My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Answering An Atheist 

My critique of "The Golden Compass" drew the ire of a "fan". Daryl has kindly joined the debate. His first contribution to the discussion was this:

Michael, i am an atheist and i think you are a dumbass.

That is all.P.S. i dont beleive in god because the it is all bullshit, and Jesus never existed either.

Hey, I didn't say he elevated the debate--I just said he joined the debate (by the way, you can check the whole thing in the comments under my Critique.)

After I answered with a bit of sarcasm (admittedly, not my most charitable moment), I charged him with this thought:

. . .your visceral, emotional response to this indicates a deeply defensive reaction to my points. I suspect I struck a chord a little closer to the truth than you are comfortable with.

Which led to a LENGTHY reply from Daryl. I have decided to put him on the main page of the blog to further the debate, and so I can answer his points directly.

I honestly just think that some people take religion too seriously. Including, it would seem, atheists. Were it the sort of thing that should not be taken too seriously, then Michael Newdow and others would not spend so much time and energy trying to litigate the Pledge of Allegiance and even the Declaration of Independence out of our schools. In no way is this movie innapropriate for children but you say that parents should not allow their kids to watch it without them? You try to make all these points about how when a person dies their daemon dies too and you say that its clear what the message is behind that but honestly what do you prefer to see happen? Someone dies and then the animal flies up to the sky or in the case of someone considered "evil" dies a stairway to hell opens and you watch the animal run down it? First off, I only made one point, not "all these points"; secondly, I would prefer to see the daemon follow the path of any of the hundreds of major mythologies and religions the world has known--they could reattach to a baby somewhere, rejoin a pool of daemons in some other region, or even simply wander off. But it makes no sense (absent atheism) for this independent entity to just wink out of existence--even ancient legends of "familiars" didn't ever have the animal die. And as for saying how the movie copied other movies such as lord of the rings, how do you expect the director to introduce the beginning story to those who have not read the book? it was necessary.Tons of movies have started like this and in the future im sure many more will. The problem is once a thing has been done in a readily identifiable way, you should have the good sense (as an artist) not to copy it. It's like trying to record a song once Sinatra or Streisand has--go ahead, but you'd better do it really really well. You also complained about when Mrs. Coulter turns out to be Lyra's mother you were mouthing a starwars quote as if they are copying something from star wars. The truth is there are hundreds of stories, movies, video games etc. where a person doesnt know who there parent(s) are and ends up finding out later that it is someone they have been against the whole time, the story of star wars is nothing like the golden compass i do not even know why you would bother to compare them. Again, not comparing the stories-simply saying that you are going to employ a story device after its been done famously, you'd better do it really well and somewhat originally. And also, you complain about the music, I personally as a classical guitarist myself found the music to be quite well done. And obviously since you dont care at all to listen to the artists work that he put into this movie, you only care to try and find as many flaws as you can with a film that has some anti religious messages to it, you fail to realise that in todays music market, repetition sells. Well, two things--first, if you read a little more carefully, I actually gave the music some credit for quality: my beef was with its use; and secondly, a classical guitarist (and I assume you're talking about Andres Segovia here, not Eric Clapton) should not be making points about the quality of a piece of music by placing it in the context of today's popular music. listen to the radio, pretty much every hit song is going to be a repetition of a few basic chords because people like being able to hum along to a song, and beleive it or not most people will be able to hum along to a song after hearing it a few times. I can still hum the melody from Lord of the Rings and I havent seen those films in over a year. But if you listen to the movies closely, you only hear the actual heroic theme in its entirity once; you only hear the theme of Minas Tirith once, etc. . . all the other employments of those themes are limited, and in the context of the changes within the movie. The music in LOTR becomes a story-telling device, almost like in opera; there was no similar effect in "Compass" As evidence shows thats what a vast majority of the world would consider to be goddamned good music. Not at all sure what this line means. Oh, well.

At this point, Daryl stops critiqueing my critique of the craft of the movie. Everything I wrote on those points are, of course, subjective, and quite open to debate. I do, however, take some comfort in the fact that most media critics' opinions have been more in line with mine. And note: Daryl never makes an effort of actually pointing out the strengths of the movie (with the possible exception of the music thing) to make his points--also, in line with the critics.

However, perhaps the dumbest thing you said in your review is the stuff about atheism. Its so dumb that I dont even know where to begin. First off, no, I dont believe in religion. Just becuase there are alot of stories that are anti religious doesnt for a second mean that atheists still believe in it. The fact is Religion is the best story ever created, it has made more money for any organization (the church mainly) than anything in existence and in the capitalist economy that we live in today some writers and directors are deciding they would like to cash in on it as well. So far, how's that working out for the anti-religious people? If memory serves, "Da Vinci Code," while a smash success book (though a far weaker one than Dan Brown's other one "Angels and Demons") was a massive flop in both its craft and at the box office; and "Compass" is on its way to MAYBE breaking even at the box office--a huge disappointment. I understand that some see a market for anything vaguely religious, but the fact is fairly clear: success comes to those who start with great stories and good craft before wandering into the religious implications ("Narnia" and "Passion of the Christ" come to mind).

"The atheist who hates being "contolled" by a 2000 year old book would be far, FAR more troubled by the control of a state that reinvents right and wrong every other week."

That right there also points out the other big reason why I dont believe in or like religion in any way. Over time people change, values change our beliefs change. Following some book that was written 2000 years ago in a society that is nothing like today is just plain dumb. Hmm. So, I suppose it is equally dumb to follow the tenets of a document that was written over 200 years ago--or, for that matter, given the pace of technological change in today's world, even 50 years ago. You begin to see the slippery slope you get on: if you can only evaluate the value of a thing within the context for which it was written, than you can constantly reinvent whatever tenets you "believe" in. Suddenly, because it no longer fits with how society was in 1787, little doctrines like Freedom of Speech and Separation of Powers can be discarded--in the interest of "progress." That, of course, is why if you don't moor your philosophy to the underpinnings of foundational doctrine, you can't ever be said to have a guiding philosophy. And, while that might work for "progressives", if you look at the last hundred years of history, you would have a tough time making the case that that kind of "progress" has been uniformly beneficial. In my opinion it is the religious people who have troubles living in a world that is changing, that is why you people would deny rights to homosexuals, are against medications that save lives and are the cause of most of the wars this earth has seen (not just christianity but all religions). And yet, thinking back over the course of the last century, by far the greatest violence was perpetrated by committed atheists (Stalin or Pol Pot) or by those who only used religion as a means to identify their victims (Hitler). Even the first Great War was strictly an issue of revenge and honor (and stupid treaty obligations)--nothing at all to do with religion. The American Civil War, the Revolution, the French Revolution, the Hundred Years' War--none of these major conflicts of mankind had anything to do with religion. On the other hand, the 1st aid organizations on the scene in Darfur, in Rwanda, and in other places around the world that are torn apart by war are the religious ones--Samaritan's Purse, Catholic Charities, etc. . .

I have no illusion that the history of religion--even Christianity--has been blameless. Like all human institutions, religion has suffered its share of human failings. But it is also the source of a great deal of the good in the world, and provides for its adherents Hope that their lives--both temporal and eternal--have meaning, purpose, and a chance to be better. It is a conscious choice I make to believe--if I am wrong, my acts on this earth will still be better than they otherwise would have been, and my outlook for the future will be full of Hope and promise, which makes me be a better person; the choice you make has, as its end product, darkness and death--even if you are right, that is a bleak, meaningless existence.

as ive said before, Michael I am an atheist and I think you are a dumbass. That is all.

Oh, and, of course, we must return to the eloquence.

P.S. even if you just had the review minus the religious crap at the end of it, your review would still suck.

I have no illusions that Daryl is convinceable on this count--either about religion or about the movie. He is, for some reason, invested in it, and that is his choice.

My hope is that there are people who have not committed to one position or the other, who are fairly regularly bombarded with the other side of the argument, who read this and get to hear this side of the argument.

And then they can make a free choice for themselves.


The Government Is Not Santa Clause 

Here is the rough text of an ad I would run in the next six days in Iowa if I were the Romney campaign.

Hello. My name is Mitt Romney, and I approve this ad.

I hope you and yours have had a safe, blessed and pleasant holiday season. As I was sitting at the table with my wife and five sons, my thoughts turned to a beloved figure who we all think about a lot at this time of year.

That's right: Santa Clause.

Santa Clause is a wonderful man because he is able to do something for us that we rarely see in this day and age: he gives us something for nothing--except, of course, being nice.

The problem with that is that some of those running for President think the federal government should play the role of Santa Clause all year long. My Democratic opponents want to give health insurance to everybody through the government; my Democratic opponents want to give the United Nations control over American foreign policy;

even some of my Republican opponents have in the past chosen to support giving benefits of citizenship to those who are in the country illegally, or they want to give your money to other people to reduce income disparity.

But I've been in the real world--I haven't spent most of my life in Washington. I've run a company, built a new company, met a payroll, run the Olympics, and then run the great state of Massachussetts. And I can tell you very clearly: you can't get something for nothing from the federal government.

America works best when the federal government works to empower the American people to create for themselves. There is no limit to the greatness of the American people --time and time throughout history, we've risen to whatever challenge we are faced with.

And so we will continue to work together to solve the big problems this county .

But don't believe the tired old line that the government will do it for you. If you choose me to be your next President, I will apply the same problem-solving skills that I've used throughout my career to make sure that the government will create the conditions necessary for you to achieve your dreams--a secure America protected by a strong military, a strong, growth-oriented economy that will continue to create jobs and opportunities, and a system that encourages and reward strong families.

Hey, don't get me wrong: I like Santa a lot. But when it comes to taking care of your families and your futures, you don't need a jolly, fat federal bureaucracy "helping" you--you need a competent, well-run government that is based on sound conservative principles.

That's what I bring to the job. I hope you will support me on Caucus night.

Thank you.


An Open Letter To Iowa Republicans 

In one weeks' time, you will be going to your local schools, rotary clubs, and churches to hold the first-in-the-country votes for the next President. And, given that I will have very little voice in the process of picking our party's nominee, I thought I would express a few thoughts to you who do have great influence in this process.

I believe it has been pleasant, for the last few months, to not worry too much about the world "out there"--Iraq has been getting better, so the news from overseas has been sparse. Therefore, it's been easy and comfortable to return our focus to "kitchen table" issues like health care and farm subsidies.

Unfortunately, we have been reminded today, with the events in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, that the world is still a very dangerous place, and that the same people who pulled off the 9/11 attacks are still capable of hideous crimes like the assassination of Ms. Bhutto. And yet, somehow, the last few chances you've had to see the candidates were almost completely lacking in serious discussion of the dangers we face around the world. While it is probably comforting to you to think that your towns and farm communities would be low on the target list for terrorists, your sons and daughters who put on the uniform will be face to face with this enemy--they deserve to have you give the implications of your vote serious consideration.

The enemy we face is ruthless, relentless, clever and maleable. The only way to combat him is to bring to bear every facet of the federal government on finding and ending him. The sort of leadership that would be able to marshall those resources must be one that is experienced, that understands the enemy, and that is clear-eyed about what needs to be done to protect the American people. I urge you to consider who fits that description best as you go to the polls next week.

I understand the temptation to get behind the Baptist Preacher--his eloquence and wit are refreshing and, I'm sure, a welcome change from the endless politicking you've been suffering through these many months. But it's difficult to say, given his public record, that he understands the enemy or what must be done to protect America. And the Senator is an admirable man who, unfortunately, seems pathologically unwilling to take the hard steps of getting intelligence out of terrorists we've captured.

What the country needs now is a leader who "gets" the danger, who has the experience to get the massive bureaucracy pointed towards his vision of the future, and who is also has the background to see the big picture and understand the many ways that we can influence the situation. There are two candidates who bring this list of credentials to the table next week.

It's all well and good to flirt with the preacher and the hero; but, in the end analysis, the seriousness of these recent events demand a next President cut from a more substantial cloth.

So I encourage you to remember, as you go to the caucuses next week, that Republicans are supposed to be the "serious party." But that supposition can only hold up if you who hold an inordinate amount of influence over the outcome of this election vote based on serious issues that effect all of us.




Theory vs. Practice 

Theory: Let's host Christmas this year, honey. We can just keep it simple.
Practice: only three hours of sleep since Dec 22nd while finishing getting the house ready to host Christmas

Theory: health care coverage for everybody, provided by the state
Practice: bad health care for everybody

Theory: if we're nicer to the world and solve the Palestinian issue, they will stop shooting at us
Practice: no administration in the past 50 years has been as engaged in Palestine as the previous one, and we have the USS Cole, the Khobar Towers, east Africa, and the planning for 9/11 to thank it for

Theory: the federal government can solve the issue of class disparity in America
Practice: only by taxing the rich out of existence, because there will always be some who can't--or don't--work their way into the middle class

Feel free to play along.

A Critique: The Golden Compass and Atheism 

I took the oldest to see The Golden Compass on Friday with a large group of students from school. I figured better to go see it with her where I can help the discussion along later than to have her "creating" it for herself with her friends. I also think its useful, as Christians, not to be afraid of this sort of thing, and to not show our children that we're afraid of them. Besides, with it only pulling in a paltry $48 million over its first three weeks, domestically, and about $140 million worldwide (it cost $180 million to make), I thought it unlikely that my $14 would be the deciding factor whether the studio would want to make the second and third books into movies, also.

Generally, when I watch a movie, its on about three levels--the entertainment value, the craft, and then the message. All three need to be solid for me to really enjoy a movie--I can miss one and still be entertained, but generally that's how it goes for me. And that's how I'll be critiqueing The Golden Compass, followed by some thoughts on what the author was trying to accomplish with this effort.

First of all, I did NOT enjoy this movie. On a purely entertainment level, this film never got me going. The first scene is of a bunch of kids playing--though it wasn't clear at first that they were just playing. And, even at that, the playing is lifeless and depressing. The children are all pretty unpleasant and snotty to each other, and they seem disconnected from anything or anyone that would give their lives purpose. And it only gets worse once the adults enter the picture. Generally speaking, I find it a little bit charming when a child shows a bit of "pluck" in a movie, or shows that they're more clued in than the average child or than the adults think they should be--but in the case of our young heroine, Lyra, it's just a bit obnoxious. Which leaves us with a main character that deserves a "time-out", an antagonist (Nicole Kidman) who manages to at once be the only character on screen with good lighting AND be the only one not worth looking at, and an interesting protagonist (Daniel Craig) who disappears from the movie after the first fifteen minutes and is only brought back in a hasty "wrap-up" at the end of the movie. Honestly, I found myself drifting at some points during the movie, in much the same way I do on the couch during "movie night."

On the craft of the movie, I also found it very disappointing. For this budget, there had better have been somebody with editorial control who would notice things like . . . oh, I don't know, that the music (which is not bad) gets very redundant when every travel scene (of which there are many) has the same snippet of score in the background. I was, at one point, able to hum along with a score which I never heard before--that's not a good sign. Then there's the elements of this movie that are clearly derivative or direct rip-offs from other fantasy adventure movies. When Mrs. Coulter (Kidman) leads our herione to the news that she is her [gasp] mother, I was actually doing the Darth Vader-breathing thing in the theater. For the record, nobody sitting near me was amused. Then there's the scene with Lyra riding the giant polar bear across the frozen tundra, that was so much like the climactic scene in Narnia that it was more than a little strange. And the movie even opened with a lengthy exposition read by a woman in a somewhat breathy voice, a la The Fellowship of the Rings. The story-telling was choppy and uneven, and the character development which would have let us care about some of these characters never happened. The beauty of The Fellowship was that Peter Jackson took enough time filling in the gaps of the story so that we understood the relationships between characters and we cared about them--The Golden Compass never reached that level.

On the plus side, I think that all of these elements conspire to hide the message of the movie from children. They may have been entertained, but the story was so bad that any message was hidden from view, like a painting of something really ugly hidden under a layer of dirt and muck. But what is that message? Well, its sort of a Da Vinci Code for kids, except the message isn't the church hiding the truth, its that the church "controls thought." It starts by explaining that the "Magisterium" controls the news and hides the existence of "dust" and enforces . . . never mind--I never quite figured out what "dust" was supposed to be. The point is that there are not very many people left in the world who know that the Priesthood of the Catholic Church refers to itself as the Magisterium, so the belief of the writer, which doesn't make it through to the audience, is the standard old line that the church (and the whold body of believers, by extension) controls thought and are not interested in the truth. Each character moves through the movie with their "daemon" (pronounced "DEE-mun," as in demon), an animal who we are told is the soul of the characters. The characters interact with their demons, and, it appears, are their best friends. In the case of the children, the daemons can change shape--we're told this changing continues until the child matures. The children feel what the daemons feel--which gives us a charming scene early in the movie in which Mrs Coulter threatens Lyra by strangling her daemon, which also causes Lyra breathing troubles (a little child abuse for your amusement, anyone?)--and when a daemon dies, the person is left lost and damaged (the one character who this happened to died after being afflicted thus with "indecision"--ooooohh!). On the other hand, when a person dies, their daemon immediately explodes into dust, and is no more--the message there is too obvious to miss. And, in the end, what I suppose the point of the whole adventure is is that Mrs. Coulter, along with the Magisterium, is trying to invent a way to separate children from their daemons--free of the soul, the children would be more easily controlled. And so Lyra is trying to prevent that from happening, while helping her uncle (Craig) expose the "truth" about dust.

In the end, what SEEMS to be important is that children become free of the "authority" of the Magisterium, so that they can do whatever they want to. It is, in the end analysis, a vision of anarchy and chaos, matched in darkness only by the perpetual darkness of the cinematography.

Which, in the end analysis, is the point and the goal of atheism. If athiests truly did not believe, they would not go to the lengths they go to to keep the rest of us from celebrating our Faith. If there really were no God, why does He have to be destroyed in book three of The Golden Compass; if there really were no God, why must He be removed from our public places via litigation; if there really were no God, why does the state (in the case of the Soviet Union and others) need to replace Him?

And that, I believe, is the crux of the matter: God must be "destroyed" so that the state can be the only authority in our lives--THAT IS THE POINT OF ATHIESM, or perhaps, that for the state to have proper control over our lives, God must be destroyed! The chaos and anarchy is merely a step in the process--people like order, to some degree. When all structure and authority breaks down, the inevitable chaos becomes like a cleansing fire (in the mind of the atheist) which welcomes the state to bring things back to normalcy. And then those who control the state can control society--just like in the Soviet Union.

The problem with that view is that it is essentially completely incoherent. To destroy one authority that you don't like because it creates a moral structure which you are uncomfortable with, only to replace it with another supposedly "a-moral" state is to invite a much greater degree of oppression into your life. The state may not dictate to you about who or what to have sex with or when, but it certainly WILL proscribe to itself (eventually) the authority to dictate who gets to have children, and when, and of what gender. The atheist who hates being "contolled" by a 2000 year old book would be far, FAR more troubled by the control of a state that reinvents right and wrong every other week.

Its not that atheists don't believe in God; it's that they dislike the rules of living that religion has "imposed" on society, so they have to assert that there actually is no Higher Authority.

And, in the end, INCOHERENT is the best word to describe The Golden Compass. See it if you want, but don't let your children see it without you. And drink plenty of caffeine before you go in.


Merry Christmas!!! 

The People Walking In Darkness Have Seen A Great Light . . .

Here's hoping you and yours have a truly merry and blessed Christmas.

Been a little quiet lately getting the house ready to host the family Christmas this year; will resume normal blogging Wednesday.


Speaking of the Hollywood Writer's Strike . . . 

Aren't you waiting for this headline?:

Writers' Strike Enters Sixth Month; Mrs. Sauder's Eighth Grade Creative Writing Class Finishes First Season of Sit-Com Scripts--Public Wondering About New-Found Sophistication

Good News For Geeks 

er . . . movie fans.

Peter Jackson has signed on to be the producer for The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien's prequel to "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy (which earned almost $3 BILLION worldwide).

The films (Jackson is splitting the story into two films) are due out in 2010 and 2011, which means that Jackson will have, by the final release, stretched Middle Earth out over ten years of filmmaking. That's a better career than a lot of people in Hollywood.

And, if the writers don't come back from strike soon, that'll be a better career than just about anybody.


One Advantage of Charter Schools . . . . 

is that they don't have a pesky teachers-union contract to deal with in establishing their hours of operation.

This freedom actually allows them to make students better.

Imagine that.

At Rishel Middle School, across the parking lot from KIPP near the corner of Alameda Avenue and Tejon Street, fewer than one in five students were proficient on 2007 state reading tests.
At KIPP, where the poverty rate exceeds that of Rishel, 51 percent of students were reading at grade level.

Similarly, at Kepner Middle School, which is 1.3 miles from West Denver Prep, fewer than one in four students were proficient readers.

At West Denver Prep, 49 percent of students were proficient

That sure SOUNDS like remarkable progress from right in the belly of the Big Education Beast. When a charter school is outperfoming its neighboring traditional public school by better than 2 to 1, you better sit up and take notice.

So, how do they do it?

A Rocky Mountain News analysis shows the average school day for KIPP students is two hours and 23 minutes longer than their middle school peers in traditional Denver Public Schools.

Add Saturday school - 16 days in 2007-08 - and the required summer classes - up to 18 days in June - and the KIPP school year exceeds that of DPS by more than 600 hours.

That sort of schedule requires an enormous investment on the part of the school, in terms of teacher hours, administrator hours and classroom resources to help make the time the most productive it can be.

This isn't re-inventing the wheel; on the contrary, it seems to simply be making up for lost time.
Imagine how great those students could be if they didn't arrive at these charter schools two- to three-years behind grade level.

The point here is simple: when students are in an environment of their own (or their parents' choosing) and given all the resources to be successful (especially time and instruction) they can exceed the fate that was expected of them.

Why aren't these resources available to the regular schools? They probably are, actually--but union teachers would never accept working more than 40 or 50 hours a week in the classroom. And to be fair, between grading papers and school activities and whatnot, most teachers spend WAY more than 40 hours a week working--it's just that a lot of that is not with students in front of them.

This is one of the few areas in which I think spending more money on education could make a difference: if you had the resources to extend the instructional day by even one hour, it would be worth doing in terms of student achievement.

So here's a model that we know makes a difference--GO DO IT!


If They Can't Even Predict The Next Season Right . . . 

. . . how in the world can they be expected to predict the next 100 years right?

Back in August I wrote about the NOAA's hurricane forecast for the season ahead.

Hurricane researcher William Gray lowered his 2007 forecast slightly Friday, calling for 15 named storms, with eight becoming hurricanes and four of those becoming intense.

This, of course, was a revision of the position he had taken just ten weeks earlier:

On May 31, at the outset of hurricane season, Mr. Gray had expected 17 named storms and nine hurricanes, five of them intense.

Well, just in case you're interested, the final numbers are in:


Soooo . . . .from 17 down to 15, and finally it was 14; from 9 down to 8, and finally it was 6; and from 5 down to 4, finally producing 2.

On the number of storms, a margin of error of almost 20%; on number of hurricanes, a margin of error of 33%; and on the number of serious storms, an MOE of 60%. Even when you factor in the revised numbers, the MOEs are 6%, 25%, and 50%.

All I know is my old Physics teacher would have thrown out any lab report I turned in with that sort of margin of error.

And yet, there is an entire cottage industry formed around the assumption that we have any idea what's going to happen in 50 or 100 years, when the best mind in the business can't get all that close to predicting the next six months.

As I wrote last night, it's time for somebody on our side to start pushing back against the Church of Global Warming.


The Apostasy Is Spreading 

About six weeks ago I wrote about John R. Christy, Heretic. Dr. Christy is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. On November 4th Dr. Christy wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal decrying the hysteria over the Church of Global Warming, and showing due scientific humility in the face of the overwhelming complexities of the earth's climate.

Well, now, it would seem Dr. Christy has a few fellow-heretics.

99 of them, to be precise.

99 of them, ALL of them actual scientists, not actors or once-next-Presidents.

The 99 made their opinion known in The National Post.

[hat tips: Powerline and Special Report]

Here are the highlights:

It is not possible to stop climate change, a natural phenomenon that has affected humanity through the ages. Geological, archaeological, oral and written histories all attest to the dramatic challenges posed to past societies from unanticipated changes in temperature, precipitation, winds and other climatic variables. . . .

The IPCC Summaries for Policy Makers are the most widely read IPCC reports amongst politicians and non-scientists and are the basis for most climate change policy formulation. Yet these Summaries are prepared by a relatively small core writing team with the final drafts approved line-by-line by ­government ­representatives. The great ­majority of IPCC contributors and ­reviewers, and the tens of thousands of other scientists who are qualified to comment on these matters, are not involved in the preparation of these documents. [emphasis mine] . . . .

The average rate of warming of 0.1 to 0. 2 degrees Celsius per decade recorded by satellites during the late 20th century falls within known natural rates of warming and cooling over the last 10,000 years. . . .

Leading scientists, including some senior IPCC representatives, acknowledge that today's computer models cannot predict climate. Consistent with this, and despite computer projections of temperature rises, there has been no net global warming since 1998. . . .

Attempts to prevent global climate change from occurring are ultimately futile, and constitute a tragic misallocation of resources that would be better spent on humanity's real and pressing problems.

It's ridiculous that none of the Republican candidates are willing or, perhaps, able to speak out about this. Maybe, just maybe, they're afraid to swim against the tide of the Church of Global Warming.

Except, it would seem, for Fred Thompson.

Unfortunately for Fred, his style precludes him making the most effective case that can be made for this. The case needs to be made in cold, stark and scientific tems. It needs to be argued clearly and intelligently, and presented in a logical, fact-filled fashion.

Is it just me, or is this a job for either Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani? Mitt, because he's most capable of the cold, logical presentation; Rudy, because he's a former prosecutor who knows how to build an argument.

Somebody needs to have the courage to do this. The first one to pull it off gets my first donation of the cycle.


The Governor's Money Grab Will Go To The Courts 

Where it will, no doubt (in this state), receive "scrutiny" but essentially be affirmed.

Still, it's good somebody is standing up for the actual laws that are on the book.

Anti-tax crusader Jon Caldara filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the governor's property-tax plan to prop up school funding.

Caldara says the new law requires a vote of the people. . . .

The lawsuit asks a Denver District Court to strike down the new law, arguing it amounts to a tax policy change and should have gone to the voters as required by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.

"This bill has to do with respecting the taxpayers and asking them first before the state takes money out their pockets," said Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, a think tank based in Golden.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of six plaintiffs and taxpayers, including the Mesa County Board of Commissioners and Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction and a former Boulder County school board member.

That's an interesting coalition of interests signed on to that lawsuit. When you factor in that the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce is considering signing on to the lawsuit, as well, you might just notice that the Western half of the state is none-too-pleased with the Governor's money-grab.

And it was in Ritter's neutralizing the conservative advantage in the Western half of the state that he gained his margin of victory, picked up a Congressman, and solidified the Dems' hold on the state legislature.

If the West is angry enough at him to remember when the next election comes around, it could make things very intersting at the State House.

In the meantime, this lawsuit--which seems to meet muster on points of standing and law--could end up twistingthe Dems into knots. A plain-text reading of TABOR clearly stipulates that this large a boon for the treasury requires the people's approval; so, in one fell swoop, it may be that the Dems are spotlighted on both their money-grabbing ways AND on their goofiness in judicial appointees.

One can always hope.


If A Candidate Falls Down And Nobody Hears It . . . 

The last GOP debate before the Iowa caucuses was today, . . .

and 12 people watched it.

Actually, several people are saying that it was clear that Mitt Romney won the debate. Among them are Hugh Hewitt and Frank Luntz, who even has a focus group to back him up.

The problem with that is that the 4 o'clock news in Denver barely covered the debate, and the only candidate who got to talk for themselves on the news was Mike Huckabee; the debate didn't even make it onto the NBC evening News; and the debate also managed not to get covered by the 6 o'clock news in Denver.

So, does it really matter what happened to today? David Yepson gives the debate to Thompson--does his opinion carry more weight in Iowa? I don't know.

Guess we'll find out.


Quick Hits 

:That Big Mouth May Get Him Into Trouble

Don't Mormons Believe That Jesus and the devil are brothers?"

That is the question Mike Huckabee will ask in an article in the Sunday New York Times magazine.

Umm . . . that seems to me the sort of thing that might not get you invited to too many parties in Utah. And it may have a little bit of an effect on the primary races.


Though, let's just watch how long the "professional journalists" take to pick this one up and run with it. For that matter, let's see if Harry Reid shows up on the Sunday talkies to explain his religion.

I'm not going to hold my breath. The "professional journalists" are going to run cover for this guy for as long as they can until he knocks Mitt Romney off the stage, and then they'll turn on him and hold their coronation for the Democrat at the end of the summer.

:A Little History Re-Write, Anyone?

Is it just me, or does the movie about how a "Congressman better known more for his antics than for his politics brought down the Soviet Union and ended the Cold War" strike anyone as a stretch? I've never heard of Charlie Wilson; I certainly think that, while fighting back in Afghanistan was important, it was far from the definitive push that ended the Soviets.

And, forgive me if I'm wrong, but haven't we decided that, in retrospect, arming the mujahideen had . . . troubling . . .side effects?

But then, a Mike Nichols movie written by Aaron Sorkin is bound to involve a little bit of false messaging.

In this case, its that it was actually a Democrat Congressman from Texas, not Ronald Reagan, who won the Cold War.

:Speaking of Movies

Thankfully, The Golden Compass did not do very well at the box office. While The Fellowship of the Rings brought in $47 million its first weekend, and The Chronicles of Narnia brought in $61 million, this anti-Christian, anti-CS Lewis work brought in a mere $26 million.


Archbishop Chaput has his own theory, and some further recommendations.

:Of the Shootings

I have held off commenting on this strange, sad episode until we knew a little bit more information.

What seems to be clear now is that this loser-who-died-a-coward's-death-and-shall-not-be-named was a severely troubled young man. It seems obvious--now--that he didn't belong in the missionary program to begin with, and the staff at YWAM are to be commended on their insight. It also seems like he is living proof of Hugh Hewitt's adage that "what gets rewarded gets repeated;" Harris and Klebold and VaTech were "rewarded" with notoriety--he repeated them.

Also clear is that EVERY single victim or near-victim who has been interviewed (that I've seen) has been remarkably clear-headed about their Lord's instruction to forgive; all-in-all, one of the finest moments for the Christian Church I've seen in a long time (so much more representative than those whack-jobs from Kansas who get all the press protesting veteran's funerals).

Also clear is that Jeanne Assam is one impressive woman, with one remarkable Faith. She said she's been praying for a sign from God about what direction to take her life--how about selling your story and writing a book about Faith and David and Goliath and accomplishing great things?

And, please remember to keep all the victims in your prayers in the days and weeks ahead. Everybody is in a lot of pain right now, but--speaking as a father--in particular keep in mind David Works. If I had been on the scene where my children were killed and could not save them--NO MATTER HOW IRRATIONAL--I would never be able to forgive myself. It's a dad thing (again, no matter how irrational that is). I just pray that he has family, friends, and a church community that can surround him with the love of God and bring him some measure of a peace beyond all reasoning.


Unseriousness Not Confined To The Left 

I have spent several kilobytes this year chiding the Democratic Party for putting forward as its two front-runners this year two individuals who, between them, have 10 years of national office, ZERO military experience, ZERO executive experience, and ZERO business experience. Being a gifted politician is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't strike me as the sort of thing that would give me confidence in a crisis. But, there you are--the Dems seem to be headed for either Hillary or Barack.

And then there's this: enter a third unqualified into the top tier--this time, on our side.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has vaulted over his major GOP challengers to take a commanding lead in the race to win the Iowa caucuses, while Barack Obama continues to edge ahead of Hillary Clinton among Democrats likely to participate, a new NEWSWEEK poll shows.

The most dramatic result to come out of the poll, which is based on telephone interviews with 1,408 registered Iowa voters on Dec. 5 and 6, is Huckabee's emergence from the shadows of the GOP race into the front runner's spot in just two months. The ordained Southern Baptist minister now leads Romney by a two-to-one margin, 39 percent to 17 percent, among likely GOP caucus-goers . . .

Let's look at Mike Huckabee, shall we?

Military experience: zero

Business experience: zero, unless you count the ministry. All things considered, being a Baptist Minister put Huckabee a lot--LOT--closer to real people than Hillary's corner office in the law firm and White House.

Executive experience: 12 years as governor of Arkansas. Plenty on that count, though that hardly distinguishes him from Rudy or Mitt.

Federal office: zero, though those 12 years in the State House pretty much make this one moot.

I would have to say he has a much better resume than the Democrats. But you cannot infer from that that he is serious.

Take, for instance, his ignorance of the NIE and subsequent blaming of that to his staff. In this year, in the Republican Party, to be even the slightest bit uninformed about such a significant foreign policy issue is unforgivable. It would be like a Democrat being uninformed about the latest predictions of global warming. (for more on this point, check out my brother's blog)

Take, for another instance, his advocacy of the "Fair Tax." Regardless of your position on taxes, the idea that a Republican would champion a massively regressive tax such as this shows a bit of a tin ear to the GOP base and political reality.

Take, for another, his open endorsement of state benefits for the children of illegal aliens. It is one thing, as a Christian, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and shelter the homeless; it is quite another to advocate for the upward mobility of those who are already huge beneficiaries of this country's magnanimity.

Huckabee is a gifted politician, who has a real talent for the sort of debate format these primaries have been full of. And, since the press really didn't know that much about him two months ago, he has really had a chance to enjoy the "flavor of the month" status.

But the long knives are really starting to come out for him now (here, here and here), and Republican voters are really starting to finally take a good long look at him and his record and his positions.

I suppose we'll find out soon enough if the GOP remembers that it is the party of grown ups.


Re: The Golden Compass 

A few nights back I advised everyone not to go see "The Golden Compass" in its first few weeks of release. It cost $150 million to make, and the book it is based on is rather explicitly anti-religious, having been written by an avowed atheist,

Turns out, there's a better reason not to go see it: it, apparently, stinks.

From the Rocky:

This adaptation of the first novel in British writer Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy has some fanciful moments but never achieves the sense of awe-inspiring wonder of the Lord of the Rings films, to which comparisons will be inevitable.

It's also probably too scary for a lot of kids, with its themes of totalitarianism and mind control; adults, meanwhile, may find it hard to take seriously, despite how seriously it takes itself. . . .

But the whole thing is a bit of a drag,

And from the Post:

Known for his deft handling of the very different romantic comedies "American Pie" and "About a Boy," writer-director Chris Weitz has run into some trouble with the saga's rhythms. His "Golden Compass" feels like a truncated epic — or a detailed trailer.

In the age of overly long movies, it may be hard to count this as a flaw. Yet, Lyra's journey to the North to save friend Roger and other children from sinister experiments is too brisk.
It's a Cliffs Notes rush to a wintery showdown. . . .

"The Golden Compass" is a sourpuss "Da Vinci Code" for movie-going youngsters.

So, now you know what the critics (who you might suspect of being sympathetic to the film's underlying bias) think about this one--wait for the video.

It would be good for Hollywood to get the message about this; a successful opening means its more and more likely that the other two books in the trilogy get made in to books. But if the first two weekends are disappointing, maybe Hollywood will pull the plug on the other books.

And then we can all sit back and comfortably await the theatrical arrival of "Prince Caspian."

I Draw Your Attention To Education . . . 

and to two smart opinion pieces in the Rocky this morning.

1. Early Education's Benefits Illusory

Gov. Bill Ritter's P-20 Education Coordinating Council is advocating an expansion of government into early childhood education to the tune of nearly $300 million . . .

. . . the preponderance of research on childhood well-being shows quite the opposite: Children are best raised by a loving parent, at home, and there is no benefit to earlier formal education. For example, the National Center for Education Statistics' study of 22,000 kindergarteners showed only small differences between half-day and full-day kindergarteners on academic achievement and, by the end of the third grade, that difference had completely disappeared. Other studies show a similar "fade out" effect.

Between 1965 and 2005 preschool enrollment in the U.S. soared from just 16 percent to 66 percent, yet test scores during this period have either remained flat or declined.

Once again, we seem to be headed--okay, when I say "we" I mean the liberals who are in charge right now--we seem to be headed down a road where we're about to make a massive investment in something that DOES NOT WORK. But it makes us feel good; it makes us feel like we're doing something.

Yeah, we're doing something--we're wasting money.

2. Don't Neuter the State's School Report Cards

Gov. Bill Ritter pointedly upstaged the annual release of the state's school report cards this week by holding a separate press conference to announce a package of education proposals for next year's legislature. At the same time he signaled his sympathy with longstanding critics.

We only hope his sympathy has its limits. Some of those critics, we regret to say, simply don't like the idea of providing parents with the information they deserve to make the best decisions for their kids. . . .

. . . The report cards were conceived as a weapon on behalf of kids and as an aid to their parents - and they should not be eviscerated in order to soothe the feelings of those who would prefer the public never be bothered with uncomfortable truths.

The governor would like to start the process of paying back the teachers' unions by reducing the accountability the public schools have to their "stakeholders;" fine. It's not as if accountability seems to have actually accomplished anything (evidenced by the lack of real improvement in our schools).

As the first article linked to points out, the best predictor of students' success is what goes on in the home. And given how few schools have actually felt any real consequences of the report cards, it seems safe to conclude that what goes on in the schools will continue to play second fiddle to the home--report cards or not.

Does that mean that what happens in the schools is unimportant, or that the efforts of thousands of dedicated, passionate teachers (and even a few whack-jobs) are futile and unimportant? Of course not.

Let's just not get ourselves thinking this is anything close to the end of the world.

When the Governor stops having charter schools' test scores reported because they make the Big Education schools look bad . . .that may be something to get worked up over.

Speaking of charter schools, check out what Denise has on the best school in the state, and the disproportionate population of charter schools on the nationwide list.


Sure, the Post and Romanoff SOUND Reasonable in December . . . 

. . . but will they live up to those promises in January?

More than a month before the Colorado legislature opens its 2008 session, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are already trading health care proposals.

It's a welcome dialogue and we were particularly happy to see the open spirit in which the GOP initiatives were greeted by House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver. . . .

One plan promoted by commission members would expand public programs such as Medicaid and require individuals to purchase health care coverage or face a tax penalty. The state would subsidize insurance for low-income families, at a cost of up to $1.1 billion per year.

The Republican alternatives outlined Monday focused on allowing uninsured Coloradans to buy cut-rate health care policies without the mandated coverages that now add to insurance costs in Colorado. Another GOP plan would provide additional services to Coloradans with developmental disabilities.

Romanoff said Democrats would wait until the 208 Commission's final report in January before locking in their own plans, but promised that Republican ideas would be given fair hearings. His response is both fair and wise. While the speaker has promised that health care will be the top priority in the upcoming legislature, the staggering costs of the 208 Commission proposals may rule them out. . . .

Thus, the stop-gap health care solutions now proposed by Republicans may be the beginnings of something that could help buy time for Colorado to address our urgent needs in education and transportation while preparing to join in a new federal-state partnership to reform America's health care system as early as 2010.

For the Democratice leadership to listen to Republican proposals would be welcome, indeed. The problem is, there is no history of that sort of collaboration that would make me confident that that will happen.

Which makes me wonder if the the Post will write a scathing criticism when Republicans get left out of the room.


Missed Opportunities, The Dangers of Disengagement, . . . 

and the argument that George W. Bush is a TERRIBLE Republican President.

How's that for an attention grabber?

I've been thinking a lot about the Republican CNN/YouTube debate last week. And not because it was a joke--that wasn't even a surprise.

The thing that's been sticking in my craw, but which I couldn't quite find the words for, was what a horrible wasted opportunity it was for ALL the candidates, but especially for Mitt Romney.

Perhaps the most talked-about question in the whole debate was the goofy guy with the Bible asking "do you believe every word of this book?"

Now, don't get me wrong--I thought the candidates all handled the question fairly well, especially (and not surprisingly) Mike Huckabee.

The problem is that they answered the question at all.

In my opinion, the right answer would have been to say "Thankfully, and wisely, the Constitution says that "There shall be no Religious Test for public office." My candidacy is not based on my belief in the the wisdom or veracity of the Bible, but on the wisdom and role of another great document--The Constitution."

And, furthermore, the candidates should have then proceeded to chide--and with as good a humor as possible--the geniuses in the "professional journalist" class at CNN for selecting that question at all. No journalist in their right mind would ask that question directly, but CNN managed to get that question asked by hiding behind the skirt of some guy in Texas.

This was especially important for Mitt Romney, who now is on the brink of delivering the great "Mormon speech." I suspect if he had slapped the question back at the network, and done it with intelligence and wit (both of which he's quite capable of), he could have put an end to many of the questions he's hoping to address tomorrow. Remember, most of the questions about his Mormonism are coming from Lefty journalists-NOT Republican voters.

Now, I'm sure there were consultants and focus groups and internal polls for the candidates all telling them to just answer the question, and just how to answer the question. The problem is that polls aren't able to measure the unexpected. And, for some reason, for a Republican to confront the media, to challenge the biases of the "professional journalist" class, IS unexpected.

And that, in a nutshell, is the danger of disengagement. In Washington, D.C., where opinion is like cement (it hardens in time), to NOT challenge the premises behind the questions allows those premises into the public discourse, where they become cement. Eventually, the 'Conventional Wisdom' comes to accept the premise of the question as fact or truth, when they are nothing of the sort.

And once the premise becomes truth, it becomes easier to move reality in the direction the "professional journalists" want it to.

Time and time again over the last few years we've seen this play out. Nobody challenged, publicly, whether or not Valerie Plame was even a covert operative at the time of the revelation of her name. In time, it became "a fact" that she was outed by the White House.

Nobody challenged publicly the idea that FEMA was primarily responsible for the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Therefore, it became "a fact" that the Bush Administration was responsible for the horrors of New Orleans. Never mind that FEMA pre-staged in Houston two days before the storm and that the local governments refused to issue the correct warnings or evacuation orders until it was too late.

Nobody challenged publicly the idea that the economy was weak. Thus, despite record highs on the Dow Jones, near-full employment, and strong inflation/wages numbers, it became "a fact" that the President's economic stewardship was poor.

And nobody publicly challenged the idea that Saddam was not affiliated in any way with terrorism and that the only reason to depose him would have been because of that. So, it became "a fact" that we attacked a country unassociated with 9/11, despite now well-documented relationships between elements of Saddam's regime and terrorist groups, and the reality that even those don't matter--the reality is that 9/11 changed the mindset. The reason to attack never should have been revenge, it was that we learned that we MUST take threats seriously, and deal with them BEFORE they become a problem.

And, when the accumulated weight of all of these "facts" hit the electorate, Republicans get thrown out of power all over the country in 2006. Karl Rove can believe what he wants about the Mark Foley scandal stopping all the GOP momentum in September '06--we should have never NEEDED that sort of momentum to get in a good position with the electorate.

Unfortunately, that leads me to look to the leadership of the Republican Party for answers as to why our side is so inept at dealing with the media premises. Specifically, I look to the President--as the highest elected official and the most public face of the Party, it is his responsibility to set the tone with which the Party answers questions like this.

But the President got elected, at least partly, on the promise that he would "change the tone" in Washington, D.C. As near as I can tell, this meant, largely, staying out of arguments. In effect, conceding certain points that could have been disputed in order to keep things pleasant for the big stuff.

Unfortunately, two of those "concessions" led directly to the structural changes that flipped the electorate towards the Democrats. First, by failing to exercise any semblance of fiscal discipline on a Republican Congress, the President gave away any claim to the loyalties of the portion of the GOP coalition that votes primarily on the basis of fiscal issues. And second, by conceding to John McCain the ground of election reform, even though he was counting on the Supreme Court to pull him out of the fire, the President signed into law the legislation that created, among other things, the 527 Committee. And we, in Colorado, have seen the effect of the 527 Committee--two straight elections bought by very rich liberals through shadowy and deceptively-named groups.

So the President made peace with Congress at the expense of the structural/electoral advantage Republicans had in 2002 and 04 (remember when all the talk was about a Republican "realignment?" Not so much anymore). Then, on top of that, on important issue after important issue, the adminstration is slow or absent from the debate until reality hardens and "facts" get skewed. Now, we look at the political landscape and see what amounts to a wasteland in 2008.

So, while I admire the man and think that President Bush has been a great President (argue that point ONLY if you can honestly tell me that on September 12th, 2001, you sincerely believed that six years would pass without another attack on American soil and that the U.S. economy would completely absorb the blow of 9/11 and recover to 6 consecutive years of strong growth), I am beginning to believe that he has been a TERRIBLE Republican President.

Luckily, the man and the office are both vastly more important than the Party.

The only thing that may pull the Republicans' bacon out of the fire is the fact that George W. Bush will not be on the ticket. Whoever ends up being the GOP nominee will have to establish new norms for debate and set a new tone for how Republicans all over the country engage in the debate.

Which is why last week was a HUGE wasted opportunity. Congratulations for all the candidates for showing up--but nobody bothered to try to articulate why it was even worth contemplating staying out of the debate two months ago. Everybody knew the questions would be biased, everybody knew CNN would be relentlessly going for a "gotcha moment"; yet, when presented with an opportunity to press CNN on why that network would go out of its way to live up to those expectations . . .

Not a one of the candidates did so.

And so, the beat goes on. Romney has to address "the Mormon question", at some point Huckabee will have to address why Christians (Conservatives) are so uncharitable to pregnant teens, and Giuliani will have to address how he plans to conduct diplomacy when he is so "mean."

I'm getting to the point where I'm ready say the first candidate who gets in a journalist's face the way Bill Clinton (over-) reacted to Chris Wallace is going to be the guy I vote for.

It matters. You can't win every fight; but you have to know what ground will be fought over, and not simply give it away.

I think Republicans are dying to have a candidate show some moxie in this regard. The first one to do it effectively could vault into the general election with overwhelming support from the base.

Now, which one will do it . . .


Perlmutter, the Eloquent 

Er . . . NOT.

Over Thanksgiving, MY Congressman, Ed Perlmutter, went to visit the troops in Iraq. Here is what he had to say upon his return.

“I believe the pressure Congress has put on the President to end the war is causing the Iraqi leaders to say it’s time to get down to business and take control of their own country.

“The Iraqis control their own destiny. It is time to transition power to the Iraqi army, begin multi-national reconstruction and political reconciliation, and redeploy our troops home as soon as practicable.

“Transition of power to the Iraqi Police is still a point of concern, and the Iraqi Army still must grow and learn.

“I will continue to work to redeploy our National Guard and Reservists home to focus them on their local mission, rather than fighting in the war zone.

“This was probably the most interesting trip of my life.”

To paraphrase:

--In spite of multiple attempts on my part and on the part of Congressional Democrats to declare surrender and to run away from Iraq, the security situation is so good that I'm not even going to comment on it. In fact, the Iraqis actually seem to be making progress now that there's security.

--And, um . . . . it's about time!

--So, now I can focus on the less popular elements of the military deployment and at least get them to retreat so they can do their weekend warrior-ing like they're supposed to.

--This didn't go at all how I had planned.

Or something like that.

You can almost hear the cognitive dissonance in his [poor] written voice.

That's How I Like My Irony 

From the AP:

Never before have so many people converged to try to save the planet from global warming, with more than 10,000 jetting into this Indonesian resort island, from government ministers to Nobel laureates to drought-stricken farmers.

But critics say they are contributing to the very problem they aim to solve.

"Nobody denies this is an important event, but huge numbers of people are going, and their emissions are probably going to be greater than a small African country," said Chris Goodall, author of the book "How to Live a Low-Carbon Life.". . .

Two big climate conferences have been held in less than a month, both in idyllic, far-flung, holiday destinations - first Valencia, Spain, and now Bali. They were preceded by dozens of smaller gatherings. In Bangkok, Paris, Vienna, Washington, New York and Sydney, in Rio de Janeiro, Anchorage, Helsinki and the Indian Ocean island of Kurumba.

My favorites are the stories that don't even require comment.


Quick Hits for Tonight 

I'm in the middle of a rather lengthy post on missed opportunities, so all I can get out tonight are some quick thoughts on a wide range of stuff.

:FOR THE RECORD, I think Ohio State-LSU is the right call for the BCS Championship. As much as I would have liked for Virginia Tech to get a shot at it, after the year they've had on that campus and in that town and the fact that they're about the only team in the Bowl Division that hasn't already blown a chance at holding on to number one, losing to LSU by 41 earlier in the year pretty much eliminated them from the whole thing.

:And for that matter, given that the Championship game is slated for the freakin' 7th of January (I remember when the Orange Bowl on the night of Jan 1 was the end . . .period . . finito), why couldn't they at least schedule two semi-final games for the 31st of December and let it play out right? So make the Rose Bowl and the Cotton Bowl the Semis, and let the winners slug it out ON THE FIELD on the 7th in the Sugar Bowl (or wherever).

:How about them BUFFS? All I can say is great! this allows them a couple extra weeks of practice this year so hopefully they can be worth a damn next year. But for two 6-6 teams to be playing in a December 30th bowl game means there are way too many bowl games being played.

:DO NOT GO SEE THE GOLDEN COMPASS THIS WEEK! The insipid nature of the anti-religious Left is always dangerous, especially to our children. Now, I don't advocate full boycots--actually, the film looks like there are some interesting elements. But Hollywood should get the same message about promoting atheism that it's been getting about being anti-military. So go see the movie in two or three weeks--just don't contribute to a "big opening."

:Mitt Romney is giving "The Speech" on Thursday. And, no matter what else comes out of it, he will have controlled the news cycle for a few days. Brilliant.

But much more on the politics of religion in aforementioned lengthy post later.

:The Broncos are finally, for all intents and purposes, done. Sheesh. You know it's getting hopeless when Shanahan sends instructions in for the QB to take a knee on the last play with the team behind. Wonder if that isn't a foreshadowing of the approach Shanahan takes going into the off-season . . .

:Iowa is sure getting interesting, eh? Hard to see how this is going to play out over the next month, but it sure is more fun that just watching a Hillary coronation.

More on just about all of these topics over at my brother's site.

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