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Showing posts from 2006

Madame President and 'The Glass Ceiling'

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I get really irritated for some reason when I hear about women and the Glass Ceiling. It really irks me when the term is used in conjunction with becoming President of the United States. May the best woman or man win!

A ceiling seems to me to be a symbol of a barrier that cannot be broken through. A glass ceiling seems to be symbolic of being able to see the goal, but not being able to break through.

In this vein today, the Deseret News editorial staff published a piece entitled "Awaiting Madame President". The staff opinion begins thusly:

India had Indira Gandhi, England had Margaret Thatcher. Israel had Golda Meir. Today, Chile has Michelle Bachelet. Even Spain once had Isabela. But the United States, a nation that prides itself on being ahead of the curve, lags behind in having a female chief executive. Other countries have dismantled the glass ceiling, but women in the United States continue to bump their heads.
I think it is excellent that these great women have been le…

C'mon Putin-You Can Do Better Than That!!

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Normally the KGB isn't that stupid. So maybe I'm missing something when the Putin Administration blames someone with nothing to gain for the death of Aleksandr Litvinenko.

Vladimr Putin has recently started a campaign of "sovereign democracy". It sounds very lofty--perhaps meaning to some at first glance that Russia will make its own decisions unimpeded by the pressures of other nations. What is becoming more clear, however, is that "sovereign democracy" has become the mantra behind ensuring that Putin and his cabal will make their own decisions unimpeded by the pressures of the Russian people, whom he is supposed to be serving.

Several months ago, because he was becoming too much of a vocal critic of the Putin administration, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, CEO of Yukos Oil, was arrested for supposed income tax evasion. He is still in prison. Putin's government controls Yukos oil now. Today word is out that a partner of Khodorkovsky, Leonid B. Nevzlin is be…

Utah Should Come by its House Seat the Right Way

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A lot of scuttle has been made lately about Utah gaining a fourth seat in the US House of Representatives. This would be a great boon to Utah, but only if it is done the correct way.


Updated December 28, 2006.

Utah governor John Huntsman Jr. has been very interested in drawing up plans for a fourth district for the United States House of Representatives. He has been so aggressive that it has caught some Utah legislators by surprise.

A plan actually already exists. In 2001, following the 2000 US census wherein Utah narrowly missed getting that 4th seat, and in anticipation of winning a subsequent appeal at the Supreme Court (Utah missionaries living out of country were not counted in the census) that plan was drawn up. Utah Senate President John Valentine says the 2001 plan "is the official four-seat plan."

It is interesting to note why there is currently a new push for a 4th Utah seat in the House, considering that the 2010 census is about 4 years away. In conjunction with …

The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get...Propagandized

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It is not a bad thing that people become wealthy, unless they achieve their wealth at the expense of others. Politicians and others with ulterior motives want you to believe the rich become rich at the expense of the poor much more often than this actually occurs.

During the Christmas season, as always, it is important for us not only to be thankful for the things that we have, but also to be aware of those around us who are in destitute circumstances. Often, through no fault of their own, families fall on hard times. Politicians and pundits often point to a widening gap between the proverbial rich and the proverbial poor to claim that, not only is the incidence of poor people in America increasing, but that somehow it is the fault of the rich, as though the rich steal an ever greater slice of a static pie.

When a rich person acquires money by ill-gotten means, such as--ironically--by using government to expropriate property from lifelong home owners, he is guilty of theft and should…

A Look at Hamas

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How would you define Hamas? A sponsor of suicide bombings against Israel? A charitable organization that is highly respected by international organizations as taking good care of its own? If you answered yes, you are correct.

Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States. Considering that Hamas sponsors suicide bombers who have succeeded in killing several Israelis seems to make that designation appropriate.

But what about the other side of Hamas? Is there one? Yes.

In the Gaza, many people have a great deal of love and respect for Hamas. Those whose loved ones have died in the conflict with Israel received an approximate $200 per month stipend. Their children are each given another $30 for food and clothing, and receive a free education.

This year, however, tourism is way down. After Hamas took over the Palestinian Authority Parliament, and after more recent clashes with rival group Fatah, the hope of a year ago that 2006 would be somewhat of a return to norma…

Religion Healthy for Families

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Religion is dangerous to society, right? Well, it depends on whether there is freedom of religion. Evidence is clear that freely religious families benefit in nearly every way over those who are less religious. Why don't we tout that more regularly in public life?

There is a great misnomer in the world today--the claim that religion is detrimental to society. After all, religion has been behind nearly all of the wars in history, right? Well, actually...no. With the exception of current Islamic Fundamentalists, in distant history, despots who have hijacked religion have caused a lot of problems, but in more recent memory, the furthest things from religion--Communism and Nazism--caused more deaths than probably all previous wars combined.

Evidence today is clear that among those nations where freedom of religious practice is the norm, religion is of great benefit to society. Even where certain forms of religion are prescribed, such as in the Middle East, it has an overall benef…

NCAA Persecution of Mormons!!!

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BYU always comes up short in statistics regarding those who graduate in a timely manner. Recently it almost caused problems for the football program. But the statistics are unfair to a predominantly Mormon university, from which a LOT of students interrupt their studies to serve missions.

I have to admit, I gave the post its title in hopes that it would generate a lot of search engine hits. But the truth of the matter is, it wouldn't take much for the NCAA to make a sensible program that takes into account that BYU has a lot of missionaries who leave the team for three years.

The Deseret News recently posted an article claiming that BYU avoided NCAA sanctions by the skin of their teeth. On a 1,000-point scale, BYU scored 3 points above the minimum of 925 on the NCAA graduation statistics scale. A major factor in the scale deals with how many athletes graduate in 5 years.

Do the sanctions mean anything, or does the NCAA not really hand out sanctions? I hope so, but it doesn'…

Tithing and Bankruptcy

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I don't know much about bankruptcy, but it seems that someone who is in bankruptcy should be required to pay off his creditors before he contributes to his church.

Following a recent court case in which the judge declared that a person in bankruptcy could not continue to pay tithing to his church, Senators Orrin Hatch and Barrack Obama sponsored a bill that would allow such payment of tithing to continue. The bill was recently also passed by the House of Representatives.

Congress has the authority, under Article I Section 8 of the United States Constitution, to set the laws governing bankruptcy. Hatch and Obama's bill was inititated, because, according to Obama, "in a country where 37 million citizens live in poverty, we should be encouraging charitable giving, not limiting it."

I'm glad that Congress is in this case performing a clearly delineated role, but I'm not sure if I agree with the outcome.

From what I understand about bankruptcy, the bankrupt party is…

Republican Candidates for President in 2008

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Initial polling data are out for the upcoming presidential election. Do you have any idea who you are going to vote for? Does religion play any role in the potential vote you will cast?

It's interesting that polling is already begun for president in 2008. A recent poll on MichaelMedved.com asked the following question:

Q: In this early stage of the presidential campaign for 2008, which republican candidate would you prefer?
AnswerPercentMitt Romney45%Condoleezza Rice25%Rudy Giuliani19%John McCain7%Bill Frist4%
It's even more interesting, considering all the negative press that Mitt Romney took for being a Mormon, that he is leading in this poll.

Will I vote for him because I'm also a Mormon? Not necessarily. There are much more important reasons to support a political candidate than just because you share the same religion.

But I'm curious...at this point, would you be able to support any of these candidates? Why or why not?

Thou Shalt Not Covet – A New Perspective

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Traditionally, we look at the Judeo-Christian commandment “Thou shalt not covet” as an injunction against wanting what other people have. But it can also apply to how what other people have affects the value of our possessions.

“Thou shalt not covet.” This basic part of the Ten Commandments means that we should not crave what other people have. In a day and age where some people have a lot more than we do, it is easy to consume our lives with wanting others’ possessions—the fast and beautiful automobile, the luxurious home, frequent nights out at the finest restaurants, cabins and condominiums in the mountains, and season tickets to professional sporting events are some of the items on my covet list.

But there is a different form of coveting that we don’t often recognize as such. This consists of not wanting other people to have what they have, because their possessions may detract from the value of ours. The problem is compounded in our eyes when our possessions are leveraged to t…

Banning Prayer in Public Schools

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We have prayer in public places very frequently: the Supreme Court, Congress, athletic events, state legislature meetings, and meetings of city councils and county commissions for example. So why should we not have prayer in public school classrooms? Because such prayers might allow religion to exercise undue influence over our children.

Both houses of the Congress of the United States begin each session with prayer. Members of a variety of religions are called upon to provide those prayers. Something very similar occurs in the US Supreme Court.

Before being called to active duty military, I served for 5 1/2 years on the city council of the city in which I live. We began each meeting with a prayer. On every occasion we asked for a volunteer from the audience to give a prayer. On some of those occasions the mayor or a member of the council was the person who volunteered to give the prayer.

If we have prayers in these public venues, why should we not allow prayer in public schools?…

Not Much Will Change

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It doesn't matter which party gets a majority in the House or the Senate, not much is going to change in the way government runs. Will we stop unconstitutional programs? No. Will we cut wasteful spending? No. Why? Because our representatives do exactly what we want them to do.

I'm writing this post on election day, before the polls close, with breath baited beyond anything that has ever been baited before. Democrats pontificate that it's high time for a change, and so that's why they're going to take over the House and Senate. Republicans tout the recent improvement in poll numbers to prognosticate that they're going to win.

Maybe they will, maybe they won't. It's all very entertaining, the conservative pundits punding and the liberal news organizations editorializing--and we get vignettes about Mark Foley and John Kerry absolutely free(!), but you know what? It really doesn't matter. But this thought occurs to me as I think of the intelligenc…

Utah Proposition 3 is a Waste of Money

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Transportation funding initiatives known as Proposition 3 in Salt Lake County and the Opinion Question in Utah County are fraught with unknowns. They stand to be colossal wastes of money. Mixing automobile transportation funding and public transportation funding in one initiative is a mistake, because each mode of transportation is so different from the other.

It seems like just about everyone in Utah is in favor of the transportation funding initiatives that are on the ballot in Utah. I'm not.

It's interesting to note that the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) transit district was formed as a result of the pending energy crisis in the early 1970's. It didn't pay its way then, and it never has since. In 2000, Utahns subsidized every Trax rider to the tune of $6.60 per ride, and every bus rider got a gift of $2.20 every time he rode. According to some, we have a new transportation crisis.

In 2000, UTA requested additional subsidies in the form of a .25% increase in the sa…

Energy Alternatives are Paramount

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Many of our international problems would be solved if we weren't reliant on foreign oil. As it stands today, energy dependence allows the enemies of freedom to prosper. To silence the oppressors, we need energy alternatives that can be used around the world.

Gasoline prices are down all over the United States, and most of us are breathing a sigh of relief. I save about $25 every time I fill up my GMC Yukon compared to the highest prices we were paying 2 months ago. But there's a problem with these lower prices. When the cost of something is high enough there is a large incentive for innovators to provide a substitute for it. Which is exactly what American companies were starting to do when the price of gas was so high. Now that the prices are lower, it is not as cost effective to research alternative energy sources.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently stated that the one thing that has surprised her most in her current office is how dramatic is the effect of b…

That's Not Constitutional!

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If it weren't such a serious problem, it would be laughable about what some people think is and is not Constitutional these days. A misunderstanding of constitutionality will lead to legal disaster.

con·sti·tu·tion·al
adj. Of or relating to one's physical makeup. Of or proceeding from the basic structure or nature of a person or thing; inherent.What the judges say it isIn the previous definition, taken mostly from the American Heritage dictionary, I inserted definition #3, just so you can see how absurd it is.

But there are many who say these days "That's not constitutional!" when they really mean "I don't like that!". Constitutionality is not based on emotion, but on the Constitution. If the Constitution says it, it's Constitutional, if it doesn't it's not. Constitutionality cannot possibly mean simply what the judges say it is, or all legality and lawfulness will eventually break down into a complete disrespect for law.

Perhaps the mos…

I Don't Want Your Social Security

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Social Security is a Ponzi scheme that will ultimately fail. It is a terrible experiment that, the longer it goes on, the worse the financial catastrophe will ultimately be. We should be able to keep our money and invest it where it will do some good. Social Security is not secure and it destroys the social fabric of our society.

I see approximately $300 per month of my paycheck go some god-forsaken entity called FICA, and if I think too long about that acronym, it begins to look like a vulgarity. Not only does this FICA soak me for $300, but he gets the same amount out of my employer, only to deceive me into thinking he's taking only half as much as he really is. This means that under normal circumstances I would be making about $600 more per month on my paycheck.

If I were to invest this $600 per month for the 16 years that I have worked at this job at a conservative rate of 4% interest, I would have approximately $161,003. If, from now until I retire in the year 2030, I jus…

Embryonic Stem Cell Research is Hot Air

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We pause now for a moment to identify the rather long list of ailments that embryonic stem cells have cured... O...kay...We now continue with our regularly scheduled program.


A friend of mine who recently lost his arm to a roadside bomb in Iraq spent quite a bit of time at Walter Reed Army Hospital. While there he learned of some excellent remedies that have come along due to stem cell research. With tongue firmly in my cheek, I asked, "what sort of stem cells, embryonic?" No, he replied, adult.

Hmmm...

So far, all stem cell cures or remedies for any ailment that exists have been made with adult cells. Embryonic stem cells have made no contribution whatsover.

In the picture accompanying this post, the first cherub says "I died waiting for embryonic stem cell research to find a cure. What about you?" To which the second angel says "I was the embryo." It becomes a huge slide into moral relativity when we begin to say that it is okay to kill some people…

Moral Relativity is not Relative

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It can be easily proved moral relativity is not at all what it claims. In every case where moral relativity prevails, someone's specific brand of moral relativity becomes the moral norm. We can accept truth, or we can become victims to the most powerful as they decide what 'truth' is.

In George Orwell's book Animal Farm, one of the animals' mottoes was "All animals are equal." This motto was a value invented by a self-proclaimed leadership of pigs. Due to conspiracy and pressure, the other animals came to believe the motto. So it was to their great surprise when they awoke one morning to discover the barn wall had been painted with a modified motto:
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.If what the moral relativist claimed were true, he would not be able to make his claim. In reality what the moral relativist says initially is "There is no view or value that is better than any other, except for the fact that there is …

We Don't Need No Stinking Open Space

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The state of Utah has more open space than it has any idea what to do with. We don't need any more.

Groups like Envision Utah claim that Utah needs to set aside more open space for its people. This is bunk.

Utah has more open space as a percentage of its total space than nearly any other state in the United States (Nevada possibly excepted). The Federal Government owns so much of Utah that there is virtually no risk whatsoever that we will run out of open space. If you want to go camping, camp one day in each public camping spot in the state and it would probably take you 10 years to camp in all of them. You couldn't possibly hope to hike all of the open space in Utah if you hiked it from now until the day you die.

Utah has made very good use of a lot of its open space already. State and National parks are very majestic, enjoyable, and cared for. Opportunities to visit such sites are open and accessible to all. In addition, most cities and counties do an excellent job of …

"One Person One Vote" Was a Huge Mistake

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The Supreme Court's decision to require all legislative districts to be "apportioned substantially on a population basis" was a ludicrous decision that has caused a multitude of problems.

The Congress of the United States is a bicameral (two-chambered) legislature. The House of Representatives is apportioned roughly according to population of the various states of the union. Within those states, the various House districts must be generally equal in population.

The Senate is a completely different animal, however. Every state in the union, regardless of population, is given two senators in the United States Senate. This is a very healthy balance in lawmaking, pitting the overweening effect of large states in the House with the disproportionally stronger effect of the smaller states in the Senate.

The concept of "one person one vote" was popularized by the Baker v Carr Supreme Court decision in 1962, and hardened by the Court's 8-1 decision in Reynolds v Si…

Gun-Free School Zones Are Not Gun Free

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Recent events show us how Gun-Free School Zones never really are gun free. If more people carry guns, then criminals would be much less likely to commit wanton violence.

There have been a lot of school shootings lately. I'm just hearing that a school principal has been shot this morning. That would make 3 incidents in the past week, I think.

Do you know what one thing in common each of these school shootings have? Every school shooting has been at a school where the shooter knew their was a gigantic chance that he was the only one at the school (besides maybe a police resource officer who's there sometimes) who had a gun.

If adults were allowed to carry guns in schools, there would be fewer of the kind of wanton incidents that have been all the rage lately.

The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms are alleging that

laws creating gun-free school zones have "disarmed the wrong people and left our schools, and the children inside, vulnerable to this kind of a…

To Have the Compassion of an Ogre

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At least when it comes to using government as a weapon of compassion, I have the compassion of the ogre. I will explain below why I think government cannot and should not be in the business of compassion.

The force of government has caused many people to show less compassion to their fellow men. On the other hand, some of the best things happen when government is not compassionate. In such circumstances, individuals personally begin to display more compassion. One such instance of this happened recently in Utah when the governor asked the legislature to convene a special session in order to (among other things) provide special monies to pay for dental care for the disabled. If they didn't fund the governor's compassion project, it would make the legislators look even more heartless in a year where the budget surplus was projected to be at least $150 million. In spite of these political odds, the legislature did not grant the $2 million that 40,000 members of the disabled …

Evolution: To Teach or Not To Teach

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If we don't want to teach our children anything about faith and religion in the public schools, then we clearly should not teach them about The Theory of Evolution. The Theory of Evolution is every bit as much a religion of liberalism and a tenet of their faith as the creation story is of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Shinto, and many other religions.

Public schools should be allowed to teach The Theory of Evolution, so long as they correctly identify it as a theory. Children are potential adults, and can make their own conclusions about whether The Theory of Evolution is a fact or not. If children can be taught one theory, then they are perfectly able to digest others.

I hear from time to time that we all surely believe in evolution, because we can all observe that things change over time, people become generally taller, world records are broken in track and field and weightlifting on a regular basis, and similar such occurrences. This tactic is simple logical slight of…

To Have Children's Best Educational Interest at Heart

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Children thrive educationally when there are a variety of educational options open to them. An educator who tries to put stumbling blocks in the way of alternatives for children's education is actually encouraging children's educational failure.

The Deseret News recently published an article about the tenure of Pat Rusk as president of the Utah Education Association. I don't know if Pat Rusk feels the way the article portrays, but the following paragraph in the article jumped out at me.

the leader of the 18,000-member union also has friends, handing over dollars and manpower to one of Utah's strongest political arsenals that has helped block Republican Party-backed tax credits or vouchers for private school tuition in one of the nation's reddest states. Let me get right to the point. I can't, based on the above paragraph, cast aspersions at Ms. Rusk, but I do feel that anyone who feels proud of blocking other educational opportunities for children, such as vou…

Illegal Utah Aliens and In-State Tuition

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At first glance, it seems unfair for Utah to provide lower-cost, in-state tuition to non-resident aliens. But precautions are in place that make it more fair than it seems.

In a March 2003 article on the Eagle Forum website, Phyllis Schlafly chastized four states, including Utah for contravening Federal Law by providing, lower-cost in-state tuition to illegal aliens. I have not studied the laws enacted by the other three states, but the Utah law makes a great deal of sense.

In 2002, prior to the Eagle Forum article, the Attorney General of the State of Utah gave the opinion that Utah actually is in compliance with Federal Law in allowing in-state tuition to "nonimmigrant aliens". His letter to the President of the University of Utah on the subject is reprinted here.

Most importantly, Utah is not allowed to provide in-state tuition to aliens if it violates Federal law. To wit, if it would provide the same lower-cost tuition to other groups of residents or foreign nationals, …

Duke Lacrosse and Integrity

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Summary:Did any of the Duke Lacrosse players rape the stripper at the party in March 2006? I don't know. But I know a whole bunch of them were there.

E. D. Hirsch wrote a book a few years back, called Cultural Literacy, about things we need to know in our culture to be able to understand and contribute to society. The problem is nowadays there are certain things that we don't need to know but that are foisted in our faces non-stop anyway, and make us less able to contribute in a meaningful way to society.

There has been a running joke among my buddies and I here in Iraq. Almost anytime we get around a television we hear something on the news or on the sports channel about the Duke lacrosse team and an exotic dancer at some party last March. "Did you hear about this Duke thing?" we exclaim to each other as though the story hadn't bored us to death already in the last 3 months. "The lacrosse team supposedly raped a stripper!" "Wow, I hadn't h…

The Problem with Licensure

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Summary:Licensure in many cases is simply a license for (1) people to do substandard work, (2) other people to be trusting of people that shouldn’t be trusted, and (3) groups of people to limit entry of others into their profession. In my opinion, licensing in most cases should not be required, but should be an option for people who choose it as a form of insurance that the good or service provided is trustworthy. Here’s what I mean…

First, a couple of stories to set the stage. When I was a teenager, my father was on the city council in our town. He was frustrated one time about a man in town who refused to get a building permit to make modifications to his house. As I thought about it, I found myself on the side of the man who didn’t want to get the building permit.

Later on, in a different town, I became a member of a city council. Every year, it came time to renew the licenses of every business in town. And nearly every year I asked for a discussion on why we required business…