the most influenced by this type of thinking, view so much of life in terms of class struggle, rich and poor. And while this can explain a lot, it doesn't explain everything. If some people are bad actors, it must be because they don't have enough money or were born with a disadvantage rooted in economics. Most of you can probably see the error of this thinking. Sometimes people are just plain bad.

So you will hear a lot about the root causes of terrorism. By that, 9 times out of 10 means poverty. And yes, many in the Middle East are poor. But a lot of the Al Queda people come from middle class backgrounds. Heck, Osama bin Ladin is tremedously wealthy.

A number of times I've tried to explain how certain beliefs in Islam (beyond the example set by Muhammad) have contributed to "everyone hating us." But such thinking from a generally secular sector of society falls on deaf ears. Their thinking on relgion is either a) how dare you say any religion is deficient. That will lead to violence. or b) Relgion just generally lead to violence, so Christianity is no better than Islam.

There is also a historical pattern to blame America for a lot on the Left. Some fair. A lot which is not so fair.

So if radical Muslims are bad it must be because they are 1) poor, 2) religious in general (you can't point a finger at anything specific in Islam or in Middle East culture) 3) reacting to something we've done so we have to change.

So now we have many middle-class (and above) devout Muslims who believe that Islam should be spread, violently if need be, and negative Western influence should be purged (which is impossible with today's media technologies unless you destroy the West). So you can't stop militant Islam by eradicating poverty (although that would probably help in Palestine). There is not much policy-wise you can change unless you pretty much become Muslim.

Plus, being spineless generally only makes things worse. Once you show weakness (like calling Gitmo a gulag) you embolden terrorists and help them in their recruiting. An entire book could be written on this point. Needlessly to say, American weakness from Reagan's retreat in Beirut to Clinton's abandonment of Moguidishu (I hope I spelled that correctly) to not responding to the Cole bombing emboldened terrorists and helped create the situation we find ourselves in today.

Lastly, secularists and Muslims share one pertinent thing in common. Both do not believe in original sin. So they believe people are born good or at least OK and are corrupted at a later date. Well, if you have the wrong diagnosis, the possibility of you having the correct solution isn't very likely.

Conservatives Missing the Boat on Taxes
It occurred to me that conservatives have increasingly become just like liberals on tax policy in an important philosophical way. Neither liberals nor conservatives really care about the structure of taxation any more. Liberals support every tax without reservation and conservatives oppose every tax just as dogmatically.

When I first became involved with tax policy back in the 1970s, while working for then-congressman Jack Kemp, things were different. We wanted to cut taxes, of course, but we were just as concerned about the tax structure as we were about the level of taxation. Whenever I would talk about cutting taxes, Jack would sternly correct me and say that we were cutting tax rates, not “taxes.”

He was right. It was important to maintain control of the rhetoric in order to prevent our effort from veering off into the wrong direction. Our goal was to cut marginal tax rates because we firmly believed that this would provide the greatest economic boost to the economy. And we knew that other types of tax cuts would not only have no economic benefit, but could actually be economically harmful.

Ideally, we wanted a tax system that was as close to neutral as possible. That is, we wanted people to make economic decisions based on market forces, not because of some provision in the tax law. In this respect, tax subsidies were as bad as tax penalties. (italics mine) Both caused economic activity to deviate from what would exist in a free market, thus creating inefficiency and reducing growth.
Unfortunately, this lesson has been lost among most conservatives these days. Just like the Keynesians of old, the Right today sees no difference between one tax and another. All tax cuts are equally good and all tax increases are equally bad, goes the thinking. The result has been that wrong-headed but politically popular tax cuts like the child credit have been enacted at the expense of more economically beneficial tax-rate cuts. These wrong-headed tax cuts have also made it extraordinarily difficult to enact fundamental tax reforms like the flat tax.

As the Tax Reform Commission is in the process of discovering, implementation of a flat tax must contend with the fact that things like the child credit would have to be eliminated to really clean up the tax code. But the popularity of the credit makes this politically impossible. In short, the Republican tax cuts over the last four years have effectively taken fundamental tax reform off the table for good.

I still think it would be highly desirable to have a flat tax. But I see no way of getting there without raising taxes on many poor and middle class people, even with a low rate and a high exemption. Millions of people now get tax rebates from the earned income tax credit even though they don’t pay any income taxes, so imposing a zero tax rate on such people would constitute a de facto tax increase. This just isn’t going to happen.

Tigerhawk Blog Comments on Hugo Chavez
As Tigerhawk correctly observes, there is precious little commentary regarding important developments in our own backyard. The destruction of Venezuela, a potentially prosperous nation, and its current course are bad for its people, the rest of Latin America, and bad for the US. Chavez hangs out with bad people (Cuba and Iran, most recently), is making trouble in Bolivia, and is likely to become a friend and protector to other transient bad actors (like terrorists). He likely already has done so.

Those few who have commented on him suggest he is the new Castro. Actually, in my view, he is far worse. He is an oil-financed Peron. Now many Americans view Peron in a benign light, thanks to Broadway and this rather bizarre heroine treatment his Evita gets. Actually, he destroyed Argentina and set it on the course which today has bankrupted the country, impoverished its people and made it a global financial pariah. Between Peron's direct rule and today, the country experienced genocidal military rule, went to war with Great Britain, and went broke. Oddly, I am lucky enough to have been born in America because of Peron. His rule convinced my Argentine parents to emigrate to the US in 1954. Phew.

Why is he worse than Castro? At least Castro is generally accepted by everybody but the most ardent knucklehead as a very bad guy, a revanchist tyrannical holdout who oppresses and impoverishes his people. Chavez is sneakier. He is a National Socialist (I specifically don't use the loaded term Nazi here because I don't want to instantly suggest he is behind a holocaust, or anti semitic, or anything like that. He could become all those things, but that's not the point). I mean it in the political sense. He merges a number of ugly extreme elements of both the left and right in a highly centralized way. He portrays himself in Robin Hood fashion as the defender of the worker by bribing the unions which represent them. He utterly guts the middle class, and either destroys the wealthy, runs them out of the country, or selectively aligns with certain ones. As a result, he will eventually destroy the productive capacity of the country -- but thanks to oil, it will take many years.

Gettysburg Slots Casino Would Honor War Dead
An unnamed spokesman for the planned gaming operation said, "Mr. Lincoln told his Gettysburg audience that 'in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground'...but Mr. Lincoln never saw the rows of magnificent gleaming slot machines, the joyful expressions on the faces of blue-haired women and the opportunity to go from welfare to wealth that our customers will find at 'Four Score Slots and More'."

The source noted that without the "family entertainment" provided by slot machines, "Gettysburg is nothing but fields of bones and monument stones."
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, former chairman of the Democrat National Committee, last year spearheaded the effort to legalize slot machines as a way of increasing funding to public schools.

"Our public school graduates lack basic knowledge of mathematics," said Gov. Rendell. "Which is why we think slot machines will be such a hit with Pennsylvanians."

Sonoma County Paper: Quality craft beers are making headway as worthy companions to gourmet foods

This is great news for beer lovers and for all gourmets.
Long derided as a companion worthy only of a plate of greasy chicken wings or a bag of pretzels, beer is emerging as a sophisticated alternative to wine in gourmet food pairings.

"In comparison with wine, there is more of a diversity in selection and flavor in beer," said Bruce Paton, chef at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco.

Paton hosts annual dinners with brewer Vinnie Cilurzo of Santa Rosa's Russian River Brewing Co., showcasing creations such as Cilurzo's Damnation Belgian-style ale with upscale fare like ceviche with scallops and caviar.

"Several foods are not wine-friendly," Paton said, "but there are a wide range of flavors that come out of, and can be matched with, beer."

Wine has only one ingredient, grapes. While great, beer can do more. That is simply telling it like it is. And there is no need to denigrate wine, just because beer has been denigrated over the years. I blame tasteless mass-produced beer and frat boys, not wine people.
Paton has been bridging the gap between the worlds of beer and fine food since the mid-'90s, when he began hosting dinners for Bay Area breweries and San Francisco's Clift Hotel. Paton suspected a lack of knowledge, rather than a lack of interest, was preventing gourmets from putting the two together.

"It was initially very experimental," said Paton of his early dinners. "I wasn't really sure how things would go together. But it was something I had always thought about."

Paton admits there is still "a little prejudice" among chefs and consumers who associate beer with the "guy eating chips in an undershirt." But, he said, Bay Area epicures are starting to reach for a bottle of brew to go with everything from caviar to beef carpaccio.

"Most of the microbrew renaissance has happened out here," Patton noted, "so we have access to these beers, and we also have access to incredible food. It's logical. Craft brew has come a long way."

I wouldn't say most. But Anchor Brewing is the granddaddy. Northern California has a great beer culture to go with a world-class wine culture. It is a great area to be a gourmet.
According to Paton and other experts, beer and food-pairing principles are based largely on common sense, much as wine and food pairing is. The concept of "light with light" and "dark with dark," (i.e., dark beers with red meat, garlic, spice; light beers with chicken and seafood) generally works. The hoppiness of a beer should be treated in the same way as wine's acidity; hop-heavy beers pair well with high-acid foods and also cut the oil in foods like salmon and dishes made with olive oil.

The beer renaissance has also registered on a national scale, according to recent studies. While interest in mass-produced beers like Coors and Budweiser is on the wane, sales of microbrewed, craft and imported beers continues to rise. Beer expert, brewer and author Garrett Oliver ("The Brewmaster's Table," Ecco, 2003) called this shift a "return to normality."

There is no better book if you are interested in food and beer pairings. Oliver discusses all the general principles and discusses every major beer category.
"Many of us have grown up during a culinary Dark Ages." Modern consumers have long been subjected to "three kinds of cheese, two kinds of bread and one kind of beer," but pre-war American shoppers could choose among quality artisan products, he said.

"Now, we're seeing a resurgence of quality products, including beer," said Oliver by phone from his home in New York. "The rise of the beer culture is part of the rise of the food culture. People are drinking mass amounts of beer, and beer outsells wine even at the high end. We've come a long way."

In other words, craft beer is part of a bigger movement that includes free-range chicken, fine wine, fresh vegetables, artisan cheeses and breads, etc.
"High-end wine drinkers and high-end beer drinkers are the same people," he explained, citing high-profile events like his recent "Iron Chef"-style food pairing showdown with Gramercy Tavern sommelier Paul Greco as an example.

"My goal is to preserve beer's approachability while promoting its sophistication. I don't want beer to lose its casualness, but people could have more fun with the beer that is out there."

I like that last quote.
Russian River Brewing Co.'s Cilurzo said that his own patrons already regard beer with respect and are willing to pair it with a diverse range of food, a perspective he attributes to his location in Wine Country.

"Sonoma County has a connoisseur's mentality, and the locals and regulars are enthusiastic about what we're doing," said Cilurzo, who brewed beer for Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guerneville for five years before opening his own brewery in 2003.

Can't wait to visit Russian River this summer.
Despite its ascension to loftier climes, however, beer still offers an approachability that sets it apart from other alcohoic beverages, said Cilurzo -- even when it's barrel fermented, corked and bottled with flair like some of the Russian River Brewing Co.'s offerings.

"Pairing gourmet food and high-end beer is fun and should not be intimidating," he said. "There's a lot you can do. It can be very simple, but very good."

LA Times Gives Some Recipes With Beer

Appreciating and Assessing Beer

Here are the general things you need to know.

1) Beer with flavor should never be served ice-cold.

2) Beer should be enjoyed in a glass so you can get more aroma and flavor.

3) Ultraviolet light causes beer to go skunky.

4) Beer is a perishible food. Most of the mass-marketed stuff is pasteurized so it can last longer. That also kills flavor. Some of the higher-alcohol beers can be aged. However, you should do your best to drink your beer in a timely manner, especially delicate pilseners. For some of those beers, I would stick to non-imports.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Josh Schwartz of Gateway Highschool and Rowan University Signs With St. Louis Cardinals

Good luck Josh. Hope to see you in the bigs some day.

McDonald's Is a Gulag

They stopped serving breakfast at 11 AM. Freaking gulag.

Bolton and the Growing U.N. Scandal

It is interesting that some Senators are so very concerned that Bolton may have raised his voice, while at the same time voicing very little concern that the U.N. may need someone to kick butt and take names.

Who knows what their true motivations are. I assume that, idealogically, they want the U.N. to be a governmental organization that controls the world's foreign policy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Kyoto Was Never About the Environment
Blair is working behind friend Bush's back trying to turn him on Kyoto. Blair secretly has lobbied U.S. senators, and British officials are collaborating with American environmentalist advocates. Lord May of Oxford, president of the British Royal Society, was able to persuade science academies from 10 other countries (including the United States) to demand ''prompt action'' on global warming. Congress is closer than ever to enacting fossil fuel restrictions.

''In reality, Kyoto was never about environmental policy,'' a White House aide told me. ''It was designed as an elaborate, predatory trade strategy to level the American and European economies.'' The problem for Europeans has been that Bush refused to go along, ruining the desired leveling effect. The EU's industries have been devastated, while America has prospered.

Europeans' desire to bring U.S. prosperity down to their level is no conspiracy theory of American conservatives. Margot Wallstrom, the Swedish vice president of the European Commission, in 2001 (when she was commissioner for the environment) said the Kyoto Protocol was ''not a simple environmental issue ... this is about international relations, this is about economy -- about trying to create a level playing field.''

The reason for all this activity is the EU's plight in regard to Kyoto's emissions reduction targets of 5 percent below the 1990 level. According to credible private sources, the EU's 15 nations will be 3 percent above 1990 and 10 percent above in carbon dioxide. Several countries are substantially over the targets, led by Portugal (61 percent over target), Spain (61 percent) and Greece (51 percent).

While Blair mobilizes pressure on Bush at Gleaneagles, efforts will be made the next two weeks in the Senate to amend the energy bill to force reduced emissions. The global warming bill of Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman, estimated by the energy industry to cost more than 600,000 jobs and ruin U.S. coal production, was easily defeated in 2003. However, thanks to possible defections by several Republican senators, a mandatory climate change amendment by Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman might pass.

Bush is surrounded by hostile friends. Old bull Republican Sen. Pete Domenici, manager of the energy bill, may support the Bingaman amendment. Within Bush's own administration, the departed mole Rick Piltz has many allies. And in the lakes and glens of Scotland, he will find dear friend Tony Blair winning points with the Labor left and his fellow Europeans.

One of these days environmentalists are going to realize that regulations are not the ultimate answer to solving environmental problems. Producing technologies that are more environmentally friendly would be. Encouraging people to make better decisions would be.

Notice how the non-environmental aims of Kyoto is to bring down the American economy instead of bringing the European economy up? That, in a nutshell, sums up what is wrong with the socialist mindset. Zero-sum game. Tear down instead of build up. Regulate instead of finding solutions where everyone can benefit.

What Does the U.S. Get From Free Trade?
All in all, they calculate the United States earns an extra $1 trillion per year because of freer trade. That's how much bigger our economy is because we lowered barriers, opened markets, and allowed goods, services and people to move across our borders in both directions.

It equals roughly 10 percent of our current gross domestic product, and it translates into an average $10,000 per year in extra income per household. Of course, any estimate of something so large and long-running is bound to be rough.

The researchers actually used four different methods and arrived at figures ranging from 7.3 percent to 13.2 percent of economic output.

So the numbers are soft, but they're all large. Any way you slice it, we've benefited substantially from opening up to trade.

Of course, some have suffered as well. Workers lost jobs, companies failed, and some towns emptied out when trade rules changed. No one can deny it.

The cost of all that isn't small either. Hufbauer and Grieco guess that the overall loss of income to those who've been hurt by freer trade could be as much as $54 billion per year.

But balance it out: $54 billion in losses vs. $1 trillion in gains.

Isn't that a trade worth taking?

Live 8 Messing Up Wedding Plans

The Good And The Bad With Jimmy Rollins
Now. Is there a risk here? Sure. This is an awful lot of money for a guy who just doesn't see the value of a walk - a weird trait to have for a lead-off hitter. Even as Rollins has picked up his game at the plate, still he's drawn precisely one walk since May 25. That's right - one.

The Phillies now have committed $70.55 million to eight players next year. This team better be what the Phillies hope it is, because you're stuck with this group for a long time.

Now Rollins is certain to be among them. He's a bargain, relatively speaking, because in the crazy world of pro sports, $7.5 million in 2010 is almost certainly less than a player like Rollins would command. He's an elite defensive player and was the only player in the league last year to hit double digits in doubles, triples, homers and steals.

He's also this team's energy. Rollins is the Phillies' heartbeat, the guy who can get the park buzzing and the clubhouse going. And he wanted to stay.

I'm still not convinced he's an elite defensive player.

How Not to Write an Opinion Column: the Alliance Between Roman Catholics and Evangelicals

Prof. Kenneeth A. Briggs, of Lafayette College, gives us a perfect example of how not to write an opinion piece.
Much attention is being paid to the teaming up of conservative Roman Catholics and conservative Protestant evangelicals to press for causes such as ending abortion and fighting homosexuality. Although the two groups have a history of shared morality, they have only recently begun to march together, as when they joined forces to try to keep Terri Schiavo alive.

What has divided them in the past, often at sword points, are basic beliefs, none more fiercely than their conflicting views of the pope.

Ok, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals believe different things about the pope and the nature of the church. This is the basic lever from which he will try to move everything in this column. Unfortunately, this is not new information for almost anyone.
But traditional obstacles have been set aside in the interests of building a political coalition. How long can such a truce last, given the underlying convictions on both sides? Pope Benedict XVI's imperious view of other Christians provides a clue that could strike a blow at the heart of that alliance.

Here is the contention that will continue to go unsupported in the article. The political coalition will fall apart because Pope Benedict believes evangelicals are deficient in their religion. I don't think that will be news to anyone because one would expect the pope to think like a Catholic. Call me silly.

Prof. Briggs doesn't offer much beyond wish projection.
Evangelicals and Catholics have a lot to resolve, as people who do care about theology. They can picket a stem-cell clinic together, but half cannot take Holy Communion in a Catholic church. The other half may attend Mass every day but will not be considered "born again" by fellow protesters.

Among them are those who criticized the liberal church activism 40 years ago as reducing religion to a few matters of ethics. Now, a similar social activism is growing among evangelicals and Catholics, based on ethical issues that unite them. Yet, the thinking that could lead to a closer bond at deeper levels has hardly begun.

Why does the Philadelphia Inquirer print articles which say so little? And this one was the lead article for the Sunday opinion section.

Roman Catholics and evangelicals have common moral beliefs and common goals. Wow. But they disagree on soteriology. But I'm never going to explain how that will interupt a coalition over moral values. Please put me above the fold.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Almost Got to Speak With Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges was on Radio Times on NPR (WHYY) today. He has written a lot about Christian Dominionists. After making a few good critiques, and I'm saying this as an evangelical, he take a mole hill and constructs a mountain out of paranoia, or something that I think resembles paranoia.

He said on the show that religious people dealing with absolutes is dangerous. I called in, but too late into the show to get on the air. "Mr. Hedges, are you saying that it is absolutely true that dealing with absolutes is dangerous?"

The call screener laughed and wanted to know if it was a joke. No, it was no joke. But when Chris Hedges implodes himself on the law of non-contradiction...I guess it can be funny.

Men's Journal Gives Its Ranking of Top World Beers

Which beer did they pick for the best beer in the world? Saison Dupont. I can't really argue with that one. Goes incredibly well with many types of food.

Best pilsener was Prima Pils from Victory Brewing in Downingtown, PA.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Canadian Supreme Court OKs Private Health Insurance

Apparently, Quebec outlawed going outside their system. People didn't feel like needlessly dying. Pretty soon, in Quebec at least, the wealthy will be able to not needlessly die.

Some Environmentalists Advocate Changing Political Strategies

Abandoning socialism would be a great start.
Like Paul Hansen, Van Putten argues that environmental values are not necessarily “liberal” or “progressive,” as those terms are presently understood. “In fact, they are inherently conservative, involving individuals’ responsibilities to others.” He proceeds to survey the entire conservative coalition with a view toward demonstrating common ground. Religious conservatives advocate stewardship of creation. Fiscal conservatives oppose environmentally damaging agricultural and energy subsidies, not to mention water development projects. Free-market conservatives support innovative market-based, cost-effective solutions to environmental challenges. Pro-life conservatives embrace a comprehensive culture of life, throughout the life cycle, and appreciate non-human life, too.
Van Putten’s essay strongly urges environmental groups to reach out to conservatives in order to rebuild “a bipartisan grassroots consensus for conservation.” But such a dialogue must be a genuine conversation, not a focus group to massage a predetermined message for the same regulatory solutions. “Too little attention has been paid to developing an open-ended, values-based dialogue with conservatives that does not presuppose specific policy outcomes.”

Van Putten proposes breaking the social isolation of the environmental movement as well. He points out that the leadership of environmental organizations remain largely white. He argues that this was due to a misperception that African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, and other ethnic groups have other priorities. He does not say it, but he presumably means economic or civil-rights priorities.

Canada's Socialized Medicine May Kill a Hero

Great Comment About Proposed Philly Smoking Ban
I'm tired of the arguments over whether or not businesses will lose money. How about Americans losing their Constitutional Rights? I know, I know, it's a health issue. It's bad for your health if someone smokes near you. You know aht else is bad for your health...If someone shoots a gun near you. Nobody's banning guns though. Can't we just leave the decision up to the restaurant and bar owners. They can decide if they want their business smoke-free or not. Then customers could follow suit and decide if they want to frequent a smoking or non-smoking establishment. That would be crazy, everybody making their own decisions. It would be like we lived in America or something.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Trends in the Baseball Draft

According to the article, high school students accounted for 28 percent of all players drafter through round 33. High schoolers accounted for roughly 40 percent after that.

One of the best insights from Moneyball was that it is far easier to evaluate talent coming out of college than high school. When you are from high school, you may have a lot of talent. But can you get people out? Can you hit a good curveball?

Maybe the higher percentage in the lower rounds is that it is easier to take a risk on raw talent.

10 Tips For Losing Weight

Hat tip again from Greg.

Calcium from dairy. Almonds. Weighing yourself frequently. Turn off the TV.

God-Lite Doesn't Cut It For Many Americans

Hat tip to Greg.
The most recent “Religious Congregations and Membership” study, published in 2000 (the study is conducted each decade) by the Glenmary Research Center, tells the statistical story. Progressive churches are progressing, it seems, ever closer to oblivion. The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (11,106 churches) has experienced a decline of 11.6 percent over the previous ten years; the United Methodist Church (35,721 churches) was down 6.7 percent; and the Episcopal Church (7,314 churches) lost 5.3 percent of its membership. Also, the United Churches of Christ (5,863 churches) declined 14.8 percent while the American Baptist Churches USA were down 5.7 percent.

The denominations showing growth included the deeply conservative Southern Baptist Convention, a collection of 41,514 churches, whose overall growth rate was 5 percent. The traditionalist Presbyterian Church in America (as opposed the mainline Presbyterian Church U.S.A.) experienced an impressive 42.4 percent increase, while the Christian and Missionary Alliance rose 21.8 percent. Meanwhile, the Evangelical Free Church was up 57.2 percent, and Pentecostal denominations also boomed. The Assemblies of God, with 11,880 churches, saw 18.5 percent growth, while the Church of God, with 5,612 churches, saw growth of 40.2 percent.

What is behind this traditionalist rise and progressive decline? The New York Times, in its summary of the survey, noted, "Socially conservative churches that demand high commitment from their members grew faster than other religious denominations in the last decade…." Glenmary director Ken Sanchagrin told the paper he was “astounded to see that by and large the growing churches are those that we ordinarily call conservative. And when I looked at those that were declining, most were moderate or liberal churches. And the more liberal the denomination, by most people's definition, the more they were losing."

Stem Cell Advances May Make Moral Issues Moot

This would be great news. Maybe adult stem cells could get more notice as well.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

South Jersey Bar Serving Cask Beer Tomorrow

PJ's in Medford Lakes. South Jersey isn't known for good beer at bars. Occasionally you will find Victory or Flying Fish on-tap. But cask? That is indeed a rare occurance in these parts.

Probably the Best Beer-Related Star Wars Parody I've Ever Seen

The Travails of Getting Something Done in Philadelphia

European Bureaucracy Will Not Be Thwarted By Democracy

Monday, June 06, 2005

Supreme Court Says State Medical Marijuana Laws Are Subject to Commerce Clause of Constitution

I don't understand their logic. From Justice Thomas' dissent:
Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything–and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.

Scalia wrote a concurring opinion based on different judicial logic which I will have to read.

Unintended Economic Consequences

Sugar farmers aren't happy about CAFTA, the proprosed free trade agreement. However, if there is anything we've learned in history. Free trade, while it produces losers, it produces far more winners.
I am a big fan of those sci-fi movies where characters go back in time. Usually the idea is to go to the past and undo some error or kill someone evil to avoid a catastrophe of some kind. The main character will either kill Hitler to avoid Nazism, advise the Czar about the coming revolution to avoid Communism or break up the Bee Gees to avoid disco.

A small change appears insignificant but it can alter the chain of future events. Does the benefit outweigh the detriment that often results from the change? Or should we always fear upsetting the balance of history.

This relates to the economic law of unintended consequences. It is a law busy-bodies ignore all the time. Busy-bodies use government's coercive powers to tinker with the free market expecting marvelous results for the every man. Employees would have happier, more secure jobs. Industries would be able to employ more Americans. The rich can pay just a little bit more for luxuries and extra government revenues can assist the poor.

However, each of these changes to employment laws, trade relations and tax laws are impediments to the free market. They intrude on the voluntary decisions of consumers or coerce people to do that which they would prefer not doing. And the unintended consequences of their actions are often much worse than the problem or crisis being corrected.
Today, we see the sugar tariff proponents looking to save jobs in Florida and Louisiana where the sugar beets are farmed. If CAFTA is not passed, all of us will continue to pay double what sugar from Central America would cost, This looks like small change when spread out among all consumers. However, let's remember how back in 1990 the Brachs Candy employees lost their jobs in Chicago. In “Does International Trade Kill American Jobs?” Douglas Irwin writes in The American Enterprise Magazine:

In 1990, Brachs Candy Company announced that due to the high domestic price of sugar it would close a factory in Chicago that employed 3,000 workers and expand production instead in Canada—which does not artificially inflate the price of sugar to protect its sugar producers. In 1988, the Department of Commerce estimated that the high price of domestic sugar due to U.S. protectionism cost almost 9,000 jobs in food manufacturing because of increased imports of cheaper sugar-containing products, and 3,000 jobs in the sugar-refining industry because of lower demand for sugar. At the time of this study, U.S. sugar-producing farms employed about 35,000 workers—but the sugar-processing and sugar-using sectors employed about 708,000 workers! A great many workers in the sugar-using industries were put at risk, in other words, to save the jobs of the few workers in the sugar-producing industry.

Amnesty International Admits They Don't Know If Gitmo Is A 'Gulag'

But defends use of the word. Lovely.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Every Once in a While I Wonder: What Is Going On In Venezuela?

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Industrial or Artisan Cheeses?

What to Freeze in Your Freezer

Whole Foods' House Brand Whole Wheat Pasta Wins Tasting

What's the Difference Between Geoff Robinson and Frank Lautenberg?

Geoff Robinson doesn't have the NJ Supreme Court willing to overturn election laws for me.

I decided to switch my registration from independent to Republican in order to vote in the state primaries. I believe the Bret Schundler has the best chance to lower property taxes because has at least verbally committed to stop sending unfunded mandates to the local levels.

Either Schundler or Forrester will work for me. Corzine, who had no problem with overturning election laws in 2002, is not the best hope for getting corruption out of state government.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Bush and the Spread of Democracy

Tom Friedman Thinks Europe's Problem Is an Aversion to Work
It was extremely revealing traveling from Europe to India as French voters (and now Dutch ones) were rejecting the E.U. constitution - in one giant snub to President Jacques Chirac, European integration, immigration, Turkish membership in the E.U. and all the forces of globalization eating away at Europe's welfare states. It is interesting because French voters are trying to preserve a 35-hour work week in a world where Indian engineers are ready to work a 35-hour day. Good luck.

Why Are Home Runs Down This Year?

More theories examined besides steroids.

If Al Queda Is Just Reacting To Bad U.S. Foreign Policy Why Are They Bugging Thailand?

If someone besides me would like to state the obvious, I would greatly appreciate it.

Is College Worth the Money?
Most parents are willing to invest or borrow $100,000 to help produce highly employable graduates with proven critical thinking and communication skills and strong professional preparation. Because a college graduate earns nearly $1 million more in pay over a working career than a high school graduate, while the same college tuition investment in the stock market would yield more than $2 million over that same period, we had better insist the value of higher education be measured in more than cost terms.

Peggy Noonan Has the Best Deep Throat Article

While Ben Stein is stilled ticked off at Mark Felt for just being a disgruntled employee, Peggy Noonan has a more balanced article.
Was Mr. Felt a hero? No one wants to be hard on an ailing 91-year-old man. Mr. Felt no doubt operated in some perceived jeopardy and judged himself brave. He had every right to disapprove of and wish to stop what he saw as new moves to politicize the FBI. But a hero would have come forward, resigned his position, declared his reasons, and exposed himself to public scrutiny. He would have taken the blows and the kudos. (Knowing both Nixon and the media, there would have been plenty of both.) Heroes pay the price. Mr. Felt simply leaked information gained from his position in government to damage those who were doing what he didn't want done. Then he retired with a government pension. This does not appear to have been heroism, and he appears to have known it. Thus, perhaps, the great silence.

His motives were apparently mixed, as motives often are. He was passed over to replace J. Edgar Hoover as director of the FBI by President Nixon, who apparently wanted in that place not a Hoover man but a more malleable appointee. Mr. Felt was resentful. He believed Nixon meant to jeopardize the agency's independence. Here we have a hitch in the story. The liberal story line on the FBI was that under Hoover it had too much independence, which Hoover protected with his famous secret files and a reputation for ruthlessness. Mr. Felt was a Hoover man who joined the FBI in 1942, when it was young; he rose under Hoover and never knew another director. When Hooverism was threatened, Mr. Felt moved. In this sense Richard Nixon was J. Edgar Hoover's last victim. History is an irony factory.

Even if Mr. Felt had mixed motives, even if he did not choose the most courageous path in attempting to spread what he thought was the truth, his actions might be judged by their fruits. The Washington Post said yesterday that Mr. Felt's information allowed them to continue their probe. That probe brought down a president. Ben Stein is angry but not incorrect: What Mr. Felt helped produce was a weakened president who was a serious president at a serious time. Nixon's ruin led to a cascade of catastrophic events--the crude and humiliating abandonment of Vietnam and the Vietnamese, the rise of a monster named Pol Pot, and millions--millions--killed in his genocide. America lost confidence; the Soviet Union gained brazenness. What a terrible time. Is it terrible when an American president lies and surrounds himself by dirty tricksters? Yes, it is. How about the butchering of children in the South China Sea. Is that worse? Yes. Infinitely, unforgettably and forever.

And so the story that Mark Felt was Deep Throat exposes old fissures, and those fissures are alive and can burst open because a wound this size--all this death, all this loss--doesn't really heal.

Maybe the big lesson on Felt and Watergate is as simple as the law of unintended consequences. You do something and things happen and you don't mean them to, and if you could take it back you would, but it's too late.

United Nations Says WMD-Related Material Has Gone Missing From Iraq

Good thing that stuff never existed. Must be due to Halliburton.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

EU to Voters: Drop Dead
For half a century the ruling class of Europe has owned the project of European unification. Nobody bothered to ask the voters. But now they have made a mistake. Purely as a gesture, France, Holland and Britain scheduled popular referenda on the EU Constitution. The entire political and media establishment explained how a new Holocaust would follow if the referendum didn't pass. Jacques Chirac told the French that a "Yes" vote would be a punch in the nose for Uncle Sam, show up the Brits, and keep the wolf of capitalism from the door.

Surprise! A New Media has risen in Europe, and made the case against the grotesque EU Constitution. And the voters have said "No."

There's only one problem. For the EU, "No" really means "Yes," or "Maybe," or "We'll Get Back To You Later." Like the famous New York Post headline during the Ford Administration, the message from the elites is "EU to Voters: Drop Dead!"

Right after the French "No" vote, Jacques Chirac said that the EU project would keep moving along: the EU foreign service is forging ahead, EU military centralization will continue to undermine NATO, France and Germany will still want to raise taxes in Ireland and Poland to keep them from out-competing their bloated welfare economies, and the EU propaganda machine will keep whipping up feelings against the "Anglo-Saxon model" (also called free markets).

I love France's strategy for dealing with the growing, productive economies of Ireland and Poland. Make them crappy socialist economies like France.

Welcome to NJ
Spurning the idyllic Garden State scenes typically used to greet New Jersey visitors, a disgruntled developer has erected a jarring red-letter billboard at the foot of the Delaware Memorial Bridge: "Welcome to New Jersey: A horrible place to do business."

Mount Laurel builder William Juliano says the sign - posted just in time for high season at the Jersey Shore - is his revenge against the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The billboard sits atop a Pennsville Hampton Inn that Juliano owns, next to a vacant property where the developer had planned a Home Depot until the DEP told him it was a protected wetlands area.

I know nothing of his situation, but I find it amusing.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

High School Student Identified Deep Throat in 1999

I just heard on the radio that he got a B on the paper. He wants a retroactive A+ and he called his former history teacher an idiot.

Alger Hiss, Whittaker Chambers and Richard Nixon

Nixon deserved what he got for the cover up, but that doesn't mean that other aren't still peeved and/or still don't care for Deep Throat.

Ed Lasky:
Whittaker Chambers is condemned to this day on the left, though now all reputable experts consider his charges (long derided as fabrications) as truthful. The Hollywood Ten are still treated as martyrs, those who testified against them as traitors.

Also, while glorifying Felt has any recognition been given to the fact that he must have cooperated with Hoover regarding blackmail, spying on Black Panthers, (possible bugging of Martin Luther King?), apathy regarding civil right movements, and other infringements on civil liberties during that era?

Many on the Left always had it out for Nixon because he made his mark taking down Communists.

Ben Stein is really peeved:
When his enemies brought him down, and they had been laying for him since he proved that Alger Hiss was a traitor, since Alger Hiss was their fair-haired boy, this is what they bought for themselves in the Kharma Supermarket that is life:

1.) The defeat of the South Vietnamese government with decades of death and hardship for the people of Vietnam.

2.) The assumption of power in Cambodia by the bloodiest government of all time, the Khmer Rouge, who killed a third of their own people, often by making children beat their own parents to death. No one doubts RN would never have let this happen.

So, this is the great boast of the enemies of Richard Nixon, including Mark Felt: they made the conditions necessary for the Cambodian genocide. If there is such a thing as kharma, if there is such a thing as justice in this life of the next, Mark Felt has bought himself the worst future of any man on this earth. And Bob Woodward is right behind him, with Ben Bradlee bringing up the rear. Out of their smug arrogance and contempt, they hatched the worst nightmare imaginable: genocide. I hope they are happy now -- because their future looks pretty bleak to me.

When Radical Muslims Blow Up Shi'ite Mosques How Many Korans Did They Destroy?

And did they care?

Deep Throat's Moral Conflict

Deep Throat seems very conflicted for a variety of reasons. Least of which is that he was convicted under similar charges.

He seems to want vindication before he dies.

The article also discusses his importance or lack thereof at the end of the article.

New York Times Blows CIA Cover Story; Wonders Why We Doubt Their Patriotism

Al Jatimeza?

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