Friday, November 30, 2007

Great Post on Modern Copperheads Over at Gatewaypudit

This is a good one. Read all of it.

Democrats haven't changed a lick in 143 years as you can tell from this 1864 political cartoon by Thomas Nast

Dave Clark sent this very revealing 1864 campaign poster a while back and described the uncanny comparisons to today's anti-war party:

1.) Showing the enemy soldier stronger and more resilient than our own. Here the southern soldier (enemy) is upright and strong, the northern (US) broken and dejected.
2.) The "useless war" on the tomb. Even then the pessimist couldn't see the righteousness of the conflict.
3.) The flag flown upside down in a distress display; even then they saw little hope and only failure.
4.) The grieving widow....[MORE]

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Military Desertion Rates and the Associated Press

From the American Thinker:

"According to this AP story, 9 in every 1,000 soldiers "went AWOL" in fiscal ending September 30, 2007. In the year ended September 30, 2006, nearly 7 per 1,000 were AWOL. The article uses the terms AWOL and desertion interchangeably even though they are not the same."

The A-T web site gives the rate for 97-04:




4.58 per 1,000



5.20 per 1,000



6.13 per 1,000



8.16 per 1,000



9.50 per 1,000



9.26 per 1,000



7.60 per 1,000



4.91 per 1,000

"Look at the above rates of Army desertion in the years just prior to the Iraq war. Years 2000, 2001, and 2002 (8.16, 9.5, 9.26) show higher rates than we have had during this terrible quagmire of an Iraq war, with its multiple tours of duty.

Why doesn't AP correspondent Lolita C. Baldur discuss that?

Powers states that in the fiscal year the Iraq war began (the invasion was March 2003) the desertion rate was 7.6 per 1,000, the same as 2006, a terrible year for the U.S. in Iraq. The AP article seems to be confused as to fiscal years. According to Powers, the desertion rate was quite low, 4.91, for fiscal year 2004 (from October 1, 2003 through September 30, 2004), not fiscal 2003 as stated in the AP article"....[more]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Christian Courts?

In an interesting exegesis Brian S. Rosner thinks that Paul advocated the establishment of Christian courts in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8. He expounds on this idea on page 95 in “Paul, Scripture and Ethics: A Study of 1 Corinthians 5-7”. A more standard interpretation would be that Christians should avoid suing each other. The New Bible Commentary offers a historical perspective:

"Among the elite of first-century society it was quite acceptable to institute civil proceedings before a magistrate and jury on trivial matters in order to establish one's social and political superiority over others. In weighing up their decision in such cases the jury had to take into account the status and power of the opposing parties, and the judge had to act likewise in imposing fines. Furthermore, certain persons were excluded from instituting legal proceedings against others; i.e. a son against his father, a slave against his master, a freedman against his patron, a citizen against the magistrate, and an inferior against his social superior. Judges and juries were regularly bribed by participants in a case. Mediation rather than litigation could be used in Jewish and Graeco-Roman courts. This was the preferred option of some because leading citizens feared the damaging effects of litigation on their social standing and public careers. Enmity was also engendered, for those who voted against the defendant automatically became his enemies. Civil litigation for the elite was simply seen as an extension of factions and discord in political life. ... ... ...

"In the light of the way local courts operated it is little wonder that Paul is appalled that some Christians dare to take civil actions before annually elected magistrates and wealthy compatriots. They acted as either judge and jury with great partiality and could also be bribed. (Therefore, Paul reasoned that) If the saints are to judge the world ... then they are surely competent to act as mediators in the civil actions which Paul calls trivial cases. ... ... ...(This is why) Paul asks, `do you appoint as judges men of little account in the church?'... .... While secular judges were people of high status in the community, in the Christian gathering secular status had no place. Paul uses the same term here as he does in 1:28 of those whom secular society despises. ... Some of those who were wise (see 1 Cor. 3:18) might undertake the role of mediator which was an accepted way to resolve matters in secular courts. The third stage of education in the first century trained students in legal studies and therefore there would be some in the church who were legally competent to resolve matters equitably.

... Paul indicates his revulsion at their actions by the words brother ... against another (brother) which signify the fellowship of believers - and this in front of unbelievers! ... The fact that matters could not be resolved when a brother has a dispute against another Christian is a sign of defeat for the Christian community. .... It is better to suffer wrong rather than go to court. Not only was dirty linen being washed in public but a fine was imposed on whoever lost the case - hence his accusation you ... cheat and do wrong - better `defraud.' In Ro 13:1-7 Paul discusses the God-ordained role of the state in criminal cases, but he has no place for the locally elected magistrates and juries who used the civil actions as a political arena. Christians who were legally trained and acting as mediators would resolve issues in a just way in a society where unjust conventions prevailed."

I’m skeptical that Paul advocated a system of Christian courts but he was appalled that we should use a secular court unanswerable to the church (v.4). But, I’ll think more about this.

WMD in Iraq, Saddam's Explanation

There was every reason to believe that Saddam Hussein had WMD's. First he used them in Kurdistan. We know that our friends the Germans sold them the technology and set up his chemical plants. (If want to poison people by gas you should go to the pioneers in the field, they have lot's of experience). He denied access to UN inspectors in 1998, thumbing his nose at Clinton administration more interested in stains on a blue dress. Meanwhile the Iraqi people had to endure the UN sanctions, and Saddam's brutality. In a post 9-11 world with the US enforcing the UN sanctions that caused 1.5 million deaths, a wise decision was made to get rid of Saddam. Argue as you will, Iraq is far better off without Saddam and we (the US) are responsible for far fewer deaths in the post-2003 invasion than if we had just kept enforcing the sanctions and allowed Saddam to stay in place. A Fox News story gives a reasonable explanation as to why Saddam led us to believe that his WMD plants were still humming along:

  • George Piro, who told Kessler he befriended Saddam to extract confessions, said, "When we were saying bye, he started to tear up."
  • Saddam also feared Iran and told his American captors he wanted Tehran to believe he possessed nuclear and biological weapons, according to Kessler.
  • "Saddam said that if America thought that he had WMD, then, of course, Iran would, and this would fulfill his goal of making sure that Iran did not want to attack Iraq," Kessler told NBC News...[more]

Monday, November 12, 2007

'Why Don't You Shut Up?' Spain's King Tells Hugo Chavez

Something intelligent from a royal:

( - Spain's king has won widespread praise in his country for telling Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to "shut up" during an Ibero-American summit, a meeting that underscored the strengthening ties among Latin America's cabal of hard-line leftists....[more]

Friday, November 09, 2007

Instone-Brewer Responds to the Use of Extra-Biblical Literature for Scriptural Exegesis

A blogger critical of Instone-Brewer's use of history from Josephus, Philo, surviving documents and the Talmud for I-B's books and C-T article quotes John Piper:

Piper comments on the article:
Instone-Brewer’s interpretation is an example (common, it seems, in New Testament studies today) of taking extra-biblical observations and using them to silence the fairly plain meaning of biblical texts.
I-B responds:
Thank you for taking my work so seriously.
The method I use is the same as that used by John Piper who argues that the meaning of porneia is not how it is normally translated in the New Testament, but it means instead ‘pre-marital fornication’. This is based on the work of the Qumran scholar Abel Isaksson. It is similar to the well-established theory of the French scholar Bonsirven which was popularised a few decades ago by the Catholic scholar Murphy O’Connor, who found supporting evidence in the Dead Sea Scrolls. This kind of interpretation is important for Catholic scholars because it means that Jesus did not allow any divorce after marriage has occurred – the same teaching that Piper supports.

It is also the same method by which many scholars show Matthew and Luke were not contradicting each other when one says Mary and Joseph were betrothed, and the other says Joseph planned to divorce her. They solve this by means of extra-biblical rabbinic documents which show that a betrothal could only be ended by a divorce certificate (something which is not recorded anywhere in the Bible).

I employ rabbinic documents and marriage & divorce documents from Jesus’ time to discover how to translate the phrase ‘Any Cause’, which was a legal title for a particular type of divorce in Jesus’ day. Anyone reading Matthew in the first century would recognise that legal phrase, and we have to take this into account when we attempt to understand Jesus’ teaching. People outside the first century understand that phrase differently. Does that mean that their interpretation is correct? Jesus spoke first to his audience in the first century, and we have to hear his words through their ears. It is part of the translation process.

See more at

David Instone-Brewer

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Churchill and the Jews


Martin Gilbert vividly shows in "Churchill and the Jews." By chronicling Churchill's warm dealings with English and European Jews throughout his long career, and his heartfelt support of Zionism, Mr. Gilbert conveys Churchill's deep admiration for the Jewish people and captures his crucial role in creating the state of Israel. Churchill offers the powerful example of a Western statesman who--unlike other statesmen in his own time and ours--understood the malignant nature of anti-Semitism and did what he could to oppose its toxic effects....[more]

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

An Explanation of the Subprime Mess from the Wall Street Journal

Tuesday, November 6, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

Throughout the 1980s and '90s, Congress prodded, even strong-armed, banks into making more mortgage loans to low-income and minority families. Washington enacted anti-discrimination and community lending laws with penalties against lenders for failing to issue riskier mortgages to homebuyers living in poor neighborhoods or with low down payments and subpar credit ratings. And so it was that the modern subprime mortgage market was born....[more]

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Hillel Vs. Shammai Pharisees, What Jesus May Have Said Regarding Polygamy

In the previous post and many before that the debate between two schools of Pharisees, the Hillel and Shammai was discussed. In Matthew 19:9 Jesus appears to side with the Shammai school for 'adultery only' for 'indecency' in Dt 24:1.

The Shammai school endorsed traditional Judaic values, with the Hillels appearing to adopt Greco-Roman influences. Divorce in G-R law was instantaneous and not require any particular reason, much like our modern No-Fault divorces. The 'Any Cause' divorce mentioned in Mt 19:3 and in Josephus, Philo and the Talmud may have been one of those Hillel adaptations.

What about polygamy? The OT does not forbid polygamy, and the Shammais allowed for it. The G-R world did not practice polygamy and the Hillels took that position. It appears that Jesus took the side of the Hillel Pharisees on this argument. In his book and writings David Instone-Brewer discusses the recent findings in the Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran. The Essene sect may have inhabited the Qumran caves. The common scriptural argument against polygamy was Gen. 1:27, 2:24, and Lev 18:18. Jesus quotes Gen. 1:27 and 2:24 in Mt 19:4-5. Another blogger does more justice to I-B's exegesis.

It appears that Jesus rebukes the Shammais for polygamy in Mt. 19:4-5 before agreeing with their exegesis for 'indecency' in Dt 24:1 in Mt 19:8-9.