Friday, January 30, 2009

Islam: Obama gets it wrong, Krauthammer gets it right

Obama's first TV interview after becoming president was on Arab television. Krauthammer has the temerity to question the "peacemaking" of the One, and gets it exactly right. Here's the whole thing.

"Every new president flatters himself that he, kinder and gentler, is beginning the world anew. Yet, when Barack Obama in his inaugural address reached out to Muslims by saying 'to the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect,' his formulation was needlessly defensive and apologetic.

"Is it 'new' to acknowledge Muslim interests and show respect to the Muslim world? Obama doesn't just think so, he said so again to millions in his al-Arabiya interview, insisting on the need to 'restore' the 'same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago.'

"Astonishing. In these most recent 20 years -- the alleged winter of our disrespect of the Islamic world -- America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them. It engaged in five military campaigns, every one of which involved -- and resulted in -- the liberation of a Muslim people: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

"The two Balkan interventions -- as well as the failed 1992-93 Somalia intervention to feed starving African Muslims (43 Americans were killed) -- were humanitarian exercises of the highest order, there being no significant U.S. strategic interest at stake. In these 20 years, this nation has done more for suffering and oppressed Muslims than any nation, Muslim or non-Muslim, anywhere on Earth. Why are we apologizing?

"And what of that happy U.S.-Muslim relationship that Obama imagines existed "as recently as 20 or 30 years ago" that he has now come to restore? Thirty years ago, 1979, saw the greatest U.S.-Muslim rupture in our 233-year history: Iran's radical Islamic revolution, the seizure of the U.S. Embassy, the 14 months of America held hostage.

"Which came just a few years after the Arab oil embargo that sent the United States into a long and punishing recession. Which, in turn, was preceded by the kidnapping and cold-blooded execution by Arab terrorists of the U.S. ambassador in Sudan and his chargé d'affaires.

"This is to say nothing of the Marine barracks massacre of 1983, and the innumerable attacks on U.S. embassies and installations around the world during what Obama now characterizes as the halcyon days of U.S.-Islamic relations.

"Look. If Barack Obama wants to say, as he said to al-Arabiya, I have Muslim roots, Muslim family members, have lived in a Muslim country -- implying a special affinity that uniquely positions him to establish good relations -- that's fine. But it is both false and deeply injurious to this country to draw a historical line dividing America under Obama from a benighted past when Islam was supposedly disrespected and demonized.

"As in Obama's grand admonition: 'We cannot paint with a broad brush a faith as a consequence of the violence that is done in that faith's name.' Have 'we' been doing that, smearing Islam because of a small minority? George W. Bush went to the Islamic Center in Washington six days after the Sept. 11 attacks, when the fires of Ground Zero were still smoldering, to declare 'Islam is peace,' to extend fellowship and friendship to Muslims, to insist that Americans treat them with respect and generosity of spirit.

"And America listened. In these seven years since Sept. 11 -- seven years during which thousands of Muslims rioted all over the world (resulting in the death of more than 100) to avenge a bunch of cartoons -- there's not been a single anti-Muslim riot in the United States to avenge the massacre of 3,000 innocents. On the contrary. In its aftermath, we elected our first Muslim member of Congress and our first president of Muslim parentage.

"'My job,' says Obama, 'is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives.' That's his job? Do the American people think otherwise? Does he think he is bravely breaking new ground? George Bush, Condoleezza Rice and countless other leaders offered myriad expressions of that same universalist sentiment.

"Every president has the right to portray himself as ushering in a new era of this or that. Obama wants to pursue new ties with Muslim nations, drawing on his own identity and associations. Good. But when his self-inflation as redeemer of U.S.-Muslim relations leads him to suggest that pre-Obama America was disrespectful or insensitive or uncaring of Muslims, he is engaging not just in fiction but in gratuitous disparagement of the country he is now privileged to lead.

"Iran has already responded to the Obama overture. In perfect tune with Obama's defensiveness, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that better relations might be possible -- after America apologized for 60 years of crimes against Iran. Note the 60 years. The mullahs are as mystified by Obama's pre-1979 (or 1989) good old days as I am."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bipartisan stimulus package?

Hmm. All GOP reps vote no. 11 Dems vote no. The herd isn't yet completely following the One.

Peggy Noonan gets it right: "[T]he Democratic establishment in the House looks, not like people who are responding to a crisis, or even like people who are ignoring a crisis, but people who are using a crisis. Our hopeful, compelling new president shouldn’t have gone with this bill. He made news this week by going to the House to meet with Republicans. He could have made history by listening to them." Indeed. Read the whole thing.

The Anchoress has some great links.

Steve Jobs interview - Feb 1985

I regularly read the Cult of Mac blog. The Mac is 25 years old, and the blog has a link to a lengthy interview Steve Jobs gave to Playboy in February 1985 -- about a year after the Mac was introduced.

(Don't worry, there aren't any pictures in the interview archive file).

Amazing that they called him Steven Jobs back then.

Amazing how prescient and passionate he was (and still is).


Jobs on why people will buy home computers in the future:

The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for the home will be to link it into a nationwide communications network. We’re just in the beginning stages of what will be a truly remarkable breakthrough for most people—as remarkable as the telephone.

Jobs on what it takes to create an “insanely great product”:

How come the Mac group produced Mac and the people at IBM produced the PCjr? We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build. When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.

Jobs on his then-relationship with Steve Wozniak:

When you work with somebody that close and you go through experiences like the ones we went through, there’s a bond in life. Whatever hassles you have, there is a bond. And even though he may not be your best friend as time goes on, there’s still something that transcends even friendship, in a way. Woz is living his own life now. He hasn’t been around Apple for about five years. But what he did will go down in history.

Jobs on why the computer industry is dominated by young people:

People get stuck as they get older. Our minds are sort of electrochemical computers. Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them… It’s rare that you see an artist in his 30s or 40s able to really contribute something amazing. Of course, there are some people who are innately curious, forever little kids in their awe of life, but they’re rare.

Jobs on his future at Apple:

I’ll always stay connected with Apple. I hope that throughout my life I’ll sort of have the thread of my life and the thread of Apple weave in and out of each other, like a tapestry. There may be a few years when I’m not there, but I’ll always come back.

See my related May 2005 post "Technomarvelling."

A bipartisan stimulus package: increase spending and cut taxes

The WSJ prints a bipartisan stimulus package proposal from ... Rush Limbaugh. Makes sense to me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rachel Esplin at Harvard

A 20 year-old junior from Blackfoot, Idaho, answers questions about her faith during a panel discussion at Harvard:

Day of Faith: Personal Quests for a Purpose - 3. Rachel Esplin from Harvard Hillel on Vimeo.

"To waste the flower of our love and to kill the fruit of our loins is wrong."

A recent letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal:

Dear Mr. Pollock:

One of the last orders that George W. Bush signed as President was the January 2009 National Sanctity of Human Life Day Proclamation. His pro-life record includes the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, the ban on partial-birth abortion, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, and the block of Federal funding for overseas "family planning" abortion programs.

One of the first orders that Barak H. Obama has signed as President is a reversal of the ban on taxpayer-funded international abortions. He also plans to expand the power to kill innocent lives via the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). We cannot print enough worthless monopoly money to solve our national and global economic crisis, but we still have plenty of hard cash in the budget for killing babies at home and abroad?

On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Dr. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, challenged Mr. Obama to include unborn children in his vision of life, liberty, and justice for all. Maybe he will be strong enough to abolish chattel abortion, just as President Lincoln abolished chattel slavery. If not, someday a great President will end the lucrative business of elective abortion. Someday the record will show who really cared about human rights. The rhetoric will end, and the record will stand.

Someday great reporters will have the stomach to expose the practices and profits of the elective abortion industry and the sale of baby body parts. The taboo on reporting prenatal violence will be lifted by men and women of conscience, who know that the blood of the littlest human beings should not be used to pay for the unprincipled behavior of adults who refuse to take responsibility for the consequences of sexual activity.

Someday the violence of abortion methods will be as abhorrent as any other assault or physical abuse. The paradox of those who oppose the death penalty but promote abortion will end. Pacifists will oppose elective abortion when they realize that more babies have died from abortion in the last 36 years than all of the soldiers and civilians who died from all of the modern military wars combined.

Someday elective abortion, the ultimate example of age discrimination, will be unthinkable. Those who said that women were not legal persons could not prevail. Those who said that slaves were not legal persons had to fail. Someday the tiny human beings who are not yet born will have protection as legal persons. Medical and technological advances will continue to roll back the frontiers of inner space in defining the genesis of human life. Hands that grasp and hearts that beat will be more eloquent than the most self-indulgent right-to-choose, right-to-kill, right-to-privacy speech.

"Little Lamb, who made thee?" asked the poet William Blake in "The Lamb," his most delicate song of innocence. He mourned the fate of chimney sweeps caught in narrow Victorian infernos. Someday a poet may write a parallel piece:

Little Life, who saved thee?

Dost thou know who saved thee?

Little Life, I'll tell thee.

They are called by thy name,

For they call themselves humane.

Someday great poets will grieve for the grisly piles of fetal bodies incinerated daily in the land of the free. Someday great writers will grieve for broken lives of unwed undone mothers-not-to-be in the land of the brave.

Who will be the abolitionists? Who will participate in the Underground Railroad? Who will be the new Harriet Tubman? Who will be the new Mother Teresa? Will there be a Horton who discovers the "Who" of unborn personhood in universes of discourse more lovely than we can imagine? Let it be so. Let it be now. Let it be me. When future generations look back on our 3.5 decades of slaughtering innocents, when they recoil at the hypocrisy of our polite exterminations, when they rebuke publicly-funded genocide, when they condemn the press for its cowardly cover-up, when they wonder why nobody said anything, let them find my poor name in a pile of old newspapers, as one who said "To waste the flower of our love and to kill the fruit of our loins is wrong."

Cynthia L. Hallen
Pleasant Grove, Utah

Monday, January 26, 2009

Abortion and paternity: choice and accountability

(Indebted to my daughter-in-law for this observation:)

Under the law, an unmarried man who fathers a child is required to pay for the child's support until the child reaches adulthood.

Under the law, an unmarried woman who decides to engage in sexual intercourse outside of marriage and who gets pregnant has a choice: she can kill the fetus -- without penalty.

Why does the law hold the man accountable for the consequence of his choice, but not the woman?

See my earlier post on the subject of abortion here.

UPDATE: An abortion doctor in Florida was late to an abortion, the infant was born alive, then put in a biohazard bag and thrown in the trash. The mother has filed a lawsuit, and the prosecutor is considering criminal charges.

Where the stimulus money comes from

Some simple economics from WJS -- for every dollar in the "stimulus package," a dollar must come out of private enterprise. Wouldn't tax cuts be more stimulating (i.e., by leaving more money in private enterprise)?

Donors get bailed out

From Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, based on a Washington Times story: "This is not so much a stimulus, as a massive transfer of wealth from the politically unconnected to the politically connected."

Not good.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Prop 8 legal battle

I've added a link in the sidebar to California Supreme Court Prop 8 filings.

Kenneth Starr is representing the Pro Prop 8 side. Here are some short excerpt from one of his filings:
* "Petitioners' challenge depends on characterizing Proposition 8 as a radical departure from the fundamental principles of the California Constitution. [...] But that portrayal is wildly wrong. Proposition 8 is limited in nature and effect. It does nothing more than restore the definition of marriage to what it was and always had been under California law before June 16, 2008 - and to what the people had repeatedly willed that it be throughout California's history." (Page 16.)

* "Proposition 8's brevity is matched by its clarity. There are no conditional clauses, exceptions, exemptions, or exclusions: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." ... Its plain language encompasses both pre-existing and later-created same-sex (and polygamous) marriages, whether performed in California or elsewhere. With crystal clarity, it declares that they are not valid or recognized in California." (Page 37.)
See my earlier post re Prop 8.

Track meets

Our youngest daughter is a freshman at Timpview High School and is on the track team. Last week she ran her first competitive races at an indoor meet at BYU. She got a personal best in the 200 (30.07), for 23rd overall (out of over 60 athletes). She also anchored the THS 4x4 "A" relay team. The girl who ran the first leg pulled a hammy but gutted it out so THS was in last place at the first baton change. Liney ran a personal best time for her leg.

Today we're at another preseason indoor meet at Weber State (hence more blogging than usual -- glad they have wireless in the fieldhouse). Liney won her 50 heat (1st time she's run it) finishing in the bottom half overall. She also took third in her 200 with another personal best time (28.84) and 11th overall (out of over 60 athletes).

Liney also ran the first leg of the 4x4 (400 meters in 64.48 -- good enough for 11th place if she had run the 400 individually) and put her team a strong 2nd at the first baton pass.

Fun times!

American Idol Judge Simon Cowell: Utahns "too cheerful" ...

Homosexuals are annoyed we're too political. Cowell's annoyed we're too cheerful. Oh well, guess you can't please everyone.

Times have changed ... in the press: the "good" war begins

What a difference a day makes. Bush was a warmonger. But missile strikes in another country now get ho-hum or deferential coverage in the media and silence from antiwar groups now that the One is president.

Your tax dollars at work: kill fetuses overseas

One of President Obama's first official acts was to sign an executive order overturning the ban on federal funding for organizations performing abortions overseas: or, a change back to what we don't believe in.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bush exits - Obama stays ... the course

As usual, Krauthammer gets it right -- this time on the "continuity-we-can-believe-in" transition:
The very continuation by Democrats of Bush's policies will be grudging, if silent, acknowledgment of how much he got right.
Read the whole thing.

Barack Hussein Obama -- First Inaugural Address

I hadn't heard an entire Obama speech -- until today.

I confess: electrifying!

I think I understand a little better "Obamamania."

May God bless our new President and our country.

Peggy Noonan has it right:
And this has grown old, and maybe it's the last time to say it, history moving so fast, but there's something we all know so well that we are perhaps forgetting to see it in the forefront. But a long-oppressed people have raised up a president. It is moving and beautiful and speaks to the unending magic and sense of justice of our country. The other day the journalist John O'Sullivan noted that 150 years after slavery, a black man stands in the place of Lincoln in the inaugural stands, and this country has proved again that anything is possible, that if we can do this we can do anything. That is a good thing to remember at a difficult time.

UPDATE: Charles Krauthammer disagrees with my reaction to the speech. Mark Steyn calls the speech "brilliantly dull." E.J. Dionne has a different take.