Tuesday, March 13, 2007

My Email Exchange With a Boston Globe Journalist

I had a brief email exchange with a Boston Globe columnist that wrote a pretty unflattering article on Mitt Romney titled "A Mormon president? I don't think so." My quibble with him wasn't so much what he said about Mitt, but how he purposefully confused polygmists in Utah with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).

The church has gone to great pains to promulgate prophet Wilford Woodruff's 1890 declaration condemning polygamy, deemed to have superseded Smith's earlier, contrary revelation. HBO, which continues to broadcast "Big Love," a series about a polygamist who lives outside Salt Lake City, apparently didn't get the memo.

Nor did PBS. "The Mormons" estimates that 30,000 to 60,000 fundamentalist believers practice polygamy. Whitney has footage of 11 happy children passing plates around the dinner table, with three mothers and a father in attendance. Heather has three Mommies! Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Now, clearly Mr. Beam doesn't understand how the LDS church works. Anything declared to be doctrine of the church by the President (think of him as the Pope) and sustained unanimously by the rest of the leadership and the general membership is the OFFICIAL DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH--end of story. It's not a suggestion or a friendly reminder. Anyone who goes against official doctrine will be disciplined, and often excommunicated as in the Catholic church. So anyone caught practicing polygamy would no longer be a member of the LDS church if they didn't renouce it. Hence, they are no longer a "Mormon," a term historically applied to members of the LDS church.

The so-called Mormon fundamentalists (a term invented by the media) that practice polygamy are really a mixture of different groups. Some of them are groups started by people excomunicated by the LDS church after 1890, others are independent groups or individuals that figured being a polygamist was just swell. Each group has their own name for their group or church e.g. the fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ, the Apostolic United Brethren, etc. The first group may call themselves the "true Mormons," but since they number about 10,000 members, is it really fair for the media to lump them in with the 12 million international members of the LDS church (most reside outside the U.S.)?

So when Mr. Beam snarkily writes that some fictional character in an HBO series "didn't get the memo," he's implying that all polygamists in Utah are Mormons regardless of what is actually LDS official doctrine. Apparently PBS believes that too, according to Beam's account of their documentary "The Mormons." Believe me, I'm going to watch that documentary and if PBS doesn't distinguish between Mormons and non-Mormon polygamists, they will get a long letter from me. Be very afraid PBS!

You might be thinking, well what's the big deal if people confuse polygamists with Mormons? If you didn't know already, I am LDS and I'm not ashamed of it. I enjoy sharing my faith with others that are interested in what I believe and I don't mind correcting misperceptions. But it gets a little tiresome telling someone for the umpteenth time, "No, I'm not a polygamist and that practice was banned in my church over 100 years ago" or hearing for the millionth time an Mormon polygamy joke. Polygamy has never been a part of my life and it hasn't been a part of LDS culture for several generations. It's more of a historical footnote--interesting, but incredibly alien. It would be like associating an old Catholic practice like indulgences with modern Catholics. Can you imagine if you are Catholic, people constantly cracking jokes about how Catholics pay money for their sins? Or how about accusing Jewish people of stoning adulters?

I think part of the reason why the LDS church is constantly associated with polygamy is that many people in the media are too intellectually lazy or dishonest to bother making the distinction. Sometimes, it's an honest mistake. I wrote Mr. Beam with the assumption that it was an unintentional oversight (I always give people the benefit of the doubt at first). But it became clear to me that Mr. Beam had his own agenda regarding Mitt Romney and Mormons.

Here's my first email to him:

Mr. Beam,

I wish you and others in the media would be a little more thoughtful before you smeared me and my fellow religionists as polygamists. I'm getting a little tired of people asking me if I have several mothers. The polygamists you mentioned in your article are in NO WAY affliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a.k.a. the Mormon church. Polygamy has not been official doctrine of the church since 1890. Anyone that practices polygamy is immediately excommunicated. Just because these polygamists call themselves Mormon fundamentalists does not make them Mormons. It would be like me deciding to call myself a Baptist fundamentalist because I believe in some of the same things Baptists believe. The next time you write about Mormons, please clarify the difference between actual Mormons and these so-called Mormon fundamentalists if you're going to bring up polygamy. This will lessen the confusion.

Thank you.

My email might have been a little cranky, but seriously, what was with the "Heather has 3 mommies" jibe?

His response was:

My brother Episcopalians who have sworn loyalty to African bishops still call themselves Episcopalians. I could call them whatever I like, but it's their self-definiton that matters.

I was surprised by his disingenuousness. What does confusing polygamists with LDS members have to do with the Episcopalian squabble over ordaining women and homosexuals? Apparently, he's sore about some Episcopalian congregations leaving the Episcopal church in the USA (ECUSA) and joining with some other Anglican churches in Africa. But the point is that they are all still part of the Anglican Communion. And I'm sure if he were writing an article about the ECUSA, he would be sure to differentiate between the two groups. And I could call myself the Queen of England, but unless I fit the actual definition of queen and I in truth rule over the country of England, it doesn't matter one bit what my self definition is.

So I wrote back:

The example you give isn't really relevant since the Episcopalians haven't officially split over their differences on their theology. In the case of Mormons and Mormon Fundamentalists, they split over a hundred years ago on the point of polygamy. Thus it isn't fair to lump them together. It would be like lumping Greek and Russian Orthodox sects together because at one point they were one body.

I guess this wasn't entirely accurate since Episcopalians decided to recognize non-American bishops as their leaders, but like I said, they are still part of the Anglican Communion. However, I must have irked Mr. Beam somehow as all he wrote back was this:

Maybe you talk about LDS, and I'll talk abt my religion.

Ooh! Testy!

I thought about writing a flaming response back, but though better of it.

Mr. Beam,

I'm not a journalist--you are and you are the one that wrote about the LDS church and the polygamist groups. If I were a journalist and I wrote an article on the Episcopal church, I would try to be as fair and accurate as possible. If an Episcopalian wrote me noting an inaccuracy in my article, I would do my best to correct or clarify it. All I'm asking for here is that you clarify the difference between the LDS church and all of these other polygamous sects.

Your article states that there are about 30,000 to 60,000 polygamists in Utah. Well that is small number compared to the over 12 million members of the LDS church, none of whom practice polygamy. The polygamous groups each have their own churches which go by distinct names, e.g. The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Apostolic United Brethren, The Latter-day Church of Christ. Whether they label themselves as Mormon is immaterial since the term Mormon has traditionally been applied to members of the LDS church.

Maybe you've never been the victim of religious bigotry--I have. I found it to mostly be the result of misinformation largely perpetuated by the media. Several times, I've had colleagues surprised to learn that I was LDS because I seemed so normal compared with the stereotype perpetuated in the media that Mormons live on polygamists ranches with long braids and dresses to the ankles. One reason that I appreciate the Fox News channel is that whenever the issue of polygamy comes up, they make the effort to clarify that the LDS church is not affiliated with these polygamous groups. It doesn't take much to do this, just one sentence.

I think that you are probably a fair-minded person that would rather see less bigotry
in our society. If you are so inclined, I simply ask that you issue a small clarification or if that's not possible, keep what I said in mind the next time you or your colleagues write about Mormonism.

I didn't get a response from Mr. Beam this time. I guess he was just too busy and I was just too annoying with my demand for fair treatment. Maybe I shouldn't have brought up Fox News. Just the mention of the far-right propaganda channel must have really burned him up.

What I learned from this exchange is that some journalists could care less about what the truth is, as long as it fits with their clever little punchlines or smears someone they dislike. Alex Beam clearly does not like Mitt Romney and along with some in the MSM would like the term polygamy to be associated with him as much as possible so that he has no chance of winning the Republican nomination. How else does one explain the Boston Globe and other media outlets publishing an article entitled Romney Family tree has polygamy branches? Well, some of my ancestors were Quakers, but that doesn't have any bearing on me now. Journalists that use these types of attacks don't care that this perpetuates religious bigotry, but I guess bigotry is ok as long as it only affects religious conservatives.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mitt Romney Announces His Bid for POTUS

This morning Mitt Romney formally announced his candidacy for the office of President of the United States from the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. So far, he is my choice for the Republican nomination for POTUS because his positions on most issues most closely match my own, AND I think that he is the most conservative candidate that can beat Hillary (who I think will be the Democrat nominee).

As I mentioned before, I'm a guest blogger for Texans for Mitt Romney. Being a pro-life biologist, I've been interested in how Romney's position on abortion and human embryonic stem cell research evolved during his experience as Massachusetts governor. I recently posted an entry on an National Review Online article by Kathryn Lopez that I think fairly describes his conversion to a "Latter-Day Lifer."

Most of the talking heads in the media say Romney's religion (Mormonism) will be a liability. I think that's possible, but that fair-minded people will base their vote on the issues and not on prejudice. Many people find Mormon beliefs to be strange. Fair enough, but I find some beliefs of other churches to be strange as well. I think it just depends on what you're used to, and often people are more likely to be biased against belief systems that are not like their own and ones that they don't understand. There's a lot of misinformation on Mormonism out there--here's the official website of the LDS church for a brief overview of our beliefs.

A minority make it their vocation to actively slander and distort the doctrines of my faith, and I think fair-minded Americans will see these people as the bigots they are. If you really want to know what a Mormon believes, ask one.

The biggest point to make is that Romney is his own man, and will not be taking orders from the head of my church. The LDS church has a strict policy of political neutrality. Members are NOT instructed to vote for any one party, but are asked to vote their conscience. There are no political rallies held at LDS churches as we often see happen in during political campaigns.

Is America ready for a Mormon POTUS? Only time will tell.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Real Definition of Mercenary

As you've probably heard, there's been a blog firestorm recently regarding the comments of William Arkin in the Washington Post where he referred to our troops as mercenaries and claimed in essence that they owe us, the American people rather than the other way round. Thanks, Mr. Arkin, for insulting my two grandfathers, my father, brother, cousin, and my cousin's husband.

As disgusting as his comments were (and his subsequent behavior when challenged on The O'Reilly Factor), I'm more annoyed at his misuse of the word mercenary. This seems to be a common problem among the anti-war left, e.g. Daily Kossacks. In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

If you look up mercenary in the Webster dictionary it says "adj. working or done for payment only or n. a soldier hired to serve in a foreign army." Now since our soldiers (and civilian contractors) serve in the American Armed forces not a foreign army, the lefties must mean work done for payment only. Gee, they must all be mind readers to assume that every American soldier is in it for the dough. I mean they get paid so much money--so what if they risk life and limb and are separated from their families for many months. $Show me the money, baby!$ It's not possible that they might feel a patriotic duty to serve their country.

Or maybe they're referring to the volunteers that enlist just for the college money with no expectation of ever having to serve in combat with their comrades--just like their little darling Lt. Ehren Watada. Who is the mercenary now?

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has a great post on some American heroes that were KIA in Iraq.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Not Everyone Agrees with Al Gore

Every time I see self-appointed prophet Al Gore on T.V. pushing his global warming gospel, I roll my eyes. He never fails to say, regarding the question of human-caused global warming, that the scientific debate is over. Gore and other like minded people often demonize people that disagree with them. The news media (including the editorial pages of my beloved Science magazine) rarely shows both sides of the debate, but constantly shoves it's own point of view in our faces. Nothing makes my B.S. detector ping more than when the proponent of one side discourages debate, and actively attacks those that disagree with their point of view.

I'm agnostic on global warming. It could be happening, and it could be a result of human activity, but it could also be a natural cycle. I haven't decided yet because I feel that I haven't gotten the full picture because the pro side obviously has a political agenda. I thought it was interesting to see on Drudge an article written by a scientist on the con side of the debate, Dr. Timothy Ball of The Natural Resources Stewardship Project. The poor guy's email box is probably jammed full of hate mail, but he doesn't pull any punches.

Global Warming, as we think we know it, doesn't exist. And I am not the only one trying to make people open up their eyes and see the truth. But few listen, despite the fact that I was the first Canadian Ph.D. in Climatology and I have an extensive background in climatology, especially the reconstruction of past climates and the impact of climate change on human history and the human condition.“Few listen, even though I have a Ph.D, (Doctor of Science) from the University of London, England and was a climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg.” . For some reason (actually for many), the World is not listening. Here is why.

Now I don't know this guy from Adam. I don't know anything about his scientific reputation nor have I read any of his prior publications, so he could be full of it as far as I know. But he does makes some good points.

I think it may be because most people don't understand the scientific method which Thomas Kuhn so skillfully and briefly set out in his book "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions." A scientist makes certain assumptions and then produces a theory which is only as valid as the assumptions. The theory of Global Warming assumes that CO2 is an atmospheric greenhouse gas and as it increases temperatures rise. It was then theorized that since humans were producing more CO2 than before, the temperature would inevitably rise. The theory was accepted before testing had started, and effectively became a law.

As Lindzen said many years ago: "the consensus was reached before the research had even begun." Now, any scientist who dares to question the prevailing wisdom is marginalized and called a sceptic, when in fact they are simply being good scientists. This has reached frightening levels with these scientists now being called climate change denier with all the holocaust connotations of that word. The normal scientific method is effectively being thwarted.

Meanwhile, politicians are being listened to, even though most of them have no knowledge or understanding of science, especially the science of climate and climate change. Hence, they are in no position to question a policy on climate change when it threatens the entire planet. Moreover, using fear and creating hysteria makes it very difficult to make calm rational decisions about issues needing attention.

Gore is obviously not a scientist and apparently knows little about the scientific method or scientific philososphy. Scientific "facts" are rarely ever set in stone-- our body of knowledge is constantly changing, and only someone with a politically or personally motivated agenda would make that claim.

Another problem with many scientific studies, especially those in the the softer sciences, is that they are mainly correlational, not causational. That is, one might discover a correlation between 2 or more phenomenon through observation, but one cannot prove that one phenomenon causes the other. Often, it is difficult to prove causation because there are too many uncontrollable variables. Psychological and health studies often suffer from this problem and that's why one year you hear that a medical study shows that eating X causes Y and the next year you hear about another study that contradicts the first one.

Climatological studies can also be prone to this flaw. But probably the biggest problem is that climatologists rely too much on models, which are built on assumptions. If any one assumption is wrong, then the whole model is faulty. When I went to conferences on biophysics, scientists that relied only on modeling for their research were often mocked for making "pretty pictures" that contained little real data.

But the biggest point I think Dr. Ball makes is regarding the behavior of some global warming proponents when they attack skeptics. Basically, skeptics are equated with Holocaust deniers and some even threaten to take away their livelihood for disagreeing.

Personal attacks are difficult and shouldn't occur in a debate in a civilized society. I can only consider them from what they imply. They usually indicate a person or group is losing the debate. In this case, they also indicate how political the entire Global Warming debate has become. Both underline the lack of or even contradictory nature of the evidence.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ben Stein: The Lynching of the President

Ben Stein's reaction to the SOTU address was very similar to mine.

So there I was, lying in my bed in Malibu with my dogs, watching Mr. Bush's State of the Union speech. I thought it was darned good. Realistic, gracious, modest, sensible. I happen to think we should get out of Iraq yesterday, but I thought Mr Bush put forward his case well. And Congress responded graciously and generously on both sides of the aisle.

Then, whaam, as soon as the speech was over, ABC was bashing him (I was watching FOX and it wasn't much different-ed.), telling us how pathetic he was, how irrelevant he was, how weak he was, how unrealistic he was.

Right after that, Jim Webb gave a very short speech biting Bush's head off -- but not making any concrete proposals about anything. No network person mentioned how simple minded and unrealistic he was.

Yeah, Webb struck me as kind of a jerk. I figured he got to deliver the rebuttal because he had all the requisite military credentials--son in Iraq, served in Vietnam, father served in WWII. The part about keeping his father's picture under his pillow was a little much. I think rebuttals to the SOTU are a bad idea because the opposing party no matter who the President is or what the truth actually is will always say the opposite. It's like a free campaign ad for that party--Vote for us because the President sucks, rah, rah, rah. Should that be legal under McCain-Feingold?

And suddenly it hit me. The media is staging a coup against Mr. Bush. They cannot impeach him because he hasn't done anything illegal. But they can endlessly tell us what a loser he is and how out of touch he is (and I mean ENDLESSLY) and how he's just a vestigial organ on the body politic right now.

The media is doing what it can to basically oust Mr. Bush while still leaving him alive and well in the White House. It's a sort of neutron bomb of media that seeks to kill him while leaving the White House standing (for their favorite unknown, Barack Obama, to occupy).

Yes, I'm quite tired of the MSM telling me how to vote and how to feel about every issue they want to ram down my throat.

My point: let's be aware that Bush has presided over a lot of success in addition to substantial failure. My second point: no one elected the media to anything. If we let them lynch the man we elected as President we are throwing out the Constitution with the war in Iraq. In the studios and newsrooms, there is a lynch mob at work. Let's see it for what it is. We have a good man who has made mistakes in the Oval Office. He's the only President we have, and I trust him a lot more than I trust unelected princes of the newsroom.

Here, here! Who knew I'd agree so much with the teacher from Ferris Bueller's Day Off?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The State of the Union Address 2007

My reaction of the SOTU address delivered by President Bush Tuesday night was generally favorable. He was very gracious to Madame Pelosi and the Democrats, which was classy. I thought the first two thirds of the speech was pretty slow--the usual laundry list of feel-good domestic proposals that will only serve to drain our wallets. But the main difference I saw was that most of his proposals were things that were more likely to pass a Democrat-controlled congress e.g. balancing the budget, tax deductions for healthcare, and immigration reform. President Bush did throw in a few eye pokes now and then--things that made Madame Pelosi pucker up her lips--such as vouchers for education and increasing domestic oil production. The Dems had just passed a bill in Congress that would eliminate tax breaks for oil companies doing domestic drilling so naturally I bet Pelosi chewed her lip furiously at that moment.

It seems that many in the right wing blogosphere focused on what he said about immigration and ignored everything else:

Extending hope and opportunity in our country requires an immigration system worthy of America - with laws that are fair and borders that are secure. When laws and borders are routinely violated, this harms the interests of our country. To secure our border, we are doubling the size of the Border Patrol - and funding new infrastructure and technology.

Yet even with all these steps, we cannot fully secure the border unless we take pressure off the border - and that requires a temporary worker program. We should establish a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis. As a result, they won't have to try to sneak in - and that will leave border agents free to chase down drug smugglers, and criminals, and terrorists. We will enforce our immigration laws at the worksite, and give employers the tools to verify the legal status of their workers - so there is no excuse left for violating the law. We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals. And we need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country - without animosity and without amnesty.

Convictions run deep in this Capitol when it comes to immigration. Let us have a serious, civil, and conclusive debate - so that you can pass, and I can sign, comprehensive immigration reform into law.

Some conservative bloggers want the border locked down and all illegals tossed out the door ASAP. But this is not realistic. The northern and southern borders are both lengthy and porous. Deporting 10 million people would surely cause economic problems in areas with a lot of immigrants-like in Texas for instance. I'm all for beefing up the borders as much as is resaonably possible and deporting as many criminals as possible--no catch and release. I'm in favor of a fence in high traffic areas. But some extremists want to bring our military home and post them on the border. Come on, folks, that's not possible with the Posse Commitatus Act. Anyway, for all the conservatives freaking out every time Pres. Bush says "without amnesty," the reality is that the Dems control Congress and any immigration reform will probably have some sort of pathway to citizenship. Heres' a big thank-you to all you conservatives that stayed home or voted a third party because of this one issue. Now we'll get immigration reform that will be even worse than the Republicans dreamed up.

Anyway, on to the rest of the speech.

The most compelling part of the address came when Pres. Bush talked about the War on Terror. He listed several foiled terrorist plots which have been in the news, but I think it was good to highlight how effective anti-terrorism measures have been and to emphasize that the fight is far from over.

Our success in this war is often measured by the things that did not happen. We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented - but here is some of what we do know: We stopped an al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We broke up a Southeast Asian terrorist cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States. We uncovered an al Qaeda cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America. And just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean. For each life saved, we owe a debt of gratitude to the brave public servants who devote their lives to finding the terrorists and stopping them.

Every success against the terrorists is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy. The evil that inspired and rejoiced in Nine-Eleven is still at work in the world. And so long as that is the case, America is still a Nation at war.

I think he made a persuasive case for continuing the fight in Iraq and maintaining a presence in the Middle East.

This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in. Every one of us wishes that this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. So let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory.

We are carrying out a new strategy in Iraq - a plan that demands more from Iraq's elected government, and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission. Our goal is a democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law, respects the rights of its people, provides them security, and is an ally in the war on terror.

In order to make progress toward this goal, the Iraqi government must stop the sectarian violence in its capital. But the Iraqis are not yet ready to do this on their own. So we are deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq. The vast majority will go to Baghdad, where they will help Iraqi forces to clear and secure neighborhoods, and serve as advisers embedded in Iraqi Army units. With Iraqis in the lead, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down terrorists, insurgents, and roaming death squads. And in Anbar province - where al Qaeda terrorists have gathered and local forces have begun showing a willingness to fight them - we are sending an additional 4,000 United States Marines, with orders to find the terrorists and clear them out. We did not drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq.

The President is right. Things have changed since we first went in. In 2003, we were worried about WMDs and former Baathists. Then Zarqawi and his goons started blowing up civilians right and left. Next the Sunni and Shiite militias started going after each other. Things were looking pretty good in 2005 after several sucessful elections, and then the country exploded into chaos. The problem areas are still Al Anbar and Baghdad. Most of the rest country is still pretty well under control. We hardly even hear a peep from the Kurdish areas.

I don't think we can afford to walk out on Iraq when the going gets tough as some have suggested. We have a duty to our soldiers and to our allies in Iraq to finish the job we started. All the members of congress who voted for the war have a responsibility to finish what they started. I will be bitterly disappointed in our government if we leave our allies to twist in the wind like we did in Vietnam and after Operation Desert Storm when tens of thousands of Shiites and Kurds were slaughtered by Saddam's forces because we left him in power. We will have even fewer friends in the world than we have now if we show that we don't follow through on our commitments to our allies and adopt an isolationist policy. In this fight against terror we need as much cooperation with our allies as possible.

I'm glad the President has adapted his Iraq War strategy. I think we owe it to him to at least give him a chance to improve things with this new strategy, a new Sec. of Defense, and new military commanders on the ground. I don't know why our members of Congress think they can be more successful at fighting a war than our military men and women on the ground in Iraq.

The people of Iraq want to live in peace, and now is the time for their government to act. Iraq's leaders know that our commitment is not open ended. They have promised to deploy more of their own troops to secure Baghdad - and they must do so. They have pledged that they will confront violent radicals of any faction or political party. They need to follow through, and lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and Coalition forces, so these troops can achieve their mission of bringing security to all of the people of Baghdad. Iraq's leaders have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks to achieve reconciliation - to share oil revenues among all of Iraq's citizens ... to put the wealth of Iraq into the rebuilding of Iraq ... to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's civic life ... to hold local elections ... and to take responsibility for security in every Iraqi province. But for all of this to happen, Baghdad must be secured. And our plan will help the Iraqi government take back its capital and make good on its commitments.

I think this is a vital part of the plan. Prime Minister Maliki has been shielding the Shiite militias for too long and now it's time for him to get serious about restoring order in Iraq. Some have suggested that we should pull all our troops out of the cities and into bases along the borders. I think it's too early for that because the Iraqi military can't handle all the work by itself yet. We can't allow the seat of the democratically elected government, Baghdad, to fall under control of the militias or Al Qaeda. Iraq won't stand a chance then. President Bush emphasizes that well, I believe.

If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country - and in time the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.

For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq, would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens... new recruits ... new resources ... and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September 11th and invite tragedy. And ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East ... to succeed in Iraq ... and to spare the American people from this danger.

I thought it was interesting to see that Pelosi and most of the Dems did not applaud or stand at that last line. I really don't think they understand the nature of the terrorist threat. Do they really think Al Qaeda and others of their ilk will leave us alone if we leave Iraq? If we force a two-state solution on the Israelis and the Palestinians? If we give in to every single one of their crazy demands? No, they will keep pushing for more and more concessions. They sense the lack of willingness to fight of the liberal part of our country and are exploiting it. Why does every single one of Zawahiri's speeches sound like the Democrats' talking points? They listen to every word our leaders and our media say, and then use it for their own propaganda. I think Goebbels would be envious.

The number one thing the speech emphasized to me is that we are at war and that sacrifices must be made. Much like during WWII where there was rationing, we need to get serious about doing our part for the war effort. We do need to cut down on our gasoline consumption--not to make Al Gore happy, but to reduce the amount of oil that we can be blackmailed with by terrorist supporting nations like Iran and Saudi Arabia. We need to stop our whining about how long the war in Iraq and Afganistan are taking and be part of the solution.

The majority of the Dems whine and moan but offer no better solutions than withdrawal and that is not an option. People who think that the war won't come home to us in the U.S. are dreaming and have forgotten the lessons of 9-11 or didn't learn them the first time. Al Qaeda will not stop until the U.S. is destroyed or we take them out first. Some of us don't have the stomach to "take the fight to the enemy" as the President said (I'm looking at you, Dick Durbin). Ok, so just shut up and stay out of the way of the people that do.

For my part, I will conserve gasoline by driving less, conserve electricity in my home (freezing at the moment), support the members of the military in my community and family, and support the President in his efforts to win in Iraq and Afganistan.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Silliest Science Magazine Story of 2006

At the beginning of every New Year, many media outlets publish there best of and worst of the previous year. In keeping with that tradition and fulfilling my duty to mock those that take themselves way too seriously, I give you THE SILLIEST SCIENCE MAGAZINE STORY OF 2006, Epidemiologist Does His Part to save the planet by attending the Burning Man Festival (my title)."

The news story labeled a "Campaign" is laugh out loud funny. It begins,

Since 2004, David Shearer has enjoyed yearly visits
to the Burning Man festival, which draws more than 35,000
revelers, artists, and anarchist tent-dwellers to Nevada’s Black
Rock Desert in early September.

Wow, what a devoted fan. He's been two times!

But last year, the epidemiologist turned–environmental consultant
decided to take the event’s Leave No Trace principle one step further. He calculated the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from the
actual burning of the man statue, a yearly highlight. The growth, transport, and burning of the wood in the 38-ton statue, Shearer found, produced 110 tons of equivalent carbon emissions. To offset those emissions, he and a
colleague, Jeff Cole, began raising money for renewable-energy projects such as methane capture in Pennsylvania and wind farming in South Dakota.

Someone get this man a medal, a Congressional Medal of Honor while you're at it! Gee, if they're so concerned about the effect the festival will have on the global environment, maybe they shouldn't be holding such a event. Think of all the meals that could be cooked by people in third world countries with the wood that it takes to make one Burning Man! Think of the children!

Now, Shearer is encouraging participants to purchase similar credits to offset travel to the festival, onsite energy use, and the ubiquitous fire art that pervades the festivities. “I’m trying to rebrand the idea of being cool,” he says.

Yes, folks, be responsible global citizens if you are going to be a hypocrite and attend a pointless festival that will pump tons of carbon emissions into the earth's fragile ecosystem!

Seriously, the self-righteousness of Science magazine when it publishes stories like this is nauseating. I read the editorials and politics section of Science sheerly for amusement. It's funny to see the editorial board pretend to be objective scientists and fall all over themselves praising the Democrats and bashing the Republicans when both parties are not likely to give them the funding that they want. Scientists can never get enough funding. It's something they always whine about.

And I feel like a downright John McCain "maverick" when I don't agree with most of the the crap they're selling especially regarding stem cell research and global warming hysteria. Since when did science have the market cornered on truth? Oh yeah, but I'm just one of the "Jesus freaks" so my opinion doesn't matter.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Yes, I realize it's been a looong time since I last posted and I have several lame excuses for that. First, the holiday season was especially hectic this year with a parade of relatives coming in and out. Don't get me wrong, I love visiting with my family, but it was difficult to play the hostess and entertainment coordinator especially in light of my second excuse--I'M EXPECTING ANOTHER LIL' ONE!!!

Yes, Hahn Jr. (sex undetermined as of today) will be joining our clan in early August. I haven't quite figured out how to break the news to Preston yet since he just barely turned two. He seems to like babies when he sees them in books or on T.V., but we'll see how he handles one being around monopolizing his mommy 24/7. Anyhoo, until my stomach is noticably protruding and kicking, I guess I can put off the "how would you like a baby sister/brother?" talk for a while.

This pregnancy seems to be more challenging than the last one because I feel more sick, bloated, and fatigued. Maybe that's just because I'm chasing after a toddler all day--did I mention that he's at the pre-potty-training-pull-off-the-diaper-and-play-with-its-contents-no-more-nap-for-me phase? Anyhow, toddlers are a lot less orderly than a whole room full of fruit flies that are ever so compliant (with a little CO2) when I need to dissect them for experiments.

Do I miss those days of sitting in the dark room for hours at a microscope? Not really, because Preston is just so darn cute and sweet, but I do occasionally yearn for a few hours to myself to just think and write my thoughts. And dang, do I miss intellectual conversation? There's only so much Curious George and Winnie the Pooh one can take before losing one's sanity!

Well, I debated whether I should return to blogging and I think that I should because I enjoy it and I'm not out to woo a large readership. With naptime out as a time for blogging, I'll have to steal moments here and there when I can. I usually like to write long, thoughtful posts, but I guess I'll have to learn how to post quick and dirty (but still PG rated of course). When Hahn Jr. arrives there will be even less time to post, but I anticipate blogging in the wee hours of the morning.

Anyway, I welcome the New Year and its endless possibilities.