Saturday, February 05, 2005

Pop Diddly Culture Revelations

An interesting AP article by Frazier Moore (read it here) reports that Ned Flanders of The Simpsons is the character on the show who now most closely represents the national zeitgeist. If true, this indicates quite a serious social change, of course, and is exemplified by the following rather startling statement from one of the show's producers, quoted in the piece:

"The writers like Ned as a person better than Homer."

According to the AP report, Ned will be at the center of this Sunday's show, in which the controversy over last year's Super Bowl halftime show is satirized, and the tale takes some ironic and revealing turns as it reaches its conclusion.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Crux Magazine

I want to take a moment to flack for Crux Magazine. When fully realized, Crux will be a full color, glossy mag competing with Time, Rolling Stone, etc. and will have a broadly Christian editorial cast. I've signed on to help with their weblogs, which you can find links to at the main website.

For now, the website and the blogs are all there is, but this group got Touchstone (which is great reading) off the ground, so I think they can get Crux done, too.

Semper Hi-Fi

The Marines have given a slap, possibly on the wrist, to this Lieutenant General who spoke somewhat intemperately.

He said about the Taliban in Afghanistan: "Some of these men had been slapping women around for five years for not wearing a veil. Someone like that has not got much manhood left and it feels darn good to shoot him."

Since we should never say such things out loud, let us also condemn him and say, "Sir, please don't say such things out loud in future."

Lax With The Ex

Great headline on Yahoo: Michael Jackson Signed Ex To Secrecy.

Darn, why didn't I think of that?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

UNcool

Ya gotta love it. Kofi, outraged, is disciplining some factotums because of facts out about 'em. Apparently, they got kickbacks from Oil-For-Food. He must be hoping they don't kick back at him and reveal that he got his co-fee, too.

Choose The Cheesy Candidate?

Kinky Friedman, head of the Texas Jewboys band and author of humorous detective novels starring himself as the lead character, has announced his candidacy for Governor of Texas.

Incidentally, one of his books has this great opening: "It was raining cool cats and hot dogs when I stepped out into the street...."

Also, his song 'They Don't Make Jews Like Jesus Anymore' is more than just humorous and clever, it makes some very interesting social statements.

But if he wins, I'm going to go out and get fried, man.

Bless The New Arrival

Headline on Reuters-Yahoo: Nearly 20% Of U.S. Plane Arrivals Late.

You mean: Over 80% On Time?

Club for Growth Split Was a Divorce

Thanks to RedState for pointing to the story from the New York Sun.

For those who don't know, Steve Moore headed the Club for Growth from its inception in 1999 through the 2004 election. The Club gathered donations for pro-growth spending cutters unapologetically dedicated to the free market. Moore and the Club carefully targeted donations from members to races that would do the most to change the balance of power in federal and state governments. In most cases, they succeeded.

The Club sent out an email to members recently in which they announced that Steve Moore would be passing the torch of leadership to failed Pennsylvania candidate for the Senate, Pat Toomey. As the New York Sun reveals, it wasn't so much a torch passing as it was a divorce. The story doesn't make clear the exact nature of the dispute, but the revelation is somewhat worrying. Moore and the Club made a dynamic combination. One seriously wonders how well the organization will perform without his pioneering leadership.

Strom's Daughter

I had the privilege of listening to Stale Aire with Terri Gross interview Strom Thurmond's first daughter. As mentioned on this blog before, her mother was African-American so the love affair was hidden. Thurmond took a strong interest in her upbringing and supported her, though somewhat secretly, throughout his life. She waited for his passing to reveal their relationship in a book titled Dear Senator.

Her name is Essie Mae Washington-Williams and what was really interesting was her interaction with reliably liberal Terri Gross. Although Gross continually tried to draw Mrs. Williams into affirming the typical left-wing line, the elderly daughter of Senator Thurmond insisted on seeing events her own way. She was disappointed with her father's segregationist politics, but felt strongly that his heart was different. When Gross suggested Thurmond tried to steer his daughter into a segregated college, she shot back, "He wanted me to go wherever I wanted to go." She did, in fact, go up north to a nursing program, but didn't care for it and decided to go back home to the segregated South Carolina State. She also proclaimed her love for that college and spoke fondly of meeting her husband there.

Life just ain't simple, folks.


Wrestling with Nostalgia

As a child, I was addicted to the weekend wrestling match-ups broadcast on Ted Turner's old Superstation out of Atlanta. Stars included Tommy "Wildfire" Rich, Mr. Wrestling Number One and Mr. Wrestling Number Two, the Iron Sheik, Ole' Andersen, and many others. Some wrestlers were there purely to put up a good effort and then get pounded. I particularly recall a guy named Chip Donovan who was specifically there to lose to nasty bad guys. When my father told me the whole thing was a fix, I argued the point hard. He eventually prevailed and by the time I reached high school I was shocked to find some guys still bought the whole enchilada.

Anyway, I said all that to say this: Opinion Journal has a nice article about a convention in Tampa featuring a reunion of wrestling stars from years past. It's an enjoyable break from politics and the endless red state/blue state analysis.

One more thing: El Homnick has a new piece up at American Spectator on death benefits for soldiers. The guy writes about EVERYTHING.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Buried in Baylorama

Sorry for the lack of posting, readers. I've been buried in lots of Baylor work. I've got one professor doing a book on Francis Schaeffer that requires my help. Another uses me to help teach his Law and Religion class. Last, and certainly not least, I have a lot of work with the university's administration right now.

I couldn't blog the SOTU even if I wanted to. I began politics observing Reagan speak and can't stand to watch Bush deliver a speech, love him though I do. I'll read the speech online and comment later. Thanks to Mr. Homnick for keeping the ball rolling.

State Of The Union Getting Bicker And Bicker

They say that it is a 'tradition' dating back to 1966 and that it was begun by Republicans Everett Dirksen of the Senate and Gerald Ford of the House. They were the first to counter a sitting President's State of the Union address with the response by the opposing party.

Well, that's a lovely bit of history, but for my money, it stinks. The State of the Union address, mandated in the founding documents of our nation, is not the function of one party or another. It should be the trumpet of our republic and people across the world should hail it as the authentic voice of these United States.

To immediately parochialize it into the voice of a single party, however ascendant, is to bring an unbeseeming crassness to the moment.

It may be around for forty years but that does not prettify it any. Palindromia does not a 'tradition' make.

Because Republicans started it, I suppose that it will be their job to stop it as well. The next time a Democrat wins the Presidency, I call upon the Republican leaders to voluntarily forgo this gray badge of smallness.

Running For The Borders

Rush Limbaugh and others in the Administration-sympathetic camp have been making the point that the terrorists of Afghanistan and Iraq are not covered as combatants under the Geneva Convention, nor are they U. S. citizens who are entitled to Constitutional rights. This seems to be a defensible position, speaking from the exclusive standpoint of legality.

The question then is: will we employ no standard at all? If someone falls into a gray area between the laws and the compacts, between the treaties and the conventions, between the accords and the concords, should we exercise no limits at all in the conditions of their treatment? And if we do impose boundaries on ourselves, policed only by our own good will, should we quantify them into some legal category or should we avail ourselves of the flexibility allowed by voluntary terms of restraint?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

I Don't Wanna Get Evolved

Here's a thought: shortly after the judge in Cobb County, Georgia, ruled that it is unconstitutional to have a sticker in the science textbook saying that 'evolution should be studied with an open mind', a freak ice storm hit Georgia this weekend.

Could it be that God is exercising His First Amendment right to freeze peach?

A New Genre I'd Like to See More Of . . .

The Chicago Sun-Times has an op-ed up featuring a liberal wondering whether he might have been wrong to hammer Bush on Iraq this whole time.

I suspect we may see more of this. After all, as one S.T. Karnick has repeatedly stated, liberalism is all about things like constitutional democracy! It shouldn't surprise us if "liberals" actually tear themselves away from the umpteenth airing of Fahrenheit 9-11 to recall that they should like empowered citizens.

Here's the best quote:

If it turns out Bush was right all along, this is going to require some serious penance.

Maybe I'd have to vote Republican in 2008.

Too Pooped To Scoop?

What would we ever do without Yahoo News Service reuting around for insightful stories to fill our day with wisdom?

Today's big headline: Bush Pushes Agenda In State Of Union. No s***, Sherlock? What was your first clue?

Evangelicals, the List

Just in case you got frustrated with Time's set-up that required you to visit each of the 25 very influential evangelicals instead of giving you a list, here' s the list thanks to Christianity Today:

Howard & Roberta Ahmanson, David Barton, Doug Coe, Chuck Colson, Luis Cort├Ęs, James Dobson, Stuart Epperson, Michael Gerson, Billy & Franklin Graham, Ted Haggard, Bill Hybels, T.D. Jakes, Diane Knippers, Tim & Beverly LaHaye, Richard Land, Brian McLaren, Joyce Meyer, Richard John Neuhaus, Mark Noll, J.I. Packer, Rick Santorum, Jay Sekulow, Stephen Strang, Rick Warren, and Ralph Winter.

The Strom Story

Fellow contributor Jay Homnick has a very interesting piece up at American Spectator about Strom Thurmond's mixed-race daughter he fathered out of wedlock at age 22.

He Finds the Apostle Paul Appalling?

Baylor publishes one of the better alumni magazines in the country and this month's issue is no exception. However, I ran across something in the current issue that annoys me to no end. A book review by Robert Darden (editor of the unique Christian humor magazine, the Wittenburg Door), informs us that the author is "not much of a fan of the Apostle Paul."

My question is, "Where's an editor when you need one?" This sentence about Darden not being a fan of the Apostle Paul is begging to be cut. Who cares whether Darden is a fan of the Apostle Paul?

Where The Sunni Don't Shine

The President of Iraq, Ghazi ("Just call me Al") al-Yawer, a Sunni Muslim, has announced today that on balance it was a positive thing that the United States invaded. Why, thanks, Al.

I had considered hurling a choice American epithet in his direction, but then I realized that it would be inappropriate: because of us, his mother does not wear combat boots.

(Once, in a column at Jewish World Review I wrote a gag about Saddam having a Sunni disposition. In response, my friend Dr. Bob Appleson wrote a letter to the Editor asking 'What type of disposition does the Shiite have?'.)

Monday, January 31, 2005

It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times

Among my modest attainments is the fact that I complete each week the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle, considered the gold standard of that genre. In fact, a very bright friend of mine once told me that the only other person she knows that does it in pen is Anthony Kurtz, the MIT engineering genius who has worked with NASA on designing all the space modules and shuttles.

The amazing thing about this puzzle is not only that most people can't figure out the answers when the paper is blank, they cannot even figure them out after they have been filled in. I am often asked to give a touch of insight into this process for intelligent people who would like to begin enjoying this form of mind-stimulating recreation.

I have just completed the one which ran in yesterday's Miami Herald; we get last week's, so this would have appeared in the Jan. 23 Sunday Times.

Now, the key to the puzzle is its title. But the title only reflects upon the longer answers.

The title of this particular puzzle is CYBERCHUCKLES. Here are the clues to the longer phrases and their answers, in keeping with the theme of the title.

24 Across: Rich man's wife, often - LADY OF LEISURE.
37 Across: Consequence of war - LOSS OF LIFE.
58 Across: Usually low-paying work - LABOR OF LOVE.
84 Across: Opulence - LAP OF LUXURY.
102 Across: Chop alternatives - LEGS OF LAMB.
117 Across: Illinois - LAND OF LINCOLN.
3 Down: English policy-makers - LLOYDS OF LONDON.
54 Down: Stuff in baskets - LOADS OF LAUNDRY.

Do you get it now? If not, you might want to stick to gin rummy.

Time and Evangelicals

Time Magazine has an interesting feature on the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals, but there's one small problem. Several of those named are not evangelicals! The list includes a couple of Catholics and several Pentecostal/Charismatic types who don't necessarily fit the definition. By Time's logic, anyone who takes their Christian faith seriously is an evangelical.

Nevertheless, the list is interesting to read. Time takes a couple of cheap shots, such as saying Rick Santorum compared gay marriage to bestiality (which he certainly did not), but not so many as to ruin the experience.

Iraqi Blogger Describes Voting . . .

American leftists should put their Bush-hatred aside and read this from Iraq the Model. Just to whet your appetite, here's a little taste:

I walked forward to my station, cast my vote and then headed to the box, where I wanted to stand as long as I could, then I moved to mark my finger with ink, I dipped it deep as if I was poking the eyes of all the world's tyrants.

I put the paper in the box and with it, there were tears that I couldn't hold; I was trembling with joy and I felt like I wanted to hug the box but the supervisor smiled at me and said "brother, would you please move ahead, the people are waiting for their turn".

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Welfare Reform, German Style

In the What Will They Think of Next? Department, our friend Greg McConnell sent us a link to a story in the Telegraph that is, alas, all too easy to believe.

The German government has officially become a recruiter for prostitution rings. German women who lose their jobs can now be forced to work as prostitutes or lose their unemployment benefits.

The Telegraph article reports:
A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing 'sexual services' at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.

"Prostitution was legalised in Germany just over two years ago and brothel owners – who must pay tax and employee health insurance – were granted access to official databases of jobseekers.

"The waitress, an unemployed information technology professional, had said that she was willing to work in a bar at night and had worked in a cafe."

The job center gave her a phone number to call, and it turned out to be that of a brothel.

"Under Germany's welfare reforms," the Telegraph reports, "any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit. . . .

"The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars. [Gee, maybe they should get out more.] As a result, job centres must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse."

Ronald Reagan talked about getting government off the backs of the people—now governments are trying to get women on their backs.

Opiate Of Them Asses

I always love it when people argue against religion for saddling people with unnecessary guilt.

Then, when you say that religion is a positive force in your life, they say, "Well, if you need that kind of reassurance, then maybe it's right for you."

Which is it, scourge or crutch?

Of course, to believers it's neither and it's both: it's an obligation.

But to those fools, anti-religion is their drug of choice, and they'll use any argument or combination of arguments, however self-contradictory.