Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Sunday, March 27, 2005
The God-fearing ACLU
English and the new media
Saturday, March 26, 2005
On its surface, the Terri Schiavo battle is a tangle of conflicting histories, medical opinions, legal opinions, religious opinions. Beneath the surface, it is the latest skirmish between those who want to stop our practice of terminating inconvenient life, and those who want to sustain the right to do so. It is also a tribal conflict, and some are engaged not because they care deeply about the outcome, but because they see an opportunity to spew vitriol at the other tribe.Between the Resurrection and Raven-42 lies a woman facing death, and a world debating the value of her life.
I'm not a neurologist, I don't know her husband. I can't claim any legal expertise that would allow me to discern whether this is a bad case that could make bad law, as Molly Ivins writes (which presumably means someone else wrote it first). I don't think I'm "incapable of making moral distinctions," as Ivins paints some opposed to the slow starvation of Terri Schiavo. It's a good line, to be sure, especially funny coming from a plagiarizing hack who would denounce the Almighty himself if she thought it would help her tribe at the polls. Perhaps her accusation is true of some on the Hysterical Right, but I don't think it's true of me, or many others who believe that what's happening in Florida is a shame and a tragedy.
The shame stems from the fact that Michael Schiavo betrayed his wife years ago. That's an ugly truth, and I don't say it with self-righteousness, because many men far better than me have fallen away from their wives, under far less stressful conditions. But that truth remains, and it is relevant, because the entire case for starving Terri Schiavo hinges on the post-abandonment remembrance by this man that his wife -- the same woman on whose behalf he sued to secure money for long-term care -- actually doesn't care to live in such a state after all. The heady willingness of many on the Left to embrace this contention unquestioned, simply because it serves their end of thwarting nefarious pro-life forces, redounds to their shame.
I'm struck by how cavalierly we throw about this notion that death is so easily chosen. Perhaps it's an easy choice in abstract, and so it becomes simple to project such a choice onto others. I suspect that many of us who bravely declare the many conditions under which we'd rather be put out of our misery, however, would in fact cling more desperately to life than we realize.
The unshakeable fact is that we'll all get to find out for ourselves one day, no? If you were to be Terri Schiavo's place, on which side would you like the world to err?
The tragedy is that Terri's parents simply want their daughter back from the man who promised to care for her, but who backed away from his promise. It appears that they can't have her.
It must be horrible, it must be maddening, and everyone who approaches this debate should keep that fact fixed firmly in his mind. Neither this, nor any case of euthanasia, nor any abortion, is directly about any of us onlookers. It is first about the life that is deliberately extinguished, and second about the wounded who are left behind. It is only about us in the indirect sense, insofar as our action -- or more likely inaction -- contributes to the state in which we find ourselves.
There will be many tears when Terri Schiavo breathes her last. Some will be genuine, some will be fake, some will be hysterically generated by people who have overly invested their emotions in someone else's tragedy. Then most of us will move on. You and I will go back to our lives, Michael Schiavo will go back to his new woman and kids, his attorneys back to their other clients. But Bob and Mary Schindler will be left without a daughter, and they will know that it might have been different.
Raven 42: Kentucky women take the fight to ambush attackers
The two of them, squad leader Staff Sergeant and team leader Sergeant with her M4 and M203 grenade launcher, rush the nearest ditch about 20 meters away to start clearing the natural trenchline. The enemy has gone into the ditches and is hiding behind several small trees in the back of the lot. The .50 cal and SAW flanking fire tears apart the ten enemy in the lead trenchline. . . . The two sergeants work their way up the trenchline, throwing grenades, firing grenades from the launcher, and firing their M4s.I'm not a fan of women in combat. But it appears our women have more courage than their "men". A captured insurgent video shows the "turkey shoot" attack on the unarmed drivers, then ends abruptly when the three Raven-42 Humvees join the fight. Wonder if they'll show that on al Jazeera?
The sergeant runs low on ammo and runs back to a vehicle to reload. She moves to her squad leader's vehicle, and because this squad is led so well, she knows exactly where to reach her arm blindly into a different vehicle to find ammo-because each vehicle is packed exactly the same, with discipline.
As she turns to move back to the trenchline, Gunner in two sees an AIF [Anti-Iraq Force] jump from behind one of the cars and start firing on the Sergeant. He pulls his 9mm, because the .50 cal is pointed in the other direction, and shoots five rounds wounding him. The sergeant moves back to the trenchline under fire from the back of the field, with fresh mags, two more grenades, and three more M203 rounds. The Mk 19 gunner suppresses the rear of the field.
Now, rejoined with the squad leader, the two sergeants continue clearing the enemy from the trenchline, until they see no more movement. A lone man with an RPG launcher on his shoulder steps from behind a tree and prepares to fire on the three Hummers and is killed with a single aimed SAW shot thru the head by the previously knocked out gunner on platform two, who now has a SAW out to supplement the .50 cal in the mount.
The team leader sergeant--she claims four killed by aimed M4 shots. . . . Of the 7 members of Raven 42 who walked away, two are Caucasian Women, the rest men -- one is Mexican-American, the medic is African-American, and the other two are Caucasian -- the great American melting pot. . . . Those seven Americans (with the three wounded) killed in total 24 heavily armed enemy, wounded 6 (two later died), and captured one unwounded, who feigned injury to escape the fight. They seized 22 AK-47s, 6x RPG launchers w/ 16 rockets, 13x RPK machineguns, 3x PKM machineguns, 40 hand grenades, 123 fully loaded 30-rd AK magazines, 52 empty mags, and 10 belts of 2500 rds of PK ammo.
I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. . . . When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!The testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon (D&C 76:22-23):
22 And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!The testimony of His living apostles (The Living Christ):
23 For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten• of the Father—
. . . We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.
He is risen, as he said
1 AND now it came to pass that there were a great multitude agathered together, of the people of Nephi, round about the temple which was in the land Bountiful; and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and were showing one to another the great and marvelous change which had taken place.
2 And they were also conversing about this Jesus Christ, of whom the sign had been given concerning his death.
3 And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.
4 And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not.
5 And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.
6 And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:
7 Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.
8 And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.
9 And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:
10 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
11 And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.
12 And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words the whole multitude fell to the earth; for they remembered that it had been prophesied among them that Christ should show himself unto them after his ascension into heaven.
13 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying:
14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
15 And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.
16 And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying:
17 Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him.
Iraq's insurgents "seek exit strategy"
Thursday, March 24, 2005
It is pronounced: ahr-HAH-bee. It is the Iraqi arabic word for terrorist. 2LT C. does not like it because "it just doesn't sing. I learned this word from our interpreters and use it often. I never use mujahedin or jihadi, because they imply a measure of respect due an actual warrior. After all, both of those terms mean "holy warrior." This distinction is also very important to the Iraqis. They have told me repeatedly that these guys are cowards who will not even stand and fight. They kill innocent people, and bomb indiscriminately. They have been their own worst enemy in the public relations department. Even though 2LT C. likes to refer to them using the A-word, (describing a posterior extremity) he would like to find something more catchy. I am content to use arhabi. It lets the locals know exactly who we are after, and what this really is about - not oil, not religion, but security and the hope for a better future.
There is no good outcome to this case. Except perhaps if Florida and the other states were to amend their laws and resolve conflicts among loved ones differently -- by granting authority not necessarily to the spouse but to whatever first-degree relative (even if in the minority) chooses life and is committed to support it. Call it Terri's law. It will help prevent us having to choose in the future between travesty and tragedy.
Don't buy, China die (or economic deterrence)
The US trade deficit (the value of goods bought from China versus what was sold to them) reached $162 billion. That amount accounts for over twenty percent of China's GDP (total economic activity.) This has serious military implications. If China goes to war with the United States, the first impact would not be bombs, but an end to exports to the United States. Putting over a hundred million Chinese out of work would have a larger impact than any bombing campaign.(Hat tip Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit).
Saturday, March 19, 2005
One hen, two ducks...
"Since Monday comes on Tuesday this week our regular Wednesday meeting will be held on Thursday since Friday's so close to Saturday and Sunday's a holiday anyway."
* One hen
* Two ducks
* Three squawking geese
* Four limerick oysters
* Five corpulent porpoises
* Six pair of Don Alverzo's tweezers
* Seven thousand Macedonians in full battle array
* Eight brass monkeys from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt
* Nine apathetic, sympathetic, diabetic, old men on roller skates with a marked propensity towards procrastination and sloth
* Ten lyrical, spherical diabolical denizens of the deep who hall stall around the corner of the quo of the quay of the quivery, all at the same time.
According to a Jerry Lewis website, this is called the "Announcer's Test". It originated at Radio Central New York in the early 1940's as a cold reading test given to prospective radio talent to demonstrate their speaking ability.
Del Moore, a long time friend of Jerry Lewis', took this test at Radio Central New York in 1941, and passed it on to him. (Del Moore is best remembered as Dr. Warfield in "The Nutty Professor," 1963)
Jerry has performed this test on radio, television and stage for many years, and it has become a favorite tongue twister of his fans around the world.
Friday, March 18, 2005
Coulter on courtroom security
How many people have to die before the country stops humoring feminists? Last week, a defendant in a rape case, Brian Nichols, wrested a gun from a female deputy in an Atlanta courthouse and went on a murderous rampage. Liberals have proffered every possible explanation for this breakdown in security except the giant elephant in the room – who undoubtedly has an eating disorder and would appreciate a little support vis-à-vis her negative body image.Large men to guard them. Women (like Ashley Smith) to talk them back to their senses after the murderous rampage.
The New York Times said the problem was not enough government spending on courthouse security ("Budgets Can Affect Safety Inside Many Courthouses"). Yes, it was tax-cuts-for-the-rich that somehow enabled a 200-pound former linebacker to take a gun from a 5-foot-tall grandmother.
Atlanta court officials dispensed with any spending issues the next time Nichols entered the courtroom when he was escorted by 17 guards and two police helicopters. He looked like P. Diddy showing up for a casual dinner party.
I think I have an idea that would save money and lives: Have large men escort violent criminals. Admittedly, this approach would risk another wave of nausea and vomiting by female professors at Harvard. But there are also advantages to not pretending women are as strong as men, such as fewer dead people. Even a female math professor at Harvard should be able to run the numbers on this one.
Austin Bay's bet
Here’s my bet: The Bush Administration, Iraqi voters, and Beirut democracy demonstrators have forced the Democrats to either accept a new foreign policy consensus or die politically.Read the whole thing.
Blogfather on the war
WAR CRITICS want to mark the anniversary of the war -- there will be an "antiwar protest" at my local mall tomorrow and there are all sorts of events planned worldwide -- but a proper way of marking the date would be with a mass apology to the Iraqi people, and to George W. Bush, for taking the wrong side at a crucial moment in history.
Sackcloth, ashes, and signs reading: WE WERE WRONG, SORRY WE TRIED TO BLOCK ARAB DEMOCRACY, and WRONG ABOUT AFGHANISTAN, WRONG ABOUT IRAQ -- DON'T LISTEN TO US NEXT TIME would be appropriate.
I'm not expecting that. But at least some people are marking the occasion in suitable fashion. It may be premature to gloat, but it's not premature to point out the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the "peace" movement, which has been apparent since the very beginning.
Ashley Smith's America
Is it a matter of happenstance, is it without meaning, that America was taken by this drama at Eastertide, in the days before Palm Sunday, when a wanted man rode by donkey to an appointment at Golgotha?Someone Christian, being Christian, stopped the madness.
Is it an accident that a great but troubled country that yearns so to be good is given such instruction at this time?
Maybe we should be thinking: God loves all of us, every one of us most tenderly, even convicts, maybe especially convicts, who know what they are and hang their heads and one of whom, so long ago, looked up, and cried out to the man on the other cross, and received from him a promise of forgiveness and a promise that soon, very soon, they would stand together in a place without pain.
Maybe we should think: This is all quite a mystery, too big to be understood, too beautiful to be ignored.
I just feel like bowing to everyone, all the victims and all the survivors, the good judge, the good guards, the good woman, the reporters, all of whom became part of something big and without borders. The only lesson is love. I feel certain this is true.
He is risen. Indeed. He is risen.
If Bush was right -- who was wrong?
We do not yet know, however, whether this initial flourishing of democracy will succeed. The Syrian and Iraqi Baathists, their jihadist allies, and the various regional autocrats are quite determined to suppress it. But we do know one thing: Those who claimed, with great certainty, that Arabs are an exception to the human tendency to freedom, that they live in a stunted and distorted culture that makes them love their chains, and that the notion that the U.S. could help trigger a democratic revolution by militarily deposing their oppressors was a fantasy -- have been proved wrong.How bitter to be Chirac, Schroeder, or Putin. No one in Beirut is hoisting signs thanking any of them. The signs say: "Thank you George W. Bush!"
Vindication? So far so good.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Whooda thunkit? Fiction outsells nonfiction
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Mudville Gazette's 2-year Bologiversary
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Internet: the real Great Society
We're not "bowling solo" in a cocoon, we're linked to heretofore strangers in an unprecedented worldwide community. I wouldn't know Matt Drudge (and Monica), Glenn Reynolds (and the "Instawife"), Donald Sensing (and his Marine son), James Lileks (and "Gnat"), Tony Woodlief (and the incredible story of Caroline) if not for the Net.
It's about books!
I still remember the smell of the old Provo Library (the books! the books!) and the aquarium. It was in the basement of the main library. Snip, Snap, and Snur. Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka. Mrs Piggle Wiggle. Blueberrys for Sal. Henry Reed, Inc. All the Dr Seuss's. I can remember rounding up a pile of books at the library and then going next door to the Provo Bakery for a chicken salad sandwich on a bun -- with chips and a pickle on the side. Books and food have much in common. We sup from the pages of a good book . Observantg Jewish parents are said to place honey on the pages of the Torah so their young students will learn to love to read the Law.
We read to all our children growing up (still do). It is a guilty parent's pleasure to reread the books we loved in youth to our own children. One of the joys of parenthood.
For long car trips in our family, we are always ship shape if we first go by the library and then ensure there are enough flashlights (and batteries) to go around. No DVD player for us! Books!
That's why Princess Bride and You've Got Mail hold a fascination ("In my day, TV was books" -- and the Shop Around the Corner): the mystique of books and the adventures between the covers.
I have to confess that I read more than I want to now. As a practicing lawyer, I read all day. Then come home -- and read less than I would like to because my eyes are tired and my brain is fried. (I also have to confess to needing reading glasses for the first time in my life...). I also find that I read more online than in hardbound volumes. I'm a news and blog junkie.
It's amazing how far we've come in building a community of words on the Internet. I remember my first AOL search (this was back in '96 when they boasted around 250,000 members and it was still rather primitive -- I think we had a 14.4 modem -- slooowwwwwww). My wife had misplaced an Amish friendship bread recipe, and offhandedly asked if I could find it on the newfangled Internet thing. I was amazed when a simple search brought up 5 recipes, and I could print them all up instantly (well, as fast as our old inkjet could print back then).
We also became homeschoolers in part because of our contact with other homeschoolers online. They gave us courage.
I'm thankful for my college-teaching parents (and bookhound grandparents) who taught me a love of reading.
"What's in a (Utah) name?"
God's World News
I rediscovered, while having a late lunch at home this afternoon, her latest edition of "God's World News" (not to be confused with "Weekly World News"). It's a great resource and seems suprisingly evenhanded (although unabashedly quotes Bible verses related to its top story on global warming). I heartily recommend it. (I also strongly recommend Highlights magazine: my daughter and I have a ritual before bed the day it comes -- first hidden pictures, with different colored pens to outline and initial the hints for the ones we each find, then jokes, then riddles -- she always reads me the jokes and riddles). Enjoy!
Saturday, March 12, 2005
2 + 2 = Martha Beck
a New York Times Bestselling Author, an innovator in life design and life coaching, and a monthly columnist at O: The Oprah Magazine. Martha has coached hundreds of individuals over the past fifteen years, and recently, NPR called her 'the best-known life coach in America.' She has taught career development at the American Graduate School of International Management, performed research at Harvard Business School, and consulted to Fortune 500 corporations. The author of Finding Your Own North Star; The Joy Diet, and Expecting Adam, she lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona.
So, she's a bestselling pop-psych gaining fame and fortune in our modern cult of personality. The website for her new book describes her as
the best-selling author of The Joy Diet (2003), Finding Your Own North Star (2001), and Expecting Adam (1999). She is a monthly columnist for O, The Oprah Magazine, a renowned national and international speaker, and is the creator of the North Star Method, offering seminars, workshops, and life-coach training to assist participants in connecting with their truest selves and in leading more rewarding and joyful lives. She received her bachelor's, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University, where she won a Danforth Award as one of the university's top teaching fellows, and she has taught international business management and career development at the American Graduate School of International Management. She served as a member of the international board of Special Olympics, and travels worldwide working and speaking on behalf of people with cognitive disabilities and their loved ones. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her three teenagers; her partner of ten years, Karen Gerdes, a professor of social work, and their two dogs.(Emphasis added). So, Martha is a best-selling, Harvard-educated "life coach", and mother of a Down-syndrome boy who has written sensitively about him (among her other books), and traveled widely to pursue her causes.
But one fact stands out.
My father has said that people find their way out the LDS Church behaviorally before they do intellectually. Martha is a lesbian. The Church teaches that homosexuality is a sin. Small wonder she has written a diatribe against the Church.
As for her accusations of sexual abuse against her father: he was one of the Church's great and prolific scholars, a stalwart defender of the faith. Small wonder that Martha, who "lost the Mormons" to "find her faith" should now impugn him -- and thereby his body of work in defense of the Church she now loathes.
If Hugh Nibley = LDS Church
If LDS Church = "homosexuality is a sin"
If Martha Nibley = lesbian
Then Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith = "LDS Church and Hugh Nibley are bad"
In the interest of full disclosure, I knew and admired Martha's father. In addition, as an Air Force JAG, I prosecuted and defended child sex abuse cases. I had a life-changing case involving a self-professed "born-again Christian" who sexually abused his daughter for years. I have seen how there are no winners in a child sex prosecution: if the victim is believed, a family is divided; if not, she is blamed as a liar. I know that abuse allegations often arise when couples divorce. I know that victims often repress their feelings and have difficulty telling others about the abuse. Having said all that, I have no confidence in "repressed memory recovery" -- that a victim will "remember" decades-old events through hypnosis or some other medium. Thus, I am dubious about Martha's "recovered memories."
In any event, given the simple syllogism, it is no surprise that in her "divorce manifesto" (Leaving the Saints) Martha Beck should so accuse her famous father. (Likewise, though previously divorced, no surprise that she should keep her former married name rather than revert to her family name).
UPDATE (actually from a couple of weeks ago): Nibley family statements on the book and Martha.
UPDATE 2: Read book reviews here, here, and here.
More on Dan
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Anchor aweigh: bye bye, Dan
But, "Kenneth, what is the frequency?"
No more will Sauron's dark eye . . .
. . . be Rather's.
As Tolkien said through Gandalf: "Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succor of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they may have is not ours to rule." (Return of the King, p. 190)
The Dark Lord is fallen. Courage!
Hezbollah protesters' "hilarious juxtaposition"
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
President's speech at National Defense University
Like an earlier generation, America is pursuing a clear strategy with our allies to achieve victory. Our immediate strategy is to eliminate terrorist threats abroad, so we do not have to face them here at home. The theory here is straightforward: terrorists are less likely to endanger our security if they are worried about their own security. When terrorists spend their days struggling to avoid death or capture, they are less capable of arming and training to commit new attacks. We will keep the terrorists on the run, until they have nowhere left to hide.
Our strategy to keep the peace in the longer term is to help change the conditions that give rise to extremism and terror, especially in the broader Middle East. Parts of that region have been caught for generations in a cycle of tyranny and despair and radicalism. When a dictatorship controls the political life of a country, responsible opposition cannot develop, and dissent is driven underground and toward the extreme. And to draw attention away from their social and economic failures, dictators place blame on other countries and other races, and stir the hatred that leads to violence. This status quo of despotism and anger cannot be ignored or appeased, kept in a box or bought off, because we have witnessed how the violence in that region can reach easily across borders and oceans. The entire world has an urgent interest in the progress, and hope, and freedom in the broader Middle East.
The advance of hope in the Middle East requires new thinking in the region. By now it should be clear that authoritarian rule is not the wave of the future; it is the last gasp of a discredited past. It should be clear that free nations escape stagnation, and grow stronger with time, because they encourage the creativity and enterprise of their people. It should be clear that economic progress requires political modernization, including honest representative government and the rule of law. And it should be clear that no society can advance with only half of its talent and energy -- and that demands the full participation of women.
The advance of hope in the Middle East also requires new thinking in the capitals of great democracies -- including Washington, D.C. By now it should be clear that decades of excusing and accommodating tyranny, in the pursuit of stability, have only led to injustice and instability and tragedy. It should be clear that the advance of democracy leads to peace, because governments that respect the rights of their people also respect the rights of their neighbors. It should be clear that the best antidote to radicalism and terror is the tolerance and hope kindled in free societies. And our duty is now clear: For the sake of our long-term security, all free nations must stand with the forces of democracy and justice that have begun to transform the Middle East.
Read the whole thing here. And see my earlier post ("Was Bush right after all?") here.
Closing a loop: 9/11, Mansions of the Lord, and Rick Rescorla
The Warrior Caste
The Italian Job
"Was Bush right after all?"
My take is that President Bush stands apart from other current world leaders because he is a man of action, not reaction. Clinton was a caretaker president who squandered his political capital and the country's prosperity on "small ball" politics. To be sure, 9/11 was an action with what has turned out to be an even more forceful and opposite reaction. But instead of responding to events, President Bush is leading them. He may not be totally responsible for today's promising, liberating events in the Middle East. But one has to ask if his unprecedented push for a democratic Palestinian state, and his decision to invade Iraq which resulted in January's election were not the catalyst and did not create the climate for the rising democratization of the Middle East. His rhetoric in advance of freedom and his willingness to act in support of his words have led the way to events today. He is a leader changing history, not bending to it.
My first (and continuing reaction) after seeing the second tower come down on 9/11 was simple: "We need to find who did this, and we need to kill them -- we need to kill them all." It was clear there could be no negotiation with the people who planned and executed the plan to fly passenger planes into buildings to kill and destroy as much as possible. But it is impossible to kill them all. President Bush has arrived at the right policy. We need to destroy the climate the fosters terrorism: repressive totalitarian regimes that foster fear and hatred of an external enemy. Democracies don't start wars. Democracies don't foster terrorism. So the two-pronged approach is just right: kill the terrorists, give freedom back to the people, let them vote their own destiny, and terrorists will become marginalized criminals rather than a force to shake the earth.
Having just written that line, it occurs to me that the WMD issue is still the force multiplier. Even though no WMD stockpiles have been found in Iraq (how long did futile well-intentioned diplomacy provide Saddam an exit strategy? Too long. And his WMDs, like his Baathist cronies, may yet turn up in Syria), the threat of WMDs falling into the hands of beheaders like al Zarqawi is the greatest risk of our time. It therefore deserves all the effort wse can muster to prevent it happening. That's why our efforts related to Iran's nuclear program are so important. Because of our failed agreement with North Korea, our options are more limited there (although, if freedom and democracy are possible in the Middle East, why not in North Korea?).
The world is still a very dangerous place. But events of the past weeks reflect positively on determined leadership and the inborn desire of people everywhere to live free. Increasingly desperate terrorists will try to push the psychological wave back as forcefully as possible. Even though the Independent suggests the invasion of Iraq may have been based on a collosal fraud, the irony is that the risk posed by Iraq's WMDs is perhaps greater than before the invasion because it is a risk that has not yet been contained.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
Sen. Byrd and the "nuclear option": supporting the Constitution and changing Senate rules
Syria and WMD
Winning the language war?
GOING THE OTHER DIRECTION?: EyeonthePost notes that the Washington Post "consistently refers to Israel as 'occupying' the West Bank and Gaza, though the only other sovereign countries to have recently held these lands, Jordan and Egypt, have disclaimed ownership. But Syria merely has a 'presence' in the otherwise sovereign state of Lebanon" (according to The Post). (Hat tip: David Bernstein at The Volokh Conspiracy).
Winning the war of public opinion?
Do you support the severe measures the Iraqi Government is taking against terrorist acts in Iraq?From these results, Power Line concludes:
93.56% = Yes
6.44% = No
How do you think Arabic satellite news companies are covering Iraqi news?
Neutral = 16.75%
Not Neutral = 7.25%
Negatively Biased = 76%
What is your opinion of U.N. Resolution 1546?
It achieves the ambitions of Iraqis for sovereignty = 73.12%
It satisfies ambition of certain Iraqi groups = 12.90%
It helps legitimise the American occupation = 13.98%
This is why I keep saying: the "insurgency" is over. The terrorists lost. What is going on now is just crime. Criminals can kill, but they can't affect history. As [Power Line's translator] Haider [Ajina] says:Relatively small sample. But very encouraging.Iraqis are solidly behind their government's security forces pursuing the terrorists and with their vote on Jan. 30th they defeated the terrorists and now it is time to round them up.
Iraqis are also wise to Al-Jazeerah and her ilk of TV stations being anything but supportive or just neutral in their coverage of Iraq. Quite the contrary they want to injure Iraq's democracy. As more and more Arabs recognize these dubious links [to terrorist groups], they will pull their support of these stations (by not watching them).
Saturday, March 05, 2005
From shortwave to streaming audio
One of my most cherished Christmas gifts was a shortwave radio -- a tube set (I guess it was before transistors). I strung an antenna (which had resistors (?) encased in plastic in different lengths along the cable) between our chimney and a corner of our roof. I marvelled that I could pick up the World Service of the BBC, and that I could follow the tic-tocs and gong of the Greenwich UTC station (now my Mac automatically synchronizes its clock with a network time server). And to listen to radio stations across the world in languages I hadn't even heard of.
With the Internet and streaming audio, you don't need to string an antenna. In fact, with wireless broadband, I'm writing this on my iBook lying on my bed and listening to KBYU FM ("Classical 89") via streaming audio. (Help yourself, here). No static, just clear channel classical music.
We had a boys' night out last night (my father, my two sons, two nephews, and a friend): Magleby's Oyster Bar and Grill and later "The Guns of Navarone" (a total guy movie) on our jerry-rigged "home theater" (the firm's computer projector brought home for the weekend). After oysters on the half shell (I didn't -- but everyone else had at least one), during our main course my dad mentioned a thought of his (akin to Garry's post about a cosmic "Florence" library in the next world) about being able to compose and perform music on the spot (129 orchestra pieces in your mind) so that when you meet and embrace your true love, spontaneously Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme from Paganini" (or your own variation) erupts in your ears and hers -- a continuing soundtrack to life generated by your mind.
My father has had a huge impact in blessing my life with music, from Kenton's "Hank's Opener" and "Opus in Pastels" to Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto to Mahler's 2nd Symphony (especially the 4th movement), and from the BYU Men's Chorus and Mormon Tabernacle Choir, to Al Hirt, the Tijuana Brass, barbershop music, Harry Nilsson, Burt Bacharach, and the Carpenters. With that boost, I found James Taylor, Loggins & Messina, Chuck Mangione, Earth Wind & Fire, Big Bad Voodoo Daddies, and They Might Be Giants on my own.
Listening now, I feel like Wordsworth in his Prelude, "Oh, there is blessing in this gentle breeze" -- of digital wireless music. Though tubeless, my iBook's another -- way cooler -- radio.
My own thoughts on Hugh Nibley
Some time ago, I read a published statement to the effect that Latter-day Saints were the only religious group in the world for which there was empirical proof that the more educated a member was, the more likely it was that he or she would be an active participant of the faith, as measured by the usual indicia of religiosity, such as church attendance, scripture study, prayer, tithe paying, etc. I am a convert to the Church, and one of the first things that ever really struck me about Mormons was that so many of them were intelligent, accomplished, highly educated people. Excepting the Book of Mormon itself, no book influenced my own decision to convert more than did The Faith of a Scientist, by Dr. Henry Eyring, a world-renowned chemist and father of the current apostle. (In fact, there was an article about him in the textbook for my high-school chemistry class in Mississippi.) The missionaries gave me a copy of that wonderful little book, which I read several times, and which helped to persuade me that a church in which someone like Dr. Eyring could fit comfortably would probably be a good place for me as well. It has always deeply impressed me that the highest-ranking leadership in the Church includes the likes of Elders Russell M. Nelson, a world-famous heart surgeon, and Dallin H. Oaks, a respected legal scholar and former justice on the Utah Supreme Court. Elder James E. Talmage was a scientist who at one time served as president of the University of Utah, and he was a superb and gifted writer as well. (I have read Jesus the Christ about 15 times altogether, in all three of my languages; and I might add parenthetically that another noteworthy scholar, Eduardo Balderas, did a splendid job of translating this classic into Spanish.)
But all of this is as really it should be. What I regard as perhaps the two happiest commandments in the entire canon of gospel law are found in Doctrine and Covenants 88:77-79, 118. Closely related to these injunctions is the admonition of Nephi in the Book of Mormon, that to be learned is good if we hearken to the counsel of God (2 Nephi 9:28-29). I have always found myself easily drawn to people who are both deeply religious and highly educated, a combination that exists plentifully in our church and its culture.
Hugh Nibley, perhaps more than anyone else in our time, exemplified the kind of erudite spirituality that has been encouraged so much among the Latter-day Saints. In doing so, he has cast his pleasing shadow over my own life as well, perhaps in ways I don't always consciously realize. Just recently, when I was reviewing and editing my Italy e-mails for my other blog, I came across a reference to Dr. Nibley about which I had completely forgotten. It regarded something he had said about the Celestial Kingdom featuring a sort of cosmic library, wherein the literature and knowledge of all worlds were stored, and where a patron could instantly absorb the content of any particular work by merely touching it. I suppose none of us really has more than a vague idea of what the Kingdom will be like, but I myself have come to envision it as a kind of supersized version of Florence, where learning and art and creativity will bloom and flourish unimpeded by earthly concerns, and where the gifts and talents of all its inhabitants will be fully developed in ways not possible here. And I am sure Dr. Nibley has already learned a few things that he didn't know before -- perhaps from James E. Talmage, Orson Pratt, Orson F. Whitney, Karl Maeser, and others of a similar mold who have preceded him into the paradise of God, and who were surely present to greet him on his arrival. We can all look forward to the prospect of joining them there one day.
Friday, March 04, 2005
Hugh Nibley funeral report
Yesterday was Brother Hugh Nibley's funeral in the Provo Tabernacle. He was born March 27th, 1910 and died last Thursday, February 24th, 2005. He was just a month shy of 95 years old.
The Tabernacle was packed on the ground floor and had about 1/3 of the upper balcony seating full. I had to park on 3rd East on Center street. Beth and I sat on the 2nd to last row, behind Truman, Ann, and Barney Madsen, and next to Dina, Diana's friend. We were able to have good visits while we waited for the service to start.
Seated on the stand were 4 BYU Presidents: Samuelson (previous member of the Seventy and current BYU President), Bateman (currently in the Seventy), Holland, and Oaks, the latter two of course being Apostles now. Also there was his Brother Nibley's Bishop of the Provo 9th Ward, and the Stake Presidency of his Stake.
The meeting started promptly with the hymn "All Creatures of Our God and King" by Ralph Vaughn Williams. I sure like a building with a real pipe organ in it. Then an opening prayer by Boyd Jay Petersen, husband to Zina Nibley and the author of the recent excellent biography of Brother Nibley, "HUGH NIBLEY: A CONSECRATED LIFE" which I found myself reading much of last night. Recommended.
The Utah Baroque Ensemble played JS Bach's "Come Sweet Death", a very quiet string number with some vocals as well. (This group is the successor to the Utah Bach Choir that Coug, er, Doug Bush led years ago.)
Then 7 of the 8 living children spoke, from youngest to oldest. First up was Zina Nibley Petersen, who was darling. She said that this particular Bach piece was by her father's request. She said that if her father was here, he would want to put "the fun back in funeral". At that moment she donned his old familiar hat, to a great audience chuckle. She then took the hat off and put it on the podium and said that truly her father had been looking forward to dying for years. He had such a list of questions that he wanted the Lord to answer. In the past few years he would be ready for bed and would tell Zina, "Tonight may be the night!" The next morning he would wake up and say, "Damn!". Everyone laughed, with smiles even upon Elder Holland and Elder Oaks right behind her. Then she added, "But last Thursday morning, he woke up and said, Yee-hah!" She was confident that he was very happy in the spirit world. (I remember when I took Brother Nibley's classes how he would talk about death - he knows it is the next step in our progression and he was looking forward to it in the 1980s!) Zina had a sparkle and a wit that was absolutely wonderful. When she put Brother Nibley's hat on I began to cry - 1st speaker and I was already gone - but oh how proud Brother Nibley would have been of her. Best talk of the day in my book as there was so much love and feeling from her. She really understood her father.
Chronologically, Martha Beck Nibley, the recent wayward daughter, would have been next but she did not attend the funeral.
The next talk ran a close 2nd to Zina's in my book, a talk by Rebecca Nibley (once Tingey). She got up and spread her arms out in a beautiful rich blue dress and began quoting Shakespeare, and she too had both a humerous and touching set of stories about her father. She spoke of the two most important gifts that he gave her: her beliefs (and she then expressed her strong belief in Christ and the Restored Gospel), and a love of nature and the outdoors. She told a story about when she had graduated from BYU, and how she and her father walked up to commencement together. He wanted to take her picture. She was shocked, since "I was after all, dressed in the robes of a false priesthood", which got a laugh. Anyway, she said "I tried to look academic, intelligent, and sexy" - and she immediately turned to Elders Holland and Oaks and apologized to them, with another crowd chuckle. These daughters of Brother Nibley were simply delightful: bold, and no respecter of the crowd - just as Hugh would have been.
Next up was Charles Alexander Nibley, or Alex, who spoke of learning Greek and then receiving birthday cards from his father with Greek quotations, but Alex chose to answer them in English. The sons seemed more emotional than the daughters on the whole. He had a hard act to follow being the first after the two younger girls!
Next older Michael Draper Nibley spoke about how Brother Nibley's Nordic upbringing made for fairly unemotional greetings, but Michael's wife who is from the Phillipines brought their tradition of big hugs on arrivals and departures. Brother Nibley did not like it - at first, but over the years he began to enjoy the custom, and by his later years he would insist upon her hugging him even if she was sick saying, "You're just too cuddly!" Michael said that he was honored to be Hugh Nibley's son.
The mood changed with Thomas Hugh Nibley who proclaimed that his father was part of the "council of the prophets" in the preexistence and that his father's job was to support and defend all of the other prophets that have come and gone on the earth. He spoke passionately, forcefully, unequivocally, and with great seriousness, quite different in mood or tone than those that spoke before him. He spoke of little
else, but he was convinced that his father was a part of this "council of the prophets". In other words, he believed that his father had a very important mission here on earth, as I am sure he did.
Christina Nibley Mincek, the oldest daughter, was not as lively as her younger sisters, but she was indeed a fan of her father just as much. She had a quiet reserve of strength. She spoke of her father and an outing that she got to take with him to a Utah desert area called Capital Reef many years ago. She was very young, but excited to be the only one going along, as usually he would take several of the children.
(Many of the kids spoke of these desert trips fondly in their remarks.) Anyway, they slept in a tent and the next morning she awoke - and her father was gone. Shortly he popped into the tent and took her up the hill to see the sunrise. He had taken a photo. Years later she found the photo - a majestic scene with a tiny dot in the middle, which was the tent that she was waking up in. On the back of the photo was the inscription: "Christina at Capital Reef". She said he had great perspective on life: "the universe was huge, but I was the most important part of that picture."
The last of the children to speak was #1 son, Paul Sloan Nibley. He was quite emotional. He built the casket for Brother Nibley by hand. He used a variety of very special woods, and he left important symbols and marks on it, with some of the details being from Egypt thousands of years ago. It also incorporated a Japanese lockbox in the casket. He seemed, more than the other children, to understand and be interested in ancient studies, the area that had consumed his father's passion for the past 60 years and more. He explained why he choose various woods, and got very emotional. (I only caught a glimpse of the casket but it looked beautiful.) He of all of the children seemed the most shook up about the loss of their father.
I had never met any of his children through the years, and I greatly enjoyed hearing from them.
Hugh's brother Reid Nibley then played a piano solo, "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring", another JS Bach favorite of Brother Nibley's. It was of course very beautiful. I want JS Bach played at my funeral too.
John Welch then spoke more about Brother Nibley's books and life work. Brother Welch began taking classes from Nibley in 1965. He is now on the board of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies - FARMS - a foundation that was partly (largely?) created to help fund Brother Nibley's work back in 1979. John Welch showed how, using the names of all of Nibley's books and articles, Nibley's teachings all supported and taught the Joseph Smith's Thirteen Articles of Faith. It was a very good summary and reminder of all that Nibley had written about. At the close of his talk he mentioned that his last words to Brother Nibley were "I love you", and Brother Nibley returned the sentiment.
Another musical number followed: "Vocalise" by Sergei Rachmaninoff, a violin solo by Kelly Clark Parkinson (a friend of the family), accompanied by Reid Nibley on the piano. This was a rather long, but very beautiful number.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve then spoke briefly. He was not on the printed program - he probably had other appointments that he had to change to get to the service - but he was very gracious and spoke to Phyllis Nibley and the family. He gave his own brief remarks and then pulled out a letter from the First
Presidency. He read a copy of the letter at the pulpit, and gave the original to Sister Nibley at the conclusion of the service. In this brief letter the First Presidency was equally gracious in their extolling the great service that Brother Nibley had given to the Church for many years.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve then spoke and quoted a lot of verses from 2 Nephi 9 about resurrection, about being learned, and commented that Brother Nibley was a good example of someone who was both learned AND hearkened to the counsels of God. He left an Apostolic blessing upon the family and upon Brother Nibley's work, which should help diffuse the remainder of the Martha problems... I
was impressed with this attention to detail.
The closing hymn was also by the Utah Baroque Ensemble, "The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning". The choir would sing the verse, and then the congregation would join in on the chorus. We did this for 4 verses. I couldn't sing most of verse 3 - I was too choked up.
The closing prayer was by Otto Draper, the brother to Sister Nibley, and my former neighbor when I grew up in Sunnyvale. I had a good visit afterwards with him, his son Nels, and his wife Florence who is a second cousin to my mother. Nels sang in the choir today and tried to get me to re-enlist with the group: they need tenors again. I also visited with Rebecca Nibley and told her what a great service it was. (Laura: she remembers you!)
Anyway, it was a great service, a deeply moving and emotionally draining yet inspiring service if you know what I mean. Many things which I learned from Brother Nibley came flooding back to me. It appears that in the years since he stopped teaching (1994), he mellowed quite a bit and really became more of a people-person than he had been. I think it was because he was no longer preoccupied with his research.
When I visited him three months ago at his home he was very nice and appreciative. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to learn from him. I am glad we still have his books and writings to continue to learn from. Lech Lecha!
Spring Lake, UT
3 Mar 2005
Thursday, March 03, 2005
In the Mideast, the times they are a-changing
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Heroism of Iraqi Minutemen
The other day, I was sitting in the conference room of our headquarters building during a meeting with the Executive Officer and the rest of the staff. When we heard a loud explosion that was strong enough and/or close enough to rattle our building. We all paused and looked at each other and remarked that “that one was pretty close.” We waited a moment to hear if there were going to be any more explosions or gunfire as this would indicate that an attack was underway as opposed to merely a large detonation of captured explosives by our EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) team nearby or an IED just outside the FOB. If there were any additional noises like that, we would have to gear up and get ready to fight. As it was, there were no additional explosions or gunfire and we continued our meeting.
This is what had happened: A short distance from our FOB, A US convoy was driving down the road. As they headed to their destination a civilian vehicle pulled on from a side alley and attempted to get into the convoy. Apparently, the convoy gunners were too green or some how did not perceive the car to be a threat. They did not wave the car off, throw anything at him, cut him off, or shoot to try and stop him. A nearby IP (Iraqi Police) SUV witnessed the intruding vehicle and immediately intervened. It pulled up to the rear of the convoy and tried to force the intruding vehicle off the road. The IP’s had successfully put themselves between the vehicle and the US convoy. Unable to deter the vehicle from approaching the US convoy or make it pull over, the IP’s fired at the engine of the encroaching vehicle. At this point, the driver detonated the IED inside his vehicle. Yes, this was a classic VBIED.
This suicide bomber killed himself and the four IP’s in the vehicle holding him at bay. The device was so powerful that the bomber’s vehicle was literally obliterated. The engine block was thrown over 25 meters. The IP’s vehicle was nothing but a burned out shell. All four IP’s inside perished in the blast, but not a scratch was inflicted on the vehicles or personnel of the US convoy. Had it not been for the exceptional bravery, valor and situational awareness of these four Iraqi Patriots, that day would have been bloodier, and we probably would have had another communications blackout at the FOB.
Pundits and soldiers alike have talked a lot of trash about the ISF (Iraqi Security Forces). But if they are even half as good as these four were, the future of Iraq is very bright indeed. I hope they are decorated with the highest honors their country can bestow upon their fallen. Their actions were as heroic as it gets if you ask me.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Dan Rather RIP
On the wrong side of the Wall -- again
We're in a period right now where I can't wait to check the news every day. Events, especially in the Middle East, are moving in what would have been considered an impossibly hopeful direction just a few months ago. The Bush administration believed that if the door to democracy and reform were opened in Iraq, much of the Arab world might follow. This was always a big gamble--one that we supported in part because, as we've often said, no one has proposed a competing plan to deal, long-term, with the problem of Islamic terrorism.
Right now, President Bush's gamble is looking very good indeed. Something like 50 million people have been liberated in Afghanistan and Iraq. Positive developments are occurring before our eyes in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. It's way too soon to proclaim the administration's strategy a success; indeed, we may not be sure in our lifetimes whether the strategy that underlay the Iraq war was a sound one. But right now, it sure is fun to read the headlines.
Of course, not everyone agrees. MSNBC's Question of the Day is: "Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria: Is the Bush Doctrine working?" Currently, 35% say "yes," while 65% say "no." These folks seem to have a high standard for what constitutes "working," which I suspect tells us more about MSNBC's readership than about the geopolitical merits of the administration's strategy.
UPDATE: Mark Steyn says it brilliantly in this morning's Telegraph; I'm jealous, too, because he tips his hat to Charles Johnson and Glenn Reynolds. Read it all; I thought this paragraph was especially insightful:
Even if the old thug-for-life had merely been replaced by a new thug-for-life, the latter would come to power in the wake of the cautionary tale of the former.
But some of us - notably US deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz - thought things would go a lot better than that. Wolfowitz was right, and so was Bush, and the Left, who were wrong about the Berlin Wall, were wrong again, the only difference being that this time they were joined in the dunce's corner of history by far too many British Tories. No surprise there. The EU's political establishment doesn't trust its own people, so why would they trust anybody else's? Bush trusts the American people, and he's happy to extend the same courtesy to the Iraqi people, the Syrian people, the Iranian people, etc.
Iraq: one front in the Middle East Theater of the Global War on Terrorism
'Militant' groups have often attempted to stabilize the front whenever events threatened to take a direction which they could not control. This usually took the form of a spoiling terrorist attack to re-mire things in blood, chaos and hatred as often happened during negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. It would not be surprising if the terror masters fell back on this old repertoire by staging attacks directed not only at Middle Eastern targets but at the United States to throw back the threatening psychological wave. The problem is that there is no longer any widespread confidence, even in the places like Lebanon, that terror tactics will prevail. To that extent even the most heinous attacks, like the carbomb which recently killed more than 100 in Iraq, have lost their bite. Psychologically speaking, the greatest contribution of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns is that they have shattered terrorism's myth of invincibility. The terrorists embarked on a maximum effort to dislodge the US from Iraq, employing every weapon of violence, political maneuver and propaganda they could muster and came up much the worse for wear. This lesson has not been lost to public perception and has emboldened dissidents all across the region.Read the whole thing.
The real challenge will be to find ways to respond to the campaign of spoiling terror which may be forthcoming. Unlike Iraq, where US forces can respond directly to challenge, the problem will be the ability of the US to affect events over the wider region in clandestine or indirect ways. Tempo is America's friend, but the enemy is even now looking for a place to stem the rot.