Friday, December 31, 2004

Soufflement de Lui Hors de Notre Derrière

Warning: sensitive readers of The Senescent Man blog, this post is NOT for the faint of heart.

The Weekly Standard's Scrapbook published an odious piece on a gentleman who has developed a rather nouvelle manner of speaking in the French vernacular:

Were there any real justice in the news business, for example, [the tabloid] Weekly World News science writer D.G. Bulger would surely win a 2004 Pulitzer for a story he published earlier this year about a 40-year-old Michigan man named Jason Jablonski. "Linguists and proctologists from around the world are stunned by a Detroit man's unique gift," Bulger reported on August 26. Mr. Jablonski "is able to speak fluent French out of his buttocks."

...Mr. Bulger disdains anonymous sourcing and blind quotation. His information about Mr. Jablonski's rare form of "Intestinal Linguistic Amplification" is plainly attributed to a professional expert, one "Dr. Edith Winters, senior fellow at the California Institute of Bowel Abnormalities." Also...Bulger ends his story on a thankfully upbeat...note. It turns out that Jason Jablonski's talking derrière has struck a blow for global comity. The Detroit furniture store he works in "draws many French Canadian customers from across the border, which has allowed his buttocks to sharpen his conversational skills." Pleased with these results, Jablonski now hopes to work at the United Nations or as an embassy interpreter in a French speaking country.
The Standard had the audacity of proclaiming this story "breaking news."

To that we say: "Piffle!"

ABC News Names Bloggers "People of Year 2004"

Check it out.

What Kind of God Would Allow a Deadly Tsunami?

Today, David Hart, an Eastern Orthodox theologian, asks a pertinent question in today's (Friday's) Wall Street Journal: "What kind of God would allow a deadly tsunami?"

It is a good question, and a tough one too, but one we should visit over and over, especially in times like these. Here are some of his points, the rest can be found in Opinion Journal (a free online subscription required):

On Nov. 1, 1755, a great earthquake struck offshore of Lisbon. In that city alone, some 60,000 perished, first from the tremors, then from the massive tsunami that arrived half an hour later. Fires consumed much of what remained of the city. The tidal waves spread death along the coasts of Iberia and North Africa.

Voltaire's "Poëme sur le désastre de Lisbonne" of the following year was an exquisitely savage--though sober--assault upon the theodicies prevalent in his time. For those who would argue that "all is good" and "all is necessary," that the universe is an elaborately calibrated harmony of pain and pleasure, or that this is the best of all possible worlds, Voltaire's scorn was boundless: By what calculus of universal good can one reckon the value of "infants crushed upon their mothers' breasts," the dying "sad inhabitants of desolate shores," the whole "fatal chaos of individual miseries"?

Perhaps the most disturbing argument against submission to "the will of God" in human suffering--especially the suffering of children--was placed in the mouth of Ivan Karamazov by Dostoyevsky; but the evils Ivan enumerates are all acts of human cruelty, for which one can at least assign a clear culpability. Natural calamities usually seem a greater challenge to the certitudes of believers in a just and beneficent God than the sorrows induced by human iniquity....

...As a Christian, I cannot imagine any answer to the question of evil likely to satisfy an unbeliever; I can note, though, that--for all its urgency--Voltaire's version of the question is not in any proper sense "theological." The God of Voltaire's poem is a particular kind of "deist" God, who has shaped and ordered the world just as it now is, in accord with his exact intentions, and who presides over all its eventualities austerely attentive to a precise equilibrium between felicity and morality. Not that reckless Christians have not occasionally spoken in such terms; but this is not the Christian God....

...The Christian understanding of evil has always been more radical and fantastic than that of any theodicist; for it denies from the outset that suffering, death and evil have any ultimate meaning at all. Perhaps no doctrine is more insufferably fabulous to non-Christians than the claim that we exist in the long melancholy aftermath of a primordial catastrophe, that this is a broken and wounded world, that cosmic time is the shadow of true time, and that the universe languishes in bondage to "powers" and "principalities"--spiritual and terrestrial--alien to God....

...When confronted by the sheer savage immensity of worldly suffering--when we see the entire littoral rim of the Indian Ocean strewn with tens of thousands of corpses, a third of them children's--no Christian is licensed to utter odious banalities about God's inscrutable counsels or blasphemous suggestions that all this mysteriously serves God's good ends. We are permitted only to hate death and waste and the imbecile forces of chance that shatter living souls, to believe that creation is in agony in its bonds, to see this world as divided between two kingdoms--knowing all the while that it is only charity that can sustain us against "fate," and that must do so until the end of days.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Newsweek Puts on a Tutu

Another ghastly (this time anti-Bush) interview in (Recalcitrant Old Media) Newsweek. This time with Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. Here are some examples of the ridiculous questions asked by Arlene Getz of Newsweek (and some of Tutu's unfortunate responses):
Newsweek: The United Nations relief coordinator has accused wealthy Western nations of being “stingy” in their aid to the affected nations. What type of aid would you like to see?

One just hopes that the world will continue to respond with what is usually remarkable generosity and compassion. Obviously, the more prosperous you are, the more one would hope you would be able to do that.

Newsweek: You said George Bush should admit that he made a mistake. Were you surprised at his re-election?

[Laughs] I still can't believe that it really could have happened. Just look at the facts on the table: He’d gone into a war having misled people—whether deliberately or not—about why he went to war. You would think that would have knocked him out [of the race.] It didn’t. Look at the number of American soldiers who have died since he claimed that the war had ended. And yet it seems this doesn't make most Americans worry too much.
One hopes that Newsweek would get a life, too. You can get the rest of this tripe here.

Death Toll Exceeds 112,000

The death toll in southeast Asia exceeded 112,000 with the revelation that Indonesia alone accounted for over 80,000 deaths.

Projo to the ACLU and City of Providence Officials: "Get a Life"

The Projo posted a valuable editorial on the subject of the mention of God in the public square. Unusual, in my view, for the Providence Journal to take such a position, but kudos to whoever let it be published.

The subject is a monument presented to the famous Roger Williams Park in the dark ages of 1963 by the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Inscribed on the monument (Heavens forefend!) are the Ten Commandments.

An excerpt:

The effort to purge any mention of God from the public square has become nothing short of ludicrous: Witness the removal of an 8-foot-high monument bearing the Ten Commandments from Providence's Roger Williams Park.

City leaders, fearing a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, quietly asked the Fraternal Order of Eagles to take back the monument that the group had installed in 1963 -- or else it would be removed and discarded. (One city official suggested hiding the Ten Commandments under a tarp!)
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Battle Lines are Drawn

There is an all out war going on between the blogosphere and the main stream media (MSM). Witness this attack on the Time Magazine "Blog of the Year" Power Line by Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman.

The blogs, likewise, have been on full frontal attack as well, witness Hugh Hewitt's latest column in the Weekly Standard documenting Power Line's John Hinderaker's blast at New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, or the Belmont Club's reporting on the questionable behavior of AP photographers in Iraq as documented here, and the many other battles going on.

Why is this happening? The ubiquity and free market environment of the blogs is eclipsing the MSM controlled editorial economy. And just like the eventual collapse of communism, the Berlin Wall of the MSM is beginning to crack. In 2005, I predict a major change in the way the MSM conducts itself. It will be having to fight harder to win out over the speed and cleansing power of the free market of ideas welling up around them.

UPDATE: Power Line's counter to the Star Tribune attack is here.

More on the Devastating Tsunami in South Asia

Exquisite piece in today's (Wednesday's) Wall Street Journal Editorial Page (paid online subscription required) written by Costas Synolakis, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Southern California, on the history of tsunamis and the past reaction to their devastation. Some excerpts:

In the aftermath of the horrific Asian tsunamis of Dec. 26, which have killed more than all 20th-century tsunamis combined, many attempts will be made to place blame or quickly "fix" this problem. A little reflection on the history of past reaction to destructive tsunamis may help....

...The images from Sri Lanka, India and Thailand that have filled our screens--and the descriptions from survivors--are sadly all too familiar, at least to those of us who have conducted tsunami field surveys. At times, some of us thought that we were revisiting images from Flores in 1992, or East Java in 1994, Irian Jaya in 1996, Papua New Guinea in 1998 and Vanuatu in 1999--to just mention catastrophes in countries with similar landscape and coastal construction....

...The response of local [Sri Lankan] residents and tourists, however, was unfamiliar, at least to tsunami field scientists for post-1990s tsunamis. In one report, swimmers felt the current associated with the leading depression wave approaching the beach, yet hesitated about getting out of the water because of the "noise" and the fear that there was an earthquake and they would be safer away from buildings. They had to be told by tourists from Japan--a land where an understanding of tsunamis is now almost hard-wired in the genes--to run to high ground. In another report, vacationers spending the day on Phi Phi were taken back to Phuket one hour after the event started. In many cases tsunami waves persist for several hours, and the transport was nothing less than grossly irresponsible.

Contrast these reactions with what happened in Vanuatu, in 1999. On Pentecost Island, a rather pristine enclave with no electricity or running water, the locals watch television once a week, when a pickup truck with a satellite dish, a VCR and a TV stops by each village. When the International Tsunami Survey Team visited days after the tsunami, they heard that the residents had watched a Unesco video prepared the year before, in the aftermath of the 1998 Papua New Guinea tsunami disaster. When they felt the ground shake during the 1999 earthquake, they ran to a hill nearby. The tsunami swept through, razing the village to the ground. Out of 500 people, only three died, and all three had been unable to run like the others. The tsunami had hit at night.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Death Toll and Number of Missing Continue to Rise in SE Asia

Here is an excellent living site, a blog no less, which provides detailed information on the Southeast Asia earthquake and the resulting tsumani including the latest news, information, resources, aid, donations and volunteer efforts. HT: Hugh Hewitt.

Near Earth Object 2004 MN4 update

The 400m asteroid on a potential collision course with Earth now has been determined to be in an orbit that will miss the planet in April 2029. Images from several months earlier were found in archives and helped to refine the calculations. The probability of a strike (this time) has diminished to zero.

However, the chance of being hit by something big enough to cause widespread damage at some point in the future is a certainty. In fact, On Dec. 22 a smaller object of a few meters diameter was detected AFTER it had passed Earth at about 20,000 miles distance. Only with enough advance notice can we do anything to deflect the intruders. There was much unnecessary destruction from the recent tsunami because of the lack of early warning systems in the Indian Ocean. An impact early warning system is functioning now on a limited budget, but deserves more attention than it has been getting.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Near Earth Objects may be Closer than they Seem

With Christmas observations and now the tsunami in Indonesia, the news outlets seem to have missed a huge story, that of a 400m asteroid with a 2.7% chance of colliding with the Earth on April 13, 2029. Read more about it here

More observations are needed to confirm the orbit and refine the calculations, but this object is potentially devastating, albeit just under 25 years from now. Should it hit an ocean, the most likely event if it hits at all, yesterday's tsunami will be a pond ripple in comparison.

As of now the likelihood of a near miss is still a very large at 97% and even if that shrinks we have over two decades and existing technology to nudge the asteroid out of its current track. Such a project will get a lot more attention if the odds change to our disadvantage. Stay tuned...

Remembering the Minister of Defense and Other Matters

Well, we received roughly ten inches of snow overnight, and The Senescent Man was out shoveling this morning, mainly to extricate the autos and to get at least one of the Senescent progeny off to work. But it was good therapy, though risky business for an aging old coot like me. I did receive some help from the Senescent wife and son, but there is something about the clean, fresh sparkle of snow, and the amount of time you spend with it, that is therapeutic, illuminating and refreshing, and drives one back to the plow.

Despite the snow, it was not so bad a morning, I might add, as awakening to the aftermath of a tsunami caused by an earthquake registering 9.4 on the Richter scale -- one of the top 5 of the last 100 years -- which resulted in over 22,000 deaths, over half of which, from Sri Lanka. A horrible tragedy, which could have been partially averted by an early warning system measuring changes in tide. No doubt something that will be considered after the full measure of this tragedy is weighed. Relief agencies are on the move, including
World Vision, who is known for its efficiency in reaching such areas. HT: Hugh Hewitt.

Other sad news came last evening about the untimely death of Reggie White, the Minister of Defense, at the very young age of 43. White was instrumental in Superbowl XXXI in January 1997, when he received a record number of sacks against my beloved New England Patriots.

But Reggie will be remembered mostly for his piety and his service to a risen Lord. The following is a remembrance by
Joe Theismann:

I knew Reggie White for many years during and after his playing career and I was fortunate to know and spend time with such an amazing human being. The last time I spent time with him was last year during a trip to Indianapolis and I only wish I'd spent more time with him because he was one of the dearest souls to ever put on a uniform. He was committed and outspoken in his beliefs, feared nothing and his commitment to God was No. 1 in his life.

I'll never forget his last season in Green Bay when I was broadcasting a game for Sunday Night Football. He'd torn his hamstring and I remember in the meeting I actually put my fingers in his leg where the hamstring was supposed to be. I expressed shock that he'd be able to play and he told me he put his faith in God that it'd be alright. He went out and had a great game and it was one of the greatest sights I've ever seen. His play that day convinced me of divine intervention. That was typical of the type of faith that Reggie White had. He knew God would take care of the situation.

On the football field, White was a rare combination of size, power and speed. He was one of those guys who stepped up and made special plays when his team needed him to come through. Like all great players he had a great sense of knowing when to seize the moment. That sense of the moment and greatness extended off the field as witnessed by those in his church's congregation. In 1999 White came to the rescue when an arsonist burned down his church. He knew his congregation needed him and he came through leading the fund raising drive to get the church rebuilt. That's his legacy.

It's a tragedy to lose someone so valuable to society at such a young age. I won't remember the passing of Reggie White, but I will remember his contributions and I'll celebrate his life because I had a chance to know the man.
No doubt, God needed a sturdy pair of swift hands. He will be sorely missed.

But, an issue that continues to apply its weight, subtly, behind the scenes, is the role of AP photographers in Iraq and other areas of the world hostile to the US. I think the story, originally flagged by wrethard of The Belmont Club, of AP photographers working on the inside with the enemy is about to blow up as a major news item once the MSM decides to shine its klieg lights on itself, but if they don't, the blogs will continue to shine the light on them.

An AP Director of Photography has been attempting a
defense of the behavior of these so-called imbedded AP photographers, but I think they made (and are making) a big mistake in the way they are covering the war.

It is a topic we will monitor.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Some Tricks and Tools of the Trade

For Senescent Man Blog Contributors: What Bloggers can learn from Journalists.

Also: What Journalists can learn from Bloggers.

Also, Hugh Hewitt's new book on blogging: Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation that is Changing Your World

Friday, December 24, 2004

The Blue Cold Child

From Flannery O'Connor, "The Violent Bear It Away":

God told the world he was going to send it a king and the world waited. The world thought, a golden fleece will do for His bed. Silver and gold and peacock tails, a thousand suns in a peacock's tail will do for his crib. His mother will ride on a four-horned white beast and use the sunset for a cape. She'll trail it behind her over the ground and let the world pull it to pieces, a new one every evening.

Jesus came on cold straw, Jesus was warmed by the breath of an ox. "Who is this?" the world said. "Who is this blue-cold child and this woman, plain as the winter? Is this the Word of God, this blue-cold child? Is this His will, this plain winter-woman?" The world said, "Love cuts like the cold wind and the will of God is plain as the winter."
Hat Tip: Evangelical Outpost and World

In Hoc Anno Domini

For those who have never read it, The Wall Street Journal publishes an outstanding piece by the late Vermont Royster which should be made manditory reading in every school in America this time of year.

Unfortunately, it requires a paid subscription to the newspaper, and can be accessed here for those who have paid subscriptions. One would hope that one day the WSJ will include this in the excellent free Opinion Journal online that they also produce.

But to whet the appetite, below, an excerpt:

When Saul of Tarsus set out on his journey to Damascus the whole of the known world lay in bondage. There was one state, and it was Rome. There was one master for it all, and he was Tiberius Caesar.

Everywhere there was civil order, for the arm of the Roman law was long. Everywhere there was stability, in government and in society, for the centurions saw that it was so.

But everywhere there was something else, too. There was oppression -- for those who were not the friends of Tiberius Caesar...

...There was the persecution of men who dared think differently, who heard strange voices or read strange manuscripts. There was enslavement of men whose tribes came not from Rome, disdain for those who did not have the familiar visage. And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. What, to the strong, was one man more or less in a crowded world?

Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's....
Gives one goosebumps. It's worth the subscription to read the whole thing.

Have a Good One to All and to All a Good Night

Continuing in the vein of our rant on the appropriate way to greet people this time of year, the sentimental senescent one offers this from R. Emmett Tyrrell:

Krauthammer has informed us in his column that it is acceptable to greet the majority of Americans with a cheerful, "Merry Christmas." Well, I am relieved. Next year I may screw my courage to the sticking point and offer "Merry Christmas" to all.

Though to my Jewish friends I would like to offer "Happy Hanukkah." And to my atheist and agnostic friends, "Have a Good One." Actually, I guess I could offer that last greeting to the guy down at the end of the bar whatever his faith, or should I say his/her faith?
It's worth reading the whole thing here.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

RI Blogger Makes Cover of NR

Fellow RI Blogger, Justin Katz, of Anchor Rising, is promo'd on the latest cover of National Review. Check out the upper left corner (above). Hat tip, RI blogger Dust in the Light.

Posted by The Senescent Man

Moon Over Seattle

The Republicans in Washington state purportedly have a plan to solicit support from voters who claim they voted for Dino Rossi but believe their ballots were erroneously rejected. So far, 91 of such voters from Washington have come forward. The bureaucrats are giving them a hassle.

But, more importantly, Republicans in Washington should now pursue the counting of votes from GI's overseas who's absentee ballots were sent too late for their votes to be considered. An absolute travesty.

But since the election has not been certified yet, the law allows them to be included, thanks, in part, to this long delay to certify due to the historic closeness of this gubernatorial race.

Go for it guys. Let's get Rossi in certified as governor. After hearing that Gregoire urged Rossi to "abide by the results of the recount" after her NOT abiding by the previous three recounts, I can see the best thing that could happen in Washington state is for the Republicans to keep the pressure on.

Hat tip to The Corner and Stranded on Blue Islands whom we just added to our Blogroll.

Does the AP Collude with the Enemy?

The Belmont Club has done it again. They may have uncovered the next BIG thing in the blogosphere regarding the MSM, possibly topping the CBS-Rather scandal IMHO. There is a growing suspicion that some AP photographers are in on the pre-terrorism actions and planning by the enemy. Read it all here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Newsweek is at it Again

Newsweek's Anna Quindlen reminds us that Christian observances of Christmas are, well, best accomplished in the privacy of our little homesteads:

Christmas is being observed exactly where it ought to be, at homes...[i.e., stay out of the public square and get out of my face.]
But more importantly,...

From the trials of witches in Salem to the talking-head evangelists of the present day, we have a rich tradition of faith-based bullying in this country.
I don't know about you, but the MSM has been pretty bullyish to me on this and other issues, up to this point. I guess bullies don't like to get a taste of their own medicine prescribed by the blogosphere.

At least Newsweek, on the whole, is being consistent. They simply, just don't get it.

An Account of the 20 Americans Killed in Mosul

Excellent post this morning by wretchard of the Belmont Club blog concerning an eye witness account of the attack in Mosul which killed 20 Americans.

Washington State Roller Coaster

The latest news is that Democrats in Washington state are claiming victory with an 8 vote lead over Dino Rossi after the fourth, (manual) recount, and have asked Rossi to concede.

This is reminiscent of the Three Stooges routine where Moe yells at Curley: "He's up. He's down. He's up. He's down," ending with a sock to the kisser. And that is exactly what Republicans received this morning. Only it's not funny.

Some might think it would be ridiculous for Rossi to concede having won in the previous three counts, and having lost in this recount with only 8 votes. But I think it would be a huge blow to Democrats for Rossi to graciously concede, and immediately upon this news, demonstrating a stark contrast in a philosophy of life, and to cause Washington staters to ponder, "Did the Democrats really win the gubernatorial race fair and square?"

The next election would be a doozy, in this senescent man's view.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Vox Blogoli VI Continues to Reverberate

I don't think there is a "war" going on, per se, against all things Christian in this country, at least not yet, though there are rumbles and flashes on the horizon. I do think, though, that there is a general misunderstanding of Christianity, and also a general disrespect for Christianity and all things "Christian" by many in the MSM.

I also think it is shameful that many plain folk find themselves embarrassed or, worse, persecuted for merely uttering "Merry Christmas," in secular company. But, Hugh Hewitt continues to - appropriately - stoke the machinery on the subject. He points to an excellent piece today by "Deacon" from Time Magazine's "Blog of the Year" Power Line. Herewith a brief excerpt:

...there is nothing contradictory about arguing that President Bush won a clear but narrow victory in part because his voters supported traditional Christian values, while at the same time recognizing that those values, along with Christianity, are under serious attack.

I recommend that you read the whole thing.

Are American Soldiers Doing God's Work in Iraq? You Decide

Excellent piece by Brendan Miniter on Opinion Journal. An excerpt:

The most surprising thing an American military officer told me about his work in Iraq came in a statement he later asked to retract. And it strikes me as something worth thinking about in this Christmas season as we go through the annual ritual of pulling crèche scenes from courthouse lawns across America. In the debate over faith in the public square there is rarely an acknowledgement that there is a link between morality and government.

After describing the good works his men were doing by rebuilding schools and providing food and medicine to Iraqis, the officer summed up this list by saying "We're just doing the Lord's work." At the time the comment seemed perfectly appropriate. I do not know the officer's faith or even if he is a Christian. But his meaning was clear: His men were performing vital humanitarian work in addition to taking on insurgents. The surprise came a few minutes after the interview, when a public information officer asked to retract the comment. Apparently in the post-interview debriefing someone got scared that it could be misconstrued. The officer did not mean to imply that he was doing the Lord's work at all, I was assured.

But that is exactly what he meant and exactly what he is doing.
Oh I know, some readers get all funky when they hear the words "God" or "Lord" in a political blog, especially my libertarian friends. To them I say, "Fear Not." After all, it's Christmas, isn't it? But I strongly implore you to read the whole thing here and make your own choice.

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Latest on Rossi and the Washington State Governor's Race

Sound Politics reports that:

The Rossi campaign has just released the results of an Elway poll which shows that the state's voters believe:

1) If Rossi prevails in the manual recount, he should be accepted as the legitimate Governor.

2) If Gregoire increases her margin in King County as a result of changing the rules in the middle of the game, that her "win" will not be accepted as legitimate and that a run-off election should be held.

This in spite of the fact that the survey sample included significantly more Democrats than Republicans and an equal number who said they voted for each candidate.
The complete report is available on our new offsite library called Oblogatory Reading.

Maryland Governor Confronts The Sun

The Weekly Standard has a piece on Maryland Governor Ehrlich's war with the Baltimore Sun. An Excerpt:

"When a series of stories is written with incredibly inaccurate innuendo, with false quotes, made-up quotes, dots that do not connect, gotcha stories, sometimes you just have to draw a line. And that's exactly what we've done here, saying enough is enough."
The Hedgehog Report is also covering this story. I would think that Republican governors have more to work with these days when confronting liberal media monopolies like the Sun due to the Blogosphere.

AP Photographers as "Hors de Combat?"

The Belmont Club ponders how the AP obtained the execution photographs of the Iraqi election officials. Hat tip: Instapundit.

Iraqi's Favor a January Free Election by a Factor of 4 to 1

From today's (Monday's) Opinion Journal, the results of a recent poll in Iraq concerning their future:

What will you base your vote on?

Political agenda - 65%
Factional origin - 14%
Party Affiliation - 4%
National Background - 12%
Other reasons - 5%

Do you support dialog with the deposed Baathists?

Yes - 15%
No - 84%
Do not know - 1%

Do you support postponing the election?

Yes - 18%
No - 80%
Do not know - 2%

Do you think the elections will take place as scheduled?

Yes - 83%
No - 13%
Do not know - 4%

The poll was taken of 5,000 people in and around Baghdad, giving the poll an accuracy of +/- 1.5%.
Also, a message to the Iraqi people from Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai:

"They must go to polls. They must take this opportunity, elect their people to parliament, and have a government of their own, and have peace. . . . The major lesson in Afghanistan was that the Afghan people wanted change, from the tyranny of terrorism. The Iraqi people also will gain nothing if they allow these people to come from outside and destroy their lives."

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Time's Man of the Year

Courtesy: Time
Posted by The Senescent Man

Time's Blog of the Year

For what it is worth, George W. (above) is Time Magazine's Person (Man) of the Year.

Powerline Blog, one of our "exceptional blogs" listed in the sidebar to the right, was also named by Time as "Blog of the Year." This being, the Year of the Blog, that would make it quite an honor, and we agree well deserved. Bravo Powerline!

Unfortunately, The Senescent Man did not make it this time around. Better luck in 2005.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Franklin in the Lion's Den

The MSM, and in particular, NEWSWEEK, is at it again. Not satisfied with the mere, usual denigration of Christmas, which was the topic of Vox Blogoli VI (via Hugh Hewitt), NEWSWEEK decided it needed to stoop to an even lower low with this insipid and one-sided interview with Franklin Graham, son of Evangelist Billy Graham, and president of Samaritan's Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian program founded in 1970 that serves the poor, refugees and others at home and abroad. He recently spoke with NEWSWEEK about his work in Iraq, gay marriage and the role of evangelism.

Below are some excerpts from the interview conducted by NEWSWEEK's Brian Braiker, but I’ve taken the vulgar liberty to respond myself; so although the responses from The Senescent Man are NOT published in NEWSWEEK, they are here, unfortunately, in this exclusive for your media entertainment pleasure -- after all, it is ONLY entertainment, isn't it? It most definitely is NOT news:

NEWSWEEK: Do you think that the media and entertainment industry is not reflective of the religious values people say they have? Twenty-two percent of voters put moral values as their top concern in this election yet “Desperate Housewives” is a hot show. Do you see any disconnect there?

Franklin Graham: …No question: there is a disconnect with the entertainment industry and the values of America.

The Senescent Man: What kind of stupid question is that? Of course the MSM is out of whack with the rest of the world. Where have you been?!?!

NEWSWEEK: The president seemed to signal that he was OK with civil unions in the last weeks of the campaign. Is your objection to marriage as a word?

Franklin Graham: This was an issue that I think in this election where people finally said, “I’ve had it. I don’t want that agenda being forced and pushed and mandated on me.” You can’t legislate morality. A homosexual’s sins are no different than a heterosexual’s sins. If I go out tonight and I sleep with someone who’s not my wife, it’s just as great a sin as gay people [having sex]. Sin is sin.

The Senescent Man: First of all, the President is opposed to gay marriage, get that straight. As to the second question in this question, no, it is not merely a word. If there is a word I do object to it is NEWSWEEK.

NEWSWEEK: Some people have said that the evangelical community has a disproportionate amount of interest about what goes on people’s sex lives as opposed to spending more time fighting poverty, healing the sick, feeding the hungry and trying to do more that is in line with Jesus’ teachings.

Franklin Graham: I don’t have an interest in what goes on in other people’s bedrooms. I think it’s a fascination by the media….

The Senescent Man: Indeed, I am interested in what goes on in EVERY bedroom in America. What’s happening tonight in yours? Nothing, I presume. What kind of stupid question is that?

NEWSWEEK: How do you respond to critics you say your work [in Iraq] has convinced already skeptical Arabs that you’re out to convert Muslims?

Franklin Graham: We don’t want to make anyone a Christian. We were there at the invitation of the churches of Iraq who said “We need your help. Some of our neighborhoods are blown up; our hospitals are not working.” The first thing we did was go in and help a couple of the large hospitals open up some clinics. These were not Christian hospitals or Christian clinics. These were just government-run facilities run by Muslims that needed intensive-care units, needed operating rooms….

The Senescent Man: Don't let the Door hit you on the way out.

NEWSWEEK: It hasn’t helped having the more mediagenic leaders—Oral Roberts, Jerry Falwell, you yourself—making inflammatory comments about Islam.

Franklin Graham: The problem with our country is that we do not understand Islam. We still don’t. You get into Islamic countries, there is no separation between the government and between the religion. Islamic law, like in Saudi Arabia, is the law of the land. It’s not a secular law, it’s a religious law based on the religious faith. It’s a strange concept for us, to live under a religious law. Religion and government is one and the same [in Islamic countries]. As far as the teaching and faith of the people, I think since 9/11 there has been a strong debate in America over Islam. There are millions of Muslims in this country who have fled Islamic law; they have fled Islamic law but they have kept their faith but they want to live in peace. They want the American dream and they have every right to it. We as a nation, our values system is based on a whole different set of principles.

The Senescent Man: It hasn’t helped having nincompoops like you asking really dumb and inflammatory questions like this one. It is no wonder the MSM’s days are numbered.

NEWSWEEK: You were quoted a couple years ago as calling Islam an “evil and wicked religion.” Would you care to revisit that comment?

Franklin Graham: Those comments started a debate in this country. I don’t know what I can add to it. I respect the people of the Islamic faith that have come to this country. I have Muslim friends. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to help them. That doesn’t stop me from loving them. I certainly don’t believe the way they believe, and they don’t believe the way I believe, either. That doesn’t make me dislike them, and I love them very much. I want to do all I can to help them. In Khartoum, we have been working for years in a mission in the south. I want to demonstrate to those Muslims that my love for them is sincere. I want them to know about God’s son, Jesus Christ. I want them to know but I certainly don’t want to force it on them. I would like some day for Muslims to know what Christians do.

The Senescent Man: If you don’t mind my asking a question with a question, what did you think of the religion of David Koresh? Or Sun Myung Moon? Or the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’ll bet you’re not a big fan of any of them. Hey, everyone has their pet peeves about the multitude of “religions” out there, including NEWSWEEK.

NEWSWEEK: Do you support a constitutional ban on gay marriage?

Franklin Graham: Under normal circumstances, no. But the way judges are rewriting laws. I don’t know how else you can stop them.

The Senescent Man: Yes.

NEWSWEEK: Was Brown v. Board of Education a case of activist judges making their own law?

Franklin Graham: I don’t know; I’m not familiar with it…. But I do believe that the majority of people, people of Christian faith, are under attack. No question about it.

The Senescent Man: What kind of stupid question is that? How about Roe v. Wade? Graham is not a politician, but obviously you are. Let me formulate a similar question a la fallacy of “complex question:” Did you consider Bill Clinton a moral president despite his lurid affair with Monica Lewinsky? Keep it up NEWSWEEK, this kind of garbage won’t last too long.
You can read the whole, real interview here.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Dino's Prospects Up - And You Know that Notion Just Crossed my Mind

Dino Rossi may have gotten a little good news this evening, possibly putting him permanently ahead of the Lady in Red.

From Sound Politics:

A judge in Pierce County Superior Court has ruled that the 723 disputed ballots in King County, Wash., should not be included in the ballot recount for Washington state governor.
From AP:

TACOMA, Wash. -- A judge Friday granted a state Republican Party request to block the counting of hundreds of recently discovered King County ballots in Washington's incredibly close governor's race.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Arend's decision hinged on whether it was simply too late for counties to reconsider ballots from the November election, even if such ballots were erroneously rejected by election workers.

From reading state law and state Supreme Court decisions, "it is clear to me that it is not appropriate to go back and revisit decisions on whether ballots should or should not be counted," Arend said.

No doubt the Democrats will contest this in court. And you know that notion,...

It's Getting to Look a Lot Like Kwanzaa

From James Lileks through Instapundit:

Maybe it's just me. Perhaps I'm overly sensitive. But when I wish a store clerk "Merry Christmas!" they often appear stunned and flummoxed for a moment, as if I've just blabbed the plans for the underground's sabotage of the train tracks in front of the secret police. I've said something highly inappropriate for the public square, and I almost expect a security guard to take me aside on the way out. He'll lead me to a small room. He has no enthusiasm for this; it's the end of his shift, and he's done this a dozen times already today. But policy is policy....

I don't get it. There's this peculiar fear of Christmas that seems to get stronger every year, as if it's the season that dare not speak its name. Check out the U.S. Postal Service Web site: two different stamps for Kwanzaa. One for Eid, two for Hanukkah. Two for non-sectarian "Holiday," with pictures of Santa, reindeer, ornaments, that sort of thing. One for the Chinese New Year. One for those religiously inclined -- it features a Madonna and Child. But the Web site calls it "Holiday Traditional." The word "Christmas" doesn't appear on the site's description of the stamps. Eid, yes. Hanukkah, yes. Kwanzaa, yes. Christmas? No. It's Holiday Traditional....
Somewat in tune with the post by Steve Graham below regarding Krauthammer's observations. Read the whole thing here.

Sixty Years Ago Today from the Lens of Today's MSM

What the Battle of the Bulge would look like through the lens of the 21st Century MSM (hat tip Hugh Hewitt):

December 17th, 1944

PARIS (Routers) Long-time critics of the Roosevelt administration declared themselves vindicated today, as the Germans began a renewed offensive yesterday in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium, opening a huge hole in the "Allied" lines and throwing back troops for miles, with previously unimaginable US casualties.
Read the whole thing here.

Bring back Christmas

Charles Krauthammer (who is Jewish), today talks about the loss of Christmas and the extremism surrounding the practice of Christmas parties, decorations, caroling, etc. From his article:
The attempts to de-Christianize Christmas are as absurd as they are relentless. The United States today is the most tolerant and diverse society in history. It celebrates all faiths with an open heart and open-mindedness that, compared to even the most advanced countries in Europe, are unique.

Yet more than 80 percent of Americans are Christian, and probably 95 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas. Christmas Day is an official federal holiday, the only day of the entire year when, for example, the Smithsonian museums are closed. Are we to pretend that Christmas is nothing but an orgy of commerce in celebration of . . . what? The winter solstice?
I may agree that the US is the most tolerant society in history - except when it comes to christain religous expression at Christmas time. Read the whole story here.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Latest on Dino - Trouble Ahead...Trouble Behind

The Rossi - Gregoire race in Washington state is getting hairier and hairier. Here's an up to the minute update from Sound Politics:

The Washington State Republican Party says that the Ukraine County Democrats are changing the rules:

This morning the King County Elections Department announced to ballot counters that it is changing the rules it had previously set on counting votes. King County’s established guidelines had said that if there were marks in the bubbles for both Rossi and Gregoire, the vote would be considered an “over vote” and would not be counted because the voter had voted for both candidates. Now, however, the Elections Department is going to send these ballots to the Democrat-dominated canvassing board for review.
The WSRP release links to a graphic from the Ukraine County elections training manual that illustrates what an overvote is. Nevertheless, the plain standards in the manual are being thrown out the window in favor of the "human judgment" of Ukraine County's Democrat-dominated canvassing board. State GOP chairman Chris Vance wonders whether the Democrats might be changing the rules now because Rossi appeared to be gaining in the recount....
...[And the] explanation for the 573 magical mystery ballots[?] Please put down your beverage.

1) These are all validly registered voters.

2) For some reason, and Logan could not say what that reason is, these validly registered voters' signatures were not in the computer database where the signatures are supposed to be kept. But he believes their original signatures would be in the paper files.

3) About 100 of these voters were sent letters informing them that their signatures were not up-to-date in the database, asking them to update their signatures. However, there were not supposed to be any consequences for a voter who failed to update their signature. The letters were sent only to "expedite the process" and prevent the county workers from having to look for the voters' signatures in the paper files.

4) Even if such a voter failed to update their signature, they were sent a ballot anyway, without ever being told (until six weeks after the election, and only then by serendipity) that their ballot would not be accepted because the database did not contain their signature.

Got it?

It makes you wonder what other idiotic procedures they have in place, and what other errors they're making and not discovering, or discovering and not reporting.
The Senescent poll monitor will keep you posted,...

A Must Read: Hewitt: Year of the Blog

Hugh Hewitt on “The Year of the Blog” in the Weekly Standard.  Read it.  Now!




Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Dino v. Christine (Continued): Dino May be Down Again

The Washington Post has reported that an additional 561 votes have been "found" in one of the more highly Democrat districts in Washington state, threatening Dino Rossi's paper thin lead over Christine Gregoire. Sound Politics reports that the number is up now, from 561 to 595. Statistically, this could move the lead to Gregoire by 195 votes. At the moment, though, in this third round of recounds, Dino is by 85. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Vox Blogoli VI: What does Newsweek's story on Christmas tell us about MSM?

In 1987, Professor Allan Bloom, a member of the Committee for Social Thought at the University of Chicago, began his prescient treatise The Closing of the American Mind with the following observation:

There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.
Bloom said this about his young students, but he was equally critical of the educators who promulgated relativistic thinking. Likewise, Professor and Christian author R. C. Sproul has complained that modern education has abandoned truth and replaced it with rhetoric. “Educators,” he said, “have become modern-day Sophists.” And likewise, those whom the educators have attempted to educate.

Bloom’s observations were made over fifteen years ago. Today, many of those 18 to 22 year-old students, are now 35 to 40, and are serving at managerial levels on the editorial boards of the MSM. Therefore, a reason magazines like Newsweek tend to be critical of the historicity of Christ’s birth, and the Gospel accounts, is that the story flies directly in the face of moral and historical relativism.

MSM skepticism of the story of Christmas is also based upon a tenacious foolhardiness towards anything of a “super nature.” In an obituary of the beloved, brilliant, amusing, talented, conservative, though gay and agnostic Boston radio talk show host, David Brudnoy, about which I have posted a couple of times since his death, Boston Herald columnist Jeff Jacoby makes this observation:

…One day, driving our rented Fiat from Bergamo back to Milan, we [Jacoby and Brudnoy] talked at length about religion -- in particular, about the afterlife that he doubted was real. "Just wait," I told him. "One of these days you'll find out it's as real as Milan. And what will you do then?" That day came far sooner than any of us wanted,…
One hopes that David Brudnoy, before the end, followed in the leap of faith made by C. S. Lewis, A. W. Tozer, J. R. R. Tolkien, John R. W. Stott and others of equivalent gravitas. They determined that a super nature can be a legitimate component of reality. But many brilliant writers of the MSM, refuse to even consider the proposition and instead mock those who consider such things real as dull, uneducated or anti-intellectual.

For the MSM, anything believing in the supernatural is lumped together, particularly if there is a sober seriousness attached. Therefore “fundamentalist” Islam is sometimes made tantamount to Christian fundamentalism, and that, in turn, is inexorably linked to evangelicalism. So the reasoning of the MSM is that the sagacious Chuck Colson is equivalent to an Ayman Al-Zawahri.

A final thought as to reasons the MSM naysay the nativity is their unending and passionate desire to act as the official debunkers of everything underpinning Christian faith and heritage. This may be partly rooted in skepticism of a super nature, but is also founded upon a strong desire to publicly ridicule those who have faith and conviction. “Let’s guffaw at those kooky Christian nut-balls,” is the underlying attitude.

The free market of thought, prevalent in the blogosphere today but not in the MSM, will one day significantly change the way people get their information. When that day comes, and it will be soon, it will forever change the way the MSM operates. The blogosphere will rock their world. The revolution WILL be audioblogged, vlogged as well as blogged.

The Thoughts of Theo Van Gogh

The Corner tipped us to the efforts of Blogger Pieter Dorsman, who is translating some of the writings of Theo Van Gogh on his blog entitled Peaktalk.   You may recall that Van Gogh was slain by Islamic militant(s) because of his opinions about the oppression of radical Islamic fundamentalists in Holland.  The Corner captured the essence with this excerpt from the translations:

“The dead poor sheep farmers on Sicily at the turn of the century argued that America must be heaven on earth as emigrated family members relayed messages of having meat for dinner everyday. That was a mouthwatering experience for people who could enjoy that privilege maybe once in a lifetime. You can argue that particular instinct to be ‘ordinary’ or ‘superficial’ like so many do here, but it is way beyond me to look down on it. America is hated because it embodies the hope of people that yearn for a better life, to have meat everyday, but also to believe in the God they choose, or not. To say what you want without being persecuted. To be a woman without a veil, with the right to vote, free expression and adultery, without being stoned."


A Donkey Moves Rightward (Sort of)


Check out this (relatively) new blog entitled “New Donkey,” which is supposed to offer a less left wing perspective from middle of the road Democrats.  Hat tip, Galley Slaves

Monday, December 13, 2004

Jacoby on Brudnoy: Death of a Gallant Man

Shortly after our post on David Brudnoy, we received a very kind acknowledgement from Marc Marc Comtois at The Ocean State Blogger. Today, Town Hall posted a piece by Boston Herald columnist Jeff Jacoby on his relationship with Brudnoy over the years. It is a very fine piece, and you can read the whole thing here.

Here are some excerpts:

In the spring of 1983, about a year after we'd first met, David Brudnoy took me to lunch. Most of what we spoke about that day, I have long since forgotten. But two things he said still stick in my mind.

One was a comment about wine, a topic about which I knew -- and still know -- next to nothing. Most white wines are drinkable, Brudnoy told me, but rarely do you encounter a *great* white wine. The really spectacular wines, he went on, are almost always red -- but, alas, most red wines are dreadful...

...Yes, ideology mattered.

But friendship mattered more. And what a talent he had for it! Brudnoy's pals were legion -- young and old, white and black, gay and straight, Republican and Democrat. I don't know how I came to deserve membership in that fraternity, but I know I didn't earn it for my politics....

...So many things delighted him, not least of which was his own sense of humor. In 2001 I wrote a column marking Brudnoy's 25th anniversary as a Boston talk show host, and he merrily shared it with his e-mail list.

"So Jeff couldn't think of anything nice to say about me?" the covering message read. "After all I've done for him -- officiated at his wedding, circumcised Caleb, took him to his first all-nude gay revival, taught him Tokugawa-era classical Japanese haiku, washed his car every Saturday, took him shopping in Milan for Gucci suits, got him into Skull and Bones -- and still he can't say a kind word about me. Jeez!"

Actually, the Milan reference was accurate. We really did travel there some years ago, and spent a week exploring northern Italy by car. One day, driving our rented Fiat from Bergamo back to Milan, we talked at length about religion -- in particular, about the afterlife that he doubted was real.

"Just wait," I told him. "One of these days you'll find out it's as real as Milan. And what will you do then?"

That day came far sooner than any of us wanted, but there can't be much doubt about what David Brudnoy is doing now. He is making friends, stimulating conversation, spreading cheer -- and doing it all with the gallantry and grace that none of us who knew him is ever going to forget.

Of Bloggers and Vloggers

John Fund has an excellent piece in today’s (Monday’s) WSJ Opinion Journal regarding the effect of Blogs on the close South Dakota US Senate race which ended with John Thune defeating incumbent Tom Daschle.

An excerpt:

Bloggers received a lot of attention for helping to expose the fake documents backing up Dan Rather's "60 Minutes" story on President Bush and the Texas Air National Guard. But that's only one of the interesting ways in which the Internet is empowering people and shaping political coverage.

Indeed, the real power of bloggers in politics is how they interact with their mainstream media counterparts. Online journalism gives critics of the media a way to talk back, a platform from which to point out bias, hypocrisy and factual errors. And if the criticisms are on target, old-media institutions can't help but take note. That's exactly what just happened in South Dakota's epic Senate race between Minority Leader Tom Daschle and his GOP challenger, John Thune.

Read the rest of it here.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Dean's Advice

I hope Democrats really DO follow Dean’s advice, given today on NBC’s Meet the Press


In his own words:

MR. RUSSERT:  The New Republic has written an editorial opposed to your candidacy.  It says, "This is one of those key moments when Democrats must decide what course to take in the wake of 2004 election.  And making Dean their spokesman is exactly the wrong way to go.  ... During the campaign, Dean embraced a particular, and utterly wrong, theory of how Democrats ought to win elections.  Rather than focus on persuading centrists, he argued, Democrats should rile up their own base, which required the nomination of Dean rather than a more cautious new Democrat.  `I concluded that the only way we can win is to really get our base excited:  African Americans, Latinos, trade unionists, women and new young people.'  ... This, too, proved false.  ... The liberal base is simply not large enough to win national elections."

DR. DEAN:  First of all, I don't think we're talking about a liberal base.  I think we're talking about a populist base [OOOooooohhhhhh!], a base that wants economic justice, a base that wants fairness, a base that knows it's been left behind by a president who is much more interested in corporate welfare than he is of the welfare of the American public at large.

Second of all, our campaign didn't fail because I was wrong about the strategy.  Karl Rove has used the strategy that the New Republic talked about incredibly successful.  You didn't see the president becoming a centrist all of a sudden.  The president is the most conservative really far-right president we've seen in my lifetime and he uses that very effectively to get his base to the polls.

I get it.  And I say, GO FOR IT HOWARD!

I've always Loved Ben Stein


And here is just one reason why.  Read this excellent piece by Ben from The American Spectator.


A preview:


A few days ago, a package arrived in the mail from the widow of my late father-in-law, Colonel Dale Denman, Jr., of Heber Springs, Arkansas. I opened it and there was a leather holster and inside it, a German Luger pistol….


…I know there are a lot of these Lugers around. You can buy them at antique gun shops and gun shows. But this one is special to me. Here is what it says:

My brave father-in-law, representative of tens of millions of American men and women who have gone off to fight for freedom, fought against cruel, tenacious enemies. They often lost their lives in so doing. They prevailed and I get to live in spectacular freedom, glorious, bright freedom, every day because men like Col. Denman were as brave as they were.


I had a father-in-law who was likewise one of these brave men from the greatest generation.  I agree with Ben.  We can thank them for the freedom we enjoy today, and we can thank our young men and women in Iraq for the terrorism-free future we and our children will enjoy going forward.  I remember a remark by Zell Miller at the Republican National Convention earlier this year.  He said in his keynote address something to the effect that he had looked into the eyes of his children and realized that, though he was a Democrat, for their sakes and the sakes of his grandchildren, he needed to support a president who was going to secure their future.  It is nice to know we’re not alone in this view.


The whole thing by Ben Stein is here.

Why Fallujah was Necessary


This is from a post in Slate by Bing West, author and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs during the Reagan administration, which highlights just what it was we were fighting for in Fallujah, and what a tremendous success it was.  It stands as one of only a few bits from a MSM source (sort of) that hits it dead straight.  An excerpt:


Politically, Fallujah was as infected as the air at the torture house at the corner of the park. Many of the residents were complicit in the reign of terror. Whether the city returns to its murderous ways depends on the resolve of the Iraqi security forces now moving into the city. Voter turnout in January will be an indictor of how the political winds are blowing.


Militarily, the battle of Fallujah was an unqualified success. Zarqawi has been deprived of his sanctuary. He will spend more time on the run and have less time to blow up and decapitate people. His followers have been hit hard, many killed and others uprooted. Just today, an Egyptian, a Yemenite, and a Sudanese crawled out from the rubble and surrendered…


…After lynching … Americans on the Euphrates bridge [prior to the US invasion], the [Islamic] fundamentalists painted an Arabic verse on the right trestle. It read:


Fallujah—Graveyard of the American Marine Corps.”


On the left trestle, in thick black paint a Marine had scrawled a newer inscription. It read:


"This is for the Americans of Blackwater

murdered here in 2004.

Semper Fidelis,  3/5  Dark Horse


You can read the whole thing here.


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