November 05, 2007

Almost Forgot ...

We beat Coastal.

VMI next weekend in the 'Burg, then we head to Gardner-Webb for the game that will probably decide who wins the Big South conference. Go Flames!!

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October 04, 2007

The Third Party Movement

I've never been a real fan of any of the viable third-party options that exist today. I'm not saying that I don't like third parties -- I think that we need one, now that the GOP and the Dems are starting to look a LOT alike, especially fiscally. But the Libertarians don't appeal to me (I'm too much of a social conservative), and the Constitution Party is too isolationistic for me (I've talked about them before). There's always the Lighthouse Party (who I've mentioned before as well), but they don't even have a platform yet, so I don't see them getting anything ready for 2008.

But I find myself in the same boat as James Dobson. If the GOP nominates a pro-choice candidate, I can't support them. I'm not a single-issue voter (I have other concerns with Giuliani), but the abortion issue is important to me, on some very personal levels. And I don't see a Democratic candidate that I could come close to supporting. So I have an interesting problem.

So I'm watching the campaign with an interest I've not had in a long time. And I'm hoping that I don't have to go third party, because I really do think that the departure of even a small majority of conservative evangelicals will ensue that the GOP loses the 2008 election.

But maybe that's what needs to happen. More and more, evangelicals are being treated like the red-headed stepchildren of the Republican Party. They kiss up to us every election year, and court us hardcore every four years, but all it is is lip service. And I'm tired of voting for the lesser of two evils. If a loss gets the attention of the RNC, then maybe that's what the country needs, long term.

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September 26, 2007

We Have NO Sense of Humor

I am lamenting the passing of a wonderfully funny blog, the Secret Diary of D. A. Carson. This was a blog that, much in the same vein as the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, poked a bit of fun at evangelical Christianity in general, and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in particular. The creators of the site came under fire from the administration at TEDS, and have decided to stop blogging ... for now.

...here's to the administration at TEDS. Hey, admin people, you know how at the end of every Friday the 13th movie they always think they've killed Jason off for the last time? Just checking...
One thing that's pretty obvious in reading the blog -- nobody could possibly think that this was actually D. A. Carson. It's clear that the thing's parody, and it would have slipped under a LOT of people's radars if the folks at TEDS had simply ignored it. But they didn't.

And before we slam the TEDS admin for that, we better remember that the rest of us aren't much better. People would have missed The Last Temptation of Christ movie if we hadn't gotten mad about it, way back when. People would have missed Kathy "What can I say this week to make people remember who I am?" Griffin and her intentionally vulgar and insulting comment if we'd just left her alone. She's a comedian, for crying out loud -- and not a very good one at that. A D-list actor who won a D-list award (a "Creative Arts" Emmy -- for people we've never heard of who do shows nobody watches). She's trying to get attention, and she got it. I'm sure she's really appreciative of all of us.

When people say things that offend us, remember that they did worse to Jesus. And when people make fun of us, remember that there's plenty to make fun of. Unless, of course, you're perfect.

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September 24, 2007

Invite Him AGAIN!!!

So everyone has been up in arms about Columbia University inviting the idiot from Iran to speak. Now, the idiot from Iran is getting ripped apart by the person "introducing" him (the video is on CNN.com right now).

I'm really enjoying this one. Let's hear it for free speech!

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September 17, 2007

McCain: Oh, By The Way ...

John McCain has decided to let everyone know that he's a Baptist. Of course, he didn't do that in Iowa, or New Hampshire, or California. He did it in South Carolina. Only place there's more Baptists around than in the Carolinas is in Texas (and that's just because it's bigger, and there's more room for us there).

Needless to say, I was skeptical. McCain has been calling himself Episcopalian for a little while now, and that's a LONG way from Baptist (at least the Baptists I hang out with). All of a sudden, with his campaign in jeopardy, he's Baptist.

But then I started thinking -- who am I to judge. And the church he's been attending looks like it's got it together. They even podcast!

But to McCain, denominational label isn't important.

In May, McCain's campaign identified his religion to The Associated Press as Episcopalian, but noted his four younger children are Baptists and he attends the North Phoenix Baptist Church when at home.

McCain grew up Episcopalian and attended an Episcopal high school in Alexandria, Va. On Monday, he spoke briefly about that history and about the Baptist church he now attends. Then, after saying his overall faith is what's important, he concluded: "I don't have anything else to say about that issue."

from the Associated Press article
McCain also finds the Baptist church he's attending "more fulfilling" than the Episcopal church.

So is this an attempt to gain some street cred among evangelical voters? Maybe -- though for many he blew that when he went to Liberty University to speak (of couse, some of us thought Jerry was nuts to invite him in the first place -- evangelicals have long memories, after all). Personally, I think it's his way of addressing the religion issue without making it a huge issue.

And I think he did a pretty good job.

{Edit}: Here's a new wrinkle on the situation -- McCain has had his kids baptized in the Baptist church, but hasn't done it himself. “I didn’t find it necessary to do so for my spiritual needs,” he said. But he affirms that he's a Baptist. So NOW the whole baptism/church membership thing that the Christian blogosphere has been arguing and debating about (at least my own little neighborhood of it has) is now front page news, thanks to John McCain. Can you be a Baptist and not been baptized as a believer? See my comments on the piece at GetReligion.

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September 09, 2007

Out Of The Mouths of Toons ...

FIRST -- go read Frazz. Now contemplate how much Frazz looks like Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbes). Now it's time to discuss:

"If we pay teachers more, would we get better teachers?" more...

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September 07, 2007

Gone, But Not Forgotten

They say that bad things come in threes (though I'm not sure who 'they' are, or how they got so smart). This week seems to have supported this idea, anyway, in the deaths of three people whose lives touched thousands.

D. James Kennedy was a man I watched on TV before I really knew what the difference was between a Presbyterian and a Baptist. He was religious right when religious right wasn't cool, but was willing to let others take the spotlight. He was a pastor, first and foremost, and his people knew and appreciated it. His influence will be felt for generations.

Luciano Pavarotti. Opera was always more my wife's thing (and she prefers Carreras), but even I knew Pavarotti. Of course, he ruined an excellent performance of Turandot for me several years ago, simply because the tenor (who was magnificent) wasn't Pavarotti. He was the only opera many people will ever know -- which is kinda like saying that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is the only Russian novelist that many people will know. It's OK, because they know the best.

And today, we hear about the death of Madeline L'Engle. And everyone is talking about A Wrinkle in Time, forgetting A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time, the further adventures of Charles Wallace and Meg and their family. Interconnectedness is the key, and you don't get the whole story just by reading the first book. Dig deeper, and you'll mine gold.

Three lives that made an impact. Three people who left their mark, and will be missed.

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June 25, 2007

Who Said It?

I may make this a semi-regular feature (as regular as anything on this blog is right now, anyway). Interesting quote that I've picked up. Below the fold you'll find out who said it.

“Doing the Lord’s work is a thread that’s run through our politics since the very beginning. And it puts the lie to the notion that the separation of church and state in America — a principle we all must uphold and that I have embraced as a constitutional lawyer and most importantly as a Christian — means faith should have no role in public life.”
more...

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June 18, 2007

I Wasn't There, Either!!

Everybody is doing their "I'm not in San Antonio" posts. I'd have liked to have gone this year, but the funds weren't there -- I've always wanted to see San Antonio, and I've never been to Texas. But I didn't go, and so I'm hopping on the bandwagon that Steve and Joe started.

Sunday, the 10th, I preached (as I've been doing for the past ten months or so). I preached on eternal security -- there are some folks at the church who grew up in Free-Will Baptist churches, and even though they realize they're secure, they don't always seem to understand why. So I reminded them, and gave them Scripture they can rely on. Sunday night was the first night of VBS. I got to be VBS director this year, so now you know how I spent my entire week last week. Friday was family night at VBS, and we had some food after the kids got their certificates and sang their songs.

Saturday, I recovered from VBS. Tried to mow the lawn, but couldn't get the lawnmower started.

Sunday, I preached on Joseph, the father God chose for His Son. We tend to ignore the important job that Joseph had, but there are some things all fathers could learn from him. Sunday night I spoke on Luke 2:52 -- a verse that we don't hear preached often enough. Jesus grew internally, externally, and upwardly -- just as we all need to.

So now you know all about my week, and I'm in good company. And maybe the trackbacks will let everyone know that I'm starting to actually blog again, even though more substantial posts are still to come.

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June 16, 2007

Like That Prius Now?

OK, I admit that I've considered (seriously, very seriously) buying a Prius. Dumping gas into my Blazer to the tune of three bucks a gallon isn't any fun, I promise. But after reading this article, I'm having second thoughts.

Through a study by CNW Marketing called “Dust to Dust,” the total combined energy is taken from all the electrical, fuel, transportation, materials (metal, plastic, etc) and hundreds of other factors over the expected lifetime of a vehicle. The Prius costs an average of $3.25 per mile driven over a lifetime of 100,000 miles - the expected lifespan of the Hybrid.

The Hummer, on the other hand, costs a more fiscal $1.95 per mile to put on the road over an expected lifetime of 300,000 miles. That means the Hummer will last three times longer than a Prius and use less combined energy doing it.


I really think this is symptomatic of a much larger problem -- as a people, we are nearsighted. We look at the immediate impact on us, and not the overall impact. And that's of anything. That's one of the things that Devices Of The Soul talks about: we have to learn (or for some of us, relearn) to consider the opportunity costs and production costs of what we do, and not just the cost of use.

So now I guess I'll have to go get me a Hummer. Those H3s are kinda nice ....

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June 01, 2007

40 Years Ago Today ...

... Sergeant Pepper taught the music world a whole new way to play.

(Yes, I know that doesn't go with the rhythm. Just go with me, here.)

Back some twenty years or so, I had a copy of Sergeant Pepper. Original copy, too -- my cousin had a copy, and he gave it/loaned it to me. I played it to death.

Sergeant Pepper is an album that, for me, defined what late '60s music was. A little eclectic, a little trippy, and very different from what went before. It's also an album that was introduced to the world in a different way than before. more...

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May 16, 2007

In Memorium: Jerry Falwell

A lot of ink has been spilled, and a lot of electrons spent, in the past 24 or so hours, on this topic. And it would be very easy for me to simply sit down and write a defense of Jerry, or a critique, or to simply post a rant against the people who (as happened last night on Anderson Cooper 360) will simply choose to call names and hate, even as they cry out against his "hatred."

But that's all been done before. Ever since I walked on campus at Liberty University in August of 1986, I've been defending my chancellor. And it often wasn't an easy job. When my sister called me yesterday at about 2 and said "Did you hear about Jerry Falwell?" my gut reaction (though thankfully unspoken) was "Oh, no. What did he say this time?"

Jerry had a habit of speaking what was on his mind, without realizing (or, sometimes, caring, I guess) what it would sound like. Just a few weeks ago, he announced that he considered the doctrine of limited atonement (a cornerstone of Calvinist theology) "heresy." Immediately, I thought of people like Charles Spurgeon, William Carey, Al Mohler, and John MacArthur -- all good men, men of faith and conviction, and all fervent five-point Calvinists. All heretics, I guess, according to Jerry.

Needless to say, I didn't always agree with Jerry Falwell. But one of the things I learned in my time at Liberty was that that was OK. I attended classes with people from all over the evangelical spectrum -- old-school fundamentalists, Southern Baptists, evangelical Methodists, Pentecostals, you name it. Even when Jerry didn't always express tolerance in minors, the culture at Liberty thrived on it.

People enjoyed attacking Jerry Falwell. And I could tell that they really didn't know the man -- the man, not the preacher. The preacher preached against all forms of vice. The man, the Christian, often loaned his ministry's plane to Larry Flynt (yes, that Larry Flynt), who Jerry was actually friends with. People attacked Jerry for his lack of compassion, but Jerry rather quietly founded and operated the Elim Home for alcoholics and the Liberty Godparent Home for unwed mothers. Jerry was pro-life -- he was more than willing to take care of young women who made a mistake, and wanted to do the right thing -- including offering scholarships to Liberty for those who wanted it.

But I got to know a Jerry Falwell that the media and the casual observers would never get to know. I knew the man who, long before Springer made it popular, would walk into a basketball game to a thunderous chant of "Jerry! Jerry!" Whose students often referred to themselves (both ironically and proudly) as "Jerry's Kids." Who found time to talk to students as he walked across campus. Who was really interested in those students.

My mother-in-law spent a lot of time on campus when my wife and I were students there. She saw Jerry, and he saw her. He never knew her name, but any time he saw her in Lynchburg, he came over and spoke to her, or waved. He knew that she was an LU mom, and he wanted to show her he appreciated her.

The Jerry Falwell that the media never got to know threw toilet paper rolls at basketball games. He threw snowballs in chapel -- at the president of the college. He told incoming freshmen, "When Dr. Guillerman is around, you have to observe protocol and call me Dr. Falwell. But when he's not around, call me Pastor. Or heck, you can just call me Jerry."

That's the Jerry Falwell I got to know. And that's the one I will miss. Rest in Peace, Jerry. You've earned that reward.

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April 29, 2007

In Memorium: Dr. Lee Roberson

The Chattanoogan has the full story. For those who don't know him, Dr. Roberson was a giant among fundamentalism. He founded Tennessee Temple University, and was a guiding force to many preachers in fundamental circles.

He started off Southern Baptist, but ran afoul of denominational politics leading up to the conservative resurgence. His church refused to participate in the Cooperative Program because of liberal professors and influence in the state Baptist colleges, and they were expelled from their local association. Roberson was one of the first fundamentalists to leave the SBC because of theological liberalism.

I had the opportunity to hear him speak when I was in high school, and still count it a privilege. His influence in conservative Christian circles will be missed, as will his leadership and pastor's heart.

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April 10, 2007

Don Imus

There's something we're missing in the whole Don Imus controversy. My wife and I have both noticed that while everyone is mad (and rightly so, let me be clear) about the "nappy-headed" remark, nobody seems to be very upset that he called these young women "hos." Haven't heard anything from any women's organization. Haven't read anything about the sexism in the comment. All I've heard are the charges of racism, and the outrage from the black community. Don't get me wrong -- they should be upset about it. They should be up in arms about it. But we're missing part of the picture here.

Part of the reason is that the term 'ho' and the term 'pimpin' have become part of our vernacular. When I was teaching, I heard it all the time. There's a lack of respect for people that seems to be running through society right now, and it's going to create problems in the long run. It's a lack of respect for people.

Used to be that people deserved your respect until they proved that they didn't -- innocent until proven guilty, in a way. Now, if you don't know someone, they're not worth spit. And when you DO meet someone, it's perfectly acceptable to call them ho, or a host of other derogatory and insulting names.

I'm not going to talk about Imus' suspension, or whether it's long enough or too long. What I WANT to do is direct the discussion toward the bigger insult -- the fact that he called a group of college students 'hos'. I don't care what side of the aisle you're on -- that kind of disrespect is a big problem, and it's a shame that we're not talking about it.

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April 09, 2007

A Little TV Criticism

I've been watching more network TV lately than I ever used to. Of course, I only get FOX and ABC right now (don't ask), so my choices are rather limited. And that's how I discovered House.

For those who don't know, House is a new show on FOX, and it has nothing to do with home improvement. From the official FOX description:

DR. GREGORY HOUSE (Hugh Laurie) is devoid of anything resembling bedside manner and wouldn’t even talk to his patients if he could get away with it. Dealing with his own constant physical pain, he uses a cane that seems to punctuate his acerbic, brutally honest demeanor. While his behavior can border on antisocial, House is a brilliant diagnostician whose unconventional thinking and flawless instincts afford him widespread respect.
House is heartily non-theistic. It seems that he takes special joy in throwing a patient's faith up in their faith. But that's just his nature -- as the site says, he genuinely dislikes people in general, and sick people in particular. From a theistic perspective, though, it really seems like House takes special pride in insulting people of faith.

This is particularly clear in House's treatment of patients who are pro-life. Which brings me to the latest episode, "Fetal Position." Long story short, patient comes in, critically ill. Turns out that her unborn child has turned on her, and is slowly killing her. House is insistent on terminating the pregnancy.

House's boss is also pro-life, and goes to extremes to avoid aborting the baby. House agrees to perform surgery on the fetus. THIS is where the show got really good. During the surgery, the fetus reaches out and holds onto House's finger. Time for the closeup, Mr. DeMille. Unfortunately, FOX hasn't put a picture up on the site, and probably won't.

The part of the story I totally enjoyed is the crisis that one event has caused in House. The closing scene shows us House sitting on his couch, staring at his finger, contemplating what exactly happened in the OR. A decidedly pro-life moment.

House has one great strength -- it's ability to take a character who questions even the idea of belief itself, and making him confront the possibility that his assumptions are wrong. Throughout the season, House has confronted patients who have been examples of faith, and he doesn't emerge unscathed, philosophically speaking. He is still far from a theist, much less any form of Christian, but he's asking questions that he never thought he'd ask. At a time when so much of TV mocks and attacks people of faith, it's refreshing to watch a prime-time program that takes us seriously. I never thought I'd enjoy network TV this much ever again.

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March 25, 2007

Why I STRONGLY Dislike the RIAA

And it's NOT because I've got a ton of illegal music on my computer. In fact, everything I have on my drive right now is perfectly, 100% legal. I've bought some, I owned the CDs to some, and I've been given much of it for use on the podcast. So there.

But when the RIAA sues a stroke victim who is living on a monthly disability check -- and who has repeatedly stated that he has engaged in no copyright infringement -- I have a problem. They don't care about anything but their bottom line, and that is rapidly decreasing, as people find other ways to get their music -- most of them perfectly legal. Since I started podcasting, I haven't felt the need to go out and buy a CD at WalMart or any of the mall stores -- if I've got the money, I'm going to buy a CD from a band that's struggling to "make it" and has escaped the notice of the "major labels." There are thousands out there to choose from, in all genres. In fact, take a look on the right sidebar, and you can see what I'm listening to, thanks to a cool widget from the folks at Last.fm.

It takes some work -- you have to separate the wheat from the chaff. And there's plenty of chaff out there, but that just makes the wheat taste that much better. OK, now that I've run that metaphor into the ground, I'll stop.

To reassure my long-time readers, I'm not planning on turning this blog into a music-focused blog, or a podcasting-focused one either. I am working on a few things that are more in keeping with the intent of this blog -- pop culture in the light of Biblical principles, theological topics written so that the average, non-seminary-educated person can understand the issues, etc. THOSE posts take time, which I don't have a lot of right now. THESE posts, however, I can bang out quickly, and they keep the front page from looking so empty and lonely.

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March 02, 2007

Inspiration!

No, I'm not going into the inspiration/inerrancy debate. I'm talking about me, being inspired to post something fairly substantial after such a long absence. And inspired by someone whose music I listened to many, many years ago.

David Bach, one part of my favorite all-time Christian rock bands, Guardian, has written a three-part post about the future of Christian music and the CCM industry that one can only pray is being read by the folks in Nashville. Bach writes as someone who has been inside the industry, someone who has seen the guts of the monster, so to speak. And he's trying to get Christian artists to see what's happening to their industry so that they can be prepared. As he puts it:

My intent here is not to discourage anyone, but rather to tell the truth—the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Mine is not a rocket science/ prophetical hypothesis. Similar tales of coming fiscal woe are all over the internet in regard to the general market. But the CCM industry has always lagged behind the general market by about 18-24 months—so for some of you reading this, it will be a shocker. Again, my primary hope in writing this is that even one aspiring artist will read it and take heed—hopefully saving themselves years of grief and wasted energy.
This is one area in which the Christian industry can't afford to lag behind the rest of the entertainment field. IF Christian entertainers are really in it to get their message out, rather than make some quick $$ from their fellow believers, then there needs to be a radical change in the way Christian music is marketed, distributed, sold, and promoted. And that's exactly what Bach is calling for. more...

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February 09, 2007

Commercials ...

I'm an advertising geek -- I admit it. And I'm one of those people who proudly admits to watching the Super Bowl for the commercials. But this year, Madison Avenue let me down.

Now, I've got to admit that I wasn't able to watch the game this year. We didn't get home until VERY late in the 4th quarter, so I'm having to watch the commercials on the internet. The 'Beer-stealing Crabs' ad from Budweiser just made me hungry (where's that Old Bay, anyway?). The Blockbuster commercial with the mouse was pretty funny. But my real favorite was the Doritos 'Live the Flavor' ad. A budget of less than $15, and only 4 days from concept to final cut. Brilliant! Doesn't hurt that it was made by fellow LU grads, either.

And there's the rub. The big, expensive ads were eclipsed by an amateur production whose budget was less than the catering bill for the other guys. Once upon a time, the Super Bowl was as big an event for advertisers as it was for football teams. Not anymore, it seems. The big boys aren't willing to field their best stuff for the Super Bowl anymore, it would seem.

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November 06, 2006

Haggard, Hypocrisy, and The Rest Of Us

By now most of the blogosphere has dissected the Ted Haggard allegations and revelations. I've been on a hiatus (not entirely unneeded, but very unplanned), but I've got to break the silence on this one, because there's something important going on. Popular opinion on the left seems to be that Haggard is a hypocrite -- his secret life contradicts his public stand on many issues, clearly, but their contention is that because of the conflict, he's a hypocrite.

According to dictionary.com, a hypocrite is:


1. a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, esp. a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.
2. a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, esp. one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.

The problem is that I'm not sure that Haggard was faking his beliefs. I see him as someone who was striving to be what God wanted him to be, and struggled with hidden desires that he couldn't tell anyone about. Ted Haggard is genuine in his beliefs, and genuine in his faith. The problem is that he struggled, and just as with so many high-profile preachers before him, he tried to handle things on his own. Rather than turning to God to help him defeat the temptation, he gave in.

I'm reminded of what the Apostle Paul had to say to the Roman Christians. "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. (Rom 7:15)" Was Paul, then, a hypocrite?

I would challenge anyone, right or left, to allow your every action to be examined. Is there any of us that are consistent with the things we say we believe? Darwinists who are conservationists are hypocrites -- they SAY they believe in natural selection, survival of the fittest, and all that, but they WORK to preserve species that cannot (or at least, have yet to) adapt to their surroundings. People who are pro-life often advocate the death penalty -- isn't that at the very least a bit inconsistent? Christians say they're committed to God, that they love Him, but only show up at His house once a week, for an hour. Treat your spouse that way sometime, and see what happens.

The point is, we are all inconsistent. We all believe things, and believe them strongly, that we cannot live. We all hold to ideals that we fall short of. And that's where grace comes in. That's where God sends us the Holy Spirit, who gives us the power to live according to our beliefs when we are filled by Him. The key is recognizing that we cannot do it on our own.

If inconsistency is hypocrisy, then we're all guilty. The fact that Ted Haggard's inconsistency was broadcast to the entire world is only an indication of how powerful and influential he is. The rest of us should be thankful that our own inconsistencies aren't available for public consumption.

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September 11, 2006

One More Reason to Hate the UN

THIS is absolutely stupid. It's a lousy idea, and it needs to be fought. The fact that the American representatives seem to be backing this thing is embarrassing to me. The UN proves that it is completely irrelevant. It's time (past time, actually) for the US to withdraw and kick them out of New York.

In my own humble opinion, of course.

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