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February 28, 2006

Tolerance and Multiculturalism Meet Reality

The "Cartoon Jihad" has given Europe a chance to reevaluate its values. To what degree should immigrants be assimilated? Newsweek has an article on this topic, but it has an odd title, "The End of Tolerance". The subheading goes further: "Farewell, multiculturalism. A cartoon backlash is pushing Europe to insist upon its values." Is this what "tolerance" and "multiculturalism" means, that countries should allow the killings and burnings to continue? Does "tolerance" mean that no set of values is better than another, or that a country can't insist that people follow its values as expressed in its laws?

It's this mindset that has turned schools into values-free war zones. The Dutch have seen what kind of war zones have been imported, and how it has been exported to the world. But Newsweek doesn't want anyone to make value judgements. Instead we get writing like this:

What's going on here? Weren't the Dutch supposed to be the nicest people on earth, the most tolerant nation in Europe, a melting pot for minorities and immigrants since the Renaissance? No longer, and in this the Dutch are once again at the forefront of changes in Europe. This time, the Dutch model for Europe is one of multiculturalism besieged, if not plain defunct.

"Be nice and let 'em in, but be tolerant and don't judge them when they burn down your towns and kill you over cartoons." Remember that America was, and still is, a melting pot, and we still generally ask that immigrants accept our shared values, including freedom of the press and religious freedom.

Multiculturalism isn't being besieged so much as it's coming in contact with reality. As the saying goes, a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged.

Posted by Doug at 12:39 PM | Comments (29) | TrackBack

February 27, 2006

New Poll Indicates Evangelical Shift on Climate Change, Environmental Concerns

As I mentioned last week, I have been providing public relations and communications counsel to the Evangelical Climate Initiative, in its national release of Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.

The pronouncement has received significant attention in the media, most of which has pondered the variance in evangelical opinion on the issue of global warming, and weighed the influence of the 86 evangelical leaders who signed the Call to Action against traditional stalwarts who have not accepted scientific findings on climate change--such as James Dobson and Chuck Colson.

There are some indications that there is, indeed, changes in evangelical attitudes on climate.

Fortune magazine (Feb. 8, 2006): “With publications ranging from The Economist to Christianity Today urging action to curb global warming, there's little doubt about which way the winds are blowing, in both the business and evangelical worlds.”

The Associated Press referred to the initiative as "a historic tipping point" (Los Angeles Times, Feb 10) in evangelical response to climate change.

Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said in the New York Times (Feb. 8): “There is no doubt about it in my mind that climate change is happening, and there is no doubt about it that it would be wise for us to stop doing the foolish things we're doing that could potentially be causing this. In my mind there is no downside to being cautious."

New Poll Results
And now details from a new poll of evangelical Christians seem to strengthen the call made the group of 86 evangelical leaders for action to reduce global warming.

In the poll, conducted by Ellison Research—-which frequently surveys church leaders—-70 percent of evangelicals said they believed global warming will pose a serious threat to future generations. Sixty-three percent of evangelicals believed that although global warming may be a long-term problem, since it is being caused today, the nation must start addressing it immediately.

In other findings from the Ellison Research poll, 95 percent of evangelical respondents agreed that “God gave us dominion over His creation, so we have a responsibility to care for it.”

--In the poll, 84 percent of evangelicals agreed that reducing pollution is a form of obedience to the biblical command to love your neighbor.

--92 percent agreed that “in the long run, it will be cheaper to protect the environment now than to fix it later.”

--95 percent agreed that “a healthy environment helps to keep your family healthy.”

--A majority of evangelicals—51 percent—said the U.S. should take steps to address global warming, even if there is a high economic cost.

--Two-thirds of evangelicals are either completely or mostly convinced that global warming is actually taking place.

The study was conducted in September 2005 by Ellison Research, a marketing research company located in Phoenix, Ariz. The study’s total sample is accurate to within ±3.1 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level with a 50 percent response distribution. The study was designed independently by Ellison Research and funded by the Evangelical Environmental Network.

Posted by Jim at 07:37 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

February 23, 2006

Evangelical Climate Initiative TV & Radio Campaign

The Evangelical Climate Initiative begins its two week television and radio campaign today, with spots tonight on Fox News Channel, and startly shortly on CNN and ABC Family, and on local television in eight markets. The radio spots will be aired on Salem Radio Networks talk stations, and on about 50 Christian radio stations nationally.

Here is a link to the television spot, featuring Orlando-area megachurch pastor Joel Hunter.

The signers of the evangelical intitiative on global warming include:

Rev. Dr. Leith Anderson, Former President, National Association of Evangelicals (NAE); Senior Pastor, Wooddale Church, Eden Prairie, MN
Robert Andringa, Ph.D., President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), Vienna, VA
Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., Executive Director, Evangelical Environmental Network; Wynnewood, PA
Commissioner W. Todd Bassett, National Commander, The Salvation Army; Alexandria, VA
Dr. Jay A. Barber, Jr., President, Warner Pacific College, Portland, OR
Gary P. Bergel, President, Intercessors for America; Purcellville, VA
David Black, Ph.D., President, Eastern University, St. Davids, PA
Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., West Angeles Church of God in Christ, Los Angeles, CA
Rev. Dr. Dan Boone, President, Trevecca Nazarene University, Nashville, TN
Bishop Wellington Boone, The Father’s House & Wellington Boone Ministries, Norcross, GA
Rev. Dr. Peter Borgdorff, Executive Director, Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, MI
H. David Brandt, Ph.D., President, George Fox University, Newberg, OR
Rev. George K. Brushaber, Ph.D., President, Bethel University; Senior Advisor, Christianity Today; St. Paul, MN
Rev. Dwight Burchett, President, Northern California Association of Evangelicals; Sacramento, CA
Gaylen Byker, Ph.D., President, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI
Rev. Dr. Jerry B. Cain, President, Judson College, Elgin, IL
Rev. Dr. Clive Calver, Senior Pastor, Walnut Hill Community Church; Former President, World Relief; Bethel, CT
R. Judson Carlberg, Ph.D., President, Gordon College, Wenham, MA
Rev. Dr. Paul Cedar, Chair, Mission America Coalition; Palm Desert, CA
David Clark, Ph.D., President, Palm Beach Atlantic University; Former Chair/CEO, Nat. Rel. Broadcasters; Founding Dean, Regent University; West Palm Beach, FL
Rev. Luis Cortes, President & CEO, Esperanza USA; Host, National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast; Philadelphia, PA
Andy Crouch, Columnist, Christianity Today magazine; Swarthmore, PA
Rev. Paul de Vries, Ph.D., President, New York Divinity School; New York, NY
Rev. David S. Dockery, Ph.D., Chairman of the Board, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities; President, Union University, Jackson, TN
Larry R. Donnithorne, Ed.D., President, Colorado Christian University, Lakewood, CO
Blair Dowden, Ed.D., President, Huntington University, Huntington, IN
Rev. Robert P. Dugan, Jr., Former VP of Governmental Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals; Palm Desert, CA
Craig Hilton Dyer, President, Bright Hope International, Hoffman Estates, IL
D. Merrill Ewert, Ed.D., President, Fresno Pacific University, Fresno, CA
Rev. Dr. LeBron Fairbanks, President, Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Mount Vernon, OH
Rev. Myles Fish, President/CEO, International Aid, Spring Lake, MI
Rev. Dr. Floyd Flake, Senior Pastor, Greater Allen AME Cathedral; President, Wilberforce University; Jamaica, NY
Rev. Timothy George, Ph.D., Founding Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, Executive Editor, Christianity Today; Birmingham, AL
Rev. Michael J. Glodo, Stated Clerk, Evangelical Presbyterian Church , Livonia , MI
Rev. James M. Grant, Ph.D., President, Simpson University, Redding, CA
Rev. Dr. Jeffrey E. Greenway, President, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY
Rev. David Gushee, Professor of Moral Philosophy, Union University; columnist, Religion News Service; Jackson, TN
Gregory V. Hall, President, Warner Southern College, Lake Wales, FL
Brent Hample, Executive Director, India Partners, Eugene OR
Rev. Dr. Jack Hayford, President, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, Los Angeles, CA
Rev. Steve Hayner, Ph.D., Former President, InterVarsity; Prof. of Evangelism, Columbia Theological Sem., Decatur, GA
E. Douglas Hodo, Ph.D., President, Houston Baptist University, Houston, TX
Ben Homan, President, Food for the Hungry; President, Association of Evangelical Relief and Development Organizations (AERDO); Phoenix, AZ
Rev. Dr. Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland, A Church Distributed; Longwood, FL
Bryce Jessup, President, William Jessup University, Rocklin, CA
Ronald G. Johnson, Ph.D., President, Malone College, Canton, OH
Rev. Dr. Phillip Charles Joubert, Sr., Pastor, Community Baptist Church, Bayside, NY
Jennifer Jukanovich, Founder, The Vine, Seattle, WA
Rev. Brian Kluth, Senior Pastor, First Evangelical Free Church; Founder, MAXIMUM Generosity; Colorado Springs, CO
Bishop James D. Leggett, General Superintendent, International Pentecostal Holiness Church; Chair, Pentecostal World Fellowship; Oklahoma City, OK
Duane Litfin, Ph.D., President, Wheaton College, Wheaton IL
Rev. Dr. Larry Lloyd, President, Crichton College, Memphis, TN
Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, Executive Director, World Hope; Alexandria, VA
Sammy Mah, President and CEO, World Relief; Baltimore, MD
Jim Mannoia, Ph.D., President, Greenville College, Greenville, IL
Bishop George D. McKinney, Ph.D., D.D., St. Stephens Church Of God In Christ, San Diego, CA
Rev. Brian McLaren, Senior Pastor, Cedar Ridge Community Church; Emergent leader; Spencerville, MD
Rev. Dr. Daniel Mercaldo, Senior Pastor & Founder, Gateway Cathedral; Staten Island, NY
Rev. Dr. Jesse Miranda, President, AMEN, Costa Mesa, CA
Royce Money, Ph.D., President, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX
Dr. Bruce Murphy, President, Northwestern University, Orange City, IA
Rev. George W. Murray, D.Miss., President, Columbia International University, Columbia SC
David Neff, Editor, Christianity Today; Carol Stream, IL
Larry Nikkel, President, Tabor College, Hillsboro, KS
Michael Nyenhuis, President, MAP International; Brunswick, GA
Brian O’Connell, President, REACT Services; Founder and Former Executive Director, Religious Liberty Commission, World Evangelical Alliance; Mill Creek, WA
Roger Parrott, Ph.D., President, Belhaven College, Jackson, MS
Charles W. Pollard, Ph.D., J.D., President, John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR
Paul A. Rader, D.Miss., President, Asbury College, Wilmore, KY
Rev. Edwin H. Robinson, Ph.D., President, MidAmerica Nazarene University, Olathe , KS
William P. Robinson, Ph.D., President, Whitworth College, Spokane, WA
Lee Royce, Ph.D., President, Mississippi College, Clinton, MS
Andy Ryskamp, Executive Director, Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, Grand Rapids, MI
Rev. Ron Sider, Ph.D., President, Evangelicals for Social Action, Philadelphia, PA
Richard Stearns, President, World Vision, Federal Way, WA
Rev. Jewelle Stewart, Ex. Dir., Women’s Ministries, International Pentecostal Holiness Church; Oklahoma City, OK
Rev. Dr. Loren Swartzendruber, President, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg VA
C. Pat Taylor, Ph.D., President, Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar, MO
Rev. Berten A. Waggoner, National Director, Vineyard, USA; Sugar Land, TX
Jon R. Wallace, DBA, President, Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA
Rev. Dr. Thomas Yung-Hsin Wang, former International Director of Lausanne II, Sunnyvale, CA
Rev. Dr. Rick Warren, Senior Pastor, Saddleback Church; author of The Purpose Driven Life; Lake Forest, CA
John Warton, President, Business Professional Network, Portland, OR
Robert W. Yarbrough, Ph.D., New Testament Dept. Chair, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL
John D. Yordy, Ph. D., Interim President, Goshen College, Goshen, IN
Adm. Tim Ziemer, Director of Programs, World Relief, Baltimore, MD

Posted by Jim at 04:57 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Winds of Change in the Evangelical Response to Global Warming?

On page A9 of the February 9 New York Times, a full page ad began with the words: “Our commitment to Jesus Christ compels us…” It’s unusual to see these words so prominently in the Times, even in an ad. But what was to follow sent shock waves through official Washington and much of the country focused on the issues of the day.

The following was the full headline of the ad:

“Our commitment to Jesus Christ compels us to solve the global warming crisis.” A little bold for the liberals, readers may have thought. But reading further they discovered that this was an advocacy advertisement from a group of 86 evangelical leaders operating under the banner of The Evangelical Climate Initiative.

The group, which signed a document called Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action , is not easily classified. It includes individuals from the right, the center, and the left; from the Reformed, Wesleyan, Charismatic traditions; old and young; all regions of the nation. The list is heavily academic—the presidents of some 40 Christian colleges and seminaries; with many leaders of evangelical relief and development agencies.

(Disclosure: My public relations firm managed the communications campaign for The Evangelical Climate Initiative, and although we are no means disinterested, we have not been part of the evangelical environmental movement to date).

The evangelicals participating in the initiative made it clear that their passion aligned with the mainstream of the evangelical community. The ad and other materials read:

“With the same love of God and neighbor that compels us to preach salvation through Jesus Christ, protect unborn life, preserve the family and the sanctity of marriage, defend religious freedom and human dignity, and take the whole Gospel to a hurting world, we the undersigned evangelical leaders resolve to come together with others of like mind to pray and to work to stop global warming.”

The document calls on the federal government to impose economy-wide limitations on CO2 emissions, and it is complementary of the Domenici-sponsored “will of the Senate” resolution on emissions.

National media jumped all over this story, and it continues to pile up the column inches. Beginning with The New York Times, the Initiative was covered by the Associated Press,
ABC World News Tonight, NBC Evening News, Fox and Friends, CNN American Morning, hundreds of local newspapers, Christianity Today, World, Charisma, and still counting.

A group called the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance issued a rebuttal, and engineered a letter from James Dobson, Chuck Colson, D. James Kennedy and about 15 others, successfully urging the NAE not to allow its staff to sign the documents (signatories participated as individuals, not as representatives of their organizations).

Operation Rescue launched a scathing missive that cited funding of this Initiative as “blood money,” and Joseph Farah questioned the spiritual integrity—indeed, the very regeneration--of the participants. But most evangelical leaders have kept any disagreements fairly muted, although it may build.

But as the AP said in one of its articles: The winds may be shifting on the evangelical response to global warming. William F. Buckley wrote in his newspaper column:

“We hear now (in full-page ads) from the Evangelical Climate Initiative. Their summons, signed by 80-odd evangelical leaders, is to address the global-warming crisis .... We are indeed stewards of nature, and calls to conjoin our concern with a sense of Christian mission are noteworthy.”

There are new polls, and new ads, which I’ll cover in another post.

Posted by Jim at 09:25 AM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

February 22, 2006

Returning in a Time of Strange Alliances

It is difficult to support the Administration's decision to allow the sale of major port operations to the United Arab Emirates. But it is even stranger to see Democrats such as Charles Schumer reborn as defense hawks. Now the President is in a corner, because it appears he was not in the know when the decision was approved, and although he is now probably inclined to reverse the decision, it would appear that he is caving to critics on the left. That would enable them to beef up pathetic national defense credentials with a contention that they've protected the ports from Bush and his Middle Eastern friends.

It can't believe that my last entry at Stones Cry Out was in November 2005. What can I say? I've been busy. But now I'm back to write in a time strange bedfellows and unlikely alliances.

More on some of those in the days ahead.

Posted by Jim at 04:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Matt Barber Postscript

Back in June, I talked about J. Matt Barber who got fired from Allstate Insurance for writing an article, on his own time, critical of homosexuality and same-sex marriage from a Christian perspective. Today comes word that there has been a sealed, out-of-court settlement.

Posted by Doug at 01:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 21, 2006

The Breakdown of the Nuclear Family

In 6 years, if all trends continue, half the babies born in the UK will be to unmarried mothers. As "progressive" as the UK has been at, among other things, de-emphasizing religious and moral values, this may be a shock, but it's no surprise.

The number of births outside wedlock exceeds 50 per cent in some parts, including Wales. In the North East, it was 54.1 per cent last year.

In London, where a higher proportion of young mothers are Muslims who adhere to more conservative family values, a third of children were born outside marriage.

Now comes the common sense, but is anyone listening?
The figures have alarmed family campaigners, who say the collapse of marriage could have a serious impact on social structures.

They say that most of the statistical evidence suggests that children brought up by married parents do better than those raised by cohabiting couples or lone parents.

This, of course, will be used by "progressives" to further the idea that same-sex marriage is the answer to this dilemma, but this arrangement is little better than a single parent family, as well-rounded children need both a male and female influence. (Here's the report on one study, but there are many more.) The commitment in a "same-sex marriage" is better than none, of course, but as the report notes, there is far more that children need than that.

What we have is a slippery slope. While each person or group moving us down may not be working in concert with anyone else farther up the slope, the effect in any case is to have an incremental push over the course of a couple generations to the liberal side of the spectrum. In order to really make "same-sex marriage" palpable to a majority of people, you have to find a reason for redefining a term that has endured for millennia. Out-of-wedlock births fits that bill, but in order to do that, you have to break down the traditional taboos and mainstream extramarital sexual activity. In order to do that, you have to erode the religious traditions of the country (and sometimes you get the churches to help in that regard, unfortunately).

What it amounts to is the classic entrepreneurial action of creating a need and then filling it. Unfortunately, as people have continued to accept more and more liberal values during this process, countless lives have been destroyed. But with each slip, the proposed "solution" was always sold as being better than what came before. Instead, more and more lives are ruined. I predict that the next "solution" will bring about even worse results.

Campaigners and Church leaders have accused politicians of marginalizing marriage by undermining its legal and financial privileges and shying away from promoting it above other types of family.

Labour abolished the last tax break for married couples, the Married Couples' Allowance, while its tax credit system is said to favour single-parent families.

Ann Widdecombe, a former Tory Home Office minister, said: "After the death of the extended family, we are now seeing the death of the nuclear family.

"The long-term consequences are bad for everyone. A well-ordered society is based on the bedrock of marriage, otherwise we will have increasing social disruption."

The real solution is to go back to what worked, and worked well. Unfortunately, this may take further generations. In the meantime, the slippery slope is further littered with the lives of those who believed in the new "solutions".

Posted by Doug at 12:54 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 20, 2006

Lamott's Leftism

At his Reformissionary site, Steve McCoy points to this morning's piece by Dr. Al Mohler concerning a pro-choice outburst by Christian author Anne Lamott. You can read Mohler's piece here. Also read Amy Welborn's take on the subject. It was Wellborn that first drew my attention to this issue. I should mention that Amy Welborn is a fine whose blog is a must for all things Catholic. I suspect it will become an invaluable resource once the DaVinci Code hits theatres.

At any rate, we've been discussing Dr. Mohler's comments on Steve's site. I think Lamott is important to consider for a few reasons. First, she is a telented writer. Second, she is a popular writer with something of a large following. Stop in the local Barnes and Noble and you'll find her books on display in the religion section, recieving the attention that might not be given to the works of A.W. Pink. Third, confessional writing of the sort she does is becoming increasingly popular in evangelical circles. Think of Don Miller and Lauren Winner.

I like confessional writing. I would love to be able to do some of my own work in that vein at some point in my life. And yet there must be a caution within this genre. Just like public testimonies in church, confessional writing is subjective. It may refer to Scripture, but ultimately it is the recounting of one person's experience. It can be a tremendous help in our walk with Christ, but it is no replacement for Scripture, first and foremost, and, second, for the deeper truths of the Word that are found in theological study.

In Mohler's piece, he offers a level of discernment towards Lamott. He cites a Christianity Today piece that says this about Lamott:

"Yet, deeper within her than her loud liberalism is a reality that has won her many evangelical readers: a zany ardor for Jesus. Lamott's fascination with all things Jesusy (a term she might as well have copyrighted) must be the reason why she is a mixed bag of hilariously antagonistic affections."

I commented at Reformissionary that Mohler may very well be troubled by more than Lamott's radical liberalism. (See the links below for more information on that - she is more than your garden variety working-class Democrat) It seems that Mohler is troubled by the idea that no one cares about her liberalism. I know I am. And what I mean by that is not that I wouldn't welcome her and befriend her. I would. I regard her as a believer in Christ. I respect her talents. Evaluating the beliefs of a public literary figure like Lamott is not the same as picking apart the stranger on the bus or the newcomer at church. Showing a certain degree of criticism for ideas and opinions that are offered up for public consumption is not, by definition, unfair and un-Christlike.

I reject the idea that we can endorse anything that claims the name of Christ. Can we offer it a seat at the table? Most certainly. But that is not the same thing as sending the product/writer/artist/preacher/program back into the world with our blessings. To sound emergent for a moment, I would love to dialogue with Lamott and her comrades (ha!), but I can't give them a full thumbs up. She is not privately voting for Ralph Nader. She is an active, proud leftist. It's one thing to vote for John Kerry; it's another to speak glowingly of Barbara Lee. And though some would suggest that Christians can vote for whomever they like, I tend to think the Lord is bothered by unapologetic support of the right to terminate a pregnancy. Anne Lamott may not be, but Mohler is not wrong to suggest that she is stepping outside the bounds of Christian tradition in so doing. I would again suggest that while God may not have a favorite political party, there are essentially two streams of political thought in this country and whatever its shortcomings, one is far more in line with the traditional ethics of orthodox christianity. The other finds a nice home in the traditions of the Enlightenment and existentialism. Such legacies cannot be denied.

For more on Lamott's ideas see the following:

Anne's interview with Powells.com

Her archive at Salon.com

In the Powell's interview above, Anne speaks of donating to Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Ms. Lee gave this speech at an anti-war rally in San Francisco in the Spring of 2003. The march was organized by the International Action Center. The IAC was founded by Ramsey Clark, the former U.S. attorney general now doing a little pro bono legal work for Saddam Hussein. (Clark also worked on behalf of that political prisoner, Slobodan Milosevic, but who's keeping count?) The IAC is also the sponsor of the leftist group ANSWER, which stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. The IAC is part of the World Workers Party, a Stalinist organizaiton that is more than a little supportive of the regimes (not the citizens, mind you) of Cuba, Iran and North Korea. Nice, isn't it? I've said time and again that I find Dobson to be grating, Falwell midguided and Robertson embarassing, but I don't recall any of them working with this sort of crowd. Here's the Wikipedia skinny on the WWP. This is the splinter group that formed from the WWP.

Here's a good piece on the IAC and WWP from FrontPage Magazine. National Review also ran several articles on this topic. See here and here.

See here for my concerns about leftism in evangelical circles, particularly among artists and writers. My comments originally concerned Derek Webb, but I do not limit them to him alone. The anti-war organizations are of particular concern for me, and I would mention Webb's support for Sojourners and Miller's endorsement of Cornel West (scroll down), the Princeton professor who recently visited Venezuela in support of dictator and Castro buddy Hugo Chavez. A

gain, these folks are still my brothers and sisters in Christ. I would welcome them into my church without reservation. Indeed, I would welcome them into my home. I would not, however, agree with their views on these important matters. Likewise I will not be silent with the support of earnest believers leaves them with a public platform by which they can advance such views. We are all sinners, all of us fallen short of God's glory. I confess my own failings and note that I am not the final arbiter of truth in this world. Yet these disagreements deserve scrutiny for they affect serious issues in our world. We can disagree, to be sure, but the consequences might well force us to reconsider.

Posted by Matt at 10:28 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 16, 2006

The Boy Scouts are a Religion?

Do you consider the Boy Scouts a religion? A judge in San Diego said it was, and now the 9th Circuit (oh joy) gets a shot at it.

Arguments in a major Boy Scouts case unfolding in Pasadena, Calif., before a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals – a case that is certain to be headed for the Supreme Court -- centered on the contention that the revered organization is actually a religion and should therefore not be given a lease of public land.

The case was brought by self-declared agnostics Lori and Lynn Barnes-Wallace and Michael and Valerie Breen, along with a son of each, in protest of a lease of parkland in Balboa Park and Fiesta Island by the city of San Diego to the Boy Scouts of America.

The agnostics sued the city on a claim that the lease to the Boy Scouts – out of more than 100 leases, including to the YMCA, a number of Jewish groups, one of which conducts Sabbath services on parkland, and the Girl Scouts – violates the Establishment of Religion Clause of the First Amendment, and that they are suffering "inferior usage" thereby because they don't want to have to apply for permits, or pay usage fees, to the BSA. The case is Barnes-Wallace, et al. v. Boy Scouts of America, Nos. 04-55732, 04-56167.

A federal judge in San Diego granted the summary judgment to the agnostics, finding that the Boy Scouts are a "religion" because of the Boy Scout Oath, which includes doing one's duty to "God and my country," and the Boy Scout Law, which includes "reverence" as one of 12 precepts. Also, the Scouts require a belief in God as a condition of membership.

The city itself is not part of the appeal. It settled with the American Civil Liberties Union to avoid further expense, agreeing to terminate the lease and to give the ACLU $940,000 in attorney fees. The appeal continues since the Boy Scouts, if they prevail, want to be able to contract for a lease with the city again.

The case has drawn national attention because the federal judge's finding that the BSA is "a religion" imperils the future work of not only the Boy Scouts, but all organizations that recognize a transcendent higher authority, including community service organizations like Rotary and Kiwanis, Alcoholics Anonymous, which works directly with the courts and government, and veterans organizations like the American Legion, whose constitutional preamble begins "For God and Country," almost identical to the Boy Scouts Oath.

That any federal judge considered the BSA a religion is truly unbelievable. But the idea that using the "G" word in a sentence prevents you from consideration at all by any level of government is even more preposterous. When you see how much religion the Founding Fathers allowed for in government by their actions, this can't possibly be a First Amendment issue. At least not the First Amendment the way they intended it to be. But to the "living document" judges, the Constitution means whatever they want it to mean. Today. Until they change their minds. Again.

So much for the Constitution be a foundation.

Posted by Doug at 04:21 PM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

Christian "Music"

Jeffrey Overstreet points to this really great post about the problems with Contemporary Christian Music.

Posted by Matt at 12:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 15, 2006

Still More on Iraq's WMDs

Another former Baathist member and former high-ranking General in Hussein's army has come out to say that he understands that Iraq's WMDs have been moved to Syria.

[Ali Ibrahim] Al-Tikriti says he knows Saddam's weapons are in Syria because of contingency plans established as far back as the late 1980s, in the event either Damascus or Baghdad were taken over.

"Not to mention, I have discussed this in-depth with various contacts of mine who have confirmed what I already knew," he said.

Saddam, after lying for so many years, knew the U.S. eventually would come for the weapons, he said, and wanted to maintain legitimacy with pan-Arab nationalists.

Also, he had "wanted since he took power to embarrass the West, and this was the perfect opportunity to do so," al-Tikriti said.

"After Saddam denied he had such weapons, why would he use them or leave them readily available to be found?" he said. "That would only legitimize President Bush, who he has a personal grudge against."

What we are witnessing now, he said, "is many who opposed the war to begin with are rallying around Saddam saying we overthrew a sovereign leader based on a lie about WMD. This is exactly what Saddam wanted and predicted."

What I find interesting was his motivation to leave the Baathists.
Al-Tikriti said he turned against the Baath Party after his wife stood up to him and questioned his brutal tactics.

"This really made me think, because no one has ever even considered to question the tactics of myself or any others and lived to tell about it," he said. "This courageous move made me think deep and hard."

If you're a married man, or about to be one (as one of our Stones is), this bit of advice is always timely. Listen to your wife. Yeah, you can always come up with a bad biblical example (Adam, for instance) but typically a man's wife is a source he should tap more often.

And women, you can stand by your man, but stand up to him, too.

Posted by Doug at 03:07 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 14, 2006

The Fascinating Pennsylvania Governor's Race

Without a doubt, one of the most fascinating elections to watch this year will be the Pennsylvania Governor's Race where Democratic incumbent Ed Rendell is seeking a second term. Today, the race took an interesting twist as Republican challenger Jim Panyward dropped out(Hat tip: Swann Blog). Now it's a two man race with Hall of Fame receiver Lynn Swann taking the Republican nomination.

Anyone who watched the standing ovation Swann received at the Super Bowl a couple of weeks ago can see that he is still incredibly popular. He's also very handsome, intelligent, and articulate, all of which make him a very appealing candidate.

This should be a fun race to watch.

Posted by Tom at 07:08 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

A Letter from Nineva

The mayor of Tall'Afar in Iraq has some choice words for our military. The Mudville Gazette has the full letter, but here are two hard-hitting paragraphs.

Our city was the main base of operations for Abu Mousab Al Zarqawi. The city was completely held hostage in the hands of his henchmen. Our schools, governmental services, businesses and offices were closed. Our streets were silent, and no one dared to walk them. Our people were barricaded in their homes out of fear; death awaited them around every corner. Terrorists occupied and controlled the only hospital in the city. Their savagery reached such a level that they stuffed the corpses of children with explosives and tossed them into the streets in order to kill grieving parents attempting to retrieve the bodies of their young. This was the situation of our city until God prepared and delivered unto them the courageous soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who liberated this city, ridding it of Zarqawi’s followers after harsh fighting, killing many terrorists, and forcing the remaining butchers to flee the city like rats to the surrounding areas, where the bravery of other 3d ACR soldiers in Sinjar, Rabiah, Zumar and Avgani finally destroyed them.

I have met many soldiers of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment; they are not only courageous men and women, but avenging angels sent by The God Himself to fight the evil of terrorism.

I encourage you, as the saying goes, to read the whole thing.

Posted by Doug at 10:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 13, 2006

Abramoff: Not Just a Republican Scandal

Lately most of the media coverage in the Abramoff scandal has been focused on the acknowledgement by the White House that a photo of President Bush with the disgraced lobbyist is authentic. However, the Democrat who has been leading the charge in attacking Republicans over this issue has his own connections to Abramoff:

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid wrote at least four letters helpful to Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff, and the senator's staff regularly had contact with the disgraced lobbyist's team about legislation affecting other clients.

The activities _ detailed in billing records and correspondence obtained by The Associated Press _ are far more extensive than previously disclosed. They occurred over three years as Reid collected nearly $68,000 in donations from Abramoff's firm, lobbying partners and clients.

Reid's office acknowledged Thursday having "routine contacts" with Abramoff's lobbying partners and intervening on some government matters _ such as blocking some tribal casinos _ in ways Abramoff's clients might have deemed helpful. But it said none of his actions were affected by donations or done for Abramoff.

"All the actions that Senator Reid took were consistent with his long- held beliefs, such as not letting tribal casinos expand beyond reservations, and were taken to defend the interests of Nevada constituents," spokesman Jim Manley said.

Reid, D-Nev., has led the Democratic Party's attacks portraying Abramoff's lobbying and fundraising as a Republican scandal.

As this scandal unfolds, it is clear that members of both parties are going to be affected. Rather than trying to use this scandal to score political gains, both sides would be wise to examine their own records and come clean about any contacts they have had with Abramoff no matter how routine they might have been.

Here's another prediction: as this story unfolds, expect it to be a major campaign issue in the 2006 elections. It will be much easier for challengers to make the case that they are above corruption and influence when their opponents' ties to Abramoff and other lobbyists are exposed.

Make no mistake, this scandal is primarily a Republican problem especially since they are the party in power and Abramoff seems to have been closely tied to Republicans. But Democrats are fooling themselves if they think they are somehow they will be able to escape from this scandal unscathed.

Posted by Tom at 09:59 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

February 10, 2006

"Cartoon Intifadah" Not Backed Up by Islam's History

Does the Quran prohibit creating any image of the prophet Muhammad? According to Amir Taheri, writing in the Wall St. Journal, no.

There is no Quranic injunction against images, whether of Muhammad or anyone else. When it spread into the Levant, Islam came into contact with a version of Christianity that was militantly iconoclastic. As a result some Muslim theologians, at a time when Islam still had an organic theology, issued "fatwas" against any depiction of the Godhead. That position was further buttressed by the fact that Islam acknowledges the Jewish Ten Commandments--which include a ban on depicting God--as part of its heritage. The issue has never been decided one way or another, and the claim that a ban on images is "an absolute principle of Islam" is purely political. Islam has only one absolute principle: the Oneness of God. Trying to invent other absolutes is, from the point of view of Islamic theology, nothing but sherk, i.e., the bestowal on the Many of the attributes of the One.

The claim that the ban on depicting Muhammad and other prophets is an absolute principle of Islam is also refuted by history. Many portraits of Muhammad have been drawn by Muslim artists, often commissioned by Muslim rulers.

He goes on to list a few of the many famous depictions.

Well then, does this have more to do with a deep Muslim resistance to having their religion made fun of? Again, no.

Now to the second claim, that the Muslim world is not used to laughing at religion. That is true if we restrict the Muslim world to the Brotherhood and its siblings in the Salafist movement, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al Qaeda. But these are all political organizations masquerading as religious ones. They are not the sole representatives of Islam, just as the Nazi Party was not the sole representative of German culture. Their attempt at portraying Islam as a sullen culture that lacks a sense of humor is part of the same discourse that claims "suicide martyrdom" as the highest goal for all true believers.

The truth is that Islam has always had a sense of humor and has never called for chopping heads as the answer to satirists. Muhammad himself pardoned a famous Meccan poet who had lampooned him for more than a decade. Both Arabic and Persian literature, the two great literatures of Islam, are full of examples of "laughing at religion," at times to the point of irreverence.

Again, he offers further historical examples.

So if what some are calling the "Cartoon Intifadah" is not religious in its origin, what is it? Mr. Taheri, explains.

The "rage machine" was set in motion when the Muslim Brotherhood--a political, not a religious, organization--called on sympathizers in the Middle East and Europe to take the field. A fatwa was issued by Yussuf al-Qaradawi, a Brotherhood sheikh with his own program on al-Jazeera. Not to be left behind, the Brotherhood's rivals, Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Liberation Party) and the Movement of the Exiles (Ghuraba), joined the fray. Believing that there might be something in it for themselves, the Syrian Baathist leaders abandoned their party's 60-year-old secular pretensions and organized attacks on the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus and Beirut.
It's political. Much of the defense of Muslims has tried to come at this from one or the other of these perspectives. The fact is that nothing happened for months after the cartoons were first published, and only after a political body called for a response that 10 people (so far) were killed and buildings burned over them. This is a calculated political response, even if it may have gone farther than the Muslim Brotherhood intended.

I'm not thrilled when religion is lampooned, but I understand that not everyone shares the same opinion. One's religion is as personal as one's political opinion and so both are subject to it. Hence, I understand that it's generally all fair game, including my own Christianity. And on the other side, when someone's offended, it is their right to speak out against what they believe to be wrong, whether in fact, or whether it be one opinion vs. another. But this furor is unjustified on many counts. It's has a political origin in spite of claims to the contrary. It doesn't follow Islam's own history. And it has become outrageous in its excess and cruelty.

This may be the oft-cited "less than 1% of Muslims" who are doing all the damage. I can buy that. But how soon will it be before we see this kind of action from the other 99%, rather than just press releases? There has been some, but it's been lost in the din raging over some cartoons.

Posted by Doug at 03:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 09, 2006

The Bluster Dies Down

The Captain brings the NSA wiretapping program into perspective.

The Democrats, of course, initially wanted to hang Bush from a yardarm over this program, but quickly ran into a problem: the White House had kept key Democratic leaders abreast of the program since its 2001 inception. They then wanted to get the public irate over what they kept calling "domestic spying," but eventually realized that the public thought it reasonable to check on international calls from suspected al-Qaeda terrorists during a war against them. Now they have settled for the most reasonable position yet -- that Congress should have some method of weighing the risk/benefit ratio of warrantless wiretaps, even in a time of war. It may still not meet the terms of the Constitution, but politically it's the most resonant message that Democrats can make.

The White House knows this, which is why they changed their position and decided to fully brief both Intelligence Committees in full, rather than just the leadership as they have done throughout the program. It has already paid dividends, although this hasn't received much attention from the media so far. The AP reported that the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Oversight Committee has publicly stated that the program doesn't represent the Big Brother nightmare that its critics have painted it.

And that has been my big problem with those screaming "Impeachment!" over this; they didn't know what they were talking about. Frankly, none of us did. Only now is it coming out, and, predictably, the rhetoric is cooling down (rabid Bush-haters being the perennial exception).

Al Gore himself, in his speech on the subject, demonstrated this problem.

"We still have much to learn about the NSA's domestic surveillance. What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the president of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and insistently," Gore said.

The more we've learned, the less it has troubled even Democrat lawmakers. But Al was a big "Impeachment!" guy, and the Left ate it up.

Some more interesting bits: The original NY Times article noted that purely domestic calls were done under warrant, so the label of "Domestic Spying" lumped in with "warrantless wiretaps" was disingenuous each time they were paired. (Thank you, mainstream media, for propagating that bit of misinformation.) The original article noted that the program was actually suspended twice and further restrictions put into place due to concerns about the legalities, but the Left has ignored this bit of good-faith effort on the part of the Administration.

I am concerned about those on the Right who blindly approve of this. It's not necessarily true that being against the program means you're for the terrorists. I don't really buy the "what do you have to hide?" argument. I just think that much of the noise from the Left about this was knee-jerk, and like Gore's speech, was bluster from ignorance (ignorance, I again note, that we all shared). Some on the Right were, I suspect, willing to accept it just because it was Bush doing it. As I said when this first came out, this is government we're talking about, and unchecked expansion is never a good thing. However, from the get-go this has been checked. It has been modified over legality concerns. And because of this, I'm not as concerned. I'm glad we're having an investigation. Let the chips fall where they may.

Posted by Doug at 05:05 PM | Comments (25) | TrackBack

February 08, 2006

More on the WMD Questions

Today brings another couple of sources that say they know where at least some of Iraq's WMDs are, and one is Hussein himself.

Via Clayton Cramer comes a link to this NY Sun story.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is studying 12 hours of audio recordings between Saddam Hussein and his top advisers that may provide clues to the whereabouts of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

The committee has already confirmed through the intelligence community that the recordings of Saddam's voice are authentic, according to its chairman, Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, who would not go into detail about the nature of the conversations or their context. They were provided to his committee by a former federal prosecutor, John Loftus, who says he received them from a former American military intelligence analyst.

Mr. Loftus will make the recordings available to the public on February 17 at the annual meeting of the Intelligence Summit, of which he is president. On the organization's Web site, Mr. Loftus is quoted as promising that the recordings "will be able to provide a few definitive answers to some very important - and controversial - weapons of mass destruction questions." Contacted yesterday by The New York Sun, Mr. Loftus would only say that he delivered a CD of the recordings to a representative of the committee, and the following week the committee announced that it was reopening the investigation into weapons of mass destruction.

And (also from the NY Sun):
A former special investigator for the Pentagon during the Iraq war said he found four sealed underground bunkers in southern Iraq that he is sure contain stocks of chemical and biological weapons. But when he asked American weapons inspectors to check out the sites, he was rebuffed.

David Gaubatz, a former member of the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations, was assigned to the Talill Air Base in Nasiriyah at the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His job was to pick up any intelligence on the whereabouts of senior Baathists and weapons of mass destruction and then send the information to the American weapons inspectors gathering in Baghdad that would later become the Iraq Survey Group. For his intelligence work he received accolades and meritorious service medals in 2003 and prior years. Before the war he helped uncover a spy in the Saudi military. He also assisted with the rescue and repatriation to America of the family of Mohammed Rehaief, the Iraqi lawyer who helped save Private Jessica Lynch.

Since the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence reopened the case of the missing WMDs, I imagine we'll be hearing more about this in the coming weeks.

Posted by Doug at 03:23 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 07, 2006

Julian Bond Mixes His Inflammatory Metaphors

Finally, Fayetteville State University has released audio of what Julian Bond said in his speech. Turns out that not only does Bond use inflammatory speech, he mixes his inflammatory metaphors.

Hours after his speech, the Web site for World Net Daily published an article in which it quoted Bond as saying, “The Republican Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side by side.” The comment quickly spread on the Internet and prompted sharp criticism from conservatives including Rush Limbaugh, who mentioned the report on his radio show Friday.

According to a recording of Bond’s 45-minute speech reviewed by The Fayetteville Observer, he referred to the Confederate flag as a swastika.

“Their (Republicans) idea of equal rights is the American flag and the Confederate swastika flying side-by-side,” Bond said in a series of jabs against conservatives, getting applause from the audience of about 900 people.

The comments as reported by World Net Daily and other online forums had circulated so widely that, by Friday, Fayetteville State University issued a news release including a statement from Bond.

“I didn’t say these things I’m alleged to have said,” FSU quoted Bond as saying. “There is no one in the audience who can say I said them.”

WND had to get its information from people who attended the speech and probably weren't taking notes. Turns out, they gave Bond more credit than he deserved. Bond's denial was categorical, but in fact he did use the swastika imagery. Now that we have the words themselves, it appears he bumbled in his attempt.

But people are still trying to cover for him.

The criticism has been equally harsh against newspapers and television networks, with conservative organizations and Internet bloggers accusing the media of ignoring offensive remarks. On Monday, World Net Daily posted another article citing FSU’s news release. The site says it verified Bond’s comments as originally reported by talking with people who said they attended the speech.

[Carol] Wood, of the University of Virginia, said three people contacted administrators after hearing about Nazi comments. The university has been in contact with FSU and called the misquotes “outrageous.”

“We had no doubts that this was wrong from the beginning,” Wood said. “How quickly somebody can put a fabrication up and have people believe it — it’s just the way the world is now.”

Yeah, it's truly "outrageous" that when people heard the word "swastika" they immediately thought of Nazis. Please. This wasn't a fabrication by listeners. If anything, it was a gracious mis-hearing of otherwise poorly worded hate speech.

A (43 megabyte) MP3 recording of the speech can be found here.

Posted by Doug at 05:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Christians and Movie Criticism

In talking with a friend the other night, the comment was made that the friend did not appreciate movies with a redemptive story. Note that I am not talking about movies about salvation, those that feature a tearfully repentant drunk kneeling at the altar of a country church. I instead think of many movies within the film noir canon, most of which show that we do indeed pay for our sins.

The topic was Woody Allen. I enjoy Woody Allen's films a great deal; Lori and I watched Annie Hall last night while I graded papers. There is an undeniable truth, however, in Allen's films; almost every one of his protaganists are egomaniacs of the highest order. A proper Christian evaluation of this tendency in Allen's films will note that while we are all sinners, fallen and depraved, behaviors have consequences. In Stardust Memories, Sandy Bates is neurotic and self-involved. He is a rather miserable character, and as a believer, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that such self-indulgence harmed Bates and the women with whom he was involved. Art doesn't have to have resolution, but it is an existential failure to suggest that art is complete without further commentary. Brokeback Mountain may be a very well-made movie, but it cannot be ignored that in pursuing their own fantasies, the protaganists harm their wives and children. Whatever one believes about homosexuality, it is terribly irresponsible to endorse the notion that abandoning one's commitment to one's family is acceptable in pursuit of adolescent lust.

It would be unfair and perhaps even bigoted to limit this criticism to a movie that deals with homosexuality. In fact, Brokeback Mountain is just the latest example. Yes, like Woody Allen, we are all sinners in need of forgiveness. And it is because of this truth that our own criticism should not ignore, nor it should unlovingly condemn, the truth that our sins have dire consequences for ourselves and for those around us.

Posted by Matt at 12:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 06, 2006

"Cutting Edge" Medicine

This is simply beyond the pale. Feel the need to self-abuse? Some in the medical profession want to give you clean blades. And I'm not talking about shaving.

A professional nurses group is proposing that "self-harming" patients who are intent on mutilating themselves be given clean blades, bandages and "how-to" advice so they can cut themselves more safely.

The proposal for "safe" self-harm will be debated in April at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Congress and is expected to prove controversial.

"Safe self-harm"? Cutting yourself more safely? Is this what the medical community has come to?

Current practice mirrors what most people expect of the medical profession - stopping anyone from harming himself and removing any sharp objects that could be used to cut the skin.
Not to mention, quite possibly, psychological help and counselling. The new proposal is basically throwing in the towel.
According to the National Mental Health Association, self-harm - also termed self-mutilation, self-injury or self-abuse - is defined as the "deliberate, repetitive, impulsive, non-lethal harming of one's self. It includes: 1) cutting, 2) scratching, 3) picking scabs or interfering with wound healing, 4) burning, 5) punching self or objects, 6) infecting oneself, 7) inserting objects in body openings, 8) bruising or breaking bones, 9) some forms of hair-pulling, as well as other various forms of bodily harm. These behaviors, which pose serious risks, may by symptoms of a mental health problem that can be treated."
But if they won't get help, these nurses would like you to be comfortable in your mental illness. They're even likely willing to take other peoples' money to pay for it.
RCN's Jeremy Bore supports the proposal. "We should give patients clean blades and a clean environment to self-harm and then access to good-quality dressings," he said

"My instinct is that it is better to sit with the patient and talk to them while they are self-harming."

Well, of course. That would make sense. Except Mr. Bore isn't interested in talking them out of it.
"We should definitely give advice on safer parts of the body to cut. It could get to the stage where we could have a discussion with the patient about how deep the cuts were going to be and how many."

One would hope it would get to the stage of telling them where to go for help. He doesn't mention that.

And the RCN maps out quite nicely the slippery slope we're currently on.

Ian Hulatt, mental health adviser for the RCN, sees a parallel to the similar proposal to give hypodermic needles to drug users to prevent the spread of AIDS through shared needles.

Not that far from free needles to allow you to slowly kill yourself to free blades to allow your mental condition to progress (but comfortably).
According to one unnamed source, some nurses already do what is being proposed. "We may not like someone self-harming, but they are going to do it whether we like it or not and we will need to deal with the problems afterwards."

You know what I never hear suggested? "Kids are going to smoke anyway; let's give them safe cigarettes." Unless you think smoking is a sign of mental disease, does it really make sense to ban a legal action while supporting the habits of junkies and cutters? I've never really bought into the argument that since someone is going to do something anyway, that we should make them comfortable in their destruction and provide them the tools to feed their habit. The medical profession pledges to do no harm, not less harm.

Fortunately, there are those speaking out against this.

The UK's Patient Association has come out against the proposal. "Supplying individuals who self-harm with blades cannot be good for them," said the group's director of communications. "Nurses should not be supporting patients to self-harm. By giving self-harmers the tools they need, the nurses could be seen as encouraging individuals to harm themselves. We should be doing something to discourage this behavior."

And that logic follows for all the other giveaways; needles, condoms, whatever. We encourage those things we enable. This is an issue of co-dependence, not compassion.

Posted by Doug at 02:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Julian Bond Issues Denial...Sort of

Julian Bond is now trying to deny that he made Yet Another Inappropriate Nazi Reference (tm).

Stung by national criticism of a speech in which he reportedly equated the Republican Party and Nazis, Julian Bond, the chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, denies the comments attributed to him by members of the audience and has lashed out at WND as a "right-wing blog."

Fayetteville State University in North Carolina has issued a careful statement on the speech by Bond and issued a press release including the NAACP leader's denial of the remarks.

"I didn't say these things I'm alleged to have said," the university quotes Bond as saying. "There is no one in the audience who can say I said them. The reporter from the Fayetteville newspaper did not report I said them. I have denied I said them and refuse to engage in a back and forth about what I did say. This is an irresponsible attack by a right-wing blog – a partisan blog – and these kinds of attacks should be expected and dismissed for what they are."

(By "right-wing blog" he means WorldNetDaily, an actual news organization.) The university is standing by him...sort of.
University officials say they reviewed a tape of Bond's speech. But an official statement issued by Jeffrey Womble, director of public relations for the university, was carefully worded to avoid addressing whether Bond actually uttered the words attributed to him in the WND story.

"We received numerous calls and emails from concerned individuals about Mr. Bond's presentation, so we felt compelled to review the tape in an effort to address their concerns," said Womble. "After a close review, we have concluded that the comments attributed to Mr. Bond about the Republican Party, Dr. Rice, and Mr. Colin Powell were not made."

Specifically, he said, nowhere during Bond's speech was reference made to the Nazi Party.

However, the key quotes reported by WND never mentioned the Nazi Party. Instead, Bond was quoted as saying: "The Republican Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side by side."

Technically, no, Mr. Bond didn't use the "N" word in a sentence. But I highly doubt that he was trying to associate Republicans with "a symbol of good luck and auspiciousness".

However, there were actually people listening to what he said. They disagree with Julian's account.

That quote and other comments reportedly made by Bond at the speech were relayed by members of the audience who were appalled at the specific charges as well as the overall divisive tone of the address.

Leon Delaine, who describes himself as "African-American," is one of those audience members who contacted WND. He said he and his family walked out on the Bond speech because of the offensive comments.

So it sounds like Mr. Bond has been caught and is trying to weasel his way out. Today, if you search for "'julian bond' swastika", unlike the paltry coverage yesterday, you get a bit more; 24 hits. Of course, WND still owns the story, and all the commentary you find is from the right. The Left still considers the devaluation of crimes against humanity no big deal if it's one of their guys doing it. And apparently they're also not willing to look into the disconnect in his denials of it.

UPDATE: James Taranto has more details on the denial (he called the university to get the specifics what and wasn't said--doesn't sound good for Julian). He notes:

n any case, all of this reinforces the point we made on Friday, which is that the so-called mainstream media were at best negligent in their coverage of the speech. Bond said quite a few partisan and inflammatory things that no one disputes, yet the local media characterized him as having a "positive attitude" and being engaged in a "fight for equal rights." Were it not for WND, we would not know that Bond had anything harsher to say than, "We have a president who talks like a populist and governs for the privileged."

Most telling of all, Bond is expressly citing the local media's silence as if it were exculpatory. In fact, it is incriminating--not of Bond, but of those journalists who respond to his divisive rhetoric with an indulgent wink. If the press won't report what a prominent and respected black leader says to a mostly black audience, how can the public develop informed views on issues of race?

Posted by Doug at 12:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 03, 2006

The Missing WMDs

If the #2 guy in Saddam's air force had information about WMDs in Iraq, would you believe him?

Even if he didn't say what you wanted him to?

The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein's air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed.

The Iraqi general, Georges Sada, makes the charges in a new book, "Saddam's Secrets," released this week. He detailed the transfers in an interview yesterday with The New York Sun.

"There are weapons of mass destruction gone out from Iraq to Syria, and they must be found and returned to safe hands," Mr. Sada said. "I am confident they were taken over."

But don't you think we would have noticed that; a bunch of trucks or planes heading to Syria for no good reason? Mr. Sada tells us what Saddam was doing while the UN fiddled.

Mr. Sada, 65, told the Sun that the pilots of the two airliners that transported the weapons of mass destruction to Syria from Iraq approached him in the middle of 2004, after Saddam was captured by American troops.

"I know them very well. They are very good friends of mine. We trust each other. We are friends as pilots," Mr. Sada said of the two pilots. He declined to disclose their names, saying they are concerned for their safety. But he said they are now employed by other airlines outside Iraq.

The pilots told Mr. Sada that two Iraqi Airways Boeings were converted to cargo planes by removing the seats, Mr. Sada said. Then Special Republican Guard brigades loaded materials onto the planes, he said, including "yellow barrels with skull and crossbones on each barrel." The pilots said there was also a ground convoy of trucks.

The flights - 56 in total, Mr. Sada said - attracted little notice because they were thought to be civilian flights providing relief from Iraq to Syria, which had suffered a flood after a dam collapse in June of 2002.

"Saddam realized, this time, the Americans are coming," Mr. Sada said. "They handed over the weapons of mass destruction to the Syrians."

But can we believe this guy?
In his visit to the Sun yesterday, Mr. Sada was accompanied by Terry Law, the president of a Tulsa, Oklahoma based Christian humanitarian organization called World Compassion. Mr. Law said he has known Mr. Sada since 2002, lived in his house in Iraq and had Mr. Sada as a guest in his home in America. "Do I believe this man? Yes," Mr. Law said. "It's been solid down the line and everything checked out."

Said Mr. Law, "This is not a publicity hound. This is a man who wants peace putting his family on the line."

Mr. Sada acknowledged that the disclosures about transfers of weapons of mass destruction are "a very delicate issue." He said he was afraid for his family. "I am sure the terrorists will not like it. The Saddamists will not like it," he said.

They won't be the only ones who won't like it. Folks won't give up their "Bush lied!" meme without a fight.

Posted by Doug at 01:25 PM | Comments (58) | TrackBack

If He Were A Republican...

...this would be hate speech.

Civil rights activist and NAACP Chairman Julian Bond delivered a blistering partisan speech at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina last night, equating the Republican Party with the Nazi Party and characterizing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her predecessor, Colin Powell, as "tokens."

"The Republican Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side by side," he charged.

But since he's a Democrat, nothing will happen, and mostly because the MSM won't notice. A search of "'julian bond' swastika" in Google News (at this moment) showed only WorldNetDaily covering this. A blog and a college newspaper were the only other mentions of it. Just a collective yawn from the Left.

This time.

UPDATE: James Taranto has more.

Posted by Doug at 12:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 01, 2006

Louisiana Just Said "No"

Why didn't the federal government help Louisiana out earlier, in anticipation of Katrina? We now know (with a hat tip to Captain's Quarters), that it's partly because Louisiana told them to stay away.

A ranking Louisiana health official turned down federal offers to help move or evacuate patients as Hurricane Katrina bore down on New Orleans, a newly released document shows.

But the state's top medical officer said Louisiana coordinated with the federal Health and Human Services Department in evacuating hospitals and nursing homes after Katrina hit.

Two days before the Aug. 29 storm, HHS was told by the state's health emergency preparedness director that the help was not needed, according to an e-mail released Monday by a Senate panel investigating the government's response to Katrina.

The state official, identified in the Aug. 27 e-mail as Dr. Roseanne Pratts, "responded no, that they do not require anything at this time and they would be in touch if and when they needed assistance," wrote HHS senior policy analyst Erin Fowler.

The more evidence that comes out, the more it becomes clear that the state abrogated many of its responsibilities, and then proceeded to blame others. Yet we still hear from the media and the liberal pundits about problems with the federal response, as if that is the only place any failures occurred. To be sure, they could have done a lot better, but when the feds deferred to the state, that was their proper role. Would folks that are all up in arms about the feds listening in on Americans talking to terrorists, contrarily, yawn over the military barging in and taking over whenever the feds thought they knew better? If not, then more notice needs to be taken of Blanco's and Nagin's failure in responding. But you can bet that, in the future, the media will continue to try to Blame Bush(tm).

Posted by Doug at 02:53 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack