Friday, December 30, 2005

Attacked By A Pack Of Angry Chihuahuas

There's no way to look good after this:
FREMONT, California - A pack of angry Chihuahuas attacked a police officer who was escorting a teenager home following a traffic stop, authorities said. The officer suffered minor injuries including bites to his ankle on Thursday when the five Chihuahuas escaped the 17-year-old boy's home and rushed the officer in the doorway, said Fremont detective Bill Veteran.
Fortunately the officer was treated and released - but how do you explain how you were attacked by a pack of rampaging... Chihuahuas?

The Friday Furo Questus

Questus Furore - I Resolve...
Here we are, at the turning of another year.

And of course, the inevitable resolutions. Along with the usual ones to lose weight and eat healthier, I have some spiritual goals I hope to accomplish, I plan to date more, to read more, and to get going on that train layout I've been itching to get going. While some are more possible than others (although I did have two dates in a single month this month - wonders never cease), they're goals worth shooting for.

It also offers a time for some introspection and retrospection, a time to look at ourselves and where we have been. While I'm not satisfied with where I am (hence the aforementioned resolutions), there's time to improve, and in all, it's been a good year. I've been able to travel a little, making it to Chicago, Boston, and Boise; my dating situation is a little better than it was at this time last year; and thank's to Jamo's urgings, I started blogging.

One of the results of Jamo's urgings is this blog, the Wasatch Front.

What will the New Year bring? Who knows? Good and evil, heroics and cowardice, war and peace will all come. If we're lucky, 2006 will be a relatively quiet year, but I can't help but wonder if we live in the "interesting times" threatened by that old Chinese curse. Some interesting things will happen - Jamo will be getting hitched, the Unknowable and Nate each will be bringing a new life into the world, Maine Man will still be Down East, and The Niem, Matt and I - well, we'll be here too.

Whatever happens, we'll be here, putting in our two cents.

Recommended Reading
A lot of year-end stuff at National Review; a couple I would recommend are the review of the best and worst of '05, and this symposium of predictions for 2006.

Victor Davis Hanson has another great essay, too.

Patrolling the Front
...will be back in 2006.

Thought of the Week
"Where in the heck did 2005 go?"

Just kidding. Here we go:
"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man."
Benjamin Franklin

Churchill Quote of the Week
"Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb."
Sir Winston Churchill

A good thought to keep in mind as we make our New Year's resolutions.

Happy New Year, everybody. See you in '06.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Recognizing Complexity

All right - in the next little while, get comfortable, give yourself a good 15-20 minutes, and read this essay by Michael Crichton. Yes, Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park.

Need the link again? Go here.

I'm going to hold off comment for now - I'm still digesting it myself. But it is well worth your time. As science becomes more and more politicized, this sort of approach becomes more important.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Where Are The Medals?

From USA Today:
American troops have been fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than four years, but just one soldier from those wars has received the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor for bravery.

The lack of such medals - by comparison, two were awarded for fighting in Somalia - reflects today's unconventional warfare and the superior weaponry of U.S. forces, military experts say. It's not that today's troops lack valor, but they lack opportunities to display it in the extraordinary way that would merit the Medal of Honor.
Here's a question for you: Do any of you know who won the Medal of Honor in Iraq?


Anyone? There's only one name to remember...Anyone?

Didn't think so. You haven't heard his name much:
The most recent act to merit the Medal of Honor came on April 4, 2003. On that day, Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith, his position near the Baghdad airport nearly overrun, hastily organized a defense.

Under fire, Smith climbed onto a damaged armored vehicle and attacked the enemy with a .50-caliber machine gun. He killed as many as 50 enemy soldiers and helped save the lives of 100 Americans.
Sgt. Smith was killed at his gun that day. You can learn more about Sgt. Smith at the St. Petersburg Times, or at the Army's official site.

Of course, no one remebers the names of the two killed in Somalia, either:
Master Sgt. Gary Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Randall Shughart received the award posthumously. They protected critically wounded comrades whose helicopter had crashed in hostile territory in Mogadishu, Somalia, on Oct. 3, 1993. Their heroism was depicted in the movie Black Hawk Down.
If you remember the movie - they were the two snipers who were in the fire support helicopter. When the second Black Hawk crashed, they went to its aid - two men, alone, with only a limited supply of ammunition. I don't know why we don't hear their names more often.

And there are acts of heroism recognized: In addition to Smith's Medal of Honor, the second top honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, has been awarded twice to soldiers fighting in Iraq. Next is the Silver Star; 174 have been issued, according to the Army. In Afghanistan, there has been one Distinguished Service Cross and 37 Silver Stars. The Navy has awarded three Navy Crosses and 30 Silver Stars since Sept. 11, 2001.

Sargent York and Audie Murphy were household names; our current heroes are lucky to get two minutes on their hometown newscast. Such is the homefront in this strange war in which we find ourselves.

[Crossposted to
The Pacific Slope.]

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Vatican Considers Consigning Limbo to Oblivion - New York Times

This month, 30 top theologians from around the world met at the Vatican to discuss, among other quandaries, the problem of what happens to babies who die without baptism. They do not like the word for it, but what they were really doing, as theological advisers to Pope Benedict XVI, was finally disposing of limbo - a concept that was never official church doctrine but has been an enduring medieval theory of a blissful state among the departed, somehow different from both heaven and hell.

Some other interesting points brought up in the article:
  • It is hard to imagine depriving innocents of heaven.

  • If fetuses are human beings, what happens to their souls if they are aborted?

  • "Limbo has never been a definitive truth of the faith," Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, elected Benedict earlier this year, said in an interview in 1984, during his long term as Pope John Paul II's doctrinal watchdog. "Personally, I would let it drop, since it has always been only a theological hypothesis."

  • Excerpted from Vatican Considers Consigning Limbo to Oblivion - Ian Fisher, NY Times

    Friday, December 23, 2005

    The Friday Furo Questus

    Merry Christmas!

    Questus Christmas
    It's a most wonderful time of the year; hearts soften, eyes brighten, and joy abounds. Family and friends gather as best they can.

    When one wishes another a "Merry Christmas," he is wishing that person well. He is hoping the best for that person - that joy and peace will go with him in the coming year.

    And so it is with me. May you know peace and joy this Christmas, and all throughout the coming year.

    Merry Christmas, every one.

    For anyone who has even a passing interest in the doings and affairs of the LDS Church, today is an important day. Today is the
    200th anniversary of the birth of Joseph Smith.

    To commemorate this day, and as a way of remembering and honoring Jospeh Smith, leaders of the LDS Church will be participating in a number of activities throughout the day, capping it off with a
    special broadcast this evening. Details of where and how to view it are available by following that link.

    Recommended Reading
    James Robbins,
    "Christmas 1864."

    Joseph Skelly,
    "From the Delaware to the Tigris."

    Doug Gamble,
    "The Christmas Songs."

    "Track Santa" website.

    Thought of the Week
    Book of Luke, Chapter 2:
    1 AND it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

    2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

    3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

    4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

    5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

    6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

    7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

    8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

    9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

    10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

    11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

    12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

    13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

    14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

    Thursday, December 22, 2005

    Wandering The Web

    Brace for impact: linkfest inbound!

    The Iraq War: a war without heroes. And not because there aren't any.

    Victor Davis Hanson has a new piece today, "Why Not Support Democracy?"

    John at Argghhh!!! found this news interesting: Syria has signed a pledge to store Iranian nukes. Or, as John put it:
    That headline should read: London - Syria has signed a pledge to be targets number one through "no stone left standing upon the other" in both the US and Israeli Air Tasking Orders by agreeing to store Iranian nuclear weapons and missiles.
    Is that really a good idea, Mr. Assad? Anger us enough, and we might be willing to try regime change again...

    How quickly we forget: the murderer of Robert Stethem ).S. Navy diver, executed during the hijacking of TWA in 198) was released by German authorities yesterday. He was supposed to be serving a life sentence. More at Bloodspite.

    John Derbyshire at The Corner refers us to this piece by The War Nerd, "The Japanese Red Army." It's one of those things where you feel you shouldn't be enjoying it - it feels wrong - but you eagerly read on anyway. Such as:
    The man who tried to rouse Japan's military spirit was a writer named Yukio Mishima. A freak, no denying that, but at least he was anti-peace, pro-war-he had "moral clarity," as they say. Not your typical militarist, though-Mishima was an "avant-garde" novelist. Haven't read his books, but I'd imagine "avant-garde" means his books make no sense even in translation. He was also a flaming mariposa, gay as a Spartan bath attendant. Worked out non-stop, got very buffed (for a Japanese) and was always posing with his shirt off, trying to look Imperial, with that rising-sun flag wrapped around him, or wearing a samurai sword and headband-only he's always got that "Hi there, Sailor" expression which pretty much ruins the effect.
    The rest of it is worth reading, too.

    And the good guys at Argghhh!!! have been keeping busy, too. There's something for everyone: airplanes, some humor, remembering the Battle of the Bulge (today, Bastogne), a bit of comparative history, and remembering today's war, too. Drop by - it's always worth a visit.

    Cross-posted to The Pacific Slope.

    Tuesday, December 20, 2005

    Latter-Day Politics

    Kathryn Jean Lopez has an interesting interview with Michael Cromartie, director of the Evangelical Studies Project at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

    The interview can be found here.

    To sum up - Mitt Romney's LDS faith could and probably will be a negative influence in a Presidential run - but an influence that could be overcome.

    A couple of Cromartie's thoughts: Romney will need to be up front and discuss his faith and what it means to him; evangelicals have issues with Mormon beliefs; the "Mormon factor" will play a more negative role in the national, general election; either he or his campaign will need to state what the LDS religion believes about the relationship between church and state.

    Makes for an interesting read, anyway.

    There's some good blog-fodder in there, as well. Stay tuned for a post on LDS attitudes towards church & state, probably after Christmas.

    As for the "Mormon Factor," well, only time shall tell.

    The New Soviet Man...Or Ape...Or Man-Ape?

    Truth is stranger than fiction.

    As reported in the Scotsman, Stalin literally tried to create The New Soviet Man:
    THE Soviet dictator Josef Stalin ordered the creation of Planet of the Apes-style warriors by crossing humans with apes, according to recently uncovered secret documents.

    Moscow archives show that in the mid-1920s Russia's top animal breeding scientist, Ilya Ivanov, was ordered to turn his skills from horse and animal work to the quest for a super-warrior.

    According to Moscow newspapers, Stalin told the scientist: "I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat."
    As you may have noticed, due to the lack of any Communist monkey overlords, that this project failed. But failure carried a high price in the Soviet Union:
    Mr Ivanov was now in disgrace. His were not the only experiments going wrong: the plan to collectivise farms ended in the 1932 famine in which at least four million died.

    For his expensive failure, he was sentenced to five years' jail, which was later commuted to five years' exile in the Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan in 1931. A year later he died, reportedly after falling sick while standing on a freezing railway platform.
    History is silent as to whether his illness was due to acute lead poisoning, a common illness in Stalinist Russia.

    The time has come to read Conquest, I think.

    Friday, December 16, 2005

    The Friday Furo Questus

    So how about some more Romney news?

    Just kidding. I think three posts in two days is sufficient.

    Questus Furore - No Peace At Christmas
    Unfortunately, Iranian President Ahmadinejad has not been filled with Christmas, Hanukkah, or even Ramadan spirit.

    Last week, he said that Israel should be moved to Europe. This week, he questioned whether the Holocaust even happened. (Let me help you with that one, sir - get your sorry a** on a plane, fly to Poland. Ask the Poles to take you to Auschwitz. That should help. Of course, you would have to actually do something...) Mark Steyn has more on this madman, and Cox and Forkum sum it up nicely here.

    And this guy wants nukes.

    As you might imagine, the Israelis are more than a little twitchy about this, and are trying to figure a way to perform a repeat of their Osirak raid. But the odds are against them - the Iranians have learned from the Iraqi experience, and dispersed their nuclear facilities across the country. But the Israelis are masters of the creative application of combat power.

    More importantly, the Israelis feel alone. The U.S. and Europe are doing little, at least in the public eye, to dissuade Iran from its nuclear ambitions. As Saul Singer wrote in National Review Online last Monday, Israel will act in its own defense - but it would prefer that the international community would step in and solve it peacably.

    America has a stake in this as well: keeping nukes out of terrorist hands, keeping nukes out of the hands of rogue nations, protecting what he have so far achieved in Iraq, and keeping American soldiers safe. A military action by Israel will prompt a war; it is illogical to believe Iran would not retaliate in some form. And Iraq and the Americans in it will be caught in the middle.

    A full-court press by the US and Europe is needed, and now. It would be ideal to solve this diplomatically, but all sides should be aware that all options are on the table, including military.

    Recommended Reading
    VDH: "Lancing the Boil."

    Joshua E. London: "America's Earliest Terrorists."

    Jay Nordlinger: "Impromptus."

    Jack Dunphy: "The Moral Chasm."

    Patrolling The Front
    We have launched a new feature, RomneyWatch. It will be a permanent link, and currently is listed under "House Recommendations" on the link list to the right.

    Jamo has been talking about gold on The Jamoblog, and I've been talking volcanoes and other esoterica at The Pacific Slope.

    We are also psyched to go see U2 live in concert at the Delta Center tomorrow night. Just so you know.

    Otherwise, nothing to see here. Move along.

    Thought of the Week
    "But complacency is dangerous in the shadowy war now being waged against us. It is a war this country has prosecuted with an energy and reach that has surprised those, friend and foe alike, who thought America would do little more than initiate criminal proceedings again, and wait for the next blow."
    Paul Greenberg

    Churchill Quote of the Week
    "One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half."
    Sir Winston Churchill

    Thursday, December 15, 2005

    RomneyWatch '08 Is Up And Running

    All right, I went and did it anyway.

    RomneyWatch '08, the Wasatch Front's Governor Romney archive page, is up. It can be found under "House Recommendations" on the links menu to the right.

    It needs graphics, though...

    Romney: "The Future Is Open"

    Governor Romney made it official yesterday evening - he will not be seeking a second gubanatorial term. Whie he did not announce a presidential run, general speculation is that he eventually will. From
    Romney, ending months of speculation about his political future, said he will serve out his four-year term, which ends in January 2007. Although he has spent a year positioning himself as a presidential candidate and acknowledged he was testing the presidential waters, the governor yesterday insisted his decision had nothing to do with his national ambitions.

    ''I'm not going to close any options at this point . . . other things may develop in the future," Romney, 58, told a packed State House press conference broadcast live by Boston television stations. ''I don't know what will happen. The future is open."

    ''With regards to what happens down the road, we'll let the future take care of itself," Romney said.
    Yeah, a lot can happen in 2 1/2 - 3 years - but I'm not willing to bet this is the last we hear from you, Governor. At least I hope not.

    Here's some news items of interest (Thanks to
    The Corner): Text of Gov. Romney's remarks "Now The Big Question Of His Viability Arises"
    National Review: "Can Romney Win California?"

    Wednesday, December 14, 2005

    Romney In '08 - Is It Official?

    Breaking news, found thanks to The Corner: Mitt Romney is to announce today that he will not seek another term as Massachucetts governor in 2006.

    Why? Well, it's not official yet, but there's one obvious reason: Mitt Romney intends to become the 2008 Republican candidate for President of the United States. Mr. Romney has been testing the waters as of late, making appearances in New Hampshire and Iowa, key states for a primary win.


    Governor Mitt Romney will announce at 6 p.m. that he will not seek re-election to a second term, setting the stage for an expected campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, a senior aide to the governor said today.

    The aide told the Boston Globe that Romney will announce that he will fill out his term, which ends in January, 2007. The move is widely seen as another step in his plans to launch a presidential campaign. His announcement today is expected to be televised live from the State House.

    The 58-year-old businessman, son of former Michigan Gov. George Romney, has spent less than three years in elective office, but in that time the state has closed a $3 billion budget deficit without raising taxes, schools have scored first in national math and science tests and Romney held out until the Legislature gave him a tough new drunken driving law he demanded.

    Romney began calling supporters and other political figures this afternoon to let them know of his decision. In between calls, he was putting the "final touches" on his announcement speech, which his wife, Ann, planned to attend, the source said.

    Religion has the potential to play a big role in this race. Whether Mr. Romney will run as a Mormon candidate or a candidate who happens to be Mormon remains to be seen, although I suspect the latter will be what we see. He did not lean on his faith in his Massachucetts races, but he did not back down from his beliefs either. I suspect that if religion comes up, it will be brought up by an outside party, not a rival candidate. Bashing another's religion could (and should) be a quick route to political Siberia.

    But there are some - some - who find an LDS candidate to be a heinous crime against God, man, and life. There are some evangelical groups and some Baptist groups who really don't like Mormons - as this from implies:
    There has also been an undercurrent of concern among Christian conservatives, particularly in the vital South, rooted in his Mormon faith. One political operative in South Carolina branded the religion a ``cult.''
    (One political observer in Utah branded that political operative in South Carolina a "moron.")

    And there are others who will find a man of any faith to be repugnant - just look at some of the stranger criticisms of George Bush. The mere fact that Romney has faith in anything will draw some weird and rabid criticism. 2008 could bring a contentious election where God becomes a major issue.

    The current political climate is polarized and rarefied, and I am of the belief that the 2008 election will make 2004 look like a roll in the hay, regardless of the candidate, unless the Republicans just surrender outright. As the number of national Democrats in which I have any faith can be counted on one hand (and none of those have a shot at the Democratic candidacy), I hope that the Republicans play for keeps in 2008. I also hope I'm wrong about the religion issue - but I'm not holding my breath.

    As for Mitt Romney - I'm optimistic but reserved. While I think having an LDS candidate would be good for my faith, dispelling some myths and inviting the world to take a fresh look at what it really is to be a Mormon, that is not a reason to vote for him or support him.

    I want to hear his ideas. Romney impressed me enough during the 2002 Olympics that I have confidence in his character and some confidence in his executive abilities. He appears to have done good in Massachucetts, but I am troubled that he will have only served one term - that's a good test track for a politician, but I'd like to see how he does down the stretch.

    On the other hand - being an outsider may be an asset. He's not a "business as usual" kind of politician, which definitely works to his favor. There's a lot of people who are simply fed up with politics as usual.

    What ideas will he bring to the table? What are his views on winning the War on Terror, dealing with Iran and Iraq, and dealing with North Korea and China? What about size of government, debt, and tax policy? Along with other things, such as judges and abortion? And who will he surround himself with to advise him?

    So I'm not volunteering for "Romney in '08" yet. But he has plenty of time to make me a believer.

    P.S.: I need to know - would anyone be interested in a "Romney Watch" feature if I started one? Let me know in the comments.

    P.P.S.: The Corner has been following this since the story broke. Start here and scroll up. John J. Miller writes:
    When I wrote my [National Review] story on Romney earlier this year, I cited a poll in which 4 percent of Americans said they'd never vote for a Catholic for president, 6 percent said they'd never vote for a Jew -- and 17 percent said they'd never vote for a Mormon.
    That June 2005 article has now been posted on National Review Online here.

    You might also find Terry Eastland's Weekly Standard article from June 2005 interesting as well. You can find that here.

    Be It So Resolved...

    From the Idaho statehouse:



    Among the provisions:
    Be It Resolved by the Legislature of the State of Idaho:

    WHEREAS, the State of Idaho recognizes the vision, talent and creativity of Jared and Jerusha Hess in the writing and production of "Napoleon Dynamite"; and

    WHEREAS, the scenic and beautiful City of Preston, County of Franklin and the State of Idaho are experiencing increased tourism and economic growth; and

    WHEREAS, filmmaker Jared Hess is a native Idahoan who was educated in the Idaho public school system; and

    WHEREAS, the Preston High School administration and staff, particularly the cafeteria staff, have enjoyed notoriety and worldwide attention; and

    WHEREAS, tater tots figure prominently in this film thus promoting Idaho's most famous export; and

    WHEREAS, the friendship between Napoleon and Pedro has furthered multiethnic relationships; and

    WHEREAS, Uncle Rico's football skills are a testament to Idaho athletics; and

    WHEREAS, Napoleon's bicycle and Kip's skateboard promote better air quality and carpooling as alternatives to fuel-dependent methods of transportayion; and

    WHEREAS, Grandma's trip to the St. Anthony Sand Dunes highlights a long-honored Idaho vacation destination; and

    WHEREAS, Rico and Kip's Tupperware sales and Deb's keychains and glamour shots promote entrepreneurism and self-sufficiency in Idaho's small towns; and

    WHEREAS, Napoleon's artistic rendition of Trisha is an example of the importance of the visual arts in K-12 education; and

    WHEREAS, the schoolwide Preston High School student body elections foster an awareness in Idaho's youth of public service and civic duty; and

    WHEREAS, the "Happy Hands" club and the requirement that candidates for school president present a skit is an example of the importance of theater arts in K-12 education; and

    WHEREAS, Pedro's efforts to bake a cake for Summer illustrate the positive connection between culinary skills to lifelong relationships; and

    WHEREAS, Kip's relationship with LaFawnduh is a tribute to e-commerce and Idaho's technology-driven industry; and

    WHEREAS, Kip and LaFawnduh's wedding shows Idaho's commitment to healthy marriages; and

    WHEREAS, the prevalence of cooked steak as a primary food group pays tribute to Idaho's beef industry; and

    WHEREAS, Napoleon's tetherball dexterity emphasizes the importance of physical education in Idaho public schools; and

    WHEREAS, Tina the llama, the chickens with large talons, the 4-H milk cows, and the Honeymoon Stallion showcase Idaho's animal husbandry; and

    WHEREAS, any members of the House of Representatives or the Senate of the Legislature of the State of Idaho who choose to vote "Nay" on this concurrent resolution are "FREAKIN' IDIOTS!" and run the risk of having the "Worst Day of Their Lives!"

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the members of the First Regular Session of the Fifty-eighth Idaho Legislature, the House of Representatives and the Senate concurring therein, that we commend Jared and Jerusha Hess and the City of Preston for showcasing the positive aspects of Idaho's youth, rural culture, education system, athletics, economic prosperity and diversity.

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we, the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate of the State of Idaho, advocate always following your heart, and thus we eagerly await the next cinematic undertaking of Idaho's Hess family.

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives be, and she is hereby authorized and directed to forward a copy of this resolution to Jared and Jerusha Hess, the Mayor of the City of Preston and the Principal of Preston High School.

    This sort of thing usually annoys me, but this bill appears to have been written by someone who has seen the movie and has a sense of humor.

    Plus, how often does the phrase "FREAKIN' IDIOTS!" make it into law? That's a precedent worth following.

    Sunday, December 11, 2005

    Scenic Byways

    I just returned from a trip to Flagstaff, AZ for a job interview. The trip itself was great. The southern Utah landscape is truly remarkable! Northern Arizona is beautiful as well. And if you've never been to Sedona, AZ then I highly suggest you go. Breathtaking. And yes, there is a possibility that I'll be heading down there permanently. We hope to know before Christmas.

    Friday, December 09, 2005

    The Friday Furo Questus

    Questus Furore - Dishonoring The Fallen

    Photo by Ryan Galbraith/The Salt Lake Tribune.

    Well, atheists are back in the news. (Or as Best of the Web put it recently, "atheist jerks.")

    It seems that a
    Texas-based atheist group has sued the Utah Highway Patrol over thirteen memorial crosses, placed in memory of state troopers killed in the line of duty.

    As the
    Salt Lake Tribune article explains, these crosses are placed as close to the spot where the officer died as they can be, so that the general public can remember them.

    However, the atheist group has a problem with them. Their complaint states that they hold that the crosses' first purpose is not remberance, but religion, and that violates the Constitutional prohibition of state-established religions. Their suit also contends that the crosses represent an affront which is almost painful for them to bear.
    A lawsuit filed by the American Atheists in U.S. District Court on Thursday seeks to remove steel crosses that dot roadways throughout Utah and memorialize Utah Highway Patrol troopers who have died in the line of duty.

    ...Plaintiffs Stephen Clark, Michael Rivers and Richard Andrews in conjunction with the American Atheists Inc. also seek to have the UHP symbol removed from the crosses.

    "The presence of the UHP logo on a poignant religious symbol is an unconstitutional violation of the United States Constitution. It is government endorsement of religion," said Rivers, Utah director for American Atheists.
    It's a pretty tame endorsement, if you ask me. I guess the crosses in Arlington are government endorsements of Christianity as well.

    As a local radio host put it, "For a bunch of people who don't believe in God, they sure worry about what others think of God."

    But it gets worse.
    Reading the complaint, it gets real interesting fast:
    23. The presence of the Latin crosses on government owned property with the Utah Highway Patrol logo prominently displayed thereon has a primary effect to advance religion, and conveys or attempts to convey the message that religion or a particular religious belief is favored or preferred, The reaction of the average receiver of the government communication or average observer of the government action is that of endorsement of religion and particularly of Christianity.

    24. Plaintiffs have suffered direct and personal contact with the Lation crosses causing non-economic injury to them. Because the Latin crosses are displayed at prominent locations, and plaintiffs are brought into direct and unwelcome personal contact with them, or plaintiffs are forced to alter their behavior to avoid contact with the crosses. Plaintiffs are forced to view a religious object they wish to avoid but are unable to avoid because of plaintiffs' use of the public buildings, real property and/or highways of the State of Utah.

    25. Plaintiffs' harm is actual personal injury, fairly traceable to the defendants' unlawful conduct and likely to be redressed by a favorable decision of the court.
    (Please note: I had to type this in myself. Any typos are mine. But the words are theirs.) Although the injury must not be too severe, as the plaintiffs are asking for nominal damages of $1.00 plus legal costs.

    "Actual personal injury" is suffered just by driving by a cross? They have to alter their behavior? What happens when they drive by a church? (Do they recoil from the cross like a vampire, or something?)

    I really can't understand the state of mind required to be offended by these memorials. They're pretty simple. No calls to repentance or anything like that is involved. No admonishment to go to church, go on a hajj, or be excellent to one another. Just a reminder, that a man gave his life here in performance of his duty. A sacrifice that deserves to be remembered.

    This isn't about God. This is about remembering those state troopers who gave their lives in enforcing the law and keeping us safe.

    This indecent attack is an attack on them, not God. And it cannot be allowed to stand.

    And it won't. Tomorrow
    a rally will be held, in support of the memorials. The rally will take place Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at the UHP section office in Murray, 5681 S. 320 West.

    There's a lot of legal battling ahead, though. I'm sure lots of legal fees will get racked up by the plaintiffs.

    Recommended Reading
    Victor Davis Hanson, "Democratic Implosion." In VDH's view, the real Democratic Party has manifested itself. And unfortunately for all of us, I think he's right. Joe Lieberman and Zell Miller are the exceptions, not the rule.

    Jonah Goldberg writes on torture and corresponds with Barbara Streisand. Let's just say Babs doesn't do very well.

    Chronicles of Narnia is reviewed - and is drawing fire. Lots of fire. No word whether our "friends" from the UHP cross lawsuit are also involved here. Probably next week.

    Patrolling the Front
    Pretty quiet, actually. I'm just going to ask you a question: Do you remember Pearl Harbor?

    Thought of the Week
    "The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it, and if one finds the prospect of a long war intolerable, it is natural to disbelieve in the possibility of victory."
    George Orwell, Second Thoughts on James Burnham, 1946

    Churchill Quote of the Week
    "Never give in--never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."
    Sir Winston Churchill, Speech, 1941, Harrow School

    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    I'm Not Pointing Fingers...

    I'm just going to give you this link to a New Hampshire news story and note that Maine Man has not been seen here for a while...

    Remember Pearl Harbor

    Sixty-four years ago today...

    More at The Pacific Slope.

    Monday, December 05, 2005

    Nordlinger On Carter

    This is why I love reading Jay Nordlinger in NRO. When he's good, he's very, very good.

    Jay Nordlinger today, on Jimmy Carter:
    As longtime readers know, I've commented on Jimmy Carter a lot, and some time ago — oh, maybe a half-year ago — I swore off. I mean, how much can you say about a perpetually vexing ex-prez? I placed him in the Thomas Friedman/Maureen Dowd category: You can only listen to them for so long, decry them for so long. Then, you yourself become a repetitive nuisance.

    But let me revisit the 39th president, may I? I thought of something when reading his recent
    op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times — a piece apparently drawn from his new book, Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis. The op-ed is titled "This Isn't the Real America" (i.e., America as Mr. Carter conceives it).

    What I thought of is this: Since he left office in 1981, Carter has opined, written, and pontificated, over and over again. But he's pretty much never questioned. He's never challenged. Of course, once in a while he submits to an interview, but it's not really an interview — it's more like a fawn-fest. Carter never faces what my colleague Rick Brookhiser calls "comeback."

    As I was reading the op-ed piece, I thought of a whole mess of questions I'd like to ask Carter — or would like to see someone else ask him.

    For example, he writes that George W. Bush has implemented "a host of radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican." Among these principles is "the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment and human rights."

    Well, that's quite a list. You could ask questions based on it all day long. (By the way, I warn you, my friends: Never trust anyone who can speak of "economic justice" or "social justice." Those are just fine-sounding absurdities.) Anyway, let's take merely Carter's last item, human rights. Bush is constantly blasted — usually from the right — for placing too much emphasis on human rights. His second inaugural address was widely attacked. Here is a man, Bush, who toppled two of the most murderous, most vicious, most evil regimes known to man: that of the Taliban, and that of Saddam Hussein.

    Can Carter muster no applause?

    Then Carter says we have "declared independence from the restraints of international organizations and have disavowed long-standing global agreements . . ." Okay. Which ones should we not have abandoned? Would Carter like to argue for the ABM Treaty, signed with a government that no longer exists (no thanks to Carter)? Would he like to argue for Kyoto? Let him — and let him engage in a real debate.

    Then he goes after Bush for the doctrine of preemption. Fine, Carter disagrees. But what would he do, when a hostile regime is amassing — or thought to be amassing — weapons of mass destruction? How long would he stand by? Does he regret Israel's takeout of the Iraqi nuclear facility? (I bet he does.) It would be good to hear him.

    Then he writes — and this is typical Carter — "When there are serious differences with other nations, we brand them as international pariahs and refuse to permit direct discussions to resolve disputes."

    Does Carter acknowledge that there is often a difference between a nation's regime — its rulers — and the people themselves? Does he recognize that we can oppose, say, the Iranian mullahs, but not the Iranian people, whose freedom we advocate? Which nations has the Bush administration branded international pariahs that should not be so branded? North Korea? Cuba? (I have a feeling Carter has those in mind — Syria, too.)

    Carter calls Iraq a "quagmire." Why does he think this? Does he watch MSNBC? He asserts that "every effort has been made to conceal or minimize public awareness of casualties." How can he think this? What is he talking about? Is he talking about the policy at Dover Air Force Base — the one that has been in place for 15 years? If he thinks the logic and morality behind that policy are poor, let him say so.

    It seems to me that I hear of nothing but casualties, as against the progress that the Allies are making in Iraq, and elsewhere in the Muslim world.

    Carter denounces the Patriot Act as a robber of civil liberties. Which ones?

    He writes, "We have now become a prime culprit in global nuclear proliferation." What has he been smoking? We are an arrester of proliferation, as in Libya. Carter continues, "America also has abandoned the prohibition of 'first use' of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear nations, and is contemplating the previously condemned deployment of weapons in space." Again, what has he been smoking? First use aside — and this was always a bogus propaganda point of the Soviets — who previously condemned the deployment of weapons in space? Jimmy Carter, yes. Those who work for him, yes. Reed College and Bennington College, yes. Who else?

    Then he says that Bush is in the pocket of the oil companies, that we are a rotten polluter, blah, blah, blah. Oh, and don't forget the "unprecedented favors to the rich." What are these unprecedented favors? Dunno. Carter laments that our minimum wage is paltry. How high would he like to see it rise, and how many jobs would he sacrifice to that end?

    Then, "I am extremely concerned by a fundamentalist shift in many houses of worship and in government, as church and state have become increasingly intertwined in ways previously thought unimaginable." What are these ways? Does he oppose Bush's faith-based initiative? Is that the problem? Is he worried that the Supreme Court has allowed certain, quite limited displays of the Ten Commandments? Was that "previously thought unimaginable"? To disallow the Commandments was "previously thought unimaginable."

    (It could be that Carter answers my questions — or some of them — in his book. I cannot say.)

    Finally, "As the world's only superpower, America should be seen as the unswerving champion of peace, freedom and human rights." We are, baby — not by you, but by millions around the world, who know that this country, particularly since 9/11, has been a big, big force for good.

    As I've explained before, one reason that Jimmy Carter can annoy me is that I used to admire him — and would like to admire him now. He was the first president whom I followed avidly. I have always been something of a Carterologist. (For my 2002 Carterpalooza, please go
    here.) I would like to take my "first president" seriously, even while disagreeing with him. But he makes it very, very hard.
    Speaking for myself, I used to respect Carter. Not any more. The vapid old hack has bought into Michael Moore's warped perceptions completely - and has nothing new to contribute. Just more tired lies.

    Friday, December 02, 2005

    The Friday Furo Questus

    Questus Furore - Crass Class

    I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone.
    - Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797)
    Cathy Siepp has an interesting piece on manners over at National Review today.

    One of the most glaring but difficult to address issues in our modern society is how good manners and civility have vanished from modern society. Now rude and crass behavior and even outright crudity is celebrated as expressions of individual freedom, rather than the failures of self-control they actually represent. How this state of affairs came to pass is difficult to say (I blame the sixties) - but it is a sad state of affairs.

    I once heard manners described as "the grease of society." It's a great turn of phrase that also is true. And much of the friction of present times could be relieved with more attention paid to manners.

    The obvious place to start is with ourselves. I know I fall short more often than I care to admit, but practicing good manners is a process, not an endpoint. It's not hard; I imagine we all already know what to do. Open doors for the ladies; apologize for bumping into people; remembering to say "please" and "thank you" to everyone for anything. It doesn't take much to be civil.

    But it doesn't take anything to be a boor.

    Recommended Reading
    Victor Davis Hanson, "A Moral War."

    Jay Nordlinger's latest Impromptu.

    So who is "Tookie" Williams, founder of the Crips? Jack Dunphy explains.

    If you want to understand part of the problem behind GM's current financial woes, read Henry Payne.

    Stan Berenstein, creator of the Berenstein Bears, has died. John J. Miller looks back.

    And last but not least, Jonah Goldberg: “Eat Yuletide, You Atheistic Bastard!”

    Patrolling The Front on hiatus this week, and will return next week. The Christmas crunch of work, school, and social life has combined to seriously hamper the rate of postings.

    There is also an important announcement to make - but I'll let Jamo announce it when he is good and ready.

    Thought of the Week
    "One of the best models of good government is the Umpire Model. Government is here not to play the game of life for us, nor coach us on how to play best. It's here to help us play the game peaceably by deciding a few tough calls. It adjudicates conflicts. Of course, the model isn't perfect. Today's government does way too much coaching and managing as well as actual playing...and even cutting the grass on the field; government's not just for umpires any more."
    Paul Jacob

    Churchill Quote of the Week
    "The worst difficulties from which we suffer do not come from without. The come from within. They do not come from the cottages of the wage-earners. They come from a peculiar type of brainy people always found in our country, who, if they add something to its culture, take much from its strength. Our difficulties come from the mood of unwarrantable self-abasement into which we have been cast by a powerful section of our own intellectuals. They come from the acceptance of defeatist doctrines by a large proportion of our politicians ... Nothing can save England if she will not save herself. If we lose faith in ourselves, in our capacity to guide and govern, if we lose our will to live, then indeed our story is told."
    Sir Winston Churchill, April 24, 1933

    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    The Great Escape

    There's a facinating interview at Tech Central Station (thanks to Instapundit for finding the link) with Mr. Robert Fogel, who recently published The Escape From Hunger and Premature Death 1700-2100.

    Basically, it's a study of economics and life and how they have changed, especially as affected by techonology and invention. I'm looking for the book, dry title notwithstanding. But the interview contained some real interesting exchanges.

    For example, Nick Schultz, the interviewer, asked Fogel how he started researching in this field:

    Robert Fogel: Well a group of other people in demography economics and the biomedical sciences and I began collaborating back in the mid-'70's to first measure the decline in mortality in the United States. Prior to that work there was very little that was known about what happened to mortality, before the middle to late 19th century in the U.S. And so we found sources of data that permitted us to recreate time series on that, and we discovered that the pattern of increase in life expectancy was puzzling. And in the effort to explain these puzzles we produced many new lines of research, some of which are summarized in the book, The Escape From Hunger.

    Nick Schulz: And what exactly was puzzling about this pattern of increase?

    Robert Fogel: Well, life expectancy appears to have increased pretty steadily from the early 18th century until maybe around 1820. And then it started cycling. We had actual decreases in life expectancy. Before we returned back to a path of increase in life expectancy, beginning in the late 19th century, and from then on it was a pretty steady pattern of increase. In both good times and bad times, we have a substantial increase in life expectancy.

    For example, during the Great Depression of the 1930's, which in some ways was not new but in some ways it was surprising, you would think that in such hard times with such a large percentage of the people unemployed, many for a long time, it would've had a negative health effect. But, whatever negative effect there might have been was swamped by more positive factors that led to an increase of more than six years in life expectancy, in a decade.
    That's really interesting. My guess is the advances in pharmaceuticals had a bunch to do with the 1930s improvement (antibiotics were first synthetically produced in the 1930s).

    Then there was this exchange on pollution that I found facinating:

    Nick Schulz: That's obviously unprecedented for life expectancy to increase by such a large amount in one century. What were the primary drivers of that?

    Robert Fogel: Public health reform, cleaning up of the water supply, cleaning up of the milk supply. But if you said what was the single most important factor, it's technological change.

    Let me give you one small example. We complain a lot about air pollution today, but there were 200,000 horses in New York City, at the beginning of the 20th century defecating everywhere. And when you walked around in New York City, you were breathing pulverized horse manure -- a much worse pollutant, than the exhausts of automobiles. Indeed in the United States, the automobile was considered the solution to the horse problem because pulverized horse manure carried a lot of deadly pathogens.

    So technological change made it possible to greatly increase the food supply and permit levels of nutrition that were not previously attainable. Secondly, it made it possible to have a safe water supply. We needed a more modern technology to be able to carry away waste water and provide safe water, both through filtering and chlorination. And, still another area was the development of vaccines, which made it possible to inoculate the very young against diseases. And with better nutrition, you greatly increase the physiology of human beings.
    Pick your poison: car exhaust or aerosolized horse poop? And keep in mind - the horses don't have any built-in pollution control devices.

    On malnutrition:

    Nick Schulz: That leads to my next question, which is what was the significance of malnourishment on work, productivity and economic growth in human history? You found some interesting things when you looked into this question of nutrition and malnourishment.

    Robert Fogel: Right, with the kind of agricultural technology that exists in Malthus's era, we could only feed 80 percent of the population with enough energy so that they could work. The level of nutrients available for work was about a third of what it is now, so even people who worked were much less productive.

    Nick Schulz: They would literally not have enough calories to work?

    Robert Fogel: The poorest 20 percent of the population, was slowly starving to death. They were beggars that littered the streets. They had enough energy for maybe an hour of strolling and then sitting down and begging. But not enough energy to work.
    In our day and age, in America at least, the problem is too many calories.

    Anyway, check out the interview.

    Such is the march of progress. Today is better than yesterday. Today may still have problems, but at least they're new problems.

    RomneyWatch '08

    Suitably Cool Graphic Goes Here (still looking)

    Well, here it is. The Wasatch Front master page for all the Governor Romney news we feel is worth posting and/or linking.

    Organized by: Date - Source - Link To Post, followed by a brief description.

    Ongoing - Websites

    Article 6 Blog- An ongoing discussion of the religious issues brought up by Romney's run for the Presidency.

    2006 - Major Publications & Websites
    October 17, 2006 - National Review - "Rockin' the Evangelical House."
    by Kathryn Lopez.

    October 17, 2006 - London Sunday Times - "Mitt, the rising star, catches Thatcher vote."
    by Sarah Baxter.

    October 1, 2006 - London Sunday Times - "Mormon with a JFK touch is right on McCain's tail."
    by Sarah Baxter.

    September 25, 2006 - Wall Street Journal/Opinion Journal - "Romney Rides High."
    by John Fund.

    July 19, 2006 - National Review - "Don't Count Out The Mormon."
    by Kathryn Lopez.

    July 3, 2006 - Weekly Standard - "High Noon in Michigan."
    by Mark Hemmingway.

    June 9, 2006 - Wall Street Journal - "Test of Faith"
    by Deborah Solomon (available only with subscription)

    April 27, 2006 - Chicago Sun-Times - "Religion may hinder Romney in '08."
    by Robert Novak.

    April 17, 2006 - Newsweek - "A Rising Star, Out of the Blue."
    by Jonathan Alter.

    April 11, 2006 - National Review - "An Imperfect Model."
    by Ramesh Ponnuru.

    April 4, 2006 - Hugh Hewitt - "The Romney Plan."
    by Hugh Hewitt.

    March 17, 2006 - National Review - "Romney vs. Allen."
    by Rich Lowry. A comparison of George Allen and Mitt Romney.

    March 9, 2006 - National Review - "Party Man."
    by W. James Antle. A discussion of the Republican Party's future in Massachusetts and what role Romney should play.

    January 26, 2006 - National Review - "Unhealthy in Massachusetts"
    by Sally C. Pipes. A criticism of Romney's plan for the Massachusetts healthcare system.

    January 3, 2006 - National Review - "Mitt in '08?"
    by Kathryn J. Lopez. Column, syndicated by United Features. A summary of Romney's actions & positioning in 2005.

    2006 - Wasatch Front & Associated Weblogs
    09.25.2006 - The Pacific Slope - "Romney Courts Social Conservatives"
    Reproduces 9/25 Wall Street Journal article by John Fund.

    09.25.2006 - The Wasatch Front - "Romney Courts Social Conservatives"
    Links to 9/25 Wall Street Journal article by John Fund.

    09.07.2006 - The Wasatch Front - "Romney's Breakthrough?"
    From The Corner, Kathryn Lopez speculates on the implications of Romney's Khatami statement. Has Mitt Romney finally arrived?

    09.06.2006 - The Wasatch Front - "Romney Slams Khatami Visit"
    Reproduces official statement, wherein Gov. Romney condemns the visit of former Iranian president Khatami and announces that the state of Massachusetts will not pay Khatami any courtesy or provide him escort.

    07.19.2006 - The Wasatch Front - "Seen At The Corner: Romney and Polygamy"
    Links to and quotes an item in The Corner by Kate O'Beirne.

    07.19.2006 - The Wasatch Front - "'Don't Count Out The Mormon.'"
    Links to and quotes from a column by Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review.

    04.28.2006 - The Wasatch Front - "Will Mitt Face A Religious Test?"
    Discusses a personal view of whether Romney faces a challenge due to his religion. Links to a discussion at The American Scene and comments at National Review.

    04.05.2006 - The Wasatch Front - "Romney Continues To Catch Attention"
    Links to an article by Jonathan Alter of Newsweek and a healthcare plan analysis by Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review.

    04.05.2006 - The Pacific Slope - "Romney's Step Forward?"
    Links to an analysis by Hugh Hewitt.

    03.17.2006 - Wasatch Front - "Lowry: "Romney vs. Allen."
    Links to column by Rich Lowry.

    03.09.2006 - Wasatch Front - "Party Man."
    Links to column by W. James Antle.

    01.03.2006 - Wasatch Front - "Mitt in '08?"
    Links to syndicated column by Kathryn Jean Lopez.

    2005 - Major Publications

    December 20, 2005 - National Review - "Latter-Day Politics"
    by Kathryn J. Lopez. Interview with Michael Cromartie, director of the Evangelical Studies Project at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

    December 2005 - National Review - "Golden Mitt"
    by Michael M. Rosen

    June 2005 - National Review - "Matinee Mitt"
    By John J. Miller

    June 2005 - The Weekly Standard - "In 2008, Will It Be Mormon In America?"
    by Terry Eastland

    2005 - Wasatch Front & Associated Weblogs

    12.20.2005 - Wasatch Front - "Latter-Day Politics"
    Links to interview with Michael Cromartie conducted by Kathryn Jean Lopez. Interview discusses viability of Romney, whether his LDS faith is a problem, and briefly speculates on what role his faith may play on a national stage.

    12.15.2005 - Wasatch Front - "Romney: 'The Future Is Open'"
    Links to Gov. Romney's announcement of 12/14, and some links to related news stories.

    12.14.2005 - Wasatch Front - "Romney In '08 - Is It Official?"
    Romney announces he will not be running for a second gubanatorial term. Includes links and analysis.

    10.18.2005 - Wasatch Front - "What's Up With The Mormons Lately?"
    Links and discussion of some news stories discussing the prominence of Mormons, including Governor Romney.

    09.19.2005 - Wasatch Front - "Romney And The War On Terror"
    Gov. Romney comments on civil rights in an age of terrorism.

    09.07.2005 - Wasatch Front - "Back To Politics"
    Can an LDS candidate be elected to the Presidency?

    08.12.2005 - Wasatch Front - "The Friday Furo Questus"
    Link to Jamoblog, and a brief examination of the 2008 contenders.

    08.11.2005 - The Jamoblog - "We'll have to wait and see."
    Rundown of and discussion about potential 2008 presidential candidates.

    07.26.2005 - Wasatch Front - "More Politics - Mitt Romney In The News"
    Links to Gov. Romney's editorial on contraception, Atlantic Monthly's profile, Corner discussion, and our own discussion.

    06.03.2005 - Wasatch Front - "The Friday Furo Questus"
    Links to Terry Eastland's Weekly Standard Romney profile, and some discussion.

    06.01.2005 - Wasatch Front - "In 2008, Will It Be Mormon In America?"
    Links to Terry Eastland's Weekly Standard Romney profile, and some discussion.