Saturday, July 5, 2008


Here's a video of our troops, over a thousand of them, massing in one of Saddam's former palaces in Baghdad to re-enlist on the 4th of July:

Contrary to what the media have been telling us, they don't seem to be suffering overmuch from low morale nor do they appear particularly dispirited, but then perhaps the camera is too far removed to tell. Reports from the ceremony tell us that neither Alex nor his mommy made it to the event.


Jesse Helms

National Review Online has a couple of articles on former Senator Jesse Helms who passed away on Friday at the age of 86. Helms was much maligned by the left (even in death), and much misunderstood by them as well, but he was a powerful voice for freedom in the United States Senate.

This interview from a couple of years ago is helpful in illuminating the man's thought and personality, and John Fund writes a warts-and-all appraisal of Helms at Wall Street Journal.


Shifting Sand

Political context is important in understanding Senator Obama's position on Iraq. The speech (see video below) in September was delivered when he was in quest of the Democratic nomination for President and vying with Senator Clinton for the anti-war vote by declaring that he would end the war as soon as logistically possible. The impression he gave in this speech was that he would begin as soon as he was in office to bring the troops home. He later gave a deadline of 16 months to have all combat troops out of Iraq. His anti-war supporters clearly thought that Obama would end the war in Iraq regardless of the consequences for the Iraqi people and that's the main reason for his enthusiastic support from the left.

Now he has the nomination and he seems to have abandoned the idea that the troops will come home ASAP. Instead he will refine his position depending upon what the military commanders in Iraq tell him, i.e. if they think the troops should stay there for five more years well, then, they very well might stay there five more years.

I imagine that the anti-war left is feeling a certain degree of betrayal right now. Perhaps they'll continue to support the Senator because they assume he's just saying what he has to say in order to get elected. In other words, they'll support him if they think he's lying, which presumably they're willing to tolerate as long as he's lying to centrist voters and not to them.

Exit Question: What is the difference between Obama's "refined" position on Iraq and McCain's position? Will anyone in the media ask him?

HT: Hot Air.


Drill Here, Drill Now

If you think we should be extracting oil from domestic supplies to reduce dependence on foreign oil you might wish to sign a petition to that effect at Newt Gingrich's American Solutions.

Although I strongly favor increasing our domestic production there are some caveats and we need to consider and some concessions from the oil companies we need to demand:

  • It will take some time to get the wells and rigs built to access the oil. The benefit from drilling will not necessarily be immediate.
  • The amount of oil we can bring to market will still be limited by our refinery capacity.
  • Part of the price the oil companies must be expected to pay is that domestic oil be sold on domestic markets. To open up ANWR so that Exxon can sell oil to India makes no sense.
  • Domestic oil must be seen as a stopgap, not a long term solution.
  • Oil companies should be required to purchase a negotiated number of square miles to our national park or wildlife refuge system for every square mile of public land they use for drilling.

The God Delusion, Ch. 10

In the concluding chapter of The God Delusion Richard Dawkins ventures an explanation for how religions came to be. The short of it is that he thinks they may be an outgrowth of the childhood trait of having an invisible friend. He has no evidence of this to offer us, of course, so he moves on to other matters on which he can favor us with his silly speculations.

For example he castigates people who believe in eternal life for what he sees as the inconsistency of grieving at the death of a loved one. If religious people really believed in heaven why shouldn't they rejoice at the loved one's good fortune, he asks? Aside from the fact that grief is an emotion we feel because we are suffering a loss, not because our loved one is experiencing gain, Dawkins doesn't seem to realize that he has just spent pages deploring Islamists for acting completely consistently with their belief in eternal life when they sacrifice themselves in their suicide bombings. He is appalled that people believe in an eternal reward and act in accord with that belief and then we turn the page to find him scoffing at people who believe in an eternal reward and act in ways he thinks to be at odds with that belief. Dawkins' greatest consistency in TGD is his inconsistency.

He rules out miracles because they are so highly improbable, and then in the very next paragraph he tells us that evolution, which seems highly improbable, is almost inevitable, given the vastness of time. But if time and the existence of an infinite number of worlds make the improbable inevitable why doesn't that work for miracles as well? To apply Dawkinsian reasoning, in all the zillions of universes of the Many Worlds landscape there has to be at least one in which a man capable of working miracles is born and himself rises from the dead. We just happen to be in the world in which it happens. Why should the Many worlds Hypotheisis be able to explain the fine-tuning of the cosmos and the origin of life but not a man rising from the dead?

He argues that the fact that there is no afterlife should make this life all the more precious, but what it really does is make this life utterly meaningless. Death is the big eraser. It negates everything we've ever done. It renders everything pointless and absurd. Dawkins avers that his life is meaningful because he fills it with a "systematic endeavor to find out the truth about the real world," but for what end? When he dies whatever knowledge he has acquired will do him no good. He is like a man on his death bed trying to master a new language. It gives him something to do, like working crossword puzzles, but what does it really matter?

The Christian, on the other hand, views death from this side of it as a tragedy, a terrible evil, but from the other side as little more than an unpleasant interruption of one's ongoing life. All that we do in this life matters forever. There's a purpose in learning the language even late in one's life because it'll be something which will be useful and give one pleasure on the other side of death. There's a purpose in scientific study because what we learn here and now will be useful in eternity. But if death is the end then there's no purpose in anything and all that matters now is avoiding pain and experiencing pleasure.

The terrible irony is that Dawkins could be doing the science he loves and to which he is devoted, or something like it, forever. Tragically, though, he chooses to empty his love of real significance by despising the God which is the only ground of the truth and knowledge he longs to attain.

The God Delusion has been acclaimed by atheists around the world, but in fact they should be hoping to see the book pass quickly into oblivion. It will do more to set back their cause among intelligent readers than anything Christians could do. If this is the best that the atheist can muster as an argument against God, the seeker might rightly reason, then perhaps the case against God is not nearly as strong as he had thought. Indeed, TGD is a book which might be read and discussed by every Christian who wrestles with doubt. A thoughtful reading will allay the doubts and persuade the doubter that the case against God is, at bottom, pretty anemic.