Monday, January 1, 2007

Chavez Taking Over

Hugo Chavez is shutting down a television station in Venezuela which air material he deems a threat to his power:

In an address to troops, Mr Chavez said he would not tolerate media outlets working towards a coup against him. Radio Caracas Television, which is aligned with the opposition, supported a strike against Mr Chavez in 2003.

But the TV's head said there must be some mistake as its licence was not up for renewal in the near future. Marcel Granier also vowed to fight against the president's plans in Venezuela's courts and on the international stage. Mr Chavez, who was returned to power by a wide margin on 3 December, said Mr Granier was mistaken in believing "that concession is eternal".

"It runs out in March. So it's better that you go and prepare your suitcase and look around for what you're going to do in March," he said during a televised speech to soldiers at a military academy in Caracas. "There will be no new operating licence for this coupist TV channel called RCTV. The operating licence is over... So go and turn off the equipment," Mr Chavez said.

Mr Chavez said the channel was "at the service of coups against the people, against the nation, against national independence, against the dignity of the republic". The channel is among a number of private TV and radio networks that in recent years have strongly criticized Mr Chavez' government and favoured the opposition.

Many media outlets, including RCTV, supported a bungled coup in 2002 and a devastating general strike in 2003 that failed to unseat the president. The press freedom campaign group, Reporters Without Borders, said the proposed move would be a grave violation of freedom of expression in Venezuela.

RCTV is one of the country's oldest channels and began broadcasting in 1953.

This is not surprising, of course, since it is always one of the first acts of those who aspire to dictatorial power to seize control of the media or to shut it down. It'll be interesting to see how Chavez's fan club among American leftists reacts to this incipient act of tyranny.

Cindy Sheehan and Hugo Chavez: Best Buds


Trusting State

Why do some people have the feeling that our own Department of State can't be trusted? Well, perhaps one reason is that the State Department seems to have known for years that Yassir Arafat was implicated in the murders of Americans in a terrorist strike in Khartoum in 1973, but they did nothing to publicize it. They did nothing to see that the man be brought to justice. Instead, they were content to let anyone gullible enough to believe that Arafat deserved his Nobel Peace Prize to go on believing it. Captain Ed sums up:

The State Department had proof all along that Yasser Arafat not only masterminded this attack, but deliberately plotted to kill American diplomats as a means to pressure the US out of the Middle East. In other words, the PLO/Fatah/BSO conducted a terrorist attack on American interests, murdered Americans, and got away with it. They sat on this information while the US insisted on negotiating with Arafat, even though many suspected he had planned the murders all along.

The State Department should have warned successive administrations from dealing with this terrorist and instead recommended that we capture him and try him for the murders of Noel and Moore. These men worked for the State Department themselves. I guess the lesson here is that State won't lift a finger to bring assassins of diplomats to justice, a lesson that current diplomats may want to consider now.

Laer at Cheat Seeking Missiles has a personal connection to one of the victims. Read his post on the murders. Upon reading it one has cause to wonder about the judgment of former President Jimmy Carter.


Twenty Favorites For 2006

Herewith my list (by topic) of the twenty books I read (or reread) in 2006 which I enjoyed the most. I'd be interested in hearing from readers about which books they'd put on their list. If anyone sends such a list (It doesn't need to be twenty. It might be only one) I'd be happy to post it.


America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It by Mark Steyn - An absolute must read. Steyn argues that Europe as a cultural entity is doomed. There is no realistic way to reverse the trends that are turning Europe into Eurabia.
State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America by Pat Buchanan - Buchanan builds a powerful case against the current policy of turning a blind eye to immigration from the southern hemisphere, particularly illegal immigration. No one who reads this book will think the same way about immigration as they did before reading it.
White Guilt by Shelby Steele - Every page of this book has at least one gem of a thought about how we have come to be in the racial predicament we're in. The problem, Steele argues, is that whites are so loaded with racial guilt that they have no will to do the right thing and blacks and Hispanics are all too eager to exploit that guilt for their own purposes.
The Evolution/Creation Struggle by Michael Ruse - A sympathetic look at the conflict between two apparently irreconcilable camps. Ruse is partial to the Darwinians but is generally even-handed in his treatment of Intelligent Design advocates.


The Road by Cormac McCarthy - A story of the love between a father and his son as they struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. On a deeper level it seems to be a bleak description of the meaninglessness of modern life.
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown - A page turner similar to the later DaVinci Code. Especially good reading if the reader has been to Rome.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The classic story of a man named Raskolnikov who actually tries to live as a Nietzschean superman. He's a man whose values are what he decides them to be. The novel was apparently Woody Allen's inspiration for both Crimes and Misdemeanors and Match Point.
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - A wonderful story of an elderly man, a pastor, close to the end of his life who had married a younger woman in his congregation and had a son late in his life. The narrative is actually a journal the father is keeping as a letter to his son with the intention of having his son read it when he is older and after the father is gone. Beautifully written.


Warranted Christian Belief (reread) by Alvin Plantinga - A classic both in epistemology and in Christian apologetics. It devastates both liberal theology and atheistic pretensions to superior rationality.
What Can We Know (reread) by Louis Pojman - An excellent introduction to the issues and problems of epistemology.
Nature, Design and Science by Del Ratszch - An excellent work by one of the best philosophers of science. He considers the nature of science and the nature of various theories of design and argues cogently that science does not, or at least should not, exclude such theories.
Agents Under Fire: Materialism and the Rationality of Science by Angus Menugue - A powerful critique of materialistic reductionism, the belief that everything, including mind, is reducible to matter and energy.
Who's Afraid of Post-Modernism by James Smith - Smith sympathetically examines the thought of Lyotard, Derrida, and Foucault and finds that, properly understood and despite their shortcomings, there's much in these three post-modern thinkers that Christians can embrace with profit.
Abolition of Man (reread) by C.S. Lewis - Lewis' classic essay in protest of modernity's attempt to deify man which actually has resulted in his dehumanization.


Privileged Planet by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards - The earth is very likely unique in the universe not only in terms of its ability to sustain life but also in terms of the opportunity the physical properties of the earth offer intelligent inhabitants to make discoveries about the universe.
Life's Solutions: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe by Simon Conway Morris - Conway Morris argues very persuasively that evolution repeatedly finds, or converges upon, the same solutions to biological problems and that if the tape were run again something very like the organisms we are familiar with would recur.The interesting point to be made is that it seems that the laws of chemistry and physics impose constraints that force evolution in certain directions, almost as if it had been planned that way.
The Soul of Science (reread) by Nancy Pearcy - A fine, engaging history of the development of modern science and the Christian influence on that development.


Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis - This is Lewis' spiritual autobiography, and I should have read it long before now.


Nothing Like it in the World by Stephen Ambrose - A history of the building of the transcontinental railroad. A little too heavy on the financial machinations behind this monumental project, but much of the story is otherwise fascinating.
America's Secret War by George Friedman - An enthralling account of the political and military decisions made by the Bush administration from 9/11 through the war in Afghanistan. The Bush people look better and smarter than their critics allow and worse than their supporters would hope.

In my opinion the first two books in the list are the most important, but they were all good reads.

Best wishes for a safe and rewarding 2007.