Saturday, May 04, 2002

Here's a story for those who think there is such a thing as a victimless crime. Pornography isn't just a waste of time, it damages everyone involved with it.

Friday, May 03, 2002

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today
Under "Attack of the Clones"
Taranto writes:
"Libertarians say there's no need to outlaw reproductive cloning because it's unlikely very many people will want to practice it. That's probably true, but those who would are probably those we would least want to. After all, what kind of egomaniac wants to raise a carbon copy of himself?"

Then he goes on to conjure a parade of horrors, including a comparision of reproductive cloning to incest.

He writes, "Suppose a couple decide to produce a 'son' by cloning the husband. Who are the resulting child's parents? The man and his wife, who are raising the child? Or the man's parents, whose coupling produced the boy's genes?"
The next scenario is about a man whose wife is cloned becoming sexually enticed by the clone.

On the basis of these puzzles, he concludes, "Reproductive cloning is a monstrous proposition . . .." But I don't see how that follows from these two weird scenarios, any more than adoption should be banned because a man like Woody Allen falls in love with his adopted daughter. The real issue is whether a couple who is otherwise unable to have children would treat a cloned child of one or the other as a child of both, giving it appropriate love and nurture. This is not a new problem, it is confronted in all cases of proposed adoption.

I'm not sure whether I would approve of reproductive cloning, particularly where the proposed cloner was Ernst Stavro Blofeld or Dr. Evil, but I don't think we should make policy on the basis that life might imitate Ian Fleming or Mike Myers.

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Yet another article on blogging:

My blog, my self - Tech News -

Blogging isn't about to replace journalism, but it is bound to change it. First, because it challenges the bias of the major media. Second, because it is more interesting and, I suspect, more attractive to the young audience the Networks are after. Third, it helps news junkies broaden their horizons by linking to foreign news outlets and calling attention to stories that are ignored elsewhere. Fourth, to quote Ken Layne, "We can fact-check your ass!"

The "ethics" of mainstream journalists seems to require them to make everything bland. Balance seems to be a synonym for avoiding conclusions and truth. "The Israelis say this, but the Palestinians say that." Hey! We want to know who is telling the truth and which ones are lying bastards! And we want facts, not your high and mighty opinions!

One of my pet peeves is commentators like Daniel Shore, who come on and say something like, "The president will need to address such and such issues in his policies, without ever saying anything that adds to what I already knew." This ponderous punditry pointing out the obvious. but having no real comment is worse than no news. It's also a bad imitation of CBS patron saint, Ed Murrow, because when he commented, he made points. When Shore comments, he blurs matters and makes his listeners sleepy.

Mainstream media people are scandalized and mystified at the success of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, neither one of whom I can stand for 5 minutes at a stretch. They are popular and rich because they have an attitude and they interpret events in light of that attitude. They aren't right all that often, but they do make for interesting listening, especially O'Reilly, because he confronts the poseurs and the stupid theorists who are dumb enough to come on his show.

If ABC wants younger viewers, they should get some bloggers from different viewpoints to come on and make intelligent points,
sort of like "Politically Incorrect" but with all intelligent people instead of celebrities. No shouting and no old farts like me and Tim Russert. When was the last time anybody got to hear an intelligent liberatarian discuss current events. CNN's Crossfire, would be interesting if all its personnel were bloggers. With who they've got, however, it's totally predictable and just pointless. I'd like to see Tim Blair, James Lileks, Virginia Postrel, Glenn Reynolds and the people Glenn Reynolds links to on Instapundit.

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Who's responsible for Palestinian Terrorism?

Probably the U.N., according to this interview with Marc Ginsberg. And who is paying the bill for maintaining the refugees in places like the Jenin "camp"? Arab states pay 2% of the freight. The U.S. pays 80%.

If they hate us now, what would they do if we weren't getting so much money from us? And what does anybody, we, the UN or the Palestinians, have to show for all the funds we've been pouring into this sinkhole for the past 50 years?

Why we shouldn't trust the U.N.

This is an important article. The U.N. has always been little more than a way to keep people with bad and/or dangerous ideas busy without allowing them any real power. But when it starts to claim authority, it's a serious threat to the very things it is supposed to be protecting.

Claudia Winkler discusses the controversy in Chester County, PA around the covering of an 89 year old plaque in the courthouse which lists the Ten Commandments.

I think that the intent of the establishment clause has been turned on its head. Instead of tolerating and celebrating diversity of religious traditions as we protect them from both embrace and regulation by the state, we have given one small color of the spiritual spectrum, the atheists, the power to censor all other expressions. Like the banning of school prayer, this ban teaches intolerance and suspicion of any and all religions and awards tolerance only to their enemies.

How to become a protected class.

The civil rights movement was a necessary thing, but it opened up a wide new field for opportunism. New York City has just passed a new law promising Civil Rights for the Transgendered.

Civil rights law focuses on protected classes, who are generally groups distinguished by some trait which is involuntary, unchangeable and irrelevant. This is why discrimination solely based on race is so invidious. Religion isn't involuntary, but it is specifically singled out by the Bill of Rights for Protection. Sex discrimination is involuntary and basically unchangeable, but it is not included as invidious because there are types of unequal treatment that are considered reasonable and beneficial.

Do the "transgendered" have a claim to protection by the law against discrimination?
The transgendered category covers a wide array of people who do not fit into traditional gender groups, whether due to appearance, behavior or physical attributes. Even in a city as diverse, and generally tolerant, as New York, transgendered people often find themselves discriminated against when looking for work and on the job, and in finding and keeping housing. They are frequently denied service in restaurants and stores. And they are often the victims of hate crimes.

I can imagine that a landlord might have a good reason for not wanting to rent to drag queens, since he can't force other tenants to stay after new tenants who offend them move in. Of course, housing NYC is not a free market anymore, so maybe it doesn't matter.

Tom Friedman's Column, The Hidden Victims discusses how the trouble in the West Bank has hurt the moderate voices in the Middle East. This is largely because these countries have used Palestine as a diversion to deflect criticism of their own regimes.

It's easy to denounce oppressive governments like Mubarek's or the Saudis, but I daresay that the Iranians were better off under the "oppressive" Shah. The Iraqis and Syrians have probably never had it worse than now.

I think a good argument can be made that authoritarian regimes are the only way to bring the Arab world into modernity, because Islamic radicals like Ayatollah Khomeini are seldom motivated by ideas like human rights and modernization. Does anyone think that Pakistan under fundamentalist Islamic rule would have been as helpful to the U.S. in Afghanistan as it has been under Musharraf? The only chance for these countries to improve the lot of their people is through enlightened autocrats with the power to keep the mullahs and the ayatollahs and taliban from preventing it.

Monday, April 29, 2002

A little more on "Root Causes"

Michael Ledeen on Iran on National Review Online

The fundamentalist regime running Iran may be crumbling:

First, "a fatwa issued by one of the country's most prestigious and revered religious leaders, the Grand Ayatollah Montazeri . . ." declares, "Suicide terrorism is antithetical to the teachings of Islam, and those who practice it, and kill women, children, and babies, are doomed to eternity in hell."


"At Friday prayers, in an amazing confession of failure, Ayatollah Janati � the head of the Council of Guardians and one of the five most powerful men in the country � admitted to the faithful that Iran was in desperate economic straits. Iran, he said, was as badly off as Argentina, perhaps even worse."

This is an important report. Totally missed by the major media, who are all busy advising President Bush on how we need to work with Arafat to achieve peace in the Middle East.

Something much bigger is about to happen. This time, it might really be The Mother of All Battles.

Ralph Peters ought to get CAIR's dander up. He writes, and I agree, that "the Arab world, rich and poor, is nearly hopeless. With a few, strategically unimportant exceptions, it has given itself over to the narcotic effects of hatred and blame. Arab civilization cannot compete on a single productive front in the 21st century. And there is nothing we can do about it. If the Arab world will not repair itself, no amount of indulgence will make a difference. We have wasted decades on governments and populations who need us as an enemy to justify their profound failures.

"When well-meaning officials, academics or pop singers assure us that Islam is not the problem, they are utterly wrong. Islam, as promoted by Saudi Arabia and practiced by fanatics elsewhere in the Arab world, is precisely the problem. The Saudi variant attempts to buy off the forces of history at home, while exporting the Middle Ages to countries as diverse as Indonesia, Afghanistan and Turkey. The purpose of Saudi proselytizing seems to be to re-create in every Muslim culture the limited prospects of the Arab world."

These are the same conclusions I came to after reading Bernard Lewis's books The Middle East and What Went Wrong?. Islam itself achieved great stability and culture while Europe was suffering the oppression of an apostate Christian church, because it was ruled by Turks, not Arabs.

Peters sees hope in the non-arab Muslim countries, provided we handle things properly, but he says we're wasting our time with Arab states. I think that we have to confront them because they threaten Israel, and because of the oil they control, but the resolution will be military, not diplomatic.

get A useful reminder, in the midst of a lot of pseudo-intellectual ranting and accusations, that the United States still represents important values and the best hope of improving the lives of all mankind.

As a Mormon, I believe that we will be accountable for how we use our freedom, both individually and as a nation.

"herefore, choose you by the avoice� of this people, judges, that ye may be bjudged� according to the claws� which have been
given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord.

From the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 29: 26-28:

Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the cpeople to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law�to do your business by the voice of the people.

And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.

Tom Friedman's column yesterday still beating the drum for Bush to impose peace in the Middle East.
If he's correct, there are people among the Palestinians whom we could work with. But he ignores the fact that Arafat is the main obstacle to any solution.

This desperate demand for peace through diplomacy is the sign that the diplomats are out of ideas. Friedman talks tough at times, but he really has no stomach for what must be done. Somehow the Palestinians must cast off Arafat and his methods.
Nobody can do it for them.

The West, likewise, has no other choice in dealing with radical Muslims who think that returning to what they see as fundamental Islam. It can only force a change of attitude in the only way that has worked, military defeat.