Friday, February 11, 2005

Jonah Goldberg: Chilling For Thee, But Not For Me

Jonah Goldberg (archive)
February 11, 2005

If you're a liberal who's still moping like a dog whose food bowl has been moved, thanks to all the conservative victories of late, I have some words of encouragement for you: You guys are still way, way smarter than us about some things.

Consider the current flap about Ward Churchill and the recent one about Harvard President Larry Summers.

Ward Churchill, as you've probably heard, is a tenured professor of "ethnic studies" at the University of Colorado. Until recently he was the chairman of the department. When invited to another school to give a talk, it came out that he had written an essay comparing the civilian victims of 9/11 to "little Eichmanns." This was a reference to Adolf Eichmann, the chief architect of the Holocaust.

Known for making factually unencumbered statements about the evils of America, Churchill recently gave an interview in which he said he wanted the "U.S. off the planet. Out of existence altogether." He thinks "more 9/11s" are necessary. He holds no Ph.D., and his scholarship - for want of a better word - is under relentless attack. Before the current kerfuffle, he'd attained whatever prominence he had by pretending he was an American Indian radical. He likes to pose with assault rifles. The Rocky Mountain News did a genealogical search of Churchill's past and found that he's basically a vanilla white guy playing Indian and enriching himself in the process. The American Indian Movement called Churchill a fraud years ago.

OK, flash back to the hysteria over Larry Summers. By now his auto da fé is old news. But let's recap. One of the most respected economists in America, president of Harvard University, and the former Secretary of the Treasury, Summers was invited to a closed-door, off-the-record academic conference at which everyone was encouraged to think unconventionally. Warning his audience several times that he was going to be deliberately "provocative," he suggested that there might be some innate cognitive differences between men and women.

This is not a controversial hypothesis in macroeconomics, and it is losing its taboo status in psychology, genetics and neuroscience. Thousands of peer-reviewed academic papers have been written on the differences between men and woman when it comes to various cognitive functions. Note I said "differences." Superiority and inferiority don't play into it, and Summers never said otherwise. Indeed, he ventured this hypothesis, after showing his obeisance to the more politically correct explanations: discrimination, not enough effort to recruit women, etc., etc.

So what was the reaction?

An MIT feminist biologist - who moonlights as a feminist activist - quickly got the vapors and stormed out of the room for fear of fainting. If she stayed any longer, she explained, she'd vomit. Derrick Jackson of the Boston Globe compared Summers to people who cavalierly bandy about the N-word or who thoughtlessly wear swastikas. One hundred members of the Harvard faculty drafted a letter demanding that he apologize. The National Organization for Women demanded that he resign.

The dean of engineering at the University of Washington called his comments "an intellectual tsunami." Since the Asian catastrophe had only just transpired, the tastelessness of the metaphor may not be as apparent now as it was then. Regardless, if his comments were a tsunami, Summers' critics have certainly cashed in on disaster relief effort.

Forced to apologize over and over, Summers was then bullied into appointing not one but two new "task forces" on gender equity. Staffed with 22 women and five men, the task forces will no doubt discover that much more work needs to be done and that Summers should apologize more.

In the Summers affair, free speech and academic freedom barely came up, except among a few conservative commentators and one or two academics who were already known for their political incorrectness. Instead, Summers was a pinata to be bashed for material rewards and to send the message that some subjects are simply taboo even among serious scholars, no matter what the evidence, in closed-door, off-the-record meetings.

Meanwhile, Ward Churchill, whose scholarship is a joke, whose evidence is tendentious at best, and who called the victims of 9/11 the moral equivalent of a man who sent babies to the gas chambers, is a hero of free speech. He has refused to apologize. Many conservatives are forced to defend free speech and "diversity" in academia while liberals let the NOWers feed on Summers' flesh.

Liberals may despise what Churchill said, but it's a matter of principle now. The normally insightful and fair Mort Kondracke declared on Fox News, "I really think it's useful for universities to have people like this around, to show students and the rest of us just how odious some of the ideas of the far left are." Would Kondracke punt on a professor who endorsed slavery? I somehow doubt it.

Hopefully - and, I think, probably - someone will find enough academic fraud to fire Churchill for cause. No doubt, we'll hear from many on the left about the "chilling effect" such a move would have on "academic freedom," and many conservatives will clear their throats in embarrassment. You really have to marvel how the other side has mastered this game.

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online, a member group.
©2005 Tribune Media Services
Contact Jonah Goldberg Read Goldberg's biography

Touchstone Magazine: "About Lent" & "Ash Wednesday- An Observation"

From the "Mere Comments" section of Touchstone Magazine's website:

About Lent

The word “Lent,” now associated exclusively with the observance of the liturgical year, originally meant “spring” and had no directly religious significance. In English usage, however, its reference was gradually limited to the season of preparation for Pascha, a season that does, in fact, coincide with spring.

In languages dependent on Latin, the word for Lent is some variant of “forty,” derived from the Latin quadragesimale. This is a period of forty days of fasting in imitation of the Lord himself, who observed exactly that length of time in fasting prior to the beginning of his earthly ministry. Lent is also associated with the forty day fasts of Moses, on Mount Sinai, and of Elijah, as he journeyed to that same mountain. Doubtless it was this combination of Jesus, Moses, and Elijah together on the mountain of Transfiguration that prompted many believers to read that Gospel story near the beginning of Lent.

As early as the second century we already find Pascha being the preferred time for the baptism of new Christians. The reasons for this preference are pretty obvious. It is in the Sacrament of Baptism, after all, that Christians are mystically buried and rise with Christ (cf. Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12). Baptism is intrinsically Paschal.

Modern Christians, many not overly fond of fasting, may wonder why a period of fasting should precede Baptism. The reason was obvious to the ancients. After all, even the Apostle Paul prayed and fasted for 3 days prior to being baptized (Acts 9:9,11,18). In The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (Didache), a work from Syria to be dated before A.D. 100, there is the prescription that says: “Prior to Baptism, both he who is baptizing and he who is being baptized should fast, along with any others who can. And be sure that the one who is to be baptized fasts for one or two days beforehand” (7.4). One notes in this context that this fasting is a sort of joint or community effort, involving more than the personal devotion of the one being baptized. This was definitely not a “private fast.”

That communal aspect of the pre-baptismal fasting is even clearer in another text written a half-century or so later. Crafting a defense of the Christians to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the Christian apologist Justin described how newcomers to the faith went about getting themselves baptized: “As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their past sins, while we pray and fast with them. Then they are brought by us to where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated” (First Apology 61). Composed in Rome, this text also proves that the pre-baptismal fast by Christian congregations was not a practice limited to Syria.

Indeed, within the next half-century we find that discipline referred to in North Africa. In chapter 20 of his treatise On Baptism, the Christian apologist Tertullian remarked: “They who are about to be baptized ought to pray with repeated prayers, fasts and bending of the knee, and vigils all the night through, along with the confession of all their prior sins.” He does not explicitly say that the fasting period should last forty days, but he does explicitly link it to the forty-day fast of Jesus recorded in the Gospels.

Gradually, however, the Christian Church did settle on a period of 40 days, and the custom was so firmly in place by the year 325 that the Council of Nicaea, the same council that definitively fixed the canon of the New Testament, also determined that the forty days preceding Easter should be a special time of prayer and fasting in preparation for the baptisms to be done on that day. Such were the origins of the season of Lent, which Christians from the 4th century onwards were very convinced were rooted in the time and teaching of the Apostles themselves.

The fasting observed during this season is not, needless to say, total. Over the centuries it especially came to mean simply a tougher, more disciplined diet, excluding more ‘substantial’ foods like meat and dairy products. Such fasting is accompanied by other practices of restraint, to encourage concentration on the things of God and the health of the soul, such as prayer and the study of Holy Scripture.

The Editors: For a daily meditation on Scripture that will aid your Lenten observance, see Patrick Henry Reardon’s Daily Reflections. Reardon is also the editor of our Daily Devotional Guide, a quarterly publication.

Posted by Patrick Henry Reardon at 01:18 PM Permalink TrackBack (0)
February 09, 2005
Ash Wednesday: An Observation

In the evening, I take two buses, a subway, and one train, traversing the northwest side of Chicago to its downtown “loop” and then out to our home in the city’s far western suburbs.

Tonight’s commute was a revelation. Everywhere I turned, there were men and women with ashes on their foreheads. Not discreet, barely-visible smears, mind you. With few exceptions, these marks were in dark, fat, no-doubt-about-it crosses. I also walk for several blocks in the city and I’m not exaggerating: tonight about one in four people bore the sign.

For the briefest moment, I was elated by what the beginning of the Lenten fast had brought to the surface. Surrounded am I by a cloud of witnesses! And at half past five o’clock those I saw weren’t all who had or would attend a ritual of ash imposition and solemn prayers. They certainly didn’t represent all those who profess faith in Christ.

Then it hit me: How, in the Sam Hill, have we achieved our present culture while this many leaders and professionals identify with Christ to the point of going to a church and having embers signed on their pates as a reminder that they are “but dust”?

How is it possible that we could countenance—to instance our nation’s defining hardness of heart—the murder of unborn children at the mountainous rate we do, with so many walking around tonight bearing a mark from a holy community whose Lord counts those who but lead little ones astray worthy of the equivalent of cement shoes and a toss in the Chicago River? What punishment awaits those who take their lives?

And another question: What are these ministers and priests teaching all of these ash bearers?

In Revelation, a messenger of God tells the four angels charged with executing judgments on the earth to wait until the forehead of every servant of Christ has been sealed. I fear there would not be nearly as many folks with a mark on their temple this evening if they had to wait for one from the angelic sealers.

“This people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
“‘Yet even now’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.’”

“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”

For a look at how the message of Ash Wednesday can help remedy our culture’s death denial and guilt denial (bad things, by the way), please see Robert Hart’s Remember, O Man from the March 2002 edition of Touchstone.

Posted by Kenneth Tanner at 05:10 PM Permalink TrackBack (1)

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Debbie Schlussel: Jihad on Fox's "24"

By Debbie Schlussel
February 10, 2005

It was too good to be true.

FOX’s “24” is the most exciting show on TV, this season. Action. Adventure. And it actually tells the truth about Islamic terrorists.
They are here on our shores, pretending to be loyal Americans, and they are plotting to take over our country. With the help of plenty of complicit Muslim-Americans, working for the government and government contractors.

Unfortunately, 9/11 wasn’t enough to prove that to many Americans. Way too many Americans—especially the ones deciding what we see on the big and small screens.
Take Suhail Khan, who was the Bush White House’s director of Muslim Outreach. His father, Mahboob Khan, brought Al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri into the United States and into his mosque, twice in the mid-to-late ‘90s, to raise money for Al-Qaeda. Suhail Khan invited anti-American terrorists, like indicted Islamic Jihad chief Sami Al-Arian, into the White House to meet with the President.

But a “West Wing” episode written about Khan was laudatory of his loyalty to America.

(Incredibly, Khan remains in the Bush Administration as General Counsel to the Federal Highway Administration, where he’s informed of all transports of military and nuclear weapons and hazardous material on federal highways.)

I’ve written about Hollywood’s worship at the politically correct alter of radical Islam. Despite the reality that all contemporary terrorists are Muslim, Hollywood operates in another universe where all terrorists are Hispanic drug-dealers and neo-Nazis – anybody but Muslims. Because, as we all know, Hispanic drug-dealers and neo-Nazis blew up New York buildings, hijacked planes, murdered their New Jersey Coptic neighbors, and beheaded Americans in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.

With “24,” FOX violated this taboo. Therefore, FOX must now repent for committing the heinous sin of actually portraying the truth about the most serious problem of our time.
In the middle of Monday’s episode of “24,” viewers were treated to the following mea culpa, courtesy of Kiefer Sutherland, “24”’s star:

"Hi. My name is Kiefer Sutherland. And I play counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer on Fox's ‘24’. I would like to take a moment to talk to you about something that I think is very important. Now while terrorism is obviously one of the most critical challenges facing our nation and the world, it is important to recognize that the American Muslim community stands firmly beside their fellow Americans in denouncing and resisting all forms of terrorism. So in watching 24, please, bear that in mind."

Poor Kiefer. Until “24,” his most famous role was as one of Julia Robert’s jilted bridegrooms on his wedding day. And that wasn’t a role. It was real life. Now the only role he apparently aspires to is lover to 72 dark-eyed virgins, or at least repenter to those martyrs who aim for that role.

Any salivating Pavlov’s dog or monkey seeking a banana for lunch would read that statement, too. Apparently, Kiefer is no better. At mid-life, he doesn’t want to lose his only successful acting gig. So, he’ll do as he’s told by the FOX network execs, who can’t take the heat from whining Islamic terror apologists. He’s ignorant of the Lackawanna Six and assorted other Muslim-American terrorists caught in this country on a daily basis.

Ironically, the two groups behind this apology for the existence of “24” are the groups that demonstrate how the American Muslim community actually does NOT stand firmly beside their fellow Americans in denouncing and resisting terrorism in every form.
In fact, the groups—Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)—have ties to HAMAS and Al-Qaeda, and expressly support Al-Qaeda network terrorists.

MPAC is headed by Salam Al-Marayati. Al-Marayati, a close friend of pro-Hezbollah Congressman Darrell Issa, is himself a Hezbollah fan. He defended Hezbollah’s murder of over 300 U.S. Marines and civilians while they slept and claimed that Hezbollah, a major component of the Al-Qaeda network, is not a terrorist group. Al-Marayati equated “jihad” with the statements of Patrick Henry.

Al-Marayati’s concern for the portrayal of Muslims as terrorist is outdone by his passion for the vilification of Jews and Israelis as terrorists. Hours after the 9/11 attacks, he accused Israel of perpetrating them. In an e-mail, this “moderate” Muslim approvingly quoted Hitler: “As Hitler said, the more intelligent the Jew is, the more he lies.” No Kiefer Sutherland-esque apologies.

Al-Marayati’s wife, Dr. Laila Al-Marayati, could be the real life version of the mother in “24”’s terror cell. The charity she heads, KinderUSA, recently shut down and is under investigation for funding HAMAS. Its executive director and a board member were held in Israel for aiding terrorists. KinderUSA is tied to the Holy Land Foundation, whose employees have been indicted for funding and ties to HAMAS and Al-Qaeda. Dr. Al-Marayati told the Los Angeles Times that KinderUSA avoided charges of knowingly helping suicide bombers' families by not asking how an orphan's father died.

Then, there’s CAIR. Oliver “Buck” Revell and Steve Pomerantz, former FBI Directors of Counterterrorism, call CAIR, a HAMAS front-group. Saudi-funded CAIR got its original seed money and executive director, Nihad Awad, from another group (Islamic Association for Palestine) that was started with $490,000 from the personal bank account of indicted HAMAS political director Moussa Abu Marzook. Awad, like MPAC’s Al-Marayati, is an avowed supporter of HAMAS and Hezbollah. CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper refuses to denounce Bin Laden.

Several CAIR officials and associates have been convicted of terrorism, money-laundering, and fraud charges, including CAIR “communications specialist and civil rights coordinator” Ismail Royer, who pled guilty to helping Al-Qaeda’s terror network. CAIR disseminated assassination fatwas against moderate Muslim Americans. A recent CAIR Michigan confab featured more of the same.

Shohreh Aghdashloo, who plays the mother in “24”’s terror cell, and Jonathan Ahdout, who plays her son, also played Islamic mother and son in the Oprah-promoted 2003 movie, “House of Sand and Fog." There was no Keifer-esque disclaimer in that movie, in which the Muslims were hard-working, sympathetic, fatal victims of Americans, and the Americans were a loser, alcoholic, psycho maid, and an evil, philandering, murderous cop.

But in the case of “24,” even Aghdashloo, an Iranian Muslim, dismisses CAIR and MPAC. "They think after what happened on 9/11 that we're going to forget it?" she told USA Today.

Apparently, we’ve already forgotten. That’s what they’re banking on.

Debbie Schlussel can be contacted at

Captain's Quarters on the Israeli/Palestinian Ceasefire

February 10, 2005

Triangle Play Opening?

It didn't take long for the Palestinians to live down to my predictions. While I had expected a few days for the newly-minted cease-fire to settle in, Hamas had already set a major mortar attack into action. The Jerusalem Post reports on the hail of mortars and Kassam rockets that hit Israeli targets in Gaza:

"At least twenty-five mortar shells and Kassam rockets have landed on Gaza Strip settlements since 2:00 a.m. Thursday, hitting settlements in Gush Katif, southern Gaza, and northern Gaza, according to the IDF. ... Meanwhile, the settlers are claiming a total of 38 Kassam rockets and mortar shells have been fired at settlements. ...
No wounded have been reported, but early Thursday damage was caused to one building and to the electrical system in one of the settlements."

The Abbas government couldn't even hold a truce for twenty-four hours without Hamas demonstrating its power to disrupt events. In retaliation, Abbas fired his Gaza commanders for their failure to prevent the attacks, but Abbas may well run out of field officers by next week if that's the mission they must accomplish. Palestinians, especially in Gaza, overwhelmingly support Hamas over Fatah and Hamas now controls two-thirds of the electable offices in both territories. Abbas can't put Hamas out of business when the Palestinians so openly support the terrorists rather than the peacemakers. If he did, a civil war would erupt, or Fatah would simply put Abbas out of his misery to prevent one.

I give this cease-fire another week of attacks, and then I predict it will crumble under the same old Palestinian triangle offense, just like all the others. When the Palestinians want peace, they can have it. Right now they're choosing murder and misery, and they will get that instead.

Posted by Captain Ed at 12:14 PM Comments (1) TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Dust of Adam: On the Rite of Ash Wednesday

from ...the daily comments section of Touchstone Magazine's webpage ( )

An excerpt from an essay on Ash Wednesday by David Mills taken from the March 2004 issue of Touchstone:

“When you fast,” Jesus says to us in the Sermon on the Mount, “do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear to men to be fasting. Truly, I say unto you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face; that you appear not to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place.”

So much, you might think, for the traditional imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday, as practiced by many Western Christians since the early Middle Ages. In liturgical churches, the priest or pastor marks a small cross on your forehead with ashes, traditionally made by burning the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. As he does so, he tells you that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

This seems to be exactly the sort of thing Jesus rejected. After all, the point of smearing ashes on your forehead is to disfigure it in a way everyone else is bound to notice. But Jesus is referring to a private fast made public so that people would applaud. He is not referring to a public ritual, which by definition cannot be observed in secret and for observing which you earn no applause. Jesus himself observed the public feasts and fasts of his day.

A great value of liturgical disciplines is that you can do the things you ought to do without worrying about whether you are doing them for the right reasons. You win no fame or favor for doing what everyone is supposed to do. As a simple test, grab someone at church the Sunday after Ash Wednesday and say, “Hey, I had ashes put on my forehead last Wednesday.” The answer you will get will be some variation of “Big whoop.” It is like asking for approval because you didn’t sing a hymn during the sermon or came to the 11:00 service at 11:00.

And of course you may wipe off the ashes when you leave the service, so that it remains private in the sense of remaining within the gathered community. Having enacted the lesson liturgically, having the ashes smeared on your forehead, you will have ashes smeared on your heart.

But all that said, I would not ignore the usefulness of keeping the ashes as a public witness. I was, as a new Christian, deeply affected by seeing hundreds of people walking around Boston one late winter’s day with smudges on their foreheads, and finding out that evening, from a woman at a seafood restaurant, why she had that mark on her face. It had never occurred to me that people could be so confident in their religion as to wear its marks in public.

But what does the rite actually mean? What value does it have? I will try to exegete the rite for Ash Wednesday.

For the rest of The Dust of Adam click here.

Posted by Kenneth Tanner at 07:01 AM Permalink TrackBack (0)

Alexander Schmemann on the "Brightness" of Lent ..the daily comments section of Touchstone Magazine's webpage ( )

From Alexander Schmemann’s Great Lent:

Is it necessary to explain that Easter is much more than one of the feasts, more than a yearly commemoration of a past event? Anyone who has, be it only once, taken part in that night which is “brighter than the day,” who has tasted of that unique joy, knows it. ... On Easter we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection as something that happened and still happens to us. For each one of us received the gift of that new life and the power to accept it and live by it. It is a gift which radically alters our attitude toward everything in this world, including death. It makes it possible for us to joyfully affirm: “Death is no more!” Oh, death is still there, to be sure, and we still face it and someday it will come and take us. But it is our whole faith that by His own death Christ changed the very nature of death, made it a passage—a “passover,” a “Pascha”—into the Kingdom of God, transforming the tragedy of tragedies into the ultimate victory. ...

Such is the faith of the Church, affirmed and made evident by her countless Saints. Is it not our daily experience, however, that this faith is very seldom ours, that all the time we lose and betray the “new life” which we received as a gift, and that in fact we live as if Christ did not rise from the dead, as if that unique event had no meaning whatsoever for us? ... We simply forget all this—so busy are we, so immersed in our daily preoccupations—and because we forget, we fail.

And through this forgetfulness, failure, and sin, our life becomes “old” again—petty, dark, and ultimately meaningless—a meaningless journey toward a meaningless end. ... We may from time to time acknowledge and confess our various “sins,” yet we cease to refer our life to that new life which Christ revealed and gave to us. Indeed, we live as if He never came. This is the only real sin, the sin of all sins, the bottomless sadness and tragedy of our nominal Christianity.

So let us rediscover Lent. A journey, a pilgrimage! Yet, as we begin it, as we make the first step into the “bright sadness” of Lent, we see—far, far away—the destination. It is the joy of Easter, it is the entrance into the glory of the Kingdom. And it is this vision, the foretaste of Easter, that makes Lent’s sadness bright and our lenten effort a “spiritual spring.” The night may be dark and long, but all along the way a mysterious and radiant dawn seems to shine on the horizon. “Do not deprive us of our expectation, O Lover of man!”

Thanks to Julianne Wiley for sending this passage.

Michael Duran: Of Saints and Serial Killers

[Here is a link to an excellent article at

On this first day of lent I thought it appropriate to mention the reason for any hope we may have...that reason is the Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ - the Lamb who allowed Himself to be slaughtered so that we might be saved from that we might know love and beauty instead of wandering lost in the darkness of our own sinfullness and misery unto death.

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.

He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

And this is the judgement, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil.

For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God. - John 3:14-21]

Terence Jeffrey: Secure the Border

Terence Jeffrey (archive)
February 9, 2005

Start reading President Bush's new budget proposal, and you cannot escape the conclusion that our government is convinced we face a serious threat that terrorists might carry deadly weapons or materials across our border with the intention of committing mass murder.

To prevent this, the president quite rightly proposes spending money to cover a broad array of contingencies. For example, he is asking Congress for:

-- $125 million "in new funding for improved radiological and nuclear screening equipment at our borders."

-- $343 million to spend "in Russia and other regions to secure vulnerable nuclear weapons and weapons-usable materials, and to install detection equipment at overseas border crossings and ports to prevent and detect the illicit transfer of nuclear material."

-- $596 million "to protect the safety of the nation's food system from contamination by terrorists."

-- $223 million "to boost efforts in the areas of agent detection, early warning, decontamination and medical countermeasures for chemical and biological threats."

-- $110 million "to continue research on the viability of countermeasures for commercial aircraft against the threat of shoulder-fired missiles known as Man-Portable Air Defense Systems."

-- $44 million "to support the initial deployment in five cities of an early warning system, called Water Sentinel, to detect terrorist attacks on drinking water systems and a laboratory to support water surveillance and emergency response."

And, oh yes, there is "$37 million for 210 additional Border Patrol agents."

Something doesn't compute here: If the Bush budget is approved as requested, we will spend far more money next year on new machines aimed at detecting radiation at our border than we will spend on additional Border Patrol agents to intercept the terrorists who might sneak across the border with the purpose of carrying out a radiological attack.

We will spend more money researching theories for defending passenger jets against portable anti-aircraft missiles than we will on new Border Patrolmen who can stop the terrorists who might use those missiles from ever getting near a U.S. airport. We will even spend more money making sure we can quickly detect poison in the local water supplies of five selected cities than we will on additional Border Patrol agents to help make sure the terrorists cannot get near any of our cities.

President Bush seems to have had a recent change of heart on the need for significantly increasing the size of the Border Patrol.

In December, he signed a law responding to the recommendations of the 9-11 commission that authorized doubling the Border Patrol from about 10,000 agents to 20,000 by adding 2,000 new agents each year for five years. The law also authorized tripling the number of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents (who enforce immigration laws in the interior of the country) from 2,000 to 6,000 by adding 800 new agents each year for five years. And, finally, it authorized tripling from 20,000 to 60,000 the number of beds for detaining illegal aliens by adding 8,000 per year for five years.

On Dec. 6, the president sent a letter to the congressional conferees who negotiated this law, specifically lauding its Border Patrol and detention bed provisions. "I also believe," wrote Bush, "the conference took an important step in strengthening our immigration laws by, among other items, increasing the number of Border Patrol agents and detention beds."

The president's budget, however, would short-change the Border Patrol by 1,790 new agents next year. On Feb. 8, the day after the budget was released, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Spokesman Manny Van Pelt told me that "we haven't yet determined" the number of new ICE agents and new detention beds the budget includes.

On Jan. 24, the five House conferees on the 9-11 bill -- House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, House International Relations Chairman Henry Hyde, House Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter, House Rules Chairman David Dreier and House Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra -- sent Bush a letter asking him to seek full funding for the resources the bill authorized. They specifically cited among the "most important" items needing full funding: the doubling of the Border Patrol, the tripling of the ICE agents and the tripling of the detentions beds.

These senior legislators were right. In a budget that clearly envisions a threat at our border, Bush should have fully funded the authorized increases in border security he himself just signed into law. Congress should fund them anyway -- taking the money from domestic spending proposals that have nothing to do with national security.

©2005 Creators Syndicate
Contact Terence Jeffrey Read Jeffrey's biography

Jonah Goldberg: Defining Monstrosity Down

Jonah Goldberg (archive)
February 9, 2005

February has been a bad month for monsters.

John and Linda Dollar of Beverly Hills, Fla., are monsters. Or, to use the legalese required in these circumstances, they're monsters if they did what they've been accused of.

Mr. and Mrs. Dollar allegedly tortured at least three of their five foster children. According to the authorities, the kids say the Dollars electrocuted them when they "stole food." The Dollars pulled out their toenails when they "messed-up the place." The children were kept locked in a closet with a wind chime on the door knob so that their "guardians" would know if they escaped. Physical exams reportedly corroborate the testimony.

Three of the kids were so starved they will probably never grow properly. One of the twin 14-year-olds weighed 36 pounds, the other 38. Their condition was discovered when the 16-year-old - who weighed 59 pounds - was brought to the hospital with suspicious head and neck injuries. The other two kids, aged 14 and 17, were treated better because they were the Dollars' "favorites" - although being raised and "home-schooled" in such an environment, which reminded investigators at the scene of pictures from Auschwitz, constitutes its own kind of torture.

The Dollars were picked up by the police in Utah driving a gold Lexus, which they bought in part with the money they got to take care of their foster kids.

Around the same time, an Alabama woman was arrested for deliberately starving her three children, aged 11, 9 and 8, to death. And defrocked priest Paul Shanley was convicted of raping and assaulting a boy by a Boston jury.

Monsters of a different sort play a big role in my life these days. My house is drenched in Elmo, Cookie Monster, Grover, and other cute and cuddly beasts. My daughter still can't get enough of "Monsters Inc.," a wonderful movie that nonetheless perpetuates the idea that monsters aren't by their nature evil. In the film the creatures are just as terrified of human kids as the kids are of the giant creatures.

A lovable monster is a very new concept because, first and foremost, monsters are about evilness. The original meaning of the word "monster" derives, via Old French, from a word for "divine omen or warning." The Latin monstrum comes from the verb monere, meaning "warn." A monster was a deformed person or animal that people mistook for a harbinger of evil or bad spirits. The idea that monsters were horrible creatures came later. It wasn't until perhaps as late as the 16th century when the literary notion that monsters were big slobbery dragons and beasts was well established.

So in sense it shouldn't surprise anyone that our understanding of what monsters are has evolved. The problem, it seems to me, is that not all evolution is synonymous with improvement. About a decade ago, Columbia University professor Andrew Delbanco wrote an elegant book, "The Death of Satan," in which he argued that America had lost the ability to speak in terms of evil. He called it a "tragedy of the imagination," and he was right.

For decades, a therapeutic culture of "understanding" was on the rise. Except for acts of racism and so-called homophobia, there was a mad rush to "understand" evil people. Were they victims of a racist culture? Were they abused themselves? Were they expressing their natural frustration with the patriarchal capitalist system? Blah, blah, blah.

The tragedy of the imagination was that we couldn't appreciate that evil is real and it exists. In a society where everyone is a victim and it's not right to "judge" others, there's just not much room left for real monsters, while society itself becomes monstrous. Hannibal Lecter became a charming rogue, the Grinch who Stole Christmas became the victim of the judgmental Whovilleans in the Jim Carrey movie, the ersatz Mayberry of Andy Griffith became a nest of fascists in "Pleasantville."

In international affairs, I think 9/11 stemmed the worst of this rot. You can now call people who proudly declare war on democracy, behead innocent people, and yearn to murder women and children "barbarians" without much fear of politically correct blowback. This is good, because a moral compass must have some familiar stars.

But at home we still don't have a good vocabulary for monsters like the Dollars. We can call them monsters, but it doesn't have the same effect anymore because the gears have been stripped from the word.

But, you know, it's funny. I think we want - and need - a word for monsters. For example, my 2-year-old daughter has never seen a film or a book that would give her the impression monsters as a group are evil, while she's been inundated with the notion that they're good and friendly. And yet this lover of "Sesame Street" is still afraid of monsters. She will use the word and ask me to scare them away.

I always oblige, and I never tell her monsters aren't real. I just scare them away and give her a hug. But she's smart beyond her years. She knows monsters are real.

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online, a member group.

©2005 Tribune Media Services
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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Mike S. Adams: Roger and Me

Mike S. Adams (archive)
February 8, 2005

Hi Roger! As you may know, I often post my responses to hate mail like yours on my website, You may also know that the responses are often curt and sarcastic. But, Roger, since your intellectual prowess was so obvious from the opening line of your missive, I feel obligated to give you a more thoughtful response.

I trust you are telling the truth when you say you have never been as offended as you were after you saw my appearance on Fox News’ Heartland (with John Kasich) on Saturday night. Your statement that my “attack on moral relativism” was “completely unacceptable” and demonstrated that I am nothing but a “racist,” a “sexist,” a “homophobe,” and “mentally unstable” was convincing. You have clearly shown your commitment to moral relativism by refusing to judge me in any way. I thank you for your intellectual honesty.

Having done hours of research on the performing arts yesterday, I now realize that I was wrong to judge a graduate student at UCLA for bringing a loaded gun into his performing arts class and playing Russian roulette in front of the audience. I was also wrong to judge him for firing a bullet from the gun after his successful skit. I say “successful” because he was not killed after he put the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger.

Since offending you with my ill-considered statements, I have also learned where this UCLA graduate student may have gotten the idea to play Russian roulette in front of his classmates. It seems that his professor, an HIV-positive gay man, once cut himself open and bled (HIV-positive blood flowing from one of his tattoos) in front of a live audience. Another UCLA professor once allowed himself to be shot in the arm with a rifle in an art gallery as a means of “artistic expression.”

Clearly, I have underestimated the importance of sado-masochism in higher education. And I am certainly impressed with UCLA as an institution of higher learning. In fact, that is where I want to send my children for an education.

Speaking of sending your kids to college, I noticed that you said you would never send your kids to my university (UNC-Wilmington) because of my opposition to firing loaded weapons in the classroom. I believe you said that I was too “close-minded.” Of course, you are free to assume that the other 400 professors at my school favor the display and firing of weapons in class as a means of “artistic expression.” You are also free to set your goals high by refusing to tolerate any school where less than 100% of the faculty “tolerates” the use of loaded weapons in class. None of that upsets me.

What really upsets me is that your children will not be attending our fine university. With the help of your genes, both of your kids promise to be intellectual giants. Your assertion that I would have burned Michelangelo at the stake if he were still alive was evidence of your powerful logical ability. Everyone I have ever known who opposed the use of firearms in the classroom also harbored a secret desire to burn famous artists at the stake. There is no leap of logic in your message, whatsoever.

In order to undo the damage I may have done (and, hopefully, to lure your genius children to my university) I wish to offer a formal apology. But that isn’t all. I am going to back up my words with actions by refusing to judge my students at all. For example, I am going to stop grading my students and just give everyone an “A” at the beginning of the semester. I am even going to allow students to use firearms during class speeches and presentations. My students will not be limited to pointing the firearms at themselves. I will also let them point them at others. UCLA has nothing on me!

Put simply, I plan to conform to the culture of higher education by refusing to make any moral judgments whatsoever. I will no longer demand that the UCLA student be expelled for his recent “artistic performance.” I will also tear up my next article on the theft of cadavers from the UCLA medical school. If people like to steal dead bodies to sell on the black market then I say “more power to them!” Give me diversity or give me death!

It really is liberating to reject the notion of absolute standards absolutely. I think I’ll celebrate by driving home on the left hand side of the road. You should do the same, Roger. A few people may die, but at least you’ll be making an artistic statement. That’s all that really matters.

Mike S. Adams will speak in Asheville, NC, on February 11th ( He will speak in Washington, D.C., on February 19th ( He will then risk his life by speaking at the University of Wisconsin School of Law on March 1st. Nonetheless, he will not carry a gun on campus. That would just be wrong.

©2005 Mike S. Adams
Contact Mike S. Adams Read Adams's biography

Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel: Confessions of a Conservative College Professor
David Limbaugh says Mike Adams's first book "is a brilliant, but disturbing expose of life in postmodern academia today. No one better reveals the fraud pervading America's college campuses under the seductive euphemisms of political correctness, multiculturalism, and diversity-destructive forces that have led to sheer chaos. Adams is a modern-day Jeremiah whose warnings we cannot afford to ignore." (read Townhall's review) Order it now and save 30% off the cover price!

Thomas Sowell: Ending Slavery

Thomas Sowell (archive)
February 8, 2005

To me the most staggering thing about the long history of slavery -- which encompassed the entire world and every race in it -- is that nowhere before the 18th century was there any serious question raised about whether slavery was right or wrong. In the late 18th century, that question arose in Western civilization, but nowhere else.

It seems so obvious today that, as Lincoln said, if slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong. But no country anywhere believed that three centuries ago.

A very readable and remarkable new book that has just been published -- "Bury the Chains" by Adam Hochschild -- traces the history of the world's first anti-slavery movement, which began with a meeting of 12 "deeply religious" men in London in 1787.

The book re-creates the very different world of that time, in which slavery was so much taken for granted that most people simply did not think about it, one way or the other. Nor did the leading intellectuals, political leaders, or religious leaders in Britain or anywhere else in the world.

The dozen men who formed the world's first anti-slavery movement saw their task as getting their fellow Englishmen to think about slavery -- about the brutal facts and about the moral implications of those facts.

Their conviction that this would be enough to turn the British public, and ultimately the British Empire, against slavery might seem naive, except that this is precisely what happened. It did not happen quickly and it did not happen without encountering bitter opposition, for the British were at the time the world's biggest slave traders and this created wealthy and politically powerful special interests defending slavery.

The anti-slavery movement nevertheless persisted through decades of struggles and defeats in Parliament until eventually they secured a ban on the international slave trade, and ultimately a ban on slavery itself throughout the British Empire.

Even more remarkable, Britain took it upon itself, as the leading naval power of the world, to police the ban on slave trading against other nations. Intercepting and boarding other countries' ships on the high seas to look for slaves, the British became and remained for more than a century the world's policeman when it came to stopping the slave trade.

"Bury the Chains" carries this incredible story forward only to the time of the banning of slavery in the British Empire. One can only hope that either Adam Hochschild or someone else writes an equally dramatic and compelling book on the saga of the worldwide struggle against slavery.

Chances do not look good. The anti-slavery movement was spearheaded by people who would today be called "the religious right" and its organization was created by conservative businessmen. Moreover, what destroyed slavery in the non-Western world was Western imperialism.

Nothing could be more jolting and discordant with the vision of today's intellectuals than the fact that it was businessmen, devout religious leaders and Western imperialists who together destroyed slavery around the world. And if it doesn't fit their vision, it is the same to them as if it never happened.

As anti-slavery ideas eventually spread throughout Western civilization, a worldwide struggle pitted the West against Africans, Arabs, Asians and virtually the entire non-Western world, which still saw nothing wrong with slavery. But Western imperialists had gunpowder weapons first and that enabled the West to stamp out slavery in other societies as well as in its own.

The review of "Bury the Chains" in the New York Times tried to suggest that the ban against the international slave trade somehow served British self-interest. But John Stuart Mill, who lived in those times, said that the British "for the last half-century have spent annual sums equal to the revenue of a small kingdom in blockading the Africa coast, for a cause in which we not only had no interest, but which was contrary to our pecuniary interest."

It was a worldwide epic struggle, full of dramatic and sometimes violent episodes, along with inspiring stories of courage and dedication. But do not expect Hollywood to make a movie about anything so contrary to their vision of the world.

©2005 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
Contact Thomas Sowell Read Sowell's biography

Dennis Prager: The Case For Judeo-Christian Values, Part IV

Dennis Prager (archive)
February 8, 2005

Would you first save the dog you love or a stranger if both were drowning? The answer depends on your value system.

One of the most obvious and significant differences between secular and Judeo-Christian values concerns human worth. One of the great ironies of secular humanism is that it devalues the worth of human beings. As ironic as it may sound, the God-based Judeo-Christian value system renders man infinitely more valuable and significant than any humanistic value system.

The reason is simple: Only if there is a God who created man is man worth anything beyond the chemicals of which he is composed. Judeo-Christian religions hold that human beings are created in the image of God. If we are not, we are created in the image of carbon dioxide. Which has a higher value is not difficult to determine.

Contemporary secular society has rendered human beings less significant than at any time in Western history.

First, the secular denial that human beings are created in God's image has led to humans increasingly being equated with animals. That is why over the course of 30 years of asking high school seniors if they would first try to save their dog or a stranger, two-thirds have voted against the person. They either don't know what they would do or actually vote for their dog. Many adults now vote similarly.

Why? There are two reasons. One is that with the denial of the authority of higher values such as biblical teachings, people increasingly make moral decisions on the basis of how they feel. And since probably all people feel more for their dog than they do for a stranger, many people without a moral instruction manual simply choose to do what they feel.

The other reason is that secular values provide no basis for elevating human worth over that of an animal. Judeo-Christian values posit that human beings, not animals, are created in God's image and, therefore, human life is infinitely more sacred than animal life.

That is why people estranged from Judeo-Christian values (including some Christians) support programs such as "Holocaust on Your Plate," the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) campaign that teaches that there is no difference between the slaughtering of chickens and the slaughtering of the Jews in the Holocaust. A human and a chicken are of equal worth.
That is why a Tucson, Ariz., woman last year screamed to firefighters that her "babies" were in her burning house. Thinking that the woman's children were trapped inside, the firemen risked their lives to save the woman's three cats.

Those inclined to dismiss these examples as either theoretical (the dog-stranger question) or extreme (the Tucson mother of cats) need to confront the very real question of animal experimentation to save human lives. More and more people believe as PETA does that even if we could find a cure for cancer or AIDS, it would be wrong to experiment on animals. (The defense that research with computers can teach all that experiments on animals teach is a lie.) In fact, many animal rights advocates oppose killing a pig to obtain a heart valve to save a human life.

Belief in human-animal equivalence inevitably follows the death of Judeo-Christian values, and it serves not so much to elevate animal worth as to reduce human worth. Those who oppose vivisection and believe it is immoral to kill animals for any reason, including eating, should reflect on this: While there are strong links between cruelty to animals and cruelty to humans, there are no links between kindness to animals and kindness to humans. Kindness to animals has no effect on a person's treatment of people. The Nazis, the cruelest group in modern history, were also the most pro-animal rights group prior to the contemporary period. They outlawed experimentation on animals and made legal experimentation on human beings.

The second reason that the breakdown of Judeo-Christian values leads to a diminution of human worth is that if man was not created by God, the human being is mere stellar dust -- and will come to be regarded as such. Moreover, people are merely the products of random chance, no more designed than a sand grain formed by water erosion. That is what the creationism-evolution battle is ultimately about -- human worth. One does not have to agree with creationists or deny all evolutionary evidence to understand that the way evolution is taught, man is rendered a pointless product of random forces -- unworthy of being saved before one's hamster.

©2005 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
Contact Dennis Prager Read Prager's biography

From Dennis Prager- Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual
Prager asserts, "Not only do we have a right to be happy, we have an obligation to be happy. Our happiness has an effect on the lives of everyone around us--it provides them with a positive environment in which to thrive and to be happy themselves."

Monday, February 07, 2005

Michael Behe: Design For Living

The New York Times
Design for Living
Published: February 7, 2005

Bethlehem, Pa. — In the wake of the recent lawsuits over the teaching of Darwinian evolution, there has been a rush to debate the merits of the rival theory of intelligent design. As one of the scientists who have proposed design as an explanation for biological systems, I have found widespread confusion about what intelligent design is and what it is not.

First, what it isn't: the theory of intelligent design is not a religiously based idea, even though devout people opposed to the teaching of evolution cite it in their arguments. For example, a critic recently caricatured intelligent design as the belief that if evolution occurred at all it could never be explained by Darwinian natural selection and could only have been directed at every stage by an omniscient creator. That's misleading. Intelligent design proponents do question whether random mutation and natural selection completely explain the deep structure of life. But they do not doubt that evolution occurred. And intelligent design itself says nothing about the religious concept of a creator.

Rather, the contemporary argument for intelligent design is based on physical evidence and a straightforward application of logic. The argument for it consists of four linked claims. The first claim is uncontroversial: we can often recognize the effects of design in nature. For example, unintelligent physical forces like plate tectonics and erosion seem quite sufficient to account for the origin of the Rocky Mountains. Yet they are not enough to explain Mount Rushmore.

Of course, we know who is responsible for Mount Rushmore, but even someone who had never heard of the monument could recognize it as designed. Which leads to the second claim of the intelligent design argument: the physical marks of design are visible in aspects of biology. This is uncontroversial, too. The 18th-century clergyman William Paley likened living things to a watch, arguing that the workings of both point to intelligent design. Modern Darwinists disagree with Paley that the perceived design is real, but they do agree that life overwhelms us with the appearance of design.

For example, Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, once wrote that biologists must constantly remind themselves that what they see was not designed but evolved. (Imagine a scientist repeating through clenched teeth: "It wasn't really designed. Not really.")

The resemblance of parts of life to engineered mechanisms like a watch is enormously stronger than what Reverend Paley imagined. In the past 50 years modern science has shown that the cell, the very foundation of life, is run by machines made of molecules. There are little molecular trucks in the cell to ferry supplies, little outboard motors to push a cell through liquid.

In 1998 an issue of the journal Cell was devoted to molecular machines, with articles like "The Cell as a Collection of Protein Machines" and "Mechanical Devices of the Spliceosome: Motors, Clocks, Springs and Things." Referring to his student days in the 1960's, Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences, wrote that "the chemistry that makes life possible is much more elaborate and sophisticated than anything we students had ever considered." In fact, Dr. Alberts remarked, the entire cell can be viewed as a factory with an elaborate network of interlocking assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines. He emphasized that the term machine was not some fuzzy analogy; it was meant literally.

The next claim in the argument for design is that we have no good explanation for the foundation of life that doesn't involve intelligence. Here is where thoughtful people part company.

Darwinists assert that their theory can explain the appearance of design in life as the result of random mutation and natural selection acting over immense stretches of time. Some scientists, however, think the Darwinists' confidence is unjustified. They note that although natural selection can explain some aspects of biology, there are no research studies indicating that Darwinian processes can make molecular machines of the complexity we find in the cell.

Scientists skeptical of Darwinian claims include many who have no truck with ideas of intelligent design, like those who advocate an idea called complexity theory, which envisions life self-organizing in roughly the same way that a hurricane does, and ones who think organisms in some sense can design themselves.

The fourth claim in the design argument is also controversial: in the absence of any convincing non-design explanation, we are justified in thinking that real intelligent design was involved in life. To evaluate this claim, it's important to keep in mind that it is the profound appearance of design in life that everyone is laboring to explain, not the appearance of natural selection or the appearance of self-organization.

The strong appearance of design allows a disarmingly simple argument: if it looks, walks and quacks like a duck, then, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, we have warrant to conclude it's a duck. Design should not be overlooked simply because it's so obvious.

Still, some critics claim that science by definition can't accept design, while others argue that science should keep looking for another explanation in case one is out there. But we can't settle questions about reality with definitions, nor does it seem useful to search relentlessly for a non-design explanation of Mount Rushmore. Besides, whatever special restrictions scientists adopt for themselves don't bind the public, which polls show, overwhelmingly, and sensibly, thinks that life was designed. And so do many scientists who see roles for both the messiness of evolution and the elegance of design.

Michael J. Behe, a professor of biological sciences at Lehigh University and a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, is the author of "Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution."