March 05, 2004


Depends on whom you ask, apparently.

The US says he's alive and orchestrating attacks against Iraqi Shiites:

The United States has obtained solid evidence that one-time al-Qaida associate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was involved in Tuesday's near-simultaneous bombings at holy sites at Karbala and Baghdad's Kazimiya shrine 50 miles to the north, according to sources in the Bush administration.

Although accounts differ, Pentagon officials have fixed the number of dead from the blasts at 185, with wounded ranging from 300 to 400, these sources said.

"There is solid evidence of Zarqawi's involvement," one administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The evidence "pertains to forensics," this official said, adding that the explosives used in this week's bombings were "favorites" of al-Zarqawi and that he had employed them in the past.

There was additional evidence, he said, but refused to elaborate.

The article goes on to discuss Zarqawi's possible Chechen ancestry, his frienship with 1993 WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef, and the theory that he isn't an al Qaeda op. Rather, Zarqawi has set up his own terrorist shop and considers himself a co-equal with Osama bin Laden.

But then there's this, from Iraqi "insurgents":

An extremist suspected of bloody suicide attacks in Iraq was killed some time ago, and a letter outlining plans for fomenting sectarian war is a forgery, a statement signed by a dozen alleged insurgent groups said.

In February, the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq made public an intercepted letter it said was written by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to al Qaeda leaders, detailing a strategy of spectacular attacks to derail the planned June 30 handover of power to the Iraqis.

U.S. officials say al-Zarqawi may have been involved in some of the series of suicide bombings this year in Iraq — including the massive mosque bombings on Tuesday that killed more than 100 Shiite Muslims.

But according to a statement circulated this week in Fallujah, a hotbed of anti-U.S. insurgency activity, al-Zarqawi was killed in northern Iraq "during the American bombing there."

The Fallujah statement called the al-Zarqawi letter "fabricated," saying it has been used by the U.S.-run coalition "to back up their theory of a civil war" in Iraq.

These competing fact sets aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. Zarqawi could in fact be dead, but someone who trained under him has assumed his fight and is using his techniques. I think that's unlikely, but it's possible.

What's more likely is that we're seeing a split among the insurgents themselves. Some want to press toward unbridled chaos as the way to win in Iraq, and Zarqawi is among them and leading them. He's a Sunni, and therefore loathes Shiites and doesn't mind killing them if it furthers his goals. Others want to distance themselves from a strategy that involves killing fellow Muslims instead of infidels because they probably believe it will only help the US and hurt their cause, and are therefore asserting that Zarqawi is dead, the February letter a forgery, and the recent attacks on Shiites in Iraq part of some sinster US plot.

That last part makes no sense from a US point of view--the last thing we need or want is an Iraqi civil war, because we would inevitably get caught up in the crossfire and the world would blame us for causing it. But floating such a story makes perfect sense from an insurgent point of view--it's an attempt to put the US in the role of murderer of the innocent, and to discredit one of our "smoking guns" against the insurgents.

So is Zarqawi dead or alive? Beats me, but I'd lay odds that he's alive.

Of course, I blew the Martha Stewart thing...

Posted by B. Preston at 03:36 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


I predicted she'd be cleared. She wasn't.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


in Texas, Democrats can't win statewide at the ballot box, so they resort to underhanded smears against Republicans.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


It may or may not surprise you to learn that the leftist coup now underway in California, Oregon, New York State and elsewhere did not originate within the United States. It may or may not surprise you to learn that the forces behind the current anti-democratic push to legalize gay marriage detests the US Constitution as one of the greatest barriers to achieving its goals, and views the United Nations as one of the greatest vehicles toward reaching those goals.

In short, it may or may not surprise you to learn that the forces using the courts to foist gay marriage on the US against the will of the majority is a political ideology called transnational progressivism.

Simply put, transnational progressivism is the ideology defined as a universalist approach to human rights, where humans are not defined as individuals but as members of various and distinct groups. Those groups are not defined according to their national origins, but according to either their racial/ethnic background or gender/sexual orientation. Individuality, in either the national sense or the individual sense, has no place in transnational progressivism.

Its central tenets are:

The ascribed group over the individual citizen. The key political unit is not the individual citizen, who forms voluntary associations and works with fellow citizens regardless of race, sex, or national origin, but the ascriptive group (racial, ethnic, or gender) into which one is born.

A dichotomy of groups: Oppressor vs. victim groups, with immigrant groups designated as victims. Transnational ideologists have incorporated the essentially Hegelian Marxist "privileged vs. marginalized" dichotomy.

Group proportionalism as the goal of "fairness." Transnational progressivism assumes that "victim" groups should be represented in all professions roughly proportionate to their percentage of the population. If not, there is a problem of "underrepresentation."

The values of all dominant institutions to be changed to reflect the perspectives of the victim groups. Transnational progressives insist that it is not enough to have proportional representation of minorities in major institutions if these institutions continue to reflect the worldview of the "dominant" culture. Instead, the distinct worldviews of ethnic, gender, and linguistic minorities must be represented within these institutions.

The "demographic imperative." The demographic imperative tells us that major demographic changes are occurring in the U. S. as millions of new immigrants from non-Western cultures enter American life. The traditional paradigm based on the assimilation of immigrants into an existing American civic culture is obsolete and must be changed to a framework that promotes "diversity," defined as group proportionalism.

The redefinition of democracy and "democratic ideals." Transnational progressives have been altering the definition of "democracy" from that of a system of majority rule among equal citizens to one of power sharing among ethnic groups composed of both citizens and non-citizens. James Banks, one of American education's leading textbook writers, noted in 1994 that "to create an authentic democratic Unum with moral authority and perceived legitimacy, the pluribus (diverse peoples) must negotiate and share power." Hence, American democracy is not authentic; real democracy will come when the different "peoples" that live within America "share power" as groups.

Deconstruction of national narratives and national symbols of democratic nation-states in the West. In October 2000, a UK government report denounced the concept of "Britishness" and declared that British history needed to be "revised, rethought, or jettisoned." In the U.S., the proposed "National History Standards," recommended altering the traditional historical narrative. Instead of emphasizing the story of European settlers, American civilization would be redefined as a multicultural "convergence" of three civilizations—Amerindian, West African, and European. In Israel, a "post-Zionist" intelligentsia has proposed that Israel consider itself multicultural and deconstruct its identity as a Jewish state. Even Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres sounded the post-Zionist trumpet in his 1993 book , in which he deemphasized "sovereignty" and called for regional "elected central bodies," a type of Middle Eastern EU.

Promotion of the concept of postnational citizenship. In an important academic paper, Rutgers Law Professor Linda Bosniak asks hopefully "Can advocates of postnational citizenship ultimately succeed in decoupling the concept of citizenship from the nation-state in prevailing political thought?"

The idea of transnationalism as a major conceptual tool. Transnationalism is the next stage of multicultural ideology. Like multiculturalism, transnationalism is a concept that provides elites with both an empirical tool (a plausible analysis of what is) and an ideological framework (a vision of what should be). Transnational advocates argue that globalization requires some form of "global governance" because they believe that the nation-state and the idea of national citizenship are ill suited to deal with the global problems of the future.

It's all very Marxist in tone, with nods to groups (or classes) as opposed to individuals, and in its emphasis of the international and global over the national, regional or individual. That's not to say that it's simply another form of Marxism dressed up for the 21st Century--just that its ideological parentage doubtless includes Marxist strains and ideals. Some forms also include healthy doses of capitalism, albeit a heavily government-regulated form, as the antidote to the world's ills.

But what does this have to do with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and his anti-democratic push to legalize gay marriage without the input of the voters?

Transnational progressives believe in pushing groupthink ideologies across national boundaries. It isn't enough for them to have created same-sex marriage in Scandinavia and Canada--they must push for SSM everywhere. There are two reasons for this: One, homosexuals have been defined by transnational progressives as an "oppressed group" which must be "liberated" at all costs. Second, pushing this particular agenda--same-sex marriage--forces a "showdown" with one of the forces that the transnational progressives have defined as needing defeat on a global scale, namely, organized Christianity in its two strongest forms. Those would be Roman Catholicism and evangelical Protestantism. That's because both forms of Christianity still hold homosexuality to be a sin, and both hold vast sway over adherents, and both have deep links to the culture of heterosexual marriage in regions and states where they are the dominant faiths. Defeating them will remove two of the great barriers to the overall transnational progressive agenda, which is ultimately a post-democratic and post-national future.

So again, what does any of this have to do with Newsom and the 4,000 couples his illegal actions have "married" in San Francisco?

In August of 2003, New York hosted a conference led by the United Nations Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Employees (UNGLOBE for short). That meeting, briefly attended by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, was a call to arms for gay and lesbian activists worldwide to launch campaigns to enshrine various new gay rights in their nations of origin. At one meeting, UNGLOBE activists singled out Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants for a "showdown" over gay issues:

Speakers included U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who urged Congress to withhold support for a free trade agreement with Muslim-majority Egypt because of its treatment of homosexuals.

Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of the San Francisco-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, or IGLHRC, announced a coming "showdown with religion" and vowed Pope John Paul II's "call to arms" against homosexual marriage would be successfully combated.

Another panel member, Princeton University professor Anthony Appiah, wondered whether or not religion should be limited, as it poses a "challenge" to the homosexual agenda.

To thunderous applause, Svend Robinson, a member of the Canadian parliament, told the Catholic Church to "clean up your own house" before criticizing the morality of homosexuals.

Robinson criticized Roman Catholic Bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary, calling his actions in defense of traditional marriage "unbelievable."

The deputy mocked "born again" Christians, asking, "Did they have to come back again as themselves?"

As WorldNetDaily reported, Robinson is the sponsor of a bill that would add sexual orientation as a protected category in Canada's genocide and hate crimes legislation. Opponents believe it would criminalize public expression against homosexual behavior, including making quotations from the Bible.

And so here we are. Less than a year after the US Supreme Court, using "international law" as its guide, found a Constitutional right to engage in homosexual practices, and less than a year after the UNGLOBE's call to arms against the traditional meaning of marriage, we have a campaign underway in these United States to impose same-sex marriage on a people that does not support it. Where it has succeeded in such a campaign, Norway, the transnational progressives not only got SSM enshrined, but they broke the back of traditional religion as well. For some that may seem like a great two-fer, but consider yourself warned. Enshrining SSM and breaking down Christianity are part of transnational progressivism's goals, but they do not constitute the desired end-game. The ultimate aim of transnational progressivism is the dilution of national identity and religious faith, and replacing them with a hodge-podge of racial/ethnic/gender/sexual-orientation based identity. The individual in this system means nothing. The law of the land means nothing. Faith means nothing. Only the post-democratic rule of the elites over the rest of us matters. Victory of transnational progressivism means the end of liberal democracy.

Just see for yourself what is really going on in California if you don't believe me. Newsom's campaign is against recently enacted law defining marriage as a man-woman union. That law enjoys 61% support in California. Newsom's campaign is not supported by the majority. It has no basis in existing law, and cannot be read into the state or federal constitutions without significant input from "international law," which should be irrelevant in deciding issues within the United States. Yet so far no elected official and no officer of the law will stop him. He is overthrowing democratic rule in California and replacing it with a more "progressive" rule. If he succeeds, what does that say about the value of the will of the people?

UPDATE: There is a counter-attack underway to restore the rule of law. Kansas and Wiconsin have joined twelve other states in working on various ways to stop the gay marriage assault. New York state officials are fighting back more directly; gays there are already resorting to the courts to overturn rulings enacted by elected officials.

But without forcing the land's highest court to respect the law, it won't matter. SCOTUS can and probably will strike down all state-level efforts to maintain the traditional definition of marriage. I'm not even entirely sure amending the US Constitution will stop it, but it's worth a try.

Posted by B. Preston at 02:06 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack


I have a theory that I've been kicking around for a while, and now it seems to have been confirmed. The theory is that every tin-horn despot in the world hates George W. Bush, and the worse the despot is, the more said despot is pining for a Bush loss in November. They hate him because he's the first president in a while to actually challenge them in ways that matter and hurt.

Well, as despots go they don't get any worse than North Korea's Kim Jong-Il. North Korea is probably the worst place on earth to live. Malnutrition resulting from a combination of famine and state control of all farms and their produce has left an entire generation of children either starved or stunted in their growth. Prison camps are populated not with criminals but with whole families who have been thrown in the clink because one member said or did something that Kim's state didn't like. Some of those families find themselves subjected to ghastly experiments that would have made the Nazis blush.

Meanwhile, of course, North Korea continues to develop its nuclear weapons, continues to menace its southern cousins, continues to threaten Japan for the offense of existing, and continues to develope long-range missiles capable of striking the US West Coast.

And North Korea's "Dear Leader" is cheering for a Kerry win in the fall.

(thanks to Hanks)

Posted by B. Preston at 12:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 04, 2004


I've taken some heat for describing the actions of San Francicso Mayor Gavin Newsom and others forcing gay marriage on the public against its will and against the law as a "coup." I stand by the description; in fact, I seem to have understated the true scope of the courts' role in undermining the normal, traditional understanding of the family via same-sex rulings over the past few years. In short, the coup has been underway for nearly a decade, and is succeeding largely by staying under the public's radar. Mayor Newsom may have done us all a favor by unwittingly exposing the radical left's court strategy to the light of day.

Some will argue that allowing gay marriage will not harm their own marriage, or that of any straight man-woman marriage, and in a very narrow sense they do have a point: If two men marry each other, it has no effect on my own marriage at all. But we aren't really talking about just the mere fact of two men marrying each other. Sanctioning that marriage and a redefinition of marriage in general will affect the legal system, which will in turn affect every institution that comes into contact with the institution of marriage in any way. Divorce and custody law will have to adjust to the new reality. The welfare state, adoption systems, the juvenile justice system, and all religious institutions that provide charitable services or employ any number of people or opine in any way about any aspect of gay issues or marriage issues--all of these will either adjust on their own or, more likely, will be forced to adjust by court decisions.

I may sound to some like I'm paranoid when I worry what gay marriage will do to the church. Even some Christians have criticized me for making too much of gay marriage's threat to the church. But take a look at this case, and see if you can follow the logical thread it lays out:

In Colorado, Cheryl Clark, a physician living with her lesbian lover Elsey McLeod, legally adopts a baby girl from China. When the relationship breaks up, Dr. Clark offers Ms. McLeod a generous visitation schedule with the girl, who was then 8. Not satisfied, Ms. McLeod seeks more in court. In April 2003, Judge John Coughlin awards her equal parenting time and near-equal decision-making authority over Dr. Clark's daughter, even though Ms. McLeod has no legal or biological relationship to the girl.


In Dr. Clark's case, the judge noted that although Dr. Clark was the legal adoptive parent of her daughter, she had adopted the girl in cooperation with Ms. McLeod. The judge also pointed out that Dr. Clark had added "McLeod" to the girl's name, parented with Ms. McLeod from the time the baby came home from China, and once even filed a Joint Custody Motion in court to ensure Ms. McLeod would have legal custody of the girl in the event of Dr. Clark's death.

Ms. McLeod's lawyers, meanwhile, served up a heap of precedents in which other courts had granted parental rights to nonlegal parents. In the end, the judge ruled that Ms. McLeod was the girl's "psychological parent" and that removing that relationship would harm the girl. Further, since Ms. McLeod is still an active lesbian, the judge's ruling prohibits Dr. Clark from teaching her daughter the biblical position on homosexuality, which could be considered "homophobic."

That's a gag rule, prohibiting a parent from teaching her child any traditional ideas regarding homosexuality. It's an egregious violation of the First Amendment, in that it violates both the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech.

Not sure where I'm going with this? Try another case:

In Florida, Linda Forsythe, who has a son from a previous relationship, marries Michael Kantaras, a female-to-male transsexual who had undergone some sex-change surgery but is still anatomically a woman. Although Michael's birth certificate also says she is female, she presents herself to a Seminole County clerk as male in order to obtain a license to marry Linda. During the marriage, Linda has a baby girl through artificial insemination. When the relationship breaks up, Judge Gerald O'Brien awards custody of both children to Michael, even though Florida law recognizes neither same-sex marriage, nor same-sex adoption.


Judge O'Brien, meanwhile, found that Linda Kantaras's new Christian beliefs were "problematic": Her refusal to accept transgender and homosexuality could drive a wedge between the children and Michael. That opinion factored into his decision to deliver the children, including the son Linda had before she met Michael, to be "fathered" by a woman masquerading as a man. (points of emphasis, mine)

In both cases, the presence of traditional Christian teachings led courts to rule consistently--against those holding those beliefs. So for anyone holding to any semblance of Christian or traditional belief, court action on gay marriage should serve as a warning that the church itself will soon find itself in the gay left's crosshairs. In fact, Andrew Sullivan has been blasting away at the church on his widely read blog and in press articles and books for years, and has even tried to tie traditional Christianity into a global kind of fundamentalism that in his mind is indistinguishable from the fanaticism that led Islamicist radicals to attack the United States on 9-11. The real fundamentalist is Andrew Sullivan, who brooks no dissent from his extreme views.

If Sullivan and his allies succeed, traditional Christians and our churches will be branded as "hate groups" and even "terrorist groups."

What will the effects of that branding be? In Norway...

The state Lutheran church opposed not only gay marriage but the growing trend of cohabitation and having children out of wedlock. The church also fought an internal battle over the ordination of those in homosexual unions.

The media covered the church's debates over these issues, taking every opportunity to attack and ridicule Christian teachings about sexuality and marriage. As a result, the church's traditionally strong influence on Norwegian society declined. When the dust settled, the liberal pro-gay and cohabitation theologians, who were once in a minority, took over the leadership of the church.

Like the current situation in the US, gay marriage was foisted on Norway against the popular will. And the church was a major casualty of the culture war that followed. If the gay left coup succeeds, we'll all soon be liberal Episcopaleans whether we like it or not.

Thus far, though, I've only given Christians reasons to oppose the gay coup. What about libertarians?

Libertarians vary in stripe from leave-me-alone near-conservatives to all-out moral libertines, but nearly all libertarians have one thing in common--distrust and disdain for an overweening state, especially as relates to high taxes and welfare. In Scandinavian countries that have approved it, gay marriage led to a massive expansion of the welfare state and draconian increases in tax rates:

More direct causes Mr. Kurtz cites include the Scandinavian welfare state, which means that the family unit is no longer necessary for economic support. Plus, to support that welfare state, taxes are so high that both parents have to work. A vast state day-care system has taken over many of the child-care duties that once were the job of families. Also, the universities are even more radical than they are in the United States, with socialists, feminists, and other social revolutionaries-including those who denounce marriage as being intrinsically oppressive-having a huge influence in public policy.

So watch your wallet if the coup succeeds. Your taxes will go up, and welfare will likely revert to its unreformed pre-1996 mode.

The gay left's coup is a fact, and has been for some time. It is the very definition of a coup--an unlawful usurpation of power or an overturning of an existing order without the consent of the people. And its end-game will come about in the form of repression of anyone and anything that stands in the way of the most radical leftist ideals and goals.

If it resorted to the democratic process, it would not be a coup. But it has so far shown nothing but contempt for the democratic process. Read Andrew Sullivan's opinion of proposed federal marriage amendments to see what I mean. He rejects resorting to the democratic process out of hand, most likely because he fears it will produce a result that he will not like. Therefore, he supports the illegal usurpation of power such as the campaign in San Francisco--a coup.

So do we stop the coup?

Some want to impeach any judges who rule gay marriage into law, but the impeachers will now have to fight not only the particular battles of impeachment on a wide variety of fronts, but will have to fight against a decade of legal precedent favoring gay spouses and adoptive parents. While I would personally like to see such judges impeached, the scope of the campaign needed to do it is too broad and is likely to fail. In fact, it stands a good chance of creating a backlash ending one of two ways. Any judges with any kind of intellectual paper trail will find themselves under impeachment attack from either the gay left or the traditionalists, or, more likely, only judges from the right will get impeached. The left has the media on its side and has already proven it will stoop to illegal means to get what it wants. Factor in the Larry Flynt school of personal destruction of anyone on the political right via moral blackmail, and you have the makings of a short and legally bloody courtroom civil war in which the left comes out victorious by impeaching or disgracing judges of the right.

Amend state constitutions? That will work, until a single case makes its way to the US Supreme Court. SCOTUS can invalidate provisions in state constitutions, including amendments to those constitutions. Marriage amendments to state constitutions across the nation could be struck down in a single day, if SCOTUS decided to do it. And with Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and possibly Steven Breyer increasingly turning to international law instead of the Constitution to form their decisions, such a SCOTUS ruling is highly likely.

So what to do? We're left with one option that will stop the coup, and that's amending the Constitution in such a way that it keeps the courts from forcing gay marriage on the nation against popular sentiment. Such an amendment should leave open the possibility of allowing states to sanction gay marriage, for the simple reason that the people deserve to make that decision. I don't see any other way to force the courts' hand on this issue and keep the decision where it belongs, which is in the democratic sphere of American life. Allowing the courts to make this decision will be disastrous, both for traditionalists and for gay marriage advocates, because traditionalists will become subject to oppression of the worst sort while gay marriage advocates will gain entry to an institution only to find that it was destroyed during the battle.

Posted by B. Preston at 01:18 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack


Jose Padilla, the alleged "dirty bomber" arrested in June, 2002 on a tip from al Qaeda operatives held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, met with his attorneys Wednesday for the first time since his arrest:

Alleged "dirty bomb" plotter Jose Padilla conferred with his attorneys for more than two hours Wednesday, the first meeting the former Chicago gang member has had with them since he was declared an enemy combatant nearly two years ago.

But, unlike conventional attorney-client sessions, the meeting at the naval brig in Charleston, S.C., was monitored and recorded by Navy officials.

Because of that, Donna Newman and Andrew Patel, Padilla's court-appointed attorneys, said they did not discuss the details of the government's claim that the Muslim convert was plotting to explode a radioactive device when he was arrested in May 2002 at O'Hare International Airport.

I think monitoring this meeting was appropriate, given the history of attorneys knowingly or unknowingly acting as conduits of information between incarcerated terror suspects and their allies outside prison.

The Supreme Court has agree to hear Padilla's appeal, and will probably determine whether or not he is being held legally. If it follows wartime precedent--a huge "if" given that at least two SCOTUS justices have declared the supremacy of international law over the US Constitution--Padilla's circumstances will be ruled as perfectly legal. Nazi saboteurs arrested on US soil, and who were US citizens, were held in circumstances similar to Padilla's during World War II. Those saboteurs appealed and their incarceration was held to be constitutional. Several were eventually executed for their roles in plotting to attack various infrastructural targets. Padilla is accused of scouting for al Qaeda in a plot to detonate a radiological bomb on US soil.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Tonight's the night that CBS hopes Richard Hatch's sexual assault of a fellow Survivor contestant pays off in boffo ratings.

Perhaps taking their cue from the Tiffany Network, Pennsylvania TV station WCAU took the opportunity of sweeps week to invite pedophiles into a residential neighborhood without warning any of the residents:

TV Sweeps periods have been known to result in exaggerated stories and occasional ratings stunts.

Here's one we wish we were making up.

WCAU has reportedly set up shop in a vacant Newtown Square house that it used to lure men who believed they were meeting young teens whom they'd met on the Internet, for sex.

It seems the station forgot to tip off local law enforcement, particularly the FBI, which has been known to woo suspected perverts online, though usually to public places like shopping malls.

As common sense might tell you, neighbors in the residential area were livid when they discovered potential pedophiles were invited to their community, without any warning, and without police supervision.

The station's planed to air its story at 11 Wednesday, which by pure chance, is the last day of the February ratings book.

Yeah, I'm sure it was all just a misunderstanding, pure chance, nothing to see here...

Joe McDevitt became suspicious Monday evening when he noticed a white van idling outside of a house at 110 Rockwood Road, near his home.

A few hours later when he saw it was still there, he and a neighbor approached and shined flashlights inside, at which point, according to McDevitt, a man emerged from the vehicle who identified himself as an WCAU staffer conducting a special investigation, the cover of which the concerned citizens were now blowing.

McDevitt says he asked about the nature of the story out of concern for children in the neighborhood and was told that it was not a dangerous situation, and nothing more.

Monday afternoon, we're told, several of the suspected perverts approached the house and were greeted by reporter Harry Hairston, and a camera crew that stormed out after them as they hopped into their cars and sped away.

According to another neighbor, when a group of residents confronted the news crew on Monday, Hairston tried to calm them down and reassured them the station was performing a public service, while still refusing to divulge the nature of the story.

A "public service?" Any reporters thinking of providing such a "public service" anywhere near my neighborhood will find themselves in the receiving end of a very different public service--I'll call the cops on 'em. And I might take a tire iron in their general direction.

"Our overriding concern was to make sure that no one was put in any kind of jeopardy," says WCAU news director Chris Blackman.

"This could have been any suburb in the United States. It will become clear that our intent in telling the story was to give a disturbing, but true sense of how easy it is for pedophiles to prey on potential victims."

Blackman refutes reports that some of the suspected pervs high-tailed it away from the house, and says, "We engaged in some very candid and surprising conversations with some of these people."

He says the story will provide "a shocking glimpse into the minds of the people who do this kind of thing."

Newtown Square police Chief Lee Hunter said he couldn't comment until this morning, when the Delaware County district attorney's office was expected to finish an investigation of the situation.

Since finding out what was going on on Rockwood Road, Newtown Square police have been seen driving up and down the block, as well as following buses home from nearby schools. An empty police cruiser has been parked on the block since around 11 p.m. Monday.

Depending on how these reporters baited their trap, pervs might be trickling into that neighborhood months or even years from now, long after the cameras have left and long after the police have moved on. If they advertised on the net, for instance, Google has a way of caching documents that lasts long after a site's owner takes it down.

And these reporters may well have done lasting damage to this neighborhood with this ratings-goosing stunt. The presence of extra police patrols often leads to notions that a neighborhood is particularly crime-ridden, which leads to a decline in property values. But more importantly, these reporters thoughtlessly endangered any children living in the neighborhood, and their failure to notify law enforcement indicates that they had no intention of turning any of these pedophiles over for prosecution after getting their precious "get." And all in the name of ratings.

(via ShopTalk)

Posted by B. Preston at 09:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 03, 2004

BUSH IN 2004

It's no secret to anyone who has spent more than five minutes reading this blog who I'll be voting for in November. If you care about national security, there is only one choice--George W. Bush.

For me, it's pretty simple. We're at war. We were attacked on our own soil on 9-11. President Bush responded first with the right instincts. Instead of calling the attack a crime as the previous administration did and a certain senator from Massachussetts does, Bush called it an act of war, which was the truth. He also responded with the right amount of force and ousted the Taliban from Afghanistan, which was a paid protection force for Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda. Since then al Qaeda has lost its training bases and therefore cannot replace any of its personnel with newly trained terrorists. We will win this war in part by simple math--we can go on training new soldiers and building new means of killing the bad guys. The terrorists' capabilities will erode the longer we keep them on the run.

Since the Afghanistan battle, President Bush has led this nation in a campaign to make the world safer by putting the terrorists on the defensive and serving notice that regimes and states that supported terrorism in the past and that continue to do so would result in their isolation and destruction. President Bush is not content to wait for the next attack and then plea for permission to respond from the UN. He is rightly taking the fight to the enemy.

And look at the results. Saddam Hussein is no longer a threat, and no longer a source of instability in the Middle East. Iraq has a chance to become a free democracy in the heart of that strife ridden region. Libya has turned from terror sponsor to state's evidence against the terror masters, having turned over its WMD programs and evidence about the programs of its former friends in the axis of evil. Reform movements are springing up all over the Middle East. There is still instability, but those of us who live in the real world understand that perfection is unattainable, especially in so short a time. Good changes, or changes in the right direction, will have to suffice in the short term if we are to erradicate terrorism at its sources in the long term. And President Bush is doing everything he can to make those good changes possible. All his opponents can manage is to carp.

Is he a perfect president for a conservative like me? No. But who is? We social conservatives, libertarians and other men and women of the right and middle should not let the perfect become the enemy of the good. The stakes in this election are just too high.

The president's opponent will be Senator John Kerry. Simply put, I don't trust John Kerry with the reins of national security. His instincts are terrible, his judgement is unsound and he seems to operate from no core principles. Kerry has been on both sides of the war in Iraq, standing on whichever side seemed to have the upper hand on any given day. Looking back at his record, he voted to slash nearly every major weapon system now deployed and achieving such incredible military success in the field. He voted numerous times to gut our intelligence agencies. He has shown no ability to develop any kind of rapport with the American people. He sent signals to the awful mullahcracy in Iran that he would offer them a softer line than President Bush has. They are no doubt cheering for a Kerry win, as are the other terror sponsors around the Middle East and throughout the world. Their thinking should be obvious: President Bush has laid out and pursued a strong course of action against terrorism. Kerry has criticized that course when it was politically expedient. Should he win, he is likely to conclude that the voters have rejected Bush's strategy, and therefore the best course of action would be to turn about and pursue a very different course. And of course, Kerry's political base just does not support the war, and does not seem likely to change its mind.

Kim Jong-Il, Bashir Assad, Yasser Arafat, the mullahs in Iran, the foul princes of Saudi Arabia and every other terror master would sleep easier with John Kerry in the White House. I want them to worry themselves sick until we get around to taking care of them or their people overthrow them. President Bush has them nervous, so we should keep him where he is--staring the terror masters down.

Some criticize President Bush's "unilateral" foreign policy. Those are the same people who never mention or acknowledge in any way the creation of the Proliferation Security Initiative, the multi-state organization that is building a sea-borne fence around Kim Jong-Il with the aim of halting his WMD trafficking. The PSI makes liars out of anyone who says that Bush diplomacy has destroyed our relations with old allies such as France and Germany--both of whom are voluntarily working with the PSI.

Some criticize the Bush tax cuts, or his handling of the economy in general, accusing him of creating a recession with his policies. The recession started before Bush ever took office. The economy took a major hit on 9-11. It's a wonder we didn't slide into a mild depression. Bush's tax cuts may well be the reason we didn't.

Some libertarians and other skeptics point to Bush's support of a constitutional amendment to uphold the traditional definition of marriage. At least Bush has taken a stand. Kerry lacks the political courage to do likewise. He says he opposes gay marriage, but will do nothing to stop the courts from forcing it on an unwilling country. Why?

And none of these issues--the tax cuts, the economy, gay marriage--will matter if the terrorists succeed again.

President Bush is an able leader. John Kerry is not. President Bush deserves four more years in office.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:33 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


So getting endorsed by Communist agitator Ramsey Clark may not sink Kerry's campaign. Then try this.

The Iranian mullahcracy has three basic goals in its relationship with the US. They are loosening visa requirements for Iranians to enter the US, lifting US trade sanctions on Iran as a designated terrorist state, and establishing some sort of direct dialogue between Washington and Tehran.

If Iran accomplishes these goals, you'll see more Iranians in the US who have undergone less stringent background checks (which potentially means more terrorists or terrorist sympathizers here), you'll see Iran begin to assume more appearances of a normal state even while it hasn't changed a whit, and you'll probably see the US begin to weaken its resolve in opposing Iran and other terrorist states. And in return we would get....?

Well, John Kerry's support base includes one Susan Akbarpour. She advocates the very same goals as the mullahcracy in Tehran. She is a former journalist in Iran with connections to Iran's former president, and is currently in the US under questionable circumstances. She's a pro-mullah, anti-Semitic agitator:

Kharrazi's trip to California was part of a failed Clinton administration effort to renew ties with the Islamic republic. Iranian-American Jewish organizations were outraged by his visit, which followed on the heels of the show trial of 13 Iranian Jews in Shiraz.

Akbarpour was filmed by several Los Angeles-based Iranian TV networks insulting the protesters and supporting [Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal] Kharrazi. In the Persian-language edition of her monthly newspaper, Iran Today, she printed numerous anti-Semitic articles, Iranian Jewish activists tell Insight.

Akbarpour's latest trade effort, SiliconIran, was planning to host a gala at the Ritz Carlton's Laguna Niguel resort in Orange County, Calif., on March 3 as Insight went to press. Among the guests will be fellow Kerry fund-raiser Nemazee.

"Nemazee" is Hassan Nemazee, an investment banker also with ties to Iran, though he doesn't appear to have as bad a record as Akbarpour. Both have contributed to Kerry's campaigns and to the Democrats as a party.

Arkbarpour definitely pays attention to what various candidates say and do on Iranian issues, and throws her support around accordingly:

The two candidates Akbarpour said she would "never help" are President Bush and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., because both have taken a no-nonsense approach to the Iranian regime.

Federal Election Commission records show that Akbarpour contributed $1,000 to the Kerry committee in June 2002 and another $2,000 in June 2003.

Ties to mullah-lovers and Communists. Kerry keeps some interesting friends, while Bush seems to make all the right enemies. The support does seem to make a difference to Kerry:

"We have to support the idea that someone who is an American citizen has a right to have their family visit them from anywhere in the world," he told Akbarpour at a Jan. 14, 2004, fund-raiser in San Francisco.

Under that very broad statement, Osama bin Laden himself could've gotten into the US to visit his brothers who lived here, provided the brothers had become US citizens or had married US citizens.

Posted by B. Preston at 01:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Portland, Oregon is now recognizing same-sex marriages without any voter input. As elsewhere, it is simply being imposed by fiat--in this case, another mayor has assumed the mantle of dictator.

Meanwhile, Stanley Kurtz takes the long view. He says New Mexico will probably be the next state to get swamped. He also outlines how we got to this point:

Eight years ago, the people of Hawaii passed a state constitutional amendment to prevent their courts from legalizing gay marriage. After that, gay-marriage advocates systematically targeted liberal courts in states where constitutional amendments are difficult to pass. Vermont resulted. In Massachusetts, another state with liberal courts and a cumbersome amendment process, the intent was to insist on full gay marriage, rather than civil unions. Advocates understood that with only a single state to generate legal gay marriages, the path to nationalization would be open.

You have to imagine what it's going to be like once the stories of stymied hospital visits and nightmare property settlements start to hit the courts — and the airwaves. The ongoing legal tangles and media firestorms are going to create tremendous pressure on the U.S. Supreme Court to put an end to the chaos by nationalizing gay marriage. That, in turn, will generate a countermovement to nationalize the traditional definition of marriage through the Federal Marriage Amendment. Once it becomes clear — and it will — that a state-by-state patchwork definition of marriage is legally and politically untenable, we'll see a race to uniformity. Either we'll have gay marriage imposed nationally by the Supreme Court, or a Federal Marriage Amendment.

And with Justices O'Connor and Kennedy having already gone with leftist majorities on other issues, it's not hard to see how the SCOTUS will rule. Left to its own devices, it will re-write the definition of marriage against the popular will. Kurtz is optmistic that once the nation realizes an undemocratic leftist coup is underway and that the results of gay marriage will be the end of marriage itself, support for the only mechanism remaining to stop it--the Federal Marriage Amendment--will increase in popularity.

I hope he's right.

UPDATE: Georgia is taking pre-emptive action, working on an amendment to its constitution that would spell out marriage as an institution requiring one man and one woman. Doug Payton took his digital camera to a pro-amendment rally and has written up a very thorough and interesting post about it. It's well worth a read, no matter which side you're on in this thing.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:05 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 02, 2004


If Sharia, Islamic law, becomes the supreme law of the land in the new Iraq, the invasion will probably have been for naught. Yes, we will have toppled Saddam Hussein and freed 25 million. Yes, will have probably prevented Saddam's present and future weapons from finding their way into terrorist hands. But we will also have traded one evil--Saddam Hussein--for another--radical Islamic law and a state more like Iran than, say, Turkey.

That's bad. Daniel Pipes believes that's where we're headed:

They reached this decision at about 4:20 a.m. on March 1, when the Iraqi Governing Council, in the presence of top coalition administrators, agreed on the wording of an interim constitution. This document, officially called the Transitional Administrative Law, is expected to remain the ultimate legal authority until a permanent constitution is agreed on, presumably in 2005. The council members focused on whether the interim constitution should name the Sharia as "a source" or "the source" for laws in Iraq. "A source" suggests laws may contravene the Sharia, while "the source" implies that they may not. In the end, they opted for the Sharia being just "a source" of Iraq's laws.

This appears to be a successful compromise. It means, as council members explained in more detail, that legislation may not contradict either the "universally agreed-upon tenets of Islam" or the quite liberal rights guaranteed in other articles of the interim constitution, including protections for free speech, free press, religious expression, rights of assembly, and due process, plus an independent judiciary and equal treatment under the law.

But there are two reasons to see the interim constitution as a signal victory for militant Islam.

First, the compromise suggests that while all of the Sharia may not be put into place, every law must conform with it. As one pro-Sharia source put it, "We got what we wanted, which is that there should be no laws that are against Islam." The new Iraq may not be Saudi Arabia or Iran, but it will include substantial portions of Islamic law.

Second, the interim constitution appears to be only a way station. Islamists will surely try to gut its liberal provisions, thereby making Sharia effectively "the source" of Iraqi law. Those who want this change — including Mr. al-Sistani and the Governing Council's current president — will presumably continue to press for their vision. Iraq's leading militant Islamic figure, Muqtada al-Sadr, has threatened that his constituency will "attack its enemies" if Sharia is not "the source" and the pro-Tehran political party in Iraq has echoed Sadr's ultimatum.

When the interim constitution does take force, militant Islam will have blossomed in Iraq.

I hope he's wrong. But I'm afraid he may prove to be right.

UPDATE: Nina Shea is worried about a shari Trojan Horse slipping into the Iraqi constitution, too.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:42 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


A Muslim plans to distribute The Passion of the Christ in nominally Christian France--because theatre owners in that nominally Christian country want no part of it.

Tarak ben Ammar, a Tunisian who studied at Georgetown University, said he would distribute the hit in French theaters "in April, over the Easter period."

The guy has an interesting film pedigree:

He produced Franco Zeffirelli's "Jesus of Nazareth" and Roberto Rossellini's "The Messiah" in the 1970s and has taken part in the production of such blockbusters as the "Star Wars" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" series.

I think I need to lie down.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Dean gets a win!--in the People's Republic of Vermont.

Edwards almost gets a win!--and drops out of the race.

And the man who wants to be America's second black president (we had a first? Oh yeah, some white southern dude named Billy Jeff said he was black and it stuck) cruises toward the nomination. Only Dennis the Menace Kucinich and Al Fashion Mart Sharpton stand in his way. Which means barring something truly weird, Kerry is a lock. Good. Between Kerry and Edwards, Kerry is by far the more target-rich candidate. He's about the only person I can think of whose 30+ year career is actually mostly a liability instead of an asset.

Speaking of that whole "black president" thing, is it just me or it in a sign of incredible arrogance and condescension, and even racism, when two white guys basically tell black people that they should be satisfied with two white guys offering to pose as black?

MORE: A week or so back I predicted (it was a bonus bonus prediction, so not exactly a first-string prediction of certain surety), that come the fall the Democrats would attempt to replace their presidential nominee at the last minute, similar to the illegal move they made with Torricelli a couple years back. A commentor asked me why, and I never answered. That's because I don't really have a solid answer yet, just a gut feeling about Kerry. Eh, my bonus bonus prediction is probably not going to happen. But then again...what if Kerry turned out to be a bona fide war criminal? He did admit to committing war crimes in his 1971 Senate testimony (though that testimony has, to be fair, turned out to have been mostly lies from fake vets, so his admission may not stand up any better to scrutiny than those fake vets did). But--if it turned out to be true, and verified? Sort of knocks a couple of those medals off his chest, no? And his aura of "electability" would take a one-way sail right down the drain. So the Dems might decide to pull another Torch and replace him.

UPDATE: On the other hand, Kerry has "won" the endorsement of Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General, long-time hard left agitator and head of the International Action Center. That outfit appears to have solid ties to International ANSWER, the Communist front that organized most of the anti-war protests last year (for more on the joys of Communism, read this). So maybe the friends Kerry keeps will sink his candidacy on their own.

Clark's description of young Kerry in his vagabond anti-war hippie days is a hoot:

"I saw him as an extremely caring person, an extremely courageous person, and a person who was deeply concerned for peace and the well-being of other people," Clark added...

I've been reading up on the 1970s vintage John F. Kerry, who, you may not have realized, actually served--in Vietnam! No one, and I mean no one, who knew him then and was asked about him anywhere near that timeframe remembers him as an "extremely caring person" or "deeply concerned for the well-being of other people." I'll have more on this at some point, but suffice it to say that almost to a man, Kerry's associates describe him as a prevaricator and a snob, arrogant about his status and wealth and always ready to pull rank on the former vets and fake former vets that made up his Vietnam Veterans Against the War group (the gall--pulling rank on guys who only pretended to serve in the military). He was known for his ego and ambition, but not for his caring. For what it's worth, Clark seems to be reinventing his memories of Kerry.

None of this would matter much except that it seems young Kerry has aged into present Kerry without much in the way of a personality change. He's still a prevaricator, a shifty double-minded man who seems to be all about the ambition and not a bit about any core beliefs. I could be wrong, but that's how I read him.

Everybody knows George W. Bush was sort of a party boy back in the day, but at least he grew up.

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


Maryland is one of the Super Tuesday states, so I voted this morning in the GOP primary.

Maryland has adopted the Diebold electronic touch-screen voting machine across the state. This was my first experience with the machines, and I don't like them. They just don't seem secure.

When you walk into the polling place, the poll workers ask you who you are, verify your address, the usual drill. At no time do they ask for proof of identification, because that's against state law. It would be no great chore to register multiple times in multiple jurisdictions, and it would be no great chore to have others register and then show up at the polls and vote for them. Elderly shut-ins are particularly vulnerable to this kind of scheme. It would, in other words, be no great chore to cheat the system, but I digress. Maryland is what it is, and there isn't much I can do to change it.

When they find you on the list and check your party registration, they sort through a box of cards, pull out yours and hand it to you so you can verify that the information on it is correct. Mine was fine to the letter, so I signed it as instructed. Then the poll worker gave me a plastic card the size of a credit card and told me to walk over to a machine and vote.

The place was pretty much empty, so I had the run of the machines. I picked one and fiddled with it until I figured out that you're supposed to take that plastic card and put it all the way into the slot on the machine until it clicks in. Since they made the card the same size as an ATM card, and since the slot on the Diebold looks a little like the slot on an ATM-capable gas pump, it looks for all the world like you're supposed to swipe the card instead of inserting it fully.


So I figure it out, get the card in there and start voting. That part is very, very easy. You touch the box next to the name of the person you want to vote for, and when you're done with a page you hit "Next" and go to the next page to select more names. When you're completely done, you hit "Cast Ballot" and the machine looks like it's thinking, then you hear a click and the plastic card is popped and ready for you to remove it. That's it. You've voted, or at least you believe you've voted.

The problem is, you get no paper record of how you voted. No receipt comes out, so you can't walk away with anything in your hands that shows how or even whether you actually voted. And I couldn't see any security mechanism that would stop poll workers from casting votes for absentees when no one is around--well, other than the fact that some are supposed to be Republicans and some are supposed to be Democrats and therefore they're supposed to serve as a check on each other. But what if there is a strong third-party challenge? It's not unthinkable that the two major parties could collude and block the third party using these electronic machines and their lack of verifiable output. It's very disturbing. What if the machine misregistered my votes? I have no way of detecting error, and therefore no recourse.

Look, I don't trust elected officials of either party to play completely fair. Power is an intoxicating potion, and the temptation to hold on to it at all costs is too much for some to resist. These Diebold machines may well be the most secure invention in the world, but they don't seem like it. They seem all too easy to manipulate, and they seem like the perfect vehicle to hijack elections and further erode democracy.

MORE: I'm probably creating some sort of feedback loop by linking back to a post that links directly to this one, but new stories about insecure electronic voting machines seem to be pouring into InstaPundit. This one echoes my own distrust of these things:

I'm an undergraduate in a large Georgia university, which also happens to be the place I vote at election time. Although I have been a casual follower of the voting security debate, I now find myself in a unique position. A sitting position. More precisely, sitting 10 feet away from a stack of 10 unguarded electronic voting machines. Despite having been here for for 120 minutes (and taking a conspicuous number of photos), I have yet to see any security presence, or anyone associated with these machines at all.

Read the whole thing. It's a hair-raiser.

MORE: I pass on these two quotes without much comment:

In several software and hardware tests, critics have shown it's easy to jam microchip-embedded smart cards into machines, or alter and delete some votes — in some cases simply by ripping out wires. They've cracked passwords to gain access to computer servers and showed that some systems relying on Microsoft Windows lacked up-to-date security patches that should have been downloaded from the Internet.

All insecurity roads lead back to Bill Gates, I guess.

Computer experts told Maryland lawmakers in January that the hardware contained "vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious individuals." Among their surprises: all of Maryland's machines had two identical locks, which could be opened by any one of 32,000 keys or be easily picked.

Makes you feel safe and secure about your vote, doesn't it?

MORE: Mike from California writes:

I'm in California, and we seem to be having a few problems as well.

Not all counties use the machines - it's a big expense (as you know,
California's a little short of cash these days).

There's a relatively simple safeguard: require any company supplying
electronic voting machines to be ISO 9000 sertified.

In a nutshell, this organization certifies companies and documents that
they follow accepted standards, in all steps of their processes.

I've looked at the Diebold website, and they don't mention it. If they
were certified, you can bet that would be right up front.

It's a long and difficult process - not something you can get for a
suitcase full of money.

It may be that there are no ISO 9000 certified election system
companies. If that's the case, governments should take the position
that as soon as there are, then we'll start looking.

Mike relates that his company is ISO certified and couldn't bid for gov't contracts otherwise (to understand what ISO certification means, click here). I used to work for a major gov't contractor that was similarly certified. He brings up a good point--did state and local governments make sure that serious attention was being paid to sufficient standards when these machines were being manufactured? If so, fine, I'm a little more at ease about this, though I'd like to see some proof. But if not, why not?

UPDATE: Thanks to Michele and the gang over at The Command Post for reprinting this post and the linkage back!

Posted by B. Preston at 09:42 AM | Comments (20) | TrackBack


Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, at the behest of unelected special interest figures, have been blocking confirmation after confirmation of judges appointed by President Bush to the federal bench. Their reasons for the filibusters range from the racist--that one candidate is a Latino--to the crassly illegal--they didn't want a particular judge to ascend to the bench until a specific case had been disposed. Yet no one can stop them.

A couple of mayors on both liberal coasts have unilaterally upended the rule of law and set themselves up as miniature kings, dispensing marriage licenses not according to the statutes derived from millennia of experience but from their own politically correct worldview. Judges in their respective states have consistently refused to uphold the law and stop them. And four unelected judges in Massachussetts have simply discovered a new "right" from thin air, and have ordered a separate and co-equal branch of the government to conform the laws to their own newly minted understanding of the law. And no one can stop them short of either impeaching them or amending the Constitution to force their hand. And they probably will not obey even in the face of plain language written into our foundational documents.

What have we here? What is going on?

The rule of law means respecting and playing by the rules. The rule of law means that no individual takes on the mantle of authority without the consent of the governed, and having taken up that mantle, pledges to uphold the laws on the books. The rule of law means that, in America, the separate branches of government act as checks and balances against one another. But instead of a balance of power, we have an imbalance that is creating a kind of judicial tyranny the aim of which seems to be to push liberal-left policy down the public's throat against its will. We have fetishized the principle of judicial oversight to the point that we cannot bridle our judges, and we have fetishized our laws to the point that even whispering a desire to amend them brings down the wrath, not on the judges who have made it necessary, but on the few who want to stop them.

The people didn't vote in favor of allowing gay marriage, anywhere in the nation. Where they have had the chance, or where their elected representatives have had the chance, they have consistently and overwhelming voted to keep the traditional meaning of marriage--a union of one man and one woman--intact. Yet a few judges and a few mayors disagree and are forcing their opinion upon the rest of us.

It's time to call this wreckless campaign what it is: A coup d'etat. They have taken the reins for themselves in opposition to the express will of the people. And the media elites, the liberal left and a few others who call themselves libertarians see no problem with this.

Let's remove the issue at hand for a moment--gay marriage--and deal with the legal situation on its own. Suppose a few unelected justices and a couple of mayors suddenly read into the Constitution a right that the people had not only not voted for, but had recently voted against, and that that "right" was really not so much a right as a standard or definition. Suppose that "right" had then been forced down the majority's throats without any sort of due process or any semblance of concern for the long-reaching consequences. What if a few mayors decided to just rescind laws and make new ones without resorting to the legal process of making law, and had then ordered their employees to operate under the mayor's new laws and disobey the old laws.

We would call such action lawlessness, and that's what it would be. It would be a usurpation of authority without any legal right to it. In other words, a coup.

I don't know what to do about this. The momentum for passing a Constitutional amendment to stop this train doesn't seem to be gathering. Many who probably should support it just don't sense where things are going yet, and they may not see it until it's too late. You throw a mountain of data at them about what allowing gay marriage has done in Norway--it has destroyed marriage--and they act like you haven't said a word. So empirical evidence seems to have no place in this emotional argument in this hypersensitive time. I don't see a way to restrain the lawlessness that won't bring us some version of a bitter and acrimonious never-ending argument that will erupt into actual violence in places. It will gum up our legal system and cause deeper rifts between the blue and red cultures already polarizing our country. And all in the middle of a real war for our survival.

At some point we should pause and thank the left for its impeccable timing.

But whatever can or can't be done to stop it, I do think it's time to call this situation what it is and deal with it for what it is. It's a coup. The liberal left is circumventing the democratic process, a process it obviously doesn't trust, and is forcing its own worldview on the rest of us against our will. If the lawlessness is allowed to continue, we could be looking at the end of democracy for all practical purposes. Presidents and elected representatives will become figureheads, while the unelected judicial class will assume all the facts of power like robed shogun commanding from the heights.

MORE: I suspect the origins of this coup date to the time of the Equal Rights Amendment. Passed in by the Senate in 1972, that amendment failed to gain ratification within the legally prescribed seven years, got a three-year extension and still failed to get ratified by the necessary number of 38 states. Proponents of the ERA probably cast a glance in their rearview mirrors and saw that abortion on demand had been foisted on the public by the courts, that Madeline Murray O'Hare had managed to blast prayer from the public schools via the courts, and therefore concluded that the courts were the path of least resistance to enacting their extreme agenda. Amending the Constitution was too high a bar for them to reach, and wasn't even necessary when judges were prepared to amend it on the fly for them. Since then, the left has increasingly disdained the democratic process and resorted to the courts to get its way.

So where is all this going? If it stopped simply at gay marriage, the damage would be significant but not catastrophic. But it won't stop there. Couple the imposition of gay marriage with hate speech and hate crime laws, and you have a suite of very powerful instruments to solidify the left's hold on power via the courts. And it won't stop there. Just look at where abortion and "family planning" policy has us now--the Catholic Charities organization is being forced, by the courts, to provide birth control to its employees, in direct violation of Catholic teaching. Whichever side you come down on regarding birth control is irrelevant--this move constitutes an erosion of the separation of church and state, with the state exercising undue power over the inner workings of a church organization.

And no one can stop it.

MORE: Finally, someone stands up to the leftists!

March 2, 2004, 4:54 PM EST

Four days after presiding over a slew of same sex marriages in his quaint Hudson Valley village, the mayor of New Paltz today was charged with 19 violations of New York's domestic relations law, injecting the debate over gay marriages in the state with increasing drama and urgency.

Jason West, 26-year-old Green Party mayor, was ordered to appear in court Wednesday to answer charges that he broke state law by solomizing about two dozen weddings without a marriage license, according to New Paltz police and West's lawyer.

Chief Raymond Zappone said he and a lieutenant from the town police served a 19-count summons to West Tuesday afternoon and that the mayor faces up a $500 fine and a year in jail for his actions which have attracted international attention and brought the fight over gay marriages squarely into New York.

The actions come as West is planning to hold more ceremonies this weekend and with other officials around the state considering similar actions. It also coincides with increasing pressure on State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who last week refused a call by the governor to prevent and nullify the marriages, to step in and issue some clarifying words on the complex legal issues at play.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:04 AM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

February 29, 2004


The seers and the prophets had foretold it long ago
that the long awaited one would make men stumble
but they were looking for a king to conquer and to kill
Who’d have ever thought he’d be so meek and humble?
He will be the truth that will offend them one and all
the Stone that makes men stumble and a rock that makes them fall
many will be broken so that he can make them whole
and many will be crushed and lose their own soul

--Michael Card, “Scandalon”

Our lives are a little bit like rings of smoke. We begin and seem to hold together for a brief span, but we soon disintegrate, dissipate and are gone, forever invisible and inconsequential. But a couple thousand years ago, one man lived and, though he died young, his life has continued to echo down through the ages, like a ripple in a pond that never stops. He has never dissipated, and he is anything but inconsequential.

Who was he? Was he a rabble-rouser, a rabbi, a good and noble teacher? Was he a king who never took his rightful throne? Was he just another madman who died for a dream? Or was he someone else?

I’m not sure that Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ will answer that question if you don’t already have one ready. In a very serious way, what you bring to this film is probably what you will take away from it, only stronger. Those who have lived lives trapped in secrets, violence and pornography are likely to see this film through the prism of their sad experience. Those who are already Christians will see their Sufferering Savior right before their eyes, and will be reminded once again of our own culpability in His wounds. Those in between have been given a powerful reason to think again about the man from Nazareth.

First, the big questions. Is The Passion of the Christ too violent? No. I’ve probably seen a dozen more violent films, some of which were violent for a purpose—I’m thinking of Saving Private Ryan—and most of which have been pointlessly and needlessly violent. One major difference between most of those films and The Passion of the Christ is undoubtedly the one-way direction of the violence. The fact that all of the violence is directed at one man, for a long portion of the film, makes it hard to watch. There is no quid pro quo, no combat, and no effort to shuck off the bad guys and mow them down in a cathartic deus ex machina. There is no final moment of justice. Watching the events, you want Jesus to do something, you want someone to intervene, you want God to strike down the persecutors and deliver him from them. Instead, Jesus merely rises from his beatings for another round, his bloody eye catching his mother watching from the crowd. He seems to be enduring the scourging by choice, and is unbeatable. When he dies, having forgiven humanity for his suffering, he dies of his own free will. The beating and the crucifixion were not truly enough to kill him.

Is The Passion of the Christ anti-Semitic? Absolutely not. To start with, Jesus is a Jew. His followers are Jews. His mother is a Jew. His accusers, true, are Jewish leaders as are the rabble that follows them. But among the Jewish leadership, Jesus finds allies in Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. Some reviewers, invoking medieval concepts of anti-Semitism, insist that Gibson is resorting to old methods to put a vile wine in a new skin. They say that he dresses the Jewish leadership in dark colors, lights them menacingly, and keeps their faces fixed in scowls, all to make a veiled statement about blame for deicide. They say that Satan always appears among the Jews, but never among the Romans. But Mary and the Magdalene both wear plain black robes throughout. The lighting in most scenes is by turns menacing and haunting, often invoking Renaissance paintings and sculpture. There is no shortage of scowls among the Romans, who are almost without exception depicted as snarling brutes that beat strangers with horrible instruments for fun. And at one point, Satan appears and walks among the Romans as they scourge Jesus. There are no Jews in the frame, so reviewers who say that Satan is always shown among the Jews are either mistaken or are not telling the whole truth. Those bringing a thin skin or a too-sensitive anti-Semitism detector may see racial bias in this film, but it isn’t there by any production choice.

Walking out into the bright afternoon sun after the two most intense hours I have ever spent watching a film, I came to a conclusion. The Passion of the Christ is two things. It is primarily a meditation on the suffering of Christ en route to taking on the sins of the world, and as such is primarily a Catholic film because Mel Gibson is a Catholic and he made the film. By that I don’t mean that it alienates Protestants such as myself, just that its symbolism, its points of emphasis and even mysticism are primarily Catholic in nature. The Passion of the Christ is also, in the truest sense of the term, a horror film. It is frightening. It is maddening. It is sickening. Satan literally stalks this film, sometimes verbally taunting Christ and sometimes visually slithering about the scene as if controlling it all like an evil puppet master. Demons stalk Judas Iscariot after the betrayal, hounding him to his death. Far scarier than any man-in-a-hockey-mask slasher film, The Passion of the Christ confronts its audience not with teenagers chased by a two-dimensional maniac but with a man taking every evil deed done by every person upon himself. He alone knows the horror he accepts, yet he accepts it, though he is himself innocent.

Yet in all this horror and one-man carnage, Gibson manages some extremely deft touches that make The Passion of the Christ a great work of storytelling. At one point in the ordeal, Mary Magdalene flashes back to the moment Jesus saved her from a mob intent on stoning her. Jesus has saved her from death for the crime of adultery, and she shows visible signs of sin—dirt and scrapes on her face, matted hair, and a rough look about her. From a close-up of her sinful face, the film cuts to a close-up of her as she sponges up the blood from Christ’s scourging. Her face and appearance are clean now, symbolic of the change that contact with Jesus has worked in her. As a sort of reversal, the Jesus that starts out the film and inhabits the flashback scenes as the very picture of young, masculine health is by the end transformed into a barely recognizable mass of flesh and blood, the sins of Mary and everyone else literally making him unbearable to see.

The Passion of the Christ is not a perfect film. Gibson makes some questionable plot and artistic choices. The Jewish troops who initially arrest Jesus throw him off a bridge, though the Gospels record no such incident. Judas is a more conflicted villain than I am used to seeing, and Pilate is a more moral Roman governor than most films or history show. But the Gospels do portray him as conflicted with regard to Jesus, torn between two political realities—an outpost fiefdom that periodically rebels against Roman rule, and a Caesar threatening to kill him should his subjects rebel one more time. He knows that freeing Jesus may set off a rebellion led by the Pharisees, or perhaps allowing the itinerant preacher to lead a rebellion of his own some day, while executing him may spark riots among his legions of followers. Any of those three likely outcomes could get Pilate executed by an irritated Caesar. Pilate may be the most complete character in the film, the conflict raging inside him between Rome and its colonial subjects visible on his face. Jesus carries a fully formed cross through the streets instead of a rough-hewn half-cross, which is probably more likely. In spite of all historical and physiological evidence, Gibson chose to drive the nails through Christ’s palms instead of his wrists. Satan visits Jesus while he is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to the betrayal, which is an effective way of introducing the purpose of the coming carnage but is not based on any Biblical passage. The Resurrection is given far too little screen time. Maybe Gibson was thinking of a sequel?

But all of those choices come down to aesthetics, and do not harm the film’s purpose of demonstrating the extent of Jesus’ suffering and do not ultimately limit its power. The Passion of the Christ is easily the most interesting and powerful Jesus film ever made. It probably isn’t the best Jesus film—Jesus of Nazareth is probably the most complete, while 2003’s The Gospel of John is probably the most accurate (though it only deals with material found in the one gospel account), but The Passion of the Christ is the most artistic and challenging film of the genre.

Returning to the quote at the top of this review, the controversy over The Passion of the Christ really should not be a surprise to anyone. Jesus Christ is the scandalon, the stumbling block of mankind. To some he is the barrier, to others He’s the Way. Viewers who see him as the stumbling block may not see enough context in this film to change their minds (I wonder, for instance, how this film will play in place like Japan that has very little Christian influence), while viewers who already see Him as the Way are reminded again of His identity, His love, His determination to free us, and of His promises to us. The Passion of the Christ is controversial because the Passion of the Christ is controversial, and has been for two millennia. It is the most confrontational event in history, so it’s only fitting that the film about the event creates its own controversy.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:02 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack