Tom Brush: Much Ado, Little Sense

The Seattle Times: Opinion: Those who will not hear

I'll take "Irrelevant Red Herrings" for $800, Alex.

And Ketchup Was A Vegetable...

In the New Economics: Fast-Food Factories?

Bush is McManufacturing jobs out of McThin Air. What is this mania he has in reproducing every mistake made by a Republican administration for the last forty years?

Wait - if McDonald's is reclassified as providing manufacturing jobs, does that mean the AFL-CIO gets to unionize their employees? Just wondering...

Top 10 Ways that Mel's Passion Isn't As It Was, Number 4...

4. It wasn't blasphemy to identify yourself as the Messiah or the Son of Man.

The movie:

The climax [of the trial sequence] comes when Caiaphas asks Jesus: "Are you the Messiah?" and Jesus says, "I am..." and alludes to himself as "the Son of Man." There is a gasp; the high priest rends his garments and declares Jesus a blasphemer.
He was not, and Caiaphas never could have credibly claimed so.

The term messiah is the Hebrew equivalent to the Greek word christos (shortened to Christ for Jesus). Both mean "the anointed one," someone who has been set aside for a specific task by an anointing. In Jewish culture, kings, priests, and prophets were all anointed, and were all Messiahs in a sense. But the term had also the sense of the chosen ruler of Israel. This was not blasphemy. Many other people had claimed to be the capital-M Messiah in the time of Jesus. None of them were considered to be blasphemers.

The term Son of Man is an Aramaic idiom, according to the notes in my NRSV Harper-Collins Study Bible. In the notes for Matthew 8:20, the idiom describes a way of talking about yourself as a mere human being. In the Hebrew scriptures, one "like a human being (son of man)" was exalted by God into a position of power and judgment, and the term thus became connected to the idea of Messiah. It is one of these passages (Daniel 7:13-14) that Jesus quotes, and it's one of the few passages of the Hebrew scriptures that is actually in Aramaic (the two languages aren't the same thing, though close). The core meaning of "lowly human being" is present throughout all of this meanings, though.

Just to cover my bases here, though it doesn't appear to be in the film: Caiaphas in the Christian scriptures asks Jesus if he is the son of God, and he responds in the affirmative. This phrase would not mean the same thing at the time that it does now. John 3:16 would not be composed for another sixty years. All humans are sons and daughters of God in Jewish thought, because all participate in the Adamic image of God. Even this statement would not be blasphemy before a group of Jewish leaders, especially one careful enough to point out and disallow all the conflicting testimonies against Jesus.

UPDATE:It turns out that in this context, Caiaphas isn't asking him if he's a child of God like we all are. I was wrong. He's asking him if he claims another title that belonged to the kings descended from David.
2 Samuel 7:14 - I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. (Nathan speaking for God about Solomon).

Footnote: In Israel and contemporary societies, the relation between father and son was used to express the special relationship between the dynastic deity and the king, who was regarded as the adoptive son of the national god; for David as the son of the Lord, see also Pss. 2.7; 89:26-27.

Ps. 2:7 - I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my son; today I have begotten you."

Ps. 89:26-27 - He shall cry to me, "You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation!" I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.

All quotations from the Harper Collins Study Bible, NRSV.
So as you can see, the title "Son of God" isn't blasphemy, it's a title belonging to the descendant of David who is King in Israel. It's a title that belongs to the Messiah. It's not blasphemy.

So what Jesus said to the Jewish leaders he met with that night, is that he was a lowly human being created in the image of God, who was God's Messiah to lead the Jewish people. This statement was not blasphemous to the Jewish mind.

But it was palpable sedition to the Roman mind. This, then, was the crime Jesus would be executed for. Mr. Gibson portrays a judgment of blasphemy against Jesus to the detriment of his film's historical character.

Bush Will Promote Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

Let's see. A significant gay rights movement becomes the target of a governmental crusade to pass more restrictive legislation. Where in history have we seen this before?

Cheap shot? Yeah, maybe. Deal with it.

Here's a great page on Gay Marriage: The Arguments and The Motive. A quote on gay marriage being a civil rights issue:

When gay people say that this is a civil rights issue, we are referring to matters like the fact that we cannot make medical decisions for our partners in an emergency. Instead, the hospitals are usually forced by state laws to go to the families who may be estranged from us for decades, who are often hostile to us, and totally ignore our wishes for the treatment of our partners. If that hostile family wishes to exclude us from the hospital room, they may legally do so in nearly all cases. It is even not uncommon for hostile families to make decisions based on their hostility -- with results actually intended to be inimical to the interests of the patient! One couple I know uses the following line in the "sig" lines on their email: " and lovers for 40 years, yet still strangers before the law." Is this fair?

If our partners are arrested, we can be compelled to testify against them or provide evidence against them, which legally married couples are not forced to do. Is this fair?

In many cases, even carefully drawn wills and durable powers of attorney have proven to not be enough if a family wishes to challenge a will, overturn a custody decision, or exclude us from a funeral or deny us the right to visit a partner's grave. As survivors, they can even seize a real estate property that we may have been buying together for years, quickly sell it at a huge loss and stick us with the remaining debt on a property we no longer own. Is this fair?

These aren't just theoretical issues, either; they happen with surprising frequency. Almost any older gay couple can tell you horror stories of friends who have been victimized in such ways.

These are all civil rights issues that have nothing whatever to do with the ecclesiastical origins of marriage; they are matters that have become enshrined in state laws over the years in many ways that exclude us from the rights that legally married couples enjoy and consider their constitutional right. This is why we say it is very much a civil rights issue; it has nothing to do with who performs the ceremony or whether an announcement is accepted for publication in the local paper. It is not a matter of "special rights" to ask for the same rights that other couples enjoy by law, even by constitutional mandate.
This issue was one of the reasons I was anticipating a Howard Dean candidacy. I believed he could hold his own while discussing Vermont's civil unions law. He convinced me that a large part of people who react instinctively against gay marriage could be persuaded to put their reactions aside and consider the issue thoughtfully. Bush is banking on the kneejerk reaction; we must rely on the basic humanity of the American people.

To tell you the truth, I like our odds.

Bush Blundered Chance To Take Out Osama Before 9/11 : White House Missed Chance to Kill Osama

When Bush took office in January 2001, he was given a rock-solid plane to neuter the al-Qaeda network. This plan was devised after the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, and reached Bill Clinton's desk in the last weeks of his presidency. But mindful of the Somalia disaster Bush's father had dumped into his lap when he became President, Clinton decided to give this vetted and fully operational plan to Bush to implement.

So when Bush took office, he was told that Predator drones had recently spotted Osama bin Laden three separate times. All it would take was his order to arm those drones and take the terrorist leader responsible for the USS Cole bombing out of the picture. You tell me what would have happened to the 9/11 plans at that point. They would have been history. 9/11 would never have happened.

But Bush couldn't be bothered with Clinton's plan, even though he pledged himself to be a uniter and not a divider. Anything that Clinton could share the credit on, was something Bush wanted no part of. So Clinton's plan sat on the shelf.

And the buildings crashed and burned.

Get this: no further Predator drones flew in the Afghan skies under Bush until after the 9/11 attacks. Do you think al-Qaeda noticed this? Do you think they realized just how swiftly they'd been placed on the back burner by the Bush Administration? Of course they did. What else could they have received but encouragement to do as they would?

The Republicans In Charge™ are unfit to govern.

Calhoun's Account Questioned, Gratuitious Points Explained

Memphis Flyer

Well, then. This article explains clearly why the two Alabama pilots would not have missed Bush if he had shown up in Alabama. It also quote a Guard chief administrative from the time on the question of gratuitious points:

Rambo was, however, able to shed some light on the Guard practice, then and now, of assigning annual service “points” to members, based on their record of attendance and participation. The bare minimum number is 50, and reservists meeting standard are said to have had “a good year,” Rambo said. Less than that amount to an “unsatisfactory” year – one calling for penalties assessed against the reservist’ retirement fund and, more immediately, for disciplinary or other corrective action. Such deficits can be written off only on the basis of a “commander’s call,” Rambo said – and only then because of certifiable illness or some other clearly plausible reason.

“The 50-point minimum has always been taken very seriously, especially for pilots,” says Rambo. “The reason is that it takes a lot of taxpayer money to train a pilot, and you don’t want to see it wasted.”

For whatever reason, the elusive Lt. George W. Bush was awarded 41 actual points for his service in both Texas and Alabama during 1972 – though he apparently was given 15 “gratuitous” points -- presumably by his original Texas command -- enough to bring him up from substandard. That would have been a decided violation of the norm, according to Rambo, who stresses that the awarding of gratuitous points was clearly meant only as a reward to reservists for meeting their bottom line.
So the records we have show that Bush did not complete his required duty for 1972 and 1973, and was given gratuitious points in an effort to cover this up.

Another thing: Bush's dental exam in Alabama was on January 6th, 1973. This connects to a January 4-6 period on Bush's SPE for 1972-73. A former girlfriend has said that Bush returned to Alabama for a couple of weeks to make up his time. Let's assume then that the January 4-6 and the January 8-10 service dates are for Alabama.

Okay, then. Where is the paperwork that orders, requests, or approves this makeup time in a unit other than Lt. Bush's Texas unit? We have paperwork on Bush's first request for alternate work in Alabama (to the 9921st), and we have paperwork on Bush's second request (to the 187th). Are we to assume that Bush just wandered back to Alabama and served in another Guard unit without official permission from anyone? No. Then where's the paperwork? What we have is incomplete. Where's the rest of the paperwork, Lt. Bush?

Wacked Out Searches That Led Here, Part Three

From Netster: your frist dwarf hamster

The wackiest thing about this: I'm ninth in this search.

From Yahoo: give me one solid sentence why is vine and olive colony important to alabama

The Vine and Olive Colony is important to Alabama because it puts Alabama in the running for a Six Flags Park.

From Yahoo: kangeroo games

I think you're looking for skippy.

From Yahoo: carmona scooter racing schedule

Carmona Scooters will be racing in the new Six Flags Over Alabama park on alternating Thursdays. First prize is your very own Frist Dwarf Hamster.

Top 10 Ways that Mel's Passion Isn't As It Was, Number 5...

5. The Jews who spoke with Jesus were trying to intercede on Jesus' behalf, not railroad him.

The author of this website, Historical, Jewish Jesus, has a lot of good things to say about the circumstances of the death of Jesus. I wish he would find a publisher so that I could read the whole theory, but what's there is intriguing. He suggests a reframing of the "trial" of Jesus before Jewish leaders, and he's using the text and other historical records to show why it's better.

Even though the Gospels do depict a crowd of Jews calling for his crucifixion (when they pick Barabbas over Jesus to be freed), scholars realize how unrealistic this is. They reject this for primarily three reasons:

1) there is no historical context for it; why would a crowd of Jews call for the death of Jesus?; Jews never called on Roman governors to do this to one of their own;

2) there are contradictions to this in the Gospels which also show popular support for Jesus (e.g., Mark 11:18; 12:12,37; 14:2); such support is more historically believable; and

3) a good case can be made that blaming Jews was done out of anger by Jesus' followers (because most Jews did not accept Jesus as Messiah) and out of a desire to deflect blame from Rome in order to avoid Roman persecution.

But you know what? All three of these reasons apply just as well to the problem of the priests' involvement. They have been libeled. There is no historical context for such lethal cooperation between Jewish priests, or any Jewish leaders, and Rome. Nowhere in the writings of Flavius Josephus, the ancient Jewish-turned-Roman historian, do Jewish authorities work with Roman officials to get rid of Jewish troublemakers. They do not conduct trials on behalf of Rome, they do not beg Rome to execute Jews, they never act as Rome's police force. They never even threaten Jews with turning them over to Rome or helping to make a case against them for Rome. It never enters their imagination. It is only in the imagination of scholars who rewrite Josephus.

What you will see priests do is beg Jews not to antagonize Rome and if that doesn't work, they go home. There is nothing further they can do. There is even one case when the priests and other leaders refused to turn over some Jewish upstarts to the Roman procurator. That is the historical context. Even the Gospels indicate that the priests were afraid of taking action against someone who was popular (see the cites in #2 above). And that is just the tip of this long suppressed iceberg. There are more details in the Gospels and Josephus to support the contention that Jewish authorities tried to save Jesus than there are that they tried to dispose of him.

From the essay, Blaming Jewish Leaders
It's amazing, isn't it? The only time that a mob of first century Jewish people or the first century Jewish leaders have ever been accused of forcing the death of a Jewish teacher by Roman hands is in the case of Jesus. Doesn't it stand to reason that perhaps there's something else going on here?

Leon Zitzer, the author above, has given two bits of evidence supporting his case, and I've seen a third.

The word most often used to tell what Judas did, paradidomi, doesn't carry the connotation of betrayal. A related word, prodidomi, is used for betrayal, but that word is only used once in connection with Judas. If the meeting between Jesus and the Jewish leaders wasn't antagonistic in nature, then Judas is simply a go-between, setting up the meeting. Zitger's correct that in this case, there would be no treachery involved in this act at all. Didn't Jesus himself send Judas out from the Last Supper to do what he was going to do?

Zitger also points out the anomalies of calling this meeting a trial. The different Gospels don't agree in what happened here. Luke lacks a description of the earlier "hearing," recording only the daylight meeting of the Sanhedrin. Yet Matthew and Mark say that the Sanhedrin met at the night meeting. This was against Jewish law, as was a trial during Passover. John records a highly informal questioning at the hands of Annas, who sends Jesus to Caiaphas. Caiaphas takes him straight to Pilate, with no Sanhedrin meeting at all.

Finally, my point: If this was an attempt to railroad Jesus through the Jewish legal structure, then why the conflicting witnesses? If the object is to frame Jesus, then why couldn't they find two people to pay to say the same thing? No, we are to believe that these Jewish leaders are frothing at the mouth to condemn Jesus, but they go through the bother of actually vetting the witnesses. They're snapping Jewish laws in half left and right, but they ran out of money when they bribed Judas?

It makes more sense that this meeting was not meant to be antagonistic towards Jesus. The situation is tense - Roman soldiers went with the group that escorted Jesus back to the meeting. Something is up. But every person who slams Jesus is not corroborated by others. Jesus is in the clear - until he claims to be the Messiah, with Roman soldiers at hand. At that point, what else could the Jewish leaders have done? Caiaphas was an appointee of Pilate, who could remove him at a whim. If Jesus was determined to proceed with this course of action, how could the Jewish leaders have stopped him?

Mr. Zitger, again:
As far as "meeting versus trial" goes, I can also make this point: It is fairly easy to explain how a simple, informal, attempt-to-help meeting was exaggerated into a hostile procedure, but it is impossible to explain how a hostile procedure (if that was the case) was downgraded into the extremely low-key affairs we have in Luke and John. There is no sensible case to be made for the latter.
To Mr. Gibson's credit, the description of this event in his film does bow to a measure of scholarship.
Gibson does indicate that Jesus has supporters; one man calls the proceeding "a travesty," and another asks, "Where are the other members of the council?" - a suggestion that Caiaphas and his own circle are taking action that not everyone would agree with.

Who Killed Jesus?
But his movie assumes that this was meant to be a meeting of the Sanhedrin - it wasn't. He still portrays a sizable portion of the Jewish leadership as being out to get Jesus out of the way - they were actually trying to protect him from Roman wrath.

How Much Gas Is That SUV Guzzling?


Uggabugga's is going strong for another Koufax next year with this chart. Take a look...

Juan Cole on Bush's Guard Service - Must Read

Juan Cole * Informed Comment *

So, W. either believed in the war effort or he did not. If he believed in it, he should have gone to fight. If he didn't believe in it, he should have joined those of us protesting against the goddamned thing. He did not do either one. He doesn't seem to have been interested. From all accounts he was partying pretty heavily, and then he wanted to get Winton Blount elected, so it wasn't conveeeenient to be stuck in the Air National Guard in Texas. Almost 60,000 young men were killed in that slithering python of a war, their bones ground to dust. They were my contemporaries. And it is alleged that 2 million Vietnamese died. (The apologists for the war on the Right, who no doubt will eventually start reenacting it on weekends, keep complaining that we weren't allowed to go all out to win the war; what are they arguing for--outright genocide?)

And that is why I don't think Bush is wise to try to slander Kerry as a fellow traveler of Jane Fonda. Because John Kerry was the sort of man who cared about principle. When he was in the Navy, he fought bravely for his country. When he got out, he exercised his right as a civilian to campaign against the continuation of a rotten war. He cared. He cared deeply, to the core of his soul, and he risked everything in both cases. In both cases he stood up for what he thought was right and best for America. (Just to show how fair I am, let me point out that Bill Clinton at that very time was trying to figure out how to "stay politically viable" and be against the war; his ambition at that early age is both admirable and a little frightening. There is no evidence that Kerry worried about his anti-war activities hurting his political viability in the future, even though he had political ambitions and his stance did prove a liability).

Bush-Kerry Timeline

Mother Jones

Ashcroft Sued Over Interference in Major Terrorism Case - Prosecutor in terror case controversy sues Ashcroft

A federal prosecutor in a major terrorism case in Detroit has taken the rare step of suing Attorney General John Ashcroft, alleging the Justice Department interfered with the case, compromised a confidential informant and exaggerated results in the war on terrorism.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino of Detroit accused the Justice Department of "gross mismanagement" of the war on terrorism in a whistleblower lawsuit filed late Friday in federal court in Washington.

Justice officials said Tuesday they had not seen the suit and had no comment.

The suit is the latest twist in the Bush administration's first major post-Sept. 11 terrorism prosecution, which is now in danger of unraveling over allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.
Attorney General John Ashcroft. Letting terrorists slip through his fingers since January 2001.

"Crucifixion Porn"

Pandagon > - Kids will see R-rated 'Passion'

I'm interrupting the countdown to comment on this USAToday article.

"The violence is necessary to understand the sacrifice Jesus made," says First Family pastor Jerry Johnston. His Baptist church has rented out a half-dozen theaters in Kansas City, Kan., and has reserved auditoriums the night of Feb. 27 for children 11 and older.

Johnston concedes they'll be disturbed by the violence. "I hope they're disturbed enough to make their peace with Jesus."

There is plenty in the two-hour film to make children and adults alike squirm:

• Roman guards employ a "cat-o'-nine-tails" that rips the flesh from Jesus' back.

• As Jesus is being crucified, a supervisor scolds one man for not nailing his hands properly. He yanks Jesus' other hand, pulling the arm out of the socket.

• To see whether Jesus is dead, a Roman soldier pierces his side with a lance. Blood showers down on the soldier.

"Most images of Christ on the cross are too tame," says Matt Stoehr, pastor of the West Coast Christian Center in Vista, Calif. "They minimize the sacrifices he made. Scripture tells us that he was beaten to a pulp. I think seeing that on screen will be more powerful for kids than any sermon."
The spectacle of the agony of Jesus has been a tool for Christian conviction since the religion's beginning. Paul shows the importance of suffering and mediation on Christ's death:
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our heart through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love to us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

Romans 5:1-8, NRSV
For Paul, the simple act of Christ's death was enough to convict the heart. We were all sinners before God, but Christ died to provide forgiveness for those sins and give us access to God's saving grace. Will someone die for a righteous man? Maybe, but who would die for a wicked man? Jesus. This becomes the Christian proof of God's abiding love.

But as Christianity progressed, anything to do with the death of Christ becomes an tool for impressing the stubborn heart with God's love. The first Gospel written, Mark, deals with the final physical suffering of Jesus in 23 verses. Matthew uses 25 verses, and Luke uses 23 verses from flogging to death. John, the last Gospel written, moves up to 30 verses, adding the information about the spear in Jesus' side.

There is restraint to be found here, however. It's a "just the facts" presentation. There is no relishing of the details of crucifixion or flogging. In fact, there was no need to. The audience of early Christianity could walk outside of any major city and see a crucifixion victim for themselves.

But as time progressed and crucifixion fell out of use, the need for a presentation of the miseries of crucifixion grew. The Stations of the Cross became a spiritual exercise to flagellate the soul with Christ's agony. These mediations could become quite graphic. Read this passage from Anne Catherine Emmerich's The Dolorous Passion of Jesus:
Our loving Lord, the Son of God, true God and true Man, writhed as a worm under the blows of these barbarians; his mild but deep groans might be heard from afar; they resounded through the air, fording a kind of touching accompaniment to the hissing of the instruments of torture. These groans resembled rather a touching cry of prayer and supplication, than moans of anguish. The clamour of the Pharisees and the people formed another species of accompaniment, which at times as a deafening thunder-storm deadened and smothered these sacred and mournful cries, and in their place might be heard the words, ‘Put him to death!’ ‘Crucify him!’ Pilate continued parleying with the people, and when he demanded silence in order to be able to speak, he was obliged to proclaim his wishes to the clamorous assembly by the sound of a trumpet, and at such moments you might again hear the noise of the scourges, the moans of Jesus, the imprecations of the soldiers, and the bleating of the Paschal lambs which were being washed in the Probatica pool, at no great distance from the forum. There was something peculiarly touching in the plaintive bleating of these lambs: they alone appeared to unite their lamentations with the suffering moans of our Lord. The Jewish mob was gathered together at some distance from the pillar at which the dreadful punishment was taking place, and Roman soldiers were stationed in different parts round about. Many persons were walking to and fro, some in silence, others speaking of Jesus in the most insulting terms possible, and a few appearing touched, and I thought I beheld rays of light issuing from our Lord and entering the hearts of the latter. I saw groups of infamous, bold-looking young men, who were for the most part busying themselves near the watch-house in preparing fresh scourges, while others went to seek branches of thorns. Several of the servants of the High Priests went up to the brutal executioners and gave them money; as also a large jug filled with a strong bright red liquid, which quite inebriated them, and increased their cruelty tenfold towards their innocent Victim. The two ruffians continued to strike our Lord with unremitting violence for a quarter of an hour, and were then succeeded by two others. His body was entirely covered with black, blue, and red marks; the blood was trickling down on the ground, and yet the furious cries which issued from among the assembled Jews showed that their cruelty was far from being satiated.

From here.
Emmerich's book is a basis for Gibson's movie, by the way. I expect to see a shot or two of the lambs bleating while Jesus is being scourged.

Passion plays could truly deal with the details of crucifixion, with the added bonus of a mob mentality gripping the audience. And now we have a Passion play in which every gruesome detail has been checked for lighting. It's red and raw in THX sound - every lash, every bleat, every spatter of blood on the pavement is there for the audience to marinate their brains in. You could almost call it brainwashing, but that implies the non-cooperation of the victim. Here we have people who will pay eight dollars or more to monopolize their perception willingly.

But will everyone be cooperating? Churches are renting out whole theaters, bringing their youth groups in to see a 45 minute scourging. Everybody's going to be on the same page? Nonsense. And the church leaders are quietly gleeful about the kick-it-up-a-notch graphic violence of the impending spectacle. More kids soaking up an evening of excruciating violence that's all their fault and turning back to the Lord in love. Sure beats Kumbaya around the campfire, doesn't it?

Jesse at Pandagon calls this "crucifixion porn". I haven't found a better description of this movie anywhere. I wanted to see the film to compare it to The Passion of Joan of Arc, but already here's a major difference: Joan's sufferings are mental until the very end. When the fire is lit to burn her, the flames are anti-climatic compared to the visions of horror she's endured throughout her trial. But Christ's agony moves quickly to the physical in the Gibson movie. The empathic connection with Gibson's Christ must be maintained by realizing that your own depravity placed Christ there; but we are free to be human beings when we identify with Joan.

So on with the countdown. Tomorrow is number five: What were the motives of the Jews that examined Jesus before he was taken to Pilate?

Top 10 Ways that Mel's Passion Isn't As It Was, Number 6...

6. The cross is wrong.

There's actually two things wrong with the cross used in Mr. Gibson's Passion.

Any manufactured cross had two major pieces - the stipe and the patibulum. The stipe is the vertical piece of the cross. It was always left at the execution site, planted upright in the ground. The vertical piece, the patibulum, was the only part of the cross that the victim was compelled to carry to the site.

So every picture you've seen of Gibson's Christ dragging a complete cross through Jerusalem? Wrong. Didn't happen. It's a pretty picture, but completely inaccurate.

Also note the shape of the cross in the picture above. At the execution site, a slot in the patibulum would be placed over the fitted top of the stipe. This resulted in a T shape, which in the Greek alphabet was the letter Tau. "There is fairly overwhelming archeological evidence that it was on this type of cross that Jesus was crucified."

So even the very shape of the Passion's cross is wrong. This is one of the few things that Martin Scorcese got right in The Last Temptation, by the way. The crucifixion there was historically accurate.

There's simply no excuse for trying to pass this movie off as what actually happened.

Ezra v. Nooners

Pandagon: Sincerey, Peggy

We need a mop over at Pandagon. Ezra's left a rather ugly mess of Peggy Noonan's last column over there. Highly entertaining.

Thomas v. McClellan

Talking Points Memo > Washingtonian

Some questions are out of bounds, McClellan told The Washingtonian: “Helen was asking about trashy rumors. There’s a difference between trashy rumors and journalism. I will not dignify them from the podium.”

And he says he’ll try not to lose his cool. “I hope to keep a smile on my face,” he said.

The confrontation created talk among White House correspondents as to whether McClellan could stand the pressure as it builds during the 2004 campaign season.

“Scott is trashing reporters for asking questions,” says one veteran correspondent. “He’s dissipating the goodwill he had for not being Ari Fleischer. He’s proving to be as testy and disdainful as Ari.”
Sometimes being testy and disdainful is all a press secretary has got.

Norquist Upset By H&R Block Hire of Democrat

War Liberal > WaPo: GOP Activists Chafe at H&R Block Hire

Republican activists were chattering and e-mailing one another yesterday about H&R Block -- and it wasn't about getting their taxes done.

They were angry that the tax and financial services preparation company had recently hired Nicholas J. Spaeth, a Democrat, as the company's senior vice president and chief legal officer. Spaeth, based at the company's headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., is responsible for overseeing "the functions of the company's business units" as well as its government relations activities.

..."They run a Democratic shop. They're insulting to Republicans. They don't understand Republicans," said Grover Norquist, one of the forces behind the K Street Project.

Linda McDougall, vice president for corporate communications at H&R Block, said Spaeth's politics, whatever they might be, had nothing to do with his appointment or with his work.

"We looked at skills in doing the job, not in the points of view," she said.
Why the hell is this any of Grover Norquist's business?

The K Street Project reports on the "political affiliation, employment background and political donations of members of Washington's premier lobbying firms, trade associations and high-tech companies." It would be a worthwhile project if the information wasn't released in such a partisan fashion. Here's the latest K Street .pdf: Generics Contribute to Democrats, "Innovators" Donate to Republicans.
This information indicates an ideological preference on the part of Republicans for free market pharmaceutical reforms that encourage access to prescription drugs while preserving the advantages of competition.
Wouldn't generic drugs allow greater access to prescription drugs by increasing competition which would lower prices?

And check the table Grover uses to prove his point:

Eli Lilly & CO$328,862.52$1,237,149.48
Bristol-Myers Squibb$226,534.88$1,189,308.12
Pfizer Inc$313,090.03$1,048,170.97
Pharmacia Corp$364,772.80$775,142.20
Wyeth Co$155,104.80$814,300.20
Schering-Plough Corp$200,361.84$753,742.16
Amgen Inc$96,218.47$410,194.53
Novartis Corp$128,227.96$329,729.04
Merk & Co$96,830.46$324,171.54
Abbot Laboratories$28,211.19$370,775.64

Did you catch that? Two CEOs of generic drugs contributed $885,025 to Democrats and nothing to Republicans. In the same period pharmacuetical giants contribute two and a half times more to Democrats ($2.3 million), while giving Republican $9.4 million.

And Grover's problem is that the generics aren't giving any money to the Republicans! Don't they have enough already?

To paraphrase Mark Twain, there are liars, damn liars, and then there's Grover Norquist.

#41 Out of Commission - Onto #43 - No. 41 on 'most wanted' list captured in Iraq - Feb. 15, 2004

Oh, in Iraq! Silly me...

Top 10 Ways that Mel's Passion Isn't As It Was, Number 7...

7. Roman soldiers were present when Jesus was arrested.

From the MSNBC article Who Killed Jesus?:

In an ensuing scene, Mary Magdalene calls for help from Roman soldiers as Jesus is taken indoors to be interrogated by the priests. "They've arrested him," she cries. A Temple policeman intervenes, tells the Romans "she's crazy" and assures them that Jesus "broke the Temple laws, that's all." When word of the trouble reaches Pilate, he is told, "There is trouble within the walls. Caiaphas had some prophet arrested." It is true that the Temple leaders had no use for Jesus, but these lines of dialogue—which, taken together, suggest Jewish control over the situation—are not found in the Gospels.
Compare this to John 18:3:
So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.

The Greek word "detachment" is a specific part of the Roman army. Yet Mr. Gibson portrays the Roman soldiers as completely unaware of the Gethsemane arrest. This part of the movie isn't history; it isn't even biblical.

On the "AFM 35-12"

Resolution Island, NWT - 1956 - Historical Report - USAF Historical Division

About a third of the way down, you'll find this paragraph:

DD Forms 722 and 722-1 are now on requisition and medical files will be completed in accordance with AFM 35-12 upon receipt of the forms.
AFM 35-12 is called "Implementation of the New Airmen Military Personnel Records System" at this page.

So AFM 35-12 is a section of Air Force procedures on proper record keeping. Since Bush's suspension from flight service is based on his missing a physical, and it is asserted that he will comply with AFM 35-12, it's safe to say (as I've seen a few bloggers say) that Bush was being required to take his flight physical, in order to get his paperwork up to date and resume his obligation to fly for the Guard.

He never did.