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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Women in Leadership III

(And no, I do not hate, resent, or disrespect women. If I did, my wife would jack-slap me. With a steel pipe. That would have been before she married me.)

I was a freshman cadet at the military academy. There, all cadets have to take three classes their freshman year in the Department of Physical Education: Swimming, Gymnastics, and Boxing. One of the gymnastics instructors was a blonde officer in her late twenties/early thirties, whose name I cannot recall, so I’ll call her Major Wilson. She was in excellent physical condition, could outperform most cadets in gymnastics and aerobic tasks, and also was professional in her demeanor, bearing, and appearance.

So what was the opinion of her throughout the corps of cadets?

“Major Wilson is hot.”

There you have problem #1 with women in leadership. No matter what qualifications they bring to the table, they are still perceived by men as women first. She was well qualified physically to be in that position, but that was little regarded.

I’m sorry, ladies, but this tendency of men does not go away as we age. We merely learn to keep quiet. It also is not contingent upon a certain level of physical attractiveness. Well, calling her “hot” maybe, but the “She’s Always a Woman to Me” mentality is not. Women in leadership are called one of two things by most males beneath them (I, of course(!) would not be one of these males): A b$tch, or soft. While males are certainly capable of being called soft if they are weak leaders, they are never called the B-word. Problematically, the type of leadership exhibited by those women called B’s is often the same that gets a grudging respect for a male who does the same thing – “That Colonel Shaw, he a hard man!” In most organizations that I object to women being leaders in, ‘hard’ leadership is the best. That doesn’t mean it is mean and nasty, it merely means unyielding adherence to standards of performance. For a man who does it, he is respected and perhaps feared. A woman who does the same is vilified and disrespected.

It’s not fair – but it is a fact of life. It is one that “education” cannot change. You can tell someone that women are, indeed, as capable of good leadership as men, but when Major Wilson punishes a soldier for an infraction, in the back of his head he believes he can physically outperform her, and therefore she is somehow “unqualified” to be in leadership over him.

In non-physical organizations it is less of a problem, but a problem nonetheless. Major Wilson would be looked at as a woman first, a supervisor second. However, because women are no less mentally capable of the performance required to move up in the business world (they may be more so!), the incongruity between performance ability and advancement is not there to produce resentment. In most organizations, overcoming the initial male hang-up will merely take a little time, because experience will prove the boss as capable.

So what do I advocate? Simply this – merit based selection for leaders in those occupations that have a significant physical component. While many may recoil at the idea, don’t we already select our leaders based upon intellectual merit? If physical performance is an important part of the organization, it should also be a part of the selection process.

However, you may notice that I advocated the wholesale abolition of females from these professions. The reason is simple – it is more socially acceptable to say “women cannot be in the infantry” than it is to say, “she is well within the Army’s acceptable level of relative physical fitness, but still isn’t good enough because she can’t do the job.” Sad, but also true.

Women in Leadership II – the Non-Theological View

On a previous Theology Tuesday, I had presented the theological case against women in the pastorate/priesthood. In response to some comments, I had mentioned that there are practical reason for the prohibition of women in some leadership positions even without theology.

Hypothesis: There are positions of leadership in society for which most women will be detrimental to the organization.

Logical Support:

1) Men and women are physically different.

2) As a function of these physical differences, the average woman is physically weaker than the average man.

3) Men universally judge others by their physical prowess.

4) Also as a function of these physical differences, men view a woman as a woman first, and anything else, second.

5) Due to these two factors of men’s reasoning, a woman in a leadership position will be distracting. This can often be overcome, but if it is an organization that regularly requires physical performance, it cannot.

Conclusion: Women, as a group, should not be permitted to be leaders in ‘physical’ organizations.


1) While watching an episode of the Greta Van something-or-other show at a hotel, the discussion was about the Atlanta Courtroom shooter. There was some feminist-type who objected when one of the other guests mentioned that the jailer who was overpowered was a “50-year-old grandmother”. Her position was that it could have been a 50-year-old grandfather – why does it matter?

On the one hand she has a valid point – the guard was not overpowered because she was a woman (or a granny, for that matter). She was overpowered due to a combination of inadequate physical strength (primarily) and an inability to use proper techniques against an attacker (secondary). We can all agree that the average woman has less physical strength than the average man, right? Therefore, it is more likely that a female guard would be overpowered than a male guard. As I mentioned above, clearly the position was not awarded based upon physical merit (and never will be), thus it was foolhardy to open this position to women.

2) What kinds of occupations are we referring to here? This list is not all-inclusive, but should be close, and gives you the general idea: soldier, sailor, airman, marine, firefighter, corrections officer, construction worker, security guard, police officer.

The need for physical performance is easy to discern in these occupations. I should address the first argument against my case here. There are positions within those types of organizations that do not require the same level of physical fitness.

I agree 100% with that statement. Neither administrative clerk, nor flagman, nor desk sergeant require the level of physical fitness that the majority of jobs within those occupations often do. Now, I speak from some ignorance on this sentence, but don’t those jobs normally go to those who have spent some time toiling in the others? That is, a police officer certainly does some line time before they can become a desk sergeant. Similarly, I doubt the brand new construction worker gets to do the minimal effort required to be the flagman before putting in his time doing some hard work (construction guys feel free to contradict me if this is not so). The administrative clerk in the prison, police station, fire station or construction office does not “fit” into the occupation I am describing – they would never call themselves “corrections officers/police officers/firefighters/construction workers”. They do not fit under this umbrella.

What do fit under the umbrella are the administrative clerk, cook, supply specialist, and medic in the military. Military members receive the same pay, advancement and citation considerations regardless of occupational specialty. All soldiers are required to perform physical fitness training and basic skills from the manual of common tasks. Performance in both of these areas is important to performance and advancement.

The military recognizes the deficiency of females in the area of physical fitness (strength and endurance, not dexterity and flexibility) and “compensates” by significantly lowering standards in nearly every area for females. Thus, the minimum number of push-ups a 21-year-old male soldier must do to pass his physical fitness test is 42. A female the same age? 18. While we can agree that if a relative level of fitness is what is desired (compared to the population as a whole of that gender), then this is a good idea. However, if a guarantor of physical performance is what is desired, this is a huge mistake. The Army expects an acceptable level of physical strength of it female soldiers to be less than half that of males.

Aside: does anyone know if firefighters and police officers have similar relative scales for tests of physical ability? I would assume the answer is yes.

Why is it a mistake? Think of the kinds of things requiring physical performance in these professions: lifting ammunition, hauling wounded comrades and non-combatants/civilians away from danger, pulling back the charging handle on a .50 caliber machine gun (I have seen female soldiers fail this task), running for long distances, at high speeds, or both, and moving continuously with a significant amount of professional gear (helmets, armored/fireproof clothing, Packs, hoses, axes, etc). Why do we want to put those who have a higher chance of not performing in the positions where lives are at stake?

What still remains is the type of tasks that spurred the discussion – hand-to-hand combat. Physical strength and training are the two primary influences upon a victory in armed and unarmed combat. Simply put, a female with the same level of training as a male will get pulverized almost every time.

Are there exceptions? Certainly. This woman would destroy me, in all likelihood. But how many of these are there in the female population? Furthermore, she has more training than I do. If we were at equivalent levels of training, common sense tells us that, statistically, I would win in a combat with her nine times out of ten. If she were a he, it is five of ten.

Due to the length of this post, I’ll come to a quick semi-conclusion. Women are statistically much physically weaker then men. Unless an organization is prepared to award positions only after a demonstration of the strength level required to attain the positions, women should be prohibited from careers in these fields.

Part III will discuss the views of men about women, and why this makes leadership in any organization more difficult for women.

Friday, April 29, 2005

The Compromise the D's Should Love

(Note: I tried to post this last night, but as I literally typed the last word, my computer reset. I figured it was the Almighty's way of telling me to go to bed. Thus, this may not even be newsworthy any longer.)

Senator Frist offers the following:

In exchange for giving up filibustering judicial nominees, the Republicans would offer...

a) Guaranteed up-or-down votes on nominations for Circuit Courts of Appeals and Supreme Court nominees.

b) Guaranteed debate time of up to 100 hours for those nominees.

c) Guaranteed reporting of nominees from the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Senate floor.

d) Guaranteed protection of the legislative filibuster.

Additionally, Frist is refusing to turn back any of the current ten nominees.

Now, at first I thought I would be willing to part with one or two of them to get this deal. I even thought Frist was being too much of a hard case. Then I thought about it overnight.

If the Democrats' filibuster truly is all about 'debate' and 'the minority voice', isn't the guaranteed 100 hours exactly what you want? This should get an automatic 'yes' from them.

But it won't, because it isn't about debate, and it isn't about the minority voice. It is about power and obstructionism, and forcing the majority to comply with the minority. That, my friends, is not democracy.

It's like, oligarchy, or something.

Well, I know it's not a monarchy, it isn't a dictatorship, and it sure smells like communism (as practiced, not opined). Anyway, thanks to Ace.

Democrats Reaching Out to Christians

You heard, I am sure, that one of the possible methods that the Democratic Party is considering to become more electable is to be less disrespectful to Christians who are serious about their faith.

Here's how Sen. Ken Salazar does it.

Summary: Salazar said during his successful campaign that he would not participate in the indefinite filibusters of judicial nominees and would work to get them all up or down votes.

Obviously, he isn't. So, Focus On the Family Action ran an ad calling him out on it. What did Sen. Salazar say?

"From my view, they [Focus on the Family] are the anti-Christ of the world.

Interesting method. Just when you think it isn't possible, Democrats ensure they lose more votes for being anti-Christian. Amazing.

Hat Tip: Decision '08, via The Jawa Report

Thursday, April 28, 2005

My Interview by Target Centermass

It’s a meme. Gunner at TargetCentermass subjected himself, and now it’s my turn.

He asked the questions. I’ll give the answers. To perpetuate the meme, leave a comment saying you want to be interviewed. The first five doing so will be asked six questions, of which you can choose to answer five. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post. I’ll provide a link to your answers.

Here are Gunner’s questions and my responses:

1. You started your blog with the following:

By my reckoning, the most important aspect of a succesful blog is not humor, character, communication, logic, entertainment value, technical issues, or even decency. It is discipline - the discipline to regularly update the blog. We’ll see if we have it…

Now, as time has passed, do you still feel that way? If not, what then is the most important aspect of a successful blog? For that matter, how would you define a “successful” blog?

I would still say that statement holds true. Of course, it is determined by what I think is “successful”. I certainly wasn’t ever out for fame or traffic, but any blogger wants to be read. Therefore, I define successful as “interesting to someone besides you and your mom”. I have probably five or six regular visitors who stop by at least once a day, then a dozen or so more who are familiar with my site and stop by at times, then the random ones I get through the Carnival, Blogs4Bush, and Homespun. If my readership never increases, I’ll consider it quite successful.

Now, if I want to be wildly successful and have comments all the time (which would be fun) I would need to make changes – I’d have to make the site look better and get a lot funnier (or more controversial). The first is part of the long-term plan; the second would require supernatural intervention.

I’ve probably hit the max on the number of hits I get from Mrs. Hammer’s picture already. I bet I would have quadruple the traffic if I perpetrated I was her from the start.

2. You went to USMA. I spent a week there for an academic (e.g. recruiting) workshop before my senior year of high school. One morning I saw a doe outside the dorm window, on a hillside not even thirty feet away. What is a moment from your time there that will always remind you of the natural beauty of the Hudson Highlands?

Neat question! I have had the opportunity to see a view of West Point that few have – from the top of the bell tower of the Cadet Chapel. It is simply the most beautiful scene I can imagine, particularly in the fall. No place does autumn like the Northeast, I tell ya. The South doesn’t know what it is missing out on.
Honestly, you don’t fully appreciate most of the picturesque views there until you are finished with the place. You get tied up in survival early on, then the grind later, and only notice the beauty intermittently. That day, on a bell tower that had “Ike was here, 1912” inscribed in tiny scratches near the doorway, was the most memorable of those times.

3. You’re an athletic, sports-loving video-game nut. What are your favorite sports to play personally, to watch live, to watch on television and to play on a video game? If there are discrepancies between the four, explain briefly why?

Personally play – Boxing (individual) and Rugby/Basketball (team)
Watch Live – Basketball

Watch on TV – NCAA Football (Go Irish!)

Play on a game – NCAA Football

I chose rugby and basketball to play because the answer is rugby, but since I haven’t played in 10 years I thought it was kind of disqualified. I actually did not get any good at basketball until my senior year at USMA. Essentially, I realized that I was going into the Army, that soldiers played basketball (and were probably decent at it), and that I didn’t want them saying, “You take the lieutenant. No, you take him!” I got some pals to work with me for a few months and was pretty persistent my first few years, even playing in a city league at Fort Drum. I’m probably in the top 10-20% skill-wise by now.

Basketball is fun to watch live because I can see all of the action. It’s a game I enjoy that is on a small field, compared to football, and I seldom have to try to discern what is going on. TV removed the viewing challenges of the football field and rapid fire action in a pile of bodies with the camera work, so it is the winner for television viewing. As far as video games go, I like most sports games, but a good football game has the high level of complexity and challenges to keep me interested longer than most other sports games. I have yet to play a boxing game I enjoy since “4-D Boxing” on the PC back in 1994. In that one you could jack up a guy that had a head like the “Money for Nothing” cartoon character with an uppercut, using your spherical hands. It was the movement that sold me – movement I have yet to see reproduced.

4. Army has a planned home-and-home football schedule with my alma mater Texas A&M in ‘06 and ‘08. During your time as an officer in the Army, you certainly had some degree of interaction with Aggies. What is your honest impression of them and do you have any interest in attending a game at A&M? If not, why not? If so, has any particular Aggie tradition caught your interest?

I considered skipping this question, simply due to lack of knowledge. I only recall two Aggies over my whole career. I don’t know why it was so few. After all, I remember more Citadel grads. Maybe they aren’t into the whole Cav thing. My Division Cavalry Squadron in Korea had seven troop commanders – 4 USMA, Rose-Hulman, Seattle U, and an OCS guy.

One Aggie was a guy at USMA who transferred after a year, so I don’t know if he even counts. The other was my squadron commander in the above unit. He was one of my best commanders ever, so I have a positive view of A&M. However, I don’t know much about its traditions, and it is too far for someone who is about to have no job to visit.

5. Name the top three people that lived during your lifetime that you would consider heroic. What other person living today could make this list and what would that person have to do to bump one of the three?

1) LTC James N. Rowe, author of “Five Years to Freedom”. He is one of only two people to ever escape captivity in VietNam, and it was after five years. His story is remarkable. He was assassinated in 1989. I have his book, autographed (although it is written to someone else).

2) MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart, the Delta Force soldiers who volunteered to go down to Michael Durant’s downed Blackhawk in Somalia, knowing they would not survive. Their Medal of Honor citations are here.

3) My friend, J. What he does is so scary I can’t even use his name while only vaguely describing it. While some think it is hard to stand in front of a large group of people and preach Jesus, it is ridiculously easy compared to what he does – brings Bibles and aid to Christians in countries where it is a crime punishable by death. His actions are heroic, not because he doesn’t get scared, but because he does them anyway. Even more impressive is that he takes the “royal road” to do it – meaning he never lies or covers up what he is doing or carrying…and yet, he had never been detained or had his goods taken from him. The man is walking proof of the active part God plays in our world, every day.

Maybe you can guess from the list, but the kinds of things I admire and consider heroic aren’t the kinds of things famous people do. All three would be considered just regular guys, until the chips were down. Only then have they been revealed as heroes. The one to jump onto the list won’t be some general who orchestrates a great victory – it will be a fireman who dies to save a child, or something like that. Stuff that I know goes on, but one I would know of personally.

6. (Blatantly lifting from my interview by TexasBestGrok) What got you into blogging? If you had to write a mission statement for your blog, what would it be? Do you have any conscious role models for or influences in your blogging?

It was The Corner over at National Review. I started reading NRO and would check out places linked there. I saw Ace of Spades HQ and The Jawa Report kind of regularly, and would check out other blogs they linked. I wasn’t sure I had what it takes to keep anyone interested, but figured it would be a way for my wife to communicate with her long-distance friends. Little did I know it would primarily be a venting place for me!

Mission: To provide a place for intelligent, respectful discourse on issues I am interested in and to prevent me from ranting at Mrs. Hammer.

My conscious role models and influences…I don’t know. While Ace and Dr. Rusty have always been admired by Team Hammer, my writing style is very different from theirs. I had been a regular contributor to some local papers, so I had a writing style of my own already. I’m sure I have modified it, but it has to have been subconsciously achieved. It can only have improved me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

A Post for Mark

There is always a discussion somewhere encapsuling the concepts of salvation chosen vs. salavation proscribed, often intertwined with the connected ideas of salvation eternal vs. salvation 'maintainable' and subsequently, rejectable once attained. Robert at Libertopia has asked me to post on the first question.

This is not it.

Instead, here is a post over at the Physicist's Perspective. It's actually by Mrs. Physicist.

Here's an excerpt:

Have you come to the blood of Jesus? If you have come to that blood once, you will come to it constantly.

If You Could Bottle It...

...You Would Light Up the Universe!

A great article on the excitement and potential benefits of the Charlie Weis era at Notre Dame by Pat Forde over at ESPN got me all excited.

Why? The Yankees suck so badly that I am eager to start the college football season NOW.

Stolen from the the Catholic Packer Fan

Team Hammer - As Readable as the Most Popular Novels

Over at INDC Journal there is a link to a site that tells you how readable your blog is. Here's the raw, followed by some analysis:

Readability Results for

Gunning Fog Index 9.61 (Time, Newsweek = 10, Most Popular Novels = 8-10)
Flesch Reading Ease 70.59
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 5.99

My Flesch Reading Ease score of 70.59 puts me right where the "experts" say I should right for readability (60-70). Also, apparently, it is at a sixth-grade reading level.

Thankfully, Mrs. Hammer does most of the writing and talking around town...

Hat Tip: Ace, who inflates his score by using creative compound vulgarity. Otherwise I would smoke him.

The Ten Commandments

While I am characterized as a right wing nut by most of my detractors, I like to believe that I am fairly independent of thought. There are a number of places I don’t toe the line, which makes sense since I straddle the libertarian/conservative line on most quizzes that test such things. One of these areas is the posting of the Ten Commandments on public property.

I support the posting of Ten Commandments on public property. Wait, didn’t I just say I don’t toe the religious right line? Oh, yeah. Let me clarify – I support the posting of the Ten Commandments everywhere. However, I think there is neither a Constitutional justification nor a spiritual benefit to the posting of the Ten Commandments on government property.

First, the legal question. To this, I simply ask – what is the vested interest of the government in displaying the Ten Commandments? Honestly, I can’t think of one.

There are certainly lots of reasons for the general display of the commandments – to reinforce the reality of the existence of God, to emphasize the absolute morality of the commandments, and to remind us that there are laws above those of man. It is of particular benefit, I believe, that children receive those messages as often as possible. Of course, some would disagree with me, but isn’t it reasonable to present that, at a minimum, the commandments reinforce pro-social behavior? Unless, of course, you think lying, stealing, adultery, murder, disrespecting parents, lust and materialism are positive human traits…

However, I have great difficulty believing that a Constitution that was developed to restrict the amount of power that the government has, also empowered that government to dictate moral precepts of thought for its citizens. Do I believe that those moral precepts are the right ones – and the only right ones? Yes. However, that doesn’t influence my interpretation of the Constitution. The placing of the Ten Commandments in a courtroom doesn’t give the impression of governmental endorsement – it is governmental endorsement. I expect the Supreme Court to rule against Kentucky in the Ten Commandments case. I expect them to rule in favor of Texas, though.

Spiritually, the grace of God embodied in Christ crucified and risen can only be confounded by adding the endorsement of a government. God exists – he needs no law or plaque to help prove it! When a government explicitly or implicitly endorses a religion, that religion becomes linked to the policies and performance of the government. If America is a “Christian nation”, then, by association, Christianity becomes an “American religion”. That only detracts from the gospel of Christ. While America is the greatest nation on earth – in power, charity and influence – it is still a nation composed of fallen people. Tying perfect grace, mercy and love to the worst of our mistakes is very, very bad.

Some Ten Commandments displays, like the one in Texas in front of the Supreme Court, have enough historical value to be considered as such and remain. Others do not. Instead, I encourage faithful Christians and faithful Jews to post the commandments prominently in their homes, on their property, and at their organizations. Thus, we can gain the benefits of the publicly displayed commands of God while avoiding the confounds that arise as from clear governmental endorsement of a religion.

(as an aside, I believe that individual offices, whether they are the Oval Office or the office of the clerk at the post office, are not restricted from such a posting, as they are indelibly intertwined with the individual, not the organization. The same goes for public prayers.)

Christian Carnival LXVI

It grows every week. A few are bound to be of interest to anyone who stops in. Check it out here at Wittenberg Gate.

Here are some of the ones I have checked out and like from this week:

World of Sven presents Is Christianity about 'Being' or 'Doing'?

Weapon of Mass Distraction sends us Episcopal Priest Goes Druid, Then Changes His Mind.

Diane R. of Crossroads sends us Mainline Woes.

David Mobley of A Physicist's Perspective sends us Evolution and the brain.

Check 'em out!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Abortion Was NEVER Found in the Constitution!

I was reading today's post over at Dr. Mohler's website. In addition to his daily post, he has the text from his remarks at the "Justice Sunday" presentation. I had heard some of them on the radio, so I checked out the rest of the speech. I found this:

We've learned the importance of the electoral process, and yet we're also discovering that that third branch of government, the judiciary, is so very, very important. We've been watching court cases come down the line. In 1973, Roe V. Wade. Just declaring a woman's right to an abortion. We now know in the aftermath of that decision, that Justice Blackmun, who was the author of the majority opinion, even has admitted that they were determined to legalize abortion, and they just went to the Constitution to try to find an argument that will get them where they wanted to go. And they did.

Now that was a wake-up call for Americans to say, now wait a minute. There's nothing in the Constitution about abortion. By no stretch of the imagination did the founders of this nation, and the framers of that document, intend for anyone to be able to read those words and find a right to kill unborn children. But judges found it.

My first reaction was to assume he was making conjecture. However, Dr. Al is not the conjecture type. He is a rock solid theologian and speaker, and although my pastor says he is "a 5-point Calvinist", I've never heard him say anything wrong when I have had the chance to read or hear him. So, I checked it out.

I found this.

An excerpt:

The recent release of the Blackmun papers has brought to light many of the decisions of the Supreme Court during Balckmun’s time on the bench. One of the most important revelations from these texts is that the Roe-v-Wade decision was not based on solid logic but on the situational ethics needed to justify an immoral end...

It was only because the Justices, and particularly Blackmun, had a desired outcome that the decision was hammered to fit as a right for women as opposed to the killing of a child. Without minimizing the struggle of the thousands of people fighting to end abortion, the knowledge that the decision was primarily based on pre-determined opinion and situational ethics means that it is only necessary to change the justices or the situation to overturn the decision.

Read the whole thing.

Did you notice that? I'll link the Blackmun papers below if I can find them (for original sourcing), but the revelation that Roe v. Wade was clearly an exercise in making the Constitution fit what the majority wanted has been kept VERY quiet. It also destroys the arguments of the left that judges have not been and are not "activist". Blackmun and his pals made law that day. 43 million children have paid for it since.

I think I may add this to my sidebar. It will be, to many, a revelation.

The website with a lot of info on Justice Blackmun, but not his personal notes on how he made his decisions, is here. Unfortunately, the on-line resource does not give us the answer we seek - so I assume Dr. Mohler to be correct.

This Is Not A Compromise

Last night I read of this "deal" offered by Senator Reid. It is no deal at all. They basically say, "OK, we are filibustering 10. We'll let two by if you appoint some liberal we like, but that's it."

Team Hammer response?

Pound sand.

The Washinton Post also hints at a compromise.

See above response.

L.A. Times Editors Endorse Nuclear Option

That's not an Onion headline. It's for real.

It's not even their token conserative writer - it is from the entire editorial board. They have an interesting take on the issue. Basically, they think the filibuster should be eliminated for everything, not just for appointment nominees. They base this on the recognition that the filibuster is a tradition that reflects not principle, but this:

"The filibuster is a reactionary instrument that goes too far in empowering a minority of senators. It's no accident that most filibusters have hindered progressive crusades in Washington, be it on civil rights or campaign finance reform. California's Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, one of those recent converts to the filibuster, embarrassed herself by hailing Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) as her inspiration at a pro-filibuster rally. At least Byrd is being consistent in his support — he filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act."


Theology Tuesday: Whom Do You Serve?

It’s a rough time in America these days. While politics have always had a nasty side, there seems to be more of an “us against them” mentality then ever before. Similarly, those who are interested in politics, like us, find themselves engaged in heated discussions, sometimes on opposite ends of the debate. It is into this fray that we toss the words of Christ, to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”.

That’s a hard message to hear. We wonder who Christ was talking to, and if it really applied to everything!

I like to discuss love often. One of the key elements of love is that we want the best for the object of our love. Realizing this may make loving our enemies easier. You see, loving an enemy doesn’t mean you condone his actions. But what does it mean?

I know what some of us may say – that loving our neighbors is best suited by defeating them, to provide a better life and opportunities for others. After all, they attack our ideals, our values, and the lives of others through their policies and legal wrangling, and continue to try to do so. Isn’t a rapid response with maximum force the best? I would say that the majority of Americans feel like this about those on the other side of the fence:

Love your enemies and do good to them that hate and use you--- is this not the despicable philosophy of the spaniel that rolls upon it's back when kicked? Hate your enemies with a whole heart, and if a man smite you on one cheek, SMASH him in the other! Smite him hip and thigh, for self preservation is the highest law! He who turns the other cheek is a cowardly dog! Give blow for blow, scorn for scorn, doom for doom--- with compound interest liberally added thereunto! Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, aye four-fold, a hundred-fold! Make yourself a terror to your adversary, and when he goeth his way, he will posses much additional wisdom to ruminate over. Thus shall you make yourself respected in all walks of life, and your Spirit----your Immortal Spirit---- shall live, not in an intangible paradise, but in the brains and sinews of those whose respect you have gained.

I think that those sound like the words out of a 1943 Marine manual, myself.

Compare it with this:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Clearly, that is a difference of positions as wide as any found in politics today. Furthermore, neither seems to be the specific property of one party or the other. Instead I would place both parties in the camp of the first text with regards to the ways they speak of each other.

What about you? Honestly, how do you approach those whom you know to be on the other team? Not what should you do, but what do you do?

Now that you have considered the question, I should divulge the origins of those two quotes. The second many will recognize as part of the Sermon on the Mount from the Gospel of Saint Matthew, the 5th Chapter, verses 38-45.

The first quote?

It is from Book III of the Satanic Bible, by Anton LaVey.

Whom do you serve?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Judges - The Truth in Pictures

Here is a nice graphical summary of the current obstruction going on in the Senate:

Image Hosted by

The Constitutional Option should be invoked if the Dems won't play the game the way it has been played for...ever. No nominee has been indefinitely filibustered like this - EVER.

Hat Tip: Professor Bainbridge

Black Belt

On Thursday, I received an "Ace-alanche" from a link at Ace of Spades HQ. Unfortunately, as you can see, I was unable to take advantage of the sudden arrival of over 100 visitors in a day - because I was headed to Atlanta. Thus, I didn't post On Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

The test went like this: I made some early errors when my forms led me to be right on top of some of the spectators, which took me out of my center for a moment (I can't hit them, but I can't look weak. What do I do? Ack!). After the first portion of the test, the judges announced that two of the seven of us were not doing well. I gured they meant one of the older testers, who was going to quickly on his forms and not keeping the movements sharp. However, I had no idea who the other was. I had the most re-starts of anyone, and thought I was as likely as anyone else.

The second part involved attacking drills, self-defense drills, and demonstrations of ability to perform the harder jumping & spinning moves. Finally, we moved to sparring.

I let the 13-year old girl from my dojo whup on me, knowing they'd set me up with someone else for a 'real' spar. When it was time for him and I to spar, I threw two rapid puches at his face, which he did not successfully defend (no contact). Then he rushed me and threw me.

I was in a quandry. I said to the judges, "I didn't think throws were allowed". They replied that they were. I thought to myself, "What do I do? I'm not allowed to punch or kick him in the mouth, and I'm not supposed to kick hard at all. How can I stop him?"

Under those rules, you can't. I was thrown again seconds later. I'd had enough.

The next time he stepped up, I faked a front kick and spun around, delivering a back kick to his abdomen that propelled him 10 feet back. He came rushing back, and I executed a second spinning back kick at the same time that he was attempting what appeared to be a front kick...with frightening results.

His raised leg acted as a guide for my heel as it slid along the inside of his thigh to...his groin. Match over.

As he was carried off, I received a lecture about control and anger and what not. The fact was, I wasn't angry - I was focused. As a boxer with some experience, I already knew that getting angry is counter-productive. Anyway, at the end of the test, they announced that only four of the seven students would get awarded their black belt. I thought that my incapacitating blow to my sparring partner had disqualified me for sure.

Thankfully, I was wrong. I also received an award for the Student of the Year for my dojo.

God is good - all the time.

Syrian Troops Out of Lebanon

After 29 years, the people of Lebanon have successfully risen up against their oppressors. It rocks to see freedom on the march.

Via Target Centermass, who is now on the blogroll.

Daily Kos - Military Genius

Or not.

I admit I've never been there (although I have been to DU a few times), but I have heard enough to know that DKos is permanently on the other team. Thus, I thoroughly enjoyed this counter to a recent post claimed to be a "spectacular overview" of the Iraq conflict.

Hat Tip: The Jawa Report

Interviewee: DHunley

For those who stop by here and the blogs I link to, you have seen DHunley's comments. I sent him an interview some time back, and he has posted the answers here at his site, Rowan Review. The questions were:

1) Rowan Review is not a typical blog. Tell us about what it is and why you established it.

2) You have some prior military service - which makes you a good chap in my book to start with! What was your favorite thing about the military, and why did you elect to end your service?

3) You don't seem to mention local or national level sports very often. Are you a sports fan?

4) You call yourself a libertarian. What or who do you think was the most formative person or event in your embrace of the libertarian view?

5) In your area you have a state university. What do you see are the primary pros and cons of the university, both in its impact upon students and its impact upon the community?

Check out his answers!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

A Slippery Slope? I Think Not!

We have heard from the Right how the Terri Schiavo case will lead to the government not only allowing people to be killed when their caretaker wants to, but will also lead to the government allowing people to be killed even if their caretakers want them to live.

The Left said that this is a slippery slope argument.

Well, in Britain they have just ruled that a baby will not receive the life-preserving care it would need if it stops breathing, even though the parents want their baby to live.

Are that many of us blind, stupid, or willfully desirous of the deaths of others? The very logic that says that they courts can determine if someone should decide if another will live or die (abortion, euthanasia) is the same that gives the government the right to decide for YOU, no matter what anyone else says.

I know we are not the UK - but the left wishes we were more like them.

UPDATE: The little girl's story is further revealed here at

Note 1: I was reminded at Ace of Spades HQ that the UK medical system is a socialist/government/single-payer health care, thereby giving the government the right to make these decisions. You know, the kind of health care the Democratic Party currently wants.

Papal Reviews

Here's a NYT Op-Ed by Michael Novak on the new Pope, Rome's Radical Conservative.

From the other side of the fence, try the several links at The Jawa Report.

PS - I can't, for the life of me, figure out where I found that NYT link. I though maybe Ace, but can't find it there. Oh well - I'll just admit that I needed help finding it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A Liturgy

Christian Carnival LXVI is presented in the form of a liturgical sevice at Psuedo-Polymath. Check it out and click on the links that look interesting. I'm headed to the one on Christian hedonism...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Big Changes by the New Pope

Check out the scoop that Ace got ahold of about the new changes that Pope Benedict XVI will be making. It seems he is more friendly to the liberal arm of the church, and outright non-believers, after all...

(Note: Some language)

NPR Shows Its "4th Point of Contact"

Just heard:

"If John Paul II is likened to a rock star and the Messiah, now you have John the Baptist - reserved, not forward with his positions, a behind the scenes type of leader."

Uh, who is she talking about? Here is a different picture of the real John the Baptist:

"For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly."
- The Gospel of St. Mark, Chapter 6, Verses 17-20.

Yes, the media is still full of liberal secularists. I shouldn't be surprised.

Benedict XVI

The selection of the cardinals was what many pundits predicted - Joseph Ratzinger of Germany has been selected to become the Pope, and has chosen the name of Benedict XVI. After only four iterations, he received the necessary number of votes from his fellow cardinals.

At 78, we do not know how long we can expect Benedict XVI to serve, but that is true for anyone! His choice should please David and Robert, for Ratzinger has been a strong voice against Liberation Theology. He also has stood against liberal theologians in the church in general, which I can only view as positive!

Five years ago, then-cardinal Ratzinger penned a document declaring the Catholic Church to be the true church, that other Christian denominations are "defective", and while other religions are "respected", they are not to considered equal through the application of relativism. The context:

"Furthermore, the salvific action of Jesus Christ, with and through his Spirit, extends beyond the visible boundaries of the Church to all humanity...Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him...
On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church. Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ, through the integral profession of faith, the Eucharist, and full communion in the Church."

"Therefore, these separated Churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church"

"The lack of unity among Christians is certainly a wound for the Church; not in the sense that she is deprived of her unity, but "in that it hinders the complete fulfilment of her universality in history".

I would be suprised by anything less, disagree as I may with parts. May Benedict XVI serve faithfully and with righteousness in Christ.

The Big Decision

I am listening to NPR - a new pope has been selected, but we don't know who it is yet. It's pretty exciting! Update soon to follow...

Monday, April 18, 2005

Theology Tuesday: Women and Church Leadership

The recent passing of Pope John Paul II has led to a (not unexpectedly) plethora of polls and pundits claiming that changes need to be made with the next pope. One of these, also expected, is the demand to put women in the priesthood.

The Catholic Church has a long establish set of doctrines to explain why there are only males in the priesthood. It is not my place to defend the Catholic Church’s doctrines, as I am no longer part of it. However, we can reasonably conclude that they likely have a solid theological justification for their restrictions.

We start with the somewhat controversial command by St. Paul in his first letter to Timothy:

But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
-St. Paul’s First Epistle to Timothy, Chapter 2, Verses 12

The very first thing said when this verse is brought up is ALWAYS “That was just the culture of the time”. However, if we can use that argument here, why can’t we use it everywhere? I do not present that we should not understand the context of Scripture, but that we should examine the whole context, not just those portions which support our 21st century Western ideas. Specifically, we should always start with the Scriptural context before considering the cultural context. Here:

I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array. But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
-St. Paul’s First Epistle to Timothy, Chapter 2, Verses 8-15

Clearly, commands are being given to men and women here. Men are to pray, and to maintain their faith and their patience – not an easy command, as men tend to want to fix it themselves and get mad when we don’t! Women are, by contrast, cautioned against focusing on their outward appearance. Why are the women cautioned on this and not the men? It’s common sense – women are more likely to be a distraction due to their outward appearance then men are. It doesn’t matter that we don’t want to admit it – the truth is timeless.

We can also get some help from Matthew Henry, who wrote 1600 years after St. Paul:

“According to Paul, women must be learners, and are not allowed to be public teachers in the church; for teaching is an office of authority, and the woman must not usurp authority over the man, but is to be in silence. But, notwithstanding this prohibition, good women may and ought to teach their children at home the principles of religion.”

Many in favor of making women priests like to bring up Timothy’s mother and grandmother, as well as Pricilla when debating the subject. Henry again:

“Timothy from a child had known the holy scriptures - who should teach him as a child but his mother and grandmother? (2Tim 3:15). Aquila and his wife Priscilla expounded unto Apollos the way of God more perfectly; but then they did it privately, for they took him unto them, (Acts 18:26).”

“Then there are two very good reasons given for the man's authority over the woman, and her subjection to the man, Adam was first formed, then Eve; she was created for the man, and not the man for the woman (1Cor 11:9); then she was deceived, and brought the man into the transgression.”

We have to overcome our desire to be liked and to make everyone happy with our doctrines. We have clear guidance from the Bible in this case – part of the “curse” of Eve was that women were to be subject to their husbands, as the curse of Adam is for men to work hard to provide for the families that they are responsible for. However, just as women have their own curse, they have their own blessing – that of childbirth, which men can never experience. “Though in sorrow, yet she shall bring forth, and be a living mother of living children; provided they continue in faith, and charity, and holiness, with sobriety: and women, under the circumstance of child-bearing should by faith lay hold of this promise for their support in the needful time.”

The revelation that men and women are equal in Christ (Galatians 3:27-29) proclaims our equality of worth – not our duplication of assigned duties. Men are to lead, and are responsible for the actions of those they lead. Women, who have played a vital part of Christianity since the beginning, have critical roles as well – however, the office of priest or pastor is not one of them.

Redefining roles and explaining away Biblical truths based upon our current cultural norms (which are of men, not of God) may seem smart, but it is merely another example of how “the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1Co 1:25), and how we should instead ensure that “our faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Cor 2:5).

Filibuster III: The L.A. Times

As far as the DailyKos, DU, and Atrios fans go, those Bush nominees should be opposed because they are facists pigs! I wish more of those with left-leaning inclinations (that's you, Mark) would actually look at the nominees' records to decide.

Thankfully, you don't have to do the research yourself.

Jonathan Turley, a self-described "pro-choice social liberal" has done the work for you in an L.A. Times op-ed.

Quick excerpts:
"I didn't find much reason to like these nominees. However, I also found little basis for a filibuster in most cases."

"Then there is David W. McKeague, a well-regarded federal trial judge in Michigan, also nominated to the 6th Circuit. The only claim Democrats make against him is that he lacks the proper "temperament" — a term used when a politician can't find a real reason to oppose a nominee. "

"However, the test is not whether a judge has conservative or liberal views but whether he will yield to the demands of the law despite such views."


"For nine of the Republican nominees, Democratic opposition looks as principled as a drive-by shooting. In fairness, the remaining three nominees raise legitimate concerns...Hostilities should cease. Democrats disinclined toward apocalypse should confirm Brown, Griffith, Griffin, Kavanaugh, McKeague, Neilson, Pryor, Saad and Boyle. That should shame the president into withdrawing Haynes, Myers and Owen."

The Taliban is Toast

Excellent details with quotes from prominent officials and such are available over at Target Center Mass. However, I prefer the following summary:

"Dear Reuters,

That great spring offensive we’ve been threatening? Forget about it.

We took a headcount recently and decided it was time to think outside the box. Outside the killzone, actually. First, we repeatedly got our *sses handed to us on the battlefield by forces that were generally only assisted and supported by the Americans. After that series of failures swept us from our cruel, despotic rule, we bravely switched to guerrilla tactics. Okay, so our record was dismal in that, as well, and we were unable to dent the growing legitimacy of the new government or severely harm the Americans. Oh yeah, we were also getting shredded. That tends to harm morale, we admit.

Now, we have bravely decided to become the thugs and terrorists the world already knew us to be. In this, we may be able to kill more innocents while bravely saving some of our own *sses.

the Taliban"


The Decline of Suffering

I ran across this post on the issue of suffering and its decline in Western society. It's a short read, and well worth your time.

Hat Tip: A Physicist

Dems on the Filibuster

Look, we know that principled people can change their minds. However, they don't change their minds on the morality of a decision just because it now benefits their side.

Unless you happen to be some Democratic senators.

And a bonus:

In the March 7th, 2000 congressional record, Senator Chuck Schumer(D-NY) said:

"The basic issue of holding up judgeships is the issue before us, not the qualifications of judges, which we can always debate. The problem is it takes so long for us to debate those qualifications. It is an example of government not fulfilling its constitutional mandate because the President nominates, and we are charged with voting on the nominees.”

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Nuclear Option

I've commented on this on other blogs, and thought it worth my time (if not yours) to put it here.

It looks as if the Republicans in the Senate have the votes to go through with the "nuclear option".

To alleviate some of the confusion, the Republicans are not trying to end the use of the filibuster. What they are doing is trying to end its use on judicial nominees. The filibuster will always be available for use against legislation. There is an explanation of the details here.

I disagree with this course of action - only because I feel a better one is available. The filibuster, as designed, involves the minority of senators speaking constantly, on the floor, for every hour of operation in the Senate. This effectively paralyzes the legislative branch of the federal government, becuase no bills can be passed in the senate while the floor is being utilized for speaking. The filibuster rules require that 60 senators agree to a 'cloture', which terminates the discussion on the issue.

The filibuster was designed this way for one reason - so that a minority of senators could bring an issue to public attention. If the legislature is paralyzed, it is obviously for a critical reason. Two things would happen: either the public would see the wisdom of the minority party's senators and pressure those in the majority to drop the bill, or the public would see the lunacy of the minority party's government shutdown for an issue that is either wrong or at least not worthy of such attention, and would pressurre the minority party to stop the filibuster themselves (or increase the number willing to cloture). Therefore, the filibuster had a potential cost to the filibustering party. This occurred with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which had a minority of senators in opposition, who were defeated.

The current "gentleman's filibuster" requires no such government shut down. All that happens is that the minority party says, "we're filibustering this", and the issue cannot pass without 60 votes. This costs the minority party NOTHING. That is why it is used with impunity these days - most of the public doesn't know enough of the details of the nominees to have an opinion, and because nothing as drastic as government stoppage is occurring, they continue to not know, and the minority party benefits from the ignorance of the populace.

The best option is to restore the filibuster to its original state. The Democrats don't want this either, as it would expose the current lunacy. I can't figure out why the Republicans haven't already done this - it is truly a gut check for the minority party. I suspect some self-serving purpose is involved.

Since my choice will not be acted upon, I suppose the current "nuclear option" is somewhat acceptable. I just think that pretty much 100% of Americans would prefer to go with the "Team Hammer Option" instead.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

God and War II: The Individual Responsiblity of Leaders

Robert has identified a possible quandry - nations do march to war on the orders of individuals, and individuals are under the Cross. Now what?

What we must turn to are the underpinnings of the commands to turn the other cheek and to love our neighbor.

First, "turn the other cheek" is not a directed response to a physical attack intending to injure or kill. Instead, the face slap is clearly an insult, meant to provoke a physical confrontation where one may otherwise be avoided.

I personally was able to obey this command to the letter once on a Phildelphia street. A guy who I knew from school (Dion) was in a taxi with some of his pals, and some of my drunk buddies hollered at them. Dion jumped out and headed over to our group, obviously drunk and angry. I stepped in between and told him, "Dion, you need to get back in that cab with your friends". He said some drunk stuff, I repeated myself, and then he, literally, open-handed smacked me on the cheek.

What did I do? Exactly as I should - "Dion, I know who you are and will be reporting this to your supervisor" (in the lingo of my school). His eyes got big, his friends grabbed him and they got back into the cab and left. Even though he came and found me at school and asked me not to report him, I did. Why? He was wrong, and it was the job of his supervisor to figure out what, if anything, would happen to him. I didn't even check to find out.

I could have fought with him then. I was just starting my boxing career, but was better with my hands than the average bear. However, I didn't need to. Dion's blow was not meant to injure, it was meant to provoke. Thus, turning the other cheek was the right response.

But, if Dion had drawn back a fist to attack, I believe I would have been justified in ducking under the punch, and delivering a double left hook (body, head) followed by an uppercut, then stepped over his unconscious form while his friends came to get him. While Christians were fed to the lions for declaring their faith, nowhere can I find the command that said they couldn't try to fight it off.

How does that apply to the current war, or perhaps wars in general? How does it apply to our leaders?

First, regardless of what one may think of the POTUS, I think we can agree that he did not find 9-11 an insult. We can also agree that he, like us, saw it as a physical attack against the people he is sworn to lead and protect, and furthermore, an attack that was meant to kill as many as possible. This was emphatically NOT a slap in the face - it was a knife attack, skittering off of our ribs painfully. Furthermore, the assailant had made it known that he planned to continue to knife us until we were dead. The correct response was the self-defense response of one who has already received the initial attack - to take out the attacker - the Al-Queda/Taliban fight.

What about Iraq? As many are fond of saying, "Iraq never attacked us." This isn't harder to grasp because the logic is any less clear - it is harder because the corrolary of the individual situation is somewhat unrealistic. Imagine, after the knife attack and subsequent battering of our assailant, that a man stands behind the fallen attacker. He has several knives in his hand. As he stands there, other interested attackers come up to him, seeking a knife with which to stab people. He hands these knives to whomever pays the price, and the criminals head off to murder. What is our duty?

Unlike my altercation with Dion, there is no authority present to administer justice. Therefore, the perceived threat to myself, my family, and others must be dealt with in a violent fashion. Saddam Hussein was that knife seller, and needed to be dealt with in a violent fashion.

How does Jesus fit into this? "Love thy neigbor." If you need an expose of love, try Peter Kreeft, who effectively descibes the difference between what it is and what we, unfortunately, tend to think of it. In short, loving our neighbor means not only wanting the best for them, but acting in such a fashion as to help that best occur. With our kids, it means sometimes disciplining them. With our neighbors, it means we protect them when we can. For the POTUS and the U.S., Iraq is our neighbor. We want the best for her, and have done what we can to help her achieve it - by removing a despotic dictator who killed them and supported terrorists who attacked others.

In summary, President Bush has obeyed Christ in this present conflict. The command to "turn the other cheek" was not applicable, as action has not been taken in response to insults (that would be bombing Paris!), but instead to a threat of harm. Also, he has loved his neighbor by taking steps to protect those whom he is supposed to protect and aiding those whom he can aid.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Christian Carnival 65 is up!

Swing by Another Think to see this week's submissions of Christian-oriented posts. I always find a couple of real brain-workin' posts among them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Sgrena Round Up

Note: All of this information that isn't clearly my opinion was lifted almost exclusively from The Jawa Report, here, and related Jawa links that take far too long for me to load from his archives on dial-up.

It also is from my radio commentary...and so dated that they almost didn't run it.

Giuliana Sgrena would have you believe that she was an innocent victim of a terrorist kidnapping who was intentionally fired upon by US troops in an attempt to silence her ‘true knowledge of what the U.S. is doing in Iraq’. What should we think?

First, the facts as we know them. Ms. Sgrena was kidnapped while on the phone with another journalist. Exactly two weeks later a video was published featuring Ms. Sgrena begging the Italians to pull out of Iraq. Exactly one month after she was taken hostage, she was released for a payment of $6 million dollars. The night of her release her vehicle was fired upon by US troops and a bodyguard was killed.

A tragic story, to be certain. It may be useful, however, to look at some background to Ms. Sgrena. Giuliana Sgrena is a journalist for the Italian Communist daily newspaper Il Manifesto. In her writings, she has accused the US of complicity in mass murder, the use of napalm on civilians, the intentional targeting of civilians, and the torture of children. She called the US attack on the terrorist stronghold of Fallujah a ‘massacre’, while never writing about the horrible atrocities committed by the terrorists in Iraq against their own people. She implied the U.S. used nuclear weapons on Baghdad Airport. She refers to the U.S. Marines as ‘terrorists’ while calling those terrorists who behead, shoot or viciously maim their civilian victims ‘the resistance’.

It is interesting to note that the words that Sgrena used in the ‘hostage’ video are no different from what she had been saying before she was taken hostage. Her reports about her ‘captors’ are very positive. She told them to take American troops hostage instead of those who are against the war,. She was able to describe the satellite dish on the roof of her prison and watch TV. If you watch the video, it even appears that Sgrena is actually directing it!

Equally damaging are the discrepancies in Sgrena’s story about the shooting, which she claims was deliberate. She claimed that 300 to 400 shots were fired, but photos of the car show only two bullet holes, and there was only one person killed. That is roughly the same number of bullets fired at Bonnie and Clyde’s car, and they both had 50 bullets in each of their bodies – and those were not high powered military machine guns. Sgrena offers several different accounts of what happened. Her speed was claimed to be under 25 miles per hour, but so fast that they almost lost control of the car well before the gunfire. She said that they didn’t know there was a checkpoint, then later said that they did. She claimed first that no signal was ever given, then that it was, then that it was, but after the shooting.

Meanwhile, the US military story has been rock steady form the start – the car was traveling at a high rate of speed, visual signals were given to slow down, warning shots were fired, and then the troops attempted to shoot the engine block to stop the car.

When there is a discrepancy in the account of an incident between a U.S. soldier and a communist reporter who has a detailed history of anti-Americanism and a story full of holes, I will trust the soldier every time. We’ll never know why the driver didn’t stop when he was signaled to. What we can reasonably expect, is that if he believed Sgrena’s lies about the U.S. military, that he was afraid to stop. After all, if U.S. soldiers shoot journalists, you don’t stop. Since soldiers do shoot speeding oncoming vehicles that won’t stop, the vehicle with journalists was shot, thus completing the self-fulfilling prophecy. Did Sgrena plan to have her countryman shot? I don’t think so – but it sure helped the cause she was fighting for all along.

Philosophy from my Blogroll

Today, Dr. Rusty examines the traitor status of Kevin Sites from a Lockean and Hobbesian viewpoint.

Also, Ace smacks down judicial activism, in the form of law-making via the courts including foreign law (and foreign opinion, actually) into the Constitution. Check out the comments, too, for some interesting nuggets.

Finally, Carpe Bonum addresses Kantian versus Millsian (that can't be right, sorry) perspectives on moral decisions, and shows that many times the result is the same.

My radio commentary for today was so outdated, due to real life interruptions, that I am hesitant to post it. Well, if it will be on the radio, it's current for one more day. I'll do that...later.

Nice kitty.

Go to this link and click on the picture of the cute cat for some quality video footage. Well worth the 45 seconds.

Hat Tip: Eric

Monday, April 11, 2005

Theology Tuesday: God and War

“And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house. And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.”
-Judges 6:14-16

“So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.
Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night. And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah.”
-Joshua 10:7-10

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”
-The Epistle to the Hebrews, Chapter 13, Verse 8

“Christ is the same in the Old Testament day, in the gospel day, and will be so to his people for ever.”
-Matthew Henry, “Matthew Henry’s Commentary”

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
-The Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 5, Verse 9

Those who claim to be Christians are not a block – not a block of voters, and not a block of opinion on the important issues of the day. One of the issues which has us divided is the issue of war – not just the war in Iraq, and not even just over the doctrine of preemptive war. No, there are a large percentage of Christians (by which, in this post, I mean not only Christians but also those who merely profess to be) who are against any war and those who have supported every conflict in the past 20 years.

On the surface, there seems to be a dichotomy in the Bible. On one hand, we have the God who leads the Israelites through war after war with their neighbors in the Old Testament. Some of these wars are defensive, some in rebellion against an occupying force, and some are ‘preemptive’, in that they are conducted before the other nation has attacked Israel. God even uses pagan nations in war to serve His purposes – typically the punishment of Israel. On the other hand, Jesus Christ never once advocates violence of any kind. In fact, he praises the peacemakers and encourages us to turn the other cheek when insulted.

Which is it? After all, we are told in the Bible that Jesus Christ and God, is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. How can an unchanging God be both pro-war and anti-war?

The answer (not the devil) is in the details. Well, perhaps the devil is in the details, as he uses our ignorance of the details to turn us on each other. What details? Really, there is only one which concerns this difference: the place of Christianity versus the nature of God.

Christianity is not a national religion. It is not a program of instruction for businesses, nor is it a series of guidelines for nation-states. My discussion of the relation between Christ and the government is here - the crux of it is that He did not proscribe rules for the governance of a nation. Interestingly enough, what did Christ express His dissatisfaction with? The warlike Roman government? Not once. Corrupt religious leaders. Reliance upon earthly treasure. Failure to trust in Him completely. The message of Christ is salvation to the individual and the good news that it is not because of anything we do, but because of what He has done for us.

Those Christians who are against all wars ignore the infinite constancy of the Lord of Hosts. He led His people in battle and ordered them to destroy nations that did not follow His laws. While this does not justify all wars, or any war in particular, it does show that there are certainly some wars that are just. Our divisions should instead be over whether the particular one at hand is...or is not.

The Evidence Against Radical Libertarianism

I was listening to NPR the other day, and I heard some story about the EPA enforcing some standards on a business. In general, I am against the environmentalist agenda (because they make everything a crisis and do not take quality of human life into account much of the time), but out of left field, a thought hit me:

We need the EPA.

What? No way! Government regulation of business practices that a not directly related to criminal offenses? How socialist! If I am anything, I am not a socialist.

But then, I got to thinking some more - always dangerous. Earlier this year I had a great discussion with some libertarian and liberal bloggers I frequent that made me consider the libertarian position on education and a much more limited role of the government. However, when I tried to plug in the idea of environmental protection into the discussion, I couldn't see it happening.

Why not? People are lazy and selfish. I know that sounds terrible, but it's backed up by social science, psychology, and the Bible. Essentially, we do what we think benefits ourselves the most, using the least amount of resources, and focused on right now or the foreseeable future. This works against the environment in a number of ways:

1) What benefits me the most.
a) I recognize that my personal negative impact on the environment, whether it due to vehicle emissions, smoking, aerosol cans, fossil fuel spills and other such events, is infinitesimally small in the grand scheme of things. Hence, on my own, I have little motivation to not pour my oil from the oil change down the sewer, except as I feel morally bound (which as a Christian, I feel I am). Most would not feel so bound if not for laws demanding it.
b) A business is benefited the most by profits. The truth is, that very few people will buy clothes based upon the treatment of the human workers in Indonesian sweatshops - how many do you really think care if I am emitting to much carbon monoxide into the air at my factories? Even less. Hence, there is no compelling reason for me to do anything except the minimum which keeps my workers alive, the product successful and the populace from angrily destroying my plant. Thus, most environmental protections would be ignored.

2) What requires the least resources.
a) It takes a lot less effort to pour the oil down the sewer than to buy the container, seal it up, and take it to a place I can safely dispose of it.
b) Less resources used = more profits - a double whammy. Every dime I don't spend making my product and process "Earth friendly" is a gain for my company. This includes gains for the shareholders, who are the big decision makers.

3) It's all about right now.
a) Generally, we work for the reward we can see or reasonably expect to see. The personal benefits to recycling my newspaper? None.
b) While profit planning for the next 5-10 years is common, profit planning for the next 150 is non-existent. Why do we think that a company would voluntarily pursue a policy that reduces gains now for possible environmental benefits in 150 years, over even over the entire 150 years, but incrementally?

What seems clear to me is that environmental protection is a lost cause without government enforcement. Very few voters cast a ballot based upon the environment, and even less consumers spend their money based upon a company's "green" policies. As environmental protection beyond the short term disaster avoidance are anathema to profits, companies would not be environmentally friendly, in general, on their own.

I would call environmental protection a moral issue. Since I am in favor of legal enforcement of many moral issues, I have no problem with the EPA. What is strange is that those who are most supportive of environmental protection are often most against "legislating morality".

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Spirtual Growth

Sometimes, we can feel when we grow intellectually, emotionally, or spiritually. Other times, someone else sees the growth in us. Aside from those, there are those times when we discover our own growth through an unsuspected source.

I started planning my seminary time a year and a half ago - as far as what classes I would take. Since it is almost time to sign up for classes for next fall, I have had to relook my plan. The seminary has changed their program for the Master of Divinity in Pastoral Care that I am seeking. What I noticed was how the classes I was interested in have changed. It is probably best to show you what they were, and what they have become.

Before: Electives selected-
"The Apocrypha and Psuedepigrapha"
"The Psychology and Theology of Family Relationships"
"Marriage and Family Counseling"
"Cults and Minority Religions in America"
"Christian Doctrine and the Natural Sciences"

"Practical Theology of Pastoral Care"
"Ministry of Pastoral Care"
"Pastoral Care in Human Crises"
"Personal Counseling"
"Sexuality and Christian Counseling"

See the change? Aside from "Marriage and Family Counseling" (which I have taken in my Psychology Master's program now), the first set were all heavy on theology and theoretical issues. The second group is primarily oriented toward the care of those I will have the opportunity to minister to.

Don't get me wrong, I value the theological base and theoretical application of it. It just seems to me that my changing interest in the details of the theories to the application of ministry is a clear growth toward what Christ would have us be...or at least what he would have me be.

That said, if I get a chance to take "The Theology of Augustine", I will.

It's The New Style

I felt all artistic, and felt tired of seeing my blog title in all lower case, so I am jockeying things around a bit. Considering that I don't even have Photoshop or an equivalent, it's not too bad so far.

MAJOR cool points to whomever can ID my inspiration for the title...but this crowd, cool as they are, isn't likely to do it - the geek factor is too low in you all!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Chomsky Rocks

Well, the guy is really smart. His work in linguistics is superior. His contributions to developmental psychology - in the area of language development - are noteworthy.

Of course, I think his politics are worthless.

But, what rocks is that when he puts something together using his intellect and not his emotions, it shows the evidence of his intelligence.

Take, for instance, his General Propaganda Model. Guys like me think that the media is leftist because I am on the right. Of course, leftists think the media is right biased. The fact is, the media has a 'liberal' or 'Democratic' (large D) bias.

Check it out. It's worth it even if you disagree.

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Idiocy of the Public

AP Poll:New Pope Should Push for Change

You know what the change they want is:

Female Priests.

Married Priests.

Oh yeah, that would fix it...if it weren't for the numerous cases of female teachers, married and unmarried, molesting young boys.

"People" think his is a good idea because they think change is always good. The false god of "progress" is deceptive. It wasn't so good for Germany in 1933, was it?

UPDATE: John over at the Catholic Packer Fan sounds off eloquently.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Covenant

(for the sidebar)

(continued from "They Meet")

At this point, Miss Hammer and Hammertime are connected online - at least initally. After insisting that they each post pictures of themselves (we are as shallow as you, after all), they began to discuss things that are important - Christ, families, service to country, and Hammertime's Everquest addiction (I quit a month later).

We learned neat stuff. Miss Hammer learned that the Proverbs 31 woman handled the family's finances. I learned that the children of single moms aren't always a mess. She grew to like Rich Mullins, and I learned that there were still conservatives in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, er, California.

It was awesome. We learned that we agreed on the important things, but didn't share a lot of hobbies/interests. I let her know ahead of time that although I was currently a sexy pilot, I was on the road to becoming a very unsexy preacher. She let me know that she was a teacher, that she enjoyed being one, but that she'd drop it in a heartbeat to be a stay-at-home Mom.

I had read an excellent book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Just to make sure I wasn't getting roped in by someone twisting logic, I read a 'response' book to it called I Gave Dating a Chance: A Biblical Perspective to Balance the Extremes. And you know what? The 'extreme' of not dating the traditional American way was clearly correct. In fact, based upon some of the book and prayer, I proposed a very 'extreme' idea to Miss Hammer:

We should not kiss until we are announced as "Captain and Mrs. Hammer".

Does it sound crazy to you? It did to many people. What was telling was who was reacting in which way. Simply put, those who were Christians typically responded with, "That's really cool." Those who were not typically said, "That's crazy."

In fact, Miss Hammer was not down with it at first. However, after I went through my reasoning for why I thought it was a good idea, she agreed, and we made a covenant to stick to it. Perhaps it will help others to see why this is a good plan if I lay out some of our reasons.

1) Will the marriage be weaker if we don't kiss beforeheand?

Right away the lie is exposed. Obviously, if something is necessary for success, then failing to do it will lead to overall 'mission' failure. This isn't true here, but it does lead to the next question:

2) How will not kissing prevent us from getting to the wedding?

It is here that all the counter arguments arise, and are proven false:

"How will you know if he/she is right for you?"

I'm guessing that darn near 100% of divorcees kissed before they were married. It didn't help them figure it out, did it?

"What about the intimacy you'll miss out on?"

There are numerous ways to enjoy intimacy without kissing and the natural physical progression that follows. Hugging, holding hands, and far more intimate than kissing, sharing your dreams, thoughts, and feelings.

3) What is wrong with kissing before you are married?

The issue isn't what is wrong, it is what is best avoided. Physical intimacy is a kind of 'giving yourself to another'. We typically remember every person we have been physically intimate with, even if we never knew their names. What good does a married man get from the memories of other women he has been intimate with - or a married woman, for that matter?

Never mind the aforementioned natural progression of physical intimacy I mentioned before and the trouble with all of that - but if you are going to draw a line, it's a very good place to draw it. The final selling point is this - that true love involves placing the other person's purity above your own desires. Someone who loves you will be willing to wait. Someone who, deep down, seeks only their own gratification, will not. If you think it might be a good idea to save kissing for marriage, and your partner objects - are they objecting for you, or for themselves? The answer is obvious.

Lastly, the line I use, and that I recommend Dads and Moms everywhere use, is this:

"Your lips are a treasure worth keeping for your husband."

So the covenant was made to hold off on kissing until we were married...but we had to make it to that point first. As I prepared to visit Miss Hammer for the first time, it no longer seemed certain...

(next: From the DMZ to the Altar)

In Memoriam - Pope John Paul II

THE PRESIDENT: Laura and I join people across the Earth in mourning the passing of Pope John Paul II. The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd, the world has lost a champion of human freedom, and a good and faithful servant of God has been called home.

Pope John Paul II left the throne of St. Peter in the same way he ascended to it -- as a witness to the dignity of human life. In his native Poland, that witness launched a democratic revolution that swept Eastern Europe and changed the course of history. Throughout the West, John Paul's witness reminded us of our obligation to build a culture of life in which the strong protect the weak. And during the Pope's final years, his witness was made even more powerful by his daily courage in the face of illness and great suffering.

All Popes belong to the world, but Americans had special reason to love the man from Krakow. In his visits to our country, the Pope spoke of our "providential" Constitution, the self-evident truths about human dignity in our Declaration, and the "blessings of liberty" that follow from them. It is these truths, he said, that have led people all over the world to look to America with hope and respect.

Pope John Paul II was, himself, an inspiration to millions of Americans, and to so many more throughout the world. We will always remember the humble, wise and fearless priest who became one of history's great moral leaders. We're grateful to God for sending such a man, a son of Poland, who became the Bishop of Rome, and a hero for the ages.

My thoughts exactly. I look forward to finally meeting Karol Joseph Wojtyla in glory.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Is Life Valuable?

Robert, over at Libertopia posted a challenging question to the premise of the pro-life community: Is Life Valuable? He then used some Biblical passages to present the possibility that it may not be. I have included much of his commentary in my response.

Robert Writes:

Assuming that rank and file pro-lifers sincerely hold such views to be self-evident, I would like to challenge the basic premise: that life is valuable in and of it’self and ought to be protected without question. Moreover, the intrinsic value of life supercedes even the one that owns said life. Such would also apply to the life support system for an unborn fetus, namely its mother.

Agreed. That is how I view it.

In that I have a working knowledge of the Bible, I will attempt to use scripture to counter the foundational claims of those for whom life is an end in and of itself.

I had never seen this before, and was quite intrigued.

There are 66 total “books” in the Christian Bible-39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament. This is a comprehensive volume to be sure, so I’ll not recite every relevant passage. Thank goodness. I will however, select one potent bit from each section.

I would have to assume that any passage not cited but known is built upon the same assumptions and postulates as these. On we go!

First, from the older, which is well known for God’s dispensing of punishment for iniquity. But there’s the unique account of Job, about whom God declared “that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). Such a claim has not been attributed to Mrs. Schiavo, saintly though she may have been. Back to Job. The aforementioned conversation purportedly takes place between God and Satan, no less. Even a cursory reading of his trials reveals that God “sacrificed” his children, his servants, his cattle and indeed all of his possessions. To add insult to injury, his wife and his closest friends heaped criticism upon him, as though he had somehow earned such treatment. Oh, and there were those painful “boils” that afflicted his skin. The end of the tale shows that “life” was subordinate to the larger plan of the creator of it.

Right away I have an issue with this postulate. First, Robert leaves out a critical statement by God himself - (Job 2:6) "And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life." That kind of undercuts the idea, doesn't it? Job's life was so valuable, that Satan was allowed to destroy everything that Job owned and afflict his body, but not to kill Job.

Of course, Robert would (rightly so) bring us back to the point he mentioned - others were killed. Job's family and employees were killed, for, as Robert honestly puts it, "the larger plan of the creator".

The problem with this premise, that "life [is] subordinate to the larger pan of the creator" is that we are assuming that the actions of man are the moral equivalent of the actions of God. Just because God allows death to occur does not make it a just action for a man to take, hence the commandment to not murder. God can kill does not mean that man can kill.

Now a portion from the newer testament. Paul, the Apostle that is reputed to have penned 2/3 of the New Testament, wrote in his second letter to the church at Corinth, concerning the importance of terrestrial existence: “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:6-8).

The question to the house is: why do “Christians” maintain that mortal life is the most valuable aspect of existence, when the Bible clearly teaches the opposite?

I was hoping for more in this section, because it is theologically plentiful, but we'll address what we have. Robert's point here seems to be, "since mortal life is not what is most important, why do pro-lifers say it is?"

This section of St. Paul's letter was an explanation - an explanation why they were not to quit when afflicted, because they have a greater reward to come. Christians agree with Robert that mortal life is not the "most valuable aspect of existence", because the eternal spiritual salvation is. I'm not sure that it is 'opposite' of that, but what has to be clear to the reader is that this maxim only applies to those who are headed for eternal salvation. Those who are not saved are to fear death, indeed.

I would present that life is important (in this aspect) for one of two simple reasons: 1) If a person's life ends before they are saved, they go to hell. Hence, we should keep people alive as long as we are able until that is certain. 2) Those who are saved are to be at the work of getting others saved, which requires them to be alive. Hence, we should keep saved people alive as long as we can.

Some will point to Levitical Law in general and the 6th Commandment (murder not) in particular. To this I say that the failure to act (provide sustenance) cannot be reasonably construed as an action. There is no such commandment that demands the force feeding of one that is incapable of swallowing. Note that while “feeding tubes” and respirators were nonexistent in ancient times, God’s power to resurrect was…according to Biblical accounts.

I doubt Robert believes it is not murder to starve a child to death. That is exactly, "failure to act (provide sustenance)". There is also no commandment to do thousands of good things and neutral things. The fallacy of the Argument of Silence, is never a true premise.

I'm not sure how technology and God's power to resurrect fit into what is assumed by Christians to be a moral precept. Moral precepts involve the actions of men and are timeless.

The open secret really, is about abortion. Those opposed to euthanasia invariably say that it is a byproduct of Roe vs. Wade. If one were to remove the emotional component and look at the facts dispassionately, perhaps there would be less tension. Many cite the innocent nature of the “unborn” as a justification to ban all abortion. Again, the Bible contains an example of God’s dealings with innocents. [He] made a distinction between Hebrew children and the first born of Egypt on the night of Passover. Untold thousands of kids were slaughtered by the “death angel” that passed over Moses’ people (Exodus 11). Whatever Pharaoh may have been guilty of, the children had no part of it. The fact is that
God’s plan took precedence over “human life”.

This is the same argument as above - that God killed, so man can do the same. The same response as above applies.

Personally, I'm not sure that "the innocent nature of the unborn" has anything to do with it. I would never use that, myself.

In glaring contrast, pro-lifers by-and-large support the “death penalty” for those that are considered “guilty”. Quite simply, the justification for such a position flows from Levitical Law. “…you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (Exodus 21:23-24). Fairly straight forward huh?...not exactly. With the death and resurrection of Christ, came a paradigm shift. The New Testament reveals that Christ fulfilled the requirements of the Law. “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us (for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’)” (Galatians 3:13). Therefore, the law is of no effect for Christians.

My personal support for the death penalty has nothing to do with the Bible. I had a post on it some time ago, as well as the post two below this one. Essentially, my argument is from a human justice perspective. If prison sucked as bad as it does in Maricopa County, AZ, I'd oppose the death penalty.

Robert ends his Bible-based section here. Stop by and read the rest. A last line:

This may well offend the moral sensibilities of some, but I would suggest that [they] bear in mind that not everyone excepts a universal code of morality.

One's belief or acceptance of a law does not change the existence of that law. Hence, I must do what I can within my purview to ensure the laws are kept - even if that means making someone keep them who doesn't like them - no matter where they come from.