Monday, September 11, 2006

Defining Freedom

Unless we understand and love real freedom, we will not have the courage, the will, the resolve, or the wisdom to win the war on terrorism.

I have been reading Father Jonathon's blog recently on Fox News. While I definately have some doctrinal and philosophical differences with him, he does make many points with which I agree.

This was a very interesting essay. Check it out:,2933,213349,00.html
So, what is freedom?

First of all, I would suggest that Thomas Jefferson knew nothing about freedom. Neither did many of our Founding Fathers. Many of them were deceived by the Enlightenment (which really ought to be called the Endarkenment). They bought into the deceitful religion of secularism, and so became slaves.

No doubt, many people disagree with me and are thinking about the horrific religious wars of Europe, the injustice that Thomas More suffered, or any number of other incidents from history when the "religious" state oppressed the people and denied the people their fundamental rights.

And your objection is valid, and deserves a response - one which I will not give today for lack of time.

What I wish to discuss is the nature of freedom and the relationship between freedom and law.

I think that many Americans think that security must be compromised in order to be free. Or freedom must be comprised in order to maintain law and order and security. But I would suggest that neither is the case.

Anyone whose soul is not well ordered is not free. Anyone who is overwhelmed by anxiety or fear is a slave to anxiety or fear is a slave to that anxiety or fear. Anyone who casts off all restraint becomes a slave of vice - a slave to sin. Those who covet either become enslaved to bitterness or to selfish ambition.

But the man who has peace in God is free. He may at times be tempted by anxiety, but he finds peace in the LORD. He may be afraid, but is not mastered by fear. He may be tempted by all kinds of vice - and fall into sin - but he is not mastered by sin, for He has faith in God. He is under grace. He is a son of God; not a lost orphan.

2 Peter 2:19 warns us against the influence of wicked and deceitful men. "They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity - for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him." America would do well to meditate on this blessed verse of Scripture.

We must be on our guard against wicked despots who would injure, oppress, or kill innocent people. There are evil people in the world. More than that, many of they are ambitious.

But my big concern is similar to Father Jonathon's concern. Denying moral absolutes is a recipe for disaster. We can not have justice if we deny the reality of moral absolutes. If we separate morality from politics, then we will not establish justice. Where justice is not established, there can be no freedom. But we can not understand and appreciate morality and justice if we refuse to submit to God.

Nature abhors a vacuum. Wherever the blessed wisdom and truth of the Bible is not being exalted, some other worldly philosophy will be exalted. And then people, in their foolishness and idolatry and in their love of darkness and contempt for freedom, will put their faith and trust in that idea.

And then they become slaves.

Why do you think the Middle East is such a mess? Why do you think so many in the Islamic world hate us? They don't see themselves as slaves; that's for sure.

As I was watching "That Path to 9/11" miniseries last night, I did some thinking about the nature of radical Islam.

This is what I have come up with: Radical Islam is a world-wide, fraternity gang.

These terrorists are not stupid people. They are very intelligent - probably more intelligent than most Americans. They have found in their twisted religion camraderie and purpose. Being united with intelligent charismatic brethren, they are excited about this war. They are making history, and they love it. They hate the West, and they hate Israel. They are racist thugs, and they use religion to justify their hatred. They (rightly) point out a lot of the hypocrisy and sinfulness of the West. So, they see themselves as agents of God's justice. And in all their zeal, they don't hear the voice of God that testifies to the wonderful dignity of man.

But the horrible thing is that the west, in their secular zeal, also have treated God with contempt by denying the wonderful dignity of man. They have fueled the fire of radical Islam by living lifestyles of decadence and self-service. They have treated God with contempt by killing the unborn and neglecting social justice. They have treated God with contempt by embracing postmodernism and neopaganism.


Until we understand this and appreciate this, we will never understand and appreciate real freedom. And if we don't understand and love freedom, we will lose this war.

This is not as much a fight against radical Islam as much as it is a fight for the Shalom of God. There are creation norms, aka, moral absolutes - on which our laws and our policies must be based. We must be united in laboring for the cause of a beautiful and free and just society.

Secularists think that they are the champions of freedom. But radical secularism will not secure a free and just society. Rather, we will become enslaved by ungodly philosophies and tyrannical governments.

We reap what we sow. Freedom is not free. Freedom can only be secured when we joyfully submit to just laws.

We must not be fooled by the advocates of tolerance and diversity. We must maintain godly convictions and work for the establishment of justice. Don't depend on the government to do it. You have to do it. I have to do it. The government doesn't care about you. We need to care about each other. Serving one another, we shall become free.

May God give us the wisdom to see the right; the will to choose it; and the strength to make it endure.


Blogger MarcoConley said...

"Thomas Jefferson knew nothing about freedom. Neither did many of our Founding Fathers."

Well, I give you props for this part of things. Alot of people argue from authority. Thomas Jefferson is amazing, Thomas Jefferson said _______, so therefore I should believe ________. Totally backwards. Someone's greatness is determined by the wisdom of their words-- not vice versa.

"Many of them were deceived by the Enlightenment (which really ought to be called the Endarkenment)."

See, this is why I love the internet. I didn't realize there were many in the western world who believed the Enlightenment was a bad thing. The totalitarian theocractic monarchies of the 17th century seem so evil in comparison to the 18th century's libertarian democracies that it's hard to really get into the mindset of someone who thinks the enlightenment was really a "step backward".

In a similar (but of course quite different vein), within the past year, I had a conversation with my conservative southern grandfather, who spends a good portion of his time talking about the civil war. So I sat there in listened to him rant about how upset he was about how the Union army seized property from the southerners without providing due compensation as required by law. And as he kept talking, I slowly became aware that the 'property' he was talking about that was illegally seized wasn't land or gold, it was the slaves. Seconds later, he explicitly said so.

And, when this happened, I didn't get angry, I didn't even get judgemental, I just found myself amazing, literally astonished. And in my mind, I actually said to myself "Wow.. I can't believe that I'm actually having this experience. That here I am, in the 21st century, sitting on a couch, listening to a respected member of the community rant about how illegal it was for Abraham Lincoln to free the slaves in 1863." I made a note to tell this story, some day, to any grandchildren-aged-people I might encounter in my old age.

I don't even mean to say he's crazy, per se. Maybe the ideal solution to the slavery problem would have been to buy all the slaves and free them-- for the whole country to bear the financial burden, rather than just the south. I never really thought about it. I just couldn't believe that there was someone I was meeting in my life in the 21 century who wasn't obvious insane but who still didn't see the logic that slavery was wrong. Obviously, there are a few wackos who will always believe that slavery is wrong, that the jews run the world, or that there's an alien spaceship hidden in the hale-bopp comet. But I thought we had pretty much every mainstream american on board with this whole "slavery was wrong" thing.

Anyway, I'm kinda being unfair to mention that whole can of worms, because I don't believe you actually think the enlightenment was bad-- I think you only think a small part of it was bad-- i.e. its emphasis on secular reason. I expect that most of the other enlightement innovations-- rights, freedom, democracy, are generally Good Things. So, i doubt it's your views itself that are so surprising-- I already knew people want to live in a theocracy-- it's more the phrasing in terms of the "endarkenment" that's new to me.

I didn't catch the "Path to 9/11", but I'm sure you've heard by now how full of lies it is-- claiming that the Clinton administration refused to arrest Bin Laden even though they had the chance.

Do you remember back in 1998 when the Clinton Administration launched missiles into Afghanistan in order to try to kill Bin Laden? Every conservative screamed that it was an attempt to distract from the Lewinsky scandal-- there was no "let's support the president in doing anything at all to make the country safer", there were political attacks criticizing Clinton for trying to "wag the dog" by starting a foreign policy conflict in order to distract away from the scandal.

Admittedly, Clinton's own stupid behavior in some respects brought that on himself. But it's worth remembering that the people who criticize Clinton now for not doing enough are the very same ones that were criticizing him 8 years ago for doing anything at all.


Five years after 9/11, I'm reminded that by and large, the terrorists have won. Five years ago, we were the innocent victims of an attack, and the whole world-- even the muslim world, felt sorry for us. Even Pakistan, the longtime ally of the Taliban, saw how wrong 9/11 was, and vowed to help stop them. Now, we are the villains in the eyes of a world that has seen the US govt as having manufactured false evidence in order to occupy Iraq.

Five years ago, North Korea has a treaty with the US in which they promised not to seek nuclear weapons. After the US invaded Iraq, they say what Not Actually Having Nuclear Weapons was no guarantee that you wouldn't be invaded-- rather, the only guarantee that you wouldn't be invaded was actually having nuclear weapons. Five years later, they have them, and the world is more dangerous because of it.

Five years ago, we were a government that had NEVER endorsed torture. Sure, there had been isolated incidents were people illegally committed attrocities, but in two centuries, the government of the United States had never tortured anyone, we had never violated the Geneva Convention. Not when we were afraid of the Nazis. Not when we had Japanese prisoners after Pearl Harbor. Not when we were afraid of the Soviets. NEVER. Five years later, the President of the United States has officially ordered the creation of secret prisons where people are seized and tortured.

Five years ago, there wasn't anyone listening on my phone. Now, we all know that every word you or I say is being recorded and listened to by NSA computers.

Do you know why Bin Laden wanted to blow up the towers? Just to kill a few thousand people? no-- he knows that would accomplish nothing.

His hope, as we know from people who actually heard him say it, was that the attacks would start a US war against Islam that would galvanize the Islamic world. We compliantly fulfilled his wildest dreams-- even Bin Laden never imagined we would attack Iraq. Even Bin Laden probably never imagined we would start running secret torture camps, or that the world would see pictures of our troops humiliating and degrading muslim prisoners of war. Al Qaeda hasn't just won-- it won the lottery. Their plan worked better than they could possibly have hoped.

Fortunately, the pendulum is swinging back-- people are slowing starting to see that the current US strategy in Iraq isn't working, that the US violations of the constitution and international law aren't right, and that the past five years have been one of the bigger mistakes in our nation's history.

7:03 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Comparing me to your racist grandfather is stooping pretty low. I'm not a racist.

On the Enlightenment...
Real biblical faith demands us to think more, not less. (Thus, it is safe to say that many "Christians" don't have real biblical faith. They have thrown out their God-given brains and have embraced blind faith. This is a very scary thing.)

But authentic faith causes us to think more and to question more.

In Colossians 2:8, Paul warns us: "See to it that no one takes you captive to hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human traditions, and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ."

That is exactly what happened in the Enlightenment. And virtually all of Euroopean thought turned.

You can (and should) criticize the horrific injustices done in the name of religion before the Enlightenment, but you ought to recognize that if your argument agaisnt those injustices carries any weight, it is only because you are borrowing from God's truth and reason. All truth is God's truth. God is just. Therefore, in order to effectively criticize injustice, and stand up for justice, you will necessarily be building an argument based on ideas that stem from theology (even if you aren't doing this consciously and even if you don't believe the said theology).

That is, insisting that humans have dignity and certain inalienable rights stems from the truth that we have been created in God's image. That's why murder is wrong, but it is okay to kill pigs, so we can eat bacon. Pigs have not been created in the image of God. They don't have the kind of value that human beings do.

It is also a sad state of affairs that preserving Democracy is more important to many in the West than preserving Justice is. Most people seem to think that Democracy = Justice. But perhaps we would do well to recognize that what we really want to preserve is Justice, and if preserving Democracy is the best way to preserve Justice, then let us preserve Democracy.

But it is my conviction that the masses are sinful and stupid. It is my conviction that Democracy is mob rule, and all too often, Democracy turns out to be two wolves and lamb voting on what to eat for dinner. Too often the masses vote against justice, and we therefore find ourselves in a difficult position. Of course, some people think the masses define justice (and therefore, it would follow that Democracy = Justice), but for us who are truly Enlightened (unlike those godless secular Enlightenment philosophers, like Voltaire, etc), we recognize that those who fear the LORD are the ones who understand justice. We know that justice and morality are absolute. We don't trust in horses. We don't trust in chariots. We certainly don't trust the sinful, stupid masses. We trust in the LORD our God.

What is pathetic is that most Americans don't even really know about the Enlightenment. They think the way they do because of the Enlightenment - like pathetic little pawns being controlled by the ideas of a bunch guys who have long since died. But they have so much reverence for Englightenment ideas, that they don't even dare to think to question the ideas of the Enlightenment. They are so committed to Democracy, that it never crosses their minds that a blind commitment to Democracy could mean a commitment to injustice.

Most people just don't care about justice.

But the horrible thing about our nation is not really that people are committed to Democracy, but that people don't have righteous convictions and the courage required to establish righteousness and justice. If the masses were wise and committed to justice, then Democracy would be great. But they're not, and so its not.

On the 9/11 movie, perhaps before you believe Madeline Albright's propaganda that says that the 9/11 mini-series is full of lies, you ought to watch the movie. What was true? What was a lie?

Yes, Clinton did order a missile strike against bin Laden - one that failed. While many conservatives criticize him for using this to distract from his personal problems involving Monica Lewinsky, I give him the benefit of the doubt.

I have not done much research on the counterterrorism efforts of the 90's. But my uncle, who has been into politics since the 80's has been telling me for years that Clinton had many opportunities to get bin Laden, and he passed them up. Certainly, it is believable - if not the truth. The movie was realistic. This doesn't mean that it was necessarily true. But in Clinton's mind (and, to be fair, in George Bush' mind), prior to 9/11, terrorism was not taken that seriously. Clinton didn't have the character to make some tough decisions in regards to counter-terrorism covert operations. I think, based on his character, that Clinton would probably have taken polls before deciding to empower and authorize counter-terrorism experts to do anything big.

Or, do you believe that our intelligence was so flawed, that we had no idea what bin Laden was up to before 9/11? Of course the FBI and CIA knew what was going on. If they didn't, then Clinton had a responsibility to beef up the intelligence agencies, so that they could.

Is it unbelieveable to you that Clinton had several opportunities to capture or kill bin Laden, but then let those opportunities slip by? Is it unbelieveable that people were so (rightly) concerned about preserving civil rights, that we could not effectively combat terrorism? Don't you think that our government is so big and cumbersome, that in a pre-9/11 world, we could not / willed not to move quickly on the intelligence that we had?

I know you are rightly concerned about civil liberties, but I am rightly concerned about security.

It is a fact that John O'Neal spent the majority of the last 10 years of his life working for the FBI in counterterrorism. Apparently, he was frustrated that he was never taken as seriously as he should have been. Imagine yourself in his position. You have solid intelligence about specific terrorists and plots - along with a lot of vague information about various terrorist plots, but you have to deal with the Clintonites - Albright and Berger - and a host of others who will not give you the authority to do your job. And then, because no one listened to you, 9/11 happens.

And in tragic bitter irony, John O'Neal was the director of security of the WTC on 9/11, and he died that day.


You talk about torture...
Can you define torture? I think that your definition of torture and my definition of torture are different. I also would suspect that you have no proof whatsoever of the government endorsing any torture.

Now, the government does endorse and support and command interrogation. This is invaluable in our war on terrorism. This might involve psychological pressure, keeping people up late, etc. But we are not boiling people alive, cutting off limbs, or crucifying anyone. But I think that you think that if someone is being interroragated, the interrogator has a sharp tone in his voice, you might call that psychological torture and abuse.

Saddam Hussein might not have had anything to do with 9/11 (although I don't know that). But he did fund the families of the terrorist Palestinian suicide bombers whenever one of them killed Israelis. Furthermore, al-Zarqawi was a terrorist with ties to al-Qaeda, and he was operating in Iraq. Having said that, I don't know that the Bush Administration's strategy is the best.

But now that we are there, we have got to stay? I hope you are not proposing that we pull out; that would be a tragedy. Iran will take over, and any Iraqis who sided with the US will be treated brutally. Furthermore, terrorism will flourish, and they will take the fight over here. We have got to stay. It is a mess, but we have to stay committed.

This is WWIII, and it is a war of ideology. And I find myself in a difficult spot. I abhor Islam. Bush mentioned that the terrorists believe in an extremist version of Islam - that they have perverted Islam. Well, who is he to declare what is "pure Islam" versus "perverted Islam"? The truth is that Islam is a perversion, something that he is not willing to say (and he might not believe it) because he doesn't want to piss off the whole Muslim world. But truth is truth. Islam is a perversion.

And secularism is a perversion. So, while I believe in the justice of part of America's cause (bringing terrorists to justice, establishing justice and peace in the Middle East), I find myself opposed to America's secular ideas (Democracy = Justice, "religious freedom" i.e. patronizing postmodern nonsense, the Constitution is the greatest document in the world).

And it comes down to the nature of freedom. Freedom is a high and lofty concept; it is not easily defined. Understanding the relationship between freedom and law is no easy task. But I will say that much of what most Americans think about freedom is not freedom. And so our cause is not totally righteous. And since our cause is not totally righteous, our morale is not really high. And since our cause is not totally righteous and our morale is not very high, I don't see us winning this war. "Winning" has not been defined very well. What is "victory?" What is our end? And by what means we will accomplish that end? The Bush Administration has not defined that very well. And he is often exalted Democracy in the place of justice. He has praised the word of the Koran, and called Islam a good and peaceful religion. He uses the word freedom a lot, but he has never defined it well. So, what are we fighting for? What does victory look like?

The cultural war and the war on terrorism are linked together. If we don't gain victory in the cultural war (preservation of marriage, sanctity of life, protection of the rights of the unborn, submission to God), we will not win the war on terrorism. Ironically, the people who are against me in my Biblical causes claim to be standing up for freedom. What they don't realize is that if they don't submit to the word of the LORD, then they will lose freedom.

Psalm 33:12 declares, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance."

If we are to know freedom, we must have the blessing of Jehovah. If we are to preserve justice and freedom, we must seek the LORD.

10:07 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

On a SEPARATE topic, I just finished reading a really fascinating new book entitled "Misquoting Jesus".

Basically, as we all know, we don't have ONE copy of thew New Testament-- we have thousands of different versions-- which is what you'd expect from document that had to be hand-copied for 1500 years. It's hard to say just how many different versions of the text we have, but there are definitely more versions of the new testament than there are words in the new testament.

So, how are we to know which version is the original version. When they first started printing, of course, they just used whatever copy they had around locally-- the essentially picked a version at random, and used that one to print the first version. (that random printing is what was used to create the King James Bible).

So, over the centuries, as more and more manuscripts have been discovered, christians have been trying to piece together what the original text looked like, and which of the thousands of versions is closest to the original.

So, over the course of the book, the author talks about all the tricks that christian scholars have learned to try to figure out what the original versions looked like. Obviously, the SIMPLEST trick for correcting copying errors is to just find a really really old manuscript. So for example, if you have been using a 16th century text (like the King James), and then you find a manuscript (which they have) from the 4th century-- instantly you're able to cut out 1200 years of errors right there.

Other tricks are more complicated. For example, suppose we find a particular passage that is almost always in a book in all the surviving manuscripts, but moved around in different places. Sometimes the passage is in the beginning of the book, sometimes in the middle, sometimes in the end. In that case, we can know what the passage in question was written by a different author and copied around. Then later, at some point, people wanted to merge the passage into the book, so as to have just one book, rather than one book and some miscellanous passages. In this case, different people will all insert the same passage into the same book-- but they will put it in at different places-- there won't be one obvious place where the passage should be inserted, and so it winds up being inserted in different places.

It's absolutely fascinating how much they're able to figure out about the original text using this kind of detective work.


Anyway, it turns out that some of favorite parts of bible weren't in the original text.

Like, for example, the story of the adulteress-- "Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone". (Known as the Pericope Adulterae, John 7:53-8:11). The incredible thing is-- we're 100% certain it wasn't in the original Gospel of John. It's not in any of the oldest manuscripts. It's hard to imagine why anyone would delete such an incredible story, although it's easy to see why someone who HAD heard the story would feel it should be added to the book. But the amazing thing is-- if we talked to the author of John, it's almost certain that he would never heard this story.

It kinds bummed me out to hear that, as it's by far one of the best Jesus stories we have. I do take comfort, of course, in knowing that just because it wasn't original doesn't NECESSARILY mean it wasn't true-- maybe it was just a story that none of the gospel authors had heard, but which later scribes learned of and decided it was so important it had to be inserted. Or maybe it didn't literally happen, but it started out as a way to clearly convey what Jesus was all about-- a sort of "What Would Jesus Do" in a situation like that. Or, maybe it was a divine revelation that was miraculously given to a later scribe to correct the original author of John not having heard of it.

It turns out that a lot of the insertions were ones that affirmed the trinity. For example, in 1 John 5:7-8, we have the Comma Johanneum:

"For there are three that bear record IN HEAVEN, THE FATHER THE WORD AND THE HOLY GHOST AND THAT THESE THREE ARE ONE. AND THERE ARE THREE THAT BEAR WITNESS IN EARTH, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one."

It turns out that the part I bolded is a very late addition-- the earliest greek manuscript to have it is from.... (drumroll) the 16th century! All the earlier greek manuscripts don't have it.

Anyway, it turns out that, for similar reasons, most scholars feel that Matthew 28 (in which Jesus commands "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit") is also a later addition-- not part of the original.

(That quote came up not long ago when we talked about the mormons and the trinitarian doctrine.)
Anyway, it was a really fascinating book, and just reminds me how much I wish I could magically speak Greek.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

"Five years ago, there wasn't anyone listening on my phone. Now, we all know that every word you or I say is being recorded and listened to by NSA computers."

I know you are concerned about civil liberties, but if the government is listening to my phones, reading my blogs, and tracking me for what I think and say, well, I'm glad that they are. I hope that they see the wisdom of these words, repent of their sins and their idolatry, and put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

Yeah... did you hear that, NSA? Jesus is the way!

I would love to have the NSA as an audience.

When the early Christians were persecuted in Acts 4, they did not pray for "religious liberty" or for the persecution to stop. They prayed that they would be emboldened to courageously speak the word of God. They appealed to the Sovereign LORD, and called Him to uphold the justice of their cause, and to enable His servants to speak with great courage. And after they prayed, the place was shaken, and they went forth and spoke the word of God boldly.

When Christians thank God for "religious freedom," I exhort them to pray in accordance with the will of God. To pray the Psalms, or to find other places in Scripture that provide us with examples of how to pray. If religious freedom was so precious and important, then surely Jesus would have sought to call on Rome to embrace the ideas of liberal democracy. Or was Jesus behind the times? In all His wisdom, He missed out on the supposed wisdom of democracy. He was a religious radical.

George Bush reiterated over and over again last night that we must win this battle "against extremism" and embrace "tolerance" and "moderation." How is it that he claims to be a Christ follower? Was Christ a "moderate"? Was he not "extreme"? When He overturned the tables in the temple, was he displaying "tolerance"?

It is a sad state of affairs that many "Christians" care more the supposed rights to "choose" than they do about the glory of God and the proclamation of the gospel. I was watching a debate about Israel and Lebanon a few weeks ago, and a professor from Patrick Henry College stood up and spoke about the greatness of Liberal Democracy (not modern liberal - he is at Patrick Henry), but said nothing about our need to honor God and to repent of our sins. Rather, he criticized the journalism industry for not embracing a diversity of philosophies (Why aren't more evangelical Christians and Orthodox Jews being hired to do journalism)? He didn't preach the gospel; he preached tolerance of conservative ideology with a conservative spin that is "friendly" towards evangelicals and pro-war. But for all his tough talk, he seemed embarrassed and unwilling to proclaim the gospel itself.

I just have to think... why are these "Christians" (if indeed they are Christian; I don't know; God knows) fighting so hard for secular ideas? The reason is that they have been taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophies. They ought to be like the Apostles and boldly declare, "We must obey God, not men." They are afraid of being labeled "extremists" and losing support of the Republican Party. So, they operate with this ghetto mentality. They compromise - trying to make deals with the Republicans. It is tricky business. In one sense, its good, because Republicans are being pressured to take us Christians seriously. But in another sense, its bad, because Christians are selling out and giving in to the forces of secularism.

I saw this happen a lot in my time teaching at a local Christian school. I was kinda a thorn in their side. On one hand, they liked my zeal; on the other hand, they didn't like my zeal. They hired me to teach the Bible, and then told me that its not my job to teach theology.

If we are to win the war on terrorism, we must win the cultural wars, and confront the enemy within. But before we can win the cultural war throughout America, we must win the cultural war within America's churches. Modern evangelicals tend to have very little reverence for the Word of God. They think compromising with secularists is wise; the thing to do in order to "win souls." But in doing so, they have rebelled against God - and they oppose those who stay committed to His Holy truth.

I heard a story about a man who was "in trouble" with his company. He was promoting a service oriented trip at work, and in his presentation, he included one or two Scriptures. In his heart, he is doing this service to the glory of God, but he "couldn't" say that in this presentation that he did at his job. The presentation was sort of "secularized." Yet, he did include Scripture, and he got in some trouble for it. I heard some people commenting on how ridiculous it was that he was in trouble for including Scripture, because, "It was only one or two passages. It wasn't like he was 'unhinged' or anything."

This lack of conviction and lack of faith is perceived as wisdom. But it is not wisdom. It is fear. It is compromise. It is selling out. It is a lack of faith. The fear is legitimate. If you get fired, how do you provide for your family? How do you influence your friends at work if you are not there? So, there is a need for wisdom and tact. But, we must not compromise. We must be holy, and live and speak as those who have been redeemed. And anyone who is ignorant or half-hearted or self-righteous who opposes us should be confronted.

Once we, in the church, learn how to confront sin effectively within the church, then we will be ready to wage this cultural war. And then, we will be ready to win this war on terrorism. But if we continue to trust in the world system to get our needs met (rather than in God), then we will cave in to the demands of secular injustice - the infamous secular corporate bottom line - where they way to get ahead is look out for number one and to not act on righteous convictions. And by selling out like this, we become slaves and lose our dignity and freedom and humanity.

I'm just as guilty as the next guy. We need some leaders to rise up with charisma and faith, or everything good, true, just, and beautiful about our civilization will crumble.

12:29 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Of course, we can't put our faith in that charismatic leader either. In fact, we should have the wisdom to see through charisma. The anti-Christ will, not doubt, be very charismatic. But our faith should not rest on any person, or the charisma of that person. So, I misspoke/miswrote. We need to place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and not wait for a charismatic leader to rise up. And if one does, we should evaluate him in light of Scripture very carefully, and not be taken in by his charisma.

Charisma can be a very dangerous thing. That is why Paul said that he came to the Corinthians in weakness and fear, not with eloquent rhetoric, that the faith of the Corinthians would rest on the power of God, and not on men's wisdom.

The foolishness of God is wiser than's man's wisdom. The message of God's wisdom is that God sent His son to die on the cross for our sins - the just for the unjust to bring us to God. That on the 3rd day he rose again - that anyone who repents and believes may be forgiven, saved, redeemed, and granted eternal and abundant life in Christ - and will never be put to shame. But that those who disbelieve remain condemned already. Period. That's the gospel. If anyone preaches a different gospel, let him be condemned.

Where is the philosopher of this age? God has made foolish the wisdom of the wise, but to the humble, he has granted salvation. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.

12:59 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

On Torture:

"I also would suspect that you have no proof whatsoever of the government endorsing any torture. "

Ack!! yeah, no, it's pretty much a fact that we do torture (by any colloquial definition of torture). Now, it's true that the president denies that we are torturing according to some legal definition of the word, but, if you regard beating a prisoner to the point that they might die to be torture, then yeah, we're torturing folks.

The proof. We'll start out with more circumstantial evidence and advance to the more direct evidence.

1. First and foremost, the president has said that he is not going to abide by the sections of the Geneva convention that are known by the colloquial name as the "prohibitions against torture". Given that this is such a controversial thing to say, that alone should tell you that there's some torturing going on. If he says that but then doesn't torture people, he's a fool, because given the amount of flack he and the rest of the country taken for saying we aren't going to follow those sections, it's a REALLY dumb thing to say if, in fact, you ARE going to follow those sections.

2. The McCain Torture Ban. John McCain, himself a torture victim, introduces a bill that says the US Government must obey the sections of the US Army Field Manual that prohibit torture. Why would a US senator feel the need to pass such a law? In response, Bush announces that he will use his very first veto to block the torture ban. Congress, in turn, attaches the law to the Dept. of Defense budget, so that if the president wants to veto it, he'll have to also veto the entire Dept. of Defense money for the next year. Bush, therefore, reluctantly signs the law, but publishes a signing statement saying he does not intend to follow the law banning torture, as he regards that law as conflicting with his role as commander in chief.

3. It's known that the US is operating a number of 'secret prisons' in various countries around the world (many in the former soviet union. The prisons did not exist until the US media found out about them. No one is sure how many there are, or the number of prisoners involved, or precisely who is being held in them. Presumably, the prisoners have been capture in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere, but no one is sure. Why do we need secret prisons?

To get into speculation-- What's wrong with just sending them all to, say, Guantanamo for example? I don't know. One potential reason would be that although the specific identities of the Guantanamo prisoners might not be known, the total number of prisoners is-- and if any of them are killed, you have to explain what happened to them.

In any case, the point is, we have secret prisons, and they could be doing anything-- from torture to wholesale mass executions, and we wouldn't know about it right now.

4. Last year, an anonymous CIA source leaked CIA documents that describe torture techniques that have been approved by the US. The document talks about how to beat prisoners so as to cause maximum pain with minimal internal organ damage.

The same document also reveals more elaborate torture technique. Such as-- forcing a prisoner to continuosly stand for two full days (using beatings if he tries to sit). Another technique is to place an inmate in a near-freezing room naked and repeatedly dowse him with water.

Lastly, the document reveals what the US has approved the use of a classic medieval torture technique known as waterboarding. The prisoner is strapped to a board so he can't move. The board is raised to a 45 degree angle, so that his feet are above his head. The prisoner's head is then dunked underwater, causing him to suffocate and choke on water. This continues for ever-increasing periods of time, with the (hopefully false) understanding that he will be drowned if he refuses to cooperate.

Waterboarding is a classic torture technique (as are beatings), and it's basically unrefuted that the US government has approved the CIA use of those practices.
One of many, many articles on the subject:

Just yesterday, I saw an interview where Matt Lauer asked Bush point blank if he has approved waterboarding and the president refused to deny it. Again-- given the fact that waterboarding is specifically outlawed under international law, it would be quite stupid of him to not deny it if, in fact, he really hadn't approved of its use.

5. Dept. of Defense documents that have been releases show that that there have been AT LEAST 44 instances in which prisoners have died during interrogations. Now, unless we happened to be conducting interrogatios only on the terminally ill, I think it's a fair bet that "died during interrogations" probably means "killed during interrogations" which means "tortured to death", unless "'beating someone until they die'" somehow doesn't count as torture.

The documents, for example, include autopsy reports of prisoners who died from "multiple blunt force injuries to head, torso and extremities" (aka beaten to death), "hypothermia" (in Cuba? aka placed in a freezer and dowsed with water), "blunt force injury complicated by compromised respiration" (aka beaten and waterboarded)

( for one of many discussions on the subject)

Bush has openly said he's not going to obey the Geneva Convention laws against torture or the McCain torture ban. He's operating secret prisons, and has approved beatings and waterboarding.

The US government is torturing.

1:40 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

"Comparing me to your racist grandfather is stooping pretty low. I'm not a racist."

Well, I'm not comparing you to him, per se. (As I said "I'm kinda being unfair to mention that whole can of worms"). I'm more comparing my experience having a debate over something I thought was settled centuries ago. Ya have to admit-- we don't hear a lot from people who feel the enlightenment was a step backwards.

I hadn't actually meant to liken you to a racist per se, although, since we're talking about it, being anti-democracy is, if you squint, a sort of third-cousin of racism. You're using some criteria to establish who will and will not have certain rights (e.g. right to free speech, right to govern, etc). You're rejecting the idea that all people have an equal right to govern. Although I think even I would have to agree that religious belief is a somewhate better basis for discrimination than race, of course.

This sort of "democracy is bad" thing actually usually comes up mostly in liberal circles. You don't have to live in liberal land too long before someone comes up with the idea of a) required a college degree to vote or b) an intelligence test or c) weighting votes based on SAT scores. It's a logical conclusion for them, since education level and intelligence are both strong correlates of "voting democractic". But it's still a just plain creepy idea-- I'm always chastizing people for it.


"All truth is God's truth. God is just"

Is it? I often hear the claim that Truth and Justice could not exist in a universe that lacked a God-- but I just don't buy it. Even if it turns out that there is no God, isn't the Pythagorean Theorem just as true? Even if there is no heaven, isn't hurting others just as wrong?


"we have been created in God's image. That's why murder is wrong, but it is okay to kill pigs, so we can eat bacon."

That's interesting, because I do feel it is 'a little bit wrong' to kill a pig. Not as wrong as it would be to kill a person, who knows he's going to die and suffers because of it. Not as wrong as it would be to kill a person who is loved, and whose death will cause suffering of others. But a little bit wrong.

Logically, of course, I should be a vegetarian. I have been before, perhaps some day I will be again. For now, I s'pose I'm just weak. But you can rest assured that when perfect synthetic bacon comes out, I'll be first in line to buy it.
"But it is my conviction that the masses are sinful and stupid."

Whatever the masses are, the humans are. Humans in general are quite stupid. But-- they're all we've got. When the superintelligent computer with a proven track record for excellence wants to run the planet, I'll vote for him. In the mean time, all we have are humans. If God is talking, no one can agree what he's saying or how to apply it to the situation at hand. At the end of the day, we're left with humans. And we can either pick ONE human, or a few humans, or we can let ALL the humans have a say. The democratic option works a lot better, is a good deal less prone to insane dictatorships, and is much fairer.

"They are so committed to Democracy, that it never crosses their minds that a blind commitment to Democracy could mean a commitment to injustice."

I think it's because we think that totalitarian dictatorships are INHERENTLY injust. A democracy is not necessarily just, but tiny minority (like a king) forcing his will upon the majority is always inherently injust-- even if the things we are forced to do might in and of themselves be good.

Put another way-- perhaps people have a god-given inalienable right to sin, ya know? Certainly God seems to be of that opinion. I don't know that I am, but it seems odd to cite God in order to limit freedom when it was that very same God who gave us the freedom in the first place.

"perhaps before you believe Madeline Albright's propaganda that says that the 9/11 mini-series is full of lies, you ought to watch the movie.

Yeah, I mean to-- if only to be able to help others who saw it know what was fabrication.

"But in Clinton's mind (and, to be fair, in George Bush' mind), prior to 9/11, terrorism was not taken that seriously."

Personally, I _STILL_ don't take it that seriously. There are 1.3 million violent crimes committed in the US each year. In WWII, the Soviet Union lost 23 MILLION people.

So, I don't think the "post-9/11 world" is a different world from the "pre-9/11" world. People have been killing each other forever. Are we going to have a police state to stop it, or are we going to say "hey-- if you want to be free, occasionally a few nuts are going to ram a plane into some things".

"Is it unbelieveable to you that Clinton had several opportunities to capture or kill bin Laden"

It's unbelievable that he knowingly had the opportunity but refused to act on it. Clinton signed an executive order authorizing bin Laden's assassination. Clinton ordered missile attacks in an attempt to kill him. The fact is, the US Govt wanted bin Laden dead and had acted on that, and WOULD act on that if they got the chance.

The clips of that miniseries that I've seen make it look like Clinton hadn't given any such order-- that there was a moment when the US could have easily killed him, but didn't have the guts to make that decision. And it's all a lie-- the decision had already been made, failed attempts had been made.

Of course-- we forget that if ANY president is reponsible for bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, it's Reagan. His CIA are the ones who trained bin Laden in the first place. (Al Qaeda actually means "The Database"-- because its initial members were all part of a particular CIA database of fighters. Bin Laden reportedly hates the name, but can't really change it.) The US are the ones who supported Hussein in his war with Iran (I'm sure you've seen the Rumsfeld-Sadaam handshake pic).

"Saddam Hussein might not have had anything to do with 9/11 (although I don't know that)"

It's a fact. In the past month, even Bush has admitted that.

"But now that we are there, we have got to stay? I hope you are not proposing that we pull out; that would be a tragedy."

Yeah, there's no doubt that Iraq will be a very scary place if nothing is done-- a lot, lot scarier than it was when Saddam was in power. I know that the current administration has been utterly incompetent in their handling of the war. They seem to have sincerely thought they would be in and out of the country within 2-3 months, and they did absolutely NO postwar planning, when any fool could have told you that the invasion is going to be the easy part, but the occupation is going to be the hard part. It's really scary that our leaders hadn't figured that out.

So, I tend to be very pragmatic about this sort of thing. Everyone over there is a volunteer-- I don't worry about sending them, any more than I worry about sending police out when someone calls 911. But-- are we really going to get anything accomplished over there by staying further? I hope so, because there's more that needs accomplishing. I don't know-- I'd want to hear from really good experts to see if our continued presences is likely to accomplish anything. It's a debate that will be center stage in '08, which, conveniently enough, is the first time I'll have to make up my mind.

"The cultural war and the war on terrorism are linked together. If we don't gain victory in the cultural war (preservation of marriage, sanctity of life, protection of the rights of the unborn, submission to God), we will not win the war on terrorism."

I shouldn't beat a dead horse, but you're SO right about the linkage between the cultural war and the terrorism. The Christian fundamentalists and the Islamic fundamentalist have a relationship not unlike the US and the Soviet Union in WWII. You're certainly both enemies of each other, but at the same time, your main fight is with secularism, which you both oppose for religious reasons.

For me, backing the democracy and secularism horse, it's easier to root for a clear victor. For you, things are a lot more complicated, because on the one hand, you want democracy and secularism to beat the Islamic fundamentalists-- but as the same time-- if the Islamic theocracies really can be transformed into secular democracies, that doesn't bode well for your own struggle again secular democracies.

"I would love to have the NSA as an audience."

Hey, the NSA is welcome to read blog posts-- they're open to the public. But unless they've got a warrant, they better stay out of my Inbox and off my phone line!


"They hired me to teach the Bible, and then told me that its not my job to teach theology."

That's certainly a very odd position for a christian school to take. Teachers who truly care are hard to find, and it's obvious you care. I'm sorry to hear things didn't work out there.

As I look back on my own brief high school career (I pretty quickly decided it wasn't for me and sort of 'dropped out' and just went to William and Mary instead), I can only think of one teacher I knew who really cared, and was constantly working to improve her teaching. Everyone else was pretty much 'phoning it in'. They had a routine, and they stuck to it. One teacher did nothing but show videos and hand out scantron tests-- in my memory, I realize I can't even tell you what her voice sounded like-- I doubt I ever heard her say more than a few words at once. Several other teachers classes were basically guided study halls-- Once a month or so, the teacher would write on the board a reading assignment and a test date. We had that month to complete the reading, at the end there would be a scantron test date, and that would be the class. Not a single lecture all year.

Advanced english class I hated most of all. For one month we would read the story outloud in class, as if we were in elementary school. When the reading was done, the teacher passed out a worksheet which consisted of 500 trivia questions about the book: "Jim goes to the store and buys bread, wine, and _______"-- where the answer had nothing whatsoever to do with the story and in no way was important. Then everyone memorized the worksheet, and the test would consist of 40 or so of the worksheet questions.

And that's what they did-- year in and year out. And that was the BEST school in the area. I MOVED to be in the district for that school, because even though it was horrible, it was, at least, free from serious violent crime.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Excuse me for accusing you of "stooping low." After rereading the posts, it was clear that you were making a comparison that did not imply anything really "bad" about me. You were just sort of realling from my "Endarkenment" analysis of the Enlightenment. So, please accept my apology.

On Democracy...
A totalitarian regime, a monarchy, a dictatorship, an oligarchy would all be really bad (unless we got lucky that the leaders were wise and just). So, when I slam Democracy, I'm not advocating these other ideas. It is easy to point out the flaws with virtually any system. It is much more difficult to come up with solutions.

If nothing else, hopefully, people will realize that a Democracy is only as good and just and wise as the common man is good and just and wise. Hopefully, this will provoke people to joyfully choose to seek the LORD and to value goodness, justice, and wisdom, and thus vote responsibly. Recognizing that a blind commitment to Democracy could very well turn into a situation where two wolves and a lamb are voting on what to eat for dinner is the first step to provoking people to ... at the very least ... vote responsibly.

Speculating about a universe that was not created by God is like speculating what the Universe would be like if Euclid's postulates were all false. It's like trying to imagine a completely different set of geometry with completely different postulates. In fact, reason itself can only be practiced if you presuppose the laws of logic, but in a universe without God, logic would not even exist. I don't even have the creativity to imagine the scenario; you might have better luck talking to someone heavy into postmodernism.

This is something like the chicken and the egg argument. Which came first? Which caused the other? Well, God is the AUTHORITY on epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy Himself forever. He "created" reason and logic. He is reasonable by nature, and He is not "under" any "higher" reason. He is holy because He is holy. He commands us to be holy, because He is holy. Since He is the I AM, He has authority to command us to be holy, and He is perfectly reasonable when he provides us with the reason to be holy - because He is holy.

So, the chief end of God is to preserve His own glory - to glorify Himself in the blessed Trinity relationship, and to enjoy Himself forever. Before you accuse God of being sinfully self-centered, I would point out that if God was not committed to the preservation of His own glory, then He would be an idolater. If He doesn't preserve His righteous character, then he wouldn't be righteous. If He did not enjoy Himself, then He would be a very moody deity. If He wasn't Himself, He wouldn't be worth worshipping.

Now you might say that if He wasn't Himself, He would simply have another definition of righteousness and holiness. You might think that I really am comparing God to a "higher standard." But I am not, I am comparing God to His own standard, which is, in truth, righteous and holy.

The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Or, as John Piper put it, the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. We have been created in His image to reflect His glory by enjoying sweet fellowship with God. He is our Rock, our Fortress, our Redeemer, our ever present help in times of trouble. He is our refuge and strength. He is God, and I trust in Him.

So, feel free to imagine a world where there is no God, but recognize that in order to imagine such a world, you need to use your creative mind, which God gave you. Realize also that as you think of creative ideas, you are, in a sense, imitating the Creator. The Creator had an idea. The Creator spoke. And the Universe was created. Being created in God's image, we often imagine very creative schemes.

We do not have the right to sin. How could we? A right is a "just claim." Sin is not just. Now God is very patient, tolerant, and kind to us poor sinners. But He will bring every deed into judgment, whether good or evil. We are not robots. We can, and we do choose to sin. But God has commanded us not to sin. He often does not stop us from sinning, but He does not permit us to sin either. He commands holiness. When we sin, we are in rebellion against God.

And I'm not talking about limiting freedom. I'm trying to define freedom, and examine the relationship between freedom and law. Freedom is not lawlessness. But the law imposes on us, and restricts our actions, and encourages us to think one way (or discourages us to think another way). Law is meant to protect freedom. But if the law is unjust, then the law will deprive us of freedom. If our laws are not based on the wisdom and justice of God's word, then our laws will not be just, and we will become slaves.

Government authorities (in this Democratic Republic, that includes you and me) are God's servants. We are agents of God's justice. It is our job to secure justice - punishing those who do evil and rewarding those who do good - all for the glory of God. We reap what we sow. Having rebelled against God, we have reaped a divided nation - where some people are all for torturing terrorists and other people don't take terrorism seriously. We have scared and angry people making flippant decisions based on fear of the government or of the terrorists. And yet, so many refuse to humble themselves under the Mighty Hand of a Loving and Just God, to trust in Him, and to depend on His wisdom and power to see us through. Anxiety rules the day, and the devil is laughing at us.

Insecurity and anxiety are the fruit of a nation who has rejected God. But in Christ, we have peace, love, and security. We don't have to make decisions based on fear. We can make decisions based on faith and wisdom.

But the enemies of God insist that anyone in public office may not acknowledge God while on the job. Teachers in public schools are not allowed to publicly and conspicuously acknowledge God. The philosophy of the classroom in one generation becomes the philosophy of government in the next generation.

God has been rejected in the name of freedom, and ironically, by rejecting God, we lose our freedom, and become enslaved.

If you feel bad about pigs being killed, then you are in sin for eating bacon. Of course, you need not feel bad about it, because pigs are not created in God's image. So, if you believe this, then go right ahead and eat all the bacon you want. Its okay. But if you are not convinced, then you are in sin for eating bacon.

"Personally, I _STILL_ don't take it that seriously. There are 1.3 million violent crimes committed in the US each year. In WWII, the Soviet Union lost 23 MILLION people."

"So, I don't think the "post-9/11 world" is a different world from the "pre-9/11" world. People have been killing each other forever. Are we going to have a police state to stop it, or are we going to say 'hey-- if you want to be free, occasionally a few nuts are going to ram a plane into some things'."

I am appalled. So, you have just been elected President of the United States. You are the Commander-in-Chief. You are responsible to execute the law to preserve freedom and security. And you are telling me, in this post 9/11 world, that President Marco would tell us, "Hey folks. Terrorism sucks. But we need to stay 'free.' So, I'm not gonna do anything about it. I'm not going to take terrorism seriously. I know those guys want to kill us all, and I'll take some action against them. But I'm not going to take terrorism that seriously. After all, we have only lost a few thousand people (sorry, families of victims). Its not like we have lost millions of people."

How can an intelligent person like you be such a nut?

Besides the fact that it is unconscionable and incredibly cold-hearted to minimize the losses we have suffered as a result of radical Islamo-fascist terrorism, by taking the position you are taking, you are really hurting your own cause. You are more scared of George Bush than you are of the Osama bin Laden. You are more concerned about civil liberties than you are about national security. And you want to be taken seriously. You want me and others to take you seriously when you speak about the United States torturing people. Well, the truth is this: Millions of us want you and the other millions of hardcore leftists peace-niks to take terorism seriously. We are convinced that by not taking it seriously, you are effectively digging our graves for us. You are preventing our intelligence agencies to do their jobs. You are the reason why we are so inefficient in our war on terrorism. It was people like you in power who made 9/11 possible. The blood of the victims are on your hands.

And many people are ready to use torture to fight against terrorism. (I'm not, but many are). And when you say, "I don't take terrorism seriously" you hurt your own cause. Because a lot of people are going to hear that and react against that, and vote to empower the government to use torture.

If you want people to take you seriously about torture, you have to take terrorism seriously. Of course, you should take terrorism seriously anyway, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself for not doing so.

In the mini-series, it did include the time when Clinton ordered a strike against bin Laden. That was included. However, it appears that he may have cleared this order with Pakistan first. By doing so, it appears that bin Laden was tipped off. I don't know that this is the case, but it might have been.

But I give Clinton the benefit of the doubt on that incident.

But there were other incidents. There were other moments where allegedly, we had allies in the Northern Alliance who had bin Laden surrounded and were ready to surprise him and capture him. They were waiting for authorization from Washington. They were put on hold. They waited. They waited. And it was decided by Berger and Albright that they should not make a move. It was as if they simply lost their nerve. And while I have no proof of this right now, it is definately believable.

And what about our response (or lack of response) after the attack on the USS Cole? In the movie, our own US ambassador in Yemen shut down John O'Neal (the FBI counterterrorism expert - who ended up being killed on 9/11), when he went to investigate the attack on the USS Cole. She didn't want the counterterrorism agents to offend the Yemenese. So, she didn't allow the investigation to go forth. Apparently, al-Qaeda/bin Laden had several connections in the area, and the attack on the USS Cole was coordinated by al-Qaeda or a cousin organization. But the intelligence agencies were not empowered to do any investigation.

Attacking the USS Cole is not a criminal act. It is an at of war. And what did Clinton do? He didn't do anything, because he was trying to broker a peace between Israel and terrorist Yasser Arafat and his terrorist PLO. He didn't want to attack Muslims because he was afraid that doing so would make him look bad. So, he let the attack on the USS Cole go.

Allegedly, there were thousands of little pieces of evidence of terrorists plotting and scheming before 9/11. Our intelligence agencies were aware of it, but they couldn't peace it all together. And Clinton did not take terrorism seriously enough. To be fair, neither did Condoleeza Rice or George Bush. But let's be fair. Clinton had been in office for 8 years, and had gutted the intelligence agencies. He didn't take the '93 attack on the WTC seriously enough. He didn't take advantage of several opportunities to get bin Laden when he could have. He didn't do anything about Mogadishu - when our soldiers were killed dragged through the streets - thereby giving bin Laden the confidence that Clinton didn't have a backbone to stand up to him. He didn't do anything about the USS Cole. But hey, I guess he preserved our secular ideas of civil rights.

But 3000 Americans who were killed on 9/11 don't get to enjoy those civil rights. They are dead.

The point is not even to blame Clinton. The point is to learn from our mistakes, and to figure out a way to empower our intelligence agencies to do their jobs - while respecting righteous laws.

I will talk more about your concerns about torture later....

9:43 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

"Speculating about a universe that was not created by God is like speculating what the Universe would be like if Euclid's postulates were all false."

You speak wisdom.

Now, if we went back and talked to the Greeks, they might have denied that such a thing was even possible. Euclid's postulates might have been SO true that they were beyond all doubt. They probably couldn't even conceive of a non-euclidian universe-- and if they did, they would have told you that there is SO much evidence that the Euclids posulates are true that to even doubt them is the height of folly.

Similarly, I ask "Isn't it possible that there could be a universe without a God? And if it IS possible, isn't it conceivable, then, that we are living in one?" A lot of people feel it would be absolutely, totally, and in all other ways inconceivable! Talking about such a universe is like talking about a universe where euclid's postulates are false-- just plain doesn't make any sense. Can't be so.

But you know whatut, and this is completely true and proven:

It turns out that Euclid's posulates ARE false! or perhaps we should say, they don't apply to this universe.


Isn't that astounding? Your grade school geometry teacher probably forgot to mention that-- I know mine did (nor did she seem particularly pleased when I brought it up).

It turns out that while the Euclidian postulates do a pretty good job of describing geometry on small distances, it's not actually true of long-distance high gravity. If I go off in a space ship and navigate a course that's one big triangle, the angles won't add up to 180 degress, like they're supposed to if the Euclidean postulates are true.

This is one of the dozen or so shocking revelations in Einstein's work. This is part of why the Theory of Relativity is so amazing.

Euclid's postulate ARE wrong.

And it's not just a theory-- it's been confirmed experimentally a bunch of times. For example-- the orbit of Mercury isn't what it should be if Euclid's postulates are true, but it's exactly what relativity predicts it should be.


So, I don't have to imagine what a non-euclidan universe is like-- I'm living in one. I wonder if I have to try and imagine what a Godless universe is like, or is no imagination at all necessary?


The lesson here, of course, is that what is OBVIOUSLY true, might not actually be true.

When we can't even be certain about geometry of a universe we are currently living, how can we find certainty about God?

1:05 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

As far as I know, non-Euclidean geometry rejects Euclid's fifth postulate, but continues to believe all the other postulates.

And in point of fact, truthfully, I had the first four postulates in mind when I mentioned Euclid's postulates. Honest, I did. I am aware, that by not assuming Euclid's fifth postulate, a whole non-Euclidean geometry has been derived, and has applications in Einstein's theory of relativity.

But I suppose you could assume Euclid's first three postulates and then derive a whole other geometry that would be extremely bizarre, but just as valid as Euclidean geometry and just as valid as the non-Euclidean geometry that is based on the first 4 postulates.

That being said, it stands that God is the supreme authority on epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics - on truth, reality, and goodness. That Euclid's postulates are not so solid means nothing other than Euclid's postulates are not so solid. Nothing is as solid as "I AM!" So, in truth, I can not come up with an analogy describing the reality and authority of I AM that does God justice. Indeed, by trying to describe God with mere words, I fall way short.

Fantasizing about a universe without God is only good for playful postmodern entertainment - nothing more.

1:35 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

"So, you have just been elected President of the United States."

If we're at the point where I'm being elected President-- we're already in trouble. Woe to the world that would elect me President. If I'm the best we've got, we're in trouble. That I might do better than the current holder of the office is hardly much of a standard to do.

"And you are telling me, in this post 9/11 world, that President Marco would tell us, "Hey folks. Terrorism sucks. But we need to stay 'free.' So, I'm not gonna do anything about it. I'm not going to take terrorism seriously."

Well-- how seriously? Seriously enough to invade Afghanistan after the taliban-sponsored groups did 9/11? Sure-- everyone in the world know that was acceptable-- even Afghanistan's closest allies knew that was justice.

Seriously enough to tap every phone in American? not on your life. Seriously enough to illegally (without a UN mandate) invade Iraq based on the faintest rumor of a potential threat? nope.


First off-- you have to realize that by all accounts, the Path to 9/11 was about as accurate as the movie JFK. The scene you talk about where they had bin laden surrounded but were put on hold is false and arose simply out of imagination, a need to 'dramatize' and possibly some political motivation-- there's been tons of coverage about that scene. The same is said for "asking permission from pakistan".

It's kinda amazing that that thing actually got aired. I mean-- being biased is one thing, but the film seems to have invented claims that no one is even pretending are actually true. A lot of my liberally associates are convinced the film is part of some right-wing propaganda conspiracy. I'm more of an optomist, and I imagine it was just a usual "lets get raitings by being bold and controversial" type thing. Well, I THINK that makes me an optomist. hehe


So, if you had to ask "Why did 9/11 happen?"-- the first answer is definitely going to be "because it's hard to stop people from doing bad things". More than anything it probably isn't Clinton's fault, it probably isn't Bush's fault-- it's the hijacker's fault. It's hard to stop murderers.

Now, of course, I personally suspect that if there was any way that incompetence COULD have contributed to 9/11-- I can't help but notice that the Bush administration has plenty to go around. I know that members of the Clinton administation have said they tried to emphasize how dangerous bin Laden was to Bush and he didn't seem interested and they claim they felt like they weren't getting through to Bush and his people. (for what THAT's worth, but of course, political types HAVE been known to point fingers at their opponents from time to time). And of course-- the federal gov't sat paralyzed on the sidelines when the nefarious hurricane Katrina came-- if only they have been bugging the telephones of a few meterologists, maybe they would have picked up on some of the chatter.


BUT--- let's take worst case scenario. Suppose you're right, suppose that recording every phone call in the America, as is probably happening now, could have prevented 9/11.

"You are preventing our intelligence agencies to do their jobs. You are the reason why we are so inefficient in our war on terrorism. It was people like you in power who made 9/11 possible. The blood of the victims are on your hands."

Suppose all that's true. Then if you ask me why we didn't do EVERYTHING that could be done to stop it? I'd say that these people died protecting our freedom. They died so that we could preserve was our founding fathers died for. I'd say they died for the same reason that we didn't torture germans and japanese in world war II.

Some things ARE worth dying for. If the 3,000 people on 9/11 died because we refused to violate civil rights we've upheld through our history, then those deaths actually had meant something. 60,000 US citizens died in Vietnam, and for all those deaths-- we might as well not even have gone in the first place. 2,000 US soldiers so far have died in Iraq, and the way things are going now, it looks like the life is going to be worse for the Iraqs than if the US had never gone at all.

We should all be so lucky to have our deaths be for a refusal to compromise our freedom. 12,000,000 Americans have died since Sept 11. If the price of 3,000 people is what it takes to no tap our phones, to have free speech, to have a free press, to be the nation that stands for something, to be the nation that doesn't torture-- then it's a bargain.

2:17 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

"And many people are ready to use torture to fight against terrorism. (I'm not, but many are). And when you say, "I don't take terrorism seriously" you hurt your own cause. Because a lot of people are going to hear that and react against that, and vote to empower the government to use torture."

well-- this is the beauty of my not running for office or otherwise being a public speaker. I'm not burdened by the chess game of "If I say X, what effects will that have one people". I just have to say whatever I believe.

Admittedly, I'd lose an election in a landslide if I said "Hey, I'm sorry there are murders, including those on 9/11. But you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs, and Freedom is a pretty tasty omelete." (Which, is kinda sad, given that in Virginia I can apparently call someone the French equivalent of the word "Nigger" and still have a pretty good chance of winning.)

"How can an intelligent person like you be such a nut?"

lol. If my life had a slogan, that would be a good candidate for it. Maybe it's all Eve's fault. Maybe my bodily humors aren't at their correct ratios. Or perhaps it's too much dopamine, not enough serotonin, or an overactive amygdala. Maybe it's just something I ate-- "an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato."

2:52 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Tell that to the families of the victims.

The truth is that we don't have to compromise one for the other. We can have effective intelligence agencies without violating essential freedoms. Its a hardline to draw, but it seems like you are not even trying to find that line.

I don't know what is true and what's not true in the movie, but I do suspect that the intelligence agencies could have done much more than what they did while Clinton was in office. I noticed that you didn't respond to what I said about the attack on the USS Cole. When our own ships are being attacked, is that enough of a reason to grant intelligence agents the warrants they need to investigate suspected terrorists?

Calling the victims of 9/11 "lucky".... It's absurd.

Here are various articles with which we can triangulate to get at the facts:

"In Steve Coll: In Shadow of Terror, a Year of Decisions broadcast on NPR's All Things Considered on August 16, 2004 [2], Coll describes a September 1996 meeting between Gary Schroen, the CIA's chief of station in Islamabad, and Massoud: 'Massoud voiced his own complaints. He was a deliberate, cogent speaker, clear and forceful, never loud or demonstrative. The CIA and the United States had walked away from Afghanistan, leaving its people bereft, he said. Yes, Massoud and his colleagues were grateful for the aid the CIA had provided during the years of Soviet occupation, but now they were bitter about what they saw as an American decision to abandon their country. 'Look, we're here,' Schroen said. 'We want to reopen the relationship. The United States is becoming more and more interested in Afghanistan.' It may be a year, Schroen told them, or maybe two years, but the CIA was going to return. That's the way things are moving, he said. One concern in particular was now rising: terrorism.'"

"As the Taliban gained control of about 90% of Afghanistan, the warring factions had no choice but to form the Afghan Northern Alliance and retreat into the mountainous areas of the north. Here they controlled some 10% of Afghanistan's territory and perhaps 30% of its population until late 2001. Northern warlords and tribal leaders included Haji Rahim, Commander Piram Qol, Haji Mohammad Mohaqeq, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, Qazi Kabir Marzban, Commander Ata Mohammad and General Malek. From the east were Haji Abdul Qadir, Commander Hazrat Ali, Commander Jaan Daad Khan and Abdullah Wahedi. From the northeast areas, Commander Qatrah and Commander Najmuddin participated. From the southern provinces, there were Commander Qari Baba, Noorzai, and Hotak. From the western and southwest provinces came General Ismail Khan, Doctor Ibrahim, and Fazlkarim Aimaq. From central Afghanistan Commander Anwari, Said Hussein Aalemi Balkhi, Said Mustafa Kazemi, Akbari, Mohammad Ali Jawed, Karim Khaili, Commander Sher Alam, and Abdur Rassul Sayyaf were members of this union."

"Massoud was the victim of a suicide attack which occurred at Khvajeh Ba Odin on September 9, 2001, two days before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in the United States. It is generally believed that Osama bin Laden ordered the assassination to ensure he would have the Taliban's protection and cooperation in Afghanistan."

This is a segment from a PBS interview with Gary Schroen.

"Did you have any involvement in the early bin Laden stuff?

From 1996 until summer of 1999, as chief of station in Islamabad, I was the field director of all operations that were conducted to try to capture bin Laden, ... everything from capturing him while he's in convoy en route from, let's say, Kandahar city to his farm outside of the city in Tarnak, up to actually planning a raid by our Afghan group into Tarnak. ... [We] suggested cruise missile strikes against bin Laden on several different occasions, those kinds of things. ...

You had a little bit of a smile on your face when you were talking about cruise missile strikes on him. Tell me that story.

After the bombings in [the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in] East Africa -- the scope of them was shocking, I think; the thousands of innocent people who were wounded and maimed -- the Clinton administration obviously wanted to do something. There was intelligence that indicated that bin Laden and his senior guys were going to be at a camp inside Afghanistan but near the Pak border, and they were going to be holding some sort of a strategy meeting. This seemed to be good information, and it had been collected enough in advance to allow cruise missiles to be positioned, either from aircraft [or] some of our ships and submarines, that could be fired in there.

The problem would be that the cruise missiles would have to fly over Pakistan to reach their targets, and there was a big question about how the Pakistani government would react. ... We had good relations with the chief of the army staff in Pakistan, but we didn't give them the advance warning, because we were afraid that the word would get out, and bin Laden would be warned by elements there within the Pakistani government, military and security forces that support bin Laden and admire him.

The missiles flew. We missed him by some degree of time -- a half hour, two hours, we don't know. ... The reaction, because Pakistani people felt resentment that these missiles had flown over Pakistan -- one actually fell short and landed in Pakistan -- [was] that this was an international incident, that America was ignoring Pakistan's sovereignty. I think it made the administration a little more leery of using cruise missiles because of these kinds of issues.

In your position as chief of station, would you have been involved in designing the plan to fact-check the human [intelligence]?

Other than that missile strike -- that was in August of '98 -- every other operation, basically, was generated through my office. ... We had connections to the Northern Alliance, Ahmed Shah Massoud's group of Tajik fighters up in the north. The CIA was sending teams into northern Afghanistan from '97 up until about 2000 to meet with Massoud's people, to try to get them involved. ...

It was a day-to-day thing with my office there in Pakistan, to try to stage-manage what was going on in the field. We had a lot of advice, help and orders coming out of Washington, and everything that we planned or put together had to be vetted back in Washington, ... all the way up to the NSC, again weighing, would collateral damage happen in this raid? ... Is it worth the risk? Are we going to make the situation worse by doing these kinds of activities?

Did we ever come close?

We had him in the desert, I think in early 1999, in southern Afghanistan, in February. He was staying with a group ... from the United Arab Emirates [UAE] with whom the United States has very good political relations. My Afghans tracked bin Laden to that camp. ...

We could have struck with either cruise missiles, B-1 or B-2 bomber[s]. Again, the question was collateral damage: What about the Arabs that are there in the camp? What about our relations with the UAE? ... The bottom line was, we didn't take a shot, and we missed him. I don't think we ever came that close again, other than December of 2001 at Tora Bora.

[Did] you advocate it?

Oh, absolutely. Bin Laden's organization had just bombed two embassies in Africa, killed hundreds, wounded thousands, and he was a mass murderer. ... He wasn't just some strange Arab who wandered in and they gave him desert hospitality; they knew exactly who he was. I've said several times in the past, "If you lie down with the dogs, you're going to wake up with fleas."

So my advice was: "Take the shot. We won't get another one, and we'll regret not doing this." ...

How intensely do you argue in moments like that?

You argue till you're told to shut up and that the decision's been made. ...

Help me understand the food chain then. It goes from you in Islamabad to where and whom?

The chain of command would be from me, as chief of station, back to the chief of the Near East Division and to the chief of CTC, who then would be working up to the director of central intelligence, DCI, who would then be taking people like those two gentlemen ... down to the NSC, to the White House, to absolutely put everything out on the table.

Of course, something like that would take the president actually to give the authority to do the strike. ...

It went upstairs.

It went upstairs, and went down to the White House. Actually, the debate went on for over a week, because he was there for several weeks. I'd wake up in the morning, go in; I'd get a question: "What tent is bin Laden sleeping in?" ... Then we got one that said, "Where does he go to the bathroom at?" And I said: "I don't have a clue, and even if I knew, what difference would it make? He doesn't go on a schedule!"

Questions like "Which tent are they using as a mosque? Where do they go to pray?" You're looking at a picture from above. How do I know? ... You're getting down into the nitty-gritty, that it was impossible to answer. It just seemed to me at the time that, especially coming out of the NSC, this was a way to find a reason not to do it, rather than to find a way to get the job done.

But Clinton had signed eight or 10 findings that you could kill him?

I think everybody knew and realized we could kill bin Laden. The problem was, we were going to kill a bunch of these Arabs. ... They could have been some of the sons of the ruler of Abu Dhabi, [the capital of UAE], or Dubai. Who knew who they were? The risk of damaging our relationship with them in an area where we don't have a lot of good friends, and the fact that they were buying a whole fleet of F-16 fighter aircraft, all of those factors weighed into the decision that said: "No, we'll get him another time. There will be more shots. There will be more opportunities.""

So, what do we know? We know that 9/11 happened. We know that Massoud was killed on 9/9/01, and that Massoud and the Northern Alliance were working with the CIA, but that both the CIA and the Northern Alliance were not empowered or authorized to attack bin Laden because Clinton was concerned about civil rights violations (and/or polls).

We also know that "Former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger was sentenced Thursday to community service and probation and fined $50,000 for illegally removing highly classified documents from the National Archives and intentionally destroying some of them."

Here is a timeline:

""Two weeks before the September 11 terrorism attacks, a desperate FBI agent begged his superiors to launch an aggressive hunt for one of the the men who would participate in the suicide hijackings, warning that 'someday someone will die' because his request was denied . . . on August 29, 2001 [the NY field office agent asked his Washington superiors] to allow his office to search for Khalid Almihdhar, who would later help commandeer the aircraft that slammed into the Pentagon. But lawyers in the FBI's National Security Law Unit refused. . . The CIA [had] monitored Almihdar at a meeting of al Qaeda operatives in Malaysia more than 18 months before the September 11 attacks, and knew at that time that he held a visa that allowed him to enter and exit the United States repeatedly. But the [congressional] report found that the CIA did not adequately inform other agencies and made no effort to until summer 2001 to add the names of Almidhar or Alhazmi [a second 9/11 hijacker who also attended the Malaysia al Qaeda meeting] to immigration watch lists . . ." (Washington Post, A1, Sept. 21, 2002)"

"August 15, 2001 - September 11, 2001. TIME Magazine, quoting FBI agent Coleen Rowley's open memo to FBI Director Mueller, reported that FBI Minneapolis field agents investigating Zakararia Massaoui "'became desperate' to probe the laptop computer they seized from Moussaoui and 'conduct a more thorough search of his personal effects.' As Rowley describes it, the agents then encountered the first in the series of "roadblocks" thrown up by their superiors in Washington that, she says, ultimately scuttled their attempts to investigate Moussaoui."

TIME also stated, "In the late 1990s, it turns out, French police had placed Moussaoui on a watch list: using London as his base, Moussaoui shuttled in and out of Kuwait, Turkey and Continental Europe, forming ties with radical Islamist groups and recruiting young men to train and fight the jihad in Chechnya. French intelligence officials also believed Moussaoui spent time in Afghanistan, and his last trip before arriving in the U.S. last February was to Pakistan. A French justice official says the government gave the FBI 'everything we had' on Moussaoui, 'enough to make you want to check this guy out every way you can. Anyone paying attention would have seen he was not only operational in the militant Islamist world but had some autonomy and authority as well.' . . ."

This is a good outline of June 2001 through September 11th.,_2001_attacks

Note: "August 18, 2001: The FBI reports that, if released, suspect Zacarias Moussaoui 'might take control of an airplane and crash it into the World Trade Center'."

Face it. The counterterrorism experts could have been empowered to do their job while respecting fundamental civil rights. They probably could have prevented 9/11.

3:21 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

This was interesting. Apparently, it is not an exaggeration, that Massoud was an ally of America, and that with him, we had a real chance at getting bin Laden prior to 9/11.

3:39 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

And then there is Moussaoui.

"On August 16, 2001, Moussaoui was arrested by Harry Samit of the FBI in Minnesota and charged with an immigration violation. Some agents worried that his flight training had violent intentions, so the Minnesota bureau tried to get permission to search his laptop computer, but they were turned down. Other materials he had when he was arrested included two knives, 747 flight manuals, a flight simulator computer program, fighting gloves and shin guards, and a computer disk with information about crop dusting.

FBI agent Coleen Rowley made an explicit request for permission to search Moussaoui's personal rooms. This request was first denied by her boss, Deputy General Counsel Marion "Spike" Bowman, and later rejected based upon FISA regulations (amended after 9/11 by the USA Patriot Act). Several further attempts failed the very same way. As a result, the chance of finding early evidence passed unused."

3:46 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I thought you would appreciate this, coming from the World Socialist Web Site.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

So, apparently, the movie got a lot right.

3:50 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

Well, you can already tell that the miniseries is loose on its facts. Instead of the Clinton people insisting on getting Pakistani permission, the story you quote claims the precise OPPOSITE is true-- they didn't ask for permission, and they were criticized for THAT. Right off the bat, when you have a moview that criticizes Clinton for doing X, when he did just the opposite, obviously, factuality isn't high on the list of the priority for the filmmakers.

About stopping 9/11-- I'm skeptical, although all my liberal buddies insist that Bush's incompetence. As I said before, obviously, Bush & Company are incompetent, but I tend more to think that it's just pretty dang hard to stop the humans from killing each other.

Sure-- there were plenty of signs. There always are. "In retrospect, we should have seen the warning signs" is true of everything-- Pearl Harbor, Hitler's aggression, the holocaust, the cuban missile crisis, the fall of the soviet union, etc. When you go back after the fact, you can always piece together enough evidence to show that a Sherlock Holmesian character had plenty of evidence to see it coming.

let's talk about the hard drive search and the idea of bombing the United Arab Emirates because bin Laden might have been there.

Now, they claim they didn't have enough evidence for a warrant to search the Massaoui's computer. Now, if they screwed up in their analysis and actually they DID have enough evidence, then it's simple incompetence. If, however, they really didn't have enough evidence for a warrant, then that's the way it goes, end of story. We require search warrants around here. That's the fourth amendment for you. If you don't have probable cause, you don't do the search, and that's the way it goes. It's what makes American different from Iraq. It's why the police can't kick in your door, search your belongings, arrest your children, and kill your puppies.

Now, about the idea of bombing the United Arab Emirates. First, understand that the UAE is one of our closest allies in the region. Unlike Afghanistan, UAE is closely linked into the Western economy, it's a federal presidential republic / constitution monarchy. It's got a parliment. It that region of the world, UAE is about as good as it gets.

You can't bomb your allies. You just can't do it. Bombing the UAE would be like bombing France. I don't care WHO is in France, you don't bomb them without the permission of the French gov't unless you want to start a war.

To complicate matters, the royal families in the UAE are just as diverse as the Saudi royal family (of which bin Laden is an offshoot) or my family for that matter-- you're bound to have a few loons running around, who may or may not be up to no good.

Now if you look at the 9/11 committee testimony of George Tenet (the CIA director under Clinton and Bush), he talks about why no one high up wanted to attack on that day.

1. They didn't believe the intellilgence that bin Laden was actually there.

2. If he was there, they didn't think he was going to STAY there long enough for the missiles to get him (which would have been 6+ hours later).

3. They had good indications that a number of UAE royals were in the gathering of Arabs that would be killed. If bin Laden is there, then the royals may be meeting with him-- but if he's not there, then you're going to wipe out a good chunk of the UAE royal family who are minding their business.


So, you have a situation where.. if you're WRONG, you're going to in one instant transform our closest ally in the region to the our fiercest enemy. Can you IMAGINE how we would respond if members of Bush's family were vacationing in Kennebunkport, and some other nation bombed us because they had 'intelligence' that a wanted criminal was in the area????

Oh my god. I can't even imagine.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

If you were the authority over the intelligence agents, under what circumstances would you grant a warrant to investigate Moussaoui's laptop? Under what circumstances do you empower our ally Moussad to attack bin Laden? It seems to me that you would be somewhat like Clinton when it comes to intelligence. Overly cautious... Unwilling to make a tough decision...

I appreciate your concerns; I really do. But I am really glad that you aren't running the show. If you had been running the show the past five years, there wouldn't be torture (and that's a good thing), but we would have been hit again - maybe several times. The fight would be here on our homeland. And then people would be so angry and so scared, that they would vote for a really scary guy. Someone who really believes in torture.

It's like this, we need to hit the bulls-eye. You have decided that hitting right of the bulls-eye is absolutely unacceptable. So, you always error on the left of the bulls-eye - often way left. 3000 Americans have died, and we've all been threatened, and the threat is real. But you will not error on the right side ever. That much you are committed to. So more and more and more people die, until finally, the American people say, "Enough is enough!" Then they vote for someone who throws all cautions to the wind - someone who says, "I will not hit left of the bulls-eye."

Aim small; miss small. We do not have the luxury to be inaccurate either way. We must carefully balance the preservation of civil liberties with the preservation of national security.

11:45 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

By the way, I thought this would make you proud.

With all your talk about torture, I sent Bill O'Reilly an email today rebuking him for condoning certain interrogation practices, and being vague about that which he supports and that which he opposes.

12:29 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

"If you were the authority over the intelligence agents, under what circumstances would you grant a warrant to investigate Moussaoui's laptop?"

I suppose my first attempt to find justice in the warant business would be to say "You can have a warrant only after you have as much evidence as the law requires you to have in order to get a warrant"

Perhaps this is a cop-out, but it's not meant to be. The very first step in determining whether you should get a warrant is: when does the law say you're allowed to have one. If you do a search anyway, despite not having a warrant, you've disobeyed the law, the government, and the poeople. IF you make an illegal search, you aren't a government anymore, you're a criminal.

This is the problem with the NSA recording every call in America without a warrant. We have laws that cover how you're supposed to do this sort of thing. The law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, says that you go to a court and you ask permission. You're even allowed to tap without permission, so long as you go to a court within 72 hours and GET permission. This is the law. There is only one person this law was written for to-- the President of the United States. (and of course, his DOJ).

That's the law. That's the way you do things around here. Congress went to all the trouble to pass a law after all the Nixon abuses of federal power. The courts have upheld the law.

Now, Bush has decided, under a disquieting legal theory, that since he is commander-in-chief in a 'time of war', that law doesn't apply to him anymore. He knew the law. He chose to break it. He's a criminal for it. Unlikely as it is, I hope I see him charged with that crime.

There's a similar situation with the torturing. The US signed a treaty promising the world we wouldn't torture. Congress passed a law ordering the president not to torture. By his own account, he intends to ignore those laws. If he has been doing what all signs suggest he's been doing-- he's a war criminal, and unlikely as it is, if he has been endorsing torture as all signs suggest, I hope that some day we see a war crimes tribunal.

"But I am really glad that you aren't running the show. If you had been running the show the past five years, there wouldn't be torture (and that's a good thing), but we would have been hit again - maybe several times."

Oh, I doubt that's the case. Do you really think Bush's torture and wiretaps have actually stopped a major attack? It's certainly a possibility-- but I'd be quite surprised.

The Daily Show-- a beacon of hope in these dark times, had a segment the other day where they talked about conclusive proof that Bush has learned the lessons of Katrina. The proof, they said, was that here it is, months into hurricane season, and we haven't been hit by a single major hurricane yet.

You see the point-- maybe Bush's illegal acts have prevented an attack-- but maybe there just hasn't been at attack. I mean-- the War in Afghanistan has definitely put a major crimp in Taliban's lifestyle.


Add in-- Bush's Iraq war has caused another 9/11. The terrorists our bombs our creating may yet cause many more 9/11s after that. And it may all be for nothing.

Add in-- Federal paralyzation in Katrina was at least a mini-9/11. And it's directly traceable to what happens when you put a man who runs horse show in charge of FEMA because you owe him a political favor.

Add in-- Bush's incompetence may well have contributed to 9/11. I don't know that to be true, but, I know that however nefarious Bush's folks are, they're even more incompetent. They can't handle a hurricane, they can't figure out who to attack or how to win that war. He can't even figure out that a nominanee for the Supreme Court should know something about constitutional law.


So, by my count, Bush has two and a half to three and a half 9/11s that he's caused all on his own. Now, I'd make a LOUSY president-- but I coulda done better than THAT.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

To assign Bush blame for 9/11 without much evidence that it was his fault, and then at the same time, defend Clinton for everything he did (or didn't do) for eight years prior to 9/11 doesn't make sense. It almost sounds like you are partisan.

Notice in my semi-in-depth analysis of the events leading up to 9/11, that I didn't change gears at all when Bush became president. It does seem like Bush and Rice did not take intelligence seriously. But like I said before, Clinton had gutted the intelligence agencies for 8 years. And you haven't really responded to my point about the USS Cole. 17 of our sailors died. And what did Clinton do?

You talk about the law of the land. Well, at this point the Patriot Act is the law of the land (whether you like it or not). Now I'm no legal scholar, and I oppose torture. But I think torture needs to be defined. We must empower intelligence agents to use certain non-torturous coercive techniques to get information from the terrorists in our custody.

Is the NSA recording every call in America without a warrant? Do you have evidence of this?

"Congress passed a law ordering the president not to torture. By his own account, he intends to ignore those laws."

Has Bush said that he intends to "ignore those laws"?

How does the law define "torture"?

How has Bush "ignored those laws"?

"Do you really think Bush's torture and wiretaps have actually stopped a major attack? It's certainly a possibility-- but I'd be quite surprised."

Well, like I said, I'm not yet convinced that Bush is torturing. He has clearly utilized certain coercive techniques, but is it torture? I don't know. I'm sure that you would say so - as would everyone else who hates Bush - but torture has yet to be defined really well. What does the law say? What has the government done? How do we know?

But, yes, I do think that the coercive techniques have worked. I have heard that the number 2 al-Qaeda operative recently gave a bunch of names and information after being subjected to a cold room and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Now, is that torture? I don't know how cold the room was, and I don't know how long he was in the room. I don't know if he has suffered any permanent damage, and I'm not sure what the legal/moral definition of torture is. Causing someone discomfort for an extended period of time - in my book - is not torture. Inflicting bodily damage is torture.

For all our disagreements, I will say this: If I was President of the United States, I would probably ask you to be in my Cabinet. I might not take your advice that often, but you always provide a viewpoint that is at least worth hearing and considering.

8:48 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

"So, you always error on the left of the bulls-eye - often way left. "

Well-- there's a radical statement that was big among the founding father types. It's a scary statement. I'm a big fan of it. "It's better for ten guilty men to go free than for one innnocent man to be convicted."

It's a pretty bold statement. It's counter-intuitive. Most people would probably say that a good justice system is one in which the number of guilty who go free equals the number of innocent people who are wrongfully convicted. That justice is too important to try to "aim to the left"-- that we have to hit the bulls eye no matter what.

I tend to feel that more than anything, we should "First do no harm". We don't torture people. We don't conduct illegal wiretaps. If we can catch some terrorists along the way-- that's great. If we can't, the we can't-- but we STILL don't commit war crimes, we still don't violate civil rights.

One of the biggest debates I have within myself is this:

Suppose you have a choice between "doing the right thing" and "making the people of the world happier"? Suppose the two really are in conflict. For example-- what if people really were happier in a totalitarian government? What if personal freedom-- a modern invention, actually stresses people out too much. Maybe we want a king-- maybe running our own world is too scary for us.

I doubt this is actually the case. Usually "doing the right thing" IS what will "make people happier". For example-- torturing is a REALLY stupid decision-- it turns the whole world against us, and it will kill more people than it saves. In future wars, our American troops will be in a very, very grave danger of being tortured should they become prisoners. Torture leads to bad intelligence, as peopl will tell you anything they thing you want to hear under torture.

But suppose that murdering 10,000 innocent civillians would somehow may the world a better place. Suppose we could prove that picking people at random and tortuing them on television would make people happy. Would it be justified?

My instinct says "do what's right-- no matter what the consequences", but I constantly find myself in debate where someone suggests exchanging injustice for the greater happiness of the world, and I never feel like it's a slam-dunk refutation. Invariably, I have to resort to factual rather than philosophical arguments-- trying to prove that "what is right" is, in this case, "what will make people happiest".


" By the way, I thought this would make you proud.

With all your talk about torture, I sent Bill O'Reilly an email today rebuking him for condoning certain interrogation practices"

Hey, that's great. But, the real choice comes not from who we email, but who we vote for. For example--

George Allen has supported Bush 100%. Allen, whose mother is French, called a man the french equivalent of "Nigger", and told him "Welcome to America". Also of interest to you, supposed Pro-Lifer owns stock in the company that makes the "Plan B" abortion pill, and a portion of the proceeds of each sale goes straight into his pocket-- something that seems a tad, oh, hippocritical.

Now-- Allen's opponent is a decorated vietnam veteran who was Secretary of the Navy under Reagan and lists his favorite presidents as Reagan and Andrew Jackson. This makes me cringe, but perhaps it appeals to you. Or perhaps simply NOT supporting the democrat OR the racist appeals to you.


There's a saying I like: "If we vote for politicians who commit crimes in office-- doesn't that make us accomplices?"

Voting for a Bush supporter means that for two more years, he'll be free to violate whatever laws he wants. And that should make anyone who votes for his supporters feel very guilty (if, of course, the do think the torture is wrong).

This, of course, is why the democrats in Connecticut are willing to risk losing the senate seat by refusing to nominate Lieberman. If they had, there was a 100% certainty that a Democrat would hold that seat. But, things like torture and wiretapping are SO important, that they're willing to risk it all, because voting for someone who supports those things-- even someone who agrees with you on most other issues, just seems wrong.

9:01 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

I don't think I will be voting for anyone in the next election, but rather voting against one or more people. It is unfortunate, but I am not represented in Washington. I find myself in a very difficult spot. To not vote is to give a half-vote to the really bad guy. So, what do I do, vote against the really bad guy or give the really bad guy half a vote by not voting at all.

Having said that, I am pretty ignorant about Virginia politicians. I will have to read and reread what you just wrote over and over again just to understand what you are talking about. Feel free to give me an education about where each of the candidates stand on each issue - and their character. I need to do some research.

As for the sentiment of the Founding Fathers, you know that the fact that they are our Founding Fathers means nothing to me. However, there is a certain measure of wisdom in their words. But I prefer this sentiment from Proverbs:

"Condemning the innocent and acquitting the guilty: The LORD detests them both!"

See, by letting terrorists go free, we effectively condemn the innocent (like John O'Neal and the 3000 other truly innocent Americans who were killed on September 11th).

See, acquitting the guilty is really bad, because by doing so, you can very often inadvertently condemn the innocent. So, as long as we agree that we should do everything we can not to condemn the innocent, we really have to make sure that we do condemn the guilty.

We always ought to do the right thing. The ends do not justify the means. I knew a guy who on several occassions burned a 100 dollar bill just to the point where it would no longer be worth anything. His point was that, "You can't take it with you! Stop living for Mammon, and start serving God!" At the time, I wasn't quite up to my bold self, but in my mind, I was thinking, "This is a crime. This is bad stewardship. This is a backwards mentality that suggests that by sinning against God, we can glorify God." He was thinking, "If only one person will give their hearts to Jesus, surely that's worth $100."

The ends and the means must both honor God. We must always do the right thing.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

"Also of interest to you, supposed Pro-Lifer owns stock in the company that makes the 'Plan B' abortion pill, and a portion of the proceeds of each sale goes straight into his pocket-- something that seems a tad, oh, hippocritical."

Can you back up this allegation? Is this a "morning after pill" or a birth control pill? Is the "abortion pill" the major product of this particular company? I think our whole ecnomy is corrupted and rooted in idolatry. Certainly, it is secularized. That being said, according to the letter of the law, if I owned any stock whatsoever, the case could be made that I am in sin because I am supporting secular causes.

Having said that, I would never invest in the tobbacco industry, but I do buy gas at gas stations that sell cigarrettes.

Do you ever shop at Walmart? Walmart has taken huge advantage of the capitalistic nature of society.

So, I guess I'm asking this: How blatant is George Allen's "hypocrisy." Did he buy stock in a pharmeceutical company that is doing all kinds of great things for people - but also sells an abortion product. Or has he effectively invested in a Planned Parenthood type organization?

1:13 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

So, I just read up on Mark Warner. You know he is against everything I stand for. While I'm not a George Allen fan, I could never support Mark Warner - unless he repents. God willing.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Just for the record, this is the email I sent to O'Reilly:


I heard you on the radio last night debate some dude who was opposed to torture. I am a born again committed evangelical Christian, and I believe that politics is a moral science, and therefore a subset of theology. So, I am no fan of the hardcore secular left, the ACLU, the Clintons, etc. I agree with you about 70% of the time.

But last night, in the debate about torture, you were completely obnoxious. You mentioned this guy being held in a 'cold room' and being subjected to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And you are trying to lead people to believe that the Red Hot Chili Peppers caused this guy to crack? Are you serious? (Remember, this is the no-spin zone).

How cold was the room, Bill? What was the temperature? How long was he in the room? Was he naked in a freezing room? Was he splashed with ice cold water in a room that was freezing? Was he kept in the room for several days on end?

I believe that we need to empower our intelligence agents to do their jobs. Using coercion is needed to fight and win this war on terrorism. But we have to be really careful about that line between coercion and torture. Your vagueness about the 'coldness' of the room (and about the time he was in the room) causes me not to trust you. Frankly, last night you reminded me of the 'Voice of London' in V for Vendetta. You are giving the anti-war far leftists a reason to stay that way.

from Hampton, VA"

I suppose, to be courteous, I could have said, "Respectfully, Dan." Oh, well. I'm still working on that whole tact virtue. But I think that O'Reilly could handle my "tone." He certainly should be able to handle it, because compared to Bill, I'm about as gentle and kind as my wife - even on my bad days. (And that's saying a lot. My wife is awesome.)

3:09 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

At some point, I will need to put all these pieces together:,2933,213746,00.html

See, when liberal, socialist, anti-war, hate-Bush Democrats start whining about torture, my initial reaction is, "There you go again... just hating Bush."

But when Lindsey Graham, John Warner, John McCain, and Colin Powell lead the charge against Bush, then I have to reconsider.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

I managed to successfully ruffle someone's feathers at the ACLU. After sending them an email inquiring about torture and letting them know that I am not a fan of the ACLU, they replied with:

"----- Original Message -----
From: ACLU Media
To: Dan
Sent: Thursday, September 14, 2006 4:20 PM
Subject: RE: Torture

Mr. (I don't want to put my last name on this blog),

All documents supporting these and other claims of abuses, are available on our website at We have received over 100,000 pages of documents, so we have also created an easy to use search engine at

In addition, you might find these two pages on our Religious Liberty and Belief Program, interesting and

In addition, I've posted an extensive list below of cases in which the ACLU has been a defender of religious liberty which you also might find surprising.

Regards, ACLU Media

The ACLU Defends Freedom of Religion

The ACLU is fully engaged in defending a broad range of constitutional rights, including rights related to freedom of religion and belief. It is sometimes wrongly imagined that the ACLU does not vigorously protect rights of freedom of religion, particularly of Christians. The following recent cases illustrate just how wrong these misconceptions are. Although the cases listed below are under the categories of “Christians” and “non-Christian” (representing the religious beliefs of those who were defended), constitutional rights belong to everyone and not only to people of particular religious faiths. The ACLU is also proud of its work defending the rights of everyone by ensuring that the Establishment Clause is fully respected.

Recent ACLU Cases Defending the Constitutional Rights of Christians

Rhode Island ACLU (2006) filed an appeal in federal court on behalf of an inmate who was barred from preaching during Christian religious services, something he had done for the past seven years under the supervision and support of prison clergy. The prisoner, Wesley Spratt, believes his preaching is a calling from God. Prison officials cited vague and unsubstantiated security reasons for imposing the preaching ban on Mr. Spratt. The ACLU argued that the ban violates Mr. Spratt’s religious freedoms guaranteed to prisoners under federal law.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania (2005) (in conjunction with Americans United) in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District won a Federal court case on behalf of parents of public school children against the school district that had attempted to impose religious beliefs on those who did not share them. (For the opinion see: The parents objected that the religious beliefs, under the guise “intelligent design” as an alternative to the theory of evolution, violated their religious liberty by promoting particular religious beliefs to their children under the guise of science education.

The ACLU of Nevada (2005) defended the free exercise rights and free speech rights of evangelical Christians to preach on the sidewalks of the Strip in Las Vegas.

The ACLU of New Mexico (2005) joined forces with the American Family Association to succeed in freeing a preacher, Shawn Miller, from the Roosevelt County jail, where he was held for 109 days for street preaching. The ACLU became involved at the request of Miller’s wife, Theresa.;

The ACLU of New Jersey (2005) filed a a motion to submit a

friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Olivia Turton, a second-grade student who was forbidden from singing “Awesome God” in a voluntary, after-school talent show. The only restriction on the student’s selection for the talent show was that it be “G-rated.” The case, filed in federal court, is Turton, et al. v. Frenchtown Elementary School, et al.

The ACLU of Michigan (2005) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Joseph Hanas, a Catholic, who was criminally punished for not completing a drug rehabilitation program run by the Pentecostal group. Part of the program required reading the Bible for seven hours a day, proclaiming one’s salvation at the alter, and being tested on Pentecostal principles. Staff confiscated Mr. Hanas’s rosary and told him Catholicism was witchcraft.

The ACLU of Louisiana (2005) filed suit against the Department of Corrections on behalf of a Mormon inmate, Norman Sanders, who was denied the right to practice his religion by being denied access to religious texts, including The Book of Mormon, and Mormon religious services. “Mormons should receive the same accommodation of their beliefs as do individuals of other faiths,” said Joe Cook, Executive Director, ACLU of Louisiana. “Fair and equal treatment means they deserve the right to a place to meet, have a minister and discuss their beliefs like other groups.”

The ACLU of Pennsylvania (2005) won a battle against Turtle Creek Borough that repeatedly denied an occupancy permit to a predominantly African-American church, Ekklesia, which had purchased the church building from a predominantly white parish. The case is Ekklesia Church v. Borough of Turtle Creek. The case was settled.

The ACLU of Oregon (2004-05) filed suit on behalf of high school basketball players from an Adventist school against the Oregon School Activities Association, which administers competitive athletic and artistic competitions in Oregon high schools. The ACLU argued that the Adventist basketball players who have made it to the state tournament should not be required to play tournament games on Saturday, their Sabbath. The case, argued in Oregon courts, is Nakashima v. Board Of Education.

The ACLU of Nevada (2004) represented a Mormon high school student, Kim Jacobs, who school authorities suspended and then attempted to expel for not complying with the school dress code and wearing T-shirts with religious messages. Jacobs won a preliminary victory in court where the judge ruled the school could not expel her for not complying with the dress code. The First Amendment issue of student expression is before the Ninth Circuit.;

The ACLU of Washington (2004) reached a favorable settlement on behalf of Donald Ausderau, a Christian minister, who wanted to preach to the public on Plaza sidewalks.

The ACLU of Virginia (2004) interceded with local authorities on behalf of Baptist preachers who were refused permission to perform baptisms in the river in Falmouth Waterside Park in Stafford County.;

The Indiana Civil Liberties Union (2004) filed suit against the city of Scottsburg for their repeated threats of arrest and/or citation against members of the Old Paths Baptist Church for demonstrating regarding various subjects dealing with their religious beliefs.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania (2005) won a battle against Turtle Creek Borough that repeatedly denied an occupancy permit to a predominantly African-American church, Ekklesia, which had purchased the church building from a predominantly white parish. The case is Ekklesia Church v. Borough of Turtle Creek. The case was settled. With the help of the ACLU of Pennsylvania Greater Pittsburgh Chapter (2004), the Church Army, an Episcopal social service group, was able to keep its program of feeding the homeless running. The ACLU convinced the County Health Department to reverse a decision that meals served to homeless people in a church must be cooked on the premises, as opposed to individual homes. Had the decision not been reversed, the ministry would have been forced to cease the program.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania (2004) was victorious in its arguments that government had to accommodate Amish drivers who used highly reflective gray tape on their buggies instead of orange triangles, to which the Amish objected for religious reasons.

The ACLU of New Jersey (2004) appeared as amicus curaie in opposition to a prosecutor’s act of striking potential jurors from a jury pool based on the fact that the prosecutor perceived those individuals to be “demonstrative about their religion.” One potential juror was a missionary; the other juror was wearing Muslim religious garb, including a skull cap. The ACLU-NJ argued that such an action violates the religion clauses of both the United States and New Jersey Constitutions. It also argued that not only is it inappropriate for jurors to be struck because they are demonstrable about their religion but, in addition, such a basis will often amount to a removal based upon a particular religious belief or affiliation and will lead to discrimination against identifiable religious minorities. The case is State v. Fuller (NJ SCt 2004).

The ACLU of Pennsylvania (2004) settled a lawsuit on behalf of Second Baptist Church of Homestead, a predominantly African-American church that had been denied a zoning permit to operate in a church building purchased by a white congregation. The occupancy permit was awarded in 2002, and in 2004, the Borough of West Mifflin agreed to pay damages and compensate the church for its loses. The case is Second Baptist Church of Homestead v. Borough of West Mifflin. ;;

The ACLU of Massachusetts (2003) intervened on behalf of a group of students at Westfield High School who were suspended for distributing candy canes and a religious message in school. The ACLU succeeded in having the suspensions revoked and filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit brought on behalf of the students against the school district. Students who were suspended include Daniel S. Souza, Stephen J. Grabowski, Sharon L. Sitler and Paul Sitler.

The ACLU of Rhode Island (2003) interceded on behalf of an interdenominational group of carolers who were denied the opportunity to sing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve to inmates at the women’s prison in Cranston, Rhode Island.

The Iowa Civil Liberties Union (2002) publicly supported a group of Christian students who filed a lawsuit against Davenport Schools asserting their right to distribute religious literature during non-instructional time. The ICLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the suit on behalf of the students.

The ACLU of Massachusetts (2002) filed a brief supporting the right of the Church of the Good News to run ads criticizing the secularization of Christmas and promoting Christianity as the “one true religion” after the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority refused to allow the paid advertisements to be posted and to sell additional advertising space to the church.

The ACLU of Virginia (2002) joined the Rev. Jerry Falwell in winning a lawsuit arguing the Virginia Constitution’s provision that bans religious organizations from incorporating is unconstitutional.

The ACLU of Michigan (beginning in 2001) represented Abby Moler, a student at Sterling Heights Stevenson High School, whose yearbook entry was deleted because of its religious content.;

The ACLU of Massachusetts (2000) defended inmate Peter Kane’s right to exercise his religious beliefs when prison officials confiscated his rosary beads. The rosary beads were black and white and prison rules allow only solid-colored beads.

The ACLU of Virginia (2000) represented Charles D. Johnson, a street preacher who was convicted under Richmond’s noise ordinance. The Virginia Court of Appeals reversed his conviction in 2000. The case is Johnson v. City of Richmond, 2000 WL 1459848 (Va. App. 2000).

The ACLU of Virginia (1999) filed suit against the Department of Defense and the Office of Personnel Management on behalf of Michelle Hall, a Jehovah’s Witness who was fired from her job as a produce worker at Ft. Belvoir commissary because she refused to sign a loyalty oath. Ms. Hall objected to a phrase in the oath, that she would “bear true faith and allegiance to” the Constitution, because it contradicts her undivided allegiance and faithfulness to Jehovah. The ACLU argued the oath violated Ms. Hall’s freedom of religion and speech rights. In a settlement, Ms. Hall was reinstated and given back pay.;

The ACLU of Eastern Missouri (1999) secured a favorable settlement for a nurse, Miki M. Cain, who was fired for wearing a cross-shaped lapel pin on her uniform.

The ACLU of Virginia (1997-1999) represented Rita Warren and her mission to erect a crèche on Fairfax County government space that had been set aside as a public forum. The ACLU argued restricting the use of the public forum to county residents only was an unreasonable restriction. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the ACLU.;

The ACLU of Iowa (1997) represented Conservative Christians in Clarke County and won the right to force a county referendum on gambling.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania Greater Pittsburgh Chapter (1997) represented Carlyn Kline, a fundamentalist Christian woman who challenged the legality of a mandatory divorce-counseling program conducted by Catholic Charities. Her religious beliefs prohibited her from attending “non-Christian” counseling.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania Greater Pittsburgh Chapter (1997) intervened on behalf of a Mennonite nurse and prevented his firing for refusing to shave his beard for religious reasons. The employer demanded the nurse shave his beard so the state-issued mask to guard against tuberculosis would fit tightly despite the employee’s offer to purchase a more expensive mask that would is approved for work with T.B. patients and that would fit properly with his beard intact. After receiving telephone calls and letters from the ACLU, the state employer agreed to accommodate the nurse’s religion.

Amish farmers benefited from the ACLU of Pennsylvania Greater Pittsburgh Chapter’s letter threatening a lawsuit if the Elk Lick Township rescind a municipal ordinance that prohibited farm tractors with steel wheels from traveling on or over the township's roads. Amish religious beliefs dictate that they maintain steel wheels on their tractors and the ordinance prevented Amish farmers from moving their tractors from one farm to another, and in some cases from one part of their property to another. The township rescinded the ordinance in 1995 and dropped all charges against the various persons charged under the ordinance.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania Greater Pittsburgh Chapter (1995) represented a 17-year-old foster child who was being forced to attend her foster family’s church. The foster child was Methodist and the church she was being forced to attend was not of the Methodist faith. After the ACLU threatened to sue the county allowed the child to attend a Methodist church and placed her in a different foster home.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania Greater Pittsburgh Chapter (1995) secured the right of a minister from the United Methodist Church to hold meetings in the Harmony Township Borough building that was open for use by community groups.

Iowa affiliate of the ACLU (1995) represented and vindicated the free speech and religious expression of a conservative Christian activist, Elaine Jaquith of Waterloo, who had been denied access to broadcast her message on public television.

The ACLU of Texas (beginning in1995) represented Catholic and Mormon Santa Fe High School students who opposed the proselytizing prayers offered by the school’s student council chaplain over the public address system prior to home football games. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed that public schools should not be used to proselytize on behalf of religion. Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290 (2000)

The ACLU of Vermont (1994-95) represented evangelical Christians Freda and Perry Hollyer, who were denied Medicaid and food stamp benefits because they refused to obtain social security numbers for their children. The Hollyers believed that obtaining social security numbers for their children ran contrary to their understanding of the

Book of Revelations. The ACLU appealed the denial to the state’s Human Services Board. The Board ruled in favor of the Hollyers holding that the state’s legitimate interests in preventing fraud could be achieved without use of a social security number. The Board’s ruling is on file with the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief.

The ACLU of Utah (1990s) represented an evangelical Christian ministry that had been evicted and denied future access as a vendor at a state fair because fair-goers objected to the religious content of the message.

Non-Christian religions:

The ACLU of New Mexico (2005) represented Muammar Ali, a Muslim football player for New Mexico State, who was released from play following repeated questioning about al-Qaida.

The ACLU of North Carolina (2005) filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s practice of refusing to allow non-Christians from taking an oath in court using a religious text other than the Bible.

In response to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Colorado (2005), the Department of Corrections agreed to resume providing kosher meals to Timothy Sheline, a Jewish prisoner, whose kosher diet was revoked for one year as punishment for allegedly violating a dining hall rule by taking two packages of butter and two packages of salad dressing and placing them in his pocket to remove them from the dining hall.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania (2005) sued on behalf of a devout Muslim firefighter, Curtis DeVeaux, for suspending the Muslim for refusing to shave his beard as required by city regulations.

The ACLU of Wisconsin (2005) filed suit on behalf of Cynthia Rhouni, a practicing Muslim woman, who was required to remove her headscarf in front of male prison guards in order to visit her husband at the Columbia Correctional Institution. Ms. Rhouni offered to remove her headscarf and be searched by a female guard, but the prison would not accommodate her request and respect her religious belief that her head should not be uncovered in the presence of unrelated males.

The ACLU of Northern California (2005) filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging restrictions on an asylum seeker’s right to wear a religious head covering. The plaintiff, Harpal Singh Cheema, is a devout Sikh, imprisoned since 1997 while awaiting a decision on his asylum application. The Sikh faith requires men to cover their heads at all times, but Yuba County jail authorities will not permit Mr. Cheema to leave his bed with his head covered.

The ACLU of New Jersey (2005) settled with the New Jersey Department of Corrections on behalf of Patrick Pantusco, an inmate who practices Wicca who was denied religious books and other religious items while in prison. Persons of other religions were permitted to obtain religious books and items specific to their religious practice. The prison’s denial of Mr. Pantusco’s requests was based on the fact that the prison refused to recognize Wicca as a legitimate religion. In the settlement, the state agreed to permit Mr. Pantusco access to all requested items and pay damages. The case is Pantusco v. Moore, et al. (D.N.J.).

The ACLU of Washington (2005) represented The Islamic Education Center of Seattle, which was denied a conditional land use permit by the city of Mountlake Terrace. The Center is a small nonprofit membership organization founded primarily by Farsi-speaking (Iranian & Afghani) Muslims living in the greater Seattle area. It holds prayer services on Friday and Saturday evenings, sponsors educational programs like poetry reading and language training, and holds various cultural and traditional observances. The City denied the Center’s land use permit even though the property next door to the Center was a Christian church that had received a similar permit. With the aid of the ACLU, the Center was eventually awarded the necessary permit to allow it to operate.

The ACLU of Nebraska (2004) filed a suit against the city of Omaha on behalf of Lubna Hussein, a practicing Muslim woman who wears a headscarf and long sleeves for religious reasons, who was twice denied entry to Deer Ridge pool property to watch her children swim for refusing to wear a swimsuit. She did not intend on entering the pool to swim. The city has since changed its policy allowing for medical and religious exceptions to the swimsuit policy.

The ACLU of Virginia (2003) represented and filed suit on behalf of Cynthia Simpson, a Wiccan who county leaders refused to add to a list of religious leaders who could be invited to offer invocations at meetings of the Chesterfield County board of Supervisors. The reason given for refusing to add her to the list was that her religion was not of the Judeo-Christian tradition. A federal magistrate judge found restricting the invocations to Judeo-Christian prayers violated the constitutionally required separation of church and state.

The Iowa Civil Liberties Union (2002) brought suit on behalf of two sophomore students and their parents against the Woodbine Community School District challenging the district’s decision to have the school choir sing the Lord’s Prayer at the graduation ceremony. The sophomores, Donovan and Ruby Skarin, are members of the choir and do not want to be forced to “sing praise to a God that we don’t even believe in.”

The ACLU of Oklahoma (2000) filed a federal lawsuit against Union Public School District No. 9 on behalf of 15-year-old Brandi Blackbear, a Wiccan who was accused by school officials of making a teacher sick by casting a hex. School authorities suspended Brandi, an honor student, for 15 days for allegedly casting spells, 19 days for the content of personal writings, and forbade her from wearing or drawing any symbols related to the Wicca religion.

The ACLU of Maryland (2000) called on the Baltimore Police Department to rescind grooming rules prohibiting dreadlocks and reinstate Rastafarian police officer Antoine Chambers who was suspended for refusing to cut off his dreadlocks, which violates his religious beliefs.

The ACLU of Michigan (1999) obtained a favorable settlement on behalf of Crystal Seifferly with Lincoln Park High School. As part of the settlement, the school changed its policy prohibiting the wearing of pentagrams, a symbol of the Wicca religion, of which Seifferly is an adherent. The school deleted the policy’s provision that stated that pagans and witches are inappropriate in a school setting.

The ACLU of New Jersey (1999), the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and the Anti-Defamation League won a lawsuit on behalf of Muslim police officers who were barred by department grooming standards from maintaining their beards, as required by their religious beliefs. The officers, Faruq Abdul-Aziz and Shakoor Mustafa, are devout Sunni Muslims. The case is Fraternal Order of Police Newark Lodge No. 12 v. City of Newark, 170 F.3d 359 (3d Cir. 1999).

The ACLU of Oregon (1996-present) filed suits on behalf of Portland student Remington Powell and his parents against the Portland School District for allowing The Boy Scouts, a religious organization, to recruit in public schools during school hours. The first case alleged constitutional and statutory violations of the separation of church and state. The second case alleged violation of state anti-discrimination laws based on public schools allowing the Boy Scouts to recruit in school despite the organization’s history of religious and sexual-orientation discrimination."

To which I replied with:

"Thank you for your prompt reply.

I intend to look over all those cases very carefully.

So far, I'm not surprised in the least. For you said, "The ACLU is also proud of its work defending the rights of everyone by ensuring that the Establishment Clause is fully respected."

This does not surprise me. Don't I have the right not to respect the Establishment Clause? Are you not imposing a religious doctrine on me for insisting that I respect the Establishment Clause? Oh, wait... I know. The Establishment Clause is not religious. Would you mind defining "religion" for me? I would suggest that religion is a set of beliefs, doctrines, creeds, and ideas that command a certain measure of allegiance and respect. Given that definition of religion, the Establishment Clause is most definitely a religious idea. It is hard to pin a name on the "religion" that the said clause respects the establishment of, but I would suggest that the Establishment Clause is a reflection of the religion of postmodern secular humanism.

And since the Establishment Clause is respecting the establishment of the religion of postmodern secular humanism, it is philosophically contradicting and self-defeating. For, as you know, the said clause says that Congress shall pass no law respecting the establishment of religion. Yet many laws have been passed that respect the establishment of postmodern secular humanism.

Colossians 2:8 says, "See to it that no one takes you captive to hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human traditions and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

Secularism is a religion.

Let me ask you this. Do Christian teachers of public schools have the right to publicly and conspicuously acknowledge God out loud in class? Do Christian teachers have the right to obey God by commanding the gospel in the public school system?

See, if you don't defend the right of Christian teachers to publicly declare and command the gospel with authority in the public school system - in accordance with the will of God, then all your talk of defending "religious liberty" is patronizing nonsense. If you have such teachers punished, then you are an enemy of God.

The First Amendment is a philosophical contradiction.

Repent and turn to Jesus Christ. Serve Him only. Live for Him alone.

God has all authority. You are to fear Him and love Him.

Anytime the ACLU has ever been right has only been due to the fact that all truth is God's truth. You have to borrow from Christian truth in order to be right about anything. So, when teachers declare that 2*2=4, they are declaring God's truth. When teachers declare that Billy should not punch Zachary in the classrom, the teacher is declaring God's truth. The teacher is imposing a moral idea - a religious idea - (remember the definition of religion) on the student. And rightfully so.

When a teacher teaches students to reject racism, they are teaching Christian dogma that says that racism is wrong. And rightfully so, because racism is wrong.

When the ACLU uses reason, you are presupposing that the laws of logic exist and are real and that they should be used when building an argument. That presupposition is taken on faith. You have made a judgment - a religious judgment - about etymology. You have appealed to God's truth - whether you realize it or not.

When the ACLU essentially commands us to "respect" the Establishment Clause, you are opposing my religious beliefs that say that the Establishment Clause is not worthy of respect.

No... you have not surprised me.

Hear now this command: Do everything for God's glory and according to God's ways. Live by faith. Stand up for justice (that which is in line with the moral will of God). Recognize that there are moral absolutes, and since there are, our laws had better be based on those moral absolutes.

Check out my blog:

God bless you. May He lead you and guide you into the truth.

May God give us the wisdom to see the right; the will to choose it; and the strength to make it endure.



Ya know... for that matter... why is it that federal employees and the military must promise to support and defend the Constitution? Why should all federal employees have to go through "ethics" training?

The reason of course is because we as a society are sold on the postmodern religion of secular humanism. So, federal employees don't need to pledge to support defend the Word of God - but they do need to support and defend the words of our Founding Fathers?

How do you spell idolatry?

Let me be clear... Inasmuch as the Constiution and the law of the land is in agreement with the Bible, I fully and proudly submit myself to them and support them. Inasmuch as those documents are in agreement with the Bible, they are worth fighting for and defending. But inasmuch as the Constitution and the laws of the land contradict the Bible, then they are trash, and not worthy of respect or allegiance. As a Patriot then, I would call on my fellow Americans to evaluate the Constitution very carefully, and then remember the words of the Apostle Paul in Colossians 2:8:

"See to it then that no one takes you captive to hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human traditions and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ."

6:23 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

"I knew a guy who on several occassions burned a 100 dollar bill just to the point where it would no longer be worth anything."

Interesting point? Why did you feel it was wrong for him to do that? I kinda like it myself-- it's a pretty bold point, assuming it was HIS $100, and not, say, the church's.

I s'pose there was something better he could have done for the world with that money than burn it. On the other hand, it's not like the money's really 'gone'-- money's just paper anyway. But nothing was really lost-- he just increased the value of every dollar in circulation by one-800-billionth of a dollar. He didn't really 'destroy' anything but a piece of paper-- he simply forfeited HIS ability to have access to that wealth.

On Allen and Plan B--

Yeah, it's a fact that he owns stock in the people who make the morning after pill, and more relevantly, he has said he is not going to sell it, even though it's been pointed out to him about the irony of the pro-lifer profiting from the morning after pill.


Now, I don't much care about the morning after pill. Wonderful invention, I say-- ought to give 'em out like candy to anyone who wants one. But I thought I'd mention it for your sake.

I just don't how it's possible that Allen can even stand a chance of winning. He supposedly has ties to white supremacist groups (see wikipedia for starters), he supposedly was a confederate flag nut (which admittedly, is a complex subject). Now he's been caught making fun of an AMERICAN CITIZEN because of his race, calling him the french word for Nigger, and telling him "Welcome to America, and the real world of Virginia"

If _I_ were a Virginia, I would feel soo embarassed to ever talk to another black person again if this guy gets elected. It's embarassing enough that he even stands a chance. Telling a citizen "Welcome to America" because they're not white? And "the real world of Virginia" must refer to the fact that in Virginia, you can call someone a Nigger and still get a chance at being elected.

My beloved Daily Show did a segment on this where they said "Well, 'Macaca' is obviously a racial slur, but.. this IS virginia, where we're not sure whether that sort of thing helps a guy or hurts him".


On Torture-- yeah, it's way beyond the point where it's just a few liberals talking about it. I mean, if Bush has done some of the things it's possible he might have done, in a decade or two, he might really be the first american president to be charged with crimes for his actions in office. I mean-- the McCain bill ordering Bush to stop torturing-- the law that Bush says he isn't going to follow, it passed the Senate by a vote of 90 to 9. Now if it turns out that he's breaking that law, which wouldn't be surprising since he issued a statement saying that he doesn't intend to abide by it-- then not only is he violating the geneva conventions, the UN Human Rights laws, and the constitution-- but he's not explicitly breaking a law the US Congress passed explicitly in this situation.

Again-- maybe he's not doing anything. Maybe he has some logic for making it LOOK like he's set up secret torture chambers, but isn't really. But I'm afraid that all the evidence pointing to an on-going American war crimes is true-- and when the whole story comes out, as it will, it will do more damage than a thousand 9/11s could have.


Ahh, you talked to the ACLU. I'm a big, big fan. They're one of the few organizations that can make me get all non-post-moderny and make me actually feel like there is at least one force for goodness around here.

When I turned 18, I paid my dues and became an official card-carrying member. I was particularly pleased that there really is a card-- usually 'card-carrying' is just a figure of speech, but no, I got a card and everything from them.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Of course you're a fan of the ACLU. You are all about the establishment of the secular religion of this country. You are all about depriving Christian teachers their God-given right to preach the gospel in the classroom. You are all about using my tax dollars to indoctrinate the next generation with all the doctrines and ideas of the religion of secularism. You are an enemy of God, and you will be punished for it if you don't repent.

The ACLU insists that the Establishment Clause be "fully respected." This is religious tyranny. Do I not have the right to disrespect the First Amendment?

If you agree that I do, then you must stop supporting the ACLU, because they insist that the First Amendment be "fully respected."

God bless you.

On the VA election...
Like I said before, I never claimed to be a fan of George Allen. As usual, in this secular democracy in which we live, we are presented with two horrible candidates. But Mark Warner is clearly much worse than George Allen.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

The guy who burned the $100 bill solicited donations for his purpose essentially telling them, "It is for a good cause, but I'm not telling you what it is; you have to trust me."

But even if it was his own money, destroying currency is against the law. And it is bad stewardship. He could have demonstrated Christian charity by giving that money to a charity that really could have used it.

And by the way... none of your money is really yours. It all belongs to God. We are to use our money to establish God's purposes and justice in the world. We are to be good stewards of the money that God has entrusted to us. Because it belongs to Him.

And when you start thinking about that, it becomes clear that our whole economy pretty much forces us to become idolaters. All our money is to be used to establish God's purposes. Thus, when we pay taxes, that money becomes immediately secularized and is used to advance secularism. So, I have been commanded to use every cent that God entrusts to me to establish God's purposes. But much of that money is then used to oppose the proclamation of the gospel. It is used to advance the proclamation of secular humanism. Thus, every one of us has a duty to pressure the government to abandon secular idolatry and submit to God, who has commanded that all nations obey Him.

11:23 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

"And by the way... none of your money is really yours. It all belongs to God."

That's great, because, there's a lot of rich people that have a whole lot of God's money that could really help out my new socialized health care program.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

And if they don't use their money responsibly, they will be punished. Rest assured. Sleep peacefully. God is in control.

And like I said earlier, be wise. Be shrewd. Buy health insurance. If you already have health insurance, then start buying health insurance for some poor Christian school teachers who work over 60 hours a week and get paid less than engineers working 20 hours a week. Plus, the part time engineers are getting better insurance for free.

So, by all moral means, feel free to put your money where your mouth is. But I prefer to use my extra cash to support other noble causes - like the propagation of the gospel and the establishment of Christian schools in the Sudan. So, by all (moral) means, give. But don't steal my money for your purposes. I don't steal your money to advance the gospel. You shouldn't steal mine to advance universal health care.

Robin Hood was a criminal.

3:42 PM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

But, you miss my point. You have no money-- it's God's money.

Well, I'm quite convinced, after reading the Gospels, that God wants universal health care.

After all-- we have many examples of Jesus encouraging charitable spending, and of course the famous criticism of the money changers in the temple. Jesus is healing left and right, and he never charges for it. Sounds to me like God wants health care, not new churches.

Obviously, we could debate what God wants till the proverbial cows come home-- but this is the whole problem with the notion that "It's God's money".

Robin Hood was a hero-- albeit a fictional one.

11:28 PM  

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