May 03, 2002


USS Clueless says it well.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Kevin H. has already written a nice take on a bunch of folks calling themselves "Kingdom Now." My first thought upon reading through their website is that they're so obscure that it may not be worth calling them out and saying nasty things about them. But, then I thought about some of the groups Andrew Sullivan and others have mentioned, the Christian Reconstructionists and so forth, and it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to expose them before they get anywhere. Basically, after looking at their 95 Theses and sifting throught the site in general, I have to say that I think these folks are clueless. They are completely misunderstanding the concept of the kingdom of God, and seem to be attempting to place Jesus in the role that the first-century Jews expected their messiah to fulfill--that of a warrior king who would drive out the Romans and establish a theocracy uniting an independent Israel. Those folks were mistaken about Jesus' true mission, and so is Kingdom Now. The kingdom of heaven that John the Baptist foresaw and Jesus proclaimed is a kingdom of the heart, and its citizens are those who accept Jesus at His word. It's not political, it's not a nation-state, not a legal union of any kind. It's beyond all that, so much so as to make the kingdoms of earth seem as passing and insignificant as they are.

This doesn't mean that the United States is "warped" or any of the other things that Kingdom Now says it is. Our nation isn't a perfect place--no earthly nation is or ever will be--but it's the best place on earth, and that's due in large part to the true Christian heritage upon which it was founded. Kingdom Now seems bent on, something--it's hard to figure out exactly what they want, other than to make sure no Christians actually support their government in any way--but whatever they want isn't what the vast majority of Christians want. Kingdom Now, Reconstructionists, and similar groups simply don't represent the mainstream of Christianity and never will.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Sen. Robert Byrd, ex-KKK activist and life-long pork-barrel king, is miffed that Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge won't testify to his committee. Juicy bits:

"Instead of allowing Director Ridge to testify, the administration would rather trivialize homeland security with these made-for-television stunts," Byrd said.

"This committee cannot be distracted from our efforts by these sophomoric political antics," he added.

"This committee demands the right to orchestrate the most sophomoric political antics on its own," he added huffily.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The Donkeys are all set to send a video to their state organizations that accuses President Bush of breaking a bunch of campaign promises. Ever the generous ones, the tape will be allowed use in political ads and so forth. Three chief accusations can be found on the tape, and my replies are between them:

* His tax cuts wouldn't cause deficits. Democrats say budget deficits have returned and may continue until 2005 at least.

Deficits, deficits, what other event just might be to blame for deficits? Oh yeah, it almost slipped my mind--THE WAR. And, contrary to what Dem. Rep. Cynthia McKinney says, President Bush did not start the war.

* He wouldn't use the Social Security trust fund for other budget needs. Democrats say he's on track to spend $1 trillion of it in the next decade.

Proof? Ya got any? He's trying to save Social Security from you dunderheads who won't allow any actual capitalism to influence or bolster it.

* He'll spend more on education. Democrats say the hike in education spending was smallest in six years.

So, let me get this straight--he did boost education spending, as the Dems acknowledge--just not enough for them. He's fulfilled that promise, they admit it, but they're accusing him of breaking promises anyway. The Donkeys are desparate. Here's why.
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, One of the arguments against abortion, in the early days of that fight, was that it would lead to other horrors--that our society would begin to slide down a slippery slope of disrespect for life. As the argument went, today we would legalize first-trimester abortion, then pretty soon we'd legalize infanticide, either on grounds of deformity or because the mother decided at the last minute that she didn't want the child. That would eventually lead to still other horrors--euthanasia, abortion as birth control or gender selection, the state interfering in family situations involving minors, and to still other horrors that were, at that time, the stuff of science fiction. Those arguments were dismissed at the time for their speculative nature, and their apocalyptic qualities.

Well, it's 2002, 29 years after Roe. Abortion, despite only garnering the support of half the public, is the unstoppable force in current politics. And its nationalization has changed the moral landscape in the country, probably forever. Infanticide is here, in the form of partial birth abortion. Abortion is used, more often than not, as a form of birth control and to select the gender of a couple's next child. Euthanasia is here in Oregon, and just missed passing in Hawaii yesterday. The state does interfere now in family situations, via failing to pass parental consent laws, and allowing in some cases schools and other government actors to facilitate abortions for minors without consulting their parents. And now the science fiction front has arrived--we're debating cloning, for purposes of "therapy" and reproduction, as though we were debating tax policy.

The slippery-slopers were right.
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Ben Domenech is giving reading comprehension lessons to InstaPundit regarding President Bush and the thorny question of cloning. This debate has been fascinating to observe and take part in. Insta, Postrel et al essentially make their case for cloning based on pie-in-the-sky promises, a cavalier approach to fundamental questions of life and death, willful distortions of their opponents' arguments, an end-justifies-the-means philosophy and an essentially utilitarian worldview. The anti-clone side essentially says that life is too precious to tinker around with, and offers reasoned arguments to justify that basic assumption. Ben's post is another in a long line of anti-clone reasoning, picking apart InstaPundit's rants against the president and his Commission on Bioethics. I predict a distorted rejoinder from InstaPundit.

In case you're wondering where I come down on the issue, I'm against cloning. I explain why here, and take a swat at the utilitarian argument favoring cloning here.

I'd also like to take a minute to make the case that just because a person's position on a given issue is rooted in their religion is no reason to dismiss that position out of hand. InstaPundit is especially guilty of this, calling any pro-life position "theological," as though that settles it. It doesn't. We all, every one of us, operates on the basis of our world view. That world view includes our individual take on morality, ethics, and politics, in addition to the more esoteric issues such as the afterlife, etc. Glenn Reynolds' world view is essentially libertarian, which is no problem, but that world view--that the government should stay as small as possible, that liberty and freedom for individuals remain center stage in our republic, and so forth--informs and shapes his views of the issues of the day. I agree with many of the sentiments of his world view, but I come at it from a different angle, an angle which informs the moral and ethical side a little more strongly than the individual rights positions. It's a specious attack if I say that because Reynolds' opinion is based on irreligious thought it's invalid, and it's an equally faulty attack if he says that because my positions are influenced by my faith that they're invalid. If we do that, neither one of us is really engaging the position of the other--we're just name-calling and talking past each other. So yes, my position on cloning is informed to a degree by my faith, and his position is informed by his absolute committment to the rights of the individual--so what? My position is also grounded in science, and in the notion that our society should draw some bright red lines around the question of life in a way that settles it, and where I would settle it, based on science and my faith, would leave cloning out of bounds. What is his position grounded in? I think I've answered that question in the first paragraph of this post.
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May 02, 2002


dares to offer a science-based critique of evolution, and is now facing the wrath of the Darwinists. I don't feel so lonely anymore. By the way, my speciation challenge is still open to anyone who can demonstrate conclusively that species X became species Y. You must supply proof of the change, and proof that the "new" species can't reproduce with the old one. If reproduction is asexual, that's a bummer for the organism, and you must supply some other definitive proof that you have a new species. No hand-waving arguments, no speculation--proof.

By the way, the Watermellons guy is a scientist and an agnostic, and his critique is well worth the read. He's also been questioning whether gays are born or made. The guy's got nerve, I'll give him that.

(link via Cut on the Bias)
Posted by B. Preston at 10:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Today the President called for Israel to end its "occupation" of the West Bank. So if it's uncontroversial, why did I blog it? Because I'm anticipating a few of you out there getting all hysterical and saying "See--look! Bush is wobbling on Israel again!"

In the same story, he also says that any Palestinian state can't be founded on terror, which essentially means that Arafat can't have a role in founding it. But, Bush isn't wobbling on Israel because this statement follows the logic of previous statements supporting the creation of a Palestinian state. If you're creating such a state, Israel will have to pull out of it, right? So in saying that the occupation will have to end, he's just following the same line of thought that has been in operation throughout. What he didn't say here is also important--he didn't call the occupation "illegal," which it isn't. He didn't say it was "inhumane" or any of the other garbage we hear from the anti-Israeli crowd (yes, Bob Wright, anti-Israeli), he just said it has to end, sometime. That's kind of a no-brainer, really.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Idiotarian Michael Moore is making a movie about Littleton, Colorado. Predictably, he's letting the actual murderers of Columbine High School off the hook for their massacre, blaming the whole thing on a bigger target:

“IT LAYS THE BLAME for the event squarely on the shoulders of the violent culture in the Denver and Columbine [Littleton, Colo.] area,” says an insider familiar with the flick. “Michael sees the Denver area as having very violent, military culture. After all, Lockheed Martin makes weapons of mass destruction there.”

Yeah, that's why they did it. Because Lockheed makes bombs in the area. What a ghoul.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


He's called off the Jenin mission, and the UN Security Council seems to be blaming Israel. Problem with that is Israel was ready to allow the team in until the team's composition and vague goals were announced. It looked and smelled like a set-up, and it probably was, considering that two of the three principals on the team had either made openly anti-Israeli remarks or taken part in an anti-Semitic conference. All three principals were bureaucrat types with no experience in counter-terrorism or military tactics and affairs, and would not have produced a balanced report.

As we already know, the death toll from Jenin has shrunk dramatically, with even the Palestinians claiming less than 100 killed. That fact should speak for itself--Israel lost 23 soldiers fighting house-to-house when they could have just firebombed the whole town from the air, saving their own personnel from deadly urban warfare.

The failure to send in a fact-finding team will leave, in the minds of the idiotarians, one more reason to doubt and even hate Israel--that's why Israel would have welcomed a balanced team with a clear, specific mission. It would have cleared Israel's name. By composing the team the way he did, and by leaving its goals unspecific, Kofi Annan bears the blame for this, and he's given the Arab states one more bloody shirt to wave.

The UN is supposed to exist for the purpose of promoting peace. It has instead pushed the Middle East that much closer to war.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


is pretty swank. Nice digs. Check him out, if you haven't already.
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May 01, 2002


The Dallas Cowboys, always and forever my team whether they’re bound for the Super Bowl or the cellar, will be the featured team on HBO’s reality series Hard Knocks this season.

Ya know, I wonder if this whole deeplinking lawsuit was the News’ rope-a-dope technique to drive up its hit counter…..
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A Reformation may be beginning.
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: Now we get to keep our tweezers.
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is a set-up I tell you, a set-up! It turned me into
A freakin' RINO--ME???
Posted by B. Preston at 10:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


over at Naughty Di's place.
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: A Dutch forensic doctor, not affiliated to any UN mission, is touring Jenin, searching for signs of the "massacre." So far, no evidence has turned up. But he still manages to say something stupid:

Dr Cohen explains that his mandate is to examine victims of violence, either dead or alive, in order to establish the cause of their injuries or death. This forensic evidence will be passed on to experts in the field who can decide whether the violence used was disproportionate or not.

"So far, I have reason to believe that the numbers are not quite as large as has been claimed. I would not choose the word ‘massacre,' but at the same time I have proper evidence that unlawful killings have taken place. In my view, it doesn't really matter whether these unlawful killings concern 10 or 20 or 500 people. But evidently, there are not hundreds of victims."

Actually, it matters a huge amount whether there are 10 or 20 or 500 dead. The lower numbers would be indicative of the so-called collateral damage that is inevitable, especially during house-to-house missions such as went on in Jenin. The higher figure would be evidence of something more sinister.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Here's the Reuters story. It lists a series of objections Israel lodged against the probe:

In Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Israel was "ready for any examination, since its hands are completely clean." He said Israel had six objections to the mission's ground rules that had not been satisfactorily answered, the main one being that "only Israel can decide who will testify before the committee."

The Israelis also have argued that the team should not be allowed to draw conclusions but only gather facts.

Israel also seeks government control over the mission's access to Israeli witnesses and wants soldiers and government employees protected from prosecution on war-crimes charges.

Those are among Israel's objections, but the chief objection was the composition of the team itself: an International Red Cross bureaucrat who'd compared the Star of David to the swastika, a humanitarian and refugee specialist, and a player at last year's World Conference Against Rasicm, which compares somewhat unfavorably with Third Reich marches and bookburning parties. Israel requested adding a military expert and a counter-terrorism expert, which the UN agreed to add but not with status equal to the other three. By only highlighting the objections it chose, Reuters gives the reader the impression that Israel is merely trying to hide something by limiting access to witnesses and demanding immunity for them. To paraphrase a Reuters exec, one man's objective reporting is another man's selective bias.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 30, 2002


I've been hesitant to write this, for fear that I'll appear to be engaging in Catholic-bashing. I'm not, but it has occurred to me that one difference between Baptists and Catholics is the way we view the priesthood. Another is the structure of the Southern Baptist Convention as opposed to the Catholic Church. In Catholic teaching and tradition, priests are said to be agents of God, and representatives of Jesus Himself. In that role, priests are set above and apart from the laiety, which are seen as believers of lesser rank. This rank structure continues all the way up through the parish to the cardinals and finally to the Pope in Rome. It is an authoritarian structure, with the Pope ruling essentially as a king, issuing edicts which must be obeyed. Please, Catholics, correct me if I'm wrong, that that's how this outsider sees things.

Baptists, on the other hand, have no structured priesthood or rank. The Baptist teaching is called the "priesthood of the believer," which means that all believers are priests. Translated out of Christianese and into English, this means that the local ordained pastor occupies no higher rank in the church than the average believer--just that the pastor happens to have been called by God to perform the function of leading the local church and has been ordained to carry out that work. Laypersons are equally responsible to further the work of the kingdom of God, but through their lives as average citizens Pastors are in every way just like other believers--marrying, having kids, even holding down regular jobs. I once served as a youth pastor to a church where I was unpaid, so I worked nights at a donut factory (the worst job by far I've ever had), and the pastor was a building contractor. We had no music director, so he and I took turns leading the singing part of worship. It was a very hard summer working in that church, but the pastor taught me volumes about leadership, church building and caring for the people around me--and he built houses on the side.

As for the Baptist faith beyond the local church, it's organized along the lines of the local churches--everyone's still equal as a full priest, from the newest member to the president of the Southern Baptist Convention (that's the analog to Rome and governs large-scale efforts like charities, humanitarian work and missions). Local churches and the convention share a set of common beliefs that are more or less in line with the 1689 Confession, but local churches also each have a constitution which spells out that church's specific beliefs. For instance, some churches allow non-members to hold offices such as teacher or music leader, some don't--it's pretty much up to the local church to decide, as long as there's agreement on the basics and the 1689 document. Local churches also choose their leadership, from pastor to youth director all the way to groundskeeper, and if the membership decides they don't like an officer they have the full right to get rid of them.

What all of this means is that the local church body pretty much runs its own affairs, but has the convention to call on for problems that may be too large to handle on its own. Finances go up and down the chain, with the local churches contributing to fund mission work and such, and the convention helping local bodies with low-cost financing for building projects and the like. I was once member of a church where our treasurer embezzled thousands of dollars from church accounts. The church was planning to expand and update is facility--the theft was a blow to that effort, and threatened to split the church itself. But our leadership went before the membership and explained the matter and we handled most of it locally, only referring to the convention for legal issues. And, while we forgave the thief and prayed for him and his family, we turned the case over to the authorities for prosecution. He did jail time, as he should have. And the SBC helped raise money and secure financing to allow the building project to proceed.

My point in all this is that I don't think a cover-up of the magnitude that we're seeing exposed in the Catholic Church is possible in the SBC. Yes, we've had our embarassing moments and we've dealt with our share of charlatans and hacks, but the very structure and belief system of the SBC just doesn't seem conducive to large-scale cover-ups. A cover-up at the Convention level isn't likely to touch the local level, and vice versa, because of the relationship between the two. We don't place our pastors on pedestals as agents of God--they're just like the rest of us. In turn, we as priests are always within our rights to question the actions of the pastor, deacons and so forth. Yes, children will have a tougher time questioning the pastor's authority, but teenagers certainly don't. Our pastors answer more to the local congregation than to any superior officer on a regional, national or international level, and if we aren't pleased we can kick them out. And the co-equal relationship between the SBC and the local church means that the SBC doesn't typically force-feed things down the throats of the local body or even have the power to transfer problem pastors as a way of hiding scandal.

So should Southern Baptists be crowing over all this? No, and neither should other Protestants. But, one contributing factor to the Catholic Church's ongoing scandal may be the structure of the church itself and the relationship between laiety, priest and Rome. For that, I don't see any remedy that doesn't involve a reformation of a Lutheran magnitude.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: The North Koreans want Wild Bill Clinton to go over there to jump-start negotiations over all the stuff we don't like about them.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


says he'll name Deep Throat in a June 17 e-book published on Salon. Hey, wouldn't it be ironic if Richard Nixon finally makes Salon profitable?
Posted by B. Preston at 11:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, the NY Times serves up this defense of an apologist for pedophilia. Yes, the Catholic scandal isn't mostly about pedophilia, but the same-sex abuse of male teens, but still....and they cloak it all in the name of "academic freedom." The apologist in question is one Prof. Harris Mirkin of the University of Missouri's Kansas City campus. Our universities will allow the stealing of newspapers containing ads that some students find offensive, will allow Christian groups, gun rights groups, and any group that's politically incorrect to be kicked off campus, but the president of UMKC has issued a strong statement in support of Mirkin. Sadly, I can't even say I find this episode shocking. Sickening, yes--shocking, no.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


MSNBC, the Washington Post,The New York Times,UPI, Reuters (on Yahoo), just to name a few. Drudge has us as his banner headline, as of this posting. The Yahoo link also includes links to stories from the BBC, the San Franciso Chronicle, LA Times, CNN, AP, and a whole bunch of others. Our web site had over 3 million hits this afternoon. The animations that appear in the video clips in some of the stories are my work.

Getting this press conference together involved some near-heroic efforts from dozens of people. It's nice to see it paying off in the headlines.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


is over. I was in DC most of the day to produce that, hand off a video for NASA-related Congressional testimony tomorrow (which I also produced), and help set up some displays to show off the images from Hubble's new camera. It's called the Advanced Camera for Surveys, and there's simply been no other astronomical imaging tool like it. In one of the images we premiered today, over 3000 galaxies are visible. That's more than any other image in history, and the galaxies run from the fairly nearby to the vastly far away. The camera's research team believes that one galaxy in the image is nearly 13 billion light years away, which means it's possibly the oldest galaxy ever seen. I say possibly, because no one knows yet--it'll take a while to sift through the data to figure out exactly how far away it really is.

Some wonder why it's important to take pictures of things that are so far away, and that don't even exist as we see them anymore (that's because the light has taken billions of years to reach us, and by the time it does the object has likely changed shape or even disappeared). There are all sorts of cosmic reasons, one of which I addressed a couple of posts down. There are the reasons of the promise of future, yet undreampt of, technology, which USS Clueless highlighted and I linked to a couple of posts down. But there's also the brute force of technology applied to today's issues. We humans want to know what's out there--we've built a 25-thousand pound orbiting telescope to find out. That in and of itself is worth thinking about. We're curious, and because we're a technologically-advanced culture with the cash margin to fund the whetting of our curiosity, we do. We can do these things because we apply the lessons of the past, in the form of engineering, optics, human space flight, and so forth, to today's problem. This attitude that is the basis of things like the Hubble Space Telescope is one of the greatest attributes of American culture. We don't get mired in self-doubt or skepticism--we just decide to do something and then get it done, no matter what it takes. That's what put Hubble in space and has kept it on the cutting edge all these years, and it's what will drive us on to win the war. So when you hear of the next exotic thing that Hubble, or Chandra, or whatever science mission has found, don't think "Who cares?" Think "Another win for America."
Posted by B. Preston at 05:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Martin Roth has a nice article quoting some of the Christian bloggers out here, incuding me. He even got an InstaPundit plug, demonstrating the trickle-down theory of web counters--several readers undoubtedly followed the Insta link to Martin, where he linked to the blogs of the bloggers he quotes, and I know that at least my traffic has bumped as a result. Very nice article, and makes some good points.

I'm one of the bloggers who comment about my faith, but also troll the web to comment on just about anything that interests me. The war has always been my mainstay, but politics, gun-grabbing, Maryland-bashing (politics and culture, not basketball), Texas and the South-praising, science and technology, history--whatever I can talk about without making a complete idiot of myself--are also fair game. If you're new to the site, welcome. If you like it, use the tell-a-friend form on the bottom left of the links area to spread the word. If you hate it and can't believe there's something this bad on the web, use the form to tell your friends so you can all share an inside joke. Either way, have fun.

Thanks to InstaPundit and Martin for the linkage.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


from the Hubble Space Telescope's new camera will be released today at 1 pm Eastern. They're both beautiful and chock full of scientific goodness.
Posted by B. Preston at 07:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 29, 2002


No, I'm not talking about Naughty Di, but a tiny little debate that Andrea Harris and I had a long time ago regarding whether Darrin, the husband to Samantha in Bewitched, was ever called Darwin. I was shamelessly trolling for hits at the time (and who says I'm not now--I am mentioning Darwin, arent I?). Anyhow, here's a show script in which a character (not Endora, though) calls Darrin "Darwin."

There aren't many Bewitched scripts online, but you do find a few interesting fan sites when trolling for such things. Elizabeth Montgomery was such a cutie...
Posted by B. Preston at 09:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, man of his word....NOT!
Posted by B. Preston at 08:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I actually work for the Hubble Space Telescope, but Steven Den Beste explains why humanity should care about cosmology. Steven's reasons have to do with technology, but some of us also care because, as Newton and Einstein and others have said, understanding the universe means that in some sense we're getting closer to understanding the mind of God. That may sound naive and highfalutin' at the same time, but think of it this way--the universe, thus far, has exhibited order from the smallest subatomic particle to the largest structures known, galactic superclusters. Everything belongs in some sense to a group of some kind, that group composed of smaller things that belong to their group, and so forth, up and down the chain from least to greatest and greatest to least. The basic laws that exist and allow life to be seem to govern the entire universe--there's nowhere you can go, it seems, where light and gravity and other forms of energy don't behave in the same basic ways. There may be exceptions, but we don't know of any so far other than stuff the theorticians have come up with. Order, up and down the chain of physics, speaks of a mind, and a mind that pays attention to the details.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Others have posted links to this image sequence, but I've just gotten around to looking at it. In Jenin, the city the UN wants to poke around in for evidence to set up Israeli soldiers for charges in its international criminal court of a massacre, only a couple of blocks in one neighborhood got levelled. The rest of the city stands. Hardly evidence of any war crimes. It is further evidence of Palestinian propaganda, though.
Posted by B. Preston at 07:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, are getting desparate, and want to run a lies and propaganda public relations ad sweep on cable. But our nornally amoral cable networks have decided to stiff them. When you're not good enough for cable, you really have a problem. Tremble, House of Saud, tremble....
Posted by B. Preston at 07:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The US has won back the seat we lost on the UN Human Rights Comission last year. Yeah, this comission is as useless as all other UN comissions, but at least we can use the perch to beat up on Cuba, China and the Arab world again.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


and understands Israel's problem with the UN's fishing expedition "fact-finding" mission in Jenin. There's hope for them big-time j-school grads yet.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 28, 2002


Beaches in the LA area will soon be outfitted with 360-degree surveillance cameras. Pretty soon, there will literally be a CCTV camera watching you everywhere you go.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


14 Christians killed, a Protestant church burned, by Muslim terrosists in Indonesia. Muslims the world over are very, very lucky that there's nothing in Christian teaching like the jihad.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


is is dead, killed in a helicopter crash. In addition to writing backstory pieces for News Max, Lebed was a rival to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bill Quick is as suspicious of this as I am...
Posted by B. Preston at 06:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


another bought and paid-for apologist for Arab terrorism. His library gets boatloads of cash from the House of Saud, among others.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I should've added a link to Ben Domenech a long time ago.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


During his March 5th testimony before Congress, paralyzed Christopher Reeve endorsed the use of cloned stem cells, citing a simple rule that he believes the government should follow when assessing a proposed ban on cloning:

Today 100 million Americans suffer from serious or currently incurable diseases. 54 million Americans are disabled. Our government is supposed to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people; beyond that we have a moral responsibility to help others.

That notion, that the moral resolution to any question is to take the action which will do the most good for the most number of people, is called utilitarianism. Utilitarianism sounds good, but carries with it several problems, the most obvious of which is that the moral actor is never omniscient, and is therefore unable to determine which of his choices can deliver the most good for the most people. It's nearly always impossible to calculate all of the possible consequences for any one action--you'd spend all your time making the calculations and never get around to actually making any decisions.

But leaving that aside, the utilitarian argument falls apart on close inspection for another reason--it leads directly to immoral acts. For instance, in the current Middle East conflict, tiny Israel is beset with enemies all around--the Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, Iranians, Saudis--practically the entire Arab world--want to drive Israel's Jewish citizens into the sea and establish a nation for the Palestinians. The Israelis number a few million, while there are tens of millions of Arabs. The conflict also causes our country problems, since we must constantly balance our own strategic interests in the region against the Arab-Israeli conflict. We are allied to Israel as a democracy, but need Arab oil. Adding to the mix, much of Europe is brimming with an Arab sub-population, making European nations hesitant to appear to support Israel lest their Arab populations turn to violence in protest.

A utilitarian solution to the problem--allow the Arabs to wipe out Israel. There are more Arabs than Israelis; the Europeans don't like the Israelis and their actions make life difficult for the Europeans; our strategic situation in the region suddenly becomes much simpler. So let Israel die--it'll do the most good for the most number of people.

Following the utilitarian line of thought would also bring about things that directly threaten Christopher Reeve and people who suffer from similar injuries. People like Reeve often find it impossible to contribute financially to their families (obviously Reeve himself isn't included, since he's famous), and their ongoing financial, emotional and physical suppport complicates the lives of their loved ones. Non-rich and anonymous paralytics also create a financial burden for total strangers, since the government must often pick up the tab for their therapy, medicines and other needs. There are roughly 300 million Americans, most of which actually pay taxes in one form or another, and some subset of those taxes goes to fund the needs of paralytics like Mr. Reeve. There are at most a few thousand people like Mr. Reeve--the purely utilitarian thing to do would be to do away with paralytics. Their families will no longer have to care for them; the taxpayers will have one less group to support.

Of course, I should point out that since I'm not a utilitarian, I don't favor the extinction of Israel or the execution of paralytics. I assume that Christopher doesn't favor them either. But if we follow the arguments of Mr. Reeve out to their logical ends, that's where we could end up. So when you hear such arguments being made in favor of cloning, or abortion, or anything else, keep in the back of your mind the idea that all moral arguments have unintended consequences. The unintended consequences of morally opposing cloning may mean that some day I'll need a cure that won't be available to me, and I'll die. The unintended consequences of utilitarianism may mean that genocide becomes the official policy of the United States.

UPDATE: The promises of cloning as a cure for Christopher Reeve's spinal injury may not be as rosy as some believe.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack