Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Aghast Chorus Grows

I wondered in my first (and until now, only) post on the Supreme Court's ruling on Obamacare why conservatives were not aghast at the radical expansion by the Court of Congress' taxation power.
The point I don't see other commentators getting is this: the ruling means that Congress now has unlimited power to tax. Congress now has the power to tax absolutely any activity or inactivity by individuals.
Now law Professor William Jacobson cites several commentators who say the same, for example, the editors of the Wall Street Journal:
[E]ven the five votes limiting Congress under the Commerce Clause pale against the Chief Justice’s infinitely elastic and dangerous interpretation of the taxing power. Nancy Pelosi famously said we need to pass ObamaCare to find out what’s in it. It turns out we also needed John Roberts to write his appendix.
Tax law Prof. Paul Caron, writer of TaxProf Blog, has more, including a link to this observation by John Yoo, professor at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law:
Some conservatives see a silver lining in the ObamaCare ruling. But it's exactly the big-government disaster it appears to be. 
Worse still, Justice Roberts's opinion provides a constitutional road map for architects of the next great expansion of the welfare state. Congress may not be able to directly force us to buy electric cars, eat organic kale, or replace oil heaters with solar panels. But if it enforces the mandates with a financial penalty then suddenly, thanks to Justice Roberts's tortured reasoning in Sebelius, the mandate is transformed into a constitutional exercise of Congress's power to tax.
Which is exactly what I said Thursday:
So does the Congress have the authority to make us eat broccoli, as one justice asked the solicitor general during the hearing? Now we know the answer: without question the Congress now enjoys the power to make us buy broccoli, whether we eat it or not. Don't buy it? Pay a special tax. 
Congress has the power now to make everyone drive a white car - or pay a special tax if they don't.
Ilya Somin, associate professor of law at George Mason University Law School, who wrote an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down the law, wrote in The New York Daily News:
Today’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision upholding the individual health insurance mandate shows that the Supreme Court takes constitutional limits on federal power seriously - but not seriously enough. As a result, Congress now has the power to impose a mandate to do almost anything, so long as it is structured as so-called “tax.” 
That ruling both misreads the Constitution and gives Congress a dangerous new power. ... 
Pretty much any other mandate could be magically converted into a tax by the same sleight of hand - so long as the penalty for violating it is a fine similar to the one that enforces the individual mandate. The danger here is not just theoretical. Numerous interest groups could potentially lobby Congress to enact a law requiring people to buy their products, just as the health insurance industry did.
And because of this state of affairs, the last shred of national sovereignty passed on Thursday from the hands of the people of the United States to the desks of the Congress and by extension the executive. We are now subjects, no longer citizens. 

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England braces for "circumcision tourism"

The Telegraph:
In what has been described as a landmark decision, a court in the city of Cologne said circumcision violated a child's "fundamental right to bodily integrity" and that this right outweighed the rights of the parents. ... Jewish groups [protesting the decision] were supported by leaders of Germany's large Muslim population "I feel the decision is discriminatory and counters efforts to promote integration," said Ali Demir, chairman of the Islamic Religious Community in Germany. "This is a harmless procedure that has thousands of years of tradition and a high symbolic value. "We will end up with circumcision tourism to neighbouring countries," he added.
Here is one of the most interesting things in the article.
The court case revolved around a four-year-old Muslim boy who was circumcised at the request of his parents but was later admitted to hospital with bleeding. The doctor was charged and tried for grievous bodily harm but was acquitted on the grounds he had parental consent. Prosecutors appealed against the decision but the doctor was again acquitted, this time owing to the imprecise nature of the law.
Get that? The first trial ended in acquittal, so the prosecution got to try him again. "Double jeopardy" ain't a game hosted by Alex Trebek; it's a living legal principle in most of Europe.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Syrian Christians under the gun

I wrote earlier this month that if the so-called freedom fighters attacking Assad's regime gain victory, "expect a bloodbath of non-Sunnis, especially the Alawites and Christians." Now the New York Times understands that, too.
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL — Earlier this month, reports came from the Syrian city of Qusayr of an ominous warning to the town’s Christians: Either join the Sunni-led opposition against Bashar al-Assad or leave. Soon after, thousands of Christians fled the town.

After decades of protection by a secular-leaning dictatorship, the Qusayr ultimatum warned of a dark future for Syria’s Christian community. As the 15-month conflict rages with no end in sight, Syria’s many minorities have come face to face with the emerging threat posed by radical Sunni Islamists. These elements have established themselves as a key factor in Syria’s future, backed by immense political and economic support from the Arab world and indifference from the West.

Throughout the years, Christians, like many other minorities in the region, have lent their support to those regimes that have guaranteed their security and religious freedom. In Iraq, Christians rose to the highest levels of society under Saddam Hussein’s regime, while in Egypt, Coptic Christians were protected from ultraconservative Salafists under Hosni Mubarak. As secular leaders from the secretive Alawite sect, the Assad dynasty largely preserved Christian life, protecting Syria’s minorities from what was perceived as a collective threat from the country’s Sunni majority.

Watching their once-shielding dictators fall like dominos across the region, Christians have suddenly found themselves on the wrong side of history. Faced by a rising tide of radical Sunni Islam, Christians in Iraq and Egypt have fled by the thousands. In Syria, concern over Christian repression has fallen on deaf ears, drowned out by popular support for the country’s opposition in the face of the Assad regime’s brutal crackdown.

This March, months before the Qusayr ultimatum, Islamist militants from the opposition’s Faruq Brigade had gone door to door in Hamidiya and Bustan al-Diwan neighborhoods of Homs, expelling local Christians. Following the raids, some 90 percent of Christians reportedly fled the city for government-controlled areas, neighboring countries or a stretch of land near the Lebanese border called the Valley of Christians (Wadi al-Nasarah). Of the more than 80,000 Christians who lived in Homs prior to the uprising, approximately 400 remain today.

The cleansing of Homs’ Christian neighborhoods occurred as the Syrian military bombarded the Sunni opposition stronghold of Baba Amr, naturally focusing the international media on stories of children maimed by Assad’s artillery shells and sniper bullets. At the United Nations, Assad’s opponents could not afford to highlight Christian persecution in Homs, as they risked catering to a Russian-led campaign to preserve the dictator’s rule by de-legitimizing the Syrian rebels for their atrocities.

As rebel forces continue to chip away at Assad’s control over the country, Syria’s Christians continue to be expelled or held at the mercy of an increasingly extremist Sunni opposition.

For the newest generation of Sunni jihadists, Syria has become the latest front in the struggle to wrest control of the region from rival religious sects and foreign occupation. Many of these fighters hail from the vast reaches of North Africa and the Gulf, arriving in Syria with weapons, funds and a radical ideology.

Inside Syria, the reluctance of the international community to thwart Assad’s onslaught has left the Sunni population with feelings of isolation and abandonment, driving large swathes of youth into the arms of radical clerics. This uncompromising ideology leaves little place in Syria’s future for the country’s many minorities — including Christians.

Saving Syria’s Christian community is coherent with Western strategic interests. If the experiences of Iraq and Egypt are any indication, religious intolerance breeds insecurity and volatility. The Syrian case is no different. Assad’s opponents on both sides of the Atlantic must prevent radical Islamists from embedding themselves in the Syrian opposition and should adopt a firm stance against their patrons in the Gulf.

As Kamal Jumblatt, the former leader of Lebanon’s Druze minority, once said, “In the Middle East there is space for all men, just not their ambitions.” Jumblatt himself was eventually assassinated at the hands of Hafez al-Assad, but his words ring true to this day.

The ousting of the Assad regime has become a global moral obligation, but so has the duty to ensure that Syria’s future holds a place for all minorities.
Consider that last sentence. Because absolutely no nation is both willing and able to accomplish the entire sentence, the whole sentence is made false. There is no moral obligation to oust Assad's regime only to see it replaced by another, Sunni-Islamist regime that will likely be even more ruthless and bloody.

I say again: Stay out of Syria!

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Why neither Left nor Right should be happy about Obamacare ruling

Congress now has the Constitutional authority to make you buy a firearm and ammunition.

There is something important that I have not seen mentioned by any commentator, Left or Right, on the US Supreme Court's ruling today that upheld Obamacare lock, stock and barrel. And it is the centrally bad part of the Court's majority ruling.

Obamacare's "individual mandate" means that if you don't buy government-approved health insurance, then you are penalized by being required to pay a special tax enacted purely for that reason.

By classifying Obamacare's individual mandate as a form of Constitutionally permissible tax, the Court has emplaced in Constitutional law the power of the present or any future Congress to enact any kind of mandate whatsoever on individuals as long as Congress characterizes penalties for non-compliance as a tax.

That means that the Congress now has the Constitutional power to tax absolutely any activity or inactivity by individuals. Congress now has unlimited power to tax.

So does the Congress have the authority to make us eat broccoli, as one justice asked the solicitor general during the hearing? Now we know the answer: without question the Congress now enjoys the power to make us buy broccoli, whether we eat it or not. Don't buy it? Pay a special tax.

Congress has the power now to make everyone drive a white car - or pay a special tax if they don't.

And before the Left gets all giddy with elation at this ruling, consider that any Republican Congress will also enjoy - and take advantage of - this power. So yes, Congress now has the Constitutional power to require every able-bodied, sound of mind adult (male or female) to purchase a firearm and ammunition - or pay they don't, just fork over $1,000 to the IRS and have a nice day.

Mark today's date on your calendars. June 28, 2012 is the day that the sovereignty of the American people vanished. This is the day we became subjects rather than citizens. As Daniel Webster argued before the court of Chief Justice John Marshall in McCulloch v. Maryland, "An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy." And in his decision, Marshall agreed.

Today was the day our freedom was destroyed. As of today, absolutely nothing we do or don't do is beyond the power of Congress to dictate.

Update: Seems it is starting to sink in that because of the Court's ruling, there are now no limits to Congress doing whatever it wants as long it justifies under its now-limitless taxation authority. See the commentary on The TaxProf Blog.

Then there's this: "Maybe the most depressing aspect of the decision is the way it seems to endorse using the tax law as the Swiss Army Knife of public policy. Things that Congress can’t enact any other way are now possible if they can somehow be crammed into the tax law" (boldface original).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How puny are the works of Man!

Wildfires loom over the Air Force Academy's stadium.

Ich bin What? -

Ich bin What? -

Contrary to popular myth, President Kennedy did not actually say (unintentionally), "I am a jelly doughnut" when he uttered his famous line in Berlin, "Ich bin ein Berliner."

Ja, there is a variety of jelly-filled doughnut known as a berliner. But despite the legend, the Berliners (note difference in case between "berliner" and "Berliner" - it is significant in German) who gathered to hear Kennedy that day in 1963 did not understand him to mean that, despite his use of the definite article, "ein." True, in hoch Deutsch, or "proper" German, the definite article is omitted before proper nouns. For example, I learned when I lived in Germany to say, "Ich bin Amerikanische offizier," not "ein Amerikanische offizier."

But that's the "King's German," so to speak. In fact, the city's residents in that day colloquially spoke so that to omit the definite article was to say one was a native-born Berliner, and to include it meant a non-native resident, or to be in solidarity with the people of the city.

Turns out that JFK's utterance of the phrase was accidentally correct, not accidentally wrong.

Stay out of Syria!

Blackfive has an excellent post entitled simply, "THERE IS NO US NATIONAL SECURITY INTEREST IN A SYRIAN INTERVENTION." Which is exactly right. As I have mentioned before, the Syrian rebels are not Jeffersonian wanna-bes and the Syrian rebellion is not about freedom. Walter Russell Mead cuts to the heart of the matter about The Real News From Syria:
[R]adical and Salafist sheikhs and organizations in the Gulf are getting into the weapons delivery act. For many jihadis, the fight against Assad is first and foremost a struggle against Alawite “heretics”, and the goal is to build a radical Islamic state on the ruins of Ba’athist, secular Syria.
If the rebels win, expect a bloodbath of non-Sunnis, especially the Alawites and Christians. Now over to Blackfive:
Now the backstory, so you at least understand why this presents a possibility of NATO, and thus the US, being pulled into such an intervention (possibly willingly, I’ll get to that later).  It comes from Andrew McCarty at PJ Media:
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a Sunni Islamic supremacist with longstanding ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Sunni supremacist organization. The Brotherhood isleading the mujahideen (called the “opposition” or the “rebels” by the mainstream media) that seeks to oust the Assad regime in Syria — dominated by the Alawites, a minority Shiite sect. Unsurprisingly, then, Turkey’s government has taken a very active role in abetting the Brotherhood’s operations against the Syrian regime, which have also been joined by al-Qaeda and other Sunni militants. 
On Friday, a Turkish air force jet entered Syrian air space, and Assad regime forces shot it down. Turkey claims the jet “mistakenly” cruised over Syria, and that, by the time it was taken down, it was in international air space over the Mediterranean. One need carry no brief for Assad to conclude that, given the interventionist drum-beat for no-fly zones and direct military and logistical aid to the “opposition,” Syria rationally took the presence of a Turkish military aircraft in its air space as a provocation. Turkey insists it was not “spying” — that this was just an accident to which Syria overreacted. That would be a good argument if the regime were not under siege and if the Syrian and Turkish governments had not been exchanging hostile words (mostly, threats from Erdogan) for months. That, of course, is not the case.
Confused?  Well don’t be.  This is just another chapter in the eternal war between the Sunnis and Shiites and between the religious and secular.
But the movement of forces on the ground or in the air are not the real point. This is:
Point: This is not a NATO or US fight.  This is something that we should stay as far from as we can.  
Politics, however, will be integral to any decision made at this point, at least in the US. Domestic electoral politics.  What scares me is the possibility the Obama administration may conclude it is a good idea politically to use NATO to “change the subject” and make Obama a “war time President” hoping the advantages of that situation will make the difference in November.  And it wouldn’t be a unilateral decision, but instead receive bi-partisan support as Sen. McCain and other GOP members have been outspoken in their desire to intervene. 
Call me paranoid but I find nothing in my analysis that’s at all infeasible or improbable.  In fact, having watched this administration at work, I consider it to be a completely possible scenario.
Fortunately, NATO is toothless and broke. But Blackfive is right: this is completely plausible. However, I would rate it as unlikely for the following two reasons.

1. The NATO nations, except Canada (!), are broke. With the very possible imminent collapse of the Euro, NATO nations have every incentive to avoid expeditionary expenditures. I this reason alone obviates the possibility of Chapter 5 being successfully invoked by Turkey.

2. Angela Merkel and most of the rest of NATO's heads of state are more than aware of the basic facts of the Sunni/al-Qaeda grab for power in Syria, and are not going to bring down Assad to bring up the Islamists. They are also well aware that the bloody aftermath in Libya is not even an opening act for that would follow in Syria if the "resistance" topples Assad. NATO's countries are also much closer, literally and figuratively, to Russia; the weight of the Russian Bear's opposition will press much more heavily on Eur-NATO than us.

I would add that NATO's Euro nations have almost no strategic "throw" to bring effective forces against Assad. At the minimum they would have to rail through Turkey while also forming naval forces off Syria (where only two Russian cruisers would form a no-cross line that not one Eur-NATO head of state would dare cross).

As bloody and tyrannical as Assad is, it will not be an improvement to see Assad replaced by Sunnis in Syria. We must stay out of Syria, militarily. (This is all more the reason for the United States to quit NATO's military pact.)  

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Complaining of kindness

A Christian blogging under the name of Eutychus recounts how tremendously upset the Roman-era authorities were because of the ministries of the early Christians.
When famine struck Armenia during the reign of Maximus, Christians lent assistance to the poor regardless of religious affiliation. Eusebius, the great 4th century ecclesiastical historian, tells us that as a result of the Christian's good example many pagans made inquiry "about a religion whose disciples are capable of such interested devotion." Julian the Apostate, who detested Christianity, complained of Christian kindness toward the poor:

"These impious Galileans not only feed their own poor, but ours also; welcoming them to their agape, they attract them, as children are attracted, with cakes."

The early church institutionalized the care of widows and orphans and saw after the needs of the sick, especially during epidemics. During the pestilences that struck Carthage and Alexandria, Christians earned respect and admiration for the bravery with which they consoled the dying and buried the dead, at a time when the pagans abandoned even their friends to their terrible fate.

The third century bishop and church father Saint Cyprian rebuked the pagan population for not helping the victims of the plague, preferring instead to plunder them. This exhortation of St Cyprian was all the more curious when one considers that this was a time of intermittent persecution of Christians. Meaning the bishop was asking followers to help the very people who had at times persecuted them. "If we are the children of God...let us prove it by our acts, by blessing those who curse us, and doing good to those who persecute us."  ... 
When we are born, we are self centered narcissists, we believe the world revolves around us. Left to our own devices we will remain that way. Thank God, he has not left us to our own devices. 

The Top Ten Reasons to Be a Methodist

From Alan Bevere's site, link at bottom.
From my teacher and friend, Ben Witherington:

(with apologies to and adaptation from Robin Williams Top Ten Reasons to be an Episcopalian).

10. No snake handling (a real sales feature in Kentucky).

9. You can believe in dinosaurs.

8. Male and female God created them, male and female we ordain them.

7. You don't have to check your brains at the door.

6. Even cross and flame boxer shorts are not considered a tacky Christmas gift for clergy in the UMC.

5. The church year is color coded, to make it easier to follow.

4. No alcoholic has to worry about communion causing a relapse.

3. You don't have to know how to swim to get baptized.

2. All are welcome to come as they are, but none are allowed to stay as they are— 'you must be born again and justified'!

1. We have the best hymns— hands down, even if your hands are up while singing them.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Prominent atheist blogger converts to Catholicism

Prominent atheist blogger converts to Catholicism – CNN Belief Blog - Blogs:
Libresco says one of the most common questions she has received is how she'll deal with atheists now. 
“The great thing about a lot of the atheist and skeptic community is that people talk more critically about ideas and want to see proof provided,” Libresco said. “That kind of analytical thinking is completely useful and the Catholic Church doesn’t need to and should not be afraid of because if you’ve got the facts on your side, you hope they win.” 
Libresco is just switching the side she thinks the facts are on.
God wins in the end.

Four words

"Go and make disciples."

Seems clear.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Science Daily: "Belief in Hell, According to International Data, Is Associated With Reduced Crime"

ScienceDaily (June 19, 2012) — Religions are thought to serve as bulwarks against unethical behaviors. However, when it comes to predicting criminal behavior, the specific religious beliefs one holds is the determining factor, says a University of Oregon psychologist. 
The study, appearing in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE, found that criminal activity is higher in societies where people's religious beliefs contain a strong punitive component than in places where religious beliefs are more benevolent. A country where many more people believe in heaven than in hell, for example, is likely to have a much higher crime rate than one where these beliefs are about equal. The finding surfaced from a comprehensive analysis of 26 years of data involving 143,197 people in 67 countries. 
"The key finding is that, controlling for each other, a nation's rate of belief in hell predicts lower crime rates, but the nation's rate of belief in heaven predicts higher crime rates, and these are strong effects," said Azim F. Shariff, professor of psychology and director of the Culture and Morality Lab at the UO. "I think it's an important clue about the differential effects of supernatural punishment and supernatural benevolence. The finding is consistent with controlled research we've done in the lab, but here shows a powerful 'real world' effect on something that really affects people -- crime." 
Last year, in the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, Shariff reported that undergraduate students were more likely to cheat when they believe in a forgiving God than a punishing God. 
Religious belief generally has been viewed as "a monolithic construct," Shariff said. "Once you split religion into different constructs, you begin to see different relationships. In this study, we found two differences that go in opposite directions. If you look at overall religious belief, these separate directions are washed out and you don't see anything. There's no hint of a relationship." 
The new findings, he added, fit into a growing body of evidence that supernatural punishment had emerged as a very effective cultural innovation to get people to act more ethically with each other. In 2003, he said, Harvard University researchers Robert J. Barro and Rachel M. McCleary had found that gross domestic product was higher in developed countries when people believed in hell more than they did in heaven. 
"Supernatural punishment across nations seems to predict lower crime rates," Shariff said. "At this stage, we can only speculate about mechanisms, but it's possible that people who don't believe in the possibility of punishment in the afterlife feel like they can get away with unethical behavior. There is less of a divine deterrent." 
He added, however, that these are correlational data, and so caution should be taken with the conclusions. Though Shariff and study co-author Mijke Rhemtulla of the Center for Research Methods and Data Analysis at the University of Kansas tried to account for obvious alternative explanations, more research is needed to explore other interpretations for the findings. 
"This research provides new insights into the potential influences of cultural and religious beliefs on key outcomes at a societal level," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, vice president for research and innovation. "Although these findings may be controversial, dissecting the associations between specific belief systems and epidemiologic behaviors is an important first step for social scientists to disentangle the complex web of factors that motivate human behavior."

Naturally, that there is any substance behind beliefs in heaven or hell is not something that the scientists are willing even to entertain. Nor do they seem cognizant that the concepts of heavenly reward or hellish punishment are very limited among the world's religions. The Eastern Mystic religions have no such categories, nor did African nature religions. Nor did Meso- and South American native religions. In the Mayan religion, for example,
... the afterlife consisted primarily of a dangerous voyage of the soul through the underworld, which was populated by sinister gods and represented by the jaguar, symbol of night. The majority of Maya, including the rulers, went to this underworld. Heaven was reserved for those who had been sacrificed or died in childbirth.
Mayans did not connect their fate in the afterlife to morality or lawfulness while living.

I am skeptical of this study mainly because of its apparent religious homogenization across the 67 countries and because there are hugely significant differences between how different religions describe, define or prescribe moral or even legal behavior. Unquestionably, Canada and Saudi Arabia have widely differing teachings on those subject, yet both countries' dominant religion teach of heaven and hell as a consequence of earthly conduct. Sorry, it sounds lie another case of "I know what I want to prove, now let me generate the data to prove it."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Watch how you say what you say

A display window inside the student activity building at Tennessee Tech University.  I snapped the photos when my wife and I took our daughter to orientation there. 

I have to wonder whether this shows that racial sensitivity has improved or not. I could argue both ways.

Jesus drove people away

Timothy Dalrymple:
... Surely Jesus gave “the FULL gospel,” right? And yet Jesus “lost” followers by droves. I agree with Kierkegaard on this: when you give the full gospel, you will drive people away. Narrow is the way and few will walk upon it. When confronted with the full gospel, not only in its attractiveness but also in its offensiveness and its challenge, in the way it calls us to die to ourselves and then take up the cross daily, we’re more likely to thin the flock than to fill it. Thousands followed Jesus when they thought he might serve their worldly interests; when the teaching grew hard, and the sacrifice he required became clear, only the twelve remained — “and one of you is a devil.” Jesus was not exactly concerned with dwindling numbers. He wanted true followers. Consider that. The greatest preacher in the history of Christianity drove them away by the thousands.
John chapter 6:
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[e] and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” 
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” 
70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
Do you see the "dog that did not bark?" When " many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him," Jesus did not go running after them to beg them to reconsider or offer to tone things down if they'd come back. Instead, he turned to the Twelve and basically asked them what they were still doing here! I have a nagging suspicion that when we try to make following Jesus appealing to the masses, we are not being faithful to Jesus' example. But I don't like that, either.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Syria rebellion is not about freedom

As usual, Walter Russell Mead cuts to the heart of the matter about The Real News From Syria:

[R]adical and Salafist sheikhs and organizations in the Gulf are getting into the weapons delivery act. For many jihadis, the fight against Assad is first and foremost a struggle against Alawite “heretics”, and the goal is to build a radical Islamic state on the ruins of Ba’athist, secular Syria.
If the rebels win, expect a bloodbath of non-Sunnis, especially the Alawites and Christians.

"Possibly the Worst Church Website in the World"

Possibly the Worst Church Website in the World: 

Who says Flash is dead?

Yes, it is truly a dreadful website, whether of a church or anything else.

The end of the doofus family man?

The scorn and disdain of which Hollywood and the entertainment industry had held the family man may be finally coming to an end. Though the trope still has a long way to do before it's buried, as Glenn points out,
... with the number of stay-at-home dads doubling over the last decade, their purchasing power will influence advertisers. When women did all the shopping, it was easy to diss men.
We can see this evolution even in the ads of the same company - Exhibit A - remember this ad of the helpless, frustrated husband whose independent, assertive wife saves him from his own stupidity? Whether the company got a lot of protests I don't know, but the present ad featuring the same character morphs him into a wise, mentoring dad who patiently helps his daughter. Is this the harbinger of a new trend? Slate thinks so. Bookmark and Share