Saturday, April 5, 2008

"Under The Banner of Heaven", Warren Jeffs, The FLDS, and The YFZ Ranch

Our fundamentalist Mormon/LDS friends have been at it again. One dorm, 52 girls.
Girls Removed From Polygamist Ranch - AOL News

If you want more information on the mindset that produced Warren Jeffs, Rulon Jeffs, the YFZ ranch, polygamy, or The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), or what could possess a man to keep 52 underage girls in a dormitory, I've got the book for you.

The best book I've ever read on religious fundamentalism of any kind is Jon Krakauer's "Under The Banner of Heaven". Most people know Krakauer only through "Into Thin Air" or "Into The Wild".

"Under The Banner of Heaven" tells the story of Allen Lafferty, his wife Brenda, his daughter Erica, and his brothers Ron and Dan. Semi-devout LDS members all. But Brenda began leading Allen away from the church.

So Ron and Dan, acting under orders from God, killed her. For whatever reason, they also killed Erica, the couples' infant daughter.

"Under The Banner of Heaven" gives you a capsule history of the LDS church, polygamy, and the fundamentalist split of Rulon and Warren Jeffs with the larger moderate LDS church. It's an outstanding book by an outstanding writer.

I've made my feelings known how I feel about people who hear the voice of God, especially when it relates to murder, violence, foreign invasions, and using Downs Syndrome Victims as human bombs.

But here's where you get into difficulties trying to be a "Moderate" religious voice in a largely fundamentalist world. If you're a moderate, you can be wrong. Fundamentalists, on the other hand, can't. Therefore, if a fundamentalist claims to be speaking or acting within the confines of revealed scripture or God's will, he isn't be wrong. You're not just disagreeing with him. You're arguing with the Creator.
You think the world evolved over billions of years? Sorry. 6 days. See Genesis. If you disagree with that, you're disagreeing with God.

You're for a Middle East Peace Process? Forget it. Muhammed said we should fight the infidel. Argue against that, and you're a heretic.

You believe women are the equal of men? Nope. Paul wrote otherwise. You obviously have unconfessed sin in your heart.

Want a ham sandwich? No way. Pork is forbidden, you gentile libertine.

Round earth? Can't be. The church opposed that "theory" since the Bible refers to the earth's four corners. If you have pictures that show something different, it's an illusion. You should stay in your place and stop asking questions.

You think I shouldn't be allowed to keep 52 girls in a dorm? You're wrong. See Joseph Smith. Celestial Marriage. You can look it up. If you weren't evil, you would know this already.

(Note that the police are using a Baptist Church bus to carry the girls away from the Mormon ranch. )

Addition from April 10th: CNN is now saying that authorities have discovered a wedding bed in the church, where these guys could instantly consumate their celestial marriage to underage bride #20 without a tiresome honeymoon trip.

Drew Carey, David Beckham, Reason magazine, and Immigration

I get about 5 anti-immigrant emails a day.
They're becoming tiresome.

Go back far enough in anyone's family tree, and you'll find an immigrant. This includes "Native Americans".
("Native American" is one of my least favorite terms. It's not precise. Anyone born in the U.S. is a Native American. And if you accept the currently popular Russia/Alaska landbridge theory of how our first inhabitants got here, the first person to walk across immigrant. His/her descendants were native americans. Just like the children of the current illegal aliens will be native americans. Or am I missing something here? For centuries, there's been a game of musical chairs all over the world, with various groups and individuals settling down in a new place every time the music stops. I think that's an Evelyn Waugh analogy. But if your family tree is nothing but Texans as far as you can trace it, and you live in Texas, it means just aren't very adventurous, are you? Should you be entitled to special treatment because you don't get out much?)

Here's The Drew Carey Project on immigration. Sponsored by Reason magazine. They're doing an extended series of these that you can find through this Reason link, or here's a link to the entire series on Youtube. Note that the segment on Medical marijuana has gotten about 28,000 hits, while the episode on my pet peeve, Eminent Domain, has only gotten about 700.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Weiner Dogs, The Second Amendment, and The Squirrel Relocator

I have a backyard full of weiner dogs.
I have a backyard full of squirrels.
They lead an Israeli/Palestinian-style symbiotic existence, with each side determined to torment but not eliminate the other. If either side disappeared, how would the enemy fill up their day?
The squirrels eat the dog food, they've eaten a hammock, and weiner dogs yipping to announce the latest squirrel outrage - well, it gets pretty annoying.

I have a pellet gun. I could safely take care of my squirrel problem in about two weeks. (I hit what I aim at.) But I can't do this inside the city limits.

Aside: I know you're not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition. But what's the proper way to say "I hit what I aim at"?
"I hit that at which I aim," sounds overly British. I'm the product of a rural Mississippi education....

Anyway, my 2nd amendment rights are being violated.

I've been meaning to post this video for several months. 50 years ago, these boys would've used pellet guns. Or even .22's.

Now they're forced to use....THE SQUIRREL RELOCATOR. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Things that have been piling up on me, all worthy of perusal....

Johnathan Pearce of Samizdata takes a look at the rapidly improving Cuban quality of life (now that Fidel is about to start pushing up sugar cane) and causes me to wonder how much better life would be if Castro would hurry up and go to The Worker's Paradise in the sky.

Subadei/Subdujour, who eats this Foreign Affairs/Diplomacy stuff up and has a double helping for breakfast, takes a look at Cuba and wonders why Bush doesn't do a little more to speed things along.

When Hazel at The Line Is Here hosted, posted, and lightly roasted (sorry, DWSUWF) the latest edition of my Carnival Of The Libertarians project, it attracted comments from Andrew Ian Dodge (the Dodgeblogium site, at right) and The Devil's Kitchen (ditto.) I have two other sites lined up to host through May, but I'm going to ask Mr. Dodge and Mr. Devil to host after that. If they agree and apply themselves with their usual level of effort, it will be the most darkly intense (Dodge) and hilariously profane (Devil) things you've read in a while.

Steve-O at Caravan of Dreams has a wonderful post about WWII journalist Ernie Pyle's last byline, reminding us that before we go off any military adventures we should always count the cost. And see the cost.

My friend the Moderate Baptist Bass, Dr. Ralph, provides all of us with words to live by in this short little post.

If you ever watch the British Parliament on late night TV, and wonder why it's so much more entertaining than the animated waxwork displays on C-Span, Vindico at Curious Snippets from a Cynical Optimist explains why. Their representatives don't address a TV camera, they address each other. At least I think that's what he's referring to. Either way, Vindico is entertaining when irritated.

Speaking of irritated, my fellow Mississippian Gus Van Horn gets irritated when journalists blame "reason" for terrorism.

Becky, The Girl in Short Shorts Talking About Whatever, gets irritated by victimhood in the workplace.

My boss is in China, and has confirmed what this site told me a while back. I'm banned over there.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Third Graders Plot to Kill Teacher?

Every now and then, after a really horrible day, I need to be reminded why I never used my Education Degree:

Provided by: The Associated Press
WAYCROSS, Ga. (AP) -- Police say they have questioned a group of south Georgia third-graders about a plot to kill their teacher, apparently because she had scolded one of them for standing on a chair.

The nine students at Center Elementary School are too young to be charged with a crime under Georgia law, a prosecutor said. They include girls and boys, ages 8 and 9. Authorities withheld the students' names.
At least a couple of these 3rd graders will be working for me within 10 years. I just know it.
Waycross Police Chief Tony Tanner said school officials alerted police Friday after a pupil tipped off a teacher that a girl had brought a weapon to school, Police seized a broken steak knife, handcuffs, duct tape, electrical and transparent tape, ribbons and a crystal paperweight from the students, who apparently intended to use them against the teacher, Tanner said.
Tell me that they haven't been allowed to watch a lot of CSI episodes.....
He called the plot a serious threat. "We estimate between six to nine students were involved. ...
I know a lot of teachers, and they're speculating that some parents were behind it. (Nothing is ever the kids' fault these days, and after all, one girls was actually scolded for standing in a chair.)
.... (and) we're not sure at this point in the investigation how many of the students actually knew the intent was to hurt the teacher," Tanner said.
Hint: there's a steak knife, duct tape, and handcuffs. At least one.
The parents of the students have cooperated with investigators, who aren't allowed to question the children without their parents' or guardians' consent, he said. The alleged target was a veteran educator who teaches third-grade students with a range of learning disabilities, including attention deficit disorder, delayed development and hyperactivity, friends and parents said.
There but for the grace of God....

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Clean Energy Scam - TIME

The cover story of Time magazine (see The Clean Energy Scam - TIME) reveals the startling discovery that the ethanol fuel frenzy is a scam.

(In related news, Jimmy Hoffa has disappeared, they've found the Titanic, and Princess Di was in a car wreck. And your eyes aren't going bad. That's a blurry copy of the Time cover.)
"An explosion in demand for farm-grown fuels has raised global crop prices to record highs, which is spurring a dramatic expansion of Brazilian agriculture, which is invading the Amazon at an increasingly alarming rate.
Propelled by mounting anxieties over soaring oil costs and climate change, biofuels have become the vanguard of the green-tech revolution, the trendy way for politicians and corporations to show they're serious about finding alternative sources of energy and in the process slowing global warming. The U.S. quintupled its production of ethanol--ethyl alcohol, a fuel distilled from plant matter--in the past decade, and Washington has just mandated another fivefold increase in renewable fuels over the next decade."

If you were visiting this site back in November, and demonstrated the patience to keep coming back, you already knew this. Here are a few more quotes from late-to-the-party Time magazine:

"People don't want to believe renewable fuels could be bad," says the lead author, Tim Searchinger, a Princeton scholar and former Environmental Defense attorney. "But when you realize we're tearing down rain forests that store loads of carbon to grow crops that store much less carbon, it becomes obvious."
The growing backlash against biofuels is a product of the law of unintended consequences. It may seem obvious now that when biofuels increase demand for crops, prices will rise and farms will expand into nature.

It's that damn Law of Unintended Consequences again. It should be repealed. If you're current on your Prozac, you might have the nerve to look at what Barack and The Clintons are saying, but breathe deeply:

The best place to see this is America's biofuel mecca: Iowa. Last year fewer than 2% of U.S. gas stations offered ethanol, and the country produced 7 billion gal. (26.5 billion L) of biofuel, which cost taxpayers at least $8 billion in subsidies. But on Nov. 6, at a biodiesel plant in Newton, Iowa, Hillary Rodham Clinton unveiled an eye-popping plan that would require all stations to offer ethanol by 2017 while mandating 60 billion gal. (227 billion L) by 2030. "This is the fuel for a much brighter future!" she declared. Barack Obama immediately criticized her--not for proposing such an expansive plan but for failing to support ethanol before she started trolling for votes in Iowa's caucuses.

Get it? Iowa is the first caucus state, therefore they get subsidies out the ying-yang. (A painful spot for subsidy storage, but profitable.) Still don't believe me? Read on. This is all written by Michael Grunwald, BTW. Great writer....

If biofuels are the new dotcoms, Iowa is Silicon Valley, with 53,000 jobs and $1.8 billion in income dependent on the industry. The state has so many ethanol distilleries under construction that it's poised to become a net importer of corn. That's why biofuel-pandering has become virtually mandatory for presidential contenders. John McCain was the rare candidate who vehemently opposed ethanol as an outrageous agribusiness boondoggle, which is why he skipped Iowa in 2000. But McCain learned his lesson in time for this year's caucuses. By 2006 he was calling ethanol a "vital alternative energy source."

Well, McCain tried. But can you freakin' believe that IOWA will be a net importer of CORN? That's how profitable this scam is ! ! ! Talking about hauling your coals to Newcastle. We're paying people to destroy the earth in the name of saving the earth ! ! ! I swear I'm not making this up ! ! ! Farmers are subsidizing the politicians in exchange for subsidizing the farmers, and it's all being done with a Virtuous Green Politically Correct Glow.
Ok, I'm calming down now. One of the 3 weiner dogs has hopped in my lap. My breathing is getting slower, and my heart rate is back under control.

Back to Time magazine, and further vindication of The Whited Sepulchre circular payoffs theory of subsidies. Heck, you can take out the word "ethanol" and replace it with any subsidized commodity. The logic still holds:

Members of Congress love biofuels too, not only because so many dream about future Iowa caucuses but also because so few want to offend the farm lobby, the most powerful force behind biofuels on Capitol Hill. Ethanol isn't about just Iowa or even the Midwest anymore. Plants are under construction in New York, Georgia, Oregon and Texas, and the ethanol boom's effect on prices has helped lift farm incomes to record levels nationwide.
Someone is paying to support these environmentally questionable industries: you. In December, President Bush signed a bipartisan energy bill that will dramatically increase support to the industry while mandating 36 billion gal. (136 billion L) of biofuel by 2022.

Congratulations. You've bought 36 billion gallons of this stuff, whether you wanted to or not. There's one mis-statement in the paragraph above. There is no "ethanol boom". There is only a government mandate that you purchase ethanol.

So if I could figure out this scam back in November, and Time Holy Magazine put it together in April, can Nancy Pelosi and Trent Lott be far behind?

Yeah. Probably.

Monday, March 31, 2008

David Mamet, Thomas Sowell, and Gun Ownership

Once a month, readers of this blog are invited to stand for a reading from The Gospel According To Saint Thomas.
But before we begin our scripture reading for today's services, we have a guest speaker who has come to us with a personal testimony.
Please welcome playwright and screenwriter David Mamet to the pulpit. Brother Mamet is best known as the author of "Wag The Dog", "Glengarry Glen Ross", "The Verdict", "Sexual Perversity In Chicago" (filmed as "About Last Night"), and my own favorite, "American Buffalo".

Awkwardness and throat-clearing as Brother Mamet approaches the pulpit with a copy of The Village Voice, where his conversion testimony was recently published.....

I wrote a play about politics (November, Barrymore Theater, Broadway, some seats still available)..... And as part of the "writing process," as I believe it's called, I started thinking about politics.....The argument in my play is between a president who is self-interested, corrupt, suborned, and realistic, and his leftish, lesbian, utopian-socialist speechwriter.....
The play, while being a laugh a minute, is, when it's at home, a disputation between reason and faith, or perhaps between the conservative (or tragic) view and the liberal (or perfectionist) view.

Smoke begins to rise from The Village Voice, as it can no longer contain the power of this great man's rhetoric....

The conservative president in the piece holds that people are each out to make a living, and the best way for government to facilitate that is to stay out of the way, as the inevitable abuses and failures of this system (free-market economics) are less than those of government intervention.
I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind.

The Village Voice begins to spontaneously ignite in Brother Mamet's hands. Truly a sign that he is filled with the Spirit. Fortunately, for those wanting to read the entire text, I have provided a link to Mamet's complete article, eternally preserving it for future theologians should The Village Voice burn all the original manuscripts during a fit of jealousy and Old Leftie repression. Wait !!! A smoldering but legible ember of the text is drifting down to the pulpit.....Mamet grabs it, and continues reading:

"....I began reading not only the economics of Thomas Sowell (our greatest contemporary philosopher) but Milton Friedman, Paul Johnson, and Shelby Steele, and a host of conservative writers, and found that I agreed with them: a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than that idealistic vision I called liberalism."

At this moment the congregation rises to their feet and begins whooping and hollering like they're hearing Jeremiah Wright on Ecstasy. Brother Mamet, who is accustomed to the calm and serenity of his synagogue, begins edging toward the exit. "Say it again !" the congregation shouts.

"Unhhhh....I began reading not only the economics of Thomas Sowell (our greatest contemporary philosopher)....."

All the ladies in the front row begin fainting like it's an Obama rally. They've been alone in the wilderness for so long. Could David Mamet be the one who the prophets foretold? Mamet, finding his voice, tries to say it again, this time with more confidence:

"I began reading not only the economics of Thomas Sowell (our greatest contemporary philosopher) ! ! ! !"

The congregation is validated. Vindicated. For the first time in his life, The Whited Sepulchre begins speaking in tongues.

"Thomas Sowell is our greatest contemporary philosopher ! !" Mamet screams as he runs from our chapel, probably to go write a Pulitzer Prize-winner where unattractive men sit around in repressive environments and cuss a lot.

Order is eventually restored. Stretchers carry away the ladies from the front rows, probably to Free Market convents of some sort. Now that Brother Mamet's testimony is over, let us continue with our traditional liturgy.

Please stand for the reading from The Gospel According To Saint Thomas:

Thomas Sowell, the smartest man in the world now that Milton Friedman is dead, has declared that "Gun ownership deters crime". Therefore, if you want to reduce crime, get a gun.

Thus endeth this month's reading from The Gospel According To Saint Thomas.

The man has spoken.

You may be seated.

The Line is Here ! Carnival of the Libertarians, TLIH Style

The Line is Here » Blog Archive » Carnival of the Libertarians, TLIH Style

Hazel of "The Line Is Here" is current host of "Carnival Of The Libertarians".
Go there now.
I'm tempted to advise you to not bother clicking on everyone's submissions. Just enjoy Hazel's commentary, if you're in a hurry.

To submit posts to the next Carnival, use the widget in the blogroll to your right.