Saturday, December 23, 2006

What's so wrong about staying the course?

The top generals in Iraq tell Gates to bring in more troops. This is the "do-something" impulse in full cry.

Could it really be that simple? Or are we already doing the right thing and need to stop obsessing over it and be patient? I'm not sure that more troops will do more than create more casualties. It's pointless to rebuild the nation when terrorists can undo our work with a few car bombs and even cheaper sabotage. Unless we sent in enough troops to guard the borders and occupy every neighborhood, I don't know how we can stop the violence, but even if we could, how would that produce a democratic regime? It would probably just turn more of the population against us. One of the problems that we need to address is the fact that many of the Shiites feel humiliated that America did so easily what they could not. This is their country and their government, and we keep treating them like weaklings and children, there in the Cradle of Civilization, the Fertile Crescent.

This mess is more due to the carping and complaining by angry Democrats and media elites than anything we were doing wrong. This war has never been the fiasco they want it to be, but who knows how to deal with such a monotonous, relentless drone of depressing, dismal defeatism?

Another dark horse?

Robert Novak is reporting that Barack Obama "is unequivocally committed to making the race" for president in 2008. What do we really know about him? Hopefully more than we knew about Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

Honesty, anyone?

Rich Miller:
What is it about the Internet that makes some political pundits, columnists and reporters so goofy? It seems like almost every time I read a mainstream media story about political Web sites and bloggers, the pieces are full of ill-informed junk.
Well, I'd say it's all about markets. These people have made their livings competing in a market composed of others like themselves. The internet, however, is a much broader, more diverse market of ordinary people with the curiosity and intelligence to use the internet. It's a threat, therefore, to their livelihoods, and it doesn't take its cues from them, necessarily. It's impertinent, and asks difficult and embarrassing questions, and points out issues that they aren't even aware of, such as how to spot when a claimed 1972 memo must have been produced using Microsoft Word.

Friday, December 22, 2006

He probably wouldn't vote for a Mormon either.

Demagpguery is alive and well in Virginia. I don't know anything about Keith Ellison except his religion and his party, neither of which makes me inclined to like him, but the oath of office doesn't require any book or reference to God. So what difference does it make if he wants to put his hand on the Koran or the telephone directory? (Mormons don't place their hands on the Book of Mormon for oaths, btw. We believe in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.")

Scott Johnson makes a more coherent argument for whether a follower of Louis Farrakhan can be trusted to put the Constitution ahead of, say, sharia law. It should also be noted that while Mr. Ellison is the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, there have been others of Middle Eastern abstraction, which Mr. Ellison is not, in politics here for years.

Oh, I hope so!

Jimmy Carter may be losing his influence with the intellectuals of the left.

Will Hinton reports on the latest attack on Jimmy Carter by an academic, this time by Emory University anthropology professor Melvin Konner.

Jimmy in his dotage seems to be getting in touch with his inner redneck.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Y is Back!

No, not the YMCA. BYU is known as "The Y" to people in the intermountain west.

After Coach Lavell Edwards retired, the university first made a terrible gaffe by not offering the job to Norm Chow, the offensive genius who went on to USC and then to the Tennessee Titans. They then hired Gary Crowton and the program took a dive. I don't know how much of the problems were his fault, but when several of the players were accused of raping a teenage girl at a party, he had to go. The players weren't convicted, but the fact that they were at a party where alcohol was served and apparently sex was engaged in was so NOT in keeping with BYU standards, that it was apparent that something needed to change.

The new Coach was Bronco Mendenhall, who has in his third season won the conference championship and had a 9-2 season and tonight blew Oregon out at the Las Vegas Bowl.
BYU is special because of its standards, and its teams are expected to live up to them. His theme was to return to BYU's traditions. And he's been effective. BYU is before tonight at No. 19 in the national polls, which would probably be higher if they played in a bigger TV market.

I'm a great admirer of Lavell Edwards, whose coaching face is reflected on two of his assistants who went on to become head coaches, Mike Holmgren and Andy Reid. He watched from the sidelines without a change of expression, usually with his arms folded. He made BYU a football power, even though it could not match the recruiting power of the "big name" teams, by taking talented players and making them better. Coach Mendenhall shows signs of being a fitting standard bearer. No matter the record, BYU has its own approach to football, and any other won't work.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Shut the hell up!

Today we have David Ignatius and Rich Lowry (!) and others criticizing the President's insistence on victory in Iraq. I'm not aware that any of them has any special expertise in fighting insurgencies, Iraq, or Muslim nations in general, let alone how to fight a war.

You can't criticize this on the ground of high casualties. They're lower than any war in history. Half the "experts" are calling for more troops. Half are calling for draw-downs. Until very recently, nobody even mentioned the fact that there's such a difference between Sunnis and Shiites. The fact is that we have overthrown an oppressive Sunni regime, albeit a secular one, and given millions of Shiites hope for controlling their own lives and practicing their religion.

The only real failure here is one of patience. It took us far longer than this to pacify and re-establish civil governments in Germany and Japan, but in the 21st Century, that's not good enough. We have to go in, overthrow the evil regime, establish a working Democracy and be home before the next election. Sectarian violence? Nobody told us there'd be sectarian violence! Iiiaaggh!

This is a prelude to what we're in for for the next 50 to 100 years. Terrorists have shown that we are not immune anymore from the kind of atrocities that regularly occur in the Middle East. That won't change, unless we are willing to spend more to keep foreigners out of our homeland, which nobody seems to seriously want.

We can't seem to stand violence except in our entertainment. Even a violence between sects of Islam which have been fighting for a thousand years unnerves us. Are we responsible for their inability to work out their differences? We seem to think so.

The one thing that's essential to defeating terrorism is that we impress them that we are not to be messed with. Instead they have found that our media are the perfect allies. We suffer from a lack of confidence so far out of proportion to our actual power, that it's laughable.

How about this? All of us know-it-alls need to shut up, and let the president do his job without having to deal with a second front at home. We used to understand that you can't fight a war when your leaders are being villified in the press and sniped at by Congress. We should support a long-term strategy of strength and resolve, like we had during the Cold War, as expressed by John F. Kennedy:
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge—and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do—for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.
To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom—and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.
Read the whole thing. Yet by the time we had accomplished his challenge of sending men to the moon, his own party was repudiating his pledge, his own successor having seriously bungled the real test of it.

I for one, support the President, and the efforts we've made in Iraq and I don't wish to see it all squandered because our media elites don't have the stomach for a fight.
We elected him, but we've allowed ourselves to be convinced that this enemy, so weak they don't dare stand up and fight us face to face are just too scary to oppose.

I am beginning to seriously doubt whether we civilians are worthy of our magnificent military and their warrior spirit. Maybe we'll have to suffer many more and greater shocks like 9/11 before we get the message, and even then, I suspect that we'll have to decide whether to listen to the Wormtongues in our media any longer. There don't appear to be any Churchills in the wings to step in when the defeatist party has failed, and pick up the fight.

I keep hearing whiners complain that this isn't a real war because we haven't had to make personal sacrifices. OK. Starting tomorrow, we ration energy to eliminate all imported oil and gas. I expect to see Jon Stewart out there leading bond drives. Will it make them happy if we reinstate the draft? Fine. If that's what it take to make us understand the stakes, I'm for it. But I don't believe for a minute that we have the guts.

Clinton Corrupts Everybody

As the Sandy Berger documents theft illustrates. At least Republicans have better looking people involved in their scandals.

Oh, no!

I wanted the piece to end with "You'll shoot your eye out!" But what they'll really argue is that this will be destabilizing.

What's more destabilizing is the recognition that our nuclear arsenal is not a serious threat:
That terrifying capability was designed to contain Soviet adversaries. But as the Cold War recedes into memory, U.S. strategists worry that our nuclear threat is no longer credible — that we are too muscle-bound for our own good. Are we really prepared to wipe out Tehran in retribution for a single terrorist attack? Kill millions of Chinese for invading Taiwan? The answer is no.
I thought of this just after 9/11. I'm glad someone else has too.

But no matter how many times we kill a guilty person, the emphasis in the press will be on the "innocent" victims. Terrorism is like a cancer. If you don't attack it, it'll get you, but there's also a risk that the treatment will too.

The only technology I can think of that would work to stop terrorism would be a device for mind reading. I don't see that happening. The only real chance we have is conversion, something America seems to have been singularly bad at. Someone suggested, as a joke, that we drop millions of Arabic translations of the Book of Mormon. But if we're living in the last days, I doubt that even that would save us.

Mark Steyn makes a pretty good case that we'll never achieve the great things science predicts because we'll just run out of people who care to make any of them happen.

No face, no boarding pass.

At least we should hope the Brits have learned not to take multiculturalism more seriously than public safety.

He's got a gig at the WSJ

Joseph Rago is either a pompous ass or a naive innocent set up by James Taranto. His screed against blogs seems more like a parody of the typical MSM pundit than a serious essay.

He ends with this gem:
Certainly the MSM, such as it is, collapsed itself. It was once utterly dominant yet made itself vulnerable by playing on its reputed accuracy and disinterest to pursue adversarial agendas. Still, as far from perfect as that system was, it was and is not wholly imperfect. The technology of ink on paper is highly advanced, and has over centuries accumulated a major institutional culture that screens editorially for originality, expertise and seriousness.

Of course, once a technosocial force like the blog is loosed on the world, it does not go away because some find it undesirable. So grieving over the lost establishment is pointless, and kind of sad. But democracy does not work well, so to speak, without checks and balances. And in acceding so easily to the imperatives of the Internet, we've allowed decay to pass for progress.
He seems not to have noticed the huge amount of decay in print these days. He doesn't seem to have read Michael Barone's blog, or Glenn Reynolds', or Ann Althouse's, or James Lileks or any of hundreds of others with just as excellent credentials as his own, and are more interesting, to boot. Only one of them I'd have ever heard of without the internet.

A more balanced, but still negative, piece is this one by Mayrav Saar about the attraction of speaking one's piece to the world.

Sounds like an Urban Myth

But, apparently nobody really watches what you put throught the X-Ray machines at the airport. Interesting that nobody had thought of this possibility. Everytime you think you've got it foolproof, a bigger fool comes along.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Romney Rising

The First Mormon President? Well, it worked for JFK. We have had a Mormon Supreme Court Justice; Mormon governors, including George Romney of Michigan; a Mormon Senate Minority Leader, soon to be Majority Leader; many Mormon Senators, and not just from Utah; Mormon cabinet members; Mormons in professional Football and ; outstanding Mormons in Baseball (Harmon Killebrew, Dale Murphy, Vernon and Vance Law, and others); Cabinet members; Public Servants, and so on. Randy Bachman is a Mormon, as is Gladys Knight.

Mormons are respected in just about every field of endeavor in the country. So what's not to vote for? The Church doesn't tell its members how to vote. It teaches moral principles, and lets people govern themselves.

So the rest of the questions about Mitt Romney should be about him personally, his experience, abilities, stengths and weaknesses. His character is is own. I'd hate to think all Baptists would be judged by Bill Clinton. I doubt that I agree with Romney on everything, but his ability as an executive, in business, in politics and in heading the Winter Olympics, are impressive.

What Mormon's believe is hardly very controversial.

Memorizing what you don't understand

A lot of Muslims memorize the Koran, but at least one scholar claims that too many of them fail to view it as a whole. As I understand it, Islam claims that all Muslims are equal and there is no priesthood. But that isn't true. The clerics who study at the many Islamic schools of law, and the imams who deliver the weekly sermons, have assumed the power that would otherwise belong to authorized officers of the church. Religions are often founded on revelation, but they apostatize when "scholars" without any real authority assume the right to interpret scripture for everyone else. That's why it's important that people who deny current revelation not be allowed to usurp its function.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Trinity Times Two

The No. 10 Top Politically inCorrect Words of 2006 is "'Our Mother and Father Who are in Heaven' – From a new, ‘inclusive’ Bible translation (The Bible in a More Just Language) that replaces what it believes to be “divisive” teachings of Christianity."

Apparently the idea is that God is both male and female. So the Holy Trinity is actually 6 persons in one being. Mormons are often accused of not being Christians because we believe that God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost are separate persons. We also believe that God has a resurrected body, as does Jesus Christ, but that the Holy Ghost is a spirit. We learn through modern revelation, that "There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes;" That was written in 1843, well before science accepted that matter and energy are interchangeable or posited dark matter.

A New Agricultural Program

Make corn and soybeans illegal, and their value as a cash crop will soar. Of course, they'll have to produce GM versions that cause hallucinations.