Saturday, April 23, 2005

Out of Time

Is there really a controversy over Time magazine putting Ann Coulter on its cover? I think it might be too late to reach out to conservatives, and I don't really care much for Coulter's contentious approach, and I don't think she's that good looking.

Great Moments in Sophistry

John Kerry's version of the "Frist is playing the religion card" talking point is an excellent display of his talent in self-righteous indignation. I'm sure that Barbara Boxer was a close second.

It's getting harder to gauge these things, though, because so many Democrats are in the running claiming that filibustering is as American as apple pie and part of our sacred heritage, showing clips from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, as if permanently preventing a vote on a nominee, as opposed to delaying things until more information can be considered, is somehow essential to the survival of freedom. Never mind that they are trying to prevent the Senate from fulfilling its role of giving advice and consent to the president's nominees for judgeships. They are simply refusing to acknowledge the results of the last election and playing childish games.

It's ecumenical, Baby!

Hugh Hewitt's blog has recently been reading like a Roman Catholic one. I keep wondering how deep his conversion to evangelical protestantism is. I've concluded, however, that he's more interested in promoting faith and traditional standards than in switching churches again.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Press and the Pope

The mainstream media seem to be disappointed by the selection of the new pope; as if their opinions should have any validity in matters of religion, but when did lack of credentials ever bother them?

Kenneth Woodward, an old hand at Newsweek writes:
[He] [Ratzinger] repeatedly insisted on Christ as the one way to God and was notoriously hard on Catholic scholars who tried to find theological common ground with Hinduism in particular. He seemed unconcerned that other religions have their own understandings of Jesus [![, or that these understandings might provide missionaries in the field with ways to make Christianity more adaptable to local cultures.
Funny, I don't recall Christ instructing either his apostles or the seventy to "provide ways to make my doctrine more adaptable to local cultures." He did say, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto God that which is God's."

He also got a lot of criticism from scribes and Pharisees, so Pope Benedict is in good company.

Update: James Taranto has this, more fundamental point:
Yesterday's item about liberals' unhappiness with Benedict XVI brought an interesting observation from reader Roger Gore:
Regarding Andrew Sullivan, et al., I find all this politicking and commentary that surrounds the new pope (and the process of election, which itself seems far too founded in the ways of the world) a bit curious.

I am not Catholic, but it seems to me that if the pope is really God's mouthpiece on the earth--as the Catholic Church claims he is--then why the dissent? Either the man speaks for God, or he does not. If he does, the dissent is at best foolish, for who in his right mind would think to argue with Almighty God over his own doctrine? Can God really be lobbied, swayed, and convinced over same-sex marriage, condoms, celibacy, etc.? If the pope does not speak for God, then the Catholic Church is void of its stated "divine authority," and so why have a pope to begin with?
Indeed. If you're not Catholic, and especially if you're an atheist or agnostic, then it makes sense to regard the church as just another worldly institution. After all, you don't believe in papal infallibility or the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit. But if you do believe in these ideas, what could it mean that you oppose the new pope and his adherence to tradition, other than that you're disappointed in or angry at God for not changing his mind?
I'd be willing to bet modest money that Roger Gore is a Mormon, since we make the same point about believing in continuing modern revelation through a living prophet.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Habeunt Papam!

Poor Andrew Sullivan. His desire for validation of homosexuality has been rejected by the Church again. Why that should matter has never been clear to me. If the Catholics were to start ordaining openly gay men or women after 2,000 years of teaching that homosexual behavior is an abomination and refusing priesthood to women (with some aberrant exceptions), the church would lose far more than it would gain. Would it really make gay men like Andrew happier if the church had bent to his will? Possibly, but I think he would lose all respect for its claims to represent God. Or does he thing the Pope could give orders to God instead of vice versa.

Predictably, the new Pope is getting a lukewarm to cold reception.

Monday, April 18, 2005

High gas prices

Coverage of the rising price of gasoline fails to remind us of how much better it was in the good old days of Nixon, Ford and Carter when we had price controls. Maybe that's because they weren't that good. There wasn't enough gas around at any price. When Reagan came in and dropped those controls, we began hearing about a glut in oil, because the higher prices made it possible to develop new resources, such as the North Sea fields.

Update: Fox News reported yesterday that high gas prices are to blame for Bush's low approval ratings, and that Bush is trying to jawbone the Saudis into producing more. They want us to finance the extra infrastructure. Huh?

The Saudis claim that the price of gasoline has more to do with our failure to build new refineries for years. That could account for part of it, but I think the real reason is that booming economies in India and China are demanding more oil, which increases prices. Why isn't the government making that point? Democrats and their hangers-on are demanding that we tap the strategic oil reserve, which is typical of their shortsightedness. And environmentalists . . . Don't get me started.

There will be another oil glut at some point, but only at higher prices. Of course, the Saudis and other oil producers might find it profitable to invest in more production.

Raising expectations

Jay Cost asks why, if Hillary! is such a brilliant politician, so many people are afraid of her. Good point. She may be making good moves by moving to the center these days, but most people remember her for her handling of Health Care reform, and for the stories about her throwing things in the White House. She won in New York, which doesn't seem like such an accomplishment for a Democrat.


If the Democrats' use of filibustering aren't motivated by intolerance for religious views, why do they keep accusing conservatives of wanting a theocracy, and that separation of church and state justifies their blocking the president's nominees from even coming to the floor for a vote. It's as if they think that if too many religious people get elected, we should dump democracy.

Update: Michael Barone's latest column examines the theocracy claims and finds the issue a "silly question." I think that most religious people understand why government and religion shouldn't mix, but they also don't see why their beliefs shouldn't inform their votes. What is the difference between radical environmentalism and a church? Environmental groups are every bit as dogmatic and intolerant as any member of the Moral Majority, yet they have their own cabinet post. They even use the rhetoric of religion. A lot of pacifists are motivated by a strange faith in the good will of people like Stalin and Saddam Hussein. They believe that if we disarm, our enemies will see our good will and lay their weapons down, too. If that's not a faith-based assumption, I'd like to see the proof. Their utopia is right out of Isaiah, the lamb and the lion.

Religion is important because it teachs respect for the law, in most cases, and values that support civilization, like honesty, the work ethic, temperance, tolerance of others' views, sexual purity, etc. You can find examples where that isn't true, but they are a tiny minority. The LDS Articles of Faith are a perfect example. They mention punishment for sins, obedience, repentance, religious tolerance, "being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law," honest, true, chastity, benevolence, virtue, service to others, hope, endurance, etc.

The problems come when religious people support laws that others find too restrictive, such as prohibiting abortions, prohibition of alcohol, prohibition of pornography, etc., but these positions aren't necessarily motivated by religion alone. They also reflect a desire for a healthy society, one which values life, children, safety, responsibility and rights. Martin Luther King was a pastor, and it was his position as a religious leader that gave him credibility.

More Lileks?

He said on Hugh Hewitt's show that he's going to start some new blogs to write screeds, political comments and pop culture commentary. The Bleat will remain as a personal diary. I've thought that it was conceived as a diary of Gnat's childhood from James' POV, which is an admirable project. I've tried keeping a journal, but people with depression should probably not do that. Whenever I would read it, I'd destroy everything I'd written. It seemed too whiny and bathetic.

That, being said, I look forward to reading his political comments and screeds. They've always been most entertaining to me. He's a great writer but his metier is invective and sarcasm and I find that wasted on stuff like Regrettable Food and Interior Desecrations. Bring it on, James!

"a lot of head-slapping moments"

Remember the Elizabeth Smart case? There's a new book out that reveals the detailed history of the case, including this tidbit:
In August 2002, two months after 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart disappeared, Salt Lake police were called to the downtown library to check out a homeless man wearing robes and his two female companions.

"Are you Elizabeth Smart?" the officer asked the young girl with the man.

"No, I'm Augustine Marshall," the girl replied.

The officer took no further action.
Embarrassing? Yes. Incompetent? Maybe. Inexcusable? I doubt it, at least for liability purposes, but I'd hate to be that officer.


Remember the Elizabeth Smart case? There's a new book that reveals that two months after she was kidnapped, she was seen and reported to local police, but when she gave them a different name, they let it drop. Embarrassing? Yes. Incompetent? Maybe. Inexcusable? I doubt it, at least for liability purposes.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

You want respect, get out of politics!

Professor Bainbridge supports one of my favorite points: Court appointments have become political footballs because the courts have allowed themselves to be used for political purposes. Sadly, it's the ones who have opposed that trend who get the most abuse.

Contentious Conclave

So much for peace on earth!

The latest Shark-jumper

Apparently, it's Matt Drudge.