Monday, October 30, 2006

Iraq versus California

A piece by Victor Davis Hanson is making the rounds today, in spite of being written back in April. If you haven't read it, it will probably knock your socks off. Here is a taste.
War-torn Iraq has about 26 million residents, a peaceful California perhaps now 35 million....

As a fifth-generation Californian, I deeply love this state, but still imagine what the reaction would be if the world awoke each morning to be told that once again there were six more murders, 27 rapes, 38 arsons, 180 robberies, and 360 instances of assault in California — yesterday, today, tomorrow, and every day. I wonder if the headlines would scream about “Nearly 200 poor Californians butchered again this month!”How about a monthly media dose of “600 women raped in February alone!” Or try, “Over 600 violent robberies and assaults in March, with no end in sight!”

Friday, October 27, 2006

Judge Leslie Lewis, Overreactor

As the mother of two toddlers, I'm rather used to overreactions to events. Mercy barely touches Ezra, he falls down and says, "Don't push me, Mercy!"--that sort of thing. Comes with the territory of raising little kids.

It doesn't usually come with the territory of being a judge. Not dealing with the overreactions of others (although I'm sure there is a lot of that), but actually being the one doing the overreacting.

From the Deseret News:
The hunting-community controversy stems from a February hearing on a third-degree felony count of wanton destruction of protected wildlife filed against Michael Jacobson. In the hearing, Lewis was recusing herself from the case because of her personal bias against deer hunting. While expressing her views, Lewis confronted Jacobson with questions of how he feels while shooting a deer. Jacobson's brother, Kent Jacobson, stood up to leave the courtroom. Lewis ordered a bailiff to bring him back into the courtroom.
"Now, why did you feel the need to make such an explosive and clear indication of your displeasure or boredom at being here?" Lewis asked.
Kent Jacobson responded: "OK, it's not just the displeasure of being bored here. The problem is, is we have just as much rights of going out and shooting deer as you have the right ..." He was then cut off by Lewis.
"What are you talking about?" she injected, and then ordered that he be arrested and sent to a holding cell.
Court records show Lewis recused herself and sent the case to Judge Dino Himonas, who ordered Michael Jacobson to pay $2,500 in restitution and to give up his hunting rights for two years.

If you watch the video (posted on YouTube), Kent Jacobson was extremely respectful and very cordial. At no time did he lose his temper--although according to a SL Tribune article (no link, sorry), he left because he didn't want to make a scene.

I agree that judges should keep order in their courtroom, but, to me, she clearly overreacted and overreached her authority. Perhaps this is a one-off--maybe she was just having a really bad day. Still, when someone is in a position of authority, of public trust, this kind of thing is clearly inappropriate. We need to decide if we can trust her to never do this kind of thing again--or else I don't think that she should be retained.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

BYU sues...

BYU is suing Pfizer, claiming over $1B in losses over the development of Celebrex, an NSAID drug that was immensely popular before it was revealed that it can cause heart damage. There has been much written about this in the Bloggernacle (here in particular), but the most informative thing I've read about the issues behind intellectual property and universities was by Jeff Lindsay at Mormanity. Brother Lindsay has quite a bit experience in this particular area, and his explanation is both informative and easy to understand.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Lamentable Loss of the Baseline Facts

It is not always easy to find honest and objective political discourse. One trend of recent years that especially concerns me is the loss of an accepted set of baseline facts. Charges are repeated over and over again even when they have been demonstrated to be false. Commentators have adopted an us-against-them mentality, villifying "them" without good cause.

I wish we could disagree without being vile or hateful. We should be able to trust in the good intentions of the opposing faction even if we disagree with their conclusions.

The puzzling thing that we see, is that this polarized atmosphere encourages people to be less than straight with the facts. I hope for the continued success and increased output of, a group devoted to debunking fallacious claims made in political campaigns. We need more reliable places to find the facts.

Monday, October 09, 2006

BYU Forum by Indonesian Leader

From a BYU press release:
Brigham Young University will host an Indonesian political leader, author and leading Islamic scholar at a forum Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center.

Alwi Shihab will speak on "Building Bridges to Harmony through Understanding."

Shihab has been minister of foreign affairs (equivalent to the U.S. secretary of state), coordinating minister for people's welfare and president of the National Awakening Party. He is also an adviser to the Indonesian president and special envoy to the Middle East and all Islamic countries.
It is not clear if this forum will be shown on BYU-TV or not. It will be broadcast to an auditorium on the other side of BYU campus from the Marriott Center, but they aren't always allowed to put these forums on public television.

I'm planning on attending this event. It sounds like Shihab served with Gus Dur, the first democratically elected president of Indonesia. I was sort of surprised to learn that Indonesia is actually the largest Muslim country by population.

I plan to put up a post on PonderIt about the forum, and hopefully I will get up a post before the forum about Gus Dur and his experiences with Mormons. I'll update this post with links when appropriate.

UPDATE: The PonderIt story on Gus Dur.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

California Court on Gay Marriage

Guy Murray has posted a summary and analysis of a recent decision of the California Appellate Court on the subject of gay marriage. Here is a snippet that Guy quoted from the Court's synopsis of the decision.
All can agree that California has not deprived its gay and lesbian citizens of a right they previously enjoyed; same-sex couples have never before had the right to enter a civil marriage. It is also beyond dispute that our society has historically understood “marriage” to refer to the union of a man and a woman. These facts do not mean the opposite-sex nature of marriage can never change, or should never change, but they do limit our ability as a court to effect such change. The respondents in these appeals are asking this court to recognize a new right. Courts simply do not have the authority to create new rights, especially when doing so involves changing the definition of so fundamental an institution as marriage.

I think the court has nailed my exact view on this subject.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Foley Scandal Reeks

Congressman Mark Foley did some yucky stuff, according to news reports. I've avoided seeking out any details on the content of the messages he sent to a teenage boy we worked with. His actions have put a stink on him, his party, and the congress.

From what I can tell, the House Leadership acted appropriately with the information they received. If their story holds up, they are morally in the clear.

Investor's Business Daily has an editorial (ht Drudge) that asks why Democrats are sqealing so loudly now as compared to their reactions to previous Democrats caught in similar moral failings.

In 1983, then-Democratic Rep. Gerry Studds of Massachusetts was caught in a similar situation. In his case, Studds had sex with a male teenage page -- something Foley hasn't been charged with.

Did Studds express contrition? Resign? Quite the contrary. He rejected Congress' censure of him and continued to represent his district until his retirement in 1996.

They point out other issues for Rep. Barney Frank, President Bill Clinton, and Rep. Mel Reynolds. These were men caught in moral scandals that kept their jobs or, in the case of Reynolds, received a pardon from the consequenses of their misdeeds.

Why can't we all rejoice together that we've got Foley out of the House? Let's not play hypocritical games with our government.

"Is this a prank call?"

Two physicists have been awarded the Nobel Prize for their work on the Big Bang. The most amusing part of the story was this line:
Smoot told Reuters the Nobel committee called him at 2:45 a.m. Pacific Time after first dialing the wrong number.
So... the Nobel Committee isn't aware of time zones? I'd sure love to hear the recording of the first person they called.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Eat Your Heart Out Michael Reagan

I sometimes hear Michael Reagan on the radio in the evening. I think his popularity stems primarily from the fact that he is Ronald Reagan's son. Well, now that the Gipper is gone, you should be aware of a relative of our current president: me.

Yes, you read that right. I'm related to the president of the United States. Feel free to send Christmas cards with cash to try to get in my good graces so I can put in a good word for you with the Commander-in-Chief.

Thanks to the Relationship Finder (ht), I now know that I am the 11th cousin of George W. Bush, twice removed. Yet another item add to my ever-growing list of claims to fame.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Of Matters Personal and Public

Bill Clinton's outburst on Fox News Sunday one week ago has opened the doors of conversation about his legacy as a president and about his role in our nation's failure to prevent the attacks on 9/11.

Clinton's moral failings sapped his reserves of "political capital" and distracted him and a nation from more important matters, such as the threat from Islamic terrorists. No person is free to choose the reaction others may have to their own actions. If only life were so arranged! So, in analyzing the culpability of our past president, we should view his actions seperately from the appropriateness or inappropriateness of the responses of his political adversaries.

It seems clear that one lesson of the Clinton presidency is that it won't do for a politician to argue that his or her personal life is strictly personal. Indeed, Clinton seems to be the most glaring example in recent memory that this just can't be so. Until politicians can act in a vacuum, their personal reputations will affect their ability to get things done. I wish it weren't that way, but reality dictates otherwise.