Monday, June 27, 2005

WSJ on "The Rove Kerfuffle"

(Filling some space. Here's the link. And here's the whole thing:)

Democrats have met the enemy, and it is Karl Rove. After standing behind Dick Durbin's comparison of American troops to Nazis, Washington Dems are in a lather about the White House deputy chief of staff's comments at a dinner last week. Here's what Rove said (ellipses in original):
Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers. In the wake of 9/11, conservatives believed it was time to unleash the might and power of the United States military against the Taliban; in the wake of 9/11, liberals believed it was time to . . . submit a petition. I am not joking. Submitting a petition is precisely what did. It was a petition imploring the powers that be" to "use moderation and restraint in responding to the . . . terrorist attacks against the United States."

I don't know about you, but moderation and restraint is not what I felt as I watched the Twin Towers crumble to the earth; a side of the Pentagon destroyed; and almost 3,000 of our fellow citizens perish in flames and rubble.

Moderation and restraint is not what I felt--and moderation and restraint is not what was called for. It was a moment to summon our national will--and to brandish steel., Michael Moore and Howard Dean may not have agreed with this, but the American people did. Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said: We will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said: We must understand our enemies.
Rove's detractors offer two chief criticisms. The first is that Rove is overgeneralizing--that there are some liberals who are serious about the war. There is, for example, Sen. Joe Lieberman. Another example would be, um--hmmm . . . oh, did we mention Joe Lieberman? You see what we mean: This is a quibble.

The second criticism is that Rove is lumping together mainstream liberals with far-left nut-jobs like, which did indeed start a petition, and Michael Moore, whose response on Sept. 12, 2001, was to lament that al Qaeda had attacked Democratic states instead of Republican ones.

Not for nothing did Andrew Sullivan famously warn on Sept. 16 that "the decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts . . . may well mount what amounts to a fifth column." Yet elected Democrats by and large did not respond this way in the weeks after 9/11, as John Kerry recalled in an e-mail to supporters the other day:

That, of course, is what is most outrageous about Karl Rove's claim that President Bush's political opponents offered "therapy and understanding for our attackers." It isn't true. In the days after 9/11, there were no Democrats, no Republicans. We were all Americans, standing together. President Bush acknowledged that unity in a clear and compelling way at the time.

"One of the overlooked aspects of the war we are now fighting is the awakening it has spawned on the left," Sullivan wrote in The Wall Street Journal on Oct. 4, 2001:
In one atrocity, Osama bin Laden may have accomplished what a generation of conservative writers have failed to do: convince mainstream liberals of the illogic and nihilism of the powerful postmodern left. For the first time in a very long while, many liberals are reassessing--quietly for the most part--their alliance with the anti-American, anticapitalist forces they have long appeased, ignored or supported.
But the mainstream liberals proved far from steadfast, as Sullivan noted in a blog entry on March 13, 2002 (ellipsis in original):
THE ANTI-WAR DEMOCRATS: They're not exactly shouting from the rooftops. But they sure have their wetted fingers hoisted in the air. Janet Reno says in Florida that "I have trouble with a war that has no endgame and I have trouble with a war that generates so many concerns about individual liberties." Notice she doesn't say that the war has violated individual liberties, or that she believes that, but merely that there are "so many concerns" about it. Has there been any war in which such concerns have not been raised?

The Richmond Times-Dispatch also reports that "the former U.S. attorney general said she thinks the government would be hard-pressed to find a legal basis to prosecute many of the Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners being detained at Guantanamo Bay." Oh, let them go, then. Back to Sandy Berger and letting bin Laden escape from Sudan to Afghanistan. Do these people ever learn?

And then there's Senator John Kerry. As a Vietnam vet, he'll be the front man for those Democrats desperate to dispel the war atmosphere that could realign American politics away from dovish liberals for decades. Senator Hillary Clinton spelled out the formula in Boston at a Kerry fund-raiser: "John's leadership is critical to where we plan to go in this world. We need people of the stature and the experience of John Kerry . . . asking the hard questions. We are having the debate Congress is required to have--where to go, what to do."

Like most things Senator Clinton says, this is unobjectionable on its face. But its intent is clear. Some Democrats are simply uncomfortable about America having a strong and unapologetic role in the world. This isn't treason; it's weakness. And weakness in the dangerous world we face is an invitation for more terror. Be warned.
This is more or less the same as what Rove said last week--and Sullivan's observations came barely six months after 9/11, before the Democrats did these among many other things:

* Made a center of their grass-roots political effort and a frequent speaking venue for former and current Democratic officials, including Al Gore, Robert Byrd and Harry Reid.

* Embraced Michael Moore, giving him an honored seat at the party convention in Boston last July. When Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9/11"--surely the crassest effort to politicize the attacks--had its Washington premiere, many Democrats showed up, including the party's then-chairman, Terry McAuliffe, and its then-Senate leader, Tom Daschle. "There might be half of the Democratic Senate here," then-senator Bob Graham of Florida observed.

* Nominated for president a man who opportunistically opposed the liberation of Iraq after having voted for it (or opportunistically voted for it before opposing it, or both), and who cast a protest vote against funding the troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

* Made a whole host of statements that reflect precisely the attitude Rove imputes to them--from Sen. Patty Murray's description of Osama bin Laden as a philanthropist who builds, among other things, "day care centers" to Sen. Dick Durbin's Nazi calumny. GayPatriot has a list.

It seems clear that the rupture between the "decadent left" and the mainstream of the Democratic Party was short-lived, and that the latter has largely made its peace with the former, whether out of conviction or out of base-assuaging political necessity. In any case, if Democrats and liberals don't like being portrayed as weak, let them show some strength. Whining about Rove's remarks is not an auspicious start.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Bishoping in the BYU 68th Ward

Have spent a fabulous week getting to know the young people (mostly freshmen) in the BYU 68th Ward. What a great group, and what a blessing to serve as a bishop. They've come together so quickly and are so willing to serve each other. The future of the Church is bright.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Ben Stein among the stars

For many years Ben Stein has written a biweekly column called "Monday Night At Morton's." (Morton's is a famous chain of Steakhouses known to be frequented by movie stars and famous people from around the globe.) Now, Ben is terminating the column to move on to other things in his life. Reading his final column is worth a few minutes of your time.

Ben Stein's Last Column...
How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World?

As I begin to write this, I "slug" it, as we writers say, which means I put a heading on top of the document to identify it. This heading is "eonlineFINAL," and it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been doing this column for so long that I cannot even recall when I started. I loved writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it would never end.

It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing as a person and the world's change have overtaken it. On a small scale, Morton's, while better than ever, no longer attracts as many stars as it used to. It still brings in the rich people in droves and definitely some stars. I saw Samuel L. Jackson there a few days ago, and we had a nice visit, and right before that, I saw and had a splendid talk with Warren Beatty in an elevator, in which we agreed that Splendor in the Grass was a super movie. But Morton's is not the star galaxy it once was, though it probably will be again.

Beyond that, a bigger change has happened. I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to.

How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a "star" we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamese girls do their nails.

They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any longer. A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world.

A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad. He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him.

A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a family desolate in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad.

The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists.

We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.

I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that who is eating at Morton's is a big subject.

There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament...the policemen and women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they will return alive; the orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery; the teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children; the kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards.

Think of each and every fireman who was running up the stairs at the World Trade Center as the towers began to collapse. Now you have my idea of a real hero.

I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters. This is my highest and best use as a human. I can put it another way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as Olivier or as good a comic as Steve Martin...or Martin Mull or Fred Willard--or as good an economist as Samuelson or Friedman or as good a writer as Fitzgerald. Or even remotely close to any of them.

But I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, above all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came to be my main task in life. I did it moderately well with my son, pretty well with my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister's help). I cared for and paid attention to them in their declining years. I stayed with my father as he got sick, went into extremis and then into a coma and then entered immortality with my sister and me reading him the Psalms.

This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the soldiers in Iraq or the firefighters in New York. I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help others He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best use as a human.

Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will.

By Ben Stein

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

President Gordon B. Hinckley turns 95 - 6/23/05

Read the story here.

See the photo here:
Pretty hale and hearty for a 95 year old.

Obituary of a Left-wing Artist

Lauren, at The Scriptorium, has posted this interesting obituary, which appeared in a Tucson newspaper. Warning: Make sure you are not eating or drinking anything as you read it, because if so, you are likely to choke or make a mess, or both. Read my comment as well.

Monday, June 20, 2005

"Where do they come from?"

George Will's latest column, which discusses the long aftermath of the murder of Emmett Till in 1955, poses this question, and then answers it.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Reading the three books of God

Garry has a link to an excellent Meridian Magazine article about seeing God in the symbols of the scriptures, creation, and the temple. Lots more could be said here about the Word of God (John 1), but let this suffice for now: "And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me." (Moses 6:63).

Thursday, June 16, 2005

President Bush's speech to Congress 9/20/01

I just read this again tonight. Words sharpened by events. Great speech.

Steve Jobs' Stanford Commencement

Apple / Pixar founder and technovangelist Steve Jobs gave this speech about connecting the dots, dropping in, love and loss, getting fired, and death. Read it.

Monday, June 13, 2005

MJ walks

Best comment heard on the radio before today's verdict: "He was really popular when he was a young, black, male singer. He's become less popular now that he's a weird, middle-aged white woman."

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Then there was light

Professional photographer Rick Lee posts on seeing light. Check out the photos on his site. Hat tip to one of the usual suspects (Instapundit).

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Michael Jackson: we find the defendant creepy

Stanley Crouch discusses the descent of Michael Jackson. Money quote:
For all that Jackson has done to control our illusions over a career that became progressively eccentric, his powers have fallen before the forces of this trial.

The publicity, the infinitude of speculations and the images of him either dancing atop a car on his first day of court appearance or being admonished for coming to court dressed in what seemed to be pajamas have proved his undoing.

He will never again be able to get by as any more than a vastly talented eccentric. He has now joined the ranks of the great freaks of our age and has no one to blame other than himself and his own willingness to play with the carnivorous forces that created his illusion.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Blogfather Glenn Reynolds links to a Chrenkoff piece on a Charles Rangel radio rant. On a WWRL talk show, Congressman Rangel compared the war in Iraq to the Holocaust:
"It's the biggest fraud ever committed on the people of this country," Rangel told WWRL Radio's Steve Malzberg and Karen Hunter. "This is just as bad as six million Jews being killed. The whole world knew it and they were quiet about it, because it wasn't their ox that was being gored."
Liberating 26 million people from tyranny is equivalent to the murder of six million Jews? Read Chrenkoff's entire piece.

Glenn Reynolds concludes: "Really, Bush's ability to drive his opponents stark, raving bonkers is almost supernatural."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Family fare more profitable

Hey, Hollywood: G-rated movies make more money.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

RR RIP - 5 June 2004

Hat tip to Garry for the reminder. It's the one-year anniversary of the Gipper's death. Funny -- hadn't noticed before: the day before D-day. Rest in peace, Mr. President.

Much ado: "Koran abuse"

Austin Bay has a nice piece that goes behind the headlines. A recently-publicized internal investigation report confirms 5 incidents of "Koran abuse" by American guards at Gitmo (1 - deliberately kicked by a now-fired interrogator; 2 - stepped on by a guard who apologized; 3 - a two-word profanity written inside front cover; 4 - breaking water balloons splashing an unspecified number of Korans; 5 - a Koran inadvertenly splashed with urine by a US soldier relieving himself outside near an air vent). The same report confirms 15 incidents of "Koran abuse" by Gitmo prisoners themselves. Hmm. Lacking a bit of proportionality here? Anyone expect an AP headline: "15 Incidents of Koran Abuse by Gitmo Prisoners Confirmed"? Nah.

A few fanatics paid their respects to America on 9/11 by flying fully-gassed airliners with innocent passengers into buildings to achieve maximum terror effect and kill as many people as possible. I didn't appreciate that lack of respect for our country and what we hold dear. But I believe the proper response was not a riot in the streets, or kicking a Koran, or even kidnaping and beheading a Muslim for being Muslim. I believe the proper response was to hunt down and kill those responsible, and destroy their capability to do even more damage.

Perhaps the WaPo and MSM are striking back with the "5 incidents confirmed" story after Newsweek retracted its "flushed Koran" story because it was unconfirmed and resulted in deadly protests in Afghanistan and elsewhere. (Incidentally, one of the 15 incidents confirmed in the recent report included a prisoner attempting to flush his Koran down a toilet...)

So -- the Newsweek story sparked riots where Muslims were killed (presumably by other Muslims). So -- they killed each other (intentionally? negligently?) in the act of demanding respect for their holy book. Hmm. Extreme behavior? That's what our global war against terrorism is about: an armed response to extreme behavior. We are supposed to understand that we need to respect the Muslim holy book, or we may pay with our lives? We are supposed to understand that nihilistic slaughter of innocents is legitimate political protest to emerging democracy? We are supposed to understand that it's OK to behead hostages if we don't meet political demands of terrorists? But don't step on my holy book.

No. It's not about the holy book. It's about the violent fanatacism of a relative few that needs to be marginalized (not legitimized), beaten, and ultimately destroyed.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Memorial Day in our neighborhood

Spent an interesting Memorial Day afternoon. We had a downpour in the morning, including lots of hail, as my wife and I drove Jed to the airport for his trip to D.C. and summer internship training before he heads to Honduras. On the way back, we stopped at Memory Grove in Salt Lake City to pay respects at the memorials to war dead (including my uncle Grant who was shot down in Korea), then visited graves of other family members, and went for a late lunch.

We arrived home and were just settling down for a nice afternoon nap (we are feeling our over-40-ness) when the phone rang. It was a neighbor calling to see if anyone were available to help another neighbor whose basement had flooded. Jed was on his way to D.C. and David was at a movie with his cousins. So I put my shoes back on and went over. Other calls went out, and within minutes, nearly 20 people were there helping move soggy boxes out of the flooded rooms and up onto plastic sheets to be sorted, mopping up the muddy floors, and helping do what needed doing. One neighbor brought a wet vac to get up most of the water from floors, and we donated a couple of fans to dry out the carpets. Within a couple of hours, what needed to be done was done. No fanfare. Just neighbors helping neighbors.

For an afternoon, in our neighborhood, we shared a tiny bit of the American spirit and almost unwittingly honored those who died protecting our way of life.