January 10, 2004

CHEMICAL WEAPONS CACHE FOUND IN IRAQ?

It looks like Danish troops have found the unfired, and therefore not smoking, gun on Iraq's chemical weapons:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Danish troops have found dozens of mortar rounds buried in Iraq (news - web sites) which chemical weapons tests show could contain blister gas, the Danish army said on Saturday.

The initial tests, which have yet to be confirmed, were taken after Danish troops found 36 120mm mortar rounds on Friday hidden in southern Iraq. The Danish army said the rounds had been buried for at least 10 years.

Ten years or ten minutes, if they're blister bombs they were illegal. Saddam should have destroyed them rather than buried them. If it's a confirmed find, the "no WMD" argument is over.

MORE: But just in case you're a no-WMD bitter-ender, Alex has a fine demolition of one your allies' biggest efforts to paint the Bush administration as a pack of liars.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:14 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

January 09, 2004

WES CLARK: ABORTION RADICAL

Retired Gen. Weasley Clark has finally taken an absolute, bedrock hardline position--he's for infanticide. Oh, that's not what he said. What he said is that he favors abortion right up to the moment of birth, but it's the logic behind the position that pushes him from mere radical to potential baby killer. And note well: The Vietnam war hero was probably called a baby killer upon his return from that war. Today marks the first time he may actually deserve it.

Saying "life begins with the mother's decision," the retired general told the Manchester Union Leader he would never, as president, appoint a pro-life judge.

So even if the child is born, using Clark's logic, the mother can still decide to "abort" as long as she hasn't unilaterally declared it alive.

No matter what the father says.

No matter what the doctor says.

No matter what the medical evidence--a beating heart, a smiling face, and inquiring eye--says. And no matter what morality says.

She can kill the baby, right there in front of everyone. And Clark is okay with that. It's all her choice. He even says no law should interfere in any way with her decision, ever. By that logic, my mom could drive up to Maryland, declare that I was never alive, and kill me--and the legal system couldn't do a thing about it.

There's a word for the kind of person whose logic leaps so far from common sense and morality that it's gone beyond bounds--monster. And if Clark maintains his stated position, that word will apply to him.

I expect he'll be spinning his way out of this one before long.

I do believe Clark is an abortion radical, but I doubt he's logically thought through his position to its fullest, most evil extent. You have to be an abortion absolutist to run for the Democrat nomination these days. You must swear on a stack of condoms that you will do nothing--nothing--to halt the spread of Planned Parenthood mills into every burrough and burg on earth. You will only appoint judges who read into the Constitution the right to kill your children. No other position is acceptable. Dennis Kucinich, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Ted Kennedy--all were once pro-life. But when they decided to run for president, all got a talking-to from hooded figures in black robes, with a little red fetus (encircled and crossed out) embroidered on the breast, and after a brief ceremony all sympathy for the unborn had been magically transferred to a nearby goat. That goat, after a sacrificial killing on a dark altar, became dinner.

So that's where Clark is now. He's had his abortion incantation, and he's good to go. But his positions haven't reached term yet. In the very breath in which he says he will apply no "litmus test" for judicial appointments, he says he will in fact never appoint a pro-life judge. Those two statements are mutually contradictory. Logic dictates that one of them must go, but their presence in his mind suggests that he has not worked out the details of his capture by the radical abortion industry that props up the Democrats. Yet.

Clark also believes that just being pro-life disqualifies one from serving anywhere in the judiciary. Tell that to the half of America that is in fact pro-life, General.

But his litmus test position is as illogical as his infanticide position. Forswearing all pro-life judges is in fact applying a litmus test, no matter how one wants to spin it. And declaring that only the mother has any say-so on abortion would absolve all mothers who ever murder their own children.

In that world, Andrea Yates' only mistake would have been murdering her children a few years too soon.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:14 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

OUR FRIENDS, THE SAUDIS...

...recruited thousands of US soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines during Gulf War I, with the intent of turning them into operatives at some future point. It was an al Qaeda operation.

An al Qaeda operative sought to recruit U.S. veterans as paramilitary trainers and combat volunteers in 1992 and 1993, at the explicit direction of a cleric who converted thousands of Gulf War soldiers to Islam on behalf of the Saudi government.

Clement Rodney Hampton-El was convicted of conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks in a 1993 terror plot linked to the World Trade Center bombing in February of that year.

An al Qaeda-trained bomb expert with ties to Ramzi Yousef and radical cleric Omar Abdel Rahman, Hampton-El testified that he was summoned to a meeting at the Saudi embassy in December 1992.

During the meeting, Hampton-El was informed that wealthy Saudis were sponsoring jihad operations in Bosnia, according to his testimony in the 1995 trial (U.S. v. Omar Abdel Rahman, et al). Hampton-El said he was allotted a budget of $150,000 to train volunteer mujahideen fighters and support their families in the U.S.

"They said that it would be a budget of $150,000," Hampton-El testified. "These moneys, a small portion would be given to me to establish a training program. The remaining would be given to people who went to Bosnia to help the people to support their families, to pay their bills, etc., here in America."

---

Hampton-El's list of U.S. military contacts came from a Saudi-trained cleric named Bilal Philips, according to the testimony. Philips gave him the list at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, after a meeting that Hampton-El characterized as an Islamic conference for military personnel, according to the testimony.

---

Bilal Philips began working for the Saudi government in March 1991, leading an educational program for American soldiers stationed in the Gulf. Ostensibly to teach the Americans about Islamic and Saudi culture, the program was in actuality an aggressive campaign to convert U.S. soldiers to Islam, by Philips' own admission.

As they say, read the whole thing:

Hampton-El was an American-born Muslim convert who fought with the mujahideen in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, he worked with the "Services Office," a predecessor group to al Qaeda which was run by bin Laden in the late 1980s. On returning from Afghanistan, he joined a terrorist cell in New York City that took its spiritual inspiration from "the blind Sheikh," Omar Abdel Rahman.

Hampton-El was described as an expert bomb-builder who obtained guns for the New York- based terrorists. He was photographed by the FBI wearing a "Services Office" T-shirt in 1989, while attending paramilitary training under convicted al Qaeda lieutenant Ali Mohammed, according to author Peter Lance in his book, "1000 Years for Revenge."

Members of the New York terror cell were arrested in a warehouse in June 1993, caught in the act of assembling ammonium nitrate-fueled bombs for a massive "Day of Terror" attack on New York City landmarks.

A similar bomb was used to destroy the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in April 1995. Convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was a Gulf War veteran who briefly served in Saudi Arabia after the end of hostilities, at the same time the Saudis were proselytising to servicemen.

Maybe I'm just cynical, but I don't exect the "mainstream" press to jump on this, but it's worth examining. It would make sense for al Qaeda to try and recruit US soldiers. What better way to develop deep striking capabilities against us than to penetrate the very forces that protect us? And what better way to move recruits around than to use our own global military?

We know a handful of terrorists have turned up in US uniform. We know that something happened to Tim McVeigh during his sojourn in Iraq, and that he returned from that experience already deeply hostile to US intentions around the world. The Waco incidents served as the last tipping point for him, but did not start his anti-government fervor. And we know that fellow OKC bomber Terry Nichols travelled to the Philippines in the months leading up to the bombing, to an area not far from where WTC '93 bomber Ramzi Yousef operated.

And Bilal Phillips has a Philipping connection, too:

In the mid-1990s, Bilal Philips taught at an Islamic school in Cotabato, the Philippines. Cotabato is a regional center for Islamic extremists in the region, including the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

According to terrorism expert Simon Reeves, writing in "The New Jackals," al Qaeda had recruited "dozens" of fighters from Cotabato and surrounding regions by the early 1990s. More recent estimates potentially place that figure much higher.

All terrorist roads from US attacks keep leading back to the Philippines in one or another, and roads from the Philippines keep leading back to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. And the Saudis.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 08, 2004

CALL ME A SKEPTIC

Are American soldiers capable of committing atrocities in a war zone? Absolutely. But they have always been exceptional acts, out of character both for our nation and our fighting forces. And we punish our own war criminals whenever we find them, and as we train new troops we teach them about rules of engagement. Our forces are committed to winning wars without undue civilian deaths. While most of the world has signed on to the Geneva Conventions, we're one of the few nations that actually follows them.

Via Instapundit, a letter on Healing Iraq has been making the rounds of the blogosphere. If you haven't read it, it's worth a look. It tells the heartrending story of an Iraqi mother who alleges that her son was murdered by US Army soldiers. It's well written, but I'm afraid that for reasons mentioned on Glenn's site, in the comments on Zeyad's site and elsewhere, it just doesn't ring true.

I have two major problems with it. Well, actually three. The letter alleges that the soldiers were drunk on duty, and their duty was manning a checkpoint. That's simply impossible, as drunkenness in such an environment will get you killed, and in a war zone a soldier's first duty is staying alive. No soldier would man a checkpoint with drunks, and no commander would allow this kind of behavior. And I highly doubt that the 130,000 soldiers we have in theatre even have access to much alcohol. It's not as though the Army sets up bars on the front lines, and it's not as though our soldiers can spend their off hours carousing the happening barfly scene in Baghdad. So that's a big red flag to me.

The second is the jaunt of 3 km from the checkpoint to the alleged killing site. Were these soldiers relieved of their duties by another squad prior to this trip? If so, that squad should have questioned why the alleged killers didn't go back to base, but instead either drove or walked (the letter isn't clear on that) more than a mile away with a couple of Iraqi teenagers in tow. On the other hand, the soldiers would not have simply abandoned their post to go drown a couple of local boys. If they wanted to kill them, they likely had M16s or some other weapon at the ready. They could have simply shot them dead and reported they they tried to run the checkpoint.

Thirdly, the manhunt after the first drowning makes no sense from a tactical point of view. Our Army is a night-fighting force--it's the best trained, most capable and best equipped night-fighting force in the world. Our troops don't use flashlights for night fighting, or for manhunts. They use some variant of FLIR nightvision, allowing them to see bad guys that can't see them (unless the bad guys have infrared night vision capabitlity, too). The letter alleges that our troops, having killed one Iraqi teen, hunt for the second with flashlights. It just doesn't ring true. Flashlights are like beacons of death--all an attacker would have to do is aim near the light and getting a wound or kill is easy. So our troops aren't likely to brandish flashlights in Iraq away from their home base.

Zeyad's letter rings like a scam, written just well enough to be plausible but getting no detail right enough to be believable. So while I expect that the Army will look into it, I would be very surprised if anything came of it. It looks like a hoax to me, and not a particularly well conceived one at that.

Posted by B. Preston at 05:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

THE LATEST IDIOCY FROM DEAN

Howard Dean might just be the most entertaining politician alive. His latest faith-based initiative is a gem:

"The overwhelming evidence is that there is very significant, substantial genetic component to it," Dean said in an interview Wednesday. "From a religious point of view, if God had thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people."

This is freshman-level pontificating at work, my friends. By his reckoning, no values-based reasoning is possible, since God created everyone and you can find a genetic or organic component in just about all our behavior. Which is probably just the way a liberal like Dean wants it. Judgement for conservatives, but no one else.

But then he piles cluelessness on top of banality:

Dean said he does not often turn to his faith when making policy decisions but cited the civil union bill as a time he did. "My view of Christianity . . . is that the hallmark of being a Christian is to reach out to people who have been left behind," he told reporters Tuesday. "So I think there was a religious aspect to my decision to support civil unions."

So...civil unions came about in part because of Dean's "faith?" Where, oh where, is the ACLU to blast this infringement on the separation of church and state? Where are the liberals who whacked W for saying Jesus was his favorite philosopher? Where are the atheist zealots who want to scrub all aspects of religion from the public square.

If any of these people have principles, they'll be out in force tomorrow to demand that Dean's faith-based civil unions for gays program get stopped.

Silence.....

Posted by B. Preston at 05:04 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 07, 2004

MR. BUSH, YOU'RE PLAYING WITH FIRE

Conservatives, it may be time to issue an ultimatum: Either the White House drops its asinine amnesty plan for illegal aliens, or we stay home next year and don't vote for Bush.

Either way if we don't--Bush wins but lets illegals rip off our social services, Dean wins and we treat terrorism like a criminal problem--we'll lose the war.

Because via amnesty we're hanging out a sign that says to terrorists "We will hunt you down in Afghanistan, Iraq and anywhere else you hide in the Middle East. But we'll make it all too easy for you to slip across our border with Mexico and wreak havoc right here." And we're further burdening our social services with people who will be able to take out from it funds they never paid in.

NRcover.jpg

I'm with them. No amnesty. Certainly not in the middle of a war, and granted to citizens of a country that has opposed our prosecution of that war at almost every turn.

Citizenship should mean something. Abiding by the law should mean something. And we should protect our border, not encourage more people to ignore it on the way in.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:30 PM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

ANOTHER MASS GRAVE FOUND IN IRAQ

This one apparently contains the bodies of about 800 Shiites killed in their 1991 insurrection, and is in the Baghdad area.

It's one of about 40 mass graves found so far.

But still, Bush is Hitler, etc etc.

(thanks to Hanks)

Posted by B. Preston at 11:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

DON'T TRUST THIS MAN

Anyone who writes as extensively about North Korea as Josh Marshall does--or, to be more accurate, quotes others writing about North Korea as extensively as Josh Marshall does--and charges the Bush administration with various forms of sliminess, backtracking and general incompetence as Marshall does, yet fails to mention, even a single time, the Proliferation Security Initiative, is not to be trusted. He is either ill-informed or intentionally omitting highly relevant facts.

The PSI is the single largest brick in the Bush strategy. It helped net Libya. It helped get the Chinese to come around a bit. Its value is obvious to anyone with eyes to see.

Yet the vaunted Josh Marshall can't bring himself to write about it, preferring instead to quote others who play up this and that little backchannel, inside-baseball move that probably doesn't amount to anything in the grand scheme of things.

I pressed him on this omission a while back, and got a non-answer.

The man's a spinner, and an overrated one at that.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

TEXAS REDISTRICTING MAP UPHELD

Can't say I'm surprised, since I wrote the still unchallenged backstory behind the Texas GOP's efforts to redraw a map that distorted the Lone Star State's Congressional delegation. And in fact, the new map replaces an old map that the Dems drew for the express purpose of thwarting the will of the people--Texans favor Republicans something like 56-44, yet the state's Congressional representation is majority Democrat because the districts created by the Dems in the 90s put Republican voters into ghettos.

The Dem's reaction is as nuanced and insightful as has become typical:

"By judicial fiat, a three-judge federal panel has effectively repealed the Voting Rights Act and turned back the clock on nearly 40 years of progress for minority voters," said U.S. Rep. Martin Frost, D-Dallas.

It's hard to square that hyperventilitation with the fact that, under the new map, minority representation in Texas' Congressional delegation will most likely go up, not down. What Frost is really steamed about is that the new map will reflect how the state actually votes--it's a majority Republican state that will have a majority of Republicans in Congress. Can't have that, can we.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:07 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

January 06, 2004

HETEROFLEXIBLE?

Chris sends me a mind-reeling article from the WaPo on the subject of teen sexualilty. Excerpting it is difficult, as one anecdote builds on another, and they all twist around the reactions of old-line gays and gay rights activists (who are mostly the same people, naturally).

And that's the word that seems to come to mind--naturally--when reading this article. Gays have long argued that they got that way naturally, and had no say in the matter. They were born that way, it was genetic, and so forth.

Other have argued one way or another that it's mostly a choice, or at least partly a choice, to be gay. Certain aspects almost certainly are--it can't be genetic for gay men to place ads for anonymous sex in newspapers, yet that's in fact what some of them do, a practice that has had more influence on the rise of AIDS than anything any President did or did not do. Others lead more conventional, monogamous lives. I once caught a John Waters speech--he's the iconoclastic film director who happens to be wildly, openly gay. Waters can spin out a funny story, but in his speech he pretty loudly denounced the idea of gay marriage because it's just too pedestrian and normal. He wanted no part of it. That was his choice on the matter.

And that's the other word that comes to mind--choice--when touching on gay issues. Is the basis of being gay, attraction to members of the same sex, a matter of choice or not? It would seem on the surface that it is, but then again you can come around from an entirely different angle: Who in their right mind would choose to follow a lifestyle that typically wrecks families and shortens life (for males) by a couple of decades? If humans were entirely rational, which we are not, no one would choose to be gay on their own. Which leaves the door open to gayness being a reaction to environmental stimuli, sort of a middle ground between choice and biology. But if it's mostly environmental, what does that do to the gay rights movement?

Nature, or choice?

Naturally comes back to mind, though, when looking at the WaPo article that inspired this post. It details the lives of teenage girls who call themselves some variant of "heteroflexible," by which they mean that today they're attracted to girls, yesterday they liked boys, and who knows who they'll find attractive tomorrow. Both? Neither? Some of them act out in very public, even exhibitionistic ways. Some of them are all too comfortable with a lifestyle that just a few years ago was seen as radical, subversive, and more than a little weird, and which at their young age they probably do not fully understand.

But in the past few years we have destroyed the taboos against gay and lesbian relationships. Gay issues are all over the sitcoms and movies, there was the whole Britney-Madonna thing, and in general attitudes toward gays and their relationships are in the midst of a massive surge in popular thinking. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has even found some Constitutional justification for gay marriage in the Republic's foundation, which would surely have surprised the men who built that foundation.

So more girls are either becoming, or acting like they're becoming, lesbians. Or "heteroflexible." Whatever.

Well, naturally they are. The taboo is gone; the cost to being a lesbian is much lower than it once was. There may in fact be no apparent cost to today's teens. According to the linked article, some "lesbian" teens even make money getting boys to pay them to kiss other girls in front of them. The cost-benefit calculus to being lesbian has, for them, swung toward benefit so much that they can literally make money on it, ergo, they at least outwardly become gay. Follow the money. Though it's interesting that no girls pay boys to kiss one another. Gay men have always had it rougher than gay women.

But if all the various cultural influences lead naturally to an upswing in openly lesbian relationships among the teen set, what does this say about the nature of the relationships themselves? It would seem that you can still arrive at two opposing conclusions, depending on your starting point.

The first would be that the relationships are a matter of choice. Gayness, or gayishness, is the going fad. That's even suggested in the story, by the girls themselves. If that's the case, it's obviously a choice-driven movement. They're following sexual trends they way they pick out new clothes and shoes (or the way boys pick out new cars, etc). This argues that gayness itself is at least strongly influenced culturally, raising the spectre of choice. And if that's the case, the whole biological argument for gay rights crashes to earth. And according to the story, this has old-line gay activists worried. Naturally.

But.

One could also argue that today's more open environment leads to more open experimentation, to more openness about that experimentation, and ultimately to more "gayness" in society--because we know about more gay relationships today than we once did.

So where you arrive in all this depends to a great extent on where you started. If you were a choice proponent before, you're likely to be even more of one after reading about the heteroflexible girls in today's high schools. The girls themselves make very rational cost-benefit arguments for going gay--girls are better listeners, will treat other girls more equally than boys typically do, etc. Those arguments are rooted in choice--the girls look at two alternatives, weigh the pros and cons, and choose. But if you were on the biological side before, you're likely to chalk it all up to the more open environment of today exposing more and more gay and lesbian experimentation and relationships.

One thing is clear from all this: Remove one taboo, and more follow, and the effect it all has on society is both unpredictable and inevitable. The taboo on homosexuality, which was until the early 70s considered a treatable mental illness, is dead. And society is changing, with our kids growing up in a world that most of us would have found alien when we were their age just a few short years ago.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:32 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

GAS STATION GANDHI

Hmmm. What to make of this comment? It's from a prominent pol, whose name I have redacted for the moment:

XXXXXXX introduced a quote from Gandhi by saying, "He ran a gas station down in St. Louis."

The pol then went on to identify as Gandhi what he was--a great leader who transcended race in the quest for peace and justice--and accurately quoted him saying "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

So...this pol makes a joke about an Indian running a gas station, thereby demeaning Gandhi for no apparent reason, and in a weird way insulting immigrants who have come to this country for a better life.

Do you find the joke offensive?

Look at it this way. Say Pol X introduces a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr thusly:

"Martin Luther King--I think he ran a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Mississippi. No, he was a civil rights leader in the 20th Century, and he said..."

What would think of that pol? Would it depend on who they were? Would you just brush off the inappropriate (and unfunny) joke, or wonder if the speaker had issues?

The politician who made the gas station Gandhi crack has an unfortunate history of making remarks that can on their face be taken as racist. This person once adopted a sort of ebonics to mimic former San Franscisco Mayor Willie Brown. This person refers to Jews as "you people" and, at least on one occassion, called a Jew "a f****** Jew bastard." Sandwiched in between some fairly blue language, the word "Jew" comes off as a modifier of a string of insults.

And now comes the gas station Gandhi remark. Same pol, across the span of several years, displaying a history of making racist remarks. So who is it?

Trent Lott? Strom Thurmond?

Nope.

Hillary Clinton. I will not hold my breath waiting for Josh Marshall, or any lefty blogger, journalist, columnist or writer to pounce on this one. Because they won't.

But if a Republican had said what HRC said, the press and blogosphere-left would be calling for their head.

Posted by B. Preston at 05:40 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

STUPID

has a name. It's not George W. Bush, or people who support him.

It's people like Neal Starkman, who seems to think sneering at his fellow citizens and calling them collectively stupid is smart politics.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:10 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

January 05, 2004

WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS DEAN'S NAME

On the phone last night Chris R., I struggled to come up with an analogy for Howard Dean's latest gaffe, helpfully detailed here by the New York Times. It's a fun one, but may require a bit of explanation.

Asked to pick a favorite book from the New Testament, Dean unhesitatingly picked Job, adding that he doesn't like how it ends.

That's an odd answer, given a couple of facts. One, Job is in the Old Testament. In fact, it may be the oldest book in the entire Bible, since there's some evidence that it hails from a time that predates Moses. Two, Job has a happy ending. What's not to like about a story that ends with a guy who had been beset by all manner of misfortune getting the answers that he needs (straight from God, no less), getting pretty much his entire life restored to him, and getting to live out the rest of his days in peace? Which part of this does Dean not like? Oh, he tried some song and dance about "alternate endings" and so forth, but it's unconvincing. The Gospel of Mark has a tacked on Chapter 16 that doesn't appear in some early manuscripts--it's the part about the snakes. But Dean didn't pick Mark. He picked Job, and Job scholarship has been settled for quite a while now.

But in talking about all this with Chris, I tried in vain to compare Dean to that kid in school who'd always raise his hand in class, only to give the wrong answer when the teacher called on him. But when she asked the next question, up that hand would go, and out would come the wrong answer again. Without fail.

But that analogy really won't do. That kid was sort of a suck up, but not really all that annoying. Truth is, I sort of liked him. He kept the teacher from calling on me. He made the rest of us feel smarter. He meant well.

No, Dean's gaffines is something else. There's a compulsive nature to it, but it's not coming from a place of suckupness. It's equal parts cockiness, as though he actually thinks he knows what he's talking about and wants to show us all how much he knows, and immaturity, in that he just can't keep his thoughts to himself even when conversations turn to matters he knows little about. He's sort of like the little rich kid who always had the newest toy and just had to lord it over us regular kids. What a prig he was!

James Carville says Dean acts like he's had a political lobotomy, which isn't a bad way to put it. I'd say it's more like political Tourettes Syndrome--Dean just can't help uttering stupidity at the slightest urging. The man grins--grins!--when his fawning supporters ask him if the latest US death in Iraq proves he was right about Saddam's capture not making us any safer.

But there's another layer to it, and I couldn't put my finger on it until I was wasting time last night channel surfing, not quite wide awake and not quite ready to give up on the weekend. I hit TV Land, which was running a retrospective on Cheers. On came a montage of the characters, and that's when it hit me:

Howard Dean is Cliff Claven! He's the bar know-it-all nitwit, the guy who won't shut up for a nanosecond, and whose endless blather just exposes his ignorance

Evidence: It's bleeding obvious to all serious Christians of Southern extraction that Dean ain't one of us. He quit his church over a bike path, for crying out loud. If we quit our church, it's because the preacher won't quit begging for money or something like that. Important stuff. And then Dean hopes to keep Southerners from thinking about God, guns and gays when we vote next year--no Christian would want voters to ignore God. The other two are debatable, but no real man of faith would say what Dean said and expect to be taken seriously on religious matters.

But he's been out there lately trying to convince people that he's a sincere man of faith. He's mentioned the J-word a few times (in modern America, the J-word being "Jesus"--we're not in Iran, so the J-word isn't code for Jew, and we're not in Germany, so it's not Juden either). He hopes that will suffice, give him the right to check off that box on his To-Do that says "Be obviously religious because many people who vote think that's important."

Then along comes the Times, wanting a little detail. Ok Mister Christian, show us what you're made of. Pick a favorite book from the New Testament.

For any real Christian, that should be easy. Avoid the part of the Bible from Genesis to Malachi. Matthew's cool. Mark is breezy and action packed. Luke is technical and immediate. John is deeply philosophical. Any one of these will do. Acts is good for tales of courage and heroism. Romans is good for theology. I could go on, but you get the point. When asked what's your favorite book from the New Testament, it's probably a good idea to actually pick a book from the New Testament. Otherwise you look stupid.

But Howard Dean Claven compounded his error by editorializing, which is his second mistake. He not only picked Job (an OT book), but said that he didn't like its ending. Serious Christians don't say that about any Biblical book, even if they secretly think it. Some will say they don't like Ecclesiastes or Lamentations because they're depressing, but they won't say "I like Book X but think it could use a re-write." It's just not something we do. We figure that God ultimately wrote the Bible--it's His call as to how things flow and come to a conclusion. Dean comes across as though he wants to get into a director's cut and rework the Good Book. Not cool.

That's just the kind of thing know-it-alls do, isn't it. They blather on about something that they know exactly one or two superficial things about, and when you challenge them (supposing you can get enough air to challenge them), they just compouned error upon error rather than just admit that they don't know what they're talking about.

But Dean makes it even worse. Turn with me if you will to the Times:

Touring [Israel] with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Dr. Dean also visited Galilee, where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. "If you know much about the Bible which I do to see and be in a place where Christ was and understand the intimate history of what was going on 2,000 years ago is an exceptional experience," he said.

Real Christians, well, those of us who aren't full time ministers, never lay claim to knowing much about the Bible. Even if we do. Dr. Dean, it's called "humility." Look into it. Humility is one of the "fruits of the Spirit." Look into them, too.

And then there's this:

Asked again about his favorite part of the New Testament, Dr. Dean said, "Anything in the Gospels."

"Anything in the Gospels" is the kind of answer you expect from someone who's been cornered and is now just being flip to get past the trouble. The know-it-all, caught painting himself into a corner, tries to blunder past his inquisitor. But he just gets paint all over himself.

Howard Dean is Cliff Claven: An obnoxious know-nothing know-it-all who just can't help telling us how smart he is, even though we can all see that he's really not all that smart.

MORE: Bill Safire, who actually wrote a book about Job, supplies additional detail.

MORE: Make that Dr. Cliff Claven.

Posted by B. Preston at 01:11 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

January 04, 2004

TOUGH TIME TO BE A MULLAH

First, Iran had that horrible earthquake. Now, they're getting hit with meteorites.

As a friend of mine said (in Jimmy Stewart voice) after the earthquake, "Where's your Allah now, mister?"

Posted by B. Preston at 12:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

GUNNED DOWN IN CAROLINA

You can say all you want about stats or leadership or the running game or "intangibles," but none of that has much to do with the Dallas debacle in Charlotte.

Granted, our "best" running back only has about 1,000 more rushing yards in his entire 8-year NFL career than I do (and I quit organized football after the 8th grade--as a wide receiver). Granted, our QB is still a work in progress and sometimes makes Homer Simpson look like Einstein. Granted, the refs made some brain-dead calls tonight, one of which led nearly directly to a Panther touchdown (the mutual pass interference call on 3rd and long when the ball was roughly half a mile from any receiver). And granted, the Cowboys are just lousy on the road. But that's not why they lost tonight.

It's those $%$# blue jerseys.

They've never been good in them. Staubach couldn't win in them. Aikman couldn't win in them. You think Quincy Carter will win in them? Not gonna happen.

Carolina made one decision right--they wore their road white at home. That forced Dallas to wear what would be their traditional home uni, the dark blue.

But they almost never wear that jersey at home. They did wear them at home once this season, for Thanksgiving. Visiting Miami drubbed them and left them for dead.

In the dark blue, they don't look like the Cowboys. They don't seem to match. They play like they're all colorblind. Always have.

The Cowboys always wear white. Just like the good guys in the Westerns. When they go to the dark side, they get gunned down. They turn the ball over. They blitz on third and short and give up big gains. They look too much like a second-rate college team. They lose. They should wear white. It's who they are.

In the Cowboys' early years, General Manager Tex Schramm made a decision that would effect the team forever. He decided to buck the NFL trend and have the team wear road white at home. His stated reason was that it would let the Dallas fans, new to the NFL, see all the opponents' colors, but his devious reason was to create a single look for the team that everyone would see both at home and on the road. Soon Dallas became known for their distinctive, if a little plain, uniform. Silver helmet. Blue star. Silver pants. White jersey with blue numbers, two blue stripes around the sleeve. They became the most easily recognizable team in the NFL, by virtue of the fact that they nearly always looked the same.

It developed a trademark for the team that needed something in those awful early years. Schramm knew a thing or two about marketing. He also brought cheerleaders to the NFL. And instant replay. And football on Thanksgiving. And TV sports anchors. And the 1966 merger that created the NFL as we know it. And Head Coach Tom Landry, who invented the Flex Defense, and then was the only coach who could figure out how to beat it when other coaches aimed it back at him. And Schramm had something to do with that stadium with the hole in the roof.

But the biggest thing he created was America's Team. That's the Dallas Cowboys in their snappy white jerseys, making the playoffs in 27 of their 44 seasons in the NFL and winners of five Super Bowls.

Tonight they played in those blue jerseys. And they got whipped by a better team. But there's always next year.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:07 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack