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Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Thursday, April 27, 2006

United 93

Doff of the porkpie to Little Green Footballs for pointing out this article in today's WSJ by David Beamer, whose son Todd was one of the heroes of United Flight 93 on 9-11:

There are those who question the timing of this project and the painful memories it evokes. Clearly, the film portrays the reality of the attack on our homeland and its terrible consequences. Often we attend movies to escape reality and fantasize a bit. In this case and at this time, it is appropriate to get a dose of reality about this war and the real enemy we face. It is not too soon for this story to be told, seen and heard. But it is too soon for us to become complacent. It is too soon for us to think of this war in only national terms. We need to be mindful that this enemy, who made those holes in our landscape and caused the deaths of some 3,000 of our fellow free people, has a vision to personally kill or convert each and every one of us. This film reminds us that this war is personal. This enemy is on a fanatical mission to take away our lives and liberty—the liberty that has been secured for us by those whose names are on those walls in Battery Park and so many other walls and stones throughout this nation. This enemy seeks to take away the free will that our Creator has endowed in us. Patrick Henry got it right some 231 years ago. Living without liberty is not living at all.

This film further reminds us of the nature of the enemy we face. An enemy who will stop at nothing to achieve world domination and force a life devoid of freedom upon all. Their methods are inhumane and their targets are the innocent and unsuspecting. We call this conflict the “War on Terror.” This film is a wake-up call. And although we abhor terrorism as a tactic, we are at war with a real enemy and it is personal.

I encourage my fellow Americans and free people everywhere to see “United 93.”

Be reminded of our very real enemy. Be inspired by a true story of heroic actions taken by ordinary people with victorious consequences. Be thankful for each precious day of life with a loved one and make the most of it. Resolve to take the right action in the situations of life, whatever they may be. Resolve to give thanks and support to those men, women, leaders and commanders who to this day (1,687 days since Sept. 11, 2001) continue the counterattacks on our enemy and in so doing keep us safe and our freedoms intact.

Yup. He's got it right. Sooner or later (probably later), America will wake up.


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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Unbelievable, Part 2

Charles at Little Green Footballs points out the latest tomfoolery from the socialist Zapatero regime in Al Andalus:

The Spanish Socialist Party will introduce a bill in the Congress of Deputies calling for "the immediate inclusion of (simians) in the category of persons, and that they be given the moral and legal protection that currently are only enjoyed by human beings." The PSOE's justification is that humans share 98.4% of our genes with chimpanzees, 97.7% with gorillas, and 96.4% with orangutans.

The party will announce its Great Ape Project at a press conference tomorrow. An organization with the same name is seeking a UN declaration on simian rights which would defend ape interests "the same as those of minors and the mentally handicapped of our species."

According to the Project, "Today only members of the species Homo sapiens are considered part of the community of equals. The chimpanzee, the gorilla, and the orangutan are our species's closest relatives. They possess sufficient mental faculties and emotional life to justify their inclusion in the community of equals."

If it passes, it will mark a unique reversal for socialists, who have usually operated by degrading humans to the status of apes.


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The Intelligence Insurgency

In addition to a revolt among some of our more mud-minded Generals, which I have condemned in these posts, there has been a much more disturbing, much more subversive effort to undermine the war and the president's prosecution of it. I refer to the Mary McCarthy affair, Valery Plame and her husband, and other incidents involving the US intelligence community's disloyalty in time of war. The editors of the Wall Street Journal hit the nail on the head today:

We're as curious as anyone to see how Ms. McCarthy's case unfolds. But this would appear to be only the latest example of the unseemly symbiosis between elements of the press corps and a cabal of partisan bureaucrats at the CIA and elsewhere in the "intelligence community" who have been trying to undermine the Bush Presidency.

The existence of this intelligence insurgency first came to light in a major way with former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who wrote a New York Times op-ed in 2003 questioning the veracity of President Bush's "16 words" about Iraq seeking uranium in Africa. Someone close to the White House had the audacity to point out that Mr. Wilson was an anti-Bush partisan whose only claim to authority on the matter was the result of wifely nepotism. Mr. Wilson has since been thoroughly discredited, including in a bipartisan report from the Senate Intelligence Committee. But former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby is still being prosecuted as the result of a media-instigated investigation into the "leak" of Valerie Plame's not-so-secret CIA identity

The deepest damage from these leak frenzies may yet be to the press itself, both in credibility and its ability to do its job. It was the press that unleashed anti-leak search missions aimed at the White House that have seen Judith Miller jailed and may find Ms. Priest and Mr. Risen facing subpoenas. And it was the press that promoted the probe under the rarely used Espionage Act of "neocon" Defense Department employee Lawrence Franklin, only to find that the same law may now be used against its own "whistleblower" sources. Just recently has the press begun to notice that the use of the same Espionage Act to prosecute two pro-Israel lobbyists for repeating classified information isn't much different from prosecuting someone for what the press does every day--except for a far larger audience.

We've been clear all along that we don't like leak prosecutions, especially when they involve harassing reporters who are just trying to do their job. But then that's part of the reason we didn't join Joe Wilson and the New York Times in demanding Karl Rove's head over the Plame disclosure. As for some of our media colleagues, when they stop being honest chroniclers of events and start getting into bed with bureaucrats looking to take down elected political leaders, they shouldn't be surprised if those leaders treat them like the partisans they have become.

Read the whole thing.


Update 27 Apr 06:
Another good peice today at A.J. Strata's place. He says,

If I was the paranoid kind, I would think ex-CIA agents and NSC members are trying to instigate a bloodless coup d’etat. I am not there yet. But with McCarthy’s firing as the first publicized peron caught (or should we say confessing) to discussing classified matters with reporters without authorization (is that accurately worded so McCarthy lawyer Cobb can’t pull a clinton-esque spin job?) it is interesting to see who is coming out and about in the media...

In fairness, Powerline's authors have been all over this for six months. See here and here.


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Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Wow! An academician with some bolts! How the heck did he get onto a faculty at a large university, especially in a blue state like Michigan? Via Michelle Malkin:

Dear Moslem Association: As a professor of Mechanical Engineering here at MSU I intened to protest your protest.
I am offended not by cartoons, but by more mundane things like beheadings of civilians, cowardly attacks on public buildings, suicide murders, murders of Catholic priests (the latest in Turkey!), burnings of Christian chirches, the continued persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, the imposition of Sharia law on non-Muslims, the rapes of Scandinavain girls and women (called "whores" in your culture), the murder of film directors in Holland, and the rioting and looting in Paris France.

This is what offends me, a soft-spoken person and academic, and many, many, many of my colleagues. I counsul you dissatisfied, agressive, brutal, and uncivilized slave-trading Moslems to be very aware of this as you proceed with your infantile "protests."

If you do not like the values of the West -- see the 1st Ammendment -- you are free to leave. I hope for God's sake that most of you choose that option. Please return to your ancestral homelands and build them up yourselves instead of troubling Americans.

Cordially, I. S. Wichman, Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Predictably, both the university and the muslim students' association are calling for him to be dsicplined for a) exercising his First Amendment rights and b) speaking the truth.

I say, "right on, brother!" and add: "go home while you still can. There may come a time when going back to the dar al-islam safely is no longer an option."


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The Generals Are Revolting, Again and Again

The discussion on this original post have gotten so long, they deserve to be published in their own post, re-starting the thread. Last week, I wrote that the Army and Marine generals (unsurprisningly now joined by Paul Van Riper USMC, Ret) who have lately come out against the portion of the war currently being fought in Iraq were mud-minded scoundrels and poltroons for openly opposing a war while our troops were still dying in it. Izmud has defended them, particularly their right to speak openly as private citizens. While I agree with this last aspect (I could hardly do otherwise, since I am myself a retired military officer who mouths off obnoxiously about topics related to national security), I felt that the real issue was that Izmud disagreed with the President's policies in Iraq and I agreed with them. We pick up the thread here:

In what ways are Dubya & Co. screwing up? What alternatives do you think that we have?


To which Izmud responds:

Well, since you ask, here's what I'd do differently. As politically unpopular as it would be, I think we should temporarily double the number of troops on the ground and systematically disarm the entire populous. Any militia is disbanded or destroyed, Sadr especially. That should take about 6 months, then draw back down quickly to about half our current level and play on-call cop for the Iraqi forces for a couple years, then half again. Concurrent with the disarmament plan we forcibly relocate some of the population to reduce some hotspots--compensating those who are moved. We have to be a lot more "in your face" about this internecine killing of Sunni Shiites--that has to stop. Toleration is a way of life they need to learn. I think I'd set up a performance-based awards program run by Americans but rewarding Iraqis who do the right thing--whether it's ratting out bad guys, teaching school in dangerous areas, making it through basic cop school, passing certification to run the hydroelectric plant, whatever. Bonuses, with perhaps bigger follow-on bonuses for continued excellence. We have to break the typical Arab mindset of not wanting to do hard work and corrupt business practices.

Most of the rest of the stuff I've read about sounds like good efforts, I just think we screwed up badly in the beginning. We sold the war the wrong way and on faulty data, and then we didn't leave an adequate force in place with a good plan to do the clean up, and we're paying the price now.

Cheers, Izmud

"As politically unpopular as it may be..." it is a central tenet of an effects-based approach to operations that the various aspects or instruments of nantional power cannot be considered in isolation. That being the case, the politcal feasibility of doubling our troop stength when the war's political opposition is calling for a concrete timetable for drawdown from current troop levels is nil. This would probably cause the defection of all of our remaining allies, including Britain (which, by itself, would draw troop strength on the ground down by a third.) I don't think this is politically possible for a president with popularity in the low thirties.

"...Temporarily double the number of troops...disarm the militias...that should take about six months." Try four time the number of troops and six years, not six months. It's part of the culture; I don't think they'll take a militarily imposed solution. No; we've got to find some way to get those who are in the militias now engaged in the serious political process and let them find a stake in peace rather than war. In the land of a thousand hornet's nests, which one do you squirt with Raid first? And what do you do once you've squirted it (and the remaining 999 nests, or at least the hundred right near you) become angry and active? Do we, rather, set the hornets about the job of building a single large nest among themselves? How do we do this? I don't have a good answer and I don't think the administration does either, but I do know it's imperative -- the only solution. If we begin to see civil war really errupting, we should pull out, completely and apruptly, and let the Iraqis sting each other until the nests settle down.

We are already playing on-call cop for the Iraqis in most provinces. In others, we are systematically rooting out the foreign fighters and extremists; pouring oil over the water, as it were, and letting it spread. I don't disagree with you here; I just point out that this is what we are already doing.

"Forcibly relocate the population..." it did work to a degree in Malaysia and South Africa, but I wonder about its political feasibility today, in the age of Abu Ghraib "torture." I think such a scheme does have the possbility of rapidly becoming more like Stalin's forced relocation of subject nations than a "strategic hamlet" program. Remember that the term "concentration camp" came from the Boer War in British usage. Its provenance today doesn't bode well for an American president.

"Toleration is a way of life they need to learn." Agreed. Do we teach it to them by sending in twice the current army, shooting them, taking the AKMs from their corpses, and relocating their surviving families to concentration camps? Not bloody likely. They need to learn it through a supervised political process, much as the Japanese did after WW II.

"Bonuses and bigger follow-on bonuses" -- now you're talking. We need to provide a positive incentive for every negative one the extremists through at them. Couldn't agree more.

"We screwed up badly in the beginning." I agree, but not because we sold the war on faulty premises. We did do that, but it was a misguided effort to involve the UN, which I think Bush assumed would sweep up the mess after our troops were back home parading. The UN said, "F&&k you -- it's your mess, you clean it up." And we did no planning to do just that -- that was the screw up. We had more than enough troops and aircraft to defeat Saddam's armies and overthrow his regime. We had no plan for what to do after that happened. I don't think any other administration would have, either. The Democrats, if they'd ever been forced into the Iraqi campaign in the first place, would have planned just as little for the aftermath. It's in our nature as a people to think about the decisve battle, but not beyond it. This is especially true of peoples observing democratic forms of government. This has also been true since Athens went to war against Sparta and Boeotia. We're not suited for the long war, but we're forced into it by the condition of the world and the nature of our enemy, who has been waiting since 1683 to give back the last "decisive" pounding he got. We have no choice but the long war now, like it or not, and the solution won't come in six months (or six years). We proved that we could fight this kind of war against the former Soviet Union. Russia was once a mighty foe; now it's a pornographic bunion on the foot of Europe. We can do the same to extremist islam if we face the need to fight the long war with all of our national resources.


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Congratulations, Susanna!

This is slightly belated, but conratulations are due to occassional VaA correspondent (and Nolan Dynamite fiance) Susanna upon completion and acceptance of her master's thesis.

And in the not-so-frozen land of Wake Forest, she was forced to complete her master's thesis. And there was much rejoicing (yea!)


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Friday, April 21, 2006

Iran So Far Away, Part 9

The time to strike Iran's growing nuclear infrasturcture is now, or at least soon. I argued last year that we should let the diplomatic instrument of power play itself out; play bad cop to the EU's good cop. That has proven fruitless. Reuel Marc Gerecht, writing in the Weekly Standard, has a very thoughtful treatment of a subject I have been thinking much about in my capacity as a professional strategist and planner for the last few months.

Does bombing the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities make sense? What are the downsides of such action? Do the negatives outweigh the good that would come from the demolition of Iran's facilities? The repercussions from an American strike, inside Iran and out, would surely be massive. The French are certainly right: The diplomatic process, no matter how hard the Europeans and the Americans may try, is coming to a close. Unless the Iranians prove more helpful than they have been since the election of Ahmadinejad and, as important, since the highly intelligent and tough former Revolutionary Guard commander Ali Ardeshir Larijani assumed responsibility for the nuclear portfolio in August 2005, it will take a near miracle to keep the diplomatic dialogue going on this subject for more than another twelve months.

ALTHOUGH THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION has no desire to have the Great Iran Debate--just mentioning a preventive military strike at the State Department or the Pentagon is not a socially acceptable, polite thing to do--the clerical regime will probably force the administration to have it soon. The recent reporting that suggests the Bush administration--or at least the dark side of it in the Pentagon and the vice president's office--is already gearing up for a possible military confrontation with the clerics is, to put it mildly, at odds with the diplomacy-centered, keep-the-handcuffs-on-hawkish-U.N.-ambassador-John-Bolton approach of the State Department, which dominates Iran policy. Although this may change, the Pentagon and the vice president's office seem to have little role in the administration's Iran discussions, and in neither place do you find bombing enthusiasts or strategists trying to game scenarios reminiscent of the run-up to the 2003 war against Saddam Hussein.

In any case, whether Abizaid thinks striking is a good or bad idea is irrelevant: Military men are obliged to think about the strategic ramifications of the Islamic Republic's going nuclear. It doesn't take great powers of prognostication to see that the Iran conversation will remain theoretical and easy until that point when the United States really believes that the mullahs are on the verge of obtaining the bomb. From that moment forward, the conversation in Washington, which really hasn't been that serious, will become deadly serious. (No one in the government or out ought to have much confidence in CIA estimates about when Iran will have weapons of mass destruction. The current five to ten-year estimate could die overnight.)

THE REASONS NOT TO BOMB are many, and some are pretty compelling. The thoughtful anti-bomb critics believe such an action is unfeasible (too many possible sites to attack and therefore no guarantee of success without a land invasion), too convulsive (the Iranian people will rise in nationalist indignation; the Europeans and the rest of the "international community" will go ballistic), too dangerous (Iran will unleash a small army of clandestine agents to smite us in Afghanistan and Iraq, ending America's Iraq project and costing numerous American lives in both countries; reborn Persian terrorist holy warriors might strike us everywhere else), and politically unwise (we will silence the Iranians who want change in their country since the nation will rally around the mullahs).

You'd best believe the military is already thinking of ways to make a strike work, and while our Army and Marine Corps are tied up pretty tightly in Iraq right now, they don't really enter into this picture. This will be a job for the Air Force and the Navy -- striking a relative handful of fixed (some hardened) facilities, no more than about a thousand desired points of impact (DPIs) is not a job for ground troops in any event and a ground invasion of Iran is an absolute -- and unnecessary -- absurdity.

As to the reservation RMG mentions: they are serious, but hardly insrumoutable -- or even salient really, in the larger context of what it would mean for Iran to have weaponized nukes. I am certain there will be sites we don't get, but building atomic and/or thermonuclear weapons requires a substantial industrial infrastructure, unlike bio weapons that can be produced in a kitchen or a van, and are not easily disguised by dual uses, like chemical facilities. Many will be hardened, but we've come a very long way -- much farther than the public commonly knows -- toward defeating this problem with conventional weapons. And Iran's relatively primitive and fragile air defense and power systems guarantee that they cannot stop us from doing what we will. Even if we get only a portion of Iran's infrastructure, however, we are certain to set their program back by years, much as Israel's attack on the Osirak facility in 1981 set back Saddam Hussein's bomb-making program.

The Iranian people will doubtless be angered, but support of the Mullahs' regime is not strong now; a strike might as easily incite unrest at home. The Euroweenies will predictably go nuts, but who cares what they think anyway? Iran doubtless will retaliate, perhaps even with conventional forces. So bring it on. They could hardly be doing much more in Iraq and at some point Shiite meddling there will run afoul of the largely sunni-led insurgency. Let the two fight it out, as they're destined to do at some point anyway. The press already tells us there's a civil war in Iraq. It isn't guaranteed that such a war won't ultimately play in our favor (if we keep out of it); the Iran-Iraq War led to huge problems domestically for both Saddam and the Mullahs. The hornets are already flying around and we're spraying them. Perhaps it's time now to go after the nest.

And after that, nuke Saudi Arabia......

BG Jack D. Ripper

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An Anniversary

tomorrow is the anniversary of the Battle of San Jancinto, in which Texas won its fight for independence from Mexico. There are some in the Hispanic community (such as those who deomnstrated in LA a couple of weeks ago) who would like to reverse the results of that decision. To them and their like I say, "come and take it!"

(The flag and the saying actually refer to the beginning of Texan resistance to Mexico, not the end, at Gonzales, 2 Oct 1835, when the Mexicans under Santa Anna tried to disarm a small militia of Texans who were defending a cannon left in Gonzales years previously. The whole affair involved about 100 people and was about as dangerous as Jimmy Carter's rural encounter with the Wererabbit, but you get the idea.....)


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The Generals Are Revolting, Again...

Charles Krauthammer, writing in the WaPo, has it right, I think, and this provides a more facile answer to Izmud's comment than I provided yesterday:

The Defense Department waves away the protesting generals as just a handful out of more than 8,000 now serving or retired. That seems to me too dismissive. These generals are no doubt correct in asserting that they have spoken to and speak on behalf of some retired and, even more important, some active-duty members of the military.

But that makes the generals' revolt all the more egregious. The civilian leadership of the Pentagon is decided on Election Day, not by the secret whispering of generals.

We've always had discontented officers in every war and in every period of our history. But they rarely coalesce into factions. That happens in places such as Hussein's Iraq, Pinochet's Chile or your run-of-the-mill banana republic. And when it does, outsiders (including the United States) do their best to exploit it, seeking out the dissident factions to either stage a coup or force the government to change policy.

That kind of dissident party within the military is alien to America. Some other retired generals have found it necessary to rise to the defense of the administration. Will the rest of the generals, retired or serving, now have to declare which camp they belong to?

It is precisely this kind of division that our tradition of military deference to democratically elected civilian superiors was meant to prevent. Today it suits the antiwar left to applaud the rupture of that tradition. But it is a disturbing and very dangerous precedent that even the left will one day regret.

I would say that the left created it -- during Slick Willy's term, when mud-minder Generals signed their Devil's Bargain with the Democrats.


Update 21 Apr 06:
Izmud comments:

I think you and Krauthammer missed the point. These are retired generals, not active generals (yes, I know they can be recalled--no need for that rabbit hole). Their previous service gives them credence for their viewpoint, but their shucking of the uniform gives them the RIGHT to speak out, and they are exercising it. I say "Bully for them!" I do not advocate, and would oppose, an active duty officer actively opposing or speaking out against the government. But now they are unfettered citizens, and have the right to speak their mind. I think Rummy has f---ed this thing up all along, so has George, and I don't mind these flag officers saying so. I do think we should be fighting this war, I'd have just done it differently, and still would change some things.

This is not a "revolt"--there are no torches, no stepping outside the law, etc., and I hold those who characterize it as such in contempt--plain old yellow journalism. Comparing their actions to those of the thugs in other country's demeans their service and their patriotism, and I think it stinks. This is a pretty well-behaved verbal protest--all perfectly legal and above board. The kind of thing that would make our founding fathers proud.

Wake up and pay attention.

Ahh, John, so now we get down to the truth of it....this has nothing to do with the relative legality or prudence of their "revolt" (which I agree, in fact, that this is not, as I believe I said yesterday...all kidding aside), but is about the fact that you agree with them. Not enough troops...bound to lose...can't usher in democracy by fiat...und so weiter. Your comment about Rummy is your central point, and I think you'd be arguing as Krauthammer and I have concerning the prudence--not the strict legality--of their comments if you thought, as I do, that Rummy and Dubya and Condi have been right all along, have been following sound policy, whatever the mob and the WaPo may think of it, and that a handful of discontented wannabe proconsuls and every other squabbling armchair Napoleon should shut the f**k up about it. That or go join Mother Cindy and the International Socialist Pary in their efforts to usher in genuine revolt.

Whose side are all y'all on, anyway?


Update 24 Apr 06:
Izmud responds:

Sorry, can't let this one go. I'm on the side of America, "land of the free". I'm flogging the issue of the right to free speech here--on behalf of these retired GOs. While I understand the sensitivity in light of ongoing operations, I don't think suppressing them is in the interests of our nation. But it's also inaccurate to try to paint me as some liberal knothead just because I think Dubya & Pals are screwing up. I just calls 'em like I sees 'em.

Okay, you're right -- too emotional of me to equate all disagreement with the war with Mother Sheehan and other traitors. Further, as I said I don't disagree with their right to speak, I just disagree with what they're saying. You should be angry at them for not making their voices heard when they were involved in the deliberations leading up to our current policy. Me, I don't see a lot of good alternatives to what we're doing now. Neither do the Democrats, apparently, when even Teddy Kennedy can't give alternatives, just parrot "the President was wrong" on Meet the Press.

I would like to hear more. In what ways are Dubya & Co. screwing up? What alternatives do you think that we have?


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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Christian Carnival CXVIII

This week's Christian Carnival is up at Rev Ed's place, Attention Span, with a clever theme: the Christian Carnival Cruise.

Rebecca at Rebecca Writes caught my attention with this post: Such a Worm!

If you remember, the second question in Monday's post, That's a Good Question, was about a change in the hymn book used at my church to the words of Isaac Watt's hymn Alas! And Did My Saviour Bleed, specifically the removal of the phrase such a worm as I, replacing it with sinners such as I. Since then I've found out that some versions of this song don't even mention sin at all, but have replaced the worm phrase with such a one as I.

I'd suspected that the motive behind the change might be theological, since the very first time I experienced someone changing these words was in Bible college, when the student leading the singing in the chapel service had us change those particular words because he objected to the picture of humankind that the worm image painted. This particular student was big on self-esteem, and the problems - at least as he saw it - that a lack of self-esteem created in individuals within the Christian community.

Chris's comment on that first post, with his mention of the term worm theology, helped confirm my suspicion. It was a term that I was unfamiliar with, but a Google search revealed that worm theology is a derogatory term used for Calvinism in general, and the doctrine of total depravity specifically. I found a Missouri Synod Lutheran article bemoaning the removal of any statements referrencing "the 'corrupted-nature' language of Luther and the Formula of Concord" from new Lutheran liturgy. This change, says the author

..was undoubtedly influenced by critiques caricaturing this as "worm theology," but the point of the older liturgies was to acknowledge not only that we have sinned but that we are sinners.

Whatever you think of worm theology, you can't get around the fact that the Bible itself uses the image of a worm in reference to human beings in several places, for instance Job 25: 4-6, Isaiah 41:14, and Psalm 22:6. The image isn't used to deny our value as beings made in God's image, but rather to show that in comparison to God, who is righteous, perfect, eternal, and all-powerful, etc, we are like insignificant worms.

Isaac Watts uses this scriptural image to paint a similar picture in Alas! And Did My Saviour Bleed. In comparison to the infinite value and perfection of the Sacred Head, we are such worms! And yet, in the glorious act of God's Son,.....the Sacred Head was devoted - my Sovereign bled and died - for such a worm.

I think Rebecca gets the basic issue right in the last two paragraphs. Nonetheless, too much of Christianity today might be accused of "feel-good theology." We bind sound theology, which teaches the absolute sovereignty of God and the idea that we do have value, because He created us and sent His son to die for our sins, with less-sound modern concepts of self-esteem. We may have bound ourselves to the idea that a large amount of self-esteem is a good thing (forgetting, for instance, that Stalin and Mao probably felt pretty good about themselves), and forgetting that the "T" in the "TULIP" of doctrine stands for "total depravity." We are worse than worms in the sense of being born into sin and being utterly unable to effect our own salvation. God gives the latter to us as a free gift (it's our choice whether to accept it or not) and thus what value we have derives from Him, both in our origins as His creatures, and in our lives, as His bride and visible body.

I'm not advocating hellfire and brimstone teaching and preaching -- that is going much too far the other direction -- but it doesn't hurt to remind ourselves that we are nothing without Him.

Thus ends today's lesson in Presbyterian doctrine.


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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Generals Are Revolting

There has been much in the news recently about a handful of Democratically-inclined ground-pounding type of former General objecting to the President or Rumsfeld.... I give them their due; one of my heroes, Curt LeMay, talked back to LBJ and Macnamara about Vietnam after he retired (and was just as wrong as Zinni and Co. are about Iraq). (In fact, both Kennedy and LBJ kept him on active duty far longer than he himself wanted, especially during the 1964 Pres. campaign, just to avoid the verbal atomic blast they knew was coming from him when he became a civilian, but that's another story....)

Fortunately, Scott Ott, America's Greatest Reporter, has spoken to the rest of the military's Generals, and quite a few other retired officers (including myself) and reports the following:

April 19, 2006
U.S. Generals Call for Resignation of Media Leaders
by Scott Ott

(2006-04-19) — A growing movement of retired and active-duty U.S. military officers, angry at the mismanagement, arrogance and even deception that have hampered U.S. efforts to secure peace and democracy in Iraq, have begun quietly calling for the resignation of top leaders they blame for the difficulties.

“I believe that it’s time for them to step down,” said one unnamed retired three-star general. “The editors of The New York Times and Washington Post and the news producers at CNN, CBS, NBC and ABC should resign effective immediately.”

“They’ve formed a tight cabal that focuses only on news that reinforces their neo-journ ideology,” said another unnamed general. “Despite the urgent need for actual reporting from Iraq, they have failed to put enough boots on the ground in country.”

“As civilians, they make editorial decisions without any understanding of history or military strategy,” said another retired officer, “and they’re trying to run the war coverage from hotels in the cloister of the Green Zone, without consulting with our leaders and troops on the frontlines.”

The generals who all requested anonymity, in the words of one, “so I won’t be bothered by a bunch of calls from reporters writing redundant stories,” said the leading news media gatekeepers should be replaced by “more centrist voices” who will be honest with America, and not blindly devoted “advancing the neo-journ agenda.”

I told him what I thought, but my remarks were not printable. Especially the part about Zinni.


Update 20 Apr 06:
Izmud comments:

What?!?!?!? Your comments were unprintable? Why is that? I'd like to hear them even if you have to bleep out parts of words to make it printable and meet FCC guidelines. BTW, is that the restriction? I thought you could post just about anything these days, language, pics, etc.

I think you've had discussions in these pages regarding the wisdom of the curretn leadership in their approach to managing the Iraq war so I won't belabor that, but I think it's the right of those retireees to voice their opinions, and certainly their obligation to have an impact if they can. One of the bennies of hanging up the uniform after being a powerful personage. Cheers.

No, there are no FCC guidelines for blogs, thank God, but the demands of polite society and Christian morality incline me against publishing obscenity. That's why there haven't been any pictures of Cynthia McKinney on the site, for instance. Nonetheless, I have less objection to the Generals speaking out than to what they are saying. As I said, I'd have to fault Curt LeMay (peace be upon him) for the same thing if I objected to that aspect of the matter. And nothing the current crop of revolting officers has done rises to the level of MacArthur's disdain for Truman, or McClellan's various and sundry treasons under Lincoln.

No, I object to the substance of the remarks and to the Generals themselves. Zinni, quite apart from being a sonofabitch, as I hear from people that worked for him, is about the least joint, most ground-centric, mud-minded cavalry general our country has produced in the last generation. If he'd worked on the Army Ordnance Board in 1900 (and yes, I know he's a Marine), he would have been the one to issue the order not to procure machine guns (who needs those newfangled nuisances anyway?) Is it any wonder that Zinni has become a de facto Democrat, undermining an ongoing war effort to the best of his ability, when many ground-pounder types made the leap to that party during the Clinton years after the White House staffer imbroglio. Clinton bought off the Army and Marines, who were up in arms about the insults to men in uniform, by telling them they could have anything they wanted within reason as long as they'd shut up. And they did. And they got what they wanted. So now there's a devil's bargain and an implicit understanding among military muggles and mud-minders that Democrats are better for their Services. (Can you say Wesley Clarke?) I think that motivates a lot of the current revolt. The Army brass, at least, wants out of Iraq so it can go back to doing what it does best: lobbying Congress for money.


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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Judas Saves???

WHEN IT COMES TO DISCOVERING new ways to cheapen the human soul, the "professional intellectuals" of our society have cornered the market. So it was last week when, timed carefully to cash in on the Easter holiday, the "serious" editors of National Geographic chose to release their gleanings from a sheaf of rags and call them "The Gospel of Judas."

My sentiments exactly, upon hearing the increasingly tendentious National Geographic proffer its "special" concerning the money it spent on the "Judas Gospel" this Easter evening. Vanderluen at American Digest has it right, I think:

Having risen through the echo chamber of "higher" education and survived the ruthless but quiet vetting process of their "profession," these editors knew full well that what they were putting out into the world was not a "gospel." They also knew that calling it a "gospel" would ensure greater attention and greater sales. Beyond that, the editors, secular cultists all, also got a quiet little tingle by having, in their minds, "stuck it" to the Christian church once again. As usual, such secularists love to stick it to Christianity. Addicts of auto-erotic spiritual asphyxiation, their onanistic pleasure in these deeds is only enhanced if they can be performed during the most holy days of the Christian calendar. Only then can maximum profit and pleasure be assured.

The imagery is a bit too Freudian for my taste, but is probably right on the money. More:

This dark thrill of denigration has the immediate benefit of pleasingly confirming them in their own Church of Zero, and the secondary benefit of being much, much safer than, say, sticking it to Islam, a faith that enforces its demands for respect with bombs and beheadings, and whose central message to all cowards is "Don't mess with Muhammad." The sad fact of our modern era is that if you denigrate Islam, you often have to bag up body parts and hose down the sidewalk, but when you denigrate Christianity the most you need to clean up after yourself is a warm washcloth.

There's the difference between the real God of Love, who is disappoionted and turns his face away from sin, however painful that may be for him, and Islam's god of wrath and date-wine-soaked houris, who seems more bent on hateful punishment. What would an infinite, and infintely powerful, being derive from such punishment -- this is a human construct of justice that does not come close to aprehending God's mind, I think.

Your gedankenexperiment for today is to ask yourself, regardless of your religious beliefs, if the editors of National Geographic, being given an ancient manuscript that "proved" the Koran was nothing more than the blatherings of some ergot-besotted Bedouin who had munched one too many hallucinogenic plants while hanging out in a cave near Mecca, would have published the same "proof" as loudly and as broadly? Would they have done so, or would they have issued a Press Release citing concerns for the "provenance" of the manuscript and their employees' safety? Regardless of your religious beliefs, you know the shameful answer.

And there's another angle that has direct bearing on the behavior of today's left (which includes the acolytes of National Geographic):

But beyond these considerations, the publication of the "Gospel" of Judas has another, deeper and more lasting benefit to our neophytes of nihilism. It puts one of the final elements of their anti-morality play at center stage. It seeks to sanctify treason.

It was never a question of "if," but only a question of "when" our contemporary society would discover an avatar who would make treason acceptable. It only codifies the realities of their secular belief system. Treason against others or one's country has long been as common as adultery in this country. Like adultery the rate of treason is on the rise because, like adultery and similar forms of personal betrayal, it no longer has any consequences at all.

Treason seems to be the only staple of the left in foreign policy these days -- precisely why they may lose the 2006 elections, despite being in a position to capitalize on near-fatal weakness.

All most intersting.


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He's A Bit Unstable.......

Gee, it looks like Zacharias (a name stolen from the Jews) Moussaoui is a paranoid schizophrenic. That's too bad.

Prescribe him 300mg each of Geodon and Librium daily and send him to be the lifetime cell mate of Big Butch McDick, leader of his prison's Aryan Nations gang.


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What She Said

I think Judith Klinghoffer has it about right (all but the resignation part) concerning those (ground-pounding, tank-loving, attrition-loving) generals who have come out against our transformational (air- and-naval-centric, tank-hating, precision-loving) Secretary of Defense lately:

To hear two and three star generals whine that Rumsfeld is too intimidating causes one to ask who else can so easily intimidate them? Are we talking perhaps of the insurgents, Ahmadinejad, Assad Fils, the North Korean or China? Imagine being a soldier who has served under the command of so easily intimidated a general. Their retired generals' contention that they are speaking for their active duty colleagues merely makes matters worse.

Well, I'm a recently-retired soldier (Airman, actuallly) who thinks alike with Ms Klinghoffer. These generals be wooses.


Update 18 Apr 06:
Now read this. "If you hear the patter of little feet, it's the US Army in full retreat" -- Lyrics sung by US Airmen during WW II. How many times did we have to bail you losers out? I refer everyone to the penultimate scene in Saving Private Ryan. Angels on our shoulders, indeed.


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Monday, April 17, 2006

What Leftist Bias?

This reporter for NBC's nationally-carried Access Hollywood and his producers just really like red. And stars. And hammers. And sickles.


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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter with Narnia

In addition to other forms of celebration, each year I try to watch something related to the Easter story as the day comes to an end. Last year,

Watched every cheesy movie ever made about Christ, it seems: King of Kings, with a particularly unconvincing Jeffrey "I Was a Cardboard Jesus" Hunter in the key role. This is the Revised Standard Version of Bible movies--lacking the beauty of King James (Zeffarelli?) and the realism of the NIV (Mel Gibson?). If Jesus had been this wooden, Peter and Andrew wouldn't have followed Him, they'd have made a boat out of Him.

I couldn't bring myself to watch Passion of the Christ this year or last. I need to see it again, but it's too painful to watch and is hardly joyous family fare. We did, however, obtain the special edition of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which provided a delightful Easter-themed diversion. The movie didn't do as well at the box office as I had hoped, but the crowd that would come for the sake of fantasy alone has become jaded by Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. I expect the fillm will enjoy brisk sales to the Christian-oriented market as a DVD, however.


Update 18 Apr 06:
Susanna asks, "jaded? How so?"

I meant simply that moviegoers who would come just to see a fanstasy tale, special effects, and the like, especially those unfamiliar with the story (and there are now millions of Tolkien fans who had never heard of LotR before the movies) would see this as something derivative and perhaps not quite as rich as LotR and many might have stayed home based on that judgement from fantasy fans who had seen the movie. If LWW had been produced before LotR and Harry Potter, I suspect that it would have made a killing at the box office just from those who made Fellowship of the Ring such a huge hit. Both it and LWW were about equally well-rendered, in my opinion (and I love both stories).


Update 19 Apr 06:
Susanna writes:

I agree, in part. I think that LotR, LWW, and HP are all equally rich tales in their own ways. However, neither HP nor LWW are cinematically on the same level with LotR, in my opinion. Peter Jackson and the WETA folks took CG, storytelling, and thus our expectations, to another level. Because of their obsessive concern for detail, and the massive effort behind the movie, they created something excellent instead of sticking with the status quo.

This probably did steer some folks away from LWW, but I don't think it can be really called "jaded." Peter Jackson raised the bar. Now intelligent moviegoers expect nothing less. In my opinion, only as a film, LWW was something less.

Not to knock LWW - I loved Aslan. And Mr. Tumnus. Great makeup and CG, no doubt. But speaking comparatively, as a whole (movie), LotR far surpasses LWW.

Anyway, I know your point wasn't to start a movie discussion. But I thought I'd comment back anyway. :-)

I agree for the most part -- but your point is true of the source literature itself. Lewis' Narnia is nowhere near as richly-conceived a world as is Middle Earth. The material in the annexes on the Hobbits alone exceeds the amount of historical and cultural detail we're given in the whole of the Narnia series. I think the relative richness of the stories (and backstories) has something to do with the relative quality of the movies. I do think that the two directors rendered their respective stories about equally well; that is, they took what the stories' authors gave them and rendered them with equal faithfulness. I do agree, however, that Jackson and Co. raised the bar and that was finally my point: had LWW come out first, it's quality would have caused much more of a sensation and it would have gotten better box office numbers. Since it came out after LotR and HP, audiences, as you say, expect nothing less, which leaves us with the relative richness of the underlying literature.

Much of my fondness for the Narnia stories lies in their clear allegorical nature. They are fun retellings of Christian themes. There is much in LotR that can carry Christian messages (e.g., there are Christ-like qualities in Frodo, Gandalf, and Aragorn), but Tolkien, though a very faithful man, never intended his story as allegory and fiercely defended the books against those who tried to claim that they were intended as allegory.

I am always happy to discuss any topic; there's been far too little discussion on all of our blogs lately. People are busy, I guess!


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Friday, April 14, 2006

Well, If VANITY FAIR Says It, It Must Be So.....

Vanity Fair presents its first “Green Issue,” beginning an “increased commitment to reporting on the threat to our precious environment,” says editor Graydon Carter. The May cover features a quartet of eco–power players, capturing Hollywood glamour and activist passion: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Al Gore, Julia Roberts, and George Clooney, photographed by Annie Leibovitz. Articles inside address the pressing environmental issues of the day: Mark Hertsgaard reports on the reality of global warming; Michael Shnayerson writes on the Appalachian mountaintop-mining crisis; and a Green Guide offers up 50 simple things you can do in your daily life to help save the planet.

Global warming MUST be real then. Hollywood says it is. And yes, you too can help Save the fifty simple ways.

I'm not feeling particularly Good-Fridayish at the moment, but I'll spare my readership (both of you) the current "make the oceans of the world red with the blood of muslims" mood I'm in (filled with such thoughts as letting Zacharias Moussouai live for many, many years in a cell as the "special friend" of Big Dick McSkinhead, local leader of the Aryan Nations) and stick with 'extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds.' God please forgive me.


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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Yes, Even Alabama Has Them

One of the reasons I like living in this part of the country is that you still see W stickers in car windows, not "Clinton-Gore in '94," ichthi without the little feet and the word "Darwin" written in them, people wave instead of give you the finger, and greet you with a cheery "hey, how are you" as you enter a store, rather than a gutteral grunt, probably obscene, muttered in some Middle Eastern language. Oh, yes, and we shoot criminals down here. Not that there's any relation between that and the rest.....just......mentioning it. (As in much of the rest of the country, we also elect criminals to office, but that's another story...)

Nonetheless, some of that distinction that favored my part of the country over BlueState "America" is gradually disappearing. Witness the antics of one Steve White in comfortable upper-middle-class suburb of Huntsville, Decatur, who...

showed his class a profane, left-wing video film attacking the White House, Republican politicians, and conservative commentators. Posted at, the clip first surfaced on the Internet in 2004. While a song titled "A — hole" warbles in the background, the film derides the president and his Cabinet. The slideshow is a compendium of Bush Derangement Syndrome sufferers' pet causes, complete with paranoid Halliburton references, swipes at the Fox News Channel, and moldy Michael Moore-esque platitudes about Saddam Hussein and the war in Iraq. The Athens News-Courier, which broke the story, noted: "The word a — hole is sung nine times and shown on screen 11 times; the s-word is used once and someone is shown 'flipping a bird' once.

Well, that's not the kind of thing we should sit still for here in Red America. Here is the contact information for West Limestone High School, where this Bluestate refugee panders his poison, should anyone wish to voice their disapproval and force the school board to take action. Each case like this that goes unpunished only encourages others.

Many bows to Michelle Malkin for her coverage of the issue.


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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Doctor Doom and the Fruits of the Enlightenment

Since we've been conversing on the topic of crazed manifestations of the "scientific" Weltanschaung, I proffer this example of that worldview taken to one of its logical extremes. This is the ideology of the enlightenment taken to its logical limits. I joined the intellectually coummunity away back ahwen to fight such sick ideologies; I joined the military to fight the minions and animals that fought for them; I have rejoined the academic community to see such ideologies wiped off the face of the earth, if such a thing is possible. The fight goes on.

31 March 2006
Recently citizen scientist Forrest Mims told me about a speech he heard at the Texas Academy of Science during which the speaker, a world-renowned ecologist, advocated for the extermination of 90 percent of the human species in a most horrible and painful manner. Apparently at the speaker's direction, the speech was not video taped by the Academy and so Forrest's may be the only record of what was said. Forrest's account of what he witnessed chilled my soul. Astonishingly, Forrest reports that many of the Academy members present gave the speaker a standing ovation. To date, the Academy has not moved to sanction the speaker or distance itself from the speaker's remarks.

If the professional community has lost its sense of moral outrage when one if their own openly calls for the slow and painful extermination of over 5 billion human beings, then it falls upon the amateur community to be the conscience of science.

Forrest, who is a member of the Texas Academy and chairs its Environmental Science Section, told me he would be unable to describe the speech in The Citizen Scientist because he has protested the speech to the Academy and he serves as Editor of The Citizen Scientist. Therefore, to preclude a possible conflict of interest, I have directed Forrest to describe what he observed and his reactions in this special feature, for which I have served as editor and which is being released a week ahead of our normal publication schedule. Comments may be sent to Backscatter.

Shawn Carlson, Ph.D.,
MacArthur Fellow,
Founder and Executive Director,
Society for Amateur Scientists

Special Editorial: Dealing with Doctor Doom
Shawn Carlson, Ph.D.


Meeting Doctor Doom

Forrest M. Mims III
Copyright 2006 by Forrest M. Mims III.

There is always something special about science meetings. The 109th meeting of the Texas Academy of Science at Lamar University in Beaumont on 3-5 March 2006 was especially exciting for me, because a student and his professor presented the results of a DNA study I suggested to them last year. How fulfilling to see the baldcypress ( Taxodium distichum ) leaves we collected last summer and my tree ring photographs transformed into a first class scientific presentation that's nearly ready to submit to a scientific journal (Brian Iken and Dr. Deanna McCullough, "Bald Cypress of the Texas Hill Country: Taxonomically Unique?" 109th Meeting of the Texas Academy of Science Program and Abstracts [ PDF ], Poster P59, p. 84, 2006).

But there was a gravely disturbing side to that otherwise scientifically significant meeting, for I watched in amazement as a few hundred members of the Texas Academy of Science rose to their feet and gave a standing ovation to a speech that enthusiastically advocated the elimination of 90 percent of Earth's population by airborne Ebola. The speech was given by Dr. Eric R. Pianka (Fig. 1), the University of Texas evolutionary ecologist and lizard expert who the Academy named the 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist.

Something curious occurred a minute before Pianka began speaking. An official of the Academy approached a video camera operator at the front of the auditorium and engaged him in animated conversation. The camera operator did not look pleased as he pointed the lens of the big camera to the ceiling and slowly walked away.

This curious incident came to mind a few minutes later when Professor Pianka began his speech by explaining that the general public is not yet ready to hear what he was about to tell us. Because of many years of experience as a writer and editor, Pianka's strange introduction and the TV camera incident raised a red flag in my mind. Suddenly I forgot that I was a member of the Texas Academy of Science and chairman of its Environmental Science Section. Instead, I grabbed a notepad so I could take on the role of science reporter.

One of Pianka's earliest points was a condemnation of anthropocentrism, or the idea that humankind occupies a privileged position in the Universe. He told a story about how a neighbor asked him what good the lizards are that he studies. He answered, “What good are you?”

Pianka hammered his point home by exclaiming, “We're no better than bacteria!”

Pianka then began laying out his concerns about how human overpopulation is ruining the Earth. He presented a doomsday scenario in which he claimed that the sharp increase in human population since the beginning of the industrial age is devastating the planet. He warned that quick steps must be taken to restore the planet before it's too late.

Saving the Earth with Ebola

Professor Pianka said the Earth as we know it will not survive without drastic measures. Then, and without presenting any data to justify this number, he asserted that the only feasible solution to saving the Earth is to reduce the population to 10 percent of the present number.

He then showed solutions for reducing the world's population in the form of a slide depicting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. War and famine would not do, he explained. Instead, disease offered the most efficient and fastest way to kill the billions that must soon die if the population crisis is to be solved.

Pianka then displayed a slide showing rows of human skulls, one of which had red lights flashing from its eye sockets.

AIDS is not an efficient killer, he explained, because it is too slow. His favorite candidate for eliminating 90 percent of the world's population is airborne Ebola ( Ebola Reston ), because it is both highly lethal and it kills in days, instead of years. However, Professor Pianka did not mention that Ebola victims die a slow and torturous death as the virus initiates a cascade of biological calamities inside the victim that eventually liquefy the internal organs.

After praising the Ebola virus for its efficiency at killing, Pianka paused, leaned over the lectern, looked at us and carefully said, “We've got airborne 90 percent mortality in humans. Killing humans. Think about that.”

With his slide of human skulls towering on the screen behind him, Professor Pianka was deadly serious. The audience that had been applauding some of his statements now sat silent.

After a dramatic pause, Pianka returned to politics and environmentalism. But he revisited his call for mass death when he reflected on the oil situation.

“And the fossil fuels are running out,” he said, “so I think we may have to cut back to two billion, which would be about one-third as many people.” So the oil crisis alone may require eliminating two-third's of the world's population.

How soon must the mass dying begin if Earth is to be saved? Apparently fairly soon, for Pianka suggested he might be around when the killer disease goes to work. He was born in 1939, and his lengthy obituary appears on his web site.

When Pianka finished his remarks, the audience applauded. It wasn't merely a smattering of polite clapping that audiences diplomatically reserve for poor or boring speakers. It was a loud, vigorous and enthusiastic applause.

Questions for Dr. Doom

Then came the question and answer session, in which Professor Pianka stated that other diseases are also efficient killers.

The audience laughed when he said, “You know, the bird flu's good, too.” They laughed again when he proposed, with a discernable note of glee in his voice that, “We need to sterilize everybody on the Earth.”

After noting that the audience did not represent the general population, a questioner asked, "What kind of reception have you received as you have presented these ideas to other audiences that are not representative of us?"

Pianka replied, "I speak to the converted!"

Pianka responded to more questions by condemning politicians in general and Al Gore by name, because they do not address the population problem and "...because they deceive the public in every way they can to stay in power."

He spoke glowingly of the police state in China that enforces their one-child policy. He said, "Smarter people have fewer kids." He said those who don't have a conscience about the Earth will inherit the Earth, "...because those who care make fewer babies and those that didn't care made more babies." He said we will evolve as uncaring people, and "I think IQs are falling for the same reason, too."

With this, the questioning was over. Immediately almost every scientist, professor and college student present stood to their feet and vigorously applauded the man who had enthusiastically endorsed the elimination of 90 percent of the human population. Some even cheered. Dozens then mobbed the professor at the lectern to extend greetings and ask questions. It was necessary to wait a while before I could get close enough to take some photographs (Fig. 1).

I was assigned to judge a paper in a grad student competition after the speech. On the way, three professors dismissed Pianka as a crank. While waiting to enter the competition room, a group of a dozen Lamar University students expressed outrage over the Pianka speech.

Yet five hours later, the distinguished leaders of the Texas Academy of Science presented Pianka with a plaque in recognition of his being named 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist. When the banquet hall filled with more than 400 people responded with enthusiastic applause, I walked out in protest.

Corresponding with Dr. Doom

Recently I exchanged a number of e-mails with Pianka. I pointed out to him that one might infer his death wish was really aimed at Africans, for Ebola is found only in Central Africa. He replied that Ebola does not discriminate, kills everyone and could spread to Europe and the the Americas by a single infected airplane passenger.

In his last e-mail, Pianka wrote that I completely fail to understand his arguments. So I did a check and found verification of my interpretation of his remarks on his own web site. In a student evaluation of a 2004 course he taught, one of Professor Pianka's students wrote, "Though I agree that convervation [sic] biology is of utmost importance to the world, I do not think that preaching that 90% of the human population should die of ebola [sic] is the most effective means of encouraging conservation awareness." (Go here and scroll down to just before the Fall 2005 evaluation section near the end.)

Yet the majority of his student reviews were favorable, with one even saying, “ I worship Dr. Pianka.”

The 45-minute lecture before the Texas Academy of Science converted a university biology senior into a Pianka disciple, who then published a blog that seriously supports Pianka's mass death wish.

Dangerous Times

Let me now remove my reporter's hat for a moment and tell you what I think. We live in dangerous times. The national security of many countries is at risk. Science has become tainted by highly publicized cases of misconduct and fraud.

Must now we worry that a Pianka-worshipping former student might someday become a professional biologist or physician with access to the most deadly strains of viruses and bacteria? I believe that airborne Ebola is unlikely to threaten the world outside of Central Africa. But scientists have regenerated the 1918 Spanish flu virus that killed 50 million people. There is concern that small pox might someday return. And what other terrible plagues are waiting out there in the natural world to cross the species barrier and to which scientists will one day have access?

Meanwhile, I still can't get out of my mind the pleasant spring day in Texas when a few hundred scientists of the Texas Academy of Science gave a standing ovation for a speaker who they heard advocate for the slow and torturous death of over five billion human beings.

Forrest M. Mims III is Chairman of the Environmental Science Section of the Texas Academy of Science, and the editor of The Citizen Scientist. He and his science are featured online at and The views expressed herein are his own and do not represent the official views of the Texas Academy of Science or the Society for Amateur Scientists.

Copyright 2006 by Forrest M. Mims III.


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Further Evidence (If Any Was Needed)....

Global warming is a lie, just like the Club of Rome overpopulation scare of the 1970s was. It's junk science, of which I am something of a connoisseur. I love popular delusions masquerading as science and collect literature on them. I have a very respectable library of primary sources on eugenics and early-20th century race theory, for instance. I have a pretty good selection of Freud -- who was about as consistently wrong as it is possible to be and still be called a "scientist." I have followed the Darwinian's failure to explain the evolution of species through natural selection (not the variations within species, but the generation of new ones) with much delight. This stuff just fascinates me. So, of course, I am a great fan of global warming theory.

Why do such delusions come about? That's the really interesting part. There's always an agenda behind them. I am by no means a conspiracy thoerist; I believe emphatically that conspiracies aren't necessary (and fail as often as not), but that consensus can form spontaneously within groups that share common interests, and those forms of consensus evolve into jealously guarded orthodoxies. How else can one explain Roman Catholic thoeology?

In the case of the global warming crowd, much of the motivation is the same that got the Club of Rome types whipped into frenzies trying to convince us that we'd be hip-deep in Pakistanis by 1995: an anti-Western, anti-capitalist, envronmentalist meme of leftist internationalism runs through most of the literature and domminates the college faculty break rooms and academic journal offices that control publishing and peer review on envronmental issues and climatology.

Richard Lindzen, writing in the WSJ Opinion Journal, has an excellent peice about how the liberal envronmentalist orthodoxy has had personal and professional repercussions for those who dissent from the party line concerning global warming:

There have been repeated claims that this past year's hurricane activity was another sign of human-induced climate change. Everything from the heat wave in Paris to heavy snows in Buffalo has been blamed on people burning gasoline to fuel their cars, and coal and natural gas to heat, cool and electrify their homes. Yet how can a barely discernible, one-degree increase in the recorded global mean temperature since the late 19th century possibly gain public acceptance as the source of recent weather catastrophes? And how can it translate into unlikely claims about future catastrophes?

The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle of alarmism. Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political stakes for policy makers who provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes. After all, who puts money into science--whether for AIDS, or space, or climate--where there is nothing really alarming? Indeed, the success of climate alarmism can be counted in the increased federal spending on climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7 billion today. It can also be seen in heightened spending on solar, wind, hydrogen, ethanol and clean coal technologies, as well as on other energy-investment decisions.

But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.

To understand the misconceptions perpetuated about climate science and the climate of intimidation, one needs to grasp some of the complex underlying scientific issues. First, let's start where there is agreement. The public, press and policy makers have been repeatedly told that three claims have widespread scientific support: Global temperature has risen about a degree since the late 19th century; levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased by about 30% over the same period; and CO2 should contribute to future warming. These claims are true. However, what the public fails to grasp is that the claims neither constitute support for alarm nor establish man's responsibility for the small amount of warming that has occurred. In fact, those who make the most outlandish claims of alarm are actually demonstrating skepticism of the very science they say supports them. It isn't just that the alarmists are trumpeting model results that we know must be wrong. It is that they are trumpeting catastrophes that couldn't happen even if the models were right as justifying costly policies to try to prevent global warming.


And then there are the peculiar standards in place in scientific journals for articles submitted by those who raise questions about accepted climate wisdom. At Science and Nature, such papers are commonly refused without review as being without interest. However, even when such papers are published, standards shift. When I, with some colleagues at NASA, attempted to determine how clouds behave under varying temperatures, we discovered what we called an "Iris Effect," wherein upper-level cirrus clouds contracted with increased temperature, providing a very strong negative climate feedback sufficient to greatly reduce the response to increasing CO2. Normally, criticism of papers appears in the form of letters to the journal to which the original authors can respond immediately. However, in this case (and others) a flurry of hastily prepared papers appeared, claiming errors in our study, with our responses delayed months and longer. The delay permitted our paper to be commonly referred to as "discredited." Indeed, there is a strange reluctance to actually find out how climate really behaves. In 2003, when the draft of the U.S. National Climate Plan urged a high priority for improving our knowledge of climate sensitivity, the National Research Council instead urged support to look at the impacts of the warming--not whether it would actually happen.

Dr Lindzen is in a position to know a thing or two about which he speaks: He is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, hardly a hotbed of "conservative" scientific non-conformism. Read the whole thing

I am confident that the truth will out. I think in ten years, "global warming" will have as much serious credibility as the cover of the National Inquirer. The science behind it isn't much more credible than aliens paving Nazca (I also collect Eric Von Danniken), the Malthusian overpopulation scare of 1972, or "Love Child of Jennifer Anniston Has Tatoo of Virgin Mary von Scalp, Claims Extrasensory Powers."


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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

And This Week's Darwin Award Goes To....

...this former football player, DEA agent, and "professional" gun handler. Smoking Gun (appropriately enough) has the video. Watch and laugh or cry, your choice.

This genius is now suing the DEA for letting the video of his foolishness slip onto the internet. Will he win? That's a loaded question. I think he's just shooting himself in the foot (again).


Update 12 Apr 06:
KANH comments:

"I don't wanna shoot you, and you don't wanna be dead!" - sorry it's the first thing that came to mind.

OK did he think that giving ed. talks might be bad for his undercover gig?!

He is a great example of why the 3rd amendment is important...if this is who the government see's fit to arm.

Amen. Or perhaps, "I don't want to shoot myself and you don't want to see me do it..."

The Third Amendment take is an interesting one and I'd certainly not want this Government version of Bozo housed in my home, but it's at least as much a Second Amendment issue. I feel safer with competent civilians bearing arms keeping such "professionals" trustworthy.

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What Victory for Islam means, Part 4

Mark Steyn has a great column in the City Journal today about the significance of Iran in the war between dar al-Islam and dar al-Harb:

Four years into the “war on terror,” the Bush administration has begun promoting a new formulation: “the long war.” Not a reassuring name. In a short war, put your money on tanks and bombs—our strengths. In a long war, the better bet is will and manpower—their strengths, and our great weakness. Even a loser can win when he’s up against a defeatist. A big chunk of Western civilization, consciously or otherwise, has given the impression that it’s dying to surrender to somebody, anybody. Reasonably enough, Islam figures: Hey, why not us? If you add to the advantages of will and manpower a nuclear capability, the odds shift dramatically.

Read the whole thing.


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Friday, April 07, 2006

Christian Carnival CXVI

This week's Christian Carnival is hosted by The Bloke at In the Outer.

There are several excellent posts this week. I'll highlight one, from Adam at WhereIStand, who takes on the secular Weltanschaung's argument that Christianity is just "an opiate for the masses" and a means of social control:

Mister E writes Christianity thrived because it represented a "Method of Control":

An Unnecessary Control

Mister E writes the following:

I see religion as a method of control. If you found yourself a leader of millions of people in a period where there are swords and castles, wouldn't you be a little concerned about how to control all these people? I mean, they could at anytime march up to your castle and use your bathroom without asking! Or kill you and try and take over... so, what would you do? I'd tell you what I'd do, I'd listen to this rumor that people in the middle east were actually believing that there was some dude floating in "heaven" and he had a set of rules which everyone had to live by or they'd be forsaken, and that a messiah, a chosen one had graced them and showed them his magic powers, and then died for them, and they all were so convinced that this magic guy and his friend in heaven were keeping track of them, that they had to be good... anyway, I'd convince the people in my nation of this same thing, so that they would be bound by divine rule to obey me and all these rules. It would have instilled fear in the people of a higher power that could shoot fireballs at regular people and regular people could not, and this fear would dictate their lives and keep them from doing things that might threaten my power.... so you see, try and remember that if something appears 3-dimensional, it may only be 2, just specially designed to trick you dear reader.

One has to begin with an honest acknowledgement that some people have used religion and even Christianity as only a means of control. However, the point of MisterE goes far beyond this in stating that Christianity itself is a method of control and this is where we disagree

If Christianity were an effective tool for control, than every non-Muslim Country on Earth would practice it. Marx hated it and so did all the Communists. The reason is that Christianity drives many people to resist. Consider those who operated the Underground Railroad. The founders who dared to declare Independence and make their appeal to the God of Justice.

Christianity is a religion full of characters who didn't just go along to get along. We have Jesus calling his nation's leaders "a brood of vipers", "whitewashed sepulchers," and "wicked". We have John the Baptist getting thrown into prison for calling King Herod an Adulterer. Stephen was stoned after his first sermon. We have martyrs unafraid to say the truth no matter the cost.

I'll also argue that this issue of control is somewhat silly in the life of the individual. Who is not controlled? People are controlled by drugs, alcohol, sex, people, and money. Is not the person who ruins his life with STDs from premarital sex and can't controlled by sex? Aren't so many people controlled by food?

Are people not controlled by advertisers who play on their fears of being alone, being left out, voting for the wrong candidate, not drinking the country's favorite soft drink or not eating the Breakfast of Champions? Are we not all puppets, our backs full of strings, constantly being yanked by the desires of our own flesh, lust, greed, hatred, bitterness, our fears of the past, death, the future, of rejection, of being a failure, and the manipulative people who exist subtlely in each of our lives? Every political philosophy has it, as well as every profession. There's no escaping being controlled. The person who believes no one is controlling him an idiot, knave, or liar.

Read the whole thing.

I agree that Christianity has sometimes been misused as a system of social control, but this has only happened when the visible church has been distorted into a form of secular government and the Gospel has been distorted into a promise of heaven for those who follow a set of rules. This happened under Catholicism and pervaded Western civilisation until the Reformation. The latter is a demonstration, however, that the Gospel, rightly understood, is more often a force for revolution, not social conformity. There is a built-in tension between the visible church and the state in Christianity and there has been ever since both the existing state mechanisms of the Jews and the Roman Empire came together to put Christ to death. Comforming Christianity into a state with secular power always entails a fundamental distortion of the Gospel message and makes Christianity into something more closely resembling islam, which has always claimed it is a comprehensive system of government as well as "just a religion." It is not a coincidence that nuns' habits resemble burkhas. Nor is it a coincidence that Midieval Europe under the church controlled from Rome resembled islam. If anything, the latter was more cohesive and less fractious. The central message of Christ is always fundamentally revolutionary and is often subversive of secular social control.


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Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Best Immigration Idea I've Heard in A Long Time

Via the Instapundit, we revceived this outstanding idea from HolyCoast:

I have to give credit to Glenn Reynolds for the idea (h/t Michelle Malkin) which I ran with a little bit, but what if on Monday, when thousands of pro-illegal immigration protesters are marching in cities around the country, a bunch of citizens showed up at the Capitol Building in Washington to report for work as "undocumented Congressmen"? Do you think that would get any TV coverage? That would certainly be an interesting way to show our displeasure with Congress and their inaction on tough immigration legislation.

The marchers could demand that Congress take down the security wall that surrounds Capitol Hill and allow us in because we "want to do work that Congressmen aren't willing to do".

Let's put Cynthia McKinney in the front of the march, shall we?


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The Power of What? The Gospel of Whom?

By now, all y'all have probably heard of the "scientific study" done concerning prayer. It was all over the MSM -- hard to miss. Here's how the WaPo reported it:

Praying for other people to recover from an illness is ineffective, according to the largest, best-designed study to examine the power of prayer to heal strangers at a distance.

The study of more than 1,800 heart-bypass patients found that those who had people praying for them had as many complications as those who did not. In fact, one group of patients who knew they were the subject of prayers fared worse.

Intrepid Scrappleface reporter and expert on everything, Scott Ott, tells the real story:

Prayer Study: Humans Fail to Manipulate God
by Scott Ott

(2006-03-31) — A team of scientists today ended a 10-year study on the so-called “power of prayer” by concluding that God cannot be manipulated by humans, not even by scientists with a $2.4 million research grant.

The scientists also noted that their work was “sabotaged by religious zealots” secretly praying for study subjects who were supposed to receive no prayer.

The allegations came at a news conference where researchers announced their findings that intercessory prayer by two Roman Catholic religious communities and a group from the Missouri-based Unity church failed to produce better results for patients recovering from heart surgery.

“As it turns out, God was not impressed by our academic credentials, our substantial funding base, and our rigorous study protocols,” said lead researcher Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiologist and director of the Mind/Body Medical Institute near Boston. “I get the feeling we just spent 10 years looking through the wrong end of the telescope.”

While patients who knew they were the targets of the study’s intercessory prayer team actually had more post-operative complications, Dr. Benson admitted he failed to prevent friends and relatives from praying for the “no prayer” control group.

“It really burns me up that we worked so hard, only to be undermined by an anonymous army of intellectual weaklings on their knees,” he said.

Dr. Benson said he would now seek $10 million in grants to explore whether fire can be called down from heaven to kindle a pile of wood. The control group’s wood will be drenched in water to prevent combustion.

In related news, that other pillar of the paleomedia is reorting the following as, well......gospel:

'Gospel of Judas' Surfaces After 1,700 Years

Published: April 6, 2006

An early Christian manuscript, including the only known text of what is known as the Gospel of Judas, has surfaced after 1,700 years. The text gives new insights into the relationship of Jesus and the disciple who betrayed him, scholars reported today. In this version, Jesus asked Judas, as a close friend, to sell him out to the authorities, telling Judas he will "exceed" the other disciples by doing so.

Though some theologians have hypothesized this, scholars who have studied the new-found text said, this is the first time an ancient document defends the idea.

The discovery in the desert of Egypt of the leather-bound papyrus manuscript, and now its translation, was announced by the National Geographic Society at a news conference in Washington. The 26-page Judas text is said to be a copy in Coptic, made around A. D. 300, of the original Gospel of Judas, written in Greek the century before.

Though some theologians have hypothesized this, scholars who have studied the new-found text said, this is the first time an ancient document defends the idea.

The discovery in the desert of Egypt of the leather-bound papyrus manuscript, and now its translation, was announced by the National Geographic Society at a news conference in Washington. The 26-page Judas text is said to be a copy in Coptic, made around A. D. 300, of the original Gospel of Judas, written in Greek the century before.

The most revealing passages in the Judas manuscript begins, "The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot during a week, three days before he celebrated Passover."

The account goes on to relate that Jesus refers to the other disciples, telling Judas "you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me." By that, scholars familiar with Gnostic thinking said, Jesus meant that by helping him get rid of his physical flesh, Judas will act to liberate the true spiritual self or divine being within Jesus.

Unlike the accounts in the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the anonymous author of the Gospel of Judas believed that Judas Iscariot alone among the 12 disciples understood the meaning of Jesus' teachings and acceded to his will. In the diversity of early Christian thought, a group known as Gnostics believed in a secret knowledge of how people could escape the prisons of their material bodies and return to the spiritual realm from which they came.

Damn gnostics will do anything to get their names in the papers!

Note to Judas: How did all that work out for you?


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Intrepid Dems Unveil Their Courageous Plan for National Security

Late last week, the Democratic Party unveiled its plan for prtoecting America. It offers clear alternatives to the war-mongering of the jack-booted, oil-engorged Dubya regime. Iowahawk has all the details:

Operation Steel Gazelle: A Smart, Multi-Slide Plan For Toughening American Security with Smartness

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV)
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

HARRY: Hello, I'm Harry Reid, leader of the Democrats in the United States Senate.

NANCY: And me Nancy Pelosi.

HARRY: Like millions of patriotic Americans, Nancy and I, along with our Democratic colleagues in Congress, are concerned about our rapidly deteriorating national security situation. Nearly five years after the tragic events of 9/11, not only is our country wracked by record economic misery, low teacher salaries, expensive senior prescriptions, and widespread leprosy, it also remains at risk for illegal attacks from the terrorist Osama bin Laden. Meanwhile, the Bush administration has us mired in a disastrous unrelated civil war in Iraq, consuming billions of your taxpayer dollars that could be spent on preserving Social Security and community health care block grants for America's starving teachers.

NANCY: We can better do!

HARRY: You bet we can, Nancy. That's why we've purchase space on America's abandoned and neglected websites to present the Democratic vision for a smart, yet tough new national security concept that makes a clean break with the discredited and dangerous policies of this administration. As you can see by the American flags behind us, this is a smart and tough new approach, embodied in a comprehensive plan that was developed by some of America's foremost military minds: Madeleine Albright, Sandy Berger, Markos Zuniga, and former General Wesley Clarke -- the celebrated "Falcon of the Balkans." We call our plan "Operation Steel Gazelle" -- strong and tough like steel, but smart and agile like the gazelle, as it nimbly eludes its hungry predators.

NANCY: Tell, us more Harry.

HARRY: Well Nancy, the first phase of our multi-faceted plan focuses on the number one key to restoring national security: getting Osama bin Laden. Even as we speak, this dangerous fugitive is still on the loose. As the leader of a Democratic majority in Congress, I will make sure that the head Army and Navy generals get a clear and unambiguous message: "Get Osama" is "Job One."

NANCY: But it is important to do smart too!

HARRY: That's right, Nancy. That's why our tough, no-nonsense emails to the generals will include pictures of Osama bin Laden, so they will know who to get.

NANCY: But whats about disguises?

HARRY: Way ahead of you Nancy! Using state-of-the-art PhotoShop smart computers, we will create simulated pictures of Osama bin Laden wearing a mustache, soul patch, trucker hat, and so on, and these will also be included in our emails. Then, the generals will distribute the pictures to the soldiers, and they can then make a surprise attack at Pakistan and get Osama bin Laden, no matter his latest look. Imagine the looks on the terrorists' faces!

NANCY: Me too! What is next, in the plan?

HARRY: Well Nancy, after invading Pakistan and getting Osama bin Laden, our plan will next focus on rapid American redeployment from Iraq. With terrorism finally a thing of the past, we will need our American soldiers back here in the "good ol' USA" to guard Osama bin Laden while he serves out a tough sentence in jail or an innovative work-release program.

NANCY: Sounds, smart! But what about toughness?

HARRY: Don't worry Nancy - before we redeploy the soldiers out of Iraq, we will pass a tough new assault weapons ban in Iraq to keep these dangerous weapons out of the hands of civil war gangs. We will back it up with a roadside bomb amnesty program, and after-madrassa programs for at-risk insurgent youths.

NANCY: Sounds almost too, good to be, true. But there be must a catch!

HARRY: No Nancy, it's all there in black and white, on slide 2 of our plan. The third phase our plan is to double the number of American Special Forces. It will be important that we have enough of these elite tough fighting units in case Osama bin Laden escapes through a secret tunnel and starts his terrorism again, or if his case dismissed on appeal.

NANCY: That's what I call future thinking tough! But is it smart also?

HARRY: We've got that covered too, Nancy. We will work to ensure that these expanded super soldier teams look like America, with plenty of elite security opportunities for all -- regardless of race, gender, age, or GLBT orientation. And, in keeping with the Americans with Disabilities Act, all Special Forces training facilities under our plan will have accessibility ramps by 2008. We have already begun to recruit candidates from the ranks of TSA's elite airport security teams!

NANCY: Sure Harry but, whats about the other dangerous of the futures?

HARRY: I'm glad you asked, Nancy. As you know, we need to remain vigilant to ensure Osama bin Laden never obtains rocket-powered wheelchair technology, possibly enabling him to outrun our elite Special Forces pursuit to teams. This is why our plan calls for more spies - like Jack Bauer of the popular TV action program "24".

NANCY: I like TV!

HARRY: And who doesn't, Nancy? Every Monday night at 9 on Fox, we see how a strong spy force is vital for protecting America from suprise biological attacks by conniving White House insiders. That's why I have directed former ambassador Joseph Wilson to form a new super top secret spy agency, to monitor communications between terrorist groups and Dick Cheney.

NANCY: I feel, safer already. But is thats legal?

HARRY: Yes! Unlike the adminstration's illegal domestic wiretap program, all of our secret agent pursuit teams will include international human rights monitors from the United Nations and ACLU, and an elite three judge FISA panels. Plus, they will have a really cool headquarters with metal and glass furniture and blue lighting... and accessible ramps for our elite Special Forces.

NANCY: Okay okay Harry ha ha I am convinced but how, we can we help pass this exciting security, plan.

HARRY: Well Nancy, let's get the word out to everyone - Democrats have a plan. It is smart, and it is tough, and also, unlike the Bush system, it is planned. So remember, vote Democrat because national security is our number one priority, totally up there with living wage legislation, and opposing so-called "tort reform."

NANCY: Awesome!

HARRY: That's right Nancy. So the next time someone says the Democrats don't have a plan, what do we say?

NANCY: Smart!

HARRY: And if they're still not convinced?

NANCY: Tough!


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