ornament 14 April 2007 ornament

[Link] Case Closed: Tax cuts mean growth

Fred Thompson: Keep the tax cuts!

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ornament 11 April 2007 ornament

Bloggers take on Belarus

Here in Washington, protests are a part of the scenery, often happening year-round (even in the president’s back yard). As a conservative, I’ve never seen much effectiveness in demonstrations, but I do support the people’s right to protest — even when I disagree. After all, that’s the beauty of the First Amendment.

It doesn’t work that way everywhere. Take Belarus, for example. Alexander Lukashenko, who has been president since 1994, bullies dissent, and knows not the meaning of “term limits.” Due to Lukashenko’s antics, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has awarded Belarus a prestigious spot on her “Outposts of Tyranny” list.

It’s not difficult to see why. Take the developing case of Dzianis Dzianisau:

One of Belarusian political prisoners held on charges of “taking part in manifestations which disturb public order”, Dzianis Dzianisau has been released on bail four hours ago.

He was in prison for nearly two months for taking part in a manifestation in Vitebsk, during which a group of people raised a white-red-white flag on a pole overlooking a local park and amphitheatre. If found guilty, he would face up to 3 years in prison.

The “white-red-white” flag is an older national flag that was “discontinued” by Lukashenko and is now used of the opposition.

The good news is that bloggers and other online activists helped raise his impossibly high bail.

While Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, and other flash points around the globe are given attention (and rightly so) by the media, let us not forget Belarus. I know first hand that its people are first-rate. He has his bail, let’s now pray that Dzianis Dzianisau gets a fair trial.

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ornament 10 April 2007 ornament

DVD Roundup

Some DVDs I’ve watched since the beginning of the year:

Stranger Than Fiction: It’s hard to take Will Ferrell seriously, and for some strange reason, that’s why this story works — seriously. A great philosophical film with laughs along the way. [7 out of 10]

The Prestige: Any film directed by Christopher Nolan is worth seeing. While I figured out the twist in this movie pretty early, it still held my interest. The plot is slightly too complicated for it to be one of the all time greats, but it’s creative nevertheless. Great acting by Michael Caine and Christian Bale. [7 out of 10]

The Illusionist: This film is the one that’s like The Prestige, but not quite as good. I figured out this movie’s “twist” even earlier, but Edward Norton’s eeriness is enough to keep you watching. [6 out of 10]

The Holiday: All guys (at least the ones who know what’s good for them) know that sooner or later, they’ll have to watch a chick flick. A word to the wise: make sure it’s not this one. Two hours you can’t get back. [2 out of 10]

Click: This movie surprised me. I expected, well, an Adam Sandler movie. What I got instead, was a somewhat thought-provoking Capra-esque tale. [6 out of 10]

Superman Returns: Yawn. What can I say? The Man of Steel is a bit rusty in this one. Imagine Pierce Brosnan doing an impersonation of Sean Connery and passing it off as playing Bond. Brandon Routh is no Christopher Reeve, so why does he try to be? [5 out of 10]

Casino Royale: Since we’re talking about Bond, Casino Royale is without a doubt the best Bond movie in modern history. The opening scene will leave you shaken and stirred. [7 out of 10]

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days: One of the best I’ve seen in a long time. This beautiful, yet terrifying true story of students imprisoned for resisting the Nazis in 1943 Germany will stick with you for a long time. I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but it has a lot of Christian parallels. Hauntingly good. [9 out of 10]

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ornament 9 April 2007 ornament

The sonogram’s secret is out

Caitlin Flanagan is one of those talented writers for whom I imagine it is hard to find an ideological home. Feminists and liberals despise her for suggesting that feminism might not have worked out for the benefit of women. Likewise, she doesn’t quite fit the conservative mold — she is, for example, regrettably on the pro-choice side of the abortion debate.

However one chooses to label Flanagan, she is nevertheless refreshingly honest at times. Writing in the latest issue of The Atlantic, she argues that while, “a thousand arguments about the beginning of human life will never appeal to me as powerfully as a terrified pregnant girl desperate for a bit of compassion,” there is one effort by pro-lifers that gives her pause:

But my sympathy for the beliefs of people who oppose abortion is enormous, and it grows almost by the day. An ultrasound image taken surprisingly early in pregnancy can stop me in my tracks. In it is much more than I want to know about the tiny creature whose destruction we have legalized: a beating heart, a human face, functioning kidneys, two waving hands that seem not too far away from being able to grasp and shake a rattle. One of the newest types of prenatal imaging, the three-dimensional sonogram—which is so fully realized that happily pregnant women spend a hundred dollars to have their babies’ first “photograph” taken—is frankly terrifying when examined in the context of the abortion debate. The demands pro-life advocates make of pregnant women are modest: All they want is a little bit of time. All they are asking, in a societal climate in which out-of-wedlock pregnancy is without stigma, is that pregnant women give the tiny bodies growing inside of them a few months, until the little creatures are large enough to be on their way, to loving homes.

These sonogram images lay claim to the most powerful emotion I have ever known: maternal instinct. Mothers are charged with protecting the vulnerable and the weak among us, and most of all, taking care of babies—the tiniest and neediest—first. My very nature as a woman, then, pulls me in two directions.

The secret of the sonogram in preventing abortions is out, and both sides of the debate know it. The South Carolina House of Representatives has even passed a bill to require women seeking an abortion to have ultrasounds before proceeding with an abortion. Not surprisingly, many pro-abortion advocates want what amounts to censorship, and therefore seek to keep distressed pregnant women as far away from ultrasound machines as possible.

Indeed, in this debate there is much to lose. For the abortion industry, business is in jeopardy. For humanity, there is much more.

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ornament 8 April 2007 ornament

Johnny Hart, R.I.P.

Cartoonist Johnny Hart died yesterday, the AP reports:

ALBANY, N.Y. – Cartoonist Johnny Hart, whose award-winning “B.C.” comic strip appeared in more than 1,300 newspapers worldwide, died at his home on Saturday. He was 76.

“He had a stroke,” Hart’s wife, Bobby, said on Sunday. “He died at his storyboard.”

I have many fond memories of looking at the funny pages of the newspaper on Easter Sunday to see how Hart would pay tribute to the resurrection of Christ. Each year, in his “B.C.” comic strip, Hart confounded the politically correct and in newspapers around the world acknowledged the risen Christ. The comic that ran this Easter, the day after his death, was no exception.

He will be missed.

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[Link] The Pirates of Tehran

The Pirates of Tehran: “In the old days, they would have kissed his ring — but wearing Iranian suits and carrying swag more appropriate to a Hollywood awards ceremony may have been as embarrassing.”

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ornament 6 April 2007 ornament

[Link] Fred Thompson: Real American Idols

OK, one more Fred Thompson link for the weekend (am I beginning to show a bias?): Real American Idols

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On the passing and rising of Jesus

Earlier this week, as Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave his “gift” of returning captured British hostages to their homeland, he cited his reason for his generous gesture:

“On the occasion of the birthday of the great Prophet (Muhammad) … and for the occasion of the passing of Christ, I say the Islamic Republic government and the Iranian people — with all powers and legal right to put the soldiers on trial — forgave those 15.

“This pardon is a gift to the British people.”

Indeed, Christians do celebrate the passing of Christ. Good Friday finds Christians focusing on the crucifixion Jesus, where the wrath of God against sin (which we deserved) was poured out upon the innocent Son of Man. Ahmadinejad, of course, leaves out the crucial rest of the story — the fact of the resurrection.

While a Christian’s justification depends upon God’s gift of the cross, the hope of a follower of Christ lies in a truth that seems odd to verbalize in today’s modern world. This truth is none other than the fact that the fully human Jesus of Nazareth — likewise fully dead — got up and walked out of his tomb. And (as dead men are never good candidates for walking around) we conclude, along with the biblical writers, that Jesus is no longer dead.

A real dead person really came back to life, and continues to live today. As Christ said as he began his ministry, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

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[Link] Fred Thompson Gears Up

Will he or won’t he? Fred Thompson Gears Up

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ornament 5 April 2007 ornament

The 40-year-old…intern

The Associated Press is reporting that an intern with the U.S. National Archives stole 164 Civil War documents (including an announcement of President Lincoln’s death), which he subsequently put on Ebay. That’s weird.

But that’s not the weirdest part. You see, the thief is conspicuously reported as being a 40 year-old unpaid intern. The report neglects say whether or not he lives with his parents…

NOTE TO NATIONAL ARCHIVES STAFF: always be suspicious of a 40 year-old who wants to work for free.

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