Saturday, April 25, 2009

Naked Celebrities and The Porn Myth

Recently, Allure magazine made the headlines, at least briefly, with five beautiful women it convinced to "bare all" for its magazine. The blurb went like this:

Allure asked five celebrities to bare it all for the camera. Learn what they had to say about self-esteem, their bodies, and stripping down; for more of our revealing interviews with them,...

"Self-esteem, their bodies and stripping down." There are many posts possible in these few lines. But I was drawn to one in particular. Mainly, why would they do this? What is the motivation for a beautiful woman to want to share that gift with the world and what is the difference between this and stripping and frankly, prostitution, because stripped (sorry) to its basic argument isn't that just another form of sharing yourself with others for their amusement?

OK perhaps the last part goes to far and I've actually asked more than one question there but still...

I was reminded of an article that I read many years ago, from feminist writer Naomi Wolf. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I was able to find the article, which in part said this:

I will never forget a visit I made to Ilana, an old friend who had become an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem. When I saw her again, she had abandoned her jeans and T-shirts for long skirts and a head scarf. I could not get over it. Ilana has waist-length, wild and curly golden-blonde hair. “Can’t I even see your hair?” I asked, trying to find my old friend in there. “No,” she demurred quietly. “Only my husband,” she said with a calm sexual confidence, “ever gets to see my hair.”
When she showed me her little house in a settlement on a hill, and I saw the bedroom, draped in Middle Eastern embroideries, that she shares only with her husband—the kids are not allowed—the sexual intensity in the air was archaic, overwhelming. It was private. It was a feeling of erotic intensity deeper than any I have ever picked up between secular couples in the liberated West. And I thought: Our husbands see naked women all day—in Times Square if not on the Net. Her husband never even sees another woman’s hair.

She must feel, I thought, so hot.

Compare that steaminess with a conversation I had at Northwestern, after I had talked about the effect of porn on relationships. “Why have sex right away?” a boy with tousled hair and Bambi eyes was explaining. “Things are always a little tense and uncomfortable when you just start seeing someone,” he said. “I prefer to have sex right away just to get it over with. You know it’s going to happen anyway, and it gets rid of the tension.”

Isn’t the tension kind of fun?” I asked. “Doesn’t that also get rid of the mystery?”

“Mystery?” He looked at me blankly. And then, without hesitating, he replied: “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Sex has no mystery.”(more)

Much the same thing was said in the book "Everyman's Battle". One of the suggestions to men struggling against the lure of pornography and its addictive qualities and consequent detriment to marriages was to "starve their eyes" during the course of the day. Because to do otherwise, particularly with pornography (but in other ways too) cheats our spouses (and future spouses) of full devotion.

Wolf understands this:

The reason to turn off the porn might become, to thoughtful people, not a moral one but, in a way, a physical- and emotional-health one; you might want to rethink your constant access to porn in the same way that, if you want to be an athlete, you rethink your smoking. The evidence is in: Greater supply of the stimulant equals diminished capacity. (more)

After all, pornography works in the most basic of ways on the brain: It is Pavlovian. An orgasm is one of the biggest reinforcers imaginable. If you associate orgasm with your wife, a kiss, a scent, a body, that is what, over time, will turn you on; if you open your focus to an endless stream of ever-more-transgressive images of cybersex slaves, that is what it will take to turn you on. The ubiquity of sexual images does not free eros but dilutes it.(more)
Yes, I've seen the pictures. They are beautiful and, I might add, tastefully done but something still nags my mind about it all. That these beautiful creations have felt the need to share their charms with many for sake of self-esteem and curiosity rather than with one in favor of chastity and mystery.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Miss California's Warning for All of Us

I haven't been much interested in the Miss USA pageant since I quit salivating over the lingerie adds in the newspaper back in Jr High. But unless you've been under a rock the last few days you have no doubt been hearing of the brouhaha over Miss California's response to the question on same sex "marriage."

A nice summary can be found over at Pearl Diver:

So Miss California got baited and reeled in at the Miss USA Pageant. And, of course, now she’s being fried by the oh-so-neutral mainstream media we’ve all come to know and love. I am so proud to be a Californian right now! First, We the People speak our minds and establish that in California, marriage is between one man and one woman. Then, our “little Miss,” responds to a loaded question posed by gay blogger, Perez Hilton, with a very diplomatic, but firm response, “I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised.” (more)

Pearl goes on to discuss an interesting phenomenon with the searches on the subject focusing on the possibility that Miss C might be a Mormon. It's an interesting read as is the rest the blog over at Pearl's place.

But something caught my eye while reading the comments section. Avery interesting comment from Opine Editorials that said this:

"Miss Prejean is currently a student at San Diego Christian College, which is associated with Shadow Mountain Community Church at whose International Ministry Center Miss Prejean has volunteered. While virtually any faith would be proud to count Miss Prejean a member, it appears she is currently affiliated Southern Baptist.Here's the wrinkle: Miss Prejean's educational background would have been part of her application for the Miss USA pageant, to which all judges would have been given access. Mr. Hilton likely knew Miss Prejean's Christian faith when he targeted his highly divisive question at her. Donald Trump, the pageant owner, attributes the question to her "bad luck." I'm not so sure."

And I think he is on to something here. I think Miss California was targeted specifically for her views on this subject and I think it bodes ill for all of us.

STR says this:

The fact is, decent Americans are the ones being bullied here, citizens who are people of conscience, overflowing with tolerance in the classic sense, but are being pushed around and oppressed because they disagree with the extreme views of the minority. Instead of making the case for traditional marriage, maybe we should also point out what's really going on behind the rhetoric that appeals to fairness and equality.

Let me tell you what’s really going on here.
Good people with honest differences with the Homosexual agenda are being bullied.

First, Americans are incredibly tolerant of homosexuality, especially considering the moral concerns lots of folks have with it. Same-sex couples have been getting married for years in private ceremonies. No one interferes, and no one should.

Americans are happy to give equal rights, and that is done virtually everywhere. However, they do not want their arms twisted into approving something they do not think is good for America or for families. That’s the real issue. (more)

The expansion of hate law legislation ( a dubious idea to begin with) only adds to the concern for the loss of religious freedom and free speech.
Hate Crimes Legislation Draws Criticism from Christian Groups

And in order to pass the legislation proponents often (surprise) play fast and loose with the facts.

From OneNewsNow
Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition, notes that Democrats were forced to eliminate a key portion of the bill -- the findings section. "We exposed the fact that they claimed, they have fraudulent claims that there was an epidemic of hate against homosexuals and drag queens, transgenders -- and that claim was the foundation of the bill," she notes. "They claimed that homosexuals are fleeing across state lines to avoid persecution, and that perpetrators are crossing state lines to commit crimes against these gays, lesbians, and transgenders, and that they have trouble purchasing goods and services or finding employment. We nailed them on the fact that that's a lie." Lafferty says during yesterday's markup hearing, Democrats neglected to mention that in America -- a country of 300 million people -- there have been only 1,521 cases of hate against homosexual, bisexual, and transgender people. (more)

Lifesite shows us what may be at stake:

...In a motion almost completely ignored by the mainstream media, the Judiciary Committee voted 15-12 to allow the hotly contested H.R. 1913, known as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Act of 2009, to go forward.

The measure would grant the federal government a new authority to prosecute any violent crime anywhere in the country that is perceived to be "motivated by prejudice" against a number of protected characteristics, including "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."
Christian leaders are particularly concerned that attempts to secure the right to speak against the homosexual lifestyle and its normalization have failed. Among many rejected proposals for the bill was one offered by Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, which would have included a clause ensuring ministers could not be prosecuted for abetting a "hate crime" because they preached the Christian perspective on homosexuality.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the Congressman who introduced the bill, claimed the bill posed no danger to Christian free speech, saying that it "only applies to bias-motivated violent crimes and does not impinge public speech or writing in any way." Section 10 of H.R. 1913 states: "Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of, the First Amendment to the Constitution."

Yet free speech advocates have pointed out that under current U.S. law, any action that "abets, counsels, commands, [or] induces" a perceived "hate crime" shares in the guilt of that crime, and is therefore punishable.

The danger posed by the "hate crime" legislation to Christian ministers was confirmed when Congress considered practically identical legislation in 2007. Then, Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., admitted during a hearing on the measure that it could be used to prosecute pastors for preaching the biblical perspective on homosexuality, given the perception that it may have "induced" a later hate crime.

…and now, a brief word from our Illustrious Potentate…

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Prayer Study

Prayer was to be a focus for me in the New Year. It was to be the focus of my church and the Sunday School class I teach. I even started an new blog back in January that would focus on the subject. The last post on the blog was February 7 right before I started my various hospital/doctor visits.

I have found that when I am tired or sick my formal prayer times dwindle. I still prayed, like when I was placed in a quiet room in the back of the ER at about 1 in the morning and was overcome with a very real sense I was dying. I prayed that I wouldn't die that way, at that time, in that place, knowing full well I had no say in the matter. I realized I wasn't really prepared to die and we all, as Christians, should be prepared to do just that, everyday. For I think it is in being prepared to die (and knowing that you can't kill us) that allows us to live life in ways that otherwise would not be possible. (that whole loving your enemy thing and loving God with all strength, heart and mind) But that is another post.

Something akin to this train of thought was written over at STR some time ago and is worth a read.

We have begun reading Richard Foster's "Prayer" in our Sunday School. I thought I would share some of his thoughts in the notes I've taken for the class:

True prayer is nothing but love. – St Augustine

God aches over our distance and preoccupation and mourns that we do not draw near to Him. He grieves that we have forgotten him. He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness. He longs for our presence.

He is inviting us to come home.

Regardless of our situation- the Father’s heart is open wide and you are welcome to come in.

Loving is the syntax of prayer.

The first prayer Foster talks about is called "Simple Prayer."

To pray is to change. But the movement is first inward to protect us from being overwhelmed by God’s glory.

Simple Prayer- the prayer of beginning again

We yearn and hide from prayer.
Our busyness is a smoke screen as we are never to busy to eat or sleep or making love.

There are a number of “somethings” keeping us from praying. First is the notion that things must be just right, that our lives require fine tuning before we can really pray.

We all come to prayer with a tangled mass of motives- altruistic and selfish, merciful and hateful, loving and bitter.

This side of heaven we will never have pure enough motives, or be good enough or know enough to pray rightly. It is in the very act of prayer that these things are addressed in due time.

In Simple prayer we bring ourselves before God, warts and all. In a very real sense Simple Prayer is about us. We are the focus- our wants, needs and concerns.

The most common form of prayer in the Bible. Examples of these are Moses complaining and Elisha retaliating against the children who jeered. But in the midst of these self-centered prayers something more arises.

Simple prayer is beginning prayer. It is daily bread. It is daily needs and we will never outgrow it.

When we pray...the real condition of our heart is revealed. This is when God truly begins to work with us.


To believe that God can reach us and bless us in the ordinary junctures of daily life is the stuff of prayer.

Frustration anger and tears are also the language of Simple Prayer. “Lay before Him what is in us. Not what ought to be in us..” C.S. Lewis

The details of our lives matter to God. Carry on an ongoing conversation with God about the daily stuff of life ala “Fiddler on the Roof.

1. Only one thing is required- Love

2. Never be discouraged by our lack of prayer- “The desire for prayer, is prayer….” Desire leads to practice and practice will increase desire. Give even our lack of prayer to God.

3. Let go of trying too hard to pray lest you get spiritual indigestion. Beware “spiritual greed.” i.e. wanting more of God than can be properly digested.

4. Learn to pray even while we are dwelling on evil. The Lord loves us perhaps most of all-when we fail and try again.

5. In the beginning strive for uneventful prayer experiences


Self-centered, narcissistic, selfishness. Rationalization and manipulation of our experiences so that we hear only what we want to hear. Self consumed we may lose sight of God altogether and worshipping “the creature rather than the Creator”.

Did you read #4? "Learn to pray even while dwelling on evil". That is an incredibly powerful realization is it not? That we can pray in that state? But it is very difficult to do and in fact most of us avoid all contact with God in those moments and those that follow, because we do not feel worthy, when in fact, it is precisley at those times when we should be praying all the more.

I am reminded of a sermon by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in which he prays:

Lord Jesus, come yourself, and dwell with us, be
human as we are, and overcome what overwhelms us.
Come into the midst of my evil, come close to my
unfaithfulness. Share my sin, which I hate and which I
cannot leave. Be my brother, Thou Holy God. Be my
brother in the kingdom of evil and suffering and death.
Come with me in my death, come with me in my suffering,
come with me as I struggle with evil. And make me
holy and pure, despite my sin and death. (Advent Sermon Barcelona 1928)

So I'd like to invite you to come along and join my Sunday School class in reading this book on prayer. I'll post notes as we go along much as we did the Advent Study. May our love of God be increased and our prayer life be enriched by the power of the Holy Spirit as we take this journey.

Don't Believe the Health Hype. Five Fallacies Debunked

A change of pace from Dumb Little Man with commentary by Eutychus...

1. I should exercise in my “fat burning zone.”
A special zone that allows me to burn more fat? Perfect! So you accelerate, check your heart rate, then decelerate and peddle cautiously to ensure you never leave the fat burning zone.According to Michael Brazeal, Director of Fitness and Exercise Physiologist at the California Health and Longevity Institute at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, California, you’ve been misled.
If my heart is beating at all during exercise I figure I''m doing pretty well. No thoughts of "fat burning zones" ever darken my minds door.

2. If I focus on abdominal exercises, I will lose inches off of my waistline.
Remember the video of the woman in the pink leotard trying to trim her waist by being violently jiggled by a vibrating belt machine? Guess what? It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now.
I'm sorry the image of the jiggled woman in a pink leotard got me way off track here..

3. If I do too much weight training, I’m going to look like Schwarzenegger.
Many people like having a toned body, but don’t want a bulky one. As a result, we are suspicious of weight training, scared that the end result will be an overly muscled, Amazonian physique ideal for winning body building competitions. According to Brazeal, that’s a fallacy. “Due to hormonal differences, very few people are capable of achieving exaggerated muscle hypertrophy which is an increase in muscle mass caused by resistance training. Unless you are on some type of supplement, you are not going to bulk up,” says Brazeal. This is a real relief for me as this is the real reason I avoid the gym. (ahem) That and the fact that my dad died at 55 while jogging... but I digress.

4. If I eat meals from the low calorie menu at a restaurant, I’m being responsible.
Just as decadent chocolate desserts tempt us, so do the words guiltless, low fat, low calorie, and heart healthy when they’re printed on the menus at our favorite restaurants. But relinquishing control of what you eat is always suspect no matter how convincing the marketing campaign. I can honestly say I have never been tempted by the words guiltless, low fat, low calorie and heart healthy. Those words might as well be tasteless, boring and "why would I come to a restaurant and eat that." Low fat?- that's like washing your feet with your socks on.

5. If I want to lose weight, I can’t go wrong by eating lots of salads.
The salad myth is wrong for two reasons: salads can be just as high in calories and fat as any other meal (especially when ordered at a restaurant) and your body can feel deprived when it doesn’t receive meals that incorporate all three major food groups. This can cause you to munch relentlessly later on. Two words- "Salad shooter"- nuff said.

The entire article and the rest of the reasons can be found here. (without my commentary)

Iraqi officials say al-Qaida-linked chief Abu Omar al-Baghdadi arrested

From NY Daily News:

BAGHDAD - The suspected leader of an al-Qaida-linked militant network was captured Thursday by Iraqi military forces, security officials said, in what could mark a significant blow against Sunni insurgents as they step up attacks.

Two separate suicide bombings, meanwhile, killed at least 42 people.Abu Omar al-Baghdadi has been a key target for U.S. and Iraqi forces for years as the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group of Sunni militant factions that is believed dominated by al-Qaida in Iraq.

But little is known about his origins or real influence over insurgent groups, which have staged a series of high-profile attacks in recent weeks, including, apparently, the two suicide blasts Thursday in Baghdad and north of the capital in Diyala province.

The U.S. military has even said al-Baghdadi could be a fictitious character used to give an Iraqi face to an organization dominated by foreign al-Qaida fighters.

But Iraqi security forces said he was in custody. (more)

Five Reasons the EPA Should Not Attempt to Deal with Global Warming

Comon Sense form the Heritage:

On April 17, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an endangerment finding, saying that global warming poses a serious threat to public health and safety. Thus, almost anything that emits carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could be regulated under the Clean Air Act. This is the first official action taken by the federal government to regulate carbon dioxide.

The endangerment finding is the initial step in a long regulatory process that could lead to the EPA requiring regulations for almost anything that emits carbon dioxide. Automobiles would likely be the first target, but subsequent regulations could extend to a million or more buildings and small businesses, including hospitals, schools, restaurants, churches, farms, and apartments. The following five reasons explain why this would be a big, costly mistake.

1. It's an Economy Killer
Above anything else, any attempt to reduce carbon dioxide would be poison to an already sick economy. Even when the economy does recover, the EPA's proposed global warming policy would severely limit economic growth.

2. Negligible Environmental Benefit
The extraordinary perils of CO2 regulation for the American economy come with little, if any, environmental benefit.

3. Lack of Scientific Consensus
The scientific consensus behind global warming, especially the seriousness of the impacts, is anything but strong. Last December, the U.S. Senate Minority released a report that included 650 dissenting scientists refuting claims made in the IPCC report.[4] That number has grown to over 700, more than 13 times the number of scientists (52) who had a direct role in the IPCC report.

4. Backdoor Policy
While some Members of Congress undoubtedly support the EPA's attempt to curb global warming, the fact that unelected and unaccountable EPA bureaucrats are trying to bypass legislative efforts makes it all the more objectionable.

5. Expanded Bureaucracy
Having EPA bureaucrats micromanage the economy, all in the name of combating global warming, would be a chilling shift to a command-and-control system in which EPA officials regulate just about every aspect of the market.

go here to read all of the article and the reasins in their entirety

Taliban advance eastward, threaten Islamabad

A few months ago when Pakistan haled it's "cease fire" with the Taliban forces in its eastern provinces, many warned that there would only be a lull before neighboring provinces began to feel the pressure. According to Islamo-fascist doctrine (outlined in the Koran) a cease fire is only a time to consolodate power and re-supply before beginning the war anew.

And here we are. From the Long War Journal:

The Taliban are pushing past the districts of Swat and Buner and are threatening Islamabad, a senior Islamist member of parliament said at a briefing.

The Taliban have consolidated control over the district of Buner and are moving on Mansehra and Haripur. These two regions, which are just on the outskirts of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, have been relatively spared from the violent Taliban insurgency that has plagued the Northwest.

The Taliban have entered the district of Mansehra and are threatening to take control of the Tarbela Dam in neighboring Haripur district, said Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl, an Islamist political party, during a debate in parliament.
"If the Taliban continue to move at this pace, they will soon be knocking at the doors of Islamabad as the Margala Hills seem to be the only hurdle in their march towards the federal capital," Fazl said,
according to a report in The News. "After occupying Buner, they have reached Kala Dhaka and may also be taking over the water reservoir of the Tarbela Dam." (more)

So is Pakistan approaching collapse? Time asks the question here.


Press Release from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM)

Princeton, NJ) - The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) applauds the Connecticut legislature which, in a surprise move today, adopted substantive religious liberty protections as part of what was expected to be a routine bill implementing the Connecticut court decision ordering same-sex marriage. “We are just grateful that the Connecticut legislators acknowledged and addressed the serious potential implications of same-sex marriage for traditional faith communities,” said Maggie Gallagher, president of NOM. “We hope this decision represents a change of heart among gay marriage advocates and a new willingness to accept broad conscience protections.”NOM launched its “Gathering Storm” ad campaign in Connecticut and neighboring states last week to help alert the people to the threat on religious liberty brought on by same sex marriage legislation. Robocall technology was also used to generate citizen outreach to elected officials regarding SB 899, a bill that followed a state Supreme Court decision granting same-sex marriages. “Thousands of ordinary Connecticut voters called up legislators. We are pleased that our Gathering Storm ad campaign could help put this issue on the map even in a blue state like Connecticut,” said Brian Brown, executive director of NOM.

Isn't the Motive Always Hate?

It is expected that the House Judiciary Committee will pass federal hate crimes legislation today, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of federally protected classes.

The fear among many, of course, is that this will be the cover for prosecuting who speak biblical truth about sodomy, as has, in fact, happened in other countries with similar legislation.

“Violent crime is already illegal and there are already penalties available – a gradient of penalties based on severity,” said Matt Barber, director of cultural policy for Liberty Counsel, a religious rights organization. “What’s more,” he said, “every American currently, regardless of their sexual preference, is guaranteed the same equal protection under the law.” What hate-crimes laws do, Barber said, is “take the focus off the crime itself and instead puts the focus on the opinion of the alleged perpetrator.”

My question is this...aren't all violent crimes prompted by hatred? Who has ever thought, "I love that person so much I am going to kill her?" Has anyone ever beaten someone up out of charity? "Hey, that person over there needs a beating, and since I have two good hands and a tire iron, I think I'll just go over there and help him out." All crimes of violence are prompted by hatred. Does it really matter whether the perpetrator hates for a particular reason?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

cap and trade could cost the average household more than $3,900 per year

The MIT braintrust has done some refiguring and it turns out the Republicans may be a bit closer to the truth on this one.

From the Weekly Standard:

It's just another inconvenient truth: If Americans want any of the government remedies that would supposedly save a planet allegedly imperiled by global warming, it's going to cost them.

Just how much it will cost them has been a point of contention lately. Many congressional Republicans, including members of the GOP leadership, have claimed that the plan to limit carbon emissions through cap and trade would cost the average household more than $3,100 per year. According to an MIT study, between 2015 and 2050 cap and trade would annually raise an average of $366 billion in revenues (divided by 117 million households equals $3,128 per household, the Republicans reckon).

...In other words, Reilly estimates that "the amount of tax collected" through companies would equal $3,128 per household--and "Those costs do get passed to consumers and income earners
in one way or another"--but those costs have "nothing to do with the real cost" to the economy. Reilly assumes that the $3,128 will be "returned" to each household. Without that assumption, Reilly wrote, "the cost would then be the Republican estimate [$3,128] plus the cost I estimate [$800]."...(

Presidential Approval Index

If you listen to mainstream media you would believe that Barack Obama is a superstar!! That maybe he is the answer to all of our worries! The second coming!! However, if you look at his approval index as provided by The Rasmussen Report, who has accurately predicted the last several presidential elections, BHO is sinking like the Titanic. It actually gives me some “Hope”.

How can we have a national debt larger than the GNP? That’s where we’re headed! Do the pinheads in DC not learn something from this economic crisis? People borrowing more than they can possibly ever hope to repay? Oh yea, I forgot, they had to close the House Bank due to all the unpaid overdrafts……in the word’s of Emily Litella………..never mind………..

...and now a word from our illustrious BO.....

Fatties cause global warming

I used to be a skeptic but this article might have convinced me.....not.
From the Sun:

THE rising number of fat people was yesterday blamed for global warming.
Scientists warned that the increase in big-eaters means more food production — a major cause of CO2 gas emissions warming the planet.
Overweight people are also more likely to drive, adding to environmental damage.

Extremist in the Pentagon

From HumanEvents

Democratic Party financier George Soros, who puts much of the blame for Islamic terrorists on America and former president George W. Bush, can celebrate his first foothold inside the Pentagon.

It is in the person of Rosa Brooks, far-left former Los Angeles Times columnist. She was once counsel to billionaire Soros' Open Societies Institute, whose funding arm bankrolls a number of hard-left pressure groups, such as, of course, is the Washington outfit that smeared Gen. David Petraeus as a betrayer of his country, and depicted Bush in a Web ad as Adolph Hitler.

Brooks, who has also likened Bush to Hitler and claims the former president is "psychotic" and "fanatical," will not be a minor player. The Pentagon's No. 3 official and top policymaker, Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, has selected Brooks as a "principal adviser."

The title means Brooks will have the constant ear of the Defense Department's policy chief as Flournoy weighs in on the budget, troop deployments, secret missions and weapons buying. In the Pentagon bureaucratic elevator, every major decision flows through Flournoy's shop on its way to the defense secretary.

Some in the Pentagon, normally a conservative and patriotic enclave, are reacting with alarm at Brooks' appointment. One Gates staffer told Human Events that Brooks is an "extremist." (more)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Interrogation Techniques

Were enhanced interrogation techiniques effective? It would appear so.

The NY Times reports " President Obama’s national intelligence director told colleagues in a private memo last week that the harsh interrogation techniques banned by the White House did produce significant information that helped the nation in its struggle with terrorists." (more)

From CNSNews the CIA confirms that the techniques were effective in preventing an attack on Los Angeles:

The Central Intelligence Agency told today that it stands by the assertion made in a May 30, 2005 Justice Department memo that the use of “enhanced techniques” of interrogation on al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) -- including the use of waterboarding -- caused KSM to reveal information that allowed the U.S. government to thwart a planned attack on Los Angeles.

At the NY Post,
Former CIA Director George Tenet justified using controversial interrogation techniques, including sleep deprivation and water boarding:
.. to pry intelligence from terror suspects insisting it has saved lives, according to an upcoming interview on "60 Minutes."
Tenet said the agency's methods used on detainees helped the U.S. government foil terror plots.

"I've got reports of nuclear weapons in New York City, apartment buildings that are going to be blown up, planes that are going to fly into airports all over again, plot lines that I don't know.
"I don't know what's going on inside the United States, and I'm struggling to find out where the next disaster is going to occur."

When 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured in Pakistan, the "enhanced interrogations" were a surprise to him, said Tenet.
Interrogation techniques need to remain a surprise to be completely effective. Those techniques have been taken off the table and so has the element of surprise thanks to President Obama, which is one reason a fomer CIA chief has said that Obama has risked National Security in releasing the memos.

the “deepest kind of corruption

Over at Judicial Watch:

In what a veteran national security official calls the “deepest kind of corruption,” a Republican administration covered up a Democrat lawmaker’s crimes in exchange for her support of a controversial secret wiretapping program.
The Bush Administration dropped an investigation into a California congresswoman’s collaboration with foreign spies so that she would publicly defend its warrantless domestic surveillance operation as it was about to be exposed in a national newspaper. The scathing details of this
bipartisan corruption scandal were revealed this week by a news publication that covers Congress. (more)

In something of an ironic twist Rep Harman is now "outraged" over the wiretapping, calling it "an abuse of power."

and in related news the WaPo is reporting: Prosecutors Considering Dropping Espionage Charges Against Former AIPAC Lobbyists

Gay and Alive

What did you think when you read the title of this post. I'll wager it had nothing to do with happiness.

My oldest son came into the room a few minutes ago having just watched an episode of "Get Smart."

"That is a good example of how things have changed," he said. "(Smart) just said, 'What happened, you used to be so alive and gay'... If someone had said that now days people would say, 'what is she lesbian or something?' "

The word has been co-opted by a movement. As has the whole idea of male friendship.
It reminded me of an article that I read some time ago at Touchstone on language and the death of male friendship:

Sam Gamgee has been fool enough to follow his beloved master Frodo into Mordor, the realm of death. To rescue Frodo from the orcs who have taken him captive and who will slay him as soon as he ceases to be of use in finding the Ring, Sam has fought the monstrous spider Shelob, has eluded the pursuit of the orcs, and has dispatched a few of them to their merited deaths.

Finally he finds Frodo in the upper room of a small filthy cell, naked, half-conscious, lying in a heap in a corner. “Frodo! Mr. Frodo, my dear!” he cries. “It’s Sam, I’ve come!” With a bluff tenderness he clasps him to his breast, assuring him that it is really he, Sam, in the flesh.

Still groggy, Frodo can hardly believe it, but he clutches at his friend. It seems to him all the tissue of a dream—that an orc with a whip has turned into Sam—and it is all mixed up with the sound of singing that he thought he heard and tried to answer. “That was me singing,” says Sam, shaking his head and saying that he had all but given up hope of ever finding his friend again. He cradles Frodo’s head, as one would comfort a troubled child.

At that a snigger rises from the audience in the theater. “What, are they gay?”...

...Language is not language if it is not communal; it is a neat trick of political abracadabra to argue for an individual’s right to change the very medium of our thought and our social intercourse. If clothing is optional on a beach, then that is a nude beach. It cannot be a nude beach for some and an ordinary beach for others; to wear clothes at that beach at the very least means something that it had not meant before. If you may paint your house phosphorescent orange and violet, and you persuade a couple of your neighbors to do likewise, you no longer have what anybody would call a historic neighborhood.

If all of Kate’s friends leap into bed with whatever male gives them a hearty dinner at Burger King and a round of miniature golf, and Kate chooses instead to kiss her date once on the cheek and leave him on the porch, she will suggest to everybody that she is a prude. She may be, or may not be; she may be more firmly in the grip of lust than they are, for all we know, and may just detest the boy. But her actions have connotations they did not use to have.
Imagine a world wherein the taboo has been broken and incest is loudly and defiantly celebrated. Your wife’s unmarried brother puts his hand on your daughter’s shoulder. That gesture, once innocent, must now mean something, or at least suggest something. If the uncle were wise and considerate, he would not make it in the first place. You see a father hugging his teenage daughter as she leaves the car to go to school. The possibility flits before your mind. The language has changed, and the individual can do nothing about it.

By now the reader must see the point. I might say that of all human actions there is nothing more powerfully public than what two consenting adults do with their bodies behind (we hope) closed doors. Open homosexuality, loudly and defiantly celebrated, changes the language for everyone. If a man throws his arm around another man’s waist, it is now a sign—whether he is on the political right or the left, whether he believes in biblical proscriptions of homosexuality or not.

If a man cradles the head of his weeping friend, the shadow of suspicion must cross your mind. If a teenage boy is found skinny-dipping with another boy—not five of them, but two—it is the first thing you will think, and you will think it despite the obvious fact that until swim trunks were invented this was exactly how two men or boys would go for a swim.

Because language is communal, the individual can choose to make a sign or not. He cannot determine what the sign is to mean, not to others, not to the one he signals, and not even to himself. ...

...On three great bonds of love do all cultures depend: the love between man and woman in marriage; the love between a mother and her child; and the camaraderie among men, a bond that used to be strong enough to move mountains. The first two have suffered greatly; the third has almost ceased to exist....(more)

It's a good article. Close, intimate male friendship is no longer possible to the degree it once was. And every man has suffered for it. Frankly, so have women.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

11 embryonic stem-cell research arguments refuted

I had drill this week-end. As a member of the Air National Guard I have a military obligation one week-end a month. As an active duty member of the Guard, I wear the uniform full time so when I have drill it means that I am in the middle of a 12 day work week. While 12 day work weeks pale in comparison to 120 day work weeks we did in Iraq, I am old and whiney and tired tonight and will use the fact as an excuse for picking out some good stuff at other blogs and using the "autopilot" buttons and posting.

Over at bioethike I have found a couple of posts worth sharing.

11 embryonic stem-cell research arguments–refuted

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One does not equal the other

One does not equal the other

From bioethike
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