Saturday, February 18, 2006

Being Adults

Reader response to the Rocky Mountain News' publishing those Danish cartoons. (Via Instapundit)

One of them was "Congratulations on being an equal opportunity offender." That attitude kind of bothers me. The cartoons were part of a news story and should have been published in order for readers to see for themselves what the fuss was about. However, publishing them just to be offensive wasn't the point, I hope.

We aren't given freedom of speech or of the press just for the purpose of flaunting them by being deliberately offensive to others, but because we want to promote an arena for robust debate and discussion.

If our rights become valued for the opportunity to be offensive, I think they become endangered. This where the courts have erred, in my opinion, by refusing to support reasonable limits on obscenity and pornography. We know that sex can become addictive, as can pornography, including fantasies that require ever more lurid details which give the frisson of violating taboos. Sadly, most "adult" content isn't really for adults, but for teenagers of all ages.

It was appropriate to publish the cartoons of Mohammed to allow readers to see what weak tea they were and to understand how overwrought the reaction to them is. I hope that we're adult enough, however, to refuse publishing purely to offend people.

George Will is losing it.

George Will seems mentally constipated these days. I thought his column about Harriet Miers reeked of elitism and intellectual pride. He is a perfect example of a "foolish consistency [being] the hobgoblin of little minds." Yes, he's brainy, but he doesn't seem to have any emotions. Anyone who saw the World Trade Center Towers collapse should know why the President needs the power to authorize some things for national security. Nixon's big fault was that he tried to use this power for his own political security.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Another report you won't see in the MSM

Prisoner Abuse Photos from Iraq Well done, Rusty! Tough. Hard-hitting. True.

Back alleys presumably will also be OK

The Guardian reports:
Abortions at home are safe - pilot study

Shades of "Freedom Fries"

Iran has changed the name of Danish pastries. They're now called, get this, "Roses of the Prophet Mohammed."

The Beltway Comedy

I'm glad to see that the media fit over Cheney's hunting accident doesn't include Jay Rosen. The only complaint one can make honestly is that the story didn't make it to the White House press office until the next morning. But even that strikes me as faulting him for not making the White House Press Corps as the center of his consciousness. If he had fallen and broken his leg, would the news operations of the networks and big papers have interrupted other activities to get the story out? The major distinguishing fact was that there was a shooting accident that inflicted minor wounds on his friend. Charles Krauthammer rightly characterizes the reaction of the White House Press Hounds:
as a psychiatrist, the groups I ran for inpatient schizophrenics were far more civilized.
But surely there must be something in this that will arouse a national furor or get him out of office! Therefore, he should have invited a horde of reporters to invade his friend's home and right now. The problem with these people is that whatever you do for them will be taken for granted or turned on you somehow, while whatever you don't do is sure to bring yelps of indignation.

Conservatives and Liberals

Jonah Goldberg:
As a conservative, the extent I root for the GOP depends entirely on how successful it is in moving the political climate of the country toward fiscal restraint, limited government and cultural decency. Single-issue voters understand this point best: Pro-lifers would dearly love to break the GOP monopoly on opposing abortion, just as abortion rights supporters dream of the day when both parties are pro-choice. Many conservatives, including yours truly, would have agonized over a choice between a reliably pro-war Democrat and George W. Bush in 2004, particularly if judicial appointments weren't so important.

The point, dear liberals, is that some conservatives who criticize the Democrats or offer them advice do not do so solely to salt wounds, but in the hope that someday we will have a real choice on Election Day — and not between the lesser of two evils.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Book of Mormon and DNA

Hugh Hewitt had a segment today about this piece in the LATimes citing DNA studies on American Indians concluding that they have no DNA markers linking them to the Middle East. It's not really news here in Utah. This has been going on for the past couple of years. The LDS Church issued a press release linking to several articles by LDS scientists who point out problems with the claims that these studies disprove the Book of Mormon.

I'm up to understanding all the science involved, but there are a number of points that make sense to me. First, the Book of Mormon recounts the story of two families who left Jerusalem about 600 B.C. who intermarried and were lead to this hemisphere. The ability to track their DNA is limited by what's called a "bottleneck" where many DNA traits in a larger population fail to get through to subsequent generations when the transmitting group is limited to a small sample.

Another point is one raised in the book 1491 - New revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles C. Mann. It discusses the fact that the Indians living in the Western hemisphere reduced by up to 95% of their precolumbian population, mostly by diseases which spread through them in advance of the Europeans themselves. They not only had no immunity, they didn't have the genetic diversity to develop immunity to some of these diseases. Smallpox, measles, etc. literally swept them off the land. The Book of Mormon contains a prophecy to that effect, but I had never realized that it was so vast and came upon them often before most of them ever saw a European. The point about the lack of genetic diversity struck me as supportive of the Book of Mormon claims.

Third, the idea that all Indians are descendants of these two families from Israel hasn't been my belief for many years. The Book of Mormon actually discusses three groups, the Jaredites who came about the time of the tower of Babel, the Lehi party, and the Mulekites who left Jerusalem about the same time, 600 B.C., but unbeknownst to the Lehi descendants and were discovered by them later on. No other people are described, but there is nothing in the Book of Mormon than would exclude other groups, like the Eskimos. There is insufficient data in the Book to place its geography definitively. Most Mormons seem to believe they were in Northern South America and Central America, but some think they were in the Great Lakes region.

Suffice it to say that the DNA evidence can't prove the Book of Mormon true or false. The Book has been under attack since its first publication with all kinds of scientific claims that have fallen by the way, and like the Bible, which describes many events not found in historic records, endures despite the number of doubters.

I am constantly being impressed by the patterns in the Book that are replicated in modern experience, particularly the ability of secret societies, criminal or terrorist, to undermine a nation. There are always going to be criticisms and attacks. That's why it's called faith.


The Instapundit considers fanaticism. I guess you have to be outside a group to recognize when it has lost its composure and become rabid. I've always been pretty careful about accepting Right Wing assertions without question, and I assumed that the lefties were too. But after 2000, they lost it, and the more they rage, the angrier and more unreasonable they get.
They seem to have a psychological need to have control of at least one branch of government that they can't really articulate, except in terms of the wickedness of their opponents. It's an interesting question, but unlikely to resolve anything, I'm afraid.

Was Larry O'Donnell drunk?

Lawrence O'Donnell came unglued in an interview with Hugh Hewitt yesterday. He posted on Huffington Post, "Was Cheney Drunk?" and tried to bolster his statement that "Every lawyer I've talked to assumes Cheney was too drunk to talk to the cops after the shooting."

Now, what he doesn't seem to get is that this incident wasn't the equivalent of a car crash where the law requires a person to notify the police and remain at the scene. There are no similar laws governing hunting accidents, especially minor ones like this.

The really amazing thing to me was this statement:
When I raised this question, many people thought it was absolutely outrageous to even consider the possibility that Dick Cheney would have any trace of alchohol in his system. We now know that he did, and we have his word that it was one beer. I don't know what his word is worth on this subject. It isn't worth much to me, because he did everything he possibly could to avoid us being able to know the truth about that.
Hugh asks him who the lawyers were who told him Cheney must have been drunk. Then he loses it. His anger and combativeness suggest to me that he regrets raising this whole meme, but he's too vain to admit that it was outrageous and irresponsible for a journalist to do so.

One thing that I noticed practicing as a public defender was that cops seemed to resent the evidenciary rules that apply to their interrogations of suspects but when they get in trouble, they invariably start asserting their rights like a Columbian drug lord. It's not particularly counterintuitive, but it is amusing. O'Donnell's yelling strikes me as ironic, given how loudly journalists tout the presumption of innocence when it applies to some convicted cop-killer who has written a book of poetry in jail. Being a good writer seem to be for the literati like being born again is for protestant evangelicals.

This hostility from liberal reporters toward Bush just keeps spiraling upward over every trivial thing that occurs. This Cheney hysteria, over a accident common in upland game hunting, reminds me of travails of Ralphie in A Christmas Story.
It's like the media are all yelling, "You could shoot someone's eye out!"

Hugh's next interview with Helen Thomas was a hoot. She spoke down to him as though he were some kind of con man or insolent dog. She is so rude, and insistent in inflicting her nastiness on others, but she obviously doesn't think the same standards she operates by as a journalist have any application to her or her fellow elites. If you dish it out like she does, shouldn't you be able to deal with someone treating you the same way? Hugh Hewitt was far more polite and respectful to her than I've ever seen her be to anyone she was talking to. She gives substance to the cliche of an "old bat."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Confession

When playing Halo2 alone, I find that keep shooting and killing my allies. They are AI, of course, and they keep running in front of me just as I take my shot. When you're tracking a moving target, it's difficult to keep track of what the rest of your troops are doing. If I were quail hunting, I'd know that this sort of thing is a hazard and teach myself to stop tracking a flying bird before I swing too far out to either side of me, but I also understand in a small way, the sense of horror and frustration that it cause to shoot a friend accidentally.


Frontline implies that businesses selling cold remedies are the main obstacle to stopping the crystal meth epidemic. It's an interesting program, although I have to wonder about its premise that other drugs can be defeated by eliminating the availability of constituents, such as ephedra and pseudoephedra, the way the DEA succeeded in stopping quaaludes. You almost expect shows on PBS to blame the Bush Administration for every problem.

What surprised me was that the first state in the meth epidemic was Oregon. Is that because they're liberals and willing to flout drug laws, or because they're smart enough to make the drugs and sell them.

Update: The real problem now is meth coming in from Mexico. Sorry, Oregon.

It occurs to me that this is one area where a strict religious upbringing can help avoid trouble. If you see taking illegal drugs as not only illegal but immoral, are you more likely to avoid becoming an addict? I don't know, but it makes some sense. I've seen enough damage done by alcohol that I've become a prohibitionist. I'd rather allow marijuana than continue to allow alcohol. Yeah, I'm a buzzkill. Yes, heart disease might increase. But I think that DUI accidents and deaths, child and spouse abuse and divorce would all drop. No fear of that happening, .

Next week: Frontline goes inside the Iraq insurgency and shows--surprise!--how the war is helping Al Qaeda and it's all Bush's fault.

It's now a talking point.

The hunter orange clothing, that is. Actually, Begala looks pretty good in that color. No earth tones for Paul. If he ever runs for office, he should remember this.

What it's supposed to convey to ordinary people not afflicted with Bush rage is not clear, however.

Heh 3

The war against Bush is unwinnable. How many more days to impeach him before his term ends anyway?

It's about time 2

Another report of Muslims starting to ask obvious questions:
"Don't you think that injustice, torture, illiteracy and the restrictions on freedoms (in the Muslim world) are also considered an insult to the Prophet . . . who called for the respect for human rights?" . . .

Several Arab Web logs posted the cartoons and hosted online debates about them. Many left-wing and secular-minded Muslims also circulated the cartoons by e-mail.

Scenes I'd Like to See

Another example for my proposition of allowing persons conducting press conferences to object to improper questions, like lawyers in court:
David Gregory: Scott, I just have two questions to follow up on the accidental shooting by the Vice President. Does the President think that the Vice President should address this publicly, personally, speak to the American people in any fashion to explain what happened and why it took so long to disclose it publicly?
McClellan would respond: Objection! Asked and answered. Irrelevant. Argumentative, assumes that the Vice President has such a duty.
Gregory: So the President doesn't think that the Vice President should actually think about it himself, not through intermediaries?
McClellan would respond: Objected to as leading, suggestive and repetitive.
Gregory: Okay, let me ask you this -- is the President concerned that the Vice President made decisions about the public disclosure of this incident that are clearly at odds with how you and others advising the President disclose personal information about the President's activities?
McClellan would respond: Objection. Calls for speculation. Argumentative.

Now you play:
Gregory: Does the President think it's appropriate for the Vice President to essentially make decisions at odds with the public disclosure process of this White House?
State your objection.
Gregory: But that's a non-answer.
Gregory: Does the President have a view about how the Vice President has conducted himself?
Gregory: No, I don't recall you sharing the President's view.
Gregory: You didn't answer that question. It was very respectful --
Gregory: The Vice President basically decided on his own to not disclose this, which is at odds with how you do business and how the President does business, right?
Hint: Conclusory. Badgering the witness.
Gregory: I'm not getting answers here, Scott, and I'm trying to be forthright with you, but don't tell me that you're giving us complete answers when you're not actually answering the question, because everybody knows what is an answer and what is not an answer.
Gregory: I have one final question, since that one wasn't answered. Is it appropriate for the Vice President to have waited 14 hours after the incident before he spoke with local law enforcement officials? And do you think that an average citizen would have been accorded that same amount of time before having to answer questions about a shooting incident?
Note that the last question assumes that the VP did something wrong by not speaking to a local official until 14 hours later. This is a favorite of journalists, to imply that something was shameful, immoral or illegal, when it is nothing of the sort.

It occurs to me that there might be a limit to such objectionable questions, as here when David Gregory stubbornly keeps badgering McClellan, after 2 or 3 warnings, McClellan should declare him in contempt and go on to another questioner.

Of course this will never happen, because the press secretary is supposed to be patient and appear open and forthright, even when the press is trying to pressure him to give statements that are beyond his knowledge. Besides, they'd have to hire a judge to rule on the objections. But it would still be quite revealing and educational. Maybe some smart TV show host on Fox could get a judge like Napolitano to comment in this way to a tape of one of these gaggles.

Maybe HTML needs some new tags

Flame wars are caused by misreading other people's tone, sarcastic, ironic or serious, and overestimating our ability to read others' intent from written posts. The result is overreaction and anger. Makes sense to me.

I would think, as well, that people are more aggressive and touchy when they feel anonymous, as in driving. A car cuts in on you and you see it as an intentional insult or a challenge, when the other driver might have been daydreaming or just not watching. My dad used to call people "fatheads" when he didn't like their driving. Eventually, he would involve us by telling us to call somebody a "fathead," although we never did so in a way the other driver could hear. This was long before "road rage" and shooting at other drivers became a problem. But the same principles apply on the internet, where nobody knows you're a dog.

I've used some faux tags like , , or as a way to clarify my meaning. I'm starting to think this could be a way to avoid misunderstandings and insult.

Of course, there will always be trolls and people who have a need to pick fights when they know they won't really get smacked around as a result.

How dumb are the Democrats?

Pretty dumb, apparently, and some members of the party are noticing. You don't go recruit somebody who's never been in politics and then pull the rug out.


Glenn Greenwald is one of those spamming Glenn Reynolds with demands that he get more indignant about Ann Coulter's latest. And he's attacking him again on the presumption that Reynolds doesn't think Coulter matters. Greenwald's making himself look pretty bogus with his posts lately. What he doesn't get is that most lefty bloggers have more in common with Coulter than they ever will with Reynolds. That goes for Michael Savage, and Bill O'Reilly, too. It's one of the easiest rhetorical device there is to call people names and act outraged with your opponent, but it wears thin fast, which is why the left today is losing support. All this railing and gnashing of teeth toward Bush and his administration may feel good, but it doesn't convince anybody.


The LDS church announced a study today concluding that Mormons in Utah weigh 4.6 pounds more than members of other religions here. Is this going to be another element of the Word of Wisdom?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Heh 2

Andrew McCarthy on Cheney's accident:
Either it's a wash or a slight bump up for the administration. Why? Because the media and the most partisan Democrats can always be relied on to turn opportunity into damage.

Mock Andrew day at the Corner

Read here and scroll down. Or maybe it's just because Sullivan has been picking fights.

Oh, NO! Not "Blind Loyalty"!

As a life-long Mormon, I've heard my share of accusations of blind loyalty. It's a favorite complaint of non-Mormons in Utah who don't like the way the elections come out. To me, it smacks of frustration and an attempt to discredit one's opponents. So it's predictable that the Kos Krowd have finally gotten around to complaining that
Now, in order to be considered a "liberal," only one thing is required - a failure to pledge blind loyalty to George W. Bush.
What's he (Glenn Greenwald) saying here, that he doesn't want to be called a liberal or that it should take more than just not supporting Bush to call yourself a liberal?

It's about time.

Good news from Europe, I think.
Dozens of Danish Muslims are joining the network of moderate Muslims, the Demokratiske Muslimer (Democratic Muslims). About 700 Muslims have already become DM members and 2,500 Danes have expressed their will to support the network. The initiative has caused anger among the Danish imams and their leader, Ahmad Abu Laban, who have referred to the moderates as “rats.” The imams feel that they are beginning to lose their control over part of the Muslim population.
When the riotmongers call you a rat, it's a good thihg.

Desperate for scandal

CBS' headline on the Cheney gun accident: REPORTING LAG IN CHENEY SHOOTING.

Heartbroke Molehill

Mickey Kaus faults Hollywood for dishonest marketing (what else is new?) and gays for being too demanding.
It's this attitude "You can't just tolerate us. You have to approve!" that turns off the straight world.


Is it "Day-na" or "Dan-na"?

I once wondered whether Dana Milbanks was a man or a woman. Now I know he's neither. What he is is a clown.

The Galloway Card

What better way is there to make yourself odious than Al Gore's latest tack.

Ann Coulter and her critics seem to be engaged in something similar. Anybody who thought that Glenn Reynolds would consider her an ally isn't too familiar with his blog. When you blast everybody like this you lose the swing vote, people.

Go CA!

Watching the Canadian produced program, Survivorman, on the Science Channel. The premise is that the host, cameraman, Les Stroud, is dropped into a remote location with only minimal gear, like a multitool and a wrecked machine, like a boat, snowmobile, light plane, etc. and he has to survive for seven days, preferrably to find his way back to civilization. Each episode is a different type of wilderness from Central American coast to Arctic Canada. He's an expert in survival, and gives a lot of good information, but not so much it would get me out of a fix. Mostly his expertise is starting fires with flint and steel a wood drill, and in setting snares and dead fall traps for small creatures most of us wouldn't consider food, such as lizards, mices, snails, etc. He always explains how it pains him to kill any living thing as he prepares a device to bash a little critter with a rock or log or hang it with a wire. I wonder if we'll ever get to see him cut off his arm after it gets pinned by a boulder.

Frankly, being chronically ill and past my prime, I'd be more likely to just try to start a fire and if that didn't work, die.

I guess I like this show because he's a geek, like me, and nothing ever goes perfectly. He tells us what he should be doing and why he isn't, too tired, too cold, fear of getting sweaty and chilling himself, etc. There's something so uncool about Canadians that attracts me to them. I've always been a fan of musicians like Gordon Lightfoot, Ian Tyson, Leonard Cohen, Loreena McKennit, etc. They have a lot of terrific musicians. I used to watch a program called Acorn, the Nature Nut, with a host named John Acorn who's a naturalist from Edmond, Alberta and a specialist in tiger beetles. There's a purity in his enthusiasm, as well as Les Stroud's, that makes them more interesting to me that the more showbiz popularizers of science who don't seem to look beyond the surface.

Interestingly, both Acorn and Stroud are also musicians. Acorn makes his own guitars and Stroud plays a great blues harmonica. Maybe you learn to do that during the long cold winters.

Lastly, Stroud's website has this:

Survivorman Season 1 DVD Set now available! Special offer!
Wednesday, Nov 30, 2005

You all have been asking and we were listening. Survivorman Season 1- Featuring Les Stroud is ready for ordering today! Special offer! The first 250 orders will be personally autographed by Les himself! Order now to get your autographed DVD set.
As far as I can tell, the "season" is four episodes. Sorry, Les. I like the show, but not that much.

If Bin Laden is losing, does it mean we're winning?

He is losing. One gets the impression that the Muslim Arab street is as tired of this as Americans are. They after all must note that more Muslims are being killed by the terrorists than Americans. Now if we could just convince the western media.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Politics gets ugly uglier.

Michael Barone:
American politics today is not just about winning elections or prevailing on issues. It's about delegitimizing, or preventing the delegitimization of, our presidents.
He goes on to comment on the Democrats' lingering bitterness over the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Whether you agreed with it or not, it was a foreseeable outcome of his behavior with Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office and then lying about it under oath, basically trying to cover up embarrassing behavior. That was pretty much what Nixon would have been impeached for, had he not resigned.

(Certainly, one can argue that covering up a burglary was more serious in absolute terms than covering up sexual exploitation of a willing subordinate, but after the feminist response to Clinton's lifetime of using women to gratify himself, I came to realize that their demands of society to stamp out sexual harrassment was hypocritical. They weren't really so much feminists as Democrats.) In relative terms, a "penny-ante burglary" wasn't so much more serious than "just sex" and "just being a man" as those who tell us that Watergate was an attempt to overthrow the Constitution would have it. It always seemed to me that by the time Richard Nixon became President, the Constitution had been overthrown for nearly 40 years. He was more a victim of his own ineptitude and basic inexperience in dishonesty. Can anybody imagine Jack Kennedy having made such tapes and keeping them? He'd have destroyed them and then said it was standard policy and the country would have bought it.

Today, who hasn't thought how ironic it is that Bush's most vocal and angry critics are members of a group named, formed to oppose Clinton's impeachment, and now probably the largest group supporting impeachment of George Bush. How weird it is that none of these people seem to harbor any bitterness toward Bill Clinton for squandering their last great grasp on political power and forcing parents across the country to explain oral sex to their children?

Wasting his time

John McCain is thicker than a brick if he thinks he can get nominated by Republicans. He seems to think he's the conscience of the party, but he's more like the Church Lady.

It's not like choking on a pretzel, but

Dick Cheney injured someone else in a hunting accident. I can see all the jokes coming already.


is establishing a uranium enrichment plant.