Saturday, October 28, 2006

It's the New Coke of the new millennium

Fans of Firefly and Serenity have run up the value of the franchise after being invited to viral market the show and now they're being sued by Universal.


If you think Muslim terrorists aren't a threat to the West

Consider France. We're sending them the message right now that Osama was right, after all. We are a paper tiger. They have played our media and the Democrats like P.R. men. This could be a textbook example of how to defeat the world's most powerful military. That's not a good message to send them. Charles Johnson points out how James Webb's latest statement sounds a lot like cut and run. It may be that we will withdraw in time, but doing so at the insistence of those trying to destroy the elected government there is a betrayal of our troops and their sacrifices. It doesn't help that one of our major powers has dedicated itself to doing just that.


The Times can't even report on hand sanitizers without turning it into a political issue!

Hugh Hewitt Show preview

The USC Trojans are coming apart in Corvallis. OSC Beavers up 33 to 10 4:45 left in the third quarter. USC has fumbled about three or four times and turned the ball over. Expect Hugh to be all over this on Tuesday. (I think Monday's show is taped.) Ohio State is running roughshod over Minnesota 30 zip.

Just as I finished the paragraph above, USC started playing and drove the ball down to the 10, but couldn't get it in, turning it over after four plays. They've still got a quarter plus 2 minutes, but Oregon State hasn't been a pushover and it's offense has run up 33 points.

Whoops, the Beavers mess up the punt and the Trojans get the ball at the OSU 15 yard line. They score! 33-17.

2 minutes left. USC has closed the lead to 8 points, 33-25. The Beavers missed a field goal from their otherwise impeccable kicker. If USC had played the whole game like they did in the last 17 minutes. It would have been no contest. Even if they win now, they ought to drop out of the top 10. They're on the 2 yard line after a pass interference call in the endzone against OSU, and they have a first down. They score with 7 seconds left. They need a 2 point conversion to tie. Nope! Oregon State tipped the pass and it hit the ground. OSU by 2 points, 33-32.

Booty has not played well. He's thrown a lot of inaccurate passes and his team has fumbled, dropped passes and generally just played badly, but still nearly pulled it out. OSU deserved it.

It also occurs that this is a sexually tinged game: I mean. the Trojans, with a QB named Booty, playing the Beavers. I guess I've just got a dirty mind.

November Non-surprise

Media Matters is claiming that Saddam's verdict is timed to affect American elections. Be indignant. Be very indignant!

The MSM are pounding us with negative stories timed to affect the elections. Having had them for a month, ABC was sitting on the Foley IMs until a kid posted them on his blog and force their hand. You may wonder when they were planning to publish them.

One of the things about politics that disgusts people is the hypocrisy of each sides decrying dirty tricks by the other, while playing the very same game themselves. I saw an ad today by Jim Matheson telling how he had stood up to the Bush administration and blocked underground testing of new nukes. I'm not impressed. His father died of cancer and blamed it on the fact that he was a Downwinder, one of those in Southern Utah who were exposed to fallout from the nuclear testing in Nevada during the 1950s.

Don't get fooled again!

Publius reports that Fidel Castro is in a coma and not expected to recover consciousness. Funeral arrangements are being made. Will the new boss be the same as the old boss?

Oh Canada! Gird up your loins.

You can hide, but they'll come after you. Canada is being warned that if it doesn't withdraw its troops in Afghanistan, it will be targeted for terrorist attacks. If I were Prime Minister, I'd send more troops, some to Iraq. When you give in to extortion they come back for more.

The real torture is listening to the whining.

You know that the New York Hearsay is covering the Cheney remarks about tough interrogation techniques and playing it as an admission. Actually, the Congress passed and the President signed into law, the bill giving our interrogators the cover for coercive interrogation so long as it doesn't become torture. What I've heard about waterboarding is that it does no real phisical harm, but it does frighten the subject and it is effective at eliciting information. If that's true, they should it, but with all the publicity, it wouldn't surprizem me if the terrorists are being taught how to resist it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Vote early. Let's nip this in the bud.

The best reason for voting early is probably to bring an end to this kind of squabbling. Lynne Cheney went on Wolf Blitzer's program to promote a new children's book about American, but got ambushed when Blitzer asked her about Dick's alleged waterboarding remark. She was ready and let him have it, then reminded him that she was there to talk about the book not campaign issues. Somehow, she got drug into the Allen-Webb kefuffle over explicit sex in Webb's novels. Basically it confirmed my assessment of Allen's leadership potential and the absolute childishness of the media, who have been pouncing on things he might have uttered 20 or 25 years ago, and the absurd claim that Macaca was meant as a racial slur. I like Webb, but I don't understand why he became a Democrat. America has ceased to be a place to be proud of, but then so has almoste everywhere else. If I'd been Webb, I'd have said, "Oh, grow up!"

Another meaningless phrase

The Democrats are using The Common Good as a slogan.
Senate hopeful Bobby Casey Jr. repeated the phrase 29 times in a talk at The Catholic University of America. Other Dems are using it just as frequently, attempting to appeal to "values voters" and evangelicals.

And just what is the "common good"? Specifics are about as murky as Bush's compassionate conservatism was in 2000 -- which now is known to be a blank credit card slip for reckless spending and entitlements.

According to John Halpin, a senior fellow at the ultraliberal Center for American Progress, the "common good" is "sort of a shared sacrifice, a return to the ethic of service and duty." Actually, it's not that altruistic. In a word, it's more socialism than anything.
That ought to galvanaize the voters! It sure beats the Republicans' "Misery for everybody!"

Sickening Local News

Ever heard of "curbing?" Gavin Lyon, a 17-year-old is in the hospital after being beaten and "curbed" --
a violent maneuver where a person’s head is placed against a concrete curb on a street, and someone steps on the back of the head. In most cases, this procedure causes the jaw to break along with several teeth.
This isn't hazing or bullying. It's aggravated assault - a third-degree felony but probably higher. They broke his teeth and his neck. The Utah Crimincal Code includes "Mayhem." I feel the same as this boy's dad, "It's everything you can do not to go get a gun and hunt somebody down."

The 10 o'clock news also reported on a high school girl who was hit and hospitalized by street racers.

Orlando Roybal has been arrested for car theft for the third time this month, leading police on two high speed chases, one with his girlfriend and several kids with him.

I'm begining to rethink my opposition to Sharia Law.

Chicks Keep on Cluckin'

Filler material: NBC turned down the snotty chicks' new movie. We've already had Michael Fox doing political ads. These three are Michael Moore with drawls. Why do people think that being celebrities gives them the right to lecture their audiences on politics?

Close but no cigar

Amy Sullivan examines why Democrats are losing the culture war:
One answer is that national security is still a major issue, generally favoring Republicans. But more important is the fact that abortion and gay marriage are proxies for deeply held cultural concerns. They tell voters something about the character of a candidate — or a party.

Most voters worry about escalating challenges to family stability and the losing battle to instill good values in their children instead of the materialism and coarseness peddled by popular culture. They fear that our society has developed a casualness about life, especially as science has made it easier to manipulate and create beings.

Banning gay marriage and outlawing abortion don't directly address those anxieties. But proposals like these at least acknowledge that the concerns exist and are valid. So while Republicans offer the wrong prescriptions, they get the diagnosis right. And they win because most of the time, Democrats won't admit that anything is wrong. In politics, as in most areas of life, something always beats nothing.
When I read the headline, the first phrase in my mind was "something always beats nothing."

The hatred in the media of the war and George W. Bush, along with a crowd of inept and corrupt Republicans in Congress (not most, but too many) may give the Dems a comeback, but it won't last long if all they do is try to roll back the accomplishments of the Republicans. And Republicans won't come back if they don't go back to conservative principles.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Culture of Corruption: From a Little Acorn

The activist group ACORN registers voters was caught with three registrations in the same handwriting listing three different addresses, plainly fraudulent. You can't trust those newfanged electronic voting machines, but good old voting early and often seems just fine:
St. Louis ACORN workers, who have still not been paid by the way, reveal that all of the people who were being trained at ACORN headquarters (many at the same time) were told to go out and canvas for "(Democrat) Victory 2006" and Claire McCaskill!

McCaskill is one of the recipients of Michael Fox's "poor, poor pitiful me" ad.

New Jersey Surprises

When was it that the New Jersey courts permitted a last minute switch of candidates when Robert Toricelli tanked in the polls? If you want to know how Democrats would govern, New Jersey is a pretty good model to look at. First, its Supreme Court ruled that the State Constitution is violated when gay couples are denied the legal incidents of marriage, but knowing that an outright ruling that gay marriage is required, they handed the hot potato back to the legislature, hinting that civil unions might be all right. (For extra credit, read James Taranto's first item today.) lEverybody in the media and the blogosphere has been saying that it won't make a difference in the New Jersey Senate race, but national polls have shown that gay marriage is unpopular, and now the state's ex-governor Jim McGreevey, who resigned in a scandal when it came out that he had been having a gay affair and had given his paramour a job using state funds, is now on record as desiring to wed his "partner" if the law is changed. That might bring the meaning of that decision home to more people, including some conservatives who were planning to sit out this election. Considering that the Democrat in the race, Senator Robert Menendez, is widely aknowledged be the subject of an FBI investigation, this could help his opponent, Tom Kean, who has regained some momentum he had lost.

Actually, "New Jersey Suprises" might be a good slogan for the State's tourism board.

Why is it only Michael Fox?

There are other famous people who have Parkinson's. Why aren't they all lining up to blast Republicans? Why aren't they all lining up to blast Republicans or at least solicit votes for Democrats? Maybe they'd feel it was kind of undignified to seek the pity of others to benefit a politician, especially when the benefits of embronic stem cell research is pretty speculative. Maybe they're not as sure as Michael is that this research will find a cure, and maybe they don't think that using their illness to campaign for a few politicians is a dignified way of achieving it.

I'm not oppposed to the research, but creating more embryos or using existing "spare" embryos with taxpayers' money is seriously troubliing to people who see these embryos as individual human beings and experimenting on them not that from Dr. Mengele's research. I don't see it that way, but I can see why they do, and I can see why they feel that this practice desensitizes us to destroying incipient human beings to benefit the living, especially in this age of legal assisted suicide, legal abortion test-tube babies, frozen embryos and diagnosing severe chronic illness in the womb.

I don't think it's unreasonable to grant others their beliefs in such matters, especially when the alternative is not guaranteed. Sometimes it gets unreasonable, but we live in an age where babies are born expressly for the purpose of providing organs to a sick relative. Organ donations will always fall short of the demand for transplants. It's only a matter of at what point following fertilization we "harvest" their tissues. If we're only the serendipity of evolution, then nothing matters, but I don't believe that, nor do I think that some of us should use the force of law to make others contribute to what they see as an immoral act.

Maybe it means they're not watching CNN

/CNN's poll says that about 60% of Americans think the war on terror has not gone too far in intruding on civil liberties.

Democracy lives!

Mitt Romney's retort to a reporter's hubris is classic. He's a quick wit and an extremely accurate one. Every conservative who has heard this "the people's right to know" hogwash has wondered to him/herself, "Who elected you?" Romney handled it perfectly.

He deserves to be President. We really need a champion who understands what's going wrong in our society and knows what to do about it.

He's got spunk! And news people HATE spunk!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Can Conservatives Trust Mark Halperin

He says the right things, but he's also selling a book, and, hey, exposing the liberal media bias has been good for Bernie Goldberg. It would be good to see what an actually fair media would be like. Fox News is OK, but I only regularly watch Brit Hume because he's professional and knows how to tell both sides. The rest of the programming is idiosyncratic. Hannity & Colmes has too much yelling and too many cheap shots. I'm not really interested in most of the cases that Greta Van Susteren talks about. And, while I'm too unsure of myself to invest in the stock market, I like watching Neil Cavuto. He has an interesting and common sense perspective on things and he comes across as a real person. It would be nice if we could see real analysis from every news organization. It should be the real test for a news presenter that he/she speaks to the entire audience, without injecting his own opinions. Maybe if more reporters consciously tried to see things objectively instead of following the little rules and tricks to cover your butt with "critics say" when you're really just expressing your own opinions or you feel compelled to throw something in for "objectivity," or reporting for other reporters instead of the real consumers, the news would be more interesting and compelling, and a lot of them would find their personal views changing from the "us vs. them" model to one where we all care about each other and have integrity in our work, instead of seeking the journalistic community's approval. That's how newsmen and women used to be. They had their biases as we all do, but they were professional enough to keep it out of most of their reporting. Nowadays they all sound like they're aiming a Pulitzers or practicing their novels rather than simply getting the facts. We don't need the snide little spin that infests most news reports, especially as they go higher up on the pay scale.

The last two weeks

I saw this ad on Fox News last night. I didn't see any racism. The NAACP fought for the repeal of miscegenation laws, but now they're making a big deal of this corny ad where a white bimbo tells Harold Ford to "Call me ..." and blows a kiss. Would they be happier if the character were an African American bimbo? She is portraying one of the women present at a Playboy party Mr. Ford attended.

The whole ad is a series of people making comments about Ford's positions and campaigns.

His opponent, Corker, has asked that the ad be withdrawn by the RNC, its sponsor, but they're not doing it. I don't know what they should do. The ad could easily be edited, but it loses its punchline. Besides, this blonde blue-eyed chick might be black "passing for white." Who really cares?

If Ford were a Republican the NAACP would be calling him an "Uncle Tom" or an "Oreo," as they've called Michael Steele in Maryland. They'd be pointing out that he's not really all that black. No racism there, is there?

This kind of sniping over each others' ads is juvenile. There's also a report in the NYTimes today about how Joe Lieberman has used the phrase "stay the course" repeatedly. I suppose this is supposed to drive us screaming from the room. It sounds like something from The Onion. And Mark Kennedy is being jeered for running an ad supporting the War in Iraq.

The Michael Fox ad, in which he might have gone off his meds to dramatize his disease for the cameras, is now a political football. It's Cindy Sheehan all over. Absolute moral authority, or self-pitying schmaltz? Leave the poor guy alone, but it's not beyond the pale to note what he has said about going off his meds to show people the real effects of the disease. That's fine for that purpose, but not to suggest that this is his daily life or that there's nothing besides cloning embryos for stem cells that he can turn to.

I think one reason the Republicans are running so poorly is that they have failed to rally behind the president each other and have been stampeded by the opinion polls. They have lost the understanding of leadership, that sometimes you have to stand up to popular misconceptions and make a case for your policies. There isn't anyone in Congress who seems to have the ability to unify his/her fellows, to step forward and bid them to follow. The Democrats can't agree on an agenda, but they know how to keep their troops in line. they vote as a block and have been able to obstruct quite well. Maybe that's just easier when people don't have anything but resentment to feel passionate about.

I'd like to see somebody at the party level do what Newt Gingrich did for them in 1994, and I'd like to see more Senators and Congressmen stick to their knitting, instead of spending time on junkets and fundraising. That really should be the party's job, to raise money and let the candidates campaign and legislate. Parties do have legitimate reasons for existing. By cutting themselves free from their parties, candidates have had to become money grubbers as well as schmoozers and legal mavens. They also invite more accusations of corruption, and more actual corruption, when they spend a lot of time with lobbyists and potential donors. The answer is not more campaign regulations that limit freedom of speech, but discipline and an effective party fundraising operation and a source of good counsel and advice.

Men Without Chests

Violence never solved anythin. At least, not where it hasn't been tried. The cops say that they're in the midst of a civil war. France is becoming Algeria North. The unions and the public they "serve" are increasing at odds. The Welfare State is failing, but, -- how do you say, "France is dying" in French? Non vive la France?

When Grandma's in Charge,

You'd better look out. Nancy Pelosi, mother and grandmother, and therefore has absolute moral authority, may crack down on Democrats playing hooky from their committee meetings. I wondered if she wore less makeup on purpose in that 60 Minutes interview, so she could emphasize her grandmotherly mien. I never knew that she is 66 years old. She's a woman and probably has good genes, but I'm not sure I'll make it to 66. A few things did come through pretty clearly. She's obvious got a steely will and wants absolute control of her messages, and she hates the President. Her explanation that "We're both professionals," as a reason why he shouldn't take a offense as being called criminal, incompetent, not a leader, inept and dishonest doesn't really wash. I wouldn't be warm and fuzzy after that, especially when, in the same breath, she promises greater civility when she's the Speaker. Today, Bush gave her a signal that her idea of professional behavior is different from his.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Mister Disingenuous

Richard Holbrooke writes in an open letter to the President:
Broadly speaking, you have three choices: "Stay the course," escalate or start to disengage from Iraq while pressing hard for a political settlement. I will argue for the third course, not because it is perfect but because it is the least bad option.
Does anybody think this is honest, disinterested advice? "Stay the course," to Democrats and the media, means stubbornly clinging to tactics that aren't working and hunkering down and taking casualties while Iraq devolves into civil war. I don't know that Iraq is headed for civil war, but neither does Mr. Holbrooke. The sectarian violence is disturbing, but a certain amount of payback is bound to take place when people who have been denied their rights for as long as the Shiites in Iraq have been. I think that Muqtada al-Sadr is a dangerous guy and is working with Iran's revolution, but if the Shiites wanted an Iran-style revolution with Mullahs running things, they could have had it by now. Are they willing to fight for their religion? I think so. Do they want to oppress Sunnis and deny them the right to worship as they wish? I doubt it.

The goal is to give the Iraqis themselves time to work out their own system. I think the Shiites have desires in line with what we would like to see, but they will strengthen ties with Iran. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, however, since Sistani is an Iranian and has a lot of influence there, while the support for the Khomeini revolution conflicts with traditional Shia beliefs about the role of clergy in government. Things are still fluid, in other words, and the people who argue that we should continue to talk to Kim Jong Il aren't willing to give Iraqis any more time to talk.

We should engage Kim, but disengage from Maliki. Whatever Bush does, he'll be wrong and the Democrats will reverse themselve or crow "Victory!" as if Bush was taking their advice rather than that of the generals on the scene.

A Timetable, A Timetable! My kingdom for a timetable!

So General Casey has announced a timetable for Iraqis to get finished training and take over their own security. It's not a timetable like the trains used to run on, though. It's more like a goal, which will take longer or shorter depending on events. Those who keep braying that we didn't have a plan for the postwar or than we don't have an "exit strategy" are ignoring that there's been a timetable all along, including elections and negotiations.

There's the rule for such plans, however. They seldom survive the first encounter with the enemy. The fact that the plans in Iraq have moved along largely as designed has never been acknowledged by those who oppose this war. The President has told us all along that this would be a long strugge. Some things have not gone as we would have liked, but considering the damage we've done to Al Qaeda, not to mention Saddam Hussein, I'd say it was a pretty smart strategy to get the terrorists into an area where we could kill them, without having to try to track them down everywhere else.

We lost 91 soldiers last month. It's a terrible thing when we lose anyone, but focusing only on deaths associated with this war is somewhat racist. It's if the deaths caused by Saddam in those years after we left him in power don't count, or the people being murdered in Darfur aren't as tragic to their families. We have done more that anyone in history to limit the violence of war, yet we're always the ones blamed when we stand up to real warmongers.

All in all, I agree with James Taranto. We were justified in removing Saddam, and it's those who voted to authorize force and then, for political advantage, turned into pacificists and sought reasons to claim that they shouldn't have be bound by their votes, who are the dishonorable ones in this whole affair. They keep blaming everything on Bush and making up new faults to blame him for. They did the same to Reagan, passing his budgets and blaming him for the rise in deficits. When did a Democratcontrolled Congress ever cut spending or balance the budget? The only reason I can think of for the failure of Republicans to engage this attack is that they knew they were doing the same thing. Hastert is a steady journeyman but he's not a debater or a gifted spokesman. I've never seen the Republicans in such disarray, but then I've never seen such dishonesty and partisanship from the media. If the Democrats have been dishonest, the media have been the enablers in this carnival of hypocrisy.

The left is always invoking the international community as if the U.N. were the measure of legitimacy for anything we do. Yet, if the American people choose this dishonor, we will have consigned ourselves to more criticism and less trust from these people. Even now our strongest ally is transforming into one of the Axis of Weasels. Do we really think they will respect us for anything we do now? Remember that our academics follow European culture and attitudes slavishly, and when do you remember the faculty of Harvard praising America for anything? They and the journalism they have created are the Chomsky generation, the Wormtongues whispering shame defeat and despair, as they carefully dispose of our values.

The Global War on Romney

The Boston Globe is on the attack against Mitt Romney. The major theme seems to be that he's a (gasp!) Mormon. But it's nothing but a scurrilous hit piece. I thought that discirmination based on religion had been laid to rest when JFK was elected, but the Globe brushes that aside because:
In 1960, JFK made it clear both that he believed in an absolute separation of church and state and that he should not be considered the Catholic Church's candidate. "I do not speak for the church on public matters and the church does not speak for me," he declared.
Romney's organization, it is claimed, reached out the the LDS Church for money and help building a grass roots organization.

First of all, it doesn't matter if they did. Do you think that Kennedy didn't seek contributions from Catholics or talk to the Cardinal? If they did what the Globe says, the Church has a well-known policy against endorsing or supporting politica parties or candidates. The Apostle supposed to have met with Romney's representative flatly denies any such thing. Even if he did, that is not the same as offering him church resources. Utahns are generally conservative and the BYU business and law schools have a lot of alumni who have money. It would be idiotic not to seek donations amoung them. But every Mormon, and especially Romney who has been a Stake President, about equivalent to a Catholic Bishop, and has been instructed every election year that the Church does not endorse or support parties or candidates or even allow its meetings or property to be used for political purposes.

The article's attacks on Romney and Mormonism are primitive, calling him "Slick Willard," and implying that he authorized his aides to sneak around and request the Church's help. While not attacking Mormonism direstly, the author, Scot Lehigh, makes sure to mention polygamy, which probably assured the survival of the church but was abandoned in the 1890s, and the church's former policy that blacks could not receive the priesthood, the authority to officiate in ordinances of the church. That was changed in 1979 through revelation, after blacks began to join the church in spite of that policy (The revelation was not unlike the one given to Peter in Acts 11, where he was shown that the gospel was to be given to the Gentiles, not only Jews) Lehigh seems to despise Romney, calling him "Slick Willard" (His full name is Willard Mitt Romney) and is now attempting to argue that Romney would be directly controlled by the LDS Church leadership. There have been other Mormons in high offices, J. Reuben Clarke in the State Department and Ezra Taft Benson who was Secretary of Agriculture under Eisenhower. There has never been any evidence that they were taking orders from the Church. Political Leaders regularly visit with the President of the Church, but the Church doesn't tell them anything it wouldn't tell anybody else. There are 5 Senators who are LDS, and as far as I know, such accusations are not made against them. Orrin Hatch is a strong advocate for stem cell research. The Church has made no official statement on the subject. The idea that Romney would seek to violate church policy is laughable, but I can imagine some overenthusiastic campaign aide trying to approach church members, who are free to support whoever they wish, but if he approached church officials seeking help, he was mistaken. Romney knows better and wouldn't be that dumb, but some non-member politcal consultant could be.

The church flatly denies that the meetings reported by the Globe ever happened,and faculty at the BYU business school have been admonished not to involve the church in any private political activities. None of the story is believable to anybody who has heard the First Presidency's letter that is read in Sacrament Meeting throughout the church in election years.

It's a little early to start smearing potential candidates, but Romney is a special case. He's dangerous to Democrat hopes. He's got charisma, executive experience and character. People hear him speak and are impressed. He took over the Utah Winter Olympics when its was beset by financial problems and scandal, solved financial problems and produced one of the best, most memorable Olympics in years. He straightened out Massachusetts' deficits and balanced the budget. He's a dream candidate, but he's a good practicing Mormon.

The other attacks on him a just as bogus. Some conservatives claim he's not really conservative because he hasn't been strong against abortion in Massachusetts. He probably didn't hit gays hard enough for them either. Hello? Massachusetts? Some times I think the far right will only support candidates who can't win.

For those who say they could never vote for a Mormon, here are some of our beliefs:

Articles of Faith 11 through 13:
11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own cconscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
We've been called a cult, a sect, non-Christians, heretics and everything else people could think of. We've been driven from our homes, murdered, mobbed, robbed, slandered and had our rights ignored. Most of this persecution was fomented by ministers of other churchs who saw us as a threat to their income and resorted to lies, innuendo and claims that we aren't Christian because we don't accept that God is three persons in one, without body parts or passion, which is tradition from the Catholic Church, not scripture.

Despite all the things said against us, we have looked forward, not back, and we have worked hard to build, not to tear down others. Brigham Young brought the church here to Utah to be free of the violent attacks on it, and the people built a civilization out of a desert. These past persecutions are one reason we would not deny anyone else their legitimate rights, nor give religious leaders the power inherent in government. Another reason is that to do so is not scriptural. Joseph Smith whom we honor as a prophet of God sent to restore the Church of Christ as it was established by him and his apostles in their mortal lives was once asked how he was able to govern such a large people. His answer was, "I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves."

Mitt Romney impresses people because he is a leader, both in business and in government. He has improved the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through his service.
I think that it would be a shame if the people of America deprived themselves the leadership of such a talented man based merely on religious spite, and I say this not just because he's LDS. Harry Reid is LDS, but he's not a leader. He's a political hack. a colorless messenger boy for the likes of Kennedy, Kerry, Durbin and Schumer. Romney is someone who has shown good judgment, skill and ability and I trust him. I can't say that about Reid or McCain or George Allen. In my mind, it's between Giuliani and Romney. I think that people will get tired of Hillary's tedious scolding pretty quickly and if given a likeable alternative, will flee from her.

This is why we export Star Trek:TNG

We are the Borg. That would scare the hell out of me.

But this would be even more chilling. They should have mounted a metalic skull with glowing red eys on top, just to sell the message. If I were a terrorist, I'd hate to see this remote controlled armory coming down the hall or the alley. It fires M249 or M240 rifles, shotgun shells, RPGs, and probably a bunch of other stuff. It looks and sounds a little tinny, but we'll see. The terrorists will probably figure out a way to neutralize it with something cheap, like a disposable cell phone or a hand grenade. But when the soldier is 19 years old, sitting in an armored vehicle running this thing with a X-box controller, I'd give him an edge.

Another book I won't have to read

It's called The Great Rish Shift, and it sounds positively like a five-year-old's tantrum:
WHATEVER happened to the good old days of cradle-to-grave security — of a steady job, a lifetime pension and paid-for health care along the way?
Here's what happened: we were living in a make-believe world powered by the fact that ours was the only industrial society that came through World War II without being bombed to rubble. We have stopped having families, saving and buying only what we can afford. It's a monument to our capacity for selfishness and irresponsibility that we've consumed it all in just 60 years. In the past, people saved up for their retirement, or they kept working or they turned to their children. But our generation put all that on the backs of their employers and the government, which shifted it in a bit of shady accounting to our children's generation. Where did this guy get the idea that entitlements were real? Instead of us fighting back, it's our children who should be disowning us.

This is my medical care plan. Save up or buy your own insurance, because nobody over 60 will get a heart transplant or anything else paid for by society. It's a stupid idea, and we've been greedy fools not to see that. It has fostered the growth in the costs of medical care and led us to expect that all the latest miracle medicine s would just be given to us, like that woman in the ads for motorized chairs, "And it didn't cost me one penny!" No, you old cow, it cost the rest of us hundreds if not thousands of dollars!

Those eyebrows!

Haunting my dreams! Make them stop! They're like huge caterpillars! AAAAGGGGHHHH . . .

At least he/she says "arguably."

Silent Patriot at Crooks and Liars:
Keith [Olberman] issued arguably his most powerful Special Comment yet tonight. This time he takes on the GOP's newest fearmongering ad which quotes Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri superimposed over pictures of explosions with the sound of a ticking bomb in the background.
Olberman has to be the audio-video equivalent of Glenn Greenwald.

They ought to be able to use his material down at Gitmo. It's only fair.

Betting the Farm

James Taranto:
This is an unusual election in that the media have not even waited for the polls to open before declaring the results. Indeed, the Associated Press was forecasting a Democratic "landslide" as early as May. And since we all know that everything in the papers is true, if the Republicans end up winning, or at least holding their majorities, it can only mean that Karl Rove stole the election.
They'd better be right on this, because nobody will trust any of them again if they're wrong. How confident are you in early exit polls after 2004?

I've always thought it would be cool if people started lying to pollsters. If they have lied to us, that may be the next step. In fact, I wonder how many conservatives would even want to give these people the time of day.

Betting the Farm

James Taranto:
This is an unusual election in that the media have not even waited for the polls to open before declaring the results. Indeed, the Associated Press was forecasting a Democratic "landslide" as early as May. And since we all know that everything in the papers is true, if the Republicans end up winning, or at least holding their majorities, it can only mean that Karl Rove stole the election.
They'd better be right on this, because nobody will trust any of them again. How confident are you in early exit polls today?


That's the only way to describe our education of our children in the values that brought us to this point. Our schools have been taken over by the kind of people who rename "tug of war" "tug of peace" and think it's a profound insight and prohibit playing tag because it has winners and losers. (It does? How do you win? I guess by not being 'it' when the bell rings.)

Anyway, read the whole thing.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The political role of religion

It's really interesting how people, especially in the media, select what's important. One of their favorite topics is Evangelical Christians as if they can tell them what to think or do.

Of course they're disgusted with behavior of Republicans like Mark Foley, but, as Hugh Hewitt likes to say, no matter what the question is, "electing more Democrats" cannot be the answer. This portrait of religious conservatives as simple-minded, black & white thinkers is delusionary. It assumes that anybody who has any sense would at least be agnostic. If you've never felt a real spiritual experience yourself, how can you deny it's reality?

Religious conservatives know that there are disappointments in life, but they also know that calling for Dennis Hastert or Don Rumsfeld to resign over the actions of someone else they didn't authorize and don't approve of doesn't make much sense. They're not stupid or automatons. Faith is a conscious choice, an act of will. It's a decision to obey certain teachings to receive a witness. As Jesus said, "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." The spirit speaks through our emotions, which are dismissed a priori by materialists and atheists. Feelings, as anyone knows, are real, and are some of the most powerful motives in our lives. To dismiss them as unreal, merely chemical reactions or some type of mechanistic result of natural selection is to close off an entire realm of experience. Science is a subset of all experience, not the whole.

Anyhow, this is one of the techniques the "smart people" use to mislead: belittle those who believe, and deny their legitimacy in our democracy.

Heather Mac Donald makes a cogent case against invoking one's faith in political debate. But that is different from what I'm talking about. She's saying that it's a shallow and dishonest argument to say, "Vote for me, because I'm religious." She rightly points out that, "The rich history of religious bounders and charlatans should give the lie to that hope. Nor has a sincere belief in God prevented behavior we now view as morally repugnant." One is reminded of Jimmy Swaggart sobbing on screen and Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker repenting on camera.

I would never argue that because my religion teaches certain principles that you should believe them, too. But that's a different proposition from telling me that my views are illegitimate because they're based in faith. When people tell exit pollsters that "moral values" are their most important concern, they're not saying that they want all politicians to talk about their faith. I've seen liberal women gush over Barbra Streisand and Hillary Clinton as if they could never lie or be vindictive. To me, this seems like naive faith in a political position, and it's repulsive. When people like that talk about their faith or their upbringing in a "praying" home, most people will have the same response. However, when someone says what he believes we have to judge his sincerity. That doesn't mean it's logically persuasive, but it does give us a basis for judging his character, and character is one of the things we base our votes on.

I heard a clip of Hillary urging a Democrat crowd to defeat that evil Right Wing Conspiracy, and she sounded just like she was trying to sound like Bill. But she just sounded shrill and insincere. Bill himself has never struck me as honest. He's too slick. Hillary isn't slick at all. She's stiff and strained, like Al Gore forcing himself to high dudgeon.

I didn't buy Bush's religiosity at first either. It set off bells. But after I watched his hehavior and reactions to baiting from the media, I recognized something. He acts like a person who has read the Sermon on the Mount and is trying to live by it. I respect that, even if his refusal to fight back often frustrates me.

I think highly of Heather Mac Donald because she is cogent. She presents facts and presents discerning logic in her analyses. To me, she comes across as honest, not as someone who's trying to shine me on. I don't believe that anybody should support a position or a candidate based on his faith without being able to see the logic behind his position. I think integrity consists of consistency between your with your avowed beliefs, verifiable facts, logic and behavior. That doesn't rule make religious faith a requirement, but it doesn't make it invalid, either.

Making a man an offender for a word

The lefties keeping making a big deal out of the words of various people on the right, as though they aren't allowed to explain what they mean. No context, no explanations, allowed. It's as though they assume that Republicans mean exactly what they would say in a given situation. It reminds me of the lawyer who won't allow a witness to say more than "yes or no" or explain an answer, and thinks it proves anything.

Is perversion "sexier" than regular sex?

This headline got me thinking. A lot of our crime shows now feature plots involving erotic asphixiation, necrophilia, incest, pedophilia, bondage and sado-masochism, sex clubs, group sex, rape and just about any kind of squirrely way people can come up with to achieve climax as plot devices intended to shock and rivet our attention. I guess people like being shocked, but I get the impression sometimes that the big cities have turned into big brothels where anything goes. It's the escalating effect of drugs, pornography and gambling. We develop tolerance for one dose and go looking for a bigger hit.

But is violence really sexier? Or does thinking make it so? This whole dynamic strikes me as immature and quite unhealthy for society. It occurred to me during the discussion of the Mark Foley scandal that teenagers like those who serve as pages in the House of Representatives are much more knowledgeable about sex than previous generations and more difficult to shock. They've been exposed to so much about various perversions and kinkiness, I wonder about their ability to appreciate a stable, warm, loving relationship.

Documented proof

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

The Murtha Solution is Unacceptable

Robert D. Kaplan argues that we can't just leave Iraq.
An emerging school of thought says that the only real leverage we're going to have is the threat of withdrawal, which would concentrate the minds of the various groups to seek modalities with each other for governing the country. That's a bet, not a plan. You could also bet that any timetable for withdrawal will lead to a meltdown of the Iraq Army according to region and sect. Even if we promise that all of our military advisors will stay put, in addition to our air and special operations assets, no one in a culture of rumor and conspiracy theory might believe us.

Because it turned out we had no postwar plan, our invasion (which I supported) amounted to a bet. Our withdrawal, when it comes to that, must be different. If we decide to reduce forces in the country under the current anarchic conditions, then we are both morally and strategically obligated to talk with Iran and Syria, as well as call for a regional conference. Iraq may be closer to an explosion of genocide than we know. An odd event, or the announcement of pulling 20,000 American troops out, might trigger it. We simply cannot contemplate withdrawal under these conditions without putting Iraq's neighbors on the spot, forcing them to share public responsibility for the outcome, that is if they choose to stand aside and not help us.

What we should all fear is a political situation in Washington where a new Congress forces President George W. Bush to redeploy, and Bush, doing so under duress, makes only the most half-hearted of gestures to engage Iraq's neighbors in the process. That could lead to hundreds of thousands of dead in Iraq, rather than the tens of thousands we have seen. An Iran that continues to enrich uranium is less of a threat to us than genocide in Iraq. A belligerent, nuclear Iran is something we will, as a last resort, be able to defend against militarily. And it probably won't come to that. But if we disengage from Iraq without publicly involving its neighbors, Sunni Arabs—who will bear the brunt of the mass murder—will hate us for years to come from Morocco to Pakistan. Our single greatest priority at the moment is preventing Iraq from sliding off the abyss.
As I have read Vali Nasr's book,I've gone back and forth on this question. On the one hand, if there is to be a Shia/Sunni civil war, there's not much we or anybody but the parties to it can do. But Nasr believes that the Iraqi Shiites are not interested in an Iranian-style theocracy.

If there is anyone in Iraq like our George Washington, it's probably Ayatollah al-Sistani. He follows traditional Shiism, which basically teaches a kind of separation of clergy and state, which is what I think the correct reading of the First Amendment should be. He supports a majority rule system, meaning a Shia dominated polity, but doesn't presume to tell the Shia what they should decide. He encourages voting and democracy and a guarantee that Shiites must be allowed religious freedom and not suppressed and persecuted by Sunnis as they have been in the past. It's a distinctly different approach than the Mullahocracy of Iran. Somehow, Iraqis need to learn from this man.

But there are a plethora of groups in Iraq who want to seize power and settle old scores with violence. They range from communists to fascists to theocrats. We must find a way to allow Iraqis to reach their own solution but not allow violence to get too far out of hand. How we do that without interfering too much is the question. We have to identify the basic values we will defend and stand for them, but we also have to allow this new government to learn its lessons, as difficult as they may be.

Right now, there is a lot of impatience with Maliki and the pace of training of Iraqi security forces. There's also frustration with the amount of corruption and deceit among governmental and police officials. Democrats want to drop everything and come home, now, but they can't be taken seriously. We may not want war, but war still may want us, because we're the last superpower, and just refusing to fight is asking for trouble.

I don't credit the argument that we had no postwar plan, because even now we don't know how things will develop. We did have plans and we've carried them out. If it weren't for the constant whining by the media and the left, we'd be seeing that we've done very well with it. Bush has understood from the beginning that this venture requires resolve and steadiness at the helm. He is definitely a real man by Kipling's measure.

Read this

Cliff May's take on what CNN's airing video of an insurget sniper shooting American troops says about modern "news" gathering. You can almost hear Dvorkin thinking, "You kill reporters. This is payback."

CNN has basically crossed the line from being liberal to being Anti-American. It's vying with Al Jazeera, not Fox News.

Journalism these days has taken an activist turn. It's not content to simply report any more. It has to expand our consciousness with pseudo-Marxist insights about how America is oppressing the Third World. No wonder business is hurting.

The sour mood

Michael Barone looks at our current uneasiness and notes that our good fortune in many area is the result of confronting tough problems and handling them. We don't like hearing about war every day.
We are weary, it seems, and ready to go back on holiday. Some things -- a nuclear attack on the United States, the successful release of a disease pathogen that could kill millions -- are just too horrifying to think about. But maybe we should think more about them. As Leon Trotsky is supposed to have said, "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you."
The terrorists are still out there killing innocent Iraqis and American soldiers. The violence is spiking as they try to influence our elections. The Taliban is trying to come back in Afghanistan. North Korea still has nukes. Iran is still trying to develop them.

The world is dangerous. It always will be until Satan is bound. We may be tired, irritated and frustrated, but we can't just turn our backs on things. It's tempting to say "Why us? Why can't the rest of the world take some responsibility?"

The answer is that we've tried that, and it usually ends up worse. The Democrats are eager to wreak vengeance on Bush and the Republicans, but we really need adults in charge all of the time. That's what that phrase "a time of war" means. I see nothing but irresponsibility in the media and on the left. There's plenty on the right, as well, but the most irresponsible thing to do right now is to think that we can punish the right by electing people who have no guiding principles.

This was on the local CBS station

The Boston Globe is reporting:
Despite repeated denials by the Mormon Church and Governor Mitt Romney's advisers, e-mails from a key Romney consultant state that the leader of the worldwide church was consulted on an effort to build Mormon support for the governor's potential presidential bid and that a key church leader has been involved in mapping out the plan. One e-mail also describes Romney's personal involvement in the planning.
Ah, the scary Mormons! The LDS church does not endorse candidates or campaign for them, but individuals are free. J. Reuben Clarke and Ezra Taft Benson, both apostles, served in government. There are 5 Mormon senators in Congress now, including Harry Reid and Orrin Hatch. The "key Romney consultant" is probably misstating the church's involvement. There are lots of wealthy LDS people who think that Romney would make a great president. There's nothing sinister in that. I suppose the Ted Kennedy gets a lot of support from Catholics, without being endorsed by the Church.

Utahns are used to critics charging that the LDS Church exerts excessive influence in local politics, but I find that nothing more than sour grapes. People vote according to their personal principles, which are often influenced by their religion. But Utahns are also Westerners and, like others in the intermountain areas, they tend to be conservative. But the Church doesn't tell them how to vote or which candidates to support. Every time there's a election a letter from the First Presidency goes out to every congregation stating that policy and reminding leaders that church property and meeting houses are not to be used by politicians or parties to promote themselves. The General Authorities of the church include Democrats and Republicans, but mostly they are interested in building the church, not partisan politics.

That won't stop this sort of innuendo and rumuor, but it reeks of an attempt to play on prejudice against Mormons to hurt Romney's chances. I support Romney because he's a capable executive who would make a good president. If I always supported Mormons, I'd feel obligated to back Harry Reid, whom I despise.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

What's the selling point for atheism?

Dinesh D'Souza critiques atheism. I've often thought about what life would be like if we were all atheists. I think it would be a lot like Iraq before we removed Saddam. Without faith, I see no reason for altruism, kindness and other virtues except as tools for manipulating other people. What is your responsibility to others who don't carry your genes? In Darwinian terms, we've probably evolved to believe in a higher reality, because death would be too frightening, societies wouldn't hold together, and there'd be no reason to live, love and strive. Once we realized that we're all rats in a maze, all the sweet memories and little victories would resolve into self-deception and delusions. I suspect that is why we have a problem with teenager suicides.

Getting to know our new overlords.

60 Minutes interviewed Nancy Pelosi tonight. She looks her 66 years, but not bad for that. She says she wants to restore civility to the House, but she defended her references to Bush as criminal, dishonest, incompetent, etc. as mere truth. Somebody needs to write "Hell To Pay II."


There's been a kerfuffle in the U.K. over Muslim women covering their heads and faces in the niqab, or veil. It started when Jack Straw commented that he felt that the niqab was a symptom of subservience of women in Muslim societies. A female schoolteacher was suspended for refusing to uncover her face because she was teaching English as a second language and the children needed to see her mouth. She argued that they could learn all they needed from her eyes, intonations and body language.

Today, the Washington Post gets into the act with two articles, How I came to love the veil by Yvonne Ridley who seems to have the worst case of Stockholm Syndrome ever, and Clothes Aren't the Issue by Asra Q. Nomani, who takes issue with the practice of wife-beating which is supported by a shura in the Koran, but which seems inconsistant with other verses in the same book.

All this reveals that Islam is, like most of Christianity and Judaism, largely a product of "scholars" rather than revelation. The original revelations in the Old and New Testaments and the Koran are the foundations of these religions, but in each case, what followed, a huge body of "interpretations" by learned men who were not prophets, but assumed that because they were trained in philosophy, they could make clear what was in the mind of the Almighty. How successful they have been is demonstrated by the multiplicity of the resulting traditions, sects, schisms, factions and splinter groups. You'd think that more people would wonder how God could be the author of such confusion. The idea that conflicting interpretations, denials, innovations and reinterpretations could all be true at once is illogical, but widely accepted. And yet people continue to argue about the truth, but hardly anybody seems to think to ask God himself. Perhaps because they can't even agree on what kind of being, or non-being, he is.

Update: The AP is reporting that this niqab issue is becoming so hot in Britain that it may cause riots. I would tell the Muslims that the country they live in allows freedom of speech and that if they can't accept that, they should move on. In Western tradition, masking one's face is usually a sign that you're about to commit robbery.
What is there to prevent anybody from donning a burqa, for example, and carrying a bomb into a public place, or a subway train? The insistence on this absolutism by Muslims will probably result in restricted immigration privileges for them, on the grounds that they're a big pain to have around.

In The Times We Trust?

(Via Michelle Malkin) Byron Calame, Public Editor at the NYTimes:
My July 2 column strongly supported The Times’s decision to publish its June 23 article on a once-secret banking-data surveillance program. After pondering for several months, I have decided I was off base. There were reasons to publish the controversial article, but they were slightly outweighed by two factors to which I gave too little emphasis. While it’s a close call now, as it was then, I don’t think the article should have been published.. . .

I haven’t found any evidence in the intervening months that the surveillance program was illegal under United States laws. Although data-protection authorities in Europe have complained that the formerly secret program violated their rules on privacy, there have been no Times reports of legal action being taken. [Emphasis mine]
Wouldn't it be nice if the Times had made these determinations BEFORE PUBLISHING INFORMATION ABOUT A SECRET COUNTERTERRORIST PROGRAM? Since when is it a newspaper's prerogative to determine the legality or illegality of such a program? I'm pretty confident that they had no information either that private citizens not involved in terrorism were wiretapped by the NSA under authorization by the President. It's as though they were more worried about the terrorists' right of privacy than about the safety of their fellow citizens. When the President decides to classify or declassify information, he's accountable for his actions. When a newspaper decides to publish classified information, who's accountable?

Printing a retraction or a "mea culpa" won't put the toothpaste back in the tube.

I think that these people have never really accepted the fact that we are at war, that bin Laden declared war on us, that Saddam was at war with us, regularly firing missiles at our planes patroling the No-Fly Zones. It's the Chomsky-think problem. They think we deserved to have the WTC and the Pentagon attacked and their occupants and four plane-loads of travelers murdered. "We brought it on ourselves!"

Yet they want us to pay for their services. They think they're bigger than the government. They expect immunity for acts that would send anybody else to prison. Are they now going to accept responsibility for national security? Or, at least, the inability of the government to keep its secrets secret? Printing their regrets will not unwind the effects of their blabbing.