David Rodeback's Blog

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Life Among the Mormons, and Other Stuff

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Saturday, April 1, 2006
The Week's Excellent Readings

Mark Steyn, Jennifer Biddison, Paul Greenberg, Mark Joseph, Paul Johnson, and Dave Weinbaum lead the charge this week, but I also list no fewer than 16 articles on immigration. Forget the baloney that wanting to fix the problem is racist, and the opposite baloney that even legal immigrants should be unwelcome. Here is a relatively wide range of views about what to do and, perhaps more importantly, why.


Mark Steyn's approach to religious repression in Afghanistan isn't remotely conciliatory, but the high points here are pretty high. Here's one:

You cannot ask Americans or Britons to expend blood and treasure to build a society in which a man can be executed for his choice of religion.

Here's another:

In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of "suttee" -- the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. General Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:

''You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows.You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."

Jennifer Biddison reminds us that the Endangered Species Act is up for reauthorization this spring, and could probably use some tweaking. If you care about property rights and about government policies which trample them, you might think it needs a lot of tweaking.

Paul Greenberg on what he learned in the Army, which other, younger journalists didn't.

Mark Joseph doesn't seem to know that Mormons are Christians, but don't let that stop you from this slightly tongue-in-cheek, mostly serious treatment of tolerance and proselytizing. Maybe every community needs its Mars Hill.

Paul Johnson has an excellent piece on Abraham Lincoln as a lawyer.

Here's an unlikely sports story that's almost too good to be true. Dave Weinbaum (not the first) tells it here.

Iraq and Iran

W. Thomas Smith, Jr., discusses propaganda and some of its contemporary uses.

Michael Ledeen says (and it's hardly a revelation) that Iran is at war with us. Perhaps we could act like it?

James Lilek on ineffective messages.


George Will analyzes an Ohio race and thinks some thoughts that may have broader implications.

Burt Prelutsky is a bit frisky, perhaps, if you think political disagreements should always be cordial and diplomatic, but he makes some good points. Watch for a morsel that includes the words "New Orleans."

If President Bush wants to demonstrate that he's not the sort of dolt who never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity, as the saying seems to go, here's a good, ahem, opportunity: an immediate alternative to the as yet purely theoretical line item veto. Robert Novak reports.

Here's one for the Unintended Consequences file, courtesy of Phyllis Schlafly. Her target is the conservative sacred cow, the 1996 welfare reform. One excerpt:

Federal funding thus provides powerful monetary incentives for states to maximize the number of single-parent households with high transfer payments, and to minimize equal child custody which would lessen transfer payments. Depriving or reducing children's access to one parent is thus a source of revenue for states.

Ronald A. Cass tells how some are trying to neutralize Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.


Thomas Bray is surprised that Detroit and the US auto industry could ignore economic reality for so long.

Dave Cloud writes well on the French laws that spawned rioting, and vice versa. Larry Kudlow is worth reading on the same subject.

Herman Cain notes that, once again, cutting tax rates has increased government revenues.


Jennifer Roback Morse has a social justice rallying cry you don't hear every day: marriage. Good reading.

Suzanne Fields writes on German birth rates. Maybe this should be under the heading, "Economics" -- because that is the social science which most relentlessly predicts the outcomes based on the incentives.

Armstrong Williams writes on friendship.

John Leo writes intelligently on the implications for religious freedom of the Massachusetts/Catholic adoption flap. According to Debra Saunders, it's playing out a little differently in San Francisco. (But what doesn't?)

Jonah Goldberg reports on a movement with the wrong leaders. Here's a scary thought: "Marriage is for white people."

Burt Prelutsky is opposed to adultery, and articulately so.

Jonathan Rauch may offend some by his failure to tell the difference between mainstream, monogamous Mormons and the splinter, polygamous rebels, but his report on the dangers of polygamy bears reading anyway.


Star Parker gives the background of an interesting lawsuit, designed to require two California school districts to comply with No Child Left Behind, specifically the provisions for allowing students to escape chronically failing schools. NLCB also requires the federal government to withhold funding from non-complying school districts. This one might be interesting -- assuming we care more about enforcing laws in other areas than we do about enforcing immigration laws.

Neal Peirce describes Boston's "pilot schools," which I admit I never heard of before. They seem to be working, as a way to bypass bureaucracy and other obstacles to student success.

Frederick M. Hess and Martin R. West outline Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's bold education reform proposal. (It's David and Goliath all over again, and Governor Romney isn't Goliath.)

Local Interest

Trixie Walker writes a good piece on local science celebrity Shannon Babb.

Carl DeMaio's piece on San Diego city government is an interesting case study. I am not suggesting that American Fork is a parallel case.

Barbara Christiansen describes efforts to revitalize downtown American Fork.

Barbara Christiansen also reports on American Fork residents' criticism of plans for a trail. One wonders: Is there any way to have a trail at all, running north and south through the city, without facing the same concerns? Are the residents quoted opposed to trails as such, or is this just another NIMBY case (not in my back yard!), or do they think there really is a safer alternative to the proposed trail's location?

A Collection of Views on Illegal Immigration

Thomas Sowell, perfectly in character, applies sensible economics and linguistics to the immigration debate, and the result is excellent. The same is true, perhaps even truer, of Part II.

I almost always agree with George Will. This is one of those times, at least for now.

Jonah Goldberg says we have multiple immigration problems, not just one.

Jeff Emanuel writes of sensible immigration legislation in the Georgia legislature.

Michael Barone talks sense (in itself, not news) about immigration legislation at the national level.

Bill Murchison writes on illegal immigration and some of the implications we're not talking about much. (They're not all bad.)

Linda Chavez links anti-immigration fervor with modern Malthusians.

In all those demonstrations, why didn't you see Mexican flags on the news? Michelle Malkin reports.

Tony Blankley essentially predicts that folly about immigration will hasten the political demise of senators.

Kathleen Parker draws some interesting distinctions and makes important (not unique) points about language, in two senses.

Debra Saunders usefully debunks the "backlash myth."

Victor David Hanson takes an approach to immigration that is unusual and seems productive.

Paul Greenberg excels as usual.

Dick Morris thinks he knows how the Republicans can save their own skins in the immigration debate, but I'm not sure he knows how to solve the immigration problem itself.

Tony Snow thinks we ought to get our facts straight before we act on immigration -- but how likely is that, really?


This budding romance doesn't belong on the society pages. Peter Brookes writes of the Russians and Chinese making nice.

Walter Williams' piece on judges who legislate is particularly noteworthy on two counts: Its tale of the ACLU trying to suppress the rule of law and freedom of speech by complaining that a rule-of-law judge is breeding comtempt for the law, and a great Thomas Jefferson quotation near the end.

Greg Crosby on the passing of his mother.

Paul Greenberg praises plagiarism -- but I don't think he justifies buying term papers on the Internet in the process. (That would be missing the point.)

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