"[Jesus] knew how to transform the tissues of the human body from sickness to health and from death to life. He knew how to suspend gravity, interrupt weather patterns, and eliminate unfruitful trees without saw or ax. He only needed a word. Surely he must be amused at what Nobel prizes are awarded for today."

- Dallas Willard
Evangelicals: The Last Group It's Okay to Ridicule

I read and appreciate the work of novelist Philip Roth. But proving that intelligence doesn't preclude thoughtlessness, Roth remarks to a Guardian journalist, "[T]hat born-again Christianity is the ignorant man's version of the intellectual life."

It's always disappointing to me when intellectuals state their ignorant prejudices so boldly.

Speaking of ignorance and prejudice, the latest Entertainment Weekly includes an article (not available online) on has-been comedienne Joan Rivers, who in her act quips:

I hate Jesus freaks. They're ugly. "Jesus loves me," they say. If he loved you so much he would have given you a f***ing chin.

Sweet.

I wonder what either Roth or Rivers, both Jewish, would think of that "joke" if it were presented by a WASP comedian with "Jews" replacing "Jesus freaks" and with some other stereotypical slurs replacing the cracks about "Jesus loves me" and chins (noses, perhaps?). I don't think either one of them would find it very funny.

It would also have made headlines. But this joke didn't, because the only group/religion it's still politically correct to hate is evangelical Christianity.

How's It Going In Iraq?

Just a quick question: How's it going in Iraq?

I can predict the answer to that question based upon your politics. If you are a strong Bush supporter your answer will be something along the lines of "Well, it's difficult, but we're winning". If you are a strong Kerry supporter - do they exist? let me rephrase - if you are a strong Bush despiser your answer will be something along the lines of "It's a disaster that will haunt us for years."

Pro-war yet Anti-Bush blogger Andrew Sullivan hyperventilates daily about Iraq.

Iraq The Model (in our blogroll, btw) presents a picture of hope and resolve.

The Bush campaign presents a winning war effort and is being criticised for being too optimistic.

The Kerry campaign points to a war effort that has already failed. In fact, their latest line is that the situation is so dire that Bush has a plan to reinstate the draft after the election (this is expertly fisked by Bryon over at Slings and Arrows)

The networks present, in general, a bleak and chaotic picture.

Some fair, balanced truth would be nice. Probably impossible until after the election.

Some food for thought [hat tip: National Review's Corner]:

Did you see the big headline or watch the top-of-the-newscast story about the success of our sons and daughters in Samarra, Iraq?

Of course, you didn't.

I found mention deep in stories from The Christian Science Monitor and The Associated Press. But it took e-mails from Marine officers in Iraq to relay the importance of this positive news ? so I could tell you.

It shouldn't be this way. Yet journalism in America is broken. It has no foundation of values by which many Americans can relate and depend. The moral of this column is not about one side prevailing in news coverage on the war on terror. It's simply about fairness ? about Americans getting both sides with the same prominence.

They're not. And media emphasis on Iraq being in chaos has coincided with John Kerry making the same pitch to voters. It makes you wonder, just as we did on the authenticity of Dan Rather's reporting. And now America knows about Rather's ruse.

''Samarra is a beaming success story over here,'' writes Lt. Col Jim Rose, a Tennessee Marine whose parents live in Old Hickory. ''We were getting ready for a take-down there right after Najaf. We told the locals, 'Hey, see what happened in Najaf? Is that what you want? Cause we're coming.' It took the locals about two days to get the bad guys out.''
So tell me - have you heard much news about the success in Samarra?

Me neither.

The rest of the article is very good as well.

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I never really watched "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" when I was a kid. I mean, I remember seeing it from time to time, but it was never a regular watch like "Sesame Street" or "Electric Company." So my opinion of the show was always somewhat misinformed. And based on my limited exposure, I always found Mr. Rogers . . . well, a bit creepy. I found the whole show kinda creepy. What kind of name is Mr. McFeely (the delivery man), anyway? And couldn't he find some better puppets for the Land of Make Believe? Will somone give that ignorant King Friday a punch in the face? That dude's ig'nant!

Well, now I have kids, and they don't watch much television, but we do watch the first fifteen minutes or so of "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" every day. (Fifteen minutes or so, because it coincides with lunch time.) Now I understand the appeal.
First of all, you really have to immerse yourself in the show to fully appreciate it. If your only exposure to it is occasional, misunderstanding the tone will naturally result. But I have now, as an adult, grown to love and appreciate Mr. Rogers.

What used to sound kinda creepy and effeminate in his voice, now sounds calm and soothing and respectful. He doesn't talk down to kids. He speaks to them like their his friends, his neighbors. Even when he's explaining how something works or where he's going, and he has to dumb it down somewhat, it never sounds condescending. I also now like that he talks about feelings and sorting them out. Yesterday, Chef so-and-so came by the house upset because he had lost a cake decorating contest. This chef guy was a huge Italian dude, with a low-buttoned shirt and a gold medallion. He looked like Alex Rocco, sort of. And Mr. Rogers calmly talked him through his disappointment with not winning the contest. (The theme of the show was "Competition.") It was beautiful.

Macy's favorite part of the show is not The Land of Make Believe, believe it or not. She really likes when Mr. McFeely brings a video to watch on Picture-Picture, and it usually is some footage of how something is made in the factory. We've seen how crayons are made, how construction paper is made, how backpacks are made, how baseball caps are made, how chocolate milk is made and bottled. It's pretty cool.
Macy enjoys running around and throwing books or papers on the floor while proclaiming, "Speedy delivery!" just like Mr. McFeely. I like how Mr. McFeely always sounds in a rush, and always sort of awkward.
Her favorite "character," though, is Trolley. Didn't every kid like it when the Trolley came out and ding-dinged and went through the tunnel and all that?

I also love how the grown men and women interact with the little sock puppets in Make Believe. They talk to them like they're real people, which I suspect would be easier if you were on "Sesame Street" and the puppets were larger and had more personality and had more people operating them. But these are just some dude's hand and Mr. Rogers doing a funny voice.

My favorite part of the show is when Mr. Rogers sings. Any time. I love it. The opening number. "It's You I Like." "You Are Special." The closing number.
It's just a great show.

These thoughts were inspired by a post at Ochuk's Blog in which he appreciates the slight weirdness of the show. I agree with him on Lady Elaine Fairchild. She can be irritating sometimes, but I like how the others just suffer her gently.
Read the comments, too. I agree with one commenter in particular: Lady Aberlin is a hottie. In a retro, matronly sort of way. ;-)

I Take It Back

For awhile I've been checking out the electoral-vote.com site to get a view of the current electoral picture based on a wide range of polling data. The proprietor of the site is a Kerry supporter, but he or she has been doing a great job of staying balanced on the front page, and I'm impressed by the work. I even made a comment about " the left-leaning but painstakingly fair Electoral Vote predictor" in this post a few weeks ago.

I take it back.

As the (interminable, never-ending) election season has slogged toward its conclusion, the facade of balance on electoral-vote.com has been thinning. Not in any major way. Here and there a reference to "Haliburton", now and then a conspiracy theory about the Pentagon trying to impede the overseas absentee vote, stuff like that.

Today the page is revisiting Bush's National Guard service and Rather-gate:

By a large margin (56% to 38%) the public thinks it was an honest mistake. Only 26% think CBS should fire Dan Rather. Perhaps not surprisingly, by a 2 to 1 margin (63% to 36%), Republicans think CBS broadcast the story to make Bush look bad. By a 6 to 1 margin (82% to 13%) Democrats think it was just an honest mistake. What strikes me as the worst part of this whole story is that everyone has forgotten the real story. It is not about whether one memo was a forgery or not. It is about whether George Bush got favorable treatment (as the former Lt. Governor of Texas, Ben Barnes, has said) and whether he fulfilled his obligations to the Guard. In a court case, if one piece of evidence is invalidated, it is discarded and the judge and jury look at the rest of the evidence.
That paragraph is a doozy, no? I think I'll fisk it:

"What strikes me as the worst part of this whole story is that everyone has forgotten the real story."

What, that one of the most respected and venerable news organizations in the world got duped by a document so clumsily forged that any sane person (after perhaps two minutes of examination) could have told them that there's no way that document was produced by a TANG typewriter in the early 1970s? That CBS's "unimpeachable" source was a rabid anti-Bush whacko? That CBS rushed this document to air in support of an anti-Bush piece, after only a cursory examination by its "experts", and then when it blew up in Dan Rather's face they refused to even investigate?

"It is not about whether one memo was a forgery or not."

You're right. It's about the overall lack of journalistic integrity and competence at CBS, about whether they cooperated with Kerry operatives, and about their obvious anti-Bush bias.

"It is about whether George Bush got favorable treatment (as the former Lt. Governor of Texas, Ben Barnes, has said)"

Depends on when you asked Ben Barnes. He has changed his story several times.

Oh, and also, he's a Democrat. And involved in the Kerry campaign. You forgot to mention that.

"In a court case, if one piece of evidence is invalidated, it is discarded and the judge and jury look at the rest of the evidence."

In a court case, it is a criminal offense to introduce false evidence. False evidence is not simply "discarded" - there are laws against that (perjury, for instance).

Finally. Bush may have gotten preferential treatment. Thirty years ago. He also used to drink a lot. John Kerry did things thirty years ago - such as his testimony before Congress and his meeting in Paris with the NVA and Viet Cong - that bother me too. By the way, I did some really dumb things when I was twenty.

But we've been over this. Do the Democrats really think that if they can prove that Bush was a ne'erdowell in the early 70s that will tip the balance over to their candidate?

More on Scott Stapp

For those Creed fans interested, Southwest Florida's Herald Tribune has an interview with former Creed frontman, Scott Stapp about his rediscovery of Christianity.

'Passion' inspired Creed frontman to go solo

It sounds encouraging to me. Not just because he's famous, but because someone who was wandering seems to be finding his way back to God.

Slings And Arrows Gets Some Play!

I was just reading Jonah Goldberg's latest column. In it he mentions our Circle Of Influence fellow blogger, Bryon of Slings And Arrows.

OK, fine. But at the same time, Kerry has accused Bush of having more secret plans than SPECTRE from the James Bond movies. As the blogger Slings and Arrows has documented, Kerry has accused Bush of having secret plans to privatize Social Security, slash social services, wage nuclear war, fix oil prices at the Saudis' behest, cut VA Benefits, cut education funding, send jobs abroad, and, of course, bring back the draft. On Monday the Associated Press reported, "John Kerry told voters in America's Dairyland...that President Bush had a secret plan that would hurt milk producers after the election."
That totally goes hard! Well done, Bryon!

Unlikable

I saw John Kerry being interviewed by Diane Sawyer this morning. I only caught a few minutes of it. She questioned him about Joe Lockhart's classless "puppet" insult regarding Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi. Background: After the Prime Minister's speech in Washington last week Lockhart remarked that you could almost see the hand in Mr. Allawi's shirt moving his mouth.

Does Kerry think it was a good idea for his campaign to insult our allies?

Kerry ignored the question. He simply ignored it, and instead began attacking Bush for not telling the truth about Iraq. He did, I suppose, throw Allawi a bone by suggesting that he hopes Allawi is successful and that he hopes to "help" him be successful. But no apology for his spokesman's slur was forthcoming.

Sawyer also asked him to comment on the fact that both Germany and France have said they won't support us in Iraq even if Kerry is elected. He did better on this question, suggesting that, diplomacy being what it is, Germany and France can't say what they really mean - can't say things to help a challenger oust a sitting President. I suppose there's some truth to that, and Kerry suggested there were other kinds of help that France and Germany can (will?) provide.

That being said, being tutored on diplomacy by a man who allows his own campaign operative to slur the brave interim leader of Iraq is a bit ironic.

I am a Bush supporter. I fervently want him to win, even though I'm on record predicting a Kerry win (which, if his campaign wasn't so inept, he'd be well on the way to achieving). But this is the first time I have felt true, personal distaste for John F. Kerry (I haven't watched much TV lately and so haven't really seen him in action). After seeing him this morning I felt personal distaste for this botoxed, windsurfing spouse of a billionaire heiress with his perfectly coiffed hair, unnaturally even tan, pompous eyes and humorless visage.

He's just flat unlikable, imo. Hopefully most voters will agree with me

What Book Series Did You Devour?

When you were a kid, what book series did you devour? Here?s what I mean: When you were a young reader, was there a certain series or a certain author that you just couldn?t get enough of? So you kept going back to the school library until you had read every book in the series, or every book by that author. Here are some of the books I couldn?t get enough of:

Hardy Boys Mysteries- I read every one of the blue hardcovers that had ever been written, and most of them at least twice. Then I read quite a few of the ?new? Hardy Boys in paperback. I sure did love those books.

The Great Brain books-Series about a Mormon kid who would ?swindle? his friends and relatives. They were hilarious.

Encyclopedia Brown- Each book was a compilation of short mysteries. At the end of each, the reader was asked to solve it himself/herself, before the ending was revealed. Usually, you could solve the mystery by catching the suspect in a ?mistake?. It would go something like this: Bugs Meany said, ?I didn?t steal the trophy because I was at home watching Venus through my telescope. And Encylcopedia Brown would say, ?You couldn?t have been, because Venus wasn?t out tonight.? And Bugs was caught red-handed. The skills I learned from Encyclopedia Brown have served me well in predicting the endings of made for TV movies. I think those writers read the same books.

The Three Investigators- Alfred Hitchcock was a character/mentor to these teen-age sleuths. At the time I read these, I didn?t know who Alfred Hitchcock was.

Xanth series by Piers Anthony- One of the best fantasy series ever written, imho. There were a lot of books in this series. I also read the Incarnations of Immortality by him.

C.S. Lewis ? Chronicles of Narnia and Space Trilogy As a middle schooler I even bought Lilith by George MacDonald because the back had an endorsement by C.S. Lewis. Man, was that book boring to a 12 year old!

Fantasy like Anne McCaffrey, Terry Brooks and DragonLance

Choose Your Own Adventure- And I admit it I cheated. I would mark my place when it said, ?To go right, turn to page 35 and to go left turn to page 73?. I would go to 73, and if I died there, I would go backtrack to 35.

What book series did you pursue and devour when you were young? Click on Comments and tell us.

Is It Arrogant To Try To Convert Others To Christianity?

Jesus told his followers,

?Go and make disciples of all nations??
What Christ has called us to do is to tell others about him. The goal is not to ?convert others to our religion.? Our primary goal shouldn?t be to make someone a member of our denomination or even of our church (though all should be welcome). Rather an essential part of what it means to be a follower of Christ is to tell others about him so that we can introduce fellow human beings to Jesus. We should let people know that there is a God who created us and loved us and became like us so that we might become like him.

Christians are supposed to tell others about Jesus in hopes that the whole world might worship him. But is it arrogant for us to do so? I think that depends on attitude. Sometimes Christians are accused of arrogance because they think that their way is the only way. This is a misunderstanding. We believe that Jesus is the only way because he said so. ?I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me? (John 14:6). So you see, this idea does not come from personal pride, but from the teachings of the one we follow.

Are some Christians arrogant? Sure, but this is in disobedience to Christ who taught us to be humble. Our motivation for sharing Christ should not be pride. As humans, we all love to be right. But as Christians, we should not tell others about Jesus so that we can lord it over others. In fact, our attitude should be like that of the pastor who once said, ?I?m just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.? If we, on this road of life, have found the way home, shouldn?t we tell others how to get home too? Not giving a lost person directions is in fact selfish. It would be easy for us as Christians to live our lives praying, going to church, doing the best we can and ignoring the lost people all around us. But I think this is the wrong attitude because it is so self-centered.

Something else we need to be careful of is thinking that by converting others we somehow obtain salvation.
"For it is by grace (unmerited favor) you have been saved, through faith (trust) - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
We cannot obtain God?s favor by any work that we do. God does not require us to convert a certain amount of people to enter heaven. We enter heaven based on Christ?s work alone. To believe that salvation is dependent on converting others is to misunderstand the teachings of Scripture. Rather, our motivation for telling others about Jesus ought to be love: love for God so that we obey him, and love for others so that we want them to have a restored relationship with their Creator.

Ultimately, it is not about religion, it?s about relationship. God doesn?t want your religious works, he wants you.
?With what shall I come before the LORD?? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:6a,8).

Don?t All Religions Teach Basically The Same Thing?

By religion, I mean major belief systems such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Hinduism, etc... Here we are talking about religions, not denominations. (A denomination is the term that describes different movements within Christianity.) The original intent of the idea that "all religions teach basically the same thing" was peace. The thinking was that if we can get people to see that they all believe basically the same thing perhaps they will all get along. The intention is good, but the premise is false. People fight because of sinfulness and pride, not because of just because of different beliefs.

The common analogy of this idea is that God (or Divine truth) is at the top of a mountain, and that different religions are simply different paths up the same mountain that will all eventually reach the same god. And so the idea is that it doesn?t matter what path you pursue, as long as you pick one and are faithful to that one. There are two major problems with that.

iThe first problem is that making it look like all religions are basically the same means boiling them down to the lowest common denominator. By doing this you strip each religion of what its own adherents see as essential. In other words, you change the very teachings and beliefs of that religion so that it doesn?t look like itself anymore. This is silly and patently dishonest.

The second problem with this idea is that it defies a basic rule of logic- the law of non-contradiction. Simply stated, the law of non-contradiction reminds us that two opposing ideas cannot both be true at the same time and in the same way. Different religions contradict each other directly. These contradictory ideas cannot all be true at the same time. For example, Buddhism denies the existence of a personal God and Christianity affirms it. How can something exist and not exist at the same time? It?s a logical impossibility. Some religions affirm reincarnation and Christianity denies it. You can?t have it both ways. Either something is true or it isn?t. Hinduism claims there are many gods and Islam claims there is no god but Allah. They cannot both be right.

Jesus himself said,

?I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.? (John 14:6).
Acts 4:12 says ?Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.?
One cannot claim to follow Jesus and another religion at the same time. Following another religion excludes you from being a follower of Jesus according to his own words.

Now all this doesn?t mean that we can?t ?get along.? We should of course be tolerant of other ideas and allow people the freedom to disagree. We should protect the right of people to follow their religious convictions without fear of persecution. However, we are also free to disagree with others and to debate religious truth in public forums. Equal tolerance and freedom of expression under the law is not the same thing as saying that all ideas are equally true. Christians should be prepared to tell people what they believe and why, with an attitude of love and respect.
?But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect? (1 Peter 3:15).

Allawi Standing Firm

Below is an excerpt of Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Sept. 23, 2004 address before a join session of Congress (you can read the entire speech here)

We Iraqis are grateful to you, America, for your leadership and your sacrifice for our liberation and our opportunity to start anew. Third, I stand here today as the prime minister of a country emerging finally from dark ages of violence, aggression, corruption and greed. Like almost every Iraqi, I have many friends who were murdered, tortured or raped by the regime of Saddam Hussein. Well over a million Iraqis were murdered or are missing. We estimate at least 300,000 in mass graves, which stand as monuments to the inhumanity of Saddam's regime. Thousands of my Kurdish brothers and sisters were gassed to death by Saddam's chemical weapons. Millions more like me were driven into exile. Even in exile, as I myself can vouch, we were not safe from Saddam. And as we lived under tyranny at home, so our neighbors lived in fear of Iraq's aggression and brutality. Reckless wars, use of weapons of mass destruction, the needless loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and the financing and exporting of terrorism ? these were Saddam's legacy to the world. My friends, today we are better off, you are better off, and the world is better off without Saddam Hussein. (APPLAUSE) Your decision to go to war in Iraq was not an easy one but it was the right one.

There are no words that can express the debt of gratitude that future generations of Iraqis will owe to Americans. It would have been easy to have turned your back on our plight, but this is not the tradition of this great country, nor the first time in history you stood up with your allies for freedom and democracy. Ladies and gentlemen, I particularly want to thank you in the United States Congress for your brave vote in 2002 to authorize American men and women to go to war to liberate my country, because you realized what was at stake. And I want to thank you for your continued commitment last year when you voted to grant Iraq a generous reconstruction and security funding package. I have met many of you last year and [a half] in Iraq. It's a tribute to your commitment to our country that you have come to see firsthand the challenges and the progress we have and we are making. Ladies and gentlemen, the costs now have been high. As we have lost our loved ones in this struggle, so have you. As we have mourned, so have you.

This is a bitter price of combating tyranny and terror. Our hearts go to the families, every American who has given his or her life and every American who has been wounded to help us in our struggle. Now we are determined to honor your confidence and sacrifice by putting into practice in Iraq the values of liberty and democracy, which are so dear to you and which have triumphed over tyranny across our world. (APPLAUSE) Creating a democratic, prosperous, and stable nation, where differences are respected, human rights protected, and which lives in peace with itself and its neighbor, is our highest priority, our sternest challenge and our greatest goal. It is a vision, I assure you, shared by the vast majority of the Iraqi people. But there are the tiny minority who despise the very ideas of liberty, of peace, of tolerance, and who will kill anyone, destroy anything, to prevent Iraq and its people from achieving this goal. Among them are those who nurse fantasies of the former regime returning to power. There are fanatics who seek to impose a perverted vision of Islam in which the face of Allah cannot be seen. And there are terrorists, including many from outside Iraq, who seek to make our country the main battleground against freedom, democracy, and civilization.

For the struggle in Iraq today is not about the future of Iraq only. It's about the worldwide war between those who want to live in peace and freedom, and terrorists. Terrorists strike indiscriminately at soldiers, at civilians, as they did so tragically on 9/11 in America, and as they did in Spain and Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia, in my country and many others. So in Iraq we confront both, insurgency and the global war on terror with their destructive forces sometimes overlapping. These killers may be just a tiny fraction of our 27-million population, but with their guns and their suicide bombs to intimidate and to frighten all the people of Iraq, I can tell you today, they will not succeed.

Comfort Food

I think that it was my good friend, Thinkling Michael Asbell, who introduced me to the term Comfort Food. I haven't looked it up, but according to the best of my understanding, and my current definition Comfort Food is food that you enjoy not just for the taste, but also the good memories associated with it. In other words, the reason you like a particular Comfort Food is not just because of its taste, but also because of its sentimental value. Perhaps a certain loved one (MOM!) used to fix it for you. Or perhaps this food brings back fond memories. Comfort Food pleases the heart at least as much as it pleases the palate. What's yours?

Please click on comments and tell us the food, and if you can, the reason why. I'll put mine there as well.

Linking Park

Here are some music notes for those interested.

Macphisto.net has posted lyrics to U2's new single Vertigo. I'm eagerly anticipating the new album.

MTV News has a nice little feature about Switchfoot's new single Dare You To Move here. I don't know if it would make me quit my job, but it is a pretty cool song with good lyrics.

Apparently rock band 12 Stones (featuring the guy who 'rapped' on Evanescence's big hit Bring Me To Life) is having it's album pulled from some Christian bookstores over some "bad" language in the liner notes. Color me cynical but I smell a publicity stunt on the part of the Wind-Up label and/or the band. It worked for Evanescence, why not 12 Stones (never mind the fact that 12 Stones' songs are far inferior to Evanescence's IMO).

On a metal note, >here is a fun little article about how metal's madmen (including Megadeth frontman - and now a Christian - Dave Mustaine) have mellowed. Mustaine has some anger issues but he seems to be headed the right direction.

Article links via Mark Joseph's Rock Rebel site.

What If Time Travel Were Possible?

I really enjoy books and movies about Time Travel. Have you noticed that there seems to be two sets of rules about Time Travel?

Rule 1 ? You can travel back in time and change the past as much as you want. When you do so, it will change the future. Here the timeline is fluid. Examples: Back To The Future, Star Trek. For sake of discussion: You go back in time and prevent something bad from happening, like a fatal car accident. Of course, sometimes you find out that by preventing that accident you caused something far worse? like allowing someone worse than Hitler to live, who should have died in the accident.

Rule 2- You can travel back in time, and try as hard as you want to change the past. But everything you do will turn out to be just as it occurred. In other words, your time travel antics are a permanent part of the timeline. Here the timeline is static. Example: 12 Monkeys. For sake of discussion: You go back and try to prevent the fatal accident, but only find that the role you play either causes the accident, or you are somehow prevented from changing anything. And everything you do back then was as it happened originally, even if you didn?t know it.

I have seen a sort of combo position. In The Time Machine (2002), the professor, played by Guy Pierce discovers that each attempt by him to change a past event, still reaches the same result just in a different way. It seems here that what is supposed to happen is going to happen, in spite of us.

What drives me crazy is when movies or books violate their own rules. I hate it when a Time Travel story wants to have it both ways ? Sometimes what is in the current timeline was caused by the character's future time travel (rule 2), but then they are able to change it. (Rule 1). The movie Timeline did this big time.

If time travel were possible, I tend to lean towards Rule 2. Why? Because of the following adage ?

?You can?t go back in time to meet yourself, because you would remember having met yourself before.?
I think in order for time travel to be possible at all, the timeline would have to be static. If you were to travel back in time to ?change? something, you would find out that you were part of the original event somehow, or you will be prevented from changing it. Or to put it another way: if it hasn't already happened, it won't.

What do you think?

Conduct Unbecoming A Potential American President

Beside the destructive and insulting labelling of our allies - like Britain and Australia, for instance - as the "coalition of the coerced and the bribed", John Kerry's campaign has been active in Australia, trying to convince U.S. citizens there to vote for Kerry. The reason they should vote for Kerry? Because supporting the current U.S. Government makes them bigger targets for terrorism.

As noted in the latest Krauthammer column, John Kerry's sister Diana, who is the leader of Americans Overseas for Kerry, has stated that "[W]e are endangering the Australians now by this wanton disregard for international law and multilateral channels." Not only does this undermine support for President Bush, it undermines support for Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who is in a tight race (elections to be held on October 9th) against Labor Party leader Mark Latham. This situation is reminiscent of what happened in Spain earlier this year, as Latham has pledged to withdraw Australian soldiers from Iraq.

This is a critical election not only for Australia but also for the United States. Think of the effect on America, its front-line soldiers and its coalition partners if one of its closest allies turns tail and runs.

The terrorists are well aware of this potential effect. Everyone knows about the train bombings in Madrid that succeeded in bringing down a pro-American government and led to Spain's precipitous withdrawal from Iraq. But few here noticed that this month's car bombing in Jakarta, Indonesia, was designed to have precisely the same effect.

Where was the bomb set off? At the Australian Embassy. When was it set off? Just weeks before the Australian election and just three days before the only televised debate between Howard and Latham.

The terrorists' objective is to intimidate all countries allied with America. Make them bleed and tell them this is the price they pay for being a U.S. ally. The implication is obvious: Abandon America and buy your safety.
Regarding Diana Kerry's remarks, Krauthammer continues:
She is, of course, merely echoing her brother, who, at a time when allies have shown great political courage in facing down both terrorists and domestic opposition for their assistance to the United States in Iraq, calls these allies the "coalition of the coerced and the bribed."

This snide and reckless put-down more than undermines our best friends abroad. It demonstrates the cynicism of Kerry's promise to broaden our coalition in Iraq. If this is how Kerry repays America's closest allies -- ridiculing the likes of Tony Blair and John Howard -- who does he think is going to step up tomorrow to be America's friend?

The only thing that distinguishes Kerry's Iraq proposals from Bush's is his promise to deploy his unique, near-mystical ability to bring in new allies to fight and pay for the war in Iraq -- to "make Iraq the world's responsibility" and get others to "share the burden," as he said this week at New York University.
Is actively supporting efforts to reduce the coalition in Iraq a smart, moral, or - can I say it - patriotic thing to do? How important is winning this election to Kerry that he will undermine and ridicule our staunchest allies? Who does he expect will support him internationally the next time the chips are down (as they will be) if he is elected? France and Germany?

I have no respect for this tactic on the part of the Democratic candidate.

[Hat tip: National Review's Corner]

"Unhinged From Reality"

When the prime minister of a country that we have liberated comes to the United States to publicly thank us and to present an optimistic yet realistic overview of where that country is and where it's going, how does the DNC respond? With disdain. Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi visited our country this week and John Kerry responded by insinuating that Allawi was painting too rosy of a picture. Other DNC operatives cracked that President Bush is "unhinged from reality".

Classless.

The Democrats may win this year, although I fervently hope not. But if they do, it will be the first time that I know of that a party has been identified strictly by what it is against, what it is pessimistic about. The Democratic party is against Bush. It is pessimistic about the future. The chosen image of the Iraqi war for Democrats is the image of one of our brave soldiers sinking in quicksand, hands up in surrender. I say this not with passion, but because I believe it to be the truth: Democrats are the party of losers, and history is going to leave them behind. I firmly believe that, and long ago realized that I can't throw my lot in with this bunch. The modern Democratic party: too fat, lazy and uninspired to take a firm position, too pessimistic about the future to ever really win, no longer passionate about human rights. They appear to desire one thing - power. For what purpose?

But I digress. Here is commentary related to the current conditions in Iraq - a portion of which is excerpted below:

During Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi's Rose Garden appearance Thursday, President Bush referred to public-opinion polls in Iraq to make a point about how things are going. "I saw a poll that said the right track/wrong track in Iraq was better than here in America," he said, prompting Kerry spokesman Joe Lockhart to claim that the president had become "unhinged from reality." I found Lockhart's comment odd. It strikes me that polling data are a better reflection of conditions on the ground in Iraq than, say, Democratic talking points. Lately I have been looking over the results of two Iraq polls released in July and August, conducted by the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the Independent Institute for Administrative and Civil Society Studies (IIACCS). They are scientifically conducted polls with large sample sizes and low margins of error. The results are extremely detailed, and fascinating reading.

The datum for which the president courted Lockhart's ire was the response to the question, "Do you feel that Iraq is generally heading in the right direction or the wrong direction?" In July, 51 percent said right direction, 31 percent said wrong direction. An Annenburg survey from that same period in the United States did in fact show almost the opposite result (37 percent right track, 55 percent wrong track), as the president rightly observed. Thus, contrary to Lockhart's assertion, the president was well grounded in reality, very strongly hinged. Incidentally, of those who said Iraq is on the wrong track, only 5 percent said it is because of unemployment, which tends to undercut John Kerry's model of an insurgency being fuelled by the angry unemployed. He stated Monday that unemployment in Iraq is over 50 percent, and Al Jazeera reported in August that the rate was 70 percent. But polling over the summer showed unemployment typically in the teens. The nationwide figures were 14.1 percent in June, 13.8 percent in July, and just under 12 percent in August. There are of course regional variations; for example unemployment in the southern city of Umara was 35 percent in June (dropping to 25 percent in July) ? but in Baghdad the unemployment rate was below the national average (12 percent in June and 9 percent in July). In Najaf the July rate was under 9 percent. Rates that high are nothing to crow about by our standards, but they make more sense than Kerry's inflated figures. Also worthy of note is the finding that average household monthly income increased 72 percent from October 2003 to June 2004, according to surveys conducted by Oxford Research International.

Levels of satisfaction in Iraq varied by region. Among the Kurds, 85 percent think life has improved since the fall of Saddam. In the Mid-Euphrates region and the south, 52 percent are more satisfied. In Baghdad there was a three-way split between better, worse, and don't know. And in the Sunni Triangle only 12 percent think things have gotten better, understandable given both the fact that they had enjoyed special privileges under Saddam, and those who are now denied those privileges are making life difficult for everybody. Naturally, the security situation is on people's minds. Around 70 percent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the statements, "Life today is full of uncertainty" and "I am afraid for myself and my family." However, there were similar high scores agreeing to the statement "I am hopeful for the future," and the highest scoring statement of all was "I think things will slowly get better." Responses to these questions showed the same regional dynamics, with the Kurds being the most hopeful, but even in the Sunni areas a plurality (42.5 percent) believed things would get better, against only 29.2 percent thinking they would get worse. When Iraqis were asked what issues concerned them the most, crime ranked as the number one initial response, at 39 percent. The insurgency ranked fifth at only 6 percent. This focus on reducing crime ties in to a general result I noted citing polls in my last NRO piece, that the Iraqi police are the most respected group in the country. There is broad approval (in the 60-percent range across the board) for the government, judges, the police, the army, and national guard. Sixty-two percent rated the interim government as either very or somewhat effective, and sixty-six percent placed Prime Minister Allawi in the same category.

People Unclear on the Concept?

Contrary to Kerry and the complicit mainstream media, not all Iraqis support the "insurgents" and resent the U.S. Here's a report from Iraq the Model:

A group of Iraqi citizens in Al Karkh/ Khidr Al Yas arrested 6 Syrian terrorists who placed a land mine at the gate of Bab Al Mu?a dam bridge from Al Karkh side.

According to New Sabah newspaper, after a road side bomb exploded missing an American convoy that was patrolling in the area, a group of citizens who happened to be there noticed a bunch of young men who looked foreigners (turned out to be Syrians) that were gathering near the place and that looked suspicious. The citizens found their atittude very suspicious and they were not from the area, so they jumped on them and kicked them until some of them started to bleed and then turned them on to the American forces. Eyewitnesses said that the citizens were shouting ?Terrorists. You are targeting our children and families. You are killing our youths?

This incident that took place near Haifa street comes after many attacks that terrorist Arabs were accused of carrying against American forces and Iraqi police stations.

Poor, dumb Iraqis. Don't they know these terrorists are just trying to help them? Don't they know they're supposed to support these "insurgents" in their murder of other Iraqis and of U.S. troops and of American civilians just trying to lend a hand? What a bunch of morons that they don't know which side the good guys are on!

Here's another guy at a rally protesting the genocide in Darfur who apparently didn't get the memo regarding Bush being a fascist like Hitler (or something):

Silly man doesn't know Bush is a dimwitted cowboy who just wants to rule the world.

(Photo by Thomas Calandrella.)

Playing Games With God

Jared's last comment (24) in the Why? post has me thinking about the excuses that we make when we choose to sin. For the last several weeks I have been facilitating a study by Dr. James MacDonald titled, "I Really Want to Change. . .So Help Me God."

In lesson 4, Dr. MacDonald talks about our excuses.

For too long, you've tried to deceive yourself into thinking that you're still OK when you choose to sin. What's your favorite line?


  • 'Just this once, I can handle this.'


  • 'I'll hide it, I'll cover it; no one will know.'


  • 'Everybody else is doing it.'


  • 'It can't be wrong if it feels so right.'


  • 'I'll just do it, then ask God to forgive me.'


  • . . . true repentance is the first step in breaking the vicious cycle of sin, then confess, try again; sin-confess, try again, always promising God to change but seldom really experiencing victory.


    Dr. MacDonald goes on in the lesson to relay a story of a Christian man who decided to get an unbiblical divorce. When Dr. MacDonald told him the reasons for his divorce were unbiblical the man said, "I'm going to go ahead and get the divorce. I'll ask God to forgive me later".

    Why do we play games with God? I can't imagine any scenario that would cause me to divorce my wife - but in my flesh I sometimes play games with God in the "little" sins. In times of sin, 'I'll just do it, then ask God to forgive me', is my primary excuse. I pray that I can see all of my sin the way God sees sin and that the resulting grief will lead me to true repentance in those areas.

    2 Corinthians 7:9 - 10
    As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting; for you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death.


    Do you play games with God?

    And If Money Causes Satisfaction, What's Up With Britney Spears?

    This doesn't bode well for the queen of pop. Evidently she's not technically married (it was a stunt), although the official, lower-key wedding will occur next month.

    Fights over the prenup when the wedding cake is still being frosted seem to point toward a short and unhappy matrimony:

    Us Weekly said Spears' prenup caused the "technical" delay, as Federline was "unhappy with how much he stood to gain if the marriage dissolved."

    The prenup gives Federline only "$300,000 a year for exactly half the tenure of their marriage" ? a pittance, considering Spears' $32 million bank account.

    Other bombshells in the document, according to the magazine, include:

    * "Britney shall have no financial obligation to contribute to the support of [Federline's] two children."

    * Any gift worth more than $10,000 either gives the other "requires a legal document [stating] who will own it if they split."

    * Should they split, Federline is not allowed to kiss and tell.

    Oddly, the prenup also states Spears "represents to her knowledge she is not pregnant."
    And, of course. . .
    As first reported by The Post, Spears initially did not even want a prenup, saying she and Federline were so in love she didn't need one.

    But after pressure from her mother, father, manager Larry Rudolph, lawyers and Jive Record executives, Spears agreed to have a one drawn up.

    Federline, who was so broke in July his car was repossessed, apparently didn't take the news so well.

    This Seems Backwards

    Poll: Having Money Helps With Satisfaction

    By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer

    WASHINGTON - Money may not buy happiness, but for many people it apparently puts a down payment on satisfaction.

    People who make more than $75,000 a year are far more likely than those who make $25,000 or less to say are "very satisfied" with their lives ? 56 percent of the higher-income group compared with 24 percent of the lower-income group, according to Associated Press polling.
    Well, yeah. But - like most polls - the premise here needs to be examined a bit. Perhaps they have their cause and effect backwards.

    Sure, having enough money to make ends meet and then some is nice. But perhaps the conditions, life experiences, and natural gifts/talents that provide someone with the wherewithal to earn a decent living also boost satisfaction. Perhaps those who are satisfied and content with life have a more "can-do" attitude in the first place, thus making them better earners.

    Polls like this bug me :-)


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