Hasan Akbar: Not so Great

04/28/2005: Sgt. Hasan Akbar, a soldier with the 101st Airborne, has been convicted of murder and sentenced to death for his ambush of an officer’s tent during the days leading up to Operation Iraqi Freedom. His attack killed two officers.

Akbar attempted to avoid deployment to Iraq. A convert to Islam, he opposed the war, then claimed mental illness. His superiors didn’t buy it. Fact is, he signed up for the Army knowing that war was possible. As a soldier, he received some of the best training available: he was a member of the storied 101st Airborne. He was equipped and trained to do a job: to fight a war.

His religion had nothing to do with it: other muslims are fighting over there and serving quite honorably.

Instead, Akbar failed to live up to his name (great), as he committed a most reprehensible act of treason against his own compatriots. He threw grenades into a tent, and then opened fire on the tent with an M16A2 rifle. It is near miraculous that only two people died.

In Iraq, muslims are celebrating their new freedom: with the help of the United States, they have struck a blow against Middle East despotism. Terrorists are increasingly frustrated with the persistance of the American military, and the resilience of the Iraqi people.

Sgt. Akbar could have been an integral part of the deliverance of his muslim brothers. Instead, he will be forever enshrined in the hall of shame: a permanent example of what a soldier is not.

He will die a most dishonorable death for a most cowardly attack against those with whom he trained and in him they trusted.

Good riddance.

Justice Sunday: Part 2

04/25/2005: Justice Sunday–a special presentation by the Family Research Council at Highview Baptist Church–sought to educate Christians regarding the Democrat-led filibuster of ten President Bush judicial nominees, the ranks of which include staunch conservative evangelicals and Catholics. While supportive of the effort, I am disappointed with Justice Sunday for a couple reasons:

(1) One who was not informed of the current filibuster efforts would not–by watching Justice Sunday–learn the particulars of the issue.

(2) The speakers failed to emphasize that they are supportive of the filibuster, but oppose its current use–blocking Presidential appointments. The latter is unprecedented: the filibuster has NEVER been used by the Senate to block a Presidential appointment; the former is a perfectly legitimate Constitutional procedure that enables the Senate to properly deliberate legislative matters.

The opposition was predictable: People for the American Way, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State howled that Highview Baptist Church egregiously crossed the line of separation of church and state by mixing religion with politics. Some left-leaning Louisville congregations–in particular Crescent Hill Baptist Church, Deer Park Baptist Church, Lyndon Baptist Church, and Highland Baptist Church–protested Highview’s hosting of Justice Sunday. (As a former attendee of Lyndon and Deer Park, I am not surprised at their opposition.)

However, the opposition–while predictable–is hardly consistent.

None of the them have lamented the “mixing of religion and politics” by Jesse Jackson (who regularly campaigns against Republicans from the pulpit), or John Kerry (who campaigns for abortion as if it were a Catholic value), or Bill Clinton (who lobbied for his wife’s health care plan from pulpit).

For the left, it’s a only a “violation of separation of church and state” when conservatives promote iniatives that are grounded in Scripture.

To the left, “separation of church and state” is a one-way street, because–to them–it’s perfectly legitimate for them to slam conservative causes–or promote left-leaning causes–from the pulpit.

To the Left, “separation of church and state” is merely a device by which they seek to exclude conservative viewpoints from the ideological free market. It is a means of left-wing censorship.

For the Left to take such a dismissive approach toward their counterparts on the right is cowardly at best and intellectually dishonest at worst.

When more left-leaning Christians–such as Ron Sider and Tony Campolo–use Scripture to promote socialist policies, few conservatives would dismiss their arguments as “an unworthy attempt to inject faith into politics”. Conservatives are typically prepared to debate the merits of a proposal, rather than dismiss them in cowardly fashion. I have yet to hear a conservative dismiss Sider or Campolo as “crossing the line between church and state” or “mixing religion and politics.”

I disagree with Campolo and Sider on many issues; however, the two raise legitimate viewpoints for debate. (I support the exhortation of believers to give generously of their own wealth rather than support government redistributionist policies, which lay the foundation for governmental tyrrany. )

I respect Campolo and Sider for raising those issues. My answer: fair enough. Let’s have the discussion. That’s why we have an ideological free market.

That is perhaps the most important takeaway of Justice Sunday. This goes beyond filibusters. This goes beyond abortion, gay marriage, tax policies, school prayer, FCC decency standards, or any issue of importance to liberals and conservatives.

This is about the right of conservative Christians to practice their faith in public arena. Their dismissal by the left constitutes exactly the “religious test” that the Framers banned in the Constitution.

Christians of all persuasions are right to oppose such narrow-minded, anti-Christian bigotry.

Justice Sunday: Part 1

04/25/2005: As a member of Highview Baptist Church, I attended Justice Sunday, a special service that included presentations by top conservative Christian leaders (and lawmakers) regarding the Democrat-led filibustering of top Bush judicial nominees. There were some protesters who claimed that Highview had no business meddling in what they considered a “political” matter. I’ll address that later this week. For now, I’ll address the filibuster issue and the speakers’ presentations thereof.

As expected, the place was packed. There was a deluge of supporters–almost all Highview members–for the effort to stop the filibuster. The speakers included Southern Seminary President Al Mohler, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Prison Ministries founder Charles Colson, and Senate majority leader Bill Frist. The emcee was Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.

All were articulate, and presented the issue effectively. Whatever differences I might have with Mohler, I’ll give him credit where credit is due: his presentation was outstanding, as he made strong cases against the abuse of the filibuster, the rights of Christians to participate in the political arena, and the responsibility of Christians to promote the faith with dignity.

On the other hand, there is one area in which the speakers dropped the ball: they failed to emphasize the legitimacy of the filibuster for matters of legislation. Few conservatives that I know wish to kill filibusters altogether, but rather wish to restrict it to matters of legislation. The use of the filibuster to block Presidential appointments is unprecendented in American history.

The filibuster is a good thing for legislative matters, but using it to deny executive branch its privileges is an outrage.

If you are the elected President, you should have the general latitude to nominate the people you see fit to carry out your objectives. Unless the Senate can establish improprieties, insufficient moral character, or other shady behavior, appointments should be permitted. The advise-and-consent role of the Senate is intended to serve as a check against nominees who are clearly of bad character, or who present conflicts-of-interests. (Don’t believe me? Read Alexander Hamilton’s commentary on this matter in Federalist Paper #76. The Framers did not design this role for the Senate to be a political obstruction machine with which to shaft the executive branch.)

Use of the filbuster by a minority to block a judicial appointment (or any Presidential appointment) is wholly inappropriate and–until the Bush administration–was unprecedented in over 200 years of Constitutional governnment in America.

Some critics will raise the issue of whether Republicans would be taking this route if they were in the minority.

My answer to that: they didn’t when they were. President Clinton was able to gain overwhelming support for his two Supreme Court nominations–Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsberg–when Republicans were the minority in the Senate. The GOP could have filibustered, but did not.

Neither did the Republicans use the filibuster to defeat other Presidential appointments, such as Janet Reno and Joycelyn Elders. In fact, the only appointments the GOP shot down were those who were clearly shady: Lani Guinere (“Quota Queen“), Zoe Baird, and Kimba Wood (each of latter two of whom had a Nannygate scandal). In those cases, Republicans killed the nominations without the use of a filibuster.

While some Republicans voiced disapproval for other Clinton appointees–such as the openly gay Roberta Achtenberg–even those appointments received confirmation.

The Democrats are resorting to the filibuster because they are dominated by the radical feminist establishment. The appointees in question–in addition to their outstanding records–are quite conservative and likely to be less than favorable to those for whom slaughtering children in utero is a sacrament.

Make no mistake: this is ALL about abortion.

Any one of these appointees could become a Supreme Court nominee in the near future. As federal judges, their rulings will have significant impact on how the Supreme Court reviews federal decisions.

The sad part: the ten justices are being held up by Democrats because they are religious conservatives. They are Catholics and Evangelicals who have conservative viewpoints. The Democrat-led filibuster reflects an anti-Christian bigotry.

Of course, bigotry is nothing new for the DNC, for whom Robert Byrd–former KKK sheethead–is a prominent leader.

Does the Bible Support Communism?

04/22/2005: If you want to get Christians in fistfights with one another, just bring up the issue of economics. In my year at Southern Seminary, there were two issues that provoked the most heated debates: (1) women in ministry and (2) repudiation of communism. The former issue I shall address in a future posting. The latter, I shall address here.

To start, I will bluntly state my position with respect to government and economy: I strongly support market economy, and staunchly oppose all totalitarian, redistributionist forms of government. My support for the former is pragmatic: market economy provides the best form of accountability, and maximizes economic efficiency. The end-result is that more people are fed, clothed, and housed in a market economy than under any centrally-controlled economy, regardless of the intentions of the controllers thereof.

Every experiment with central (government) control of economies has been either a colossal disaster (China, Cuba, North Korea, and the old Soviet Union come to mind) or a significant underperformer (Sweden, France, India before 1991). Market economies have significantly outperformed their centrally-controlled counterparts. Even in the latest recession, the United States came out far better than Germany and France. This in spite of the aftermath of September 11. The “poor” in America have it better than the “poor” in any other nation in the world.

With those sentiments out of the way, a legitimate question is worth addressing: which economic model does Scripture support?

The short answer: none. There is no place in Scripture where God commands His people to embrace a market economy. The same is also true with regard to socialism: there is no place in Scripture where God commands His people to confiscate wealth from the “rich” and redistribute it to the poor. (He does, however, command Israelites–and Christians in the NT–to be generous with respect to charitable giving.)

Some believers incorrectly present the Early Church as a model of socialism, as believers shared of their own assets generously so that no one lacked anything. Why is this not socialism? In this example, believers gave generously on their own. No government agency–or Church leader–confiscated assets from a believer and redistributed them to anyone else. God never issued such confiscatory edicts to His people.

In fact, the early Church was a market-based system: those who gave did so out of freedom, not under compulsion. A market economy hardly excludes charity; however, even charitable giving is a market decision made at the individual level. Charity is an allocation of assets that a participant makes on his or her own volition. That is why it is called a free market.

Even Ananias and Sapphira–struck down by God as they falsified their giving–were not guilty of bad economics: Peter told them that their land was theirs to disburse as they pleased. Their sin was dishonesty: they sold the land, kept part of the price, and presented their offering as though it was the full price they received (in an attempt to gain the same recognition bestowed on Barnabas, whose offering was in full).

If the Scriptures command neither market economy nor socialism, then how do we know which one is better?

To that end, my answer is simple: look at the results.

Totalitarian governments are not just economic disasters: they are humanitarian tragedies. In the 20th century, the worst mass murderers emerged from totalitarian governments. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro, Ho Chi Minh–all emerged from Communist or socialist regimes. It was not simply bad economics: in Communist and socialist governments, leaders are not as accountable to the people as they are in a market economy. (Market economy and democracy tend to be compatible with each other.)

Much of the starvation we are witnessing in the Third World has less to do with the availability of food and more to do with the failure of totalitarian governments. In countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia, the issue isn’t a lack of food: the corrupt governments are using Western aid–more than enough to feed those who are starving–to hold the people hostage. In Zimbabwe, the Mugabe regime is confiscating farmland from efficient, experienced white farmers and redistributing this land to inexperienced farmers (who are black). By the way, Mugabe is also killing the white farmers. As a result, the harvests are non-existent and the populace is starving!

Does all this mean that market economy is pristine white? Hardly. A market economy without a virtuous underpinning yields a strictly materialistic culture in which profit is the only virtue. The pornography industry is the telos of market economy with no moral underpinning. This is why the Church must do its job: remain a beacon of truth in a permissive, amoral culture. Rather than assimilate and become like the world, the Church must provide a visible alternative to the ways of the world. A market economy allows the Church the greatest freedoms to do exactly that.

In addition, a market economy provides a key element that is lacking in other economic systems: accountability. If I am producing a product or providing a service, I might be motivated purely by profit, but whether I make that profit will depend on my ability to satisfy consumers. Even if profit is my only motive, I am accountable to the market.

That rings true for businesses. While fraudulent players exist in a capitalist system–we all know about Worldcom and Enron–a market economy provides a more efficient means to root out fraud than a socialist framework does. In America, we tend to let businesses fail. Stockholders can move their capital to beter-performing entities. In a market economy, stockholders can punish executives.

However, in a centrally-controlled system, the government holds all the cards. Holding them accountable is an order of magnitude more difficult. We are seeing this even in the United States: federal officials rarely face prosecution for abuses of power. In the old Soviet Union, Stalin never faced prosecution; he was exposed only after he had died.

A market economy raises very important questions for believers: what should the Church do in a market economy? To what extent should believers give? To what extent are we to help others? Are there others who should not receive our help? Are Christians in America charitable enough?

Those, I’ll attempt to address in a future posting.

Until the Second Coming, we will never have a perfect economic system. Failing that, a market economy is the most equitable alternative.

Sarah Lunde: Another Convicted Predator Strikes Again

04/17/2005: Sarah Lunde has died a tragic, horrible death at the hands of a convicted sex offender.

David Onstott–a convicted rapist who once dated Lunde’s mother–has confessed to the killing. Because Florida is a death penalty state, and child murderers tend to get the express trip to the death dance in Florida, his days are numbered. If his fellow inmates don’t get him, the people of Florida will.

Like the Jessica Lunsford case, Lunde’s killer was a sex offender that the system chose to free. Onstott was no stranger to violent crime; as a rape convict, he proved his capacity as a sexual predator.

While the system will punish Onstott severely, this case is just like Jessica Lunsford’s: a day late and a life short. Executing Onstott will keep him from repeating his crime, but the crime has already been committed. What was he doing on the streets in the first place?

If our justice system will not function to keep proven violent criminals–predatory sexual offenders–off the streets, then what recourse does that leave the citizen? The same leftists who cry out for more gun control also plead for us to show more understanding so we can “rehabilitate” hardened criminals.

Screw “understanding” and “rehabilitation”. Americans must take necessary means to protect themselves and their families. Florida is a concealed carry state, as is my home state of Kentucky. The Constitution guarantees you the right to keep and bear arms. This is not about hunting Bambi or Daffy, either.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is your last recourse.

If you have a clean criminal record and a sound mind, invest in some artillery. Learn how to use it. (For handguns, I prefer a .45 caliber Glock or Kimber. For home defense, a good 12 guage pump loaded with eight shots of 00-buck will stop any pervert with special intentions)

Make sure everyone in your family knows how to use the guns. (Teach all children from age 8 on up how to use them, in case an intruder shows up with designs on them.) Practice regularly, too. Join a gun range. Go there at least once a month.

And warn every registered sexual offender in your neighborhood of the dangers of .45 caliber brain tumors.

Just Say Die to the Death Tax

04/15/2005: As the last-minute filers scramble to get their tax returns mailed by midnight, Congress is debating over how to deal with the imfamous estate tax, otherwise known as the death tax. Currently, if you die, your estate is exempt from the “estate tax”, provided that the sum total of your entire estate is less than $1.5 million.

After that, Uncle Sam takes 45% of your cheeseburger (47% when that number hits $2 million). The death tax is supposed to completely go away in 2010, but it will come right back in 2011: and Uncle Sam will be licking his chops, aiming to eat 55% of that cheeseburger. Bush wants to kill the estate tax for good, while Democrats and some big-government Republicans want to “compromise” by keeping it alive, albeit at a lower rate.

The death tax needs to die. Permanently.

I know some people are thinking, “Big deal! If you leave a $2 million estate, and the government takes 45% of it, that leaves $1.2 million. With that kind of money, anyone can afford to lose $800,000!”

That line of reasoning has several faults, not the least of which are (1) a totalitarian attempt at determining what a person “needs” (that is hardly the job of the government), and (2) the assumption that the estate is liquid (cash).

If the bulk of the estate is not convertible to cash–i.e., if it involves land, a small business, a farm, or other tangible assets that are not easy to sell–the family may be forced into liquidation. This can lower the return on those assets (when one must liquidate, those assets often sell at a discount). After legal costs, you may be lucky to have half the value when the smoke clears.

This dynamic can force an upper-middle-class family into downward mobility. In addition to the government taking about half the amount that is liquidated, the sale eliminates the revenue streams that those assets were generating, and the benefits of compound interest growth from those revenues. If–for example–the business was netting the family $80,000 of income per year, the sale of that business causes the family to forego not only the sale value of the business, but also the compounded values of the future income from that business. Ditto for portfolios that provide regular cash flow.

That “45% tax” is starting to look pretty big now.

One must also consider a couple more important factors that will impact the Baby Boomers, and Generations X and Y.

(1) It will not be difficult to amass an estate of $1.5 million.
While you are busy saying, “Screw the rich!”, you might consider that you may be among the “rich” in twenty years. A $200,000 house can easily be worth $500,000 in 20 years. If you steadily invest part of your paycheck into a Roth IRA, a 401(k) account, and/or any other private investment account, even small contributions would likely compound into the high 6 figures over an investor’s life. For example, a steady $50 per month contribution to a 401(k) account, compounded at 10%, over the course of a 40 year career (age 18 to 58), would be worth over $600,000.

If you are frugal, and contribute $12,000 per year over a 40 year career. This comes out to:

8%: $1.75 million
10%: $3.18 million
12%: $5.95 million.

(2) A million bucks–or two million bucks–is not as much as you think.
In my childhood, it was not uncommon for kids to say they wanted to be millionaires. Back in the ’70s–and even the ’80s–a million dollars was a lot of money. Today, that million dollars does not go nearly as far as it used to. Compounding this, with the estate tax, you can work hard, invest wisely, and slowly build a strong nest egg, as your family is forced into downward mobility after you die.

Let’s say your father died, leaving an estate of $2 million. After liquidating and paying the taxes, you are left with $1 million.

If you–the survivor–are 65 years old and retired, you may live more than 20 more years. That $1 million will have to go a long way. That $1 million will have to cover such things as housing, food, income, eventual long-term care, health care, and prescription drugs. If you suffer any catastrophic health problems–heart bypasses, strokes, hip replacements, spinal fusions, knee replacements, cancer, diabetes–your nest egg will have to cover those eventualities, as insurance will cover only small portions thereof.

You might say, “Big fat hairy deal! If I invested it in T-bonds at an average of 5%, I would clear $50,000 just in interest income!”

That sounds nice, except that there is no guarantee that any investment–government bonds, munis, stocks, corporate bonds, or even mutual funds–will provide good returns every year. Sometimes, T-bonds yield less than 5%. (Do you think you can live on $30,000 per year if inflation kicks in big-time?) If inflation kicks in, bond prices will go through the sewer. Any increases in yield may not cover inflation.

You may also consider stocks. However, while stocks are historically good over long periods of time, they have suffered annual double-digit losses. How would you like to lose $200,000 in a year, or $600,000 in a year? If you had $1 million in a NASDAQ index fund, you would have lost more than half your money from 2000-2002.

In fact, had you invested heavily in such giants as Enron, Worldcom, Global Crossing, MarchFirst.Com, Anazon.com, you would have lost almost ALL of that million dollars. Instead of net income, you would have had a more than 60% LOSS! Stocks have also had 20-year periods of stagnation. (So much for your $50,000 per year in interest income!)

Now that nest egg is not looking so good, is it?
Now that $1 million the government took out of your cheeseburger is really starting to suck, isn’t it?

The estate tax is not about “sticking it to rich people”; it is about keeping poor people poor, keeping the ranks of the rich exclusive, and forcing you and me to become more dependent upon government.

It’s time to put an end to the financial tyranny of big government.

We must kill the death tax. Now. For good.

April Machine Gun Shoot: Celebration of Freedom!!!

04/11/2005: This was my first time at the Machine Gun Shoot, which Knob Creek Gun Range (West Point, Kentucky) puts on every April and October.

As a member of the range, I put in to work security on Friday and Saturday. I set up my campsite at the range early Friday morning.

From the opening shoot–at 9am on Friday–it was outstanding!

For one thing, it was an impressive display of top-of-the-line weaponry. Seeing the show, one gets a very good portrait of what our military is capable of inflicting on our enemies. (I’m not thrilled about killing people, but Islamofascists have brought this on themselves. It sucks to be them.)

The night shoots were more like Star Wars. Tracer bullets from 50 caliber machine guns, flares, cannons. It was a pyromaniac paradise.

In addition to the shooting, many vendors were selling Class 3 weapons and assault rifles, as well as assorted military gear. The vendors were friendly, and the guns were extraordinarily expensive.

(Machine guns can cost anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to well into the 6-figure range. I saw one machine gun running for $120,000. Even a small caliber gun with a silencer will cost almost a thousand dollars, and that does not include the $200 tax you have to pay for the Class 3 ticket.)

Perhaps the most common weapon for sale was the Uzi. Those ran from $3,000 to $15,000. Some were fully automatic and equipped with silencers. (Buying a gun like that requires TWO Class 3 tickets, a $400 surcharge on top of the cost of the gun.)

Another common weapon was the FN FAL. A really good semi-automatic version of this–made by DSA–runs for about $1,500. A fully-automatic version will cost several thousand dollars!

My favorite rifle was a 20mm anti-tank gun. It weighed in at 125 pounds. However, at $9,500, it was way out of my price range by a substantial margin. Besides, the ammunition ran for about $5 per round, even if you reload your own!

At the end of the day, all this high-powered weaponry has one common denominator: it is EXPENSIVE! If you have a fully-automatic .308 rifle, a thousand rounds can cost well over $200. You can go through that much ammo in less than 60 seconds! Even if you reload your own ammo, it’s still pretty darn expensive.

The Saturday night shoot was excellent. This was a great celebration of freedom. The United States of America is one of the only countries in the world that Constitutionally guarantees the right of citizens to arm themselves.

With all those .50 caliber and .308 caliber and .223 caliber machine guns, and tracer rounds going into the hill by the thousands per minute, I remarked to another security guard: “As long as citizens can do THIS, we will remain a free country!”

Jane Still Doesn’t Get It

04/07/2005: Last night, in an interview with David Letterman, Jane Fonda weighed in on the war in Iraq: “I think the war is wrong. I think it’s a mistake and I think we that should get out.” I disagree, but those comments alone are not going to generate any ire from me. There are good people who have legitimate doubts about that war. I simply challenge them to express those sentiments to the Iraqis with the purple fingers.

The comments that bothered me involved her denouncement of conservatives over her anti-war activities in Vietnam. According to Fonda, the Hanoi Jane image was designed by conservatives so they could “promulgate their right wing, narrow world view. It really doesn’t have anything to do with me and it’s kind of sick.

Jane, that is where you are dead wrong.

Fact is, you created the “Hanoi Jane” image. There were many good, principled people who opposed American involvement in Vietnam. They did not go posing on NVA anti-aircraft guns. They did not chant, “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh!” They did not denounce and humiliate American servicemen or subject American POWs to savage cruelty.

The only person who can do anything about the Hanoi Jane image is you, Jane.

And you can do it. You chose divorce rather than abandoning your Christianity. That was a huge step.

Now, you need to right the wrongs of your past. You cannot atone for them (thankfully, The Lamb has already done that), but you can renounce your youthful activities. P.J. O’Rourke and David Horowitz–very staunch radicals from the 1960s who eventually came to their senses–did that. You can do the same.

I’m not saying you need to support the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. I’m not even saying you need to renounce your opposition to our involvement in Vietnam.

However, you need to renounce your prior support of our enemies, and accept responsibility for what you did to support them.

This was not a vast right-wing conspiracy against you; in fact, you did everything you could to alienate a large segment of America. You have no one to blame but yourself. Taking responsibility and renouncing what you did will go a long way.

That’s what you need to do. If for no other reason, do it for yourself.

Jane Fonda: I want to believe you

04/06/2005:

Dear Jane,

I really want to believe that you are really sorry for what you did, and not merely for the ramifications of what you did.

In the late ’60s and early ’70s, you were the poster girl for the anti-war movement. You achieved notoriety by visiting with the North Vietnamese army. You were photographed on top of an anti-aircraft gun. You met with American POWs, subjecting them to insult and demoralization. You denounced our military as “baby killers”. Now you are offering what looks like a backhanded apology.

Jane, what you did was more than just wrong: it was treasonous.

I’m not saying this because you opposed our actions in Vietnam: many otherwise good, honorable people also opposed that war. Had you done so without giving aid and comfort to our enemies, you would not be so despised among Vietnam vets.

I’m not saying this because I have a personal interest; I don’t. Given that I was born in 1967, no one from my generation fought in Vietnam. My generation, however, is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. (If I get medical clearance, I will enlist in the Army Reserves, and be eligible for deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever my country decides my services are needed.)

What you forget is that many of our troops were not in Vietnam by choice: they were drafted. Rather than run to Canada (or Oxford), they answered the call to serve their country not because they wanted to fight a war, but because their country called.

North Vietnam had succumbed to communism, and South Vietnam was in danger of Communist takeover. The Vietcong were getting logistical and military support from the Soviets, who were committed to eventual world domination. Opposing American intervention in Vietnam is one thing; supporting Communism is another.

For you to support a system that has killed well over 100 million innocent people–and enslaved billions more–is deplorable. If you really think that Communism was good for Vietnam, please ask the millions who risked their lives fleeing Vietnam by boat after the fall of Saigon. You might also ask the Cambodians, who lost 2 million of their compatriots to the Khmer Rouge, led by super-murderer Pol Pot. Ask the Poles and the Ukranians what they think of Communism, or the Cubans who survived dangerous raft flights to freedom.

You might also ask Chinese Christians, who risk their livelihoods by worshiping in house churches, as they celebrate the same Jesus Whom you claim to have embraced.

I empathize with your frustrations at the dishonesties of our government. LBJ was flagrantly dishonest (a professor of mine called him “LBJ: Lying Bastard Johnson”). Similarly, John McNamara and General Westmoreland were hardly men of rock-solid integrity.

When people from your generation insist that our government lied to us, no one is going to argue that point. That is why we ultimately lost Vietnam: our own leaders wre dishonest, and did not have the stones to fight decisively. We hung our troops out to dry: we sent them into harm’s way, but we would not let them win.

In spite of those governmental shortcomings, what you did to our troops was treason. They did not deserve the abuse you heaped on them. Those POWs were AMERICANS–who had wives, children, and friends hoping and praying for their safety. They fought like heck so people like you can have the freedom to run your mouth with impunity. Shame on you for spitting on them.

I hope you really are sorry, and are not simply trying to promote a book.

On the other hand, I feel terrible for you, with respect to your struggles with bulimia. I have friends who have struggled with that, too. A girlfriend of mine went through a major fight with bulimia. It was very heartbreaking.

I remember in the 1980s, Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority published a newsletter, in which an reporter or editorialist made fun of you for that struggle with bulimia. Shame on Falwell. He didn’t speak for me then, and he sure as heck doesn’t speak for me now.

I also hurt for you for having submitted yourself to perversions in order to win the acceptance of your husbands. They enjoyed pleasure at your expense; they certainly gave not a care about the marriage covenant. What they did to you was not love, as they sure gave not a thought about you. As a human being, you deserve better than that, and you should demand better.

Most importantly, I am hopeful for your newfound Christian faith. It cost you a marriage, but–from what I have seen of Ted Turner–the divorce was probably a blessing in disguise for you. See the end of the last paragraph.

At the end of the day, I am an idealist who prefers happy endings.

That is why I want to believe that you are truly renouncing your treasonous behavior of your youth. I would like to believe that this was a “when I was young and stupid” matter, and that you think better of your country.

Just think, Jane: Bush and Reagan have been the greatest liberators of women in the last 60 years. Women who were forced to wear burkas–and were subject to the whims of men–are now voting and getting educations.

I would challenge you to rethink your RAYS (Random Acts of Youthful Stupidity).

Sincerely,

SingleMind

Just War…Where Does it Start?

04/03/2005: Even among evangelicals, there is hardly unanimous agreement regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The arguments from this camp are several: (1) Saddam really had no WMDs; (2) even if Saddam had WMDs, they were not a threat to us; (3) other countries–such as Iran and North Korea–are greater threats to us; (4) we can’t impose democracy on a nation that doesn’t want it; (5) Afghanistan is run by warlords…we don’t have a legitimate interest in that; (6) by going to war, we are only going to make more enemies and suffer more terrorist attacks.

At the end of the day, most of these folks conclude that we are simply not fighting a “just war.”

Some of them would suggest there is never a case for a “just war”. Their understanding of the New Testament does not include latitude for government projection of military power, even for national security reasons. With this particular crowd, I doubt that productive discussion is even possible. They have a right to their opinion; I will fight for their right to be wrong.

I believe in just war. The reasons are theological and personal. (The Golden Rule connects both.)

(1) If I were a Tutsi in Rwanda, with Hutus hacking my kinsmen to death, I would hope that someone in the world cared enough to send in force to stop the slaughter.

(2) If I were a Kurd in northern Iraq, who had just seen most of my village gassed to death by Chemical Ali at the behest of Saddam Hussein, I would hope that someone in the world cared enough to send in force to combat these tyrants

(3) If I were a woman in Afghanistan who just got marked for death by stoning because my “husband” was in a bad mood, I would hope that someone in the world cared enough to send in force to liberate me and my fellow women.

(4) If I were an Iraqi whose wife just became a rape victim for one of Saddam’s playboy sons, I would hope that someone in the world cared enough to send in force to stop these tremendous abuses.

Now some of my detractors would say that we should have worked within the United Nations to deal with these situations.

Like hades! These types of abuses should spur immediate action, not more discussion among the U.N. General Assembly. After all, if I’m one of the victims, talk is cheap. Another U.N. resolution will help me as much as a post-mortem colonoscopy.

The United Nations is as useful as breasts on a boar hog. From their inception, they have rarely been on the right side of history and–when they have been right, they have been several months late and billions of dollars short.

The United Nations was impotent in its handling of the Arab-Israeli conflicts of 1948, 1967, and 1973 as well as the Munich Olympic massacre.

The United Nations was impotent in its handling of numerous political and humanitarian crises in Africa in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

The United Nations was impotent in its handling of the Korean War.

The United Nations was impotent in its handling of the Rwanda genocide.

The United Nations was impotent in its handling of wars in Bosnia and Kosovo.

The United Nations was impotent in its handling of Saddam Hussein’s continuous flouting of numerous Security Council resolutions.

The United Nations is utterly incompetent in human rights matters, allowing Sudan to sit on the commission while refusing the United States a seat.

The United Nations was too corrupt to effectively deal with Saddam, as the Oil-for-Food scandal involves double the monetary fraud perpetrated by Worldcom, on the watch of Kofi Annan (who also was responsible for UN inaction in Rwanda).

With respect to our national security–and the interests of stopping and preventing genocide–we cannot afford to rely on the deliberations of a body that has the moral clarity of Larry Flynt and the teeth of a newborn infant. This is the same bunch of buffoons who cannot seem to prosecute a mass murderer like Slobodan Milosovec.

As for WMDs, one must reconsider the scenario that Bush faced:

(1) You are the President of the United States of America.
(2) Terrorists have just flown jets into three of your buildings, and destroyed the World Trade Center.
(3) British Intelligence is telling you that Saddam has WMDs.
(4) Your CIA director tells you “it’s a slam dunk” that Saddam has WMDs.
(5) You know that Saddam and al Qaeda–while not collaborative in the 9/11 attacks–have a documented collaborative relationship.
(6) Terrorists have been undeterred for most of the last decade. From the attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993, their attacks on Americans in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996, their attacks on American embassies in 1998, and their bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in 2000, they are not interested in more negotiations.

Given your situation, what do you do? Call for more talks? Get another Security Council resolution? Saddam had thumbed his nose at America and the U.N. for 12 years.

John Kerry–a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee–saw the same intelligence information that Bush saw. He didn’t object to it until the campaign season. If Kerry knew the intel had problems, then shame on him for sitting on that.

Iraq was a terrorist state in which Saddam’s family held the “lucky” portion of 25 million people hostage. The “not-so-lucky” portion were on the receiving ends of torture, mass executions (by everything from firing squads to beheading to hanging to being fed feet first into a plastic shredder), and rape. (When Saddam, Uday, and Qusay saw a woman they wanted, marriage was no object.) Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis lay dead in mass graves.

Afghanistan was as bad, if not worse, as Mullah Omar and his band of thugs terrorized the Afghan people, while giving safe refuge to Osama bin Laden and his band of nihilist degenerates.

In the face of these abuses, inaction was not an option. Some could argue that North Korea and Iran were more deserving targets. That is a bait and switch argument: most who say that would object if we took action against Iran or North Korea.

We don’t have enough troops to fight everyone we ought to fight, but we have to start somewhere. A country that has made a mockery of American threats for 12 years is not a bad place to start. Going after a regime that gives aid and comfort to al Qaeda was also a necessary move.

Some argue that our actions have increased the number of terrorist recruits. That argument is a sham: when you take decisive action against your enemies, they are going to throw everything at you to protect their turf. What matters is that you win. Our intelligence intercepts of Zarqawi reveal an enemy that is increasingly frustrated with our resilience.

As I write this, we have lost almost 1,600 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those soldiers have died fighting a very just and necessary war.

There are millions of Iraqis with purple fingers who will vouch for that. In fact, 60% of eligible Iraqi voters defied snipers, carbombers, and other thugs so they could vote. (We can’t even get that type of turnout over here, and the worst thing we have to deal with is bad weather!)

In Afghanistan–formerly the land of the burka–women are now gaining educations. They also voted in recent elections.

Don’t tell them that this was not a “just war”.