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Fear of the Latter-Day

Mormonism and the liberal. Also: Fear of the death penalty. Al Qaeda's big plans. Ancient chickens. Democrat Party? Plus much more.

1.7.07

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MORMONISM AND THE LIBERAL
Re: W. James Antle III's Is It Mormonism in America?:

Thanks for W. James Antle III's even-handed article on Romney and Mormonism in modern politics. I am a Mormon. One of the things that I find interesting is that people love to exercise their curiosity on what they consider the more exotic portions of our faith. Yet, I have YET to see quoted in the media some of the most basic and foundational tenets -- our articles of faith. The last three (of 13) are quite relevant and I provide them for you:

11) We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

12) We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

13) We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul -- We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Shouldn't this be discussed? Isn't this more to the point than trying to discuss complex doctrines in sound bytes?
-- Craig Matteson
Ann Arbor, Michigan

You may be interested to know that Damon Linker was once a visiting professor at BYU. Yes, the same BYU that is Brigham Young University, the school owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I took a political philosophy class from him, and liked it so much that I also took his class on Nietzsche. It was in my Nietzsche class that he announced he had taken the job at First Things. I found him to be fair and understanding of the church, of which he is obviously not a member. I thoroughly enjoyed his classes. I find it hard to believe that he would write an article suggesting that Romney would be unduly influenced by the Prophet of the Church. I thought that teaching at BYU would have opened his eyes to the fact that Mormons are free-thinkers, not mindless robots controlled by the Prophet.

That is why I happen to think that Linker's article was simply a push for higher readership. As an editor of a magazine, I'm sure you also understand why someone would write a controversial article just to get more sales, especially an article that sets forth an idea that they don't necessarily believe in. That is what Linker has done here.
-- Sean Coletti

I'm sure that Mr. Antle finds also finds this interesting. It appears not to be a problem at all that one of the candidates for president from the other side of the aisle once smoked pot and snorted coke. But we can't abide a Republican candidate who happens to be a Mormon, now, can we?

Of course, it wouldn't be a problem for Harry Reid, also a Mormon, because we know that a Democrat, when faced with following the teachings of his church or toeing the party line, will without hesitation do the latter every time. John Kerry, Teddy Kennedy, and of course Nancy Pelosi (even Say it Ain't So Joe Lieberman) have proved that again and again.

Understand, I'm a Southern Baptist. I don't see a lot of Mitt's theology that I can agree with. But as Richard Land said, we're electing a commander in chief here. Theology aside, Mitt and I see eye to eye on most social and budgetary issues, and I'll vote for him in a heartbeat before I'd vote for Jimmy Carter or Al Gore, fellow Baptists both (or, BINOs, if I can invent a new acronym).
-- Tim Jones
Cordova, Tennessee

The irrational fear of Mitt Romney is interesting. Here's my take on it: Liberals, leftists, secularists are afraid of anyone who says "I know" or "I saw and heard." And so it is necessary to say that Joseph Smith was a con man, because to admit that he might have been telling the truth is to admit that God might actually be real. A real living God is not something the secular world is interested in. Or, if he is real, they prefer him to mind his own business and leave us alone. And anyone who really believes in a living God who calls living prophets is a dupe, a fool and an intellectual lightweight -- and dangerous. And so, these people fear Mitt Romney because he believes in the reality of God and living prophets. By the way, dead prophets seem to be okay with most people, as long as they have been dead a very long time.

The late LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie once said in a church conference, "If you want to know what we believe, why don't you ask us. We know." If you want to know what Catholics believe, you don't ask a Baptist or a Moslem, you ask a Catholic. What most people do not know is that the LDS people believe, not as doctrine but as a matter of fact, that the Constitution of the United States was written by men who were inspired of God to write it, and that the United States was created through the inspiration of God through good men raised up for that purpose. No people in this country are more respectful and committed to the Constitution than the LDS people. There is no possible danger of any kind to the Constitution coming from the LDS religion. Anyone who says otherwise is fearmongering. I have an idea that Romney's campaign is going to reveal a lot more about some Americans than it will about Romney.
-- Stephen Hayes
Utah

It should be said that it is not unconstitutional for an individual to argue against and vote against a person of a particular religion because of that religion. It is not even clearly immoral. It might be justified in particular cases. There can be debate with people like Antle on these questions.

Surprisingly, while some have warned that gay marriage might lead to polygamy, a Canadian judge has ruled that a couple can have more than two legal parents -- a lesbian couple, plus the involved biological sperm source. So I have a new word to think about: polyparenthood.
-- Richard L.A. Schaefer
Dubuque, Iowa

I'm glad to find out the virgin birth is just a metaphor, Moses didn't part the Red Sea (the Sea Reeds was much deeper then), manna didn't fall from heaven and Jesus didn't heal anyone he was just the proto-Oprah. For the last 40+ years I believed that was all fact sort of like I believed Democrats, despite the evidence, were still patriots.

As a conservative Romney is my guy. Better a believing Mormon that someone who supports the National Council of Churches or has faith in the UN. Unfortunately, thanks to the continued conservative melt down and mythologizing of Reagan, the nomination is McCain's to lose.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, NC

I read your article. Why would you give a bigot like Weisberg a platform or even mention his name if you choose to quote him?
-- Trevor Howard

YES AND NO
Re: Lawrence Henry's No to the Death Penalty:

While it is sad to see a child scarred for life, as Mr. Henry clearly was by the frightening scenes of Cuban firing squads executing their victims, it is far more heart-wrenching to see the photos of children who are victims of child molesters or terrorist bombs. There is certainly an element of revulsion elicited from watching an execution-even that of a horrible monster like Saddam Hussein. Our decision to retain capital punishment as an option has nothing to do with sparing someone's hurt feelings: the purpose of capital punishment is to remove these monsters from the planet and to send a signal to those potential terrorists and criminals who consider wreaking havoc on our society. We reserve the right to remove them from our planet as well if their actions cause innocents grave harm.
-- Ralph

To equate the "death penalty" handed out to murderers in the USA, with Cuba's execution of innocent civilians, or with some child killing himself is absurd.

No sane and moral person enjoys seeing another die, but the death penalty is justice being served (much too late) for crimes committed.

If you can't see the difference, you have a serious problem.
-- George L

Lawrence Henry writes "are ghastly, all of them, and should not see the light of civilization," but unfortunately the "them" he is referring to are methods of dispatching ghastly individuals from the light of civilization and not the ghastly individuals themselves. It would appear that Mr. Henry is unwilling to conclude that some individuals are no longer worthy of the "light of civilization." But indeed there are, and he is mistaken.

I speculate that the reason why Mr. Henry's attitude has become much more common, if not the majority, is that Americans have become more accepting of ghastly individuals, and not of ghastly methods of dispatching such individuals. That is not progress. It would appear that one must choose one or the other. Why would anyone rationally have a preference for the ghastly individuals?
-- Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

Mr. Henry's cringing notwithstanding, capital punishment is an integral and irrevocable part of the Constitution. The just application of capital punishment is mentioned specifically in the Fifth Amendment, in three separate contexts, one referring to grand jury indictments of capital crimes, one referring to double jeopardy, and a third referring to due process. Here is the wording, which is unmistakable:

"Amendment V: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

And the Eighth Amendment makes it clear that capital punishment (which was just endorsed in the adjacent Amendment V) is not cruel and unusual punishment:

"Amendment VIII: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

What is frustrating here is that our right to have a decent, orderly society, one with "domestic tranquility," is denied us by our leaders. In the same way that Mr. Bush and the INS deprive us of intact borders and orderly immigration, the judiciary denies us peace and security by ignoring parts of the Constitution, and the laws that come from them. "Anarcho-tyranny," is the phrase R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. introduced in an essay in TAS years ago, if memory serves: The elected tyrants exert their tyranny by merely letting the criminals and illegals work out on us, the unsuspecting public. It's elegant and ingenious on their part, actually, if you think about it. It ties up the troublesome public's attention and resources in a perpetual battle against the common criminal, one that should have been won long ago, had only the laws been enforced.

Let's face it: Our whole society, over the past four decades, has been turned inside-out to accommodate and molly-coddle such criminals. None of us can let our children play unsupervised outdoors in our neighborhoods the way all of us did even up until the 1970s. Elaborate monitors and computers have to be devoted to track myriad perverts and child molesters. Innocent children can't walk to school, to the drugstore, or to the playground anymore. Public parks, libraries, sidewalks, shopping malls, are now places parents are afraid to let their children near. We fear letting them out of our sight, even for a few minutes. We fear for our lives, sometimes in our homes, because of all the criminals at large, carrying on with their evil works with impunity. Cringe about that, Mr. Henry.

Or don't. The United States became great by adhering to its own laws. We can decay, even faster than we became great, into an anarchical sewer, by failing to enforce the laws. This includes those harsh ones prescribing capital punishment for "infamous crimes." Why can't we stand up and demand an orderly society, instead of cringing in a dark, feculent cell of our own creation?
-- Francis Dillon
Indianapolis, Indiana

I was a kid of about 15 when Castro's executions happened. I remember it well and vividly from the newsreels. I was dumbstruck. I remember one of these condemned men, however, that Castro killed, walked rather jauntily out to the trench, faced them without any kind of blindfold or constraints and said shoot. I could ask -- PLAINTIVELY-- now why Castro was given a pass on this. But why bother? The Maximum Leader wore his "revolutionary" military duds and blustered out schoolboy Marxist claptrap. That made him, in Thomas Sowell's words, a "mascot" of the left. For the media lefty elite, he could have then and still can do anything he wants.

Great idea to resurrect this horror.
-- Clint Albano
Muscat, Oman

Mr. Henry, you are a dear man, you are. I empathize with you and your experience of having watched someone killed in such a manner as those you saw on television as a boy. At the time, I'm sure it probably made no difference to you WHO was doing the deed, or the potential guilt or innocence of the victim, the brutality alone was enough to forever seal your opinion of those who would take a life by the authority of the state, especially one in flux as during a revolution or war. I remember too, what I felt when, as a boy, I saw the infamous photo of the South Vietnamese officer shooting a captured Vietcong through the head, nausea and revulsion. Since then, I have seen other photographs and film footage of even more brutal acts, all from World War II, by the Japanese in Nanking, the Germans in the Ukraine, et.al. And, as I write this, a report is out similar to your reference to the boy in Pakistan, that a Texas boy, apparently in an experiment, hung himself after watching the Saddam hanging on television with one of his uncles.

With all due respect to the trauma you and I experienced, the tragedy of these two children, and probably more to come, the first conclusion we might draw from these events, is that we should NOT show executions on television where children may be a witness to them. Even if they are shown later on, say, the History Channel, parents should at least be more responsible for whether or not their children are allowed to see them. In any case, these tragedies do not argue against capital punishment as a legitimate punishment in certain cases.

Evil exists, and it must be confronted. I am glad the Nuremburg and Japanese war crimes trials took place and that the guilty were executed, as I am glad that Saddam Hussein was executed. I only wish, in hindsight, we could have dispatched Hitler earlier, before the war, or for that matter, Stalin, after the war. But, recognizing evil, and confronting it, are different things. Our problem today is that we cannot agree that evil even exists, or on what evil is, much less how or whether or not to confront it. Let us agree, Mr. Henry, to disagree on whether someone should forfeit their own life in certain instances for the evil they have done. But, let us agree that evil exists, on what it is, and that it must be dealt with before it deals with us.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

A 9 year old hanging himself says absolutely nothing about the death penalty but it speaks volumes about bad parenting. What's really ghastly is when a convicted killer is released on parole and he/she murders again. Where's the humanity in that? There is nothing "humane" about execution but then again there is nothing "humane" about murderers. They have forfeited their right to decent treatment of any sort. It's inhumane to the victims, and their families, to allow these inhuman beasts to sit on death row for decades.
-- RW

"No to the Death Penalty." Doesn't that say enough?

NO it doesn't. The death penalty isn't used enough to stem the evil wrought by the wicked. More, much more must die.
-- Andrew E. Malone

AQ TESTS
Re: George H. Wittman's Terrorism Thoughts:

George Wittman is exactly correct. In Iraq, we have troops sitting between two groups of stone-age morons killing each other while cadres of sophisticated Muslims elsewhere are (perhaps) designing the logistics to get an atomic bomb into one of our ports on a container ship.
-- Ty Knoy
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Interesting that I haven't seen any mention of the very recent so-called leadership changes among the generals in Iraq. McClellan-types being replaced by those who might be a tad less Politically Correct and actually have the words "win" and "victory" in their lexicons, maybe?

Can't help but sometimes wonder if the Pentagon isn't as screwed-up as the State Department (and, indeed, the White House) in its conduct of supposedly fighting a war; a bunch of guys with stars playing CYA.

It's mighty sad when the only superpower around acts like a bunch of wimps. This whole Iraqi mess should've been fully wrapped-up a year or two ago.

Should have been!
-- frost

BACKWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS
Re: Daniel Allott's A New Old-Fashioned Christmas:

The problem as I see it is not so much the atheists' getting their way. The problem is with the cowardly, so-called, Christians who are more concerned with being politically correct than they are with celebrating the Birth of Jesus. Add to the mix, the anti Christian left wing media and you wind up with a full scale attack on Christianity, validated by the left wing media. Now, add into the recipe, the recent take over of the legislature by the left, compliments of many Christian voters, and you have the same people in power who have been responsible for where we are today (school prayer, ten commandments, anti-Christmas, etc.). We get what we vote for folks. Go figure!
-- Jim L
East Sandwich, Massachusetts

Thank you for running this story on the celebration of Christmas in the UK. Whether it's viewed as a religious celebration, a secular happening, or a shopping event, it deserves to be retained as an important part of our culture. Can you please furnish this story to the smaller newspapers in the metro NY-NJ-Ct area? I think they may find it surprising enough to actually run it.
-- E. M. Raasch

FEATHERS WILL FLY
Re: Michael Fumento's Squawking About Avian Flu:

Thank you for Michael Fumento's article about Avian Influenza panic. Members of the Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquities are small flock owners who are already under the economic pressures putting small farmers out of business. This hysteria is not helping the cause of preserving historic breeds and the invaluable genetics they carry.

I include with this message the column I wrote for my colleagues at the Society of Environmental Journalists bulletin last year (posted here). I have included a chapter on the subject in my book coming out in March, How To Raise Chickens.
-- Christine Heinrichs
Publicity Director
Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquities

BUSH OVER EXPERIENCE
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Bush Knows:

I always enjoy reading you opinions but after reading your article "Bush Knows" I was struck that this a perfect example of "a triumph of hope over experience." I was surprised to see that it took the President four years to "accept the bitter partisanship of the Democrats." So it is now six years into his presidency, two years after his purported epiphany and he still hasn't done anything about it. I read Mr. Bush's letter in the WSJ and it seemed to me it was all carrot and no stick! If his actions over the past six years are any indication I think you are being overly optimistic perhaps even delusional when you think he will not accept the Democrat policies that will be forced on him. I personally believe he will sell out just as he did on campaign finance and his failure to use the veto to restrain Congressional overspending. I do hope that your assessment is more correct than mine. Mr. Bush must realize that the he is in the battleground of politics, a true blood sport, and not the refined atmosphere of the Yale Club.
-- Charles E. Umhey Jr., MD
Turah, Montana

Bush knows but doesn't care. How many years does it take for Bush to realize his "sort of collegiality" with Texas dems doesn't work with DC dems....Let's face it Bush is not a CONSERVATIVE never has been. He is as close to a "blue blood" Republican liberal as his daddy. When elected to his first term one of the first items on his agenda was a meeting with Sen. Edward Kennedy to work out a new education bill. That says it all. The liberal dems have en mass marched over him like Sherman storm trooping through Georgia, while cursing his very existence and all the D.C. Republicans and Bush can muster is a faint smile.
-- C.A. Morrill

OVERDUE
Re: The "Library of Progress" letters in Reader Mail's Library of Progress>Purge Protection

All the libraries I used to frequent culled their shelves on a regular basis. I salvaged many a fine old book at their book fairs. I don't think it's malicious or sinister---I just think they need to clear out the old volumes for new volumes.

After all, any library is also, physically, a volume of space with fixed and finite dimensions. Someone once said that often the most valuable space in one's library is the space that is empty.
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

FAMILY MATTERS
Re: Catherine Eldredge's letter (under "No Tears") in Reader Mail's Move On Michigan:

Re: "No Tears" and Catherine Eldredge's letter contrasting the liberal breast beating on the occasion of any death penalty (finally) being carried out in the United States and their close to insane defense of "the right to choose."
They never finish the sentence. It goes "The right to choose to murder your child in utero."

If Ms. Eldredge lived where I do, she could experience on local TV the all night candlelight vigils held at San Quentin protesting the death of the likes of multiple murderer Tookie Williams -- the most recent "victim" of our
criminal justice system.

This has been my first opportunity to take a moment to enjoy TAS comments since December 18. Early on December 19, I added a new category to my collection of odd knowledge and abilities. I have become an expert nurse to my recuperating husband. For the time being, me Tarzan, him Jane. And how he hates it. This human dynamo has a 20# weight restriction. I won't let him lift the telephone book.

My 83-year-old husband of 61 years, came in (make that crawled in) from the garage after lifting and shoving some very heavy shop tools he has lifted and shoved and carried all his life. He taught Industrial Arts for 25 years. He complained of a really bad backache. Really bad backache within minutes became really bad gut ache. Within 15 minutes I had him to local hospital thence to Stanford. Diagnosed as tear in aorta.

So, gentlemen -- and ladies, too, if you are into heavy lifting, bear in mind, as you age so does your aorta. Be kind to it. A week at Stanford Hospital in ICU has him on the mend and I have a spare moment to enjoy the insight and wisdom of your writers and readers alike.

My 61st wedding anniversary was spent bedside at Stanford. I am so glad to have him home. Happy New Year!
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

SOBOLEWSKI AGAIN
Re: The Pocket's of Misery letters in Reader Mail's Desert Reports:

To Mr. Koehl,

Your responses appear to be emotionally laden outbursts with rhetoric about Falls Church. Nobody cares. For the record, I'm a consistent Republican/fiscal conservative voter, gun owner, and clearly oppose illegal immigration. I never said you personally favored illegal immigration but rather that low wage employers are driving for amnesty and lax enforcement. The Swift meat company just requested a guest worker program to hire illegals . It's interesting you should label me a liberal for admiring big business solutions when they efficiently fill a market need. You apparently think liberals are in love with Wal-Mart and Starbucks. Nonetheless, if small businesses are that close to collapsing for a lack of bottom wage labor, they probably aren't that entrepreneurial.

In response to Mr. Ward's 5 questions:

"1. Aren't the wages of higher than minimum wage workers increased when the minimum wage is increased?"

Yes. In fact, I said so in my response to Mr. Stuart. "Even if most workers in Falls Church are paid above the minimum wage as he observes, it would have an impact as many economists note by the "rising boat" as the increase in bottom wages push higher ones up." Please read fully before asking more questions. Thank you.

"2. Won't the same people who earned minimum wage before an increase be earning minimum wage after the increase?"

Yes. But what's the point? If the workers are still paid minimum wage, then what's all the fuss about whether to raise it or not? Non sequitur.

"3. Do prices increase when the minimum wage is increased?"

Yes. I even addressed this in my original letter where I pointed out that low wages are a fraction of operating costs and said I was willing to pay more for a burger. I balanced this increased expense against the cost of the welfare state and illegal immigration.

"4. Will income and payroll taxes increase when the minimum wage is increased?"

Er, no. As far as I know, the minimum wage is not tied into an increase in the tax rate. If you want to lower your personal total tax liability, you are free to ask your employer to pay you less money though.

"5. Do you think that retired people living on a fixed income will have less real income?"

Perhaps. Perhaps not. This sounds like emotional hyperbole. I'll address this below:

"Looks to me like the only beneficiaries of a minimum wage increase are governments that receive more revenue without an increase in costs."

There's also the benefit of greater buying power for the working class people. You seem to have forgotten about them. Also, more people able to get off of welfare sooner, more incentive for local Americans to take such jobs rather than illegals, and less turnover.
-- Mark Sobolewski
Falls Church, Virginia

BEAR DEMOCRAT
Although I am a Democrat and disagree with much of what it written in the Spectator, I recognize and respect the roll that your publication plays in the national political discourse.

However, I wanted to point out the error that the Spectator continues to make regarding the name of the Democratic Party. Your publication chooses to call it the "Democrat" Party. Considering the wealth of experience of Spectator writers and editors, I can only conclude that this error is made intentionally as a means to somehow ridicule the Democratic Party.

I respectfully request that you cease printing something that you know to be false. After all, Republicans and Democrats are merely opponents, not enemies.
-- Pete Fall
Bear, Delaware

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