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Laura Bush, Co-President

Wizblog has a hilarious “What if the tables were turned” scenario:

*** Laura Bush has been placed in charge of the formulation of all major domestic policy legislation and decisions in the Bush White House, it was learned today. Dismissing critics' concerns that she is neither elected nor officially "appointed", and is therefore unaccountable, the Bush team emphasized the fact that Mrs. Bush is highly intelligent and capable, and that George and Laura are really now co-Presidents, working as a policy-making "team". They express surprise that anyone could be critical of granting an important policy-making role to a First Lady, especially one with such manifest intellectual gifts.

Personally, I don’t think she couldn’t do any worse than the junior senator from New York.



Follow the Bright light...

Remember that dreadful Robin Williams’ movie What Dreams May Come? Apparently, many people were under the impression that was based on sound theology.

According to a recent Barna Research study: “Half of all atheists and agnostics say that every person has a soul, that Heaven and Hell exist, and that there is life after death. One out of every eight atheists and agnostics even believe that accepting Jesus Christ as savior probably makes life after death possible. These contradictions are further evidence that many Americans adopt simplistic views of life and the afterlife based upon ideas drawn from disparate sources, such as movies, music and novels, without carefully considering those beliefs. Consequently, the labels attached to people – whether it be ‘born again’ or ‘atheist’ may not give us as much insight into the person’s beliefs as we might assume.”

And these are the people that want to be called ’Brights?’



Maybe It Is The Economy, Stupid

To the surprise and horror of Mother Jones, Nascar Dads (at least 49% of them) are pro-Bush. But how can that be! What could cause them to go against their own rational interest? Could it be they're just stupid? (“One possibility is that the Nascar Dad is not well informed; that indeed, like the rest of us, he's been duped.") Or perhaps they need someone to look up to. (“Maybe it's because Bush fits an underlying recipe for the kind of confident, authoritative father figure such dads believe should run the ship of state as they believe a man should run a family.”) What could the proletariat be thinking?! Don't they realize they're poor?! “But why would a near majority of blue-collar voters still want Bush? Millionaires, billionaires for Bush, well, sure; he's their man. But why pipe fitters and cafeteria workers?” It boggles the mind. “Even if poor blue-collar men were pro-Bush in general, we might at least assume that they would oppose Bush's massive program of tax cuts if they thought it favored the rich? If we did, then we'd be wrong again. "Do you think this tax plan benefits mainly the rich or benefits everyone?" Roper interviewers asked. Among blue-collar men who answered, "Yes, it benefits mainly the rich," 56% percent nonetheless favored the plan.” Maybe the silly creatures are simply “social conservatives”? “Some are drawn to his pro-marriage, pro-church, pro-gun stands, but could those issues override a voter's economic self-interest?” Here’s something that might not have crossed the perplexed leftist mindset at MJ: the voter’s were voting their self-interest. Under the Bush tax cuts, a husband and wife who each make $25,000 a year and have two kids will save $1,333 on their tax bill. That's a savings of 42.3%! Nascar Dads may be idiots in need of a daddy figure, but they also know an extra $1300 a year buys a few more seats at the speedway.



Coming Soon: Abortion TV

If the open-heart surgeries on the Discovery Channel make you queasy then you might want to avoid the reality programming by this group. Maybe Discovery Health can fit it in their schedule somewhere between Life's Little Miracles and Birth Day. Now that Time Warner has dropped AOL from its name, could this be the next big media merger?



The 2003 Maureen Dowd
Misleading Quote Award

With the Dec. 31st deadline fast approaching, major media journalists are rushing to submit their “quotes” for the “2003 Maureen Dowd Misleading Quote Award.” For the past several months it looked as if an “obscure Washington Post reporter” would be walking away with the coveted award. But NBC news "military analyst" Bill Arkin recently leaped over the competition with his story on Lt. Gen. Boykin. Since Ms. Dowd is herself no longer eligible to win her own award, Arkin is the “3:1 favorite” to walk away with the honor. Ms. Dowd will still be receiving a “lifetime achievement award” at the February ceremony. *

*My source for this post was a high level Big Media administration official who spoke on deep background and/or on condition of anonymity. She did, however, say that I could quote her.



A God By Any Other Name...

Methodist minister and fellow blogger Richard Hall has taken exception to my claim that Lt. Gen. Boykin's comments were based on indisputable truth:

The truth of Boykin's comments are very much beyond question. Do you not understand that Islam comes from the same root as Christianity? They worship the God of Abraham. They know him by a different name and understand him very differently, but that doesn't mean he is not the same God. Calling Muslim's "idol worshippers" would also be deeply offensive to them since Muslims are even more strict about images than Christians are.

One of the qualities of Islam I most admire is how its believers are not prone to fall for New Age cliches wrapped in the language of tolerance. Unfortunately, the same can't always be said for many Christians. The idea that the children of Abraham use different names while speaking about the same "God" is one that would be considered blasphemous to Muslims. Islam claims that there is only one name for God -- Allah. Therefore, any other names -- Yahweh, Christ -- refer to a "false god" or idol.

God is not an abstract concept; He a personal Being. Having a "different understanding" is not simply a minor doctrinal disagreement on the lines of infant baptism or the veneration of Mary. If I claim that Tracy is a good father and you disagree by saying that Tracy is a bad mother then we don't just have a "misunderstanding" about a name. We are either talking about different people or one of us is in error. Muslims are not simply substituting the word "Allah" for "Christ" as if they were interchangeable terms. They are making a truth claim about the nature of God.

Christians claim that God is triune and that Christ is the second person in that Trinity. The Koran states that those who believe Christ (Isa, in Arabic) was God's Son are not true believers (see Sura 5:15-20). This is not simply a doctrinal dispute over what name God is to be called, it is a dispute of who God actually is.

As an evangelical Christian I believe that those who don't acknowledge Christ as God are not worshipping the true God. Muslims, on the other hand, believe that I am making an idol of Christ. By the rules of logic, one of us is wrong. Neither of us, however, should take offense because the other holds beliefs that differ from our own. True tolerance means respecting what another's religion actually believes, not trying to wash away any "misunderstandings" in order to make them more politically correct.



Not while in uniform

Several months ago, an Army General, a decorated veteran of the Bosnian conflict, stood in full uniform and made the following statement during an address in a mosque: "I knew Allah was bigger than [the Bosnian warlord's god]. I knew that Allah was a real God and Christ was an idol."

Is your blood boiling yet?

Before you call for the General's head, let me point out that no Muslim General ever made such a statement. But a similar statement was recently made by a professed evangelical Christian. Now put yourself in the combat boots of a young Muslim soldier. How would you react if a respected General - wearing the same uniform as you - made just such a statement about Allah?

I must confess that I agree with everything that Lt. General Boykin has said. The truth of his comments is, in my mind, beyond question. My criticism, however, is not with the content of his message but with his presentation. There are times when the free speech rights of military officers are necessarily restricted. When wearing their uniform, an officer is not allowed to publicly criticize the President or their superiors. The same respect officers give our elected officials should apply to the gods - however false they may be - of their Muslim subordinates.

Boykin has said that he won't be giving any more speeches about his faith. I hope he reconsiders. The world needs to hear the Truth. But it needs to come from inside the heart of a Christian, not from inside the military uniform of an American.



Not the only one to notice

Turns out that I was not the only one who noticed the discrepancies in the Post's summation of the Stars and Stripes article and the series...



Lies, damn lies, and the Washington Post

On the Internet you'll find people who read newspaper articles, add their own spin to what they've read, and post them on their own websites. These people are called bloggers.

At the Washington Post you'll find people who read newspaper articles, add their own spin to what they've read, and print them in their own publication. The Post calls these people journalists.

The initial Stars and Stripes series was already a bit suspect. Conducting a "convenience survey" - passing out questionnaires to anyone who just happens to be standing around - isn't just "unscientific" it's downright goofy. But the true silliness is found in the spin the Post put on the results.

Lets take a closer look at the first few paragraphs:

"A broad survey of U.S. troops in Iraq by a Pentagon-funded newspaper found that half of those questioned described their unit's morale as low and their training as insufficient, and said they do not plan to reenlist."

"A broad survey" -- There are approximately 116,000 troops in Iraq, of which 1,935 (1%) took the survey. If a Washington Post survey showed that 1% of the people thought that Fox news broadcasters were smarter than Washington newspaper reporters would they report that as a "broad survey" of America?

"...found that half of those questioned described their unit's morale as low" -- Half of these described their perception that the unit’s morale was low. Of those surveyed, 34% (658 troops) rated their morale as low or very low. Yet 48% of those surveyed believed the number to be higher than it actually was. In other words, most troops misjudge their fellow servicemember’s morale level. One reason is there is no agreed upon definition of what the word "morale" even means.

"...their training as insufficient..." -- The actual question on the survey is "How much training did you receive for your current mission" The responses were: more than enough (13%); enough (34%); some (20%); very little (12%); and "learning as I go" (20%). The most curious one is the "learning as I go." If you're an infantryman in the Army and your mission is to help build a school for Iraqi children is the response "learning as I go" considered "insufficient" by the Post?

"...and said that they do not plan to reenlist." -- Nearly every branch has a retention goal of 50% for first-term re-enlistments. On the survey 49% of the respondents said that they are unlikely to reenlist. This looks good for the retention goals doesn't it? Half those surveyed do plan to reenlist. Yet the Post doesn’t seem to spin it that way.

"The survey, conducted by the Stars and Stripes newspaper, also recorded about a third of the respondents complaining that their mission lacks clear definition and characterizing the war in Iraq as of little or no value."

Here is the actual question that was asked: "How worthwhile do you think fighting this was for America?" [emphasis added] Note that the question did not ask how worthwhile the war was for Iraq. Since no WMDs have yet been found it could be argued that the threat to America was overestimated. But is toppling a brutal dictator and freeing an entire country really of "no value"?

Even the Post quotes (though buried in the 9th graf) a military historian who says that the numbers are "amazingly high."

"Fully 40 percent said the jobs they were doing had little or nothing to do with their training." -- On a day to day basis, about 40 percent of the military is doing some form of job that is not directly related to their occupational specialty (working in the messhall, cleaning the latrines, etc.) yet that is essential to the mission. Besides, since much military training consists in learning how to kill the enemy wouldn’t not using their training be a good thing?

"The findings' conflict with statements by military commanders and Bush administration officials that portray the deployed troops as high-spirited and generally well-prepared."

Is that true? Let's look at the actual percentages:

34% (658 troops) rated their morale as low or very low.
27% (522 troops) rated their morale as high or very high
39% (755 troops) rated their morale as average

So it would be more accurate to say that 66% of the respondents rated their morale between "average" and "very high." I don't see how that conflicts with statements by either the Pentagon or the Bush administration.

While some claim that blogs blur the line with journalism, the Post is showing how it's journalism blurs the lines with blogs.



Tarantino's Moral Theology: Kill Bill (Vol. 1)

"If you are a 12-year-old girl or boy,” says Quentin Tarantino, “you must go and see 'Kill Bill.'“

Since the movie contains approximately 132 sword related deaths, most parents might be disinclined to agree. (Though if you substitute “jawbone of an ass” for “samurai sword” you practically have a Sunday School story.)

Most Christians won't be taking their children to see Kill Bill. Most Christians, for that matter, probably won't see it themselves. But no one should dismiss this young director too quickly. For obscured by the po-mo dialogue and the piles of severed limbs hides a simple truth: Tarantino is America’s most moralistic director.

As a B-movie genre stylist, he is without peer. As a moralist he is definitely lacking. Tarantino's ethic consists solely of Justice and Mercy; Old Testament morality filtered through spaghetti westerns and Kung-Fu flicks. All of QT’s films revolve around characters searching a most rudimentary form of justice, either for themselves or their “tribe.” They wander in a dark Machiavellian universe lit only by pinpricks of mercy to light their way. When mercy breaks through, as it invariably does, it is more unexpected than are the acts of violence (See: Mr. White (Reservoir Dogs), Jules (Pulp Fiction), Max Cherry (Jackie Brown).

While these themes are more fully fleshed out in his other films (particularly Pulp Fiction) they are personified by Kill Bill's main character, The Bride.

The character of the Bride is both surprisingly compelling and disarmingly simple. She is pure motive, existing only to seek revenge. Her search for divinely ordained justice is tempered only by her compulsion to offer mercy. (In the Tarantino universe, mercy is the only quality that separates the heroes from the villains.)

Roger Ebert hints that Tarantino’s movies operate in a parallel universe and I think he is on to something there. Kill Bill (like Pulp Fiction) is an illustration of what the world would be like if Christ had never broken into history. Without a Redeemer, there can be no redemption. Without the Bride of Christ, we would have only The Bride.



I Kissed Dating (myself) Goodbye

Joshua Harris takes on the real "love that dares not speak it's name..."



Want to avoid bankruptcy?
Support school choice!

Bad school districts produce poor students. Good school districts, according to Harvard law professor and author Elizabeth Warren, produce poor parents.

In a study of 2,000 U.S. families that had gone bankrupt, Warren found that parents often purchase more housing than they can afford in order to put their kids in a better school district. Inflated mortgages, Warren contends, rather than overconsumption lead families to file bankruptcy. Warren proposes a form of "school choice" :"...Give the principals some money to work with beyond what they get from the local tax dollars, and let the schools differentiate themselves from each other"

It should be obvious, even to a Harvard law professor, that this wouldn't change anything (parents would still move to school districts that "differentiate themselves"). Why not do something even more radical, Prof. Warren? Why not give leave the choice to the parents?



Evangelicals and Catholics Together...on contraception?

Can you name the prominent Christian leader who recently wrote the following:

"The church should insist that the biblical formula calls for adulthood to mean marriage and marriage to mean children."

and

"The shocking reality is that some Christians have bought into this lifestyle and claim childlessness as a legitimate option. The rise of modern contraceptives has made this technologically possible. But the fact remains that though childlessness may be made possible by the contraceptive revolution, it remains a form of rebellion against God's design and order."

Pope John Paul? A Catholic Bishop? Nope. This argument against "moral rebellion" comes from...a Baptist?

Seems Southern Baptist seminary president and fellow blogger Dr. Albert Mohler agrees with his Catholic brethern that contraception goes against scriptural principles.

Dr. Mohler joins other Protestant writers and thinkers who have been speaking out against contraceptives.

Maybe the move to bring Catholics and Protestants together is working after all....




Setting up shop

If you are under the age of 45 and haven't picked up a copy of In, But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition and the Desire to Influence the World then stop reading this and go buy the book.

Hugh Hewitt's latest book should be the vade mecum for any young Christian aspiring to a life of influence. The advice ranges from the obvious but often ignored (#36 - Be slow to show your knowledge) to the practical but often ignored (#9 - Tatoos: Don't).

This blog was inspired by #32 (Start and maintain your own Web log (blog)). "At present," Hewitt notes, "no great blogger has emerged with a distinctly evangelical worldview." Point noted, Mr. Hewitt.

I'll be here, holding down the fort, until such a blogger shows up.



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