November 16, 2002


I'm not a big DVD buyer, but this week I've managed to plunk down my hard-earned cash for three new titles: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, The Lord of the Rings I, and Spider-man. All three are great titles, and two come with tons of bonus material that warm the heart of a movie buff like myself. LOTR is particularly good, coming in a four-disk set featuring full-length documentaries on how Peter Jackson managed to make Elijah Wood look 4 feet tall and how he made a 30-foot tall resin tower look like it's hundreds of feet tall. Good stuff.

I didn't buy Spider-man for the bonus stuff, though. Truth is, of the three Spider-man came with the least amount of bonus stuff, and what it did come with isn't very interesting. But the movie is great, as is the Spider-man story. I've always been drawn to it. Ever since I was old enough to understand super heroes, and able to read comics and all that, Spider-man has been my favorite. Batman was cool, and I had a black cape and played Batman for a while, and Superman was, well, Superman, so how could a kid not like playing Superman? But Superman lacked depth; he was almost too super to be very interesting. Batman was either too campy or too dark, and the whole Robin thing was always a little weird. Spider-man, on the other hand, seemed real.

I guess the thing that drew me to Spidey and his alter ego Peter Parker was the sad undercurrent to the story. In Spider-man, you always had a good guy who always tried to just be nice and do the right thing, most often at his own expense. He would turn down relationships with people he loved because he knew his presence in their lives endangered them. He would get fired because saving people made him chronically late for work. He would leap into harrowing situations to save people, knowing most of them were scared of him, and that if he wasn't careful the cops would try to nab him. The press always vilified him, lumped him in with the criminals he tried to stop, and even though he succeeded time and time again at getting the bad guys and saving the good ones, he never outlived his bad rep. As a young man who sometimes misunderstood the bigger picture, Peter Parker always internalized the city's fear of Spider-man into some kind of personal rejection. I can relate, to a degree.

As a conservative Christian (and this isn't a pity party, just an exploration), I tend to see the same kind of treatment directed our way. No, we're not web-slinging super heroes. Far from it--we're as ordinary and as flawed as anyone else. We doubt ourselves, doubt God, doubt that it's all worth it sometimes. We fail, we screw up, we hurt others in the course of trying to help them. But unlike the socialists who dominate the hard left, we actually do have our hearts in the right place most of the time. Our mouths may be another story, and our minds may not be able to see the havoc that today's good deed will create tomorrow, but our intentions are seldom selfish. We support the right to life because we believe life is sacred and because we believe in acting on clear principle whenever possible. Those of us who homeschool do it because we actually want our children educated as opposed to brainwashed. We support a conservative interpretation of the law because it most often results in less judicial activism and more individual freedom. We support lower taxes because it leaves individuals and families in more control of their own lives, and lessens the power of government to coerce and manipulate us. We support the war because we understand all to well the dangers of inaction and moral indifference, and because the nature of our enemy makes this war a just one. We tend to vote Republican because that party is more receptive to our point of view. For the vast majority of us, none of our political stands are about amassing and maintaining power. They're about trying to maintain some semblance of an orderly society that respects its own traditions and the value of life and generally leaves us free to worship as we choose, where we choose and when we choose. We're not mouth-breathing, scheming, freedom-destroying troglodytes, nor are we perfect ambassadors of our faith. We're hard workers, politicians, artists, writers, film makers, police officers and soldiers--just people trying to get by and do the right thing. For this, we're often portrayed in the press and even by our own fellow political travelers as mean-spirited, intolerant, Bible-thumpers. And sometimes we even turn our wrath on each other.

But that's life, I guess. Being misrepresented irritates me, but I don't guess there's much I can do about it. Well, other than to try and present the true picture of what most Christians and I are all about in the hopes that the picture I present is at odds with the usual stereotypical treatment. Sometimes it will be, but sometimes unfortunately I'll probably come off every bit as boneheaded as the worst public face of my faith.

If I were Spider-man, I guess I'd just sling a web and snare my enemies and then run off and hide. But I'm not, so all I can do is sling up a prayer and hope it breaks through.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:06 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


The Indy Star's James Patterson says it's time the Justice Department release the two-dozen tapes it has that were taken in Oklahoma City, near the site of the McVeigh/Nichols bombing, between April 15 and 9:02 am April 19, 1995. I agree. C'mon Ashcroft, show us what you've got.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


This little blog, this little monument to my own inner madness, has somehow made it into Blogbasher's latest poll. I'm way behind in the early tally, but all isn't lost. Vote for me, and as they often do here in Baltimore, vote early and vote often. Absolutely nothing absolutely depends on it!
Posted by B. Preston at 12:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 15, 2002


Andrew Sullivan, not content to enjoy this month's political wins for the GOP, has started a campaign to smear the Republican base known disparagingly as the "Christian right," but which is in actuality just traditionally-minded Christians who vote conservative. We're not goose-stepping brown shirts, and we're not two-headed demons out to eat children. We're regular folks--we go to school, we work, we pay taxes, and we serve in the military out of all proportion to our numbers. We often serve as the conscience of the GOP, keeping it from drifting too far into corporate morality and trying to keep it somewhat coherent on a range of issues.

I've been content to mostly ignore Sulli's silliness, but today he links to two articles about President Bush and Secy of State Powell and their attempts to criticize, legitimately in my view, intemperate remarks by the usual suspects--Revs. Falwell and Robertson, with a bonus track from Jimmy Swaggart. Swaggart's remarks are particularly rich, calling Mohammed a "sexual deviant"--I guess it takes one to know one. Anyway, one article, from The Independent, is headlined "Powell attacks Christian right". But as anyone who's read The Independent knows, its headlines are often misleading. It's an anti-Bush, and anti-conservative, paper, and skews its stories to reflect that point of view. Sulli knows this, but since this particular headline fits his agenda--drive Protestant socially conservative Christians out of the GOP and politics altogether--he uses its headline as the text of his post. Sulli, are you trying to give the leftist socialists some reprieve by aggravating internal differences within the GOP? It sure looks like it.

The Independent article focuses on three recent remarks that have come from the three Revs, three remarks which were ill-considered and displayed their usual tin ear for public discourse. They don't represent the entire "Christian right" any more than Andrew Sullivan represents the entire gay establishment. They're three preachers, one of whom spectacularly destroyed his credibility years ago in a sex scandal, and the other two of which often say things that make them seem self-righteous and somewhat juvenile. Rev. Robertson in particular holds no more claim to represent social cons, having delved into televised faith-healing sessions that are fairly far off the mainstream of Christian teaching. Really, how hard is it to say "I feel like there's someone out there with a sore foot, and God wants you to know that you'll be healed" and have it come true when, out of an audience of several hundred thousand, someone's ailment is bound to do exactly that without any divine intervention at all?

I guess what bugs me about this is, first, Sulli's opportunism, and second, that we Christians always end up as everyone's scapegoats. Who's out there, right now, plotting to kill innocent Americans? Not Christians. Who's out there providing political cover for these killers, constantly criticizing the Bush Administration for every move it makes to win the war? Not Christians. Who is using our very open system and love of liberty as a weapon to destroy us? Not Christians. So I'm a little sick of guys on my side, no matter how dumb their remarks are, being singled out when it's radical Islamists that are doing the killing, and groups like CAIR and the Nation of Islam that give them cover, and when the killers are using holes in our still unreformed INS to get here to harm us.

People are always going to say dumb things, and it's a healthy thing to point them out once in a while. But Robertson, Falwell and even Swaggart are mostly harmless--they don't advocate killing anyone, they aren't hatching any sinister plots to put cameras in everyone's bedrooms, and they aren't out there demanding the government fork over billions to make amends for bad things done a century or two ago--and we all know by now that it's the most extreme things they say and do that get covered. What goes unreported is the occassional good they do, from charitable giving and educational support in Third World countries to providing crisis counseling for unwed mothers. So I guess my message to Sulli, and to President Bush and Secy of State Powell, is aim some of that rhetoric--and action--at the real bad guys.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:24 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 14, 2002


By now, we've all heard about that new audio tape purportedly of Usama bin Laden issuing his usual rants and ravings and threats and whines about what happened in Spain 500 years ago. It may well be real and it may indicate that he's still breathing; it's impossible for me to personally say for sure, having never heard it. But, as Dave Trowbridge speculates, it is possible that the tape may have bin Laden's voice on it, and speak of timely events, and still not prove that he's still alive.

First off, the guy nearly always rants about the same stuff--the US is bad, m'kay, the Jews is bad, m'kay, we're gonna kill all them kaffirs, m'kay. Second, it's likely that all the recent attacks were in the planning stages a year ago or more, and that being the case it's likely some of his minions taped him talking about them. They're a real Memorex bunch, these terrorists. Third, digital recording technology makes slick, undetectable editing fairly easy to do.

Case in point: A few months ago, I was editing a mini-documentary about the new camera on the Hubble Space Telescope. Toward the end of the piece, I had a soundbite from an astronomer who was talking in a live press conference about how this new camera may help us figure out how galaxies form, and he said something like "how the Milky Way came to be the galaxy that astronomers call home today." I liked the idea behind the bite, and I liked the tone and the flow of it in the overall piece. What I didn't like was the word "astronomers"--the Milky Way is home to more than just astronomers (much to some astronomers' chagrin). So with some clever editing I made him say "how the Milky Way came to be the galaxy that we call home today." Don't worry, changing the bite wasn't an ethical issue because he'd actually meant to say "we" anyway--press conferences have a way of tying the tongues of even the smartest among us. Thanks to digital editing (in this case, an Avid Media Composer), the alteration is virtually undetectable--I took a clip of him saying "we" from a different part of the tape and slipped it in, preserving the original timing and the spirit of what the astronomer wanted to say as well.

You don't need a $50k editing system like I have to do this. Any number of audio-only editing packages, some as cheap as $50 bucks, can do it. A little clever "dirtying up" of the audio to make it all seem like it was recorded at the same time (adding "room tone"), and you have yourself a very convincing "new" recording of Usama bin Laden.

None of this means conclusively that the tape is a hoax. Just that it's possible that it's a hoax, even if the voice, and therefore the threat, is all too real.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:16 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Man, am I glad that Don Rumsfeld is our Secretary of Defense right now. He has just about the clearest view of why we need to get Saddam, and is one of the best around at articulating it. This is from a radio interview he did today:

He told a caller who questioned the imminent threat from Iraq to remember what life was like pre-September 11.

"Was the attack then an imminent threat two, three, or six months before? When did the attack on September 11th become an imminent threat, when was it sufficiently dangerous? Now transport yourself forward ... if Saddam Hussein were to take his weapons of mass destruction and transfer them, or use them himself, or transfer them to the al Qaeda, and some of the al Qaeda were to engage in an attack on the United States or on U.S. forces overseas with weapons of mass destruction, when is it such an immediate threat that you must do something?" Rumsfeld asked.

"Our task, your task ... is to try to connect the dots before something happens. People say, 'Well, where's the smoking gun?' Well, we don't want to see a smoking gun from a weapon of mass destruction," he told the caller, a mother whose son has completed training in the Army and may soon be sent overseas.

When questioned by another caller about the exact relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq, Rumsfeld gave an answer he said had been approved by the CIA.

"That our understanding of the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda is still developing, that there is no question but that there have been interactions between the Iraqi government, Iraqi officials and al Qaeda operatives, they have occurred over a span of some eight or 10 years to our knowledge, that there are currently al Qaeda in Iraq," he said.

The defense secretary added that in a country with such limited freedoms, it would be impossible for the Iraqi regime to be unaware of al Qaeda members within its borders.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Diane E. says her blogging days are done. She's not one to say things she doesn't mean, so I take her at her word that she's outta here.

I can't say I always agreed with her (such as her interest in Paul Krugman's mad ravings about Bush), but she's a forthright person who never pulls a punch (as I know from having exchanged emails with her from time to time). She's a darn fine writer too, and as anti-idiotarian and anti-terrorist as they come.

Diane, if you're really gone you'll be missed.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:31 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


"As much as I think I've inspired and helped people sometimes, and as much as I think I may have done good in the world, I'd like to be more involved in bringing about world peace."
- - MADONNA, in Rolling Stone magazine

Posted by B. Preston at 11:52 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


How deluded is the hard left regarding last week's repudiation at the polls? Over at our dear friends, they're comparing the Democrat Party to a rape victim. As Dave Barry says, I'm not making this up.

How many rape victims suffered unnecessarily because society victimized them? How many times have families accused the woman of bringing the rape upon herself, while the rapist got off scot free?

The Democratic Party has been raped -- by the GOP with their appeal to faux patriotism and wartime frenzy; and by the media who used the full power of the Fourth Estate to spin, spin, spin for the GOP.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:38 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


Chris Regan sends me this Gregg Easterbrook (aka Tuesday Morning Quarterback) article about the apparent and building harmony between faith and science. It's excellent reading.

On Monday, I gave a talk along similar lines to a group of Christians belonging to several churches in the area. I could tell at the beginning that some were apprehensive at the thought of discussing hard science within the confines of a church building. But by the end, after I'd gotten around to highlighting one word in the original Hebrew text of Genesis 1:6--raqiya--and how it seems to put Genesis squarely in line with the best theories available regarding the formation of stars and solar systems, I could see not only acceptance but awe. That was my reaction too when, in 1998 and 1999, I worked on translating those same theories into visuals and language suitable for the press and public. I was awed to see that such an old document as Genesis could have so much to say about things that we are just now discovering.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:20 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


If William Safire is right, and he usually is, this Pentagon database system needs to be shot down in a hurry.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:35 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


My latest is up at Relevant. It's a TV column, and if it goes well could become a semi-regular gig featuring TV bits, movie reviews and other media-related chatter.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 13, 2002


The inestimable Henry Hanks links to a story about some Dems who played a dirty trick just prior to last week's election. The trick was a nasty, 11th-hour attack ad against a judge in Ohio, but that's not the important bit. Honestly, I'm not one of these anti-negative ads types. If the so-called negative ad is true, it should run. If it isn't true it shouldn't run. But I digress. The important bit in this story is how the ad came to be:

Summit County Democrats admitted Monday they were behind a mysterious committee's last-minute smear ads aimed at Probate Judge Bill Spicer.

Democratic Party finance chair Wayne Jones said he initially misrepresented the party's involvement in the ads because he didn't want to see a news story about his or the party's involvement before Election Day.

Jones said he used the ``Citizens for Better Government'' committee to finance the ads because Democrats had already given the state maximum contribution to Spicer's opponent.
State law prohibits county parties from giving more than $38,500 to any one judicial candidate, an amount the Democrats had already given to Bond.

``If we wanted to do the ad directly, we would have gone over the (spending) limits,'' Jones said. ``We were maxed out as a party. So, we went out and raised money.

``This goes on every day in every campaign. It's not right, but it's the only way you survive in this business.''

Does this not capture the Dems in a nutshell? Create a problem, and lie about it until after the election to avoid the bad headlines. And when you're up against the law, even if it's a law your side fought passionately to pass, find a convenient way to circumvent it. Campaign finance "reform" was and still is nothing more than another snare that will eventually catch a few Republicans while the Dems that designed it ignore it.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


This should come as a surprise to no one; Saddam had no choice but to allow inspectors back in or be exposed to an even greater degree than he already is. But why did the Iraqi Parliament, widely known as a rubber-stamp body that simply does whatever Saddam demands, vote down the same resolution just a couple of days ago?

My friends, this is Saddam's version of a Jedi mind trick, meant to confuse the weaker-minded among us that he's become a reasonable man, and one with whom we can now do business. By overriding the "wishes" of his his own parliament, he gets to look like the moderate of the country, the only cosmopolitan stateman among a more hard-line group of rulers. It's a crock, but for those who are willing to believe anything Saddam says and reject anything coming out of Washington (Hello? Paging Scott Ritter...), it may work a little anti-war mischief.

Fortunately, Saddam Hussein is no Jedi. Most people see him for what he is--a third-rate tyrant running a fifth-rate power that aspires to possess first-rate weapons. His days are numbered, and he'll eventually be gone either because he finally chooses the route of pampered exile or, more likely, because he'll find himself on the business end of a Hellfire missile. Today's move probably just delays the inevitable a bit.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Relevant has posted my take on how the President and Congress should prioritize the agenda in January. Hint: as a social conservative, I think partial birth abortion and similar issues near and dear to our hearts should not dominate the agenda right up front, because it makes good political sense. Let's take care of the big issues, such as the war, and keep our newly minted majority together for a few months before taking on the issues that may harm us if they're front and center too soon.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:59 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


I just wanted to post a quick thanks to those of you who have contributed to this site recently. You make this blogger feel loved.

Oh, by "contributing," I'm including commenting on posts and emailing me, as well as hitting the ol' tip jar.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:39 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Assist News, a freelance operation run by Jeremy Reynalds, has been scooping the biggies on terrorism and its tactics since 9-11. Now, one of Assist's sources has apparently gotten his hands on some more al Qaeda internal videos. From his descriptions (the video links are currently broken), the tapes sound pretty heavy on the usual Islamist nonsense--kill the infidels, murder the kaffirs, blow up innocent civilians, and so forth and so on. The man that acquired these tapes is a true warrior in the modern anti-terror sense:

There is a fascinating story of courage, determination and commitment behind the individual who obtained the tapes. "Albert" (not his real name) told me some of that story.

After setting up a fake Islamic web site and gaining the trust of the extreme Islamic fundamentalist community, Albert decided to go one step further. He told me in an e-mail interview that he started to write to Abu Hamza, telling him how much he admired his work. Then under the pseudonyms of Ali Khal and Pervez Khan, Albert also called the mosque. It didn't take Albert long to see that Abu Hamza and his associates appeared to have a general hatred of all white non-Moslem people in general.

Continuing to gain the confidence of Abu Hamza, Albert then told him that he wanted to recruit people in England to join the Kashmiri terrorists and the al Qaeda but he could do a much more effective job if he could use some old al Qaeda training videos.

He wrote:

"Abu Hamza said he would send some and after several more phone calls and several e- mails in which I had to act as a supporter of evil and hate whites, the postman came with a box of some 20 cassette tapes, newspapers from Afghanistan, Kashmir, Palestine, Chechnia. I listened to every tape and made copies for my Indian and Russian friends. I did contact the British police, but they never bothered coming. I think that they thought I was nuts or lying, or that I had been sent Elton John's top 20 hits. But they were very wrong as good reports from Indian intelligence came back."

The video tapes came soon after. Although Abu Hamza told Albert that most of them had been removed from the mosque or hidden, he said he would nonetheless sort out a selection and send some.

Abu Hamza is one of the most notorious imams in the UK, and these tapes apparently put him neck-deep in al Qaeda terrorism. Albert deserves our gratitude for taking such profound personal risks to get these tapes and make them public.

(thanks to Dave)
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November 12, 2002


Last week Iran's ruling mullahs sentenced a university professor to death for criticizing the government. University students around the country have been protesting ever since.

A gentle hint here, a little nudge there, and most importantly the US doing nothing heavy-handed or obvious, and Iran could turn upside down.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:51 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Russia seems to be ruled by Vlad the Circumciser. Mr. Putin is apparently fed up with Islamism, and ready to, um, cut into its supporters.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 11, 2002


the strongest argument I've ever seen that it should be defunded. Look at the page, especially the ad at the top, then read the article there. You'll see what I mean.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:23 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


Last week I predicted that President Bush would soon be seen as a nearly messianic figure among us convervatives for the way he has driven the Dems to the edge of oblivion. That was before I'd seen this. That Karl Rove is a slick one.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:55 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


Democrats Underground (which I suppose is where most Dems are after last week) has released its latest list of the Top 10 Dumb Politicians, or Republicans, or whatever. Honestly, who has time for these folks when the rest of us have a war to fight and a country to run? Anyway, Henry Hanks has their number. Their fact-checking skills are, shall we say, lacking...
Posted by B. Preston at 01:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Still think those two were just nutbergers on a bullet bender? Just go read this WaPo piece. They scouted locations, adjusted to account for traffic conditions, and purposely killed in multiple jurisdictions to create confusion (something I speculated was gonig on during the spree). They used two-way radios and acted like "soldiers," and followed press coverage of their murders, according to statements alledgedly made by Malvo and leaked to the press by anonymous police sources.

While I suspect all or most of this is true (I suspected as much before reading that article, actually), the cop or cops that leaked it should be found out and punished. Malvo's lawyer intends to get all leaked material suppressed for the trial.

As it now seems that Malvo did most of the shooting, suppression of too much evidence may lead to a serious breach of justice.

Senior law enforcement officials said today that evidence suggested Lee Malvo, the 17-year-old charged in the Washington-area sniper shootings, was the gunman in most of the attacks that left 10 dead.

The law enforcement officials said that they believe, based on witness accounts, videotapes from the scenes of some of the shootings and other evidence, that Mr. Malvo was the gunman in all of the attacks where bullets were fired from inside the 1990 Chevrolet Caprice, which investigators say was turned into a "killing machine on wheels."

The officials said there was DNA evidence linking Mr. Malvo to several of the other shootings where the gunman was believed to have fired from outside the car.

They said Mr. Malvo admitted to being the gunman in at least three shootings while under questioning from police detectives in Fairfax County, Va., late Thursday and early Friday. Those admissions were first reported in The Washington Post.

The officials said investigators were operating on the theory that the other suspect, John Muhammad, 41, served as a lookout and the getaway car driver in most of the shootings.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:02 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Brussels seems to be the latest victim of peace-loving Islamists:

A protest against war in Iraq turned violent on Sunday in Brussels when dozens of youths clashed with police and attacked American-owned businesses.

Up to 100 masked rioters, many of them of Arab origin, broke away from the main body of other antiwar protesters who were marching through the city centre.

The rioters hurled stones at businesses and police, who responded with baton charges. Photographers and TV camera operators were also targeted by the rioters.

Windows were broken at a McDonald's fast-food restaurant and at a Marriot hotel, as well as a local temporary employment agency. (emphasis mine)

Question is, are these guys rioters or members of sleeper cells? Here's a telling clue:

About 2 000 protesters comprising pro-Palestinian and anticapitalist groups joined the demonstration led by a banner reading "Stop USA". (emphasis mine)

The Reds rear their ugly heads again...
Posted by B. Preston at 12:48 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 10, 2002


may be light for a day or two. I'm working on a couple of pieces for Relevant and other sites. In the mean time feel free to email me, comment on something or, better yet, hit that tipjar on the left (the one that says "Paypal"). It's getting lonely, and this blogger needs a few upgrades.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack