May 18, 2002


: Anyone who's read this site more than a handful of times knows by now that I don't like Bill Clinton much. In fact, it's no exaggeration to say that I loathe him. He's a lying sack of garbage in my opinion, utterly unfit for election to the local school board, much less the leadership of the free world. So take my speculation for what it is--a self-professed Clinton-hater seeing things that may or may not be there.

We now know that President Clinton was informed, via memo, of the possibility that Al Qaida was mounting an attack on US soil that included crashing hijacked aircraft into US government and other high-value targets--CIA headquarters, the Pentagon, etc. In the pre-9-11 world, such attacks seemed far-fetched. No US domestic plane had been hijacked in years, and there had been only one successful foreign terrorist attack on US soil. Clinton's response to earlier attacks had been tepid at best--Al Qaida had blown up a couple of American embassies in Africa, and the best Clinton and his stellar team of experts could come up with was launching cruise missles at empty tents in Afghanistan and a pill factory in Sudan. Clinton wasn't much interested in pursuing Usama bin Laden to the ends of the earth--we have that account from his former pillow-talking advisor Dick Morris, who claims to have tried to impress upon Clinton the need to take on the shadowy terrorist, and that Clinton's eyes glazed over with boredom during such discussions. During this period, it's fair to say that to Clinton, avenging his impeachment by skewering Republicans was much higher on his to-do list than killing some bearded terrorist holed up in the Afghan caves. Sure, Clinton claims that he was this close to sending in a Special Forces team to get bin Laden, but do you really believe that tale? I don't, because I don't think he would've risked having another Jimmy Carter disaster-in-the-desert fiasco on his hands. He lacked the backbone to take such a risk, especially when polls didn't show terrorism high on the voting public's radar.

We also know that, in his administration's final hours, Bill Clinton did all sorts of devious and unsavory things. He pardoned people who didn't deserve it, and left executive order time bombs for George W. Bush to walk into. One such time bomb was the arsenic level executive order. In eight years in office, Clinton had never done a thing to tighten up the allowable levels of arsenic in our drinking water, but cut those levels by fiat on his way out the door, knowing that Bush would likely countermand that order along with a host of others on his way in. Countermanding the executive orders of an outgoing president who belonged to the other party is pretty much standard fare in Washington politics. Predictably, Bush's action got misreported and distorted by the Democrats, who accused him of wanting to put more arsenic in drinking water. It was a lie and they knew it, but it presented them with an opportunity to paint President Bush as a dangerously stupid and evil man, and Bill Clinton set the whole thing up in a way that would make Chancellor Palpatine proud.

Here's my speculation, and that's all it is--do you suppose that, as another of his little time bombs, Clinton buried some of the juicier stuff about Al Qaida in a file somewhere? Do you suppose it's possible that he took care to keep that file obscure, so as to keep the Bushies off-balance and ill-informed as they took over. I know it sounds loony, and little better than the awful stuff spewed by Rep. Cynthia McKinney since 9-11. But I'm not sure Clinton is above doing this. Before I get too far here, let me say that Clinton didn't know, he couldn't have known, that Al Qaida would do what they did on 9-11, and it must have shocked him as much as it did the entire world. But Clinton did know that they were gunning for Americans worldwide, and had already been implicated in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He also knew that they were likely to strike again, but that their next strike was likely to be on the same scale as those before, and likely on foreign soil as well. Bush had campaigned, in part, on rebuilding the military and refocusing it on real national security threats, terrorism being among those threats. Clinton has made no secret of the fact that he detests Bush and hates the way Gore lost the election. Clinton was acting rashly in his last days in power, for which Mark Rich is eternally grateful. So I speculate that Clinton knowingly hid some good intel and analysis from the incoming Bush administration as a way of making them look stupid down the road somewhere--but the attack we actually got was much worse than he or anyone else had ever dreamed. I think some enterprising reporter could make a real splash by following that 1999 memo around to see what happened to it between its original issue and January 2001. I smell a story here, I really do.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: I went in prepared for disappointment. In fact, I wasn't even really looking forward to seeing, after Episode 1's unevenness, even shoddiness. And I'd read enough reviews to see that opinion about Clones was all over the map: Harry Knowles got to see it before it was finished, and raved about how absolutely, unbelievably good it was. But, he liked The Mummy, so I don't rate his opinions too highly. Roger Ebert saw it with the rest of the movie critics, and didn't like it much. The rest of the movie criticism industry is pretty evenly divided between those who think the magic is back, and those who think the thrill is gone.

So I went in tonight expecting this film to be the overachieving B movie that is the Star Wars franchise, and was pleasantly surprised. Episode 2 is a very good film, with a nice tangled storyline, some of the best action scenes of any Star Wars film, a little romance, and several surprises. Who knew R2-D2 could fly, for instance? And who knew Yoda could...well, if you haven't seen it I don't want to spoil it for you, but Yoda pulls some stuff that's just beyond description. Yoda and Obi-Wan are really the center of the film, with Anakin (who's played well in my opinion) playing the role of the snotty upstart. Christopher Lee as the menacing Count Dooku (that's one of my few problem with the film--couldn't they have come up with a better name than Dooku? Mad Magazine will looooove spoofing that one) is an inspired choice, and Natalie Portman is now the uberbabe of the Star Wars universe. They need to put a light sabre in her hands at some point, though, just for kicks.

Attack of the Clones is so much better than The Phantom Menace that it's almost tough to believe that they're part of the same saga. Clones is everything Menace should've been--it has a plot, the characters actually smile, believably, once in a while (and no one says "Yipee!"--ever), C3P0 is back to being the comic foil he played so well in the early films, and Jar Jar is mercifully minimized. He does play a critical role, and I think that role is the result of fan reaction to him the first time around. Clones gives you a reason to really hate Jar Jar. Clones has textured good guys and interesting villians, the foreshadowing is masterfully handled, you get to meet a few of the characters from the earlier films and understand their roles much better, and you get to see the beginning of Anakin's descent into madness and the dark side. And there is a land battle in Clones that makes the ice planet affair in Empire Strikes Back look like a paintball match.

Attack of the Clones is fun stuff. Make sure you see it in a good theatre with comfortable seats and a kicking sound system (my only gripe about tonight's theatre--the sound was a bit flat), as it clocks in at about 2 hrs 12 minutes. It only felt like about half that, and I left wanting more. That's the mark of good entertainment, and Attack of the Clones is that, and more.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 17, 2002


: like bailing the Titanic with a thimble, but a noble enough effort I guess. If anyone wants to start a "Citizens to Hasten the Destruction of the UN" group, I'll sign on.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


waaaaaay too seriously.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack



(link via NRO)
Posted by B. Preston at 10:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, and the Democrats too. I guess that was redundant, since the media is ever more just the PR arm of the DNC. The 9-11 "warning" story is a dud, but makes a convenient and useful political weapon against a still very popular president. Andrew Sullivan agrees. This whole sorry episode is one more reason that the Democrats have lost me for good--they will say anything, do anything, trump up any charge against a Republican for purely partisan gains, no matter the consequences to the nation and world at large. To call today's Democrat party "intellectually dishonest" assumes too much, since it assumes there's an intellectual component to it. They're just plain dishonest. But if the table is turned on them--if they get accused of even the tiniest thing, they circle the wagons and defend their people to the bitter end, again no matter the consequences outside the party.

This story is the national security equivalent of the Enron "scandal." No one in the Bush administration did anything wrong, and only hindsight provides any rationale for taking action against a 9-11 attack prior to the actual event. And as Crooow Blognotes, most of the hijackers themselves didn't know how the attack would unfold.

The real scandal, if there is one, is that our airport security remains an annoying, useless waste of federal personnel, and none of the reasonable measures for stopping future hijackings are even under consideration. But, let's see....who's mostly to blame for that? Can't arm the pilots because of gun control hysteria--can't profile for terrorists because of racial hysteria. Which party is most responsible for creating the climate of hysteria in America?
Posted by B. Preston at 09:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 16, 2002


, you'd think reprehensible Representative Cynthia McKinney was right--that the Bushies knew Usama was going to do exactly what he did but did nothing to prevent it. This is, of course, garbage. The administration knew that Usama was a threat, and was capable of sophisticated operations. The administration knew that his minions could attempt a hijacking, and even had knowledge floating around that the hijackers would then turn the planes into missiles. But that's where the story largely ends--Usama's info channels were so jammed with chatter in the days leading up to 9-11 that discerning the true plans was all but impossible. And suppose that all the information, all the possibilities regarding all the possible threats, had been filtered properly and sent up the chain of command. What would've happened had the administration grounded flights on 9-10? A few arrests, maybe, and a few embarassing releases when none of the next day's hijackers could be found to have broken any law save visa expirations, which are barely enforced anyway. Deportation proceedings might have started on Atta and a few others, but they still would've been in the country. Then we'd have heard from CAIR about how unfair the whole thing is, how the young Arabs are the victims of racism and profiling without cause. We'd have heard from the airlines about all the lost revenue, from passengers whining about getting stuck in strange airports, and from the Democrats, who wouldn've trotted out all the old canards about Republican racism, Bush's incompetence, etc etc. It would've been a massive fiasco--which would likely have solved nothing. The free Saudis (and a few friends) would've simply boarded other flights later on and carried out their plans anyway.

And remember--the McKinney's of the world haven't just accused the administration of malfeasance, but of outright complicity, in 9-11. She accused the administration of allowing the attacks, of which they had specific foreknowledge, to justify invading Afghanistan, because we all know what a prize Afghanistan is.

Heads should roll, in the FBI and other responsible agencies, and that they haven't attests to the intertia of massive bureaucracies. But today's splash headline is a non-story. Of course our government had intelligence that Usama was planning something--there just wasn't a critical mass of information for them to act upon.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Not the movie--that's here, I know. I'm talking about the missile shield, that thing that's supposed to knock out incoming nukes. That dullard George W. Bush is poised to score one of the biggest political and diplomatic wins of modern times, convincing the Russians that the missile shield will promote stability (which it will). Instead of sparking an arms race as the naysayers feared, star wars is kicking off a new round of detente between the world's two largest nuclear powers.

The Guardian seems displeased with the whole thing. In an article on the subject that purports to be a straight rendering of the facts, the writers use the word "scheme" three times. "Scheme", as opposed to "plan," or "initiative," has a certain negative ring to it. Especially in the context of the article:

After a year of bitter Russian opposition to a scheme which Moscow warned could jeopardise global nuclear stability and spark a new arms race, the Kremlin has accepted a White House offer to cooperate on the national missile defence project (NMD). (emphasis mine)

There's that's a "scheme," not a "vision" or the more balanced "plan."

The Americans are capitalising on the new spirit of partnership to sweep away opposition to the missile shield scheme and co-opt the world's second nuclear power.

The Russians might also be spurred to cooperation by the thought that suddenly the world isn't so simple anymore, and that working with American rather than against her might just be a good idea. Of course, the Russians may not be entirely altruistic here:

The Russians now hope to win a few contracts from the Americans in the multibillion dollar scheme.

This article makes the whole thing sound like a savings and loan, or a shady real estate venture in rural Arkansas. And Heaven forbid that NMD could be developed by the Russians too. Why, they might even make some actual money off it, the filthy, vodka-swilling swine! NMD just might keep a few of their top scientists employed making a purely defensive system when they could be working on more interesting things for the Middle East's highest bidder. What on earth are all these people thinking?
Posted by B. Preston at 09:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 15, 2002


: Jimmah Carter and the Bush administration are at very public odds over the existence of Cuba's bioweapons research program. Josh Marshall thinks Carter is the one telling the truth. I couldn't disagree more strongly. The guy's been out of power for decades, and has a tendency to embrace dictators while believing everything they say. The Bush administration has no reason to lie about this--it's not as though anyone in Washington is seriously thinking about invading Cuba. And Castro has been known to spread misery through Latin American over the years. I'd say this flap is just the latest in a long line of bad moves for the ex-pres.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


has turned violent here in Baltimore. 26-year-old Dantee Stokes shot and wounded a priest that he alledges sexually abused him in 1993. The shooting, which occurred Monday evening in Baltimore city, left 56-year-old Rev. Maurice Blackwell in serious but stable condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Stokes was arrested in a nearby church when he entered to ask for forgiveness, and is on suicide watch.

Rev. Blackwell had been suspended, then later re-instated, when Stokes' accusations first surfaced back in 1993. Blackwell was also suspended in 1998 for similar conduct, then later re-instated again.

For anyone not sufficiently cognizant to get it yet, the original crimes are disgusting, but it's the larger cover-up that makes the scandal so appauling. Had Blackwell's conduct been properly dealt with in 1993--had he gone to jail for the crime of molesting an under-age boy--he wouldn't have had a second (?) victim in 1998, and he wouldn't be in a hospital tonight. It's the cover-ups that have allowed these predatory priests to victimize so many over the years. Secondarily, it is also a primarily homosexual problem. Stokes was 13 when Blackwell molested him--molesting him wasn't pedophilia, it was forced homosexual conduct. Most, nearly all, of the cases currently plaguing the Catholic Church, involve both the cover-up and the homosexual molestation of under-age teen-aged boys--not girls, not children. No solution will heal the church until the scandal's true nature is understood and dealth with.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


was a war crime. They took hostages, they desecrated a religious site while using it to evade Israeli troops, and acted like brutes and animals throughout. They even used Bibles for toilet paper. Can you imagine the outrage if a Jew or Christian did this with the Koran? When will the UN step and demand an investigation of these obvious war crimes? When it steps and investigates all of the other Palestinian war crimes, such as deliberately targeting civilians, fighting out of uniform, hiding weapons in ambulances, using humans as bombs, etc. In other words, never. But the media should make noise until the UN does investigate--if the media was objective, it would. Do you hear anything? Didn't think so.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: No bathroom is complete without it, except that you can't install it in a bathroom. Oh well.

Actually, I've been wanting to rant about Apple for a week now. Man, how I hate, loathe and despise that company. A few months ago I posted a little note about Apple's acquisition of a company called Nothing Real, which made a very real and cool special effects program called Shake. Apple bought Nothing Real, all 20 or so of its employees, and the rights to keep upgrading and supporting Shake. Shake is a cross-platform application--it runs on Unix, Windows and Mac--and though its user base is smaller than most similar programs, it was fast becoming a real force in the high-end effects business. Having used Shake myself, I have to say that it's a beautifully built program--nice clean interface, swift operation, high-quality effects, and highly crash resistant.

Well, Apple announced the other day that they've decided that all those Windows and Unix users really don't need Shake all that much. Effective immediately, Apple no longer supports the Windows side, and effective sometime next year will no longer support Unix. As most of the Shake users were running Unix, and many more were on Windows than Mac, Apple has effectively cut off the vast majority of its user base, in an effort to force us all over to the Mac. Ain't gonna happen.

I like Shake. I can't say I'm a proficient user, but I had grown to like it and appreciate its strengths over its competition in some areas. But I hate Apple for doing this--Steve Jobs really is a Stalinist when it comes to his approach to business. You either play by his rules, or you don't play, it's that simple. And he's a liar too. He always parades the latest Mac Gwhatever as the PC-beater, says megahertz don't matter, that his processors will beat anybody's, and they do--in Apple's carefully selected benchmarks that they control. However, recent independent animation and rendering tests of the top-of-the-line Mac vs some mid-line PC's showed the PC's to be faster in every regard. Here is the rundown of the tests, conducted using a rival app to Shake, Adobe's After Effects. I also happen to be an After Effects user, and I hope Adobe responds to all this by porting AE to Linux and reducing or ending support for the Mac. Turnabout is fair play, and After Effects still has a much larger user base than Shake, and is much cheaper.

As for the vaunted Mac stability, anyone who's been around both Macs and PC's since the introduction of the G3 has probably seen what I saw: we got an NT-based IBM M Pro Pentium III 500 around the same time as we got a batch of G3's a couple of years ago. The NT machine is still my major work horse and rarely crashes, and when it does it's usually due to some operation our network folks are running remotely on it or due to a third-party software failure. The G3's crashed half a dozen times a day--you could almost set your watch by it--and the crashes were almost due to the failure of the OS itself. They've since been replaced by G4's which are better, but I've seen the old NT box still whip their tails on render times, and it's still more stable than the newest Macs, whether they're running OS 9 or X. The NT box has never crashed as a result of an OS failure--never. And my experience with Win 2k is that it's faster and more stable than NT. I can't vouch for XP, since I don't like it's snooping features and therefore haven't pushed for its adoption at work or bought it for home use. I've also heard XP is a stability nightmare, and I tend to believe it.

So much for the "superiority" of the Mac. I think they're desk-sized paperweights, and Steve Jobs is a technological tyrant who'd be out of work if the evil Bill Gates hadn't bought up a good-sized bite of Apple a few years back.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: It's a techie thing over at Creative COW. COW stands for "Community of the World," and is no reflection on my waistline...
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May 14, 2002


: Starve it. It feeds on our willingness to pay high taxes and subsidize increasingly ineffective public works, so starve it--cut taxes and keep cutting, and force it to live within tax revenues collected. Of course, the problem with trying to starve the government beastie is that it won't be starved--it will just find some other less obvious way to dine on your wallet to keep its free-spending habits going.

On a more serious level, I tend to think that the American public really doesn't want a smaller government. Sure, they say they do, and clap a cheery hand when pasty presidents announce that the era of big government is over. But try arguing that we shouldn't dole out a prescription drug benefit, or try convincing most people that Social Security will be fixable without either a) raising taxes to pay for it, b) cutting benefits, or c) privatizing all or part of it, and see what reaction you get. Especially from the elderly, who vote loudly. Americans just want their government to do more than it should, and they tend to vote that way.

Americans nowadays are, for the most part, creatures of a quasi-socialist mindset that places the government in the role of "managing" the economy (that's why presidential candidates tend to run on fiscal as opposed to strictly ideological platforms nowadays), providing cradle-to-grave insurance of one kind or another, and generally mucking about in areas where it has no Constitutional business. Shrinking the government essentially means eradicating this mindset, and I don't know how you go about that, except to just keep making the case for freedom, liberty and minimal government interference wherever and whenever you can, and by supporting political candidates who espouse this philosophy. There is no easy fix, in other words. To shrink the government, you have to open minds.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Riaz Basra, reputed head of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi terrorist group, got sent to the virgin factory in a gun battle with Pakistani police.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Check out the first paragraph of this UPI account of Jimmah Carter's trip to Cuba:

In an unprecedented speech to the Cuban people by an American political leader Tuesday, former President Jimmy Carter urged Cuba to adopt a Democratic system and allow inspections of prisons for violations of civil rights.

Unless you're advocating one-party rule in Cuba (which they already "enjoy"), the "D" in "Democratic" should be lower case.

Later in his speech, Jimmah gets stupid:

"Our two nations have been trapped in a destructive state of belligerence for 42 years, and it is time for us to change our relationship and the way we think and talk about each other," he said on national television. "Because the United States is the most powerful nation, we should take the first step."

Since we're the big fella in this contest, shouldn't we expect the other side to make the first move? It's this kind of backward strategic thinking that got Jimmah kicked out of the White House.

To Cuba's political prisoners, Carter offered this bit of hope:

"I would ask that you permit the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit prisons and that you would receive the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner to address such issues as prisoners of conscience and the treatment of inmates," Carter said.

But it turns out he's trying to help someone other than the prisoners:

"These visits could help to refute any unwarranted criticisms."

Sure they could, if Castro controls where they go, what they see, and with whom they talk. So while Jimmah's coddling Castro in Cuba, President Bush makes it clear that he's in charge back home:

President Bush said earlier that Carter's visit did not complicate his policy toward Cuba and President Fidel Castro because it remains the same.

"Castro is a dictator and he is repressive," Bush said. "And he ought to have free elections, and he ought to have a free press and he ought to free his prisoners and he ought to encourage free enterprise. My message to the Cuban people is to demand freedom. You've got a president who stands with you."

In other words, you might as well head back to Plains, Jimmah. The trade embargo stays in place as long as Castro and his prisoners do.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: The guy doesn't know where Israel is. He thinks it's in Europe...
Posted by B. Preston at 10:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, I'm getting somewhat blah over Bush these days. In the days immediately following 9-11, and in the three or four months that followed, President Bush showed a steely leadership that America had been lacking since at least the Gulf War, and really before that. Truly steely leadership, after all, would've said "Fudge!" or something stronger when the Arab "allies" insisted that our forces not step on the roach we had under our foot in 1991. But Bush showed that he got it--immediately--that he understood the stakes involved in our war and was prepared to carry the fight through to the bitter end. Well, bitter if you're against us.

Then the administration bragged that Iraq was next, that Saddam would finally get his payback, and pretty soon the Arabs opened up a distracting second front in the West Bank. I have maintained throughout, and still believe, that Bush and his dream team are aware of all the angles we bloggers have come up with and likely a few we haven't. I maintain that the administration is still building up toward a showdown with Saddam, though it has allowed itself to get more mired than was necessary in the Palestinian conflict. I also maintain that, in the end, Pres. Bush will do what it takes to win the war, but like the post I wrote yesterday, that position is increasingly harder to believe than not to.

But on the domestic side, the administration is AWOL. They let the Senate plurality Bork Judge Pickering. They lost on ANWR drilling, though I'd venture that a majority of the voting public supports drilling anywhere we can if it means weakening the Arab grip on our economy. And now the President had to go and sign that idiotic, socialistic clap-trap farm bill. Yeah, I've heard the ruminations that it's a political calculation aimed at getting the Senate back, but if that's the aim there's an easier way to go about it--just call the Dems out on all their flip-flopping on the war, on taxes, education, the works. Tom Thumb Daschle has lobbed up some softballs that Bush could slap out of the park if he chose to. But he goes and signs that farm bill instead. It's a disappointing move, and a huge waste of taxpayer funds. He's opened himself up the charge, from the right, that he's a closet lib like his old man, and from the left, that he's fiscally irresponsible and is needlessly running up huge debts. His real problem is both the right and left may be correct in making those accusations, weakening his hand as we get into the tough slogging in what I still anticipate will be a pan-Arab war.

Signing the farm bill was a mistake, Mr. President. It's not enough to make me vote Democrat, for reasons ranging from their own malfeasance to their tepid support for the war to their blatant lying about Christian righties like myself, but it's enough to make me question your core values. It's almost enough to make me wish someone else had won the Republican nomination back in 2000. It also may be enough to bring on a challenger for the GOP nomination next time around, which might do what a similar challenge did in 1992.

That could lead to putting an ambulance chaser in the White House. So get back to being a conservative, Mr. President, and get back to winning this war.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, which explains why the cops never use them to make a positive ID. Those of Russian tennis babe Anna Kournikova (who's still never won a major, but who cares) and the daughter of some fashion designer are so similar that they fooled Penthouse.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


can officially be labelled a "disaster." In just a few short days, he's managed to stir up trouble over Bush administration allegations that Cuba's into bioweapon research and sweep Castro's abyssmal human rights record under the rug. Castro's own daughter, who had to escape to the US from her father's clutches, has condemned Carter for embracing Castro. The administration is rejecting out of hand Carter's trust in Castro's word that Cuba isn't researching bioweapons and supporting terrorism. And today, when Jimmah had the chance to speak to all Cubans, uncensored, on national television, he only made oblique references to the basic human rights of all people. He talked explicitly about free trade though, leading Castro's daughter (and me) to suspect that his trip, and it's tepid approach to human rights, was a fix--the game here isn't opening dialogue between the US and Cuba, but getting the trade embargo lifted so that a whole bunch of US corporations can set up shop and sell trinkets there. So Jimmah is basically trading on his status as a former president to put pressure, not on a brutal dictator, but on the legitimate government that wants to bring him down.

The effectiveness of the trade embargo is debatable, though I'd offer that so is the magic fix of free trade. Is China any closer to freedom for the Most Favored Nation status is now enjoy permanently? I'd say not--the only thing that will free the Chinese is the same thing that will free Cuba, and that's nothing less than ending the regimes currently in power. Brought to you by the man who gave you the mullocracy in Tehran, Carter's trip may have set the cause of freedom back a ways in Cuba. Way to go, Jimmah.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Bjorn Lombourg is not alone. Let's see how the Chicken Littles dispute assertions by real scientists that computer model predictions are little more than "fairy tales." Sierra Club has already taken a whack at it:

Environmental groups were quick to dismiss the scientific skepticism on global warming. Ariana Silverman, a spokeswoman for Sierra Club's Global Warming & Energy program, disputed the panel's claim that climate science did not support the Kyoto Protocol.

"It is very difficult to make that claim. There is a consensus in the scientific community," Silverman said.

She admitted there was room for skepticism about global warming models because "nobody knows; we don't have god-like abilities" to predict the future.

Sierra Club believes we need to "cut down on gasses right now and make cars go further on a gallon of gas." She predicted that if no action is taken, there could be "major changes to our climate and changes to our ecosystems with species dying."
(italics mine)

Groups like Sierra Club sure act like they have god-like predictive abilities. They wasted no time getting to the agenda--anti-technology, anti-progress, anti-humanity--roll back the hands of time to an agrarian, vegan society.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 13, 2002


Nothing is colder than the winds of change
Where the chill numbs the dreamer till the shadow remains
Among the ruins lies your tortured soul—
Was it lost there, or did your will surrender control?

Shivering with doubts that were left unattended
So you toss away the cloak that you should’ve mended
Don’t you know by now why the chosen are few?
It’s harder to believe than not to—
Harder to believe than not to

--Steve Taylor

The hard work of believing in the Christian way of life is trying in the best of times and circumstances. You must believe in the fantastical story of a charismatic carpenter who was so many things, and yet so few: a wandering Jew who roused the rabble and proclaimed a kingdom. A common man who did uncommon deeds, an uneducated man who confounded the wise men of his day. An ethical paragon who claimed to be, among other things, God incarnate. A madman by the account of his own mother, and a madman who died ignobly for a dream. A philosopher and teacher who left no writings and few teachings behind.

It’s a hard story to believe. In fact, since the story forces so many questions and choices on everyone who hears it, it’s much easier—much less work, much less costly in the here and now—to disbelieve. It’s much easier to simply shrug it off as the tragic tale of a good man, a prophet who failed, a genius suffocated by the demands of conformity. As tales go, the story of Christ is harder to believe than not to.

As a believer’s knowledge of the struggle between the spiritual and temporal life deepens, a temptation often grows inside that leads away from the core of the story and more to its philosophical and ethical implications. Doubts creep in about the facts of the life of a carpenter who fished for men, welcomed children and gave prominence to women—is he really who he says he is? Did he really live sinlessly, from birth forward? Did he really say that in order to follow him you have to hate your mother and father? Isn’t being born again just an old way of stating the fashionable New Age ideas of reincarnation and enlightenment? Is he really the way, the truth and the life, and is he the only way to God? Does it all really matter?

For the skeptic and non-believer, the story is riddled with inconsistencies. How can Jesus be fully God and fully human at the same time? Who was first to witness the empty tomb, and why was it empty—really? It’s easy to dismiss as a fairy tale or farce, and the dilemma it raises on the existence and nature of God can be packaged up as the mystical worldview of primitives. The easy way is to balk, take the fifth, refuse to confront Christ. The hard way is to simply say “I believe.”

Saying those two words—“I believe”—forces one to take on the responsibilities of believing. Suddenly the path of least resistance in life is no longer an option. Believing means justifying hard sayings, reconciling difficulties, building and advocating a case, standing against the tides of opinion, surrendering to the will of hands unseen. It’s the hardest road. It’s harder to believe than not to.

Not believing means never having to apologize for the past wrongs of others. It allows the easy construction of moral frames without any need to check against original sources. Not believing means never having to take sides when it’s inconvenient. Not believing allows one to cover all the bases, never commit to one single truth. Not believing makes everything legal, nothing illegal, and turns real moral quandaries into the parlor games of the idle spectator. Not believing separates everything into columns labeled “useful” and “useless,” and allows the unchecked exploitation of the useful and the nonchalant disregard of the useless.

Believing is tough. It’s difficult, demanding and sometimes even demeaning. But once confronted by the Person of Christ, a choice must be made. Before the wandering soul are two paths—one steep, filled with sheer walls and canyons and hostile forces, the other apparently sloping gently into a valley. But that valley is the valley of convenience, good intentions, death. It takes faith to take that scrabble road, to scale its heights and brave its dangers—but it’s worth every moment if you dare. Not taking that path—not believing—is easy, but the end is futility. It’s harder to believe than not to.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: I've added a permalink to a publication called Mars Hill Review. I'd not heard of it until receiving an email from its founder, explaining that Mars Hill is a magazine of literary criticism and interviews that makes no distinction between sacred and secular books, music, movies and other culture-shaping forms of communication. That's an approach I endorse--one of the worst things we Christians have done in recent years is retreat to our cultural ghettos with our own forms of entertainment that have no ability to speak to and engage the world around us. It's easy to see why we did it--the world around us has become increasingly hostile to our worldview over the last few decades, and retreating has been a way of defending our values in the face of ever more strident attacks. But the attitude of defense isn't the attitude of the first century Christians, most of whom died as martyrs with nothing but praise for their Saviour on their lips, and the attitude of defense certainly isn't the attitude of Christ, Who said that the gates of Hell itself can't stand against the Church. Did you ever stop to think what that means? If the Church is threatening the gates of Hell, on who's turf is the battle being fought? That's the picture of a siege, and with the Church getting ready to storm an evil fortress.

Mars Hill Review is a fine publication. Please check them out, and subscribe if you can. We need more like them around.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Not because anything bad happened to my wife or our blessed union, but because apparently Asians are now white. There goes my one shot at affirmative action...
Posted by B. Preston at 12:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 12, 2002


for the next few days. Former President Jimmy Carter is touring Cuba with his ol' buddy Fidel, no doubt getting the sanitized view of that backward little rock. NewsMax has done a nice job of listing all the reasons we should watch the Carter trip with some reservation--he helped restore Saudi funding of Arafat after the Gulf War, he says nice things about North Korea's dictator, and says mean things about President Bush when he travels abroad. And there's that whole business with Iran back in 1979. His record out of office is actually starting to look worse (if that's possible) than his in-office record.

The more I think about it, the happier I am that Jimmy dropped out of the Southern Baptist Convention a few years back. He's a terrible, embarassing, tyrant-coddling ex-president who just can't stop interjecting himself into situations where he doesn't belong. Kind of like that razorback Southern Baptist ex-pres, come to think of it. Now if we could just get him to leave the SBC....
Posted by B. Preston at 11:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack