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Life Among the Mormons, and Other Stuff

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Saturday, June 10, 2006
This Week's Excellent Readings

Jeff Jacoby, Mark Steyn, Charles Krauthammer, Clifford D. May, and Mark Davis lead an extra-long list, which includes a variety of articles on the Marriage Protection Amendment.


Jeff Jacoby is particularly clear and profound on good, evil, freedom, God, the Holocaust, and related themes.

Mark Steyn ends this excellent but not cheerful piece with the assertion, "A superpower that wallows in paranoia and glorifies self-loathing cannot endure and doesn't deserve to."

Charles Krauthammer grew up in Quebec, and he thinks we need to make English the official language of the United States (which it all but was until a few decades ago . . . is this like the marriage debate?).

Jeff Jacoby calls for more civility and less name-calling in the marriage debate. Here's an excerpt:

It is not bigotry to insist that there is a good reason why marriage has existed in every known human society, and why it has always involved the uniting of men and women. It is not bigotry to acknowledge what reams of scholarship confirm: Family structure matters, and children are more likely to suffer problems when they are not raised by their married mothers and fathers. It is not bigotry to resist the dishonest comparison of same-sex marriage to interracial marriage -- skin color has nothing to do with wedlock, while sex is fundamental to it. And it is not bigotry to fear that a social change as radical as same-sex marriage could lead to grave and unintended consequences, from the persecution of religious institutions to a growing clamor for legalizing polygamy.

Pro, con, or undecided, Americans should be able to discuss something as serious as redefining marriage without resorting to slander and ad hominem attacks. There are sincere, compassionate, and thoughtful people on both sides of this issue. How can you tell who they are? They aren't the ones calling people bigots.

Clifford D. May asks, What did Canada do to deserve terrorists? His answer: It is more what Canada is than what Canada does or has done -- which actually seems to apply closer to home, too.

Mark Davis writes the best piece I've read in a while about global warming extremism.

President Bush

Michael Barone analyzes -- and praises -- President Bush's West Point speech. The historical perspective is valuable.

I think President Bush's recent hand-wringing confessional is the worst omen I've heard yet for our success in the war against Islamic Fascism. But I think I'll let Diana West explain why.

Marriage, Religion

Not that he reads my blog, but Alan Sears takes one of my two motives for favoring the Marriage Protection Amendment and runs with it. His tone verges on alarmist, but can you really say his facts are not alarming?

Charles Krauthammer looks at same the abused mechanisms of government I did, with respect to the definition of marriage, and comes a different conclusion than I about the proposed Marriage Protection Amendment. (Is he smarter than your humble blogger? The possibility exists. There is no question that he gets paid more for his opinion.)

Senator Kennedy says it's bigotry; Senator Harry "I Drank All the Kool-Aid" Reid (the nickname is my idea) thinks support for it is hate speech. Maggie Gallagher discusses these and other hostile responses to the Marriage Protection Amendment.

John M. Templeton, Jr., catalogs threats to the freedom of religious speech at home and abroad.

Kevin McCollough speaks candidly of the battle over marriage. Do you know the word polyamorous?

Chuck Colson documents the slippery slope of case law in proclaiming the need for the Marriage Protection Amendment.

Sheldon Kinsel focuses his marriage argument on children.

So does Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who also draws on his state's recent experience in this clear piece of writing.

Thomas Sowell is still on the facts vs. vision theme; this time it mostly involves the African-American family.

Mike Adams and Mormonism: An Unfortunate Descent

When columnist Mike S. Adams decided to study Mormonism, he didn't mess around. Judging by this first column, he assembled a fine reading list, including a couple of books I hope to read sometime soon. I appreciate how he summarily disposes of the "Mormonism is a cult" and "Mormons aren't Christian" falsehoods. (Alas, the latter will resurface in his third article.) Meanwhile, I wonder why some Mormons would be offended by someone who decides the Book of Mormon isn't true. Maybe disappointed, if they like the guy, but offended?

Adams' second article trades balance and restraint for something more aggressive; it is not at all kind to Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon. He shows that he has not explored archaelogical evidences of the latter, which he claims don't exist (and about which I really don't care, because my faith is based on personal religious experience, not the latest scholarship). This piece warns that there's more discussion to come, and he'll be even harder on Joseph Smith in his next column. (Mike Adams is a fairly bright guy and a competent writer, but I don't worry that his critique will shake the faith of anyone who actually has faith.)

Adams' balanced demeanor is entirely gone in his third article, which he fills with more than a dozen unsourced allegations about Joseph Smith's practice of polygamy. He concludes that "some Mormons have decided that Joseph Smith is a God. In other words, they have ceased to be Christian." (This is really not the place for an exposition of that statement's theological miscues.) It's too bad he wasn't as interested in fairly evaluating real Mormonism in the end as he seemed to be in his first article. Oh, well. Can't win 'em all. (I don't get uptight about opposition like this. It usually advances the cause it's trying to oppose -- and often enough in the short run, not just the long run. Besides, he's as free to choose his own beliefs as I am; why should I be troubled or offended if his choices differ from mine?)

Books, Games, the Culture

Suzanne Fields weighs in on a topic of occasional interest here: printed vs. digital books.

I think this is the entire first chapter of Ann Coulter's new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism. It's typical Ann Coulter: brash, irreverent, verging on crude, unrelenting, intermittently funny, and on more than a bit of a rant. I couldn't read a whole book of her; in fact, once through this chapter is probably all the Ann Coulter I'll care to read for at least a few months. (Just to be sure you can take it, try this smaller dose first, which will also tell you what the larger dose is about.) The ideas aren't bad. She moves from fairly credible arguments at the beginning that liberalism is a religion to equally credible assertions at the end that liberalism, while currently preoccupied with looking like it believes in God, is really in opposition to him. Formally, that may be a contradiction. You decide.

Leonard Pitts, Jr., comments on a distasteful case in which a video game imitates life, but, equally important, life started out by resembling a video game.

Terrorists in Canada

Terrorists in Canada may be news this week, but they're not new. Joshua Kurlantzick reports, adding a very negative view of US-Canada relations under the present US administration. (We expect that in The New Republic.)

Jack Kelly says the Canadian revelations illustrate the fact that tolerance an inadequate response to hatred.

Jonah Goldberg says, "Failed states are a direct threat to American and global security."

Also read why Jonah Goldberg says, "Canada is arguably the most deluded industrialized nation in the world."

Take a Few Tips, One Stool Pigeon, Two 500-lb. Bombs; Stir . . .

Mona Charen puts the Zarqawi death in perspective.

Jack Kelly talks about the implications of eliminating Zarqawi the leader and Zarqawi the legend. I hadn't heard of the dancing in the streets he mentions. (Rather a different flavor than the Palestinian dancing in the streets on September 11, 2001, don't you think?)

Daniel Henninger offers some excellent analysis, too. There's a little evil gem about Haditha here, too, that you won't want to miss.

Christopher Hitchens analyzes Zarqawi's ties with al-Qaeda, Muslim nations, and others, and calls his demise "a good day's work." His final paragraph reads:

If we had withdrawn from Iraq already, as the "peace" movement has been demanding, then one of the most revolting criminals of all time would have been able to claim that he forced us to do it. That would have catapulted Iraq into Stone Age collapse and instated a psychopathic killer as the greatest Muslim soldier since Saladin. As it is, the man is ignominiously dead and his dirty connections a lot closer to being fully exposed. This seems like a good day's work to me.

US Politics

Thomas Sowell decries eleventh-hour amendments of the sort that would require Mexican approval of US or state border control efforts, and lists some of the perfectly adequate immigration laws which are already on the books, but are aggressively unenforced.

It may have been ingracious of me to enjoy Tom Purcell's plea for deliverance from another bout of the Clintons, complete with his portrait of Bill Clinton as the possible next First Lady . . . but I enjoyed it anyway. Whether you enjoy is up to you.

George Will is excellent on the different a single Supreme Court justice makes.

Robert Novak tells tales of recent "legislation by stealth." This is the sort of thing which gives Capitol Hill a bad name. Well, it's one of the sorts.

Wesley Pruden has some thoughts on elected officials' addiction to privilege. But the best part of his piece is his account of Rep. Barney Frank talking sense and standing up on the right side of an issue.

Thomas Sowell has a book and some facts to recommend.

So does Walter Williams. (It's a different book, John Stossel's, on a similar theme. I'm not sure why I usually just pass by Stossel's columns in my reading and in these lists -- because he's a television journalist? because he looks too much like Geraldo?)

Paul Greenberg draws parallels between President Bush and President Truman.

This excerpt from William Bennett's new book recounts the presidential election of 1884.


There goes Gene Weingarten, having fun again. This time he's suggesting we stop hugging trees and start blaming them. "Silent killers," he calls them.

Kathleen Parker discusses an assortment of contemporary "shark-jumpers."

Karl Zinmeister writes of WalMart's effects on local and national economies, and about competing urban/suburban values.

Universal, taxpayer-funded preschool feels like a bad idea from the start, but Jennifer Roback Morse will back up that feeling with some thought, especially where California Proposition 82 is concerned.

George Will's essay on AIDS isn't very pleasant, but it is sensible and informative.

Debra Saunders reports on one battlefield in the liberal war on Wal-Mart.

Nathanael Blake analyzes the liberal response to Haditha on philosophical terms.

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