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Life Among the Mormons, and Other Stuff

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Saturday, October 21, 2006
The Week's Excellent Readings

This list is supersized, but, as always, you don't have to read everything. In addition to the usual topics, it includes sections on the US population exceeding 300 million and -- unrelated to that -- free speech being in jeopardy at home and abroad. There's a very low unemployment rate among college grads, and there's also more merriment here than usual.


George Will describes the politically convenient economic hypochondria of our time, which flies in the face of the facts. Here are two separate excerpts, and the second deserves a neon sign, or at least boldface type (my own). (Note that the nationwide unemployment rate is hovering between 4.5 and 5.0 percent, which is unusually low.)

Economic hypochondria, a derangement associated with affluence, is a byproduct of the welfare state: An entitlement mentality gives Americans a low pain threshold -- witness their recurring hysterias about nominal rather than real gasoline prices -- and a sense of being entitled to economic dynamism without the frictions and "creative destruction" that must accompany dynamism. Economic hypochondria is also bred by news media that consider the phrase "good news" an oxymoron, even as the U.S. economy, which has performed better than any other major industrial economy since 2001, drives the Dow to record highs.

The unemployment rate among college graduates is 2 percent.

John Yoo explains the hard smack Congress just delivered to the Supreme Court. (Thanks to reader Jon Rodeback for the link.) So spread the word: Congress did something significant, and they did it right. Of course, no one will believe you . . .

Islamism is the greatest globalization success story of the modern world, and it is a political project, not just a religion. So says Mark Steyn in this excerpt from his new book.

Jack Kelly offers a sensible summary of the North Korean situation.

Walter Williams is at his best in this discussion of trade deficits and fair trade -- and Pat Buchanan.

Tony Blankley does his best to describe just how stupid conservatives would be to stay away from the polls on November 7.

Debra J. Saunders has me thinking that Oklahoma has two US Senators with excellent, functioning spines, not just one  (Tom Coburn). And her view of global warming (her topic here), though not orthodox, seems quite reasonable.

I remain agnostic on global warming, as I've seen good arguments on both sides. I know, however, that I never will be convinced that global warming is a scientific threat as long as believers put most of their energy into establishing orthodoxy and denying that reputable global-warming skeptics exist.

Paul Jacob incants, "I must not be a congressman, I must not be a congressman."

In explaining how liberals and conservatives dream differently, Tom Purcell may also explain the frenetic, angry, almost nutbar character of the modern Democratic Party: They're just not sleeping well.

Still on the lighter side (I earnestly hope), Celia Rivenbark explains the latest threat not only to marriage, but to the future of the human race itself. Behold the power of . . . numbers and logic?!? (Actually, the math geeks among us already knew this.)

My women friends and I have discovered that men can't resist the slutty Sudoku. The "wordless crosswords" (right away this makes no sense) are like Kryptonite to the entire Victoria's Secret inventory.

I was a high school athlete (basketball, not football), and I wholeheartedly agree with Michael Goodwin.

300,000,000 and Counting

Austin Bay reports, among other things, Mark Steyn's list of doomsday predictions which didn't come true.

Terence P. Jeffrey says population growth is good, and then talks about people who disagree.

Obviously, even the bitterest anti-people pessimists don't take the anti-people logic this far. The very fact they persist in living -- and complaining about other people being alive -- proves they think some people ought to live. That is, they believe their kind of people ought to live.

Don't miss Jonah Goldberg's commentary on Malthusians, modern and not quite so modern.

Just when you think you've read enough about population growth for one week, James Lileks comes along and makes it fun.

Mona Charen offers a reality check. Some things we know. Some things we don't know. It's the nature of working with samples and estimates.

Things You Can't Say in San Francisco and Elsewhere

Thomas Sowell reports that free speech is under attack (still? again?) from several very familiar quarters.

Debra J. Saunders adds detail and passion to the San Francisco part of the story.

Larry Elder's story of a liberal public school teacher punishing and insulting a student who disagrees about politics is more offensive than the stories I hear from American Fork schools, but not altogether different. English, German, whatever the course -- with the possible exception of current events, government, or debate -- why do teachers insist on using their classrooms for political propaganda? Because they can? Would this story be different if the teacher were a conservative?

Jeff Jacoby adds some anecdotes, knits some things together, and makes a couple of crucial points.


Meet Corporal Angelo J. Vaccaro, Army medic and genuine hero. Jerry Newberry writes.

Ed Koch's excellent essay on the dangers of being Christian in the Muslim world includes an appearance by one of my favorite people, Pope John Paul II.

See if you agree with Dennis Prager about the significance of Mormons, Jews, and Muslim cabbies to the current world conflict. Here's an excerpt:

The appropriate analogy to Muslim taxi drivers refusing to take passengers accompanied by a dog or carrying a bottle of wine would be religious Jewish taxi drivers refusing to take passengers eating a ham sandwich or Mormon drivers refusing to take passengers drinking alcoholic or caffeinated drinks.

But such Jewish or Mormon examples don't exist (and if they did, religious Jews and Mormons would regard such persons as crackpots). They do not exist because Jews and Mormons do not believe that non-Jews are required to change their behavior owing to Judaism's or Mormonism's distinctive laws. Religious Muslims, on the other hand, do believe that wherever applicable, non-Muslims should change their behavior in the light of Islam's distinctive laws.

Jonah Goldberg says the Iraq War was a mistake, but that we shouldn't necessarily leave, now that we're there. He thinks Iraqis should vote on a continued US presence.

National Politics: Libs, Dems, and . . . Mental Health Week?

Victor Davis Hanson wonders why it is that so many liberals have recently gone off their rockers.

Mark Steyn says the following, among other things. Stay with him long enough for "the official Dems' full-scale embrace of trivia and myopia" at the end. (As to Thomas Sowell, see last week's reading list.)

Thomas Sowell says the question for this election is not whether you or your candidate is Republican or Democrat but whether you're "serious" or "frivolous." A lot of Americans, and not just their sorry excuse for a professional press corps, are in the mood for frivolity. It's like going to the theater. Do you really want to sit through that searing historical drama from the Royal Shakespeare Company? Or would you rather be at the sex comedy next door?

In the 1990s, Americans opted for the sex comedy -- or so they thought. But in reality the searing historical drama carried on; it was always there, way off in the background, behind the yuk-it-up narcissist trouser-dropper staggering around downstage. The mood of the times was to kick the serious stuff down the road so we could get back to President Lounge Act offering to feel our pain. With North Korea, the people delegated to kick the can a few years ahead -- Madeleine Albright, Jimmy Carter -- are now back, writing self-congratulatory op-eds about their genius and foresight. Not at all. Albright's much-touted "agreement" was a deal whereby Washington agreed to prop up a flailing basket-case state in order to enable it to buy enough time to become a serious destabilizing threat to its neighbors and beyond. Many of our present woes -- not least Iran -- derive explicitly from the years when Carter embodied the American "superpower" as a smiling eunuch.

Thanks in part to last decade's holiday from history, North Korea and Iran don't have to buy any more time. They've got all they need. Life isn't a night on Broadway where you can decide you're not in the mood for "Henry V" and everyone seems to be having a much better time at "La Cage Aux Foley." Forget the Republicans for a moment. In Connecticut, the contest is between a frivolous liberal running on myopic parochial platitudes and a serious liberal who has the measure of the times and has thus been cast out by the Democratic Party. His state's voters seem disinclined to endorse the official Dems' full-scale embrace of trivia and myopia. The broader electorate should do the same.

Lawrence Kudlow explains how, even when the subject is not spending more than we take in, Democrats still manage to get it wrong.

Truth be told, the Democratic party desperately wants to return the income-tax rate to President Clinton's 39.6 percent. It's an obsession that's lodged in the Democratic DNA, a class-warfare mentality that seeks to penalize the rich and soak American success. In practice, it would be a Soviet-style income-leveling exercise in the name of making the non-rich feel better.

Call me gullible, but I couldn't resist a Kevin McCullough article entitled, "Why Liberals Channel Lucifer." It wasn't as satisfying as I had hoped, but the argument is interesting and the last sentence excellent:

And if we wish to leave behind a decent and moral world for our children it is important that we not waiver [sic] when the name-calling begins.

National Politics: Elections

Paul Weyrich wonders if Mark Warner jumped out of the presidential race or was pushed, and he remembers longingly  time when he didn't have to fear for his country if the other party won.

Clarence Page has some insights into the "head game" of contemporary presidential politics.

Kathryn Jean Lopez discussed potential 2008 presidential candidates, including (favorably) Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Read and find out of which congressional candidate Rich Lowry writes, "If John Kerry had been half as deft, he would be president now."

Dick Morris has poll results suggesting church-going whites in America are mostly morons -- which is my conclusion of what it means if a bunch of them will be staying home or voting Democratic on November 7, and a lot of them can't tell the difference between a party with no moral ideals and a party which doesn't quite live up to its moral ideals. (I don't actually believe that. Please, don't make me believe that! My birthday is just after the election, and I want a nice one -- birthday and election, actually.)

Quin Hillyer has a very interesting idea for the remaining weeks of Republican campaigns.

Suzanne Fields profiles Karl Rove and his continuing optimism about November 7.

National Politics: Everything Else

Rich Lowry analyzes "theo-panic."

John H. Fund describes judges' and others' attempts to block referenda in numerous states.

Cal Thomas wants the Republicans to have ideas again, and one of his suggestions involves microcredit, which recently won a fellow a Nobel Prize.

Robert Novak chronicles the emergence of YouTube as a political force. The scene is Missouri, and the subject is, of all things, cloning.

Linda Chavez describes institutional discrimination against Asians, not just whites. (Now I feel better . . . not.)

Now the EPA is coming after lawnmowers?!? Michael Fumento reports.

Lorie Byrd has her own informal poll, and, unlike a lot of the more serious, big-name polls, she doesn't try to make too much of the results.


Writing two months before her recent assassination, Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya describes her life writing about a regime which does not approve of what she writes.

In a world of spineless UN-style multilateralism, a cowboy can be a very good thing, according to Bill Murchison.

Is anyone worrying about Latin American just now? Anyone at all? Besides Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., I mean.

Phyllis Schlafly writes of 1956 in Hungary -- a gruesome, bloody, important year, now having its 50th anniversary. By the way, there is now a statue of Ronald Reagan in Budapest, and for good reason.

Charles Krauthamer says, Just say yes to Japanese nukes.

Economics (and Demographics and Statistics)

George Will elegantly demonstrates economic principles with Major League Baseball, or possibly the reverse.

Steve Forbes comments intelligently on a variety of issues, most having to do with economics and their intersection with politics.

William Baldwin describes two kinds of perverse incentives which are rampant in the US health care industry: economic and political.

Steven E. Moore recounts a truly bizarre study with completely unusable results. (Warning: contains math.)

Alan Reynolds analyzes economic claims based on bad statistics, and he explains the badness.


Bill Bennett explains Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation as a constitutional act.

Etgar Keret writes of Pluto's demotion and related thoughts.

Jeff Jacoby writes that DDT may have been our friend all along, after all. (Don't look now, but did the environmentalists kill almost as many people last century as the Communists did? Good intentions run amok . . .)

Leonard Pitts, Jr., has some pithy thoughts on male-female differences.

I wonder how many parents use their children's video games as educational opportunities as Suzanne Fields does. Or rather, I wonder how few. It takes time and effort, like all parenting. And I'm really not fully persuaded that it needs so much simulated blood.

Burt Prelutsky's affection for the "good old days" is limited and very specific.

I wouldn't entirely trust Gene Weingarten on Iraq policy, but he's pretty good at verse.

When dating after divorce, does one trust the experts or the children? Betsy Hart's choice strikes a chord philosophically, once she explains it: Trust the kids.

American Fork and Environs

Here's a very favorable Charlene Winters review of American Fork's Thai Village restaurant. You should come visit my block for Thai food.

Caleb Warnock offers this excellent report on the approaching vote in American Fork on a bond to fund a citywide pressurized irrigation system.

Here Caleb Warnock describes the latest developments in the skirmish over annexation and development in and adjacent to southeast American Fork. Warnock has excellent sources.

Amy Choate-Nielsen reports on the same somewhat controversial land annexation.

This CBS News report about electronic voting machines mentions Utah's intention systematically to audit results.

It happens so often that it's really not news, but it's still kinda cool: The American Fork High School Marching Band won yet another competition.

Oak Norton's math update for the week has (among other things) an interesting discussion of a recent legislative meeting on the subject.

Here's a 16-minute MP3 tribute to Ray Noorda, Novell pioneer, who recently passed away.

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