{} Parablemania


Don't worry. We don't normally dress like that. It's just a fun picture from an 80s party and my only recent one. Besides, even with all that makeup, Sam looks hot.

The kids' pictures are from over 6 months ago. I need new pictures, but the cable connecting the digital camera to the computer died, and I haven't figured out how to replace it.

Books I'm reading:
Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence by David Keirsey
The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America by John McWhorter Worship by the Book, ed.D.A. Carson
Four-Dimensionalism: An Ontology of Persistence and Time by Theodore Sider
Thinking About Race by Naomi Zack
Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation by Miroslav Volf.
The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commentary on the Greek Text by F.F. Bruce

Books I've read recently: The Hobbit: or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien
Aspergers in Love: Couple Relationships and Family Affairs by Maxine Aston
The Truth by Terry Pratchett
The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett
Love in Hard Places by D.A. Carson
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Numbers ((New International Commentary on the Old Testament) by Timothy Ashley
Numbers: An Introduction and Commentary by Gordon J. Wenham
The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson
Leviticus (New International Commentary on the Old Testament) by Gordon J. Wenham

CDs on my current favorite list:
Neal Morse, Testimony
Kansas, Somewhere to Elsewhere Yes, Close to the Edge
Iona, Heaven's Bright Sun
Transatlantic, SMPTe< /a>
Kerry Livgren,
Collector's Sedition eagerly anticipating early 2004: Proto-KAW, Before Became After

Games I've been playing:
Settlers of Catan and expansions
Lord of the Rings boardgame
Lord of the Rings Trivia
Carcassonne and expansions
RISK: The Lord of the Rings
The Middle-Earth: Collectible Card Game may return to my list of active games soon, now that I have someone who might be able to play with me soon.

ISTJ - "Trustee". Decisiveness in practical affairs. Guardian of time- honored institutions. Dependable. 11.6% of total population.
Take Free Myers-Briggs Personality Test

"God will not suffer man to have the knowledge of things to come; for if he had prescience of his prosperity he would be careless; and understanding of his adversity he would be senseless."
You are Augustine!
You love to study tough issues and don't mind it if you lose sleep over them. Everyone loves you and wants to talk to you and hear your views, you even get things like "nice debating with you." Yep, you are super smart, even if you are still trying to figure it all out. You're also very honest, something people admire, even when you do stupid things.

What theologian are you?
A creation of Henderson

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

What part of the Body are you?
Congratulations! You are the heel. You often feel trampled on but reassure yourself that the church wouldn't be getting anywhere without you.

You are Cooter. You are good with your hands and
don't say much. When you do it's usually an
attempt at humor. If you had a clean shirt,
you'd probably use it for a rag.

What Dukes of Hazzard Character are you?
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What Famous Leader Are You?

Musings: philosophy, theology, politics, Christian apologetics

Saturday, January 31, 2004

New location

I've finally finished transferring all the posts and comments to the new site:


Thanks to Matthew for setting this up and being willing to host this.

I haven't yet done much with format and template stuff, but eventually I want to get most of the stuff I've had here over there. I may not worry about changing the look much. From now on all posts will go directly there, and this won't be updated. I think I'm going to remove the comments also, to avoid any new comments showing up here without my knowing about it.

Anyone who's got me listed in your blogroll, I would appreciate updated links for the new site. People can still follow this here, so it's not urgent, but it would be nice.

Favorite husband and wife blogs

Sam thinks the best thing about this is being mentioned on Evangelical Outpost. I appreciate the mention itself, but I think I appreciate the award a little more than the mere mention.

Of course, the suggestion that we have to fight over a computer is a good deal off. Having three computers on a high-speed connection makes for a lot less computer competition, though one is a desktop upstairs and the others are notebooks that can go anywhere the wireless signal will reach.

Update: The link for Sam's comment was wrong. It's now fixed.

A David Kay quote you won't hear on CNN:

"Iraq was a very dangerous place. The country had the technology, the ability to produce, and there were terrorist groups passing through the country--and no central control."

A fair analysis of what Kay has been saying will take more sensitivity to complexity and nuance than most of the Democratic candidates seem capable of.

Friday, January 30, 2004

On the SC debate: foreign policy

I had to miss another debate Thursday (why can't they pick another night?), but I'm looking at the transcript now. This one seems much shorter on substance and much more focused on serious sidestepping of questions and continued repetition of blithe campaign slogans, but there are some moments worthy of comment. I'll take the foreign policy elements first.

Tom Brokaw: "You said that the books were cooked. Cooking the books means that there was a fraud of some kind, in an attempt to achieve something that wasn't in fact true. David Kay has said that that wasn't the case. He thinks the president was just simply abused by the intelligence agencies."
Howard Dean: "Well, I don't think anybody knows for sure. And that's why I support the idea of an idea of an independent commission. What we do know is this: The president was not candid with the American people when we went to war."

Can someone tell me how that's not saying something and then immediately contradicting it? If nobody knows for sure whether any of this was cooked up by the precident, then how do we know that the president was not candid? As usual, he wants to have his cake and eat it too. He doesn't want to sound as if he's giving credence to a conspiracy theory that criticizes a president with absolutely no evidence, but then he makes it clear that he believes full well that the conspiracy theory is true. He just doesn't want to sound as if he believes it.

He goes on: "It's why I did not support going to war, even though I did support the first Gulf War and I did support the Afghanistan war. I simply didn't believe what the president was saying."

Right, but why didn't he believe what the president was saying. He hasn't given any reason for this view.

Dean: "What we now find out is that the Vice President Dick Cheney went to the CIA on at least one occasion, and maybe more, sat with middle- level CIA operatives and berated them because he didn't like their intelligence reports. It seems to me that the vice president of the United States therefore influenced the very reports that the president then used to decide to go to war and to ask Congress for permission to go to war."

What we know it still not clear, actually. That's why there are hearings going on right now. One thing that seems to be coming to light is that the CIA was incompetent, and both the Clinton and Bush Administrations knew it, so they had other people in place to try to sift through the information to figure out what was reliable. It's not clear yet if they did that in a proper way or if they were just making it worse. That's what the hearings are about. Their reasons for doing were certainly good. The question is whether this was the best way to try to fix the problem.

Dean: "The president himself and the secretary of state have recently admitted that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11; that there was no connection and no evidence of connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaida."

I don't think that's what they said. All I know about is that they admitted that Saddam Hussein himself didn't have any direct connection with Al Qaeda. His second-in-command certainly did, and I've been told of new evidence even this week connecting Syria with Al Qaeda, and we know Syria and Iraq were in cahoots (if for no reason other than that they were both Baathists, but there's also the fact of the large transports seen carrying something-I-wonder-what into Syria before the fighting started). There were definitely connections enough to think any WMDs made in Iraq could easily find their way to Al Qaeda.

Dean: "In that case, why are we in Iraq? And why are so many people from South Carolina there right now, when they should be home concentrating on homeland security and when they should be going after Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida?"

1. Has he ever heard of the doctrine of military humanitarian aid? He supported Kosovo (which the U.N. didn't support).
2. Al Qaeda isn't the only supporter of terrorists, and this is a war on terrorism.
3. The premise of his argument is false, as I just said above.

Then there's Brokaw's own response: "David Kay also told me the other day that he thinks now, looking back, that the two years before we went to war was the most dangerous period in Iraq in a long, long time because it was spinning out of control. Saddam Hussein was not in charge. There were people coming in and going out of the country, including well-known terrorists. "

John Kerry: "The president gave guarantees not just to the Congress and to the American people, but to the world, about how he would conduct himself as president. He said he would build a legitimate global coalition. He said he would respect the United Nations inspection process and work through it. And he said to the American people he would go to war only as a last resort."

The problem with this is the issue of what counts as legitimate. If the U.N. was incompetent, then what other recourse was there? It turns out that it wasn't just incompetence but bribed agents of Iraq who were opposing the efforts of the U.S., countries who promised Saddam Hussein that no the U.N. would take no action against him, and three of five members of the security council who were selling weapons to Iraq.

Tom Brokaw said something about Dennis Kucinich’s plan to turn everything over to the U.N. Kucinich said he’s mischaracterized his position and went on to say that his plan would turn everything over to the U.N.

Wesley Clark: "The president is playing politics with national security when he says we'll be out by the 30th of June. That's just an arbitrary date related to the presidential election. It's not related to what's going on on the ground."

If it's arbitrary and can't be done, and the president knows it, then it's a stupid move, because the date is before the election.

Clark: "I heard from the Pentagon two weeks after 9/11 that the administration was determined to go into Iraq, whether or not there was any connection with 9/11; that they were going to use it as a pretext for invading Iraq."

What's more likely is that 9/11 was a wake-up call that increased the president's concern about Iraq that had been transferred from the Clinton Administration. It's not a surprise or a worry that he started wondering about Iraq during the plans for Afghanistan. Iraq was known to be dangerous and after us, and the common view since 1998 was that they had clear programs of WMDs with some stockpiles in their possession. Regardless of the status of that intelligence, this is what they thought, and why should it be worrisome that anyone would start to think about Iraq after something is huge as 9/11?

Al Sharpton: "Had he said, "We're going to war because Saddam Hussein is a bad guy," the public would not have rallied around that. We were told, in the wake of 9/11, we were in imminent danger with weapons of mass destruction. We cannot allow him to change this now and say we were just after Hussein because he was a bad guy. Everybody knows Hussein was a bad guy, and there are other bad guys who we didn't go after, and we didn't lie about it."

I think Sharpton has all but said what Peter Jennings couldn't get him to say in the last debate. He doesn't think coming to the aid of an oppressed people counts as a just cause for the purposes of just war theory. He does go on to say: "We should find a way to get rid of bad guys, but lying to the American people is not the way you run a country, and George Bush ought to be removed for that." What he noticeably doesn't say is that this should be done militarily, so I think my suspicion is confirmed.

Also, as has been said far too many times for intelligent people to miss, Bush said that we need to stop Saddam Hussein before we're in imminent danger.

Interestingly, John Kerry admits that Europe has underestimated the problem of terrorism. So he does have one sane bone in his body.

Sharpton on Islam: "They would become our partners if we engaged in partnership. But I don't that the way we do that is attacking people's religion, trying to act like our religion is better."

He must be referring to Bush's comments that Muslims worship the same God as Christians and that Islam is a good religion.

Howard Dean: "I honestly don't believe that John Ashcroft and George Bush and the members of the Federalist Society view the Constitution the way mainstream American attorneys or the way most American citizens do."

No, they view it the way its authors did and don't just fabricate all these rights that don't appear in it.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Household unions

Thanks to a link by Andrew Sullivan, I've found a John O'Sullivan piece that makes the civil union/marriage debate even more complicated. He assumes first that traditional marriage will within ten years be gone. Given that, he proposes household unions, which can be formed by any group of people living together, whether they have any sexual relationship or not. These could be easily dissolved but would give tax benefits and penalties, health insurance benefits, and other things that currently go along with marriage. A gay couple could form one, but so could three college guys living together, a bachelor son with his single mother, or a family with their live-in nanny. This would be in addition to the possibility of civil marriage and religious marriage, something I've talked about before. The way he talks about religious marriage separates it more from the government than what I had in mind. I was assuming a religious marriage would entail a civil union also, but he seems to see them as independent. At some point maybe I'll think more carefully about how these options would change things, but I don't currently have much to say about it other than I recognize that it would make it much more complicated.

Wondering about the larger-scale effects of abortion

I had a thought today as I listened to someone on NPR discussing how tax cuts are the reason there won't be enough money to cover the growing programs Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as baby boomers start to retire. It's not worth mentioning that we've known about this problem for a long time now, and the Bush tax cuts are pretty insignificant in comparison. What occurred to me as I was thinking about this is how different things would be if the very generation that's going to have this problem hadn't killed so many of their children. Abortion-on-demand supporters often give population explosion as a reason to want to minimize our population, with abortion as one such means. I believe China explicitly requires it to the point of giving severe penalties for your family and the families of your neighbors and friends (e.g. no education for your kids). In the U.S. it's not so bad, but there does seem to be the idea that abortion has led to a lot of good in terms of population control. Interestingly, ecologists today say that the population worries of the 70s looked in the wrong direction. It's distribution of resources that we need to be careful about. We have plenty of room for more people in this country.

So I was thinking that the reverse is actually true. It's not just that abortion as a method of population control hasn't protected us from any great evil. I'm wondering if it's even harmed. On one level, it's obvious that it's harmed. It's killed off a large portion of 2-3 generations, depending on how you count generations. That in itself is a huge harm. But I think there are even more subtle connections to some of our more serious problems that don't seem related at all. For instance, what would have happened if we had all those other people contributing to the economy, paying into Social Security, paying taxes, and providing support for their baby boomer parents as they start to retire? Would there be as great a need for Social Security for as many people? Would there be as much need for the kind of taxes we have? Now it's true that some of these people would be on the government payroll and not doing any work, furthering the dependency and lack of contribution that FDR created and irresponsibly continued once the Depression was over. I'm wondering, though, if the greater numbers of people would have required more limits on these entitlements, and if that would have forced a work ethic among those taught to be dependent.

Now I have no idea what would have happened here. It's next to impossible to predict such complex matters. I can't help but wonder if this is just another way the boomers are reaping what they sowed.

Update: Tulipgirl has a link to an article by James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal suggesting that Howard Dean is doing so badly because the age group that gives him the strongest support lost 1/3 of its potential voters as victims of abortion. As Tulipgirl put it, this 1/3 "failed to show up at birth".

Wednesday, January 28, 2004


I haven't been writing much lately because someone has graciously offered to host my blog at a new location with Movable Type, so I'm in the process of transferring everything over there. It didn't read the Blogger export information correctly, so I'm doing it by hand, which I would have had to do with the comments anyway. I've gotten to January 2 now, and I hope to have it fully transferred by the end of the week. I'll post the new link once I start posting new posts there, and I'll keep putting them here until I have all the old stuff there.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The libertarian: (i.e. the moral wimp)

Andrew Sullivan has a new article in Time. It gives the basic anti-Bush argument from libertarian premises, and he really does make the same fundamental mistake libertarians tend to make.

Let's look at Sullivan's complaints:

"Where once education was essentially the preserve of states, school principals and parents, this President has expanded the federal role in unprecedented ways. The No Child Left Behind Act holds states and localities accountable for meeting educational standards in order to qualify for federal funds."

"States' rights? Only if the states do what the President believes in. How else to explain the vast expansion of federal power that the Partial Birth Abortion Act entailed, limiting the rights of states to regulate abortion as they see fit?"

"Want to lose weight using ephedra? You can't. Bush's FDA has banned the over-the-counter supplement. Steroids? You heard the Nanny in Chief."

"There has always been a tension in conservatism between those who favor more liberty and those who want more morality. But what's indisputable is that Bush's "compassionate conservatism" is a move toward the latter — the use of the government to impose and subsidize certain morals over others. He is fusing Big Government liberalism with religious-right moralism. It's the nanny state with more cash. Your cash, that is. And their morals."

It's one thing to be critical of the government in areas that the general populace would oppose (e.g. anti-sodomy laws that forbid all sodomy, including oral sex). It's quite another to say the government has no right to restrict partial-birth abortion. Hardly anyone who knows what's going on in this procedure will admit that they think there's nothing wrong with it. Those who resisted the ban did it on grounds that they thought a very small minority of cases were borderline morally ok and therefore shouldn't be restricted. The overwhelming support in Congress shows that most people really do see this as a moral evil, with some people still thinking it should be allowed legally. This is what I just don't get. If it's such an awful thing, why not prevent it with laws? Well, that would be legislating morality, and who are we to declare that our morals are the right ones?

If you're going to say that, you have to stop laws against murder, rape, stealing, perjury, pederasty, selling heroin to a child, etc. These are all moral issues. If we can't let the government decide which moral issues to pursue having laws against, then we're in big trouble. If something is a real moral evil, then the government has a responsibility to protect people from that evil. Partial-birth abortion certainly falls under that category. I would argue that allowing students to fall behind simply because we have no standards in our schools is in the same category. Ephedra has been shown to be extremely harmful, and an FDA ban makes as much sense as for any other harmful substance, no longer allowing sellers to take advantage of an unsuspecting public by promising good weight loss results without telling people the deleterious effects of long-term use. This just seems to me to be lack of a moral backbone.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Interpretation and homosexuality passages II

This email discussion is continuing. I got a response back, I've sent off a response to that, and I've gotten another one back already. It's venturing into broader issues of interpretation and inerrancy. I've included it in the original file and in the Arguments About Sex and Sexuality collection.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Interpretation and homosexuality passages

I received an email from someone who I assume would prefer to remain anonymous, in response to some of what I've said about homosexuality. His basic thrust was that he couldn't understand how I could take passages about homosexuality literally to conclude that there's something bad about homosexuality despite all the evidence against that view, especially when I wouldn't take other passages literally, e.g. Joshua with the sun standing still in the sky and Genesis 9 with its once-common interpretation that the curse on Canaan justified slavery of all blacks. There are so many things with this argument that I find mistaken that it wasn't easy to work through it step-by-step, but here's my response.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Realized millenialism

That's the new name some people are trying to use for what has traditionally been called amillenialism, which is the view that I think does the most justice to the biblical accounts of the end times. I've seen at least two links to this piece in the last week or so (from Andrew Warnock and Discoshaman), and I've finally gotten around to reading it. People often ask me what they should read about the end times, and this is a great place to start. He explains all the terms well, and he gives reasons for the view he ends up taking. In other words, it's really good, despite the seven or eight minor inaccuracies in the first half that explains the differences between the views (though the people who hold those views might not consider them so minor). The reasons he gives are organized well, do justice to the texts he's looking at, and don't seem to me to be easily objectionable.

Head vs. heart?

Discoshaman looks at Dean's "heart over head" comments as a symptom of a general trend among Democrats to favor policies that sound nice but end up disastrous.

"Sure, they destroyed the black family with inept social engineering, razed inner city neighborhoods and built unlivable human ant farms and created an incompetent public school monopoly. . . But their hearts were in the right place."

I do wonder, however, if Republicans can sometimes do the reverse, which I think is equally bad. Compassionate conservatism was supposed to be an attempt to combine head and heart, but I think in the end it often just involves doing one on some issues and the other on different issues.

I wish I had a good Jonathan Edwards quote at hand, because he had some nice thoughts on head and heart.

Inconsistency on states' rights

Josh Claybourn has a nice snippet on Democratic candidates' views on states' rights at the end of his comments on Thursday's debate:

"It's interesting that the candidates will support States' rights when it suits them, but run from it when it doesn't. For instance Sen. Edwards was firmly in favor of letting States determine what constitutes marriage, and Dean was more than willing to let States determine their level of gun rights (in spite of the Federal 2nd Amendment). But these same Democrats despise States rights in areas such as abortion where it might harm their position.... These candidates are abandoning the formality in favor of their desired results."

President Bush seemed to indicate a desire that states work these things out on their own (but in the legislature, not in the judiciary), though he also seems to support the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage for the states, though it does have the effect on not requiring any state to recognize any other states' laws on the matter. This is clearly so with civil unions. I keep hearing conflicting things on how it deals with a state that legalizes gay marriage under that name.

Al Sharpton had to chime in about how civil rights and human rights shouldn't be left to states. The states' rights mantra is for him a reminder of the pre-Civil War era, when black people weren't treated as legally fully human. I just don't see how that's even the same issue. It may be true that an amendment was necessary to give black people full rights, and therefore the Constitution needed revising. But you could just as easily argue that the Constitution needs to be amended to protect the unborn with rights that they don't legally have right now. Sharpton's comment cuts both ways. If rights need to be guarded at the federal level and not left to states, he thinks that shows an absolute right to abortion that states shouldn't tamper with, but he's also leaving the door open for someone to come in arguing that fetuses have a right to life that shouldn't be left for states to decide and should be enforced at the federal level. I doubt he wants that.

Friday, January 23, 2004

A Deeper Notion of Marriage

What is supposed to be so harmful about gay marriage? What turns out to be the main reason Christians should want to safeguard the term ‘marriage’ has to do with the biblical concept of marriage, and it’s something almost no one I’ve been reading on the topic mentions. It’s no wonder that Andrew Sullivan can’t find any argument for why Christians are so opposed to gay marriage. The main biblical reason never shows up on his radar.

Continue reading...

Blaming the wrong people

On NPR today, Diane Rehm and Ken Auletta (media critic and writer for The New Yorker) were ganging up on the media for attaching the "angry" label to Howard Dean. Apparently they saw none of the anger that so many people have seen. Now I don't know who they've been following, but it's hard to watch and hear him when he says "George Bush" without noticing that he absolutely hates the guy. His face gets redder, the veins in his neck get more noticeable, his whole face tightens up, and his tone gets more menacing. Still, I'll let this go. There's something far more important at stake. Suppose this angry Dean thing is an invention. Why blame the media for it? Shouldn't they be giving credit where credit is due? The bloggers are getting stiffed on this one.

NH debate comments:

The short of it: I wasn’t able to watch this one, so I have more to say, given that I was looking at a transcript for this. Kerry, as in Iowa, seems presidential but seemed like he’s back to the old-school liberal positions that Bush will have an easier time running agaisnt. Edwards’ reason for voting against the $87 million for Iraq made sense. He looked like a fool on the questions about Islam or about the Defense of Marriage Act. Lieberman, as usual, was the best of the bunch, with only a few things I disagree with. Dean seemed his usually self from the transcript, so maybe the difference everyone is talking about is in his tone and demeanor. The false statements and naïveté are still strong. Clark seemed to have no clue. He had no responses to the best questions against him, and the coherent things he said all sounded like Kucinich, who was coherent all the way but such a nut that he isn’t much higher on my list than Sharpton, who wasn’t coherent at all and changed the subject every time anyone asked him anything serious.

Continue reading...

John Edwards on Iraq

John Edwards is in the large group of Democrats who had the same evidence President Bush had and supported the military action to remove Saddam Hussein from power, some of whom have strongly insisted that Bush knew there were no WMDs on the same intelligence they had while supporting him. I hadn't known how strong Edwards' support for this action was.

"We know that he has chemical and biological weapons today. He has used them in the past, and he is doing everything he can to build more. Each day he inches closer to his longtime goal of nuclear capability — a capability that could be less than a year away.We know that he has chemical and biological weapons today. He has used them in the past, and he is doing everything he can to build more. Each day he inches closer to his longtime goal of nuclear capability — a capability that could be less than a year away. believe that Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime represents a clear threat to the United States, to our allies, to our interests around the world, and to the values of freedom and democracy we hold dear."

"Almost no one disagrees with these basic facts: that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a menace; that he has weapons of mass destruction and that he is doing everything in his power to get nuclear weapons."

That, of course, was the old John Edwards. He seems to be less consistent now. He sometimes reminds us that he supported the President on this, with no further qualification. Yet he's also joined the bandwagon of those accusing President Bush of misleading everyone. Edwards had the same information, and he made just as strong arguments for the same conclusion. Aren't his more recent comments at best grossly dishonest? I was about to start liking the guy somewhat, too.

Thursday, January 22, 2004


I'm teaching on pacifism, war, violence, and related issues in my ethics class right now, and I've just finished a summary of the main arguments for pacifism and the responses to them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Bush's spending

Since I've been in the business of defending President Bush against conservatives, I might as well post a link to the conclusions of a non-partisan study of the Democratic candidates' proposed policies and how they compare to the current administration's. This looks as if people voting on this one issue should prefer Bush, despite the rhetoric of some of the Democrats to the contrary. I'm not trying to justify lots of spending, but when you have to pick between two people it's best to pick the one who isn't as bad, even if you're mad at him and want a change to send a message. Sending it by bringing in someone who would be worse is not the way to do it (even if your way of bringing in the Democrat is by not voting or by voting for a third-party candidate).

Incidentally, here's the order of lowest to highest budget increases beyond what it is now, at least among those mentioned:

Joe Lieberman (169.6 billon)
John Edwards (199 billion)
Wesley Clark (220.7 billion)
Howard Dean (222.9 billion)
John Kerry (265.11 billion)
Dick Gephardt (368.8 billion)
Dennis Kucinich (1.06 trillion)
Al Sharpton (1.33 trillion)

They conclude that spending has gone up by 23.7% since Bush took office, but even Lieberman is 15% higher than that, and he's the lowest of the bunch.

Update: Andrew Sullivan has been one of many I had in mind when I wrote this. He's responded to Instapundit's link to this information by pointing out that even with these figures a divided government is better than a monolithic Republican control of both the legislature and the executive. I assume the unstated argument is that a divided government will have a harder time getting any of these agenda [yes, this word is plural] passed. Therefore, a Democrat in the White House with a huge budget still would get less passed if the House and Senate are still controlled by Republicans, and on this issue at least a Democrat would still look better.

I guess I have two things to say to that. One is that it assumes a really tight lead in the Senate and a slightly less tight lead in the House will stay that way or lead to an increase in Republican seats. It's not clear to me that we should assume that, even if it seems likely. Second, it's worth thinking about which policies these candidates are supporting with these huge budget increases. If we're going to be spending lots of money, I'd rather it be on what Bush wants to spend it on, then probably Lieberman and Edwards would be second and third on the list. I don't think we could trust Clark and Dean about what they say they would do, so I can't evaluate them, and I know Kerry's preferences are far from what I would want the money spent on, even if he does seem to be one of the more honorable and presidential-sounding candidates. Kucinich and Sharpton probably shouldn't even have been mentioned in this sentence.

My conclusion: the value of the policies the money would be spent on is inversely proportional to the amount of money that would be spent on them. That gives two reasons to support the Bush end of the spectrum over against anyone lower on the list. A divided government might lower the amount of money spent, but these other factors still get Bush my vote even considering this issue alone, which some conservatives are saying might cost Bush their vote.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?

President Bush has gotten in trouble with some of his fellow evangelicals. They don't think he's a real evangelical because of his comments about other religions. He says Islam is a good religion, that Muslims, Jews, and Christians worship the same God, and that the beliefs of other good religions like Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. will help contribute to a better society. Meanwhile, Christianity (at least any Christianity that takes the scriptures as authoritative) states quite clearly that there's no other way to the Father except through Jesus. It says that God is three persons in one being, a Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), while Islam and contemporary Judaism insist that God is one in every way possible and that Jesus, a mere creation of God, is not to be identified or confused with God. Islam does believe he's a prophet and will return. They don't believe he died, never mind that he was resurrected. Judaism (except for Messianic Jews, if you count them) don't even believe that much about him.

What do we make of this? I want to explain what I think President Bush means when he says these things and why I think it's not just consistent with evangelicalism but it's what evangelicals should say. What the evangelicals who resist saying these things want to avoid is the kind of pluralism that attributes one reality to the multiple beliefs systems in world religions. They're all getting at the same reality but in different ways. I don't think that's at all what Bush has in mind, and I think a careful look at the nature of the language will show that the many repeated claims against Bush’s statements are assuming an implausible view of how names function in natural languages like English.

We need to understand some philosophy of language to see this point. Continue reading...