Monday, April 30, 2007

"Checketts" Your Integrity at the Door

Perhaps it's blatant shysterism, and then again expectations regarding a contribution of $7.5 million for a soccer complex may just be two sets of expectations that have passed like two ships in the night. As you may infer from the title of this post, I think it is the former.

I don't know Dave Checketts, and if I did, I might probably think he was a pretty good guy. But in my experience in city government, I've met a fair number of people who either did a great job pretending to be good guys, or who were good guys except when they got into a business deal where a lot of money was involved.

With all the posturing, bullying, and name calling that went into finally acquiring county funds for a soccer stadium--by 'virtue' of state dictation of how such county funds be used--I suspect Dave Checketts is involved in a deal that involves too much money for his integrity to handle.

I was surprised (...only for a minute) the other day, when I found out that Mr. Checketts thinks that the $7.5 million he had pledged to give for a youth soccer facility in Salt Lake City is now an investment rather than a donation. In the same breath, I salute Mayor Rocky Anderson for calling Mr. Checketts' bluff, and for finally recognizing that Mr. Checketts doesn't have even a thimble-full of integrity in his business dealings. But what took him so long?

Do you think Rocky has given his Real soccer jersey back yet?

Soccer in Utah is a great thing. I enjoy watching and playing soccer more than any other sport except for basketball, and perhaps football. This is why I am tired of the shenanigans being pulled by Mr. Checketts, which will ultimately redound to the detriment of soccer in Utah, and Utah in general.

The Salt Lake Tribune's editorial of a couple days ago says

Real is getting its public funds. It should cough up the donation. If that donation is not forthcoming, the flow of public funds to the Real stadium project should cease.

At least we all know now. I don't think we need any other indications of Mr. Checketts' "looking-out-for-number-one-itis" than what has already happened.

I think it "should cease" now.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bush Says "Reform Immigration." Riiiiiiiiiiiiight!

In today's weekend radio address, President Bush stated that we needed to reform United States immigration. Somehow I don't think he's very serious about his noble-sounding words.

Part of President Bush's address today was this;

In Washington, we are in the midst of an important discussion about immigration. Our current immigration system is in need of reform. We need a system where our laws are respected. We need a system that meets the legitimate needs of our economy. And we need a system that treats people with dignity and helps newcomers assimilate into our society.

The system can only treat people with dignity if we have laws that are enforced. This requires that we not only make it possible for non-lawbreaking immigrants to easily immigrate and assimilate into society (while being encouraged to keep their ethnic traditions, by the way), but that we make it much more difficult than it currently is for gang members, drug dealers, and other miscreants from planting their cancers in our society.

I cannot believe that President Bush is serious about immigration reform for several reasons:

1. Strategic Partnership for Prosperity opens a gigantic hole in our border and will make our security problem even worse.

2. Border patrol agents are being hamstrung in their duties. Two agents languish in prison for simply doing their job. They remain unpardoned by President Bush.

3. The southern border fence that was approved by Congress will not be built.

Gangs like MS-13 are having a field day crossing our borders and trafficking in drugs. Some towns in Texas, California, etc. have become sanctuaries for such criminals.

The only way that both Americans and American immigrants can be treated with dignity is if we have good immigration laws. We don't have that right now. President Bush, if he were serious about healthy immigration, would admit the specific problems that we have and suggest ways to fix them. Instead, his actions, tacit and specific, are making the problem worse.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The KGB Never Went Away

What was George Bush thinking when he said that Vladimir Putin was a good man? Despite the fact that Communism fell, one of its greatest enablers, the KGB, never went away. Russian society is more closely resembling Communism now than in any of the

It's ironic that at the death of "The Man Who Killed Communism", Boris Yeltsin, it has become necessary to comment on a totalitarian resurgence in the former Soviet Union.

The Russian judiciary used to be independent. No longer. Can you get the truth from the news in Russia? Not nearly as much as before. What about people who disagree with Putin? They get shown the door or a prison cell or are asked to resign if they're lucky. If not, they are served chemicals, such as polonium, (or more often lead) for dessert. What about people who get rich providing an important product or service to the people of Russia? They get a prison cell. All the while, the KGB gets its cut of everything--capitalism, legal judgment, and the dispensing of news and information.

I spoke with a Russian friend last night. He still marvels at the trust that Americans show each other in their everyday--particularly when it comes to business--dealings. We have nothing like this in Russia, he told me. After all these years, they have not been able to escape the spectre of Communism. Perhaps because some of its most integral features never really went away, but went into dormancy for a while. Well, they're baaaa-aaaack! in all their diabolical splendor.

Russia has a dismal history on the subjects of liberty and human rights. This is no excuse, however, for President Putin and his harem of killers and usurpers.

Further Cheapening Respect for Life

In a society that considers murdering innocent children even outside the womb as "abortion", it's not hard to imagine that some psychopathic killers will also develop a wanton disregard for the preciousness of life.

As many as 1 in 30 babies being aborted actually survives outside the womb and is left to die an agonizing death (in some cases as agonizing as the abortion procedure itself may have been).

Researchers found that one in 30 of babies aborted by this induced labor abortion were delivered alive, living an average of 80 minutes. A few lived several hours. This statistic increased to one in 10 when babies were aborted at the gestational age of 23 weeks, the current medically drawn line of viability.

In at least one case, a baby was sealed in a large zip-lock bag so that it would suffocate. In many others, they are just left to languish until they expire. Regardless of how you feel about a woman's right to choose, how can you support something as egregious as allowing a human being to die such a heinous death?

Not much different than, shall we say, taking a gun into a university campus building and killing 32 people and then yourself. Is it?

Interestingly and importantly in light of this comparison, the Supreme Court made a 5-4 decision upholding the Congressional ban on partial-birth abortions on the same day as the Virginia Tech massacre. What the majority had to say in the case is helpful in making less likely both types of murders:

The government undoubtedly [quoting the ban] "has an interest in protecting the integrity and ethics of the medical profession." � The Act's ban on abortions involving partial delivery of a living fetus furthers the Government's objectives. Congress determined that such abortions are similar to the killing of a newborn infant. This Court has confirmed the validity of drawing boundaries to prevent practices that extinguish life and are close to actions that are condemned.

[T]he Act defines the line between potentially criminal conduct on the one hand and lawful abortion on the other. Doctors performing D&E will know that if they do not deliver a living fetus to an anatomical landmark they will not face criminal liability.

The Supreme Court's decision makes it more likely that, not only will we not be likely to condone acts such as the Virginia Tech massacre in the future, but that we will also be less likely to claim, as we did this time around, that the murderer was a victim.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Reporting the Simple Salient Facts in a Case of Self Defense

The way some outlets (oh, let's just take a random about.....Associated Press) report crime stories, you'd almost get the impression that the reporter thinks that those killing their assailant in self-defense are unjustified in doing so. At least the story makes it look like the self-defender didn't know how to use the gun. And now, the rest of the story...

The Associated Press story begins thusly:

The owner of a popular pizza shop opened fire on three robbery suspects, killing one of them and apparently wounding his own son.

What does that conjure up in your mind? That he recklessly endangered his son's life? That he didn't know how to use a firearm? That he shouldn't have had a firearm on the premises?

I remember working as a college student at a 7-11, whose policy at the time was that we could not bring firearms on the premises. My employment was not in a particularly high-crime city, but I remember thinking how stupid that policy was. I still think that. So maybe that colors my opinion of the AP story a little bit.

So, in my opinion, color the AP version of the story the color of crap.

Here's what really happened:

Sgt. Jim Rullamas said Friday that Allen Joseph Hicks II, 22, of Oakland, who was carrying an assault pistol, came into the parlor with two other men, pointed the gun at the 41-year-old owner and said, "This is a robbery."

Besides his son, the owner's wife and two daughters also were in the parlor.

Rullamas said the parlor has been robbed before and the owner's brother was shot in the face in another robbery in 1992, which is why he kept a pistol on the premises.

The owner, whose name was not released, pulled the gun and shot at Hicks, hitting him more than once while the two other suspects fled.

The owner later told police he shot Hicks because "he was in fear of his life and his family's life," Rullamas said.

Despite being wounded, Hicks struggled with the owner. In the struggle another shot was fired — from whose gun authorities are not yet sure — and the 17-year-old son was hit in the abdomen. The owner suffered a cut over his eye in the struggle.

By the way, the Associated Press has a nice set of idiotic bookend paragraphs to sandwich their almost meatless story. Here's the final paragraph:

Friends left messages, balloons, candles and bottles of cognac at a makeshift memorial honoring Hicks on Friday.

Hicks is the robber. Oh, the poor guy!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

China Will Soon be The 'Biggest Polluter'

China was a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is projected to overtake the United States this year in such emissions. Is China going to be able to live up to its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol?

Of course! Their job is to look at other countries and tell them to stop polluting. Their other job is to thumb their noses at everyone else and say 'Neener, Neener, Neener'. It was actually easy for China to sign on to Kyoto, because they don't have to reduce their emissions a bit. Looks like they can increase them just as much as they want, as well. Kyoto is a farce.

The Chinese government made it clear that they have no intention for now of reducing emissions, because that would make a huge dent in their economic development. Wouldn't it for everyone! That's the whole point.

Good for them. I'm glad China is growing. But why did they sign on to Kyoto in the first place? I salute the United States for having the guts to look at a silly treaty and state that we weren't going to be participants in a farce.

There are some problems for China right now, though.

China's heavy reliance on highly polluting coal for electricity generation have made it a major contributor to greenhouse gasses, mainly carbon dioxide, which are blamed for damaging the ozone layer and causing global warming.

Industries and urban buildings are far less energy efficient than those in developed countries and the massive growth of private car ownership has helped turn air in cities such as Shanghai and Beijing into a toxic soup.

They'll naturally get better at reducing emissions as they become more economically developed. That's the beauty of free enterprise.

What're Your Favorite Children's Stories?

I was listening to the radio this morning, and one of the guests talked about how important reading to your children is. By the end of the segment, I remembered. It was important to me as I was growing up, and instilled in me a desire to read.

Mothers and fathers who read to their children will find that their children are more well-rounded and kind to each other. Not only that, they will get to sleep more easily and will sleep better. Children who are read to have less fear and greater optimism.

It took me a while to think back, but I remember when my mom (and every once in a while my dad--about the same as it is in our household now) would read me stories. It had almost escaped my memory, but now that I think back about it, it brings back fond memories.

I remember some of those stories even now. Here are my favorites.

  1. Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak
  2. The Sneetches (along with The Zax, the Pale Green Pants, and Too Many Daves - Dr. Seuss
  3. Are You My Mother? - P.D. Eastman
  4. The story about the little boy who fed his gold fish too much, so it kept growing until it fill their swimming pool, and the pet shop owner had to come make it small again
  5. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
  6. Go, Dog, Go! - P.D. Eastman
  7. Sam and the Firefly - P.D. Eastman
  8. Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
  9. Peter Rabbit - Beatrix Potter
  10. Charlotte's Web - E.B. White
Which ones are your favorites?

Scrambling to Turn Off the TV

It's interesting what we will and will not let our children watch on TV. Sometimes our conscience blinders get a little thick in places.

In the opinion section of Monday's Deseret News was this ironic gem:

I was curled up on the couch watching "American Idol" with my 9-year-old twins on Wednesday evening. Ryan Seacrest had barely said good night when Fox 13 News abruptly began flashing images of the Virginia Tech shooter. I scrambled to turn off the set...

If the writer were really concerned about her children not watching salacious fare that will ruin their psyches, she should have "scrambled to turn off the set" an hour earlier--when American Idol started.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Clearing the Air on Utah Education Vouchers

A couple of weekends ago my family and I traveled to southern Utah for an extended-family Easter celebration. It was extremely enjoyable. A fringe benefit of the weekend was for me to learn not only how many members of my extended family are public educators, but how they feel about the new education voucher law in Utah.

My mother retired a few years ago after several years as a public school teacher. She and I have discussed school choice in detail before, so I was not surprised that she is open-minded when it comes to school choice.

My sister has been reading previous weblog entries that I have done on education vouchers. She understands my point of view, and has shared them with several of her friends.

Others, however, I was not sure about.

I have come to understand a little bit more about their points of view as well. Some of them are concerned that interests from out of state have been involved in pushing Utah Education vouchers. This concerns me as well. This helps me understand why some educators and others are concerned that the new law might not be in the best interest of Utahns.

First of all, I think we can take care of our own concerns. But second of all, I think the new voucher law is at the same time very simple and very helpful. What I'm about to say may be "pie in the sky", but I think that legislators have no business accepting funding from anyone who is not their constituent. (We'll see if I can live up to that motto when (if) I run for state legislature.) Accepting funding from out-of-state entities only makes state political issues more confusing and the legislators who accept the monies less trustworthy.

Because of this wrinkle in the voucher debate, I now support a referendum on vouchers. If the referendum does not make the ballot, I support the law as it exists. If it does make the ballot, I hope it passes!

My aunts are both public school administrators, one of which is getting signatures on the referendum petition. I told her that I thought her involvement in the process was great, although I explained to her the reasons why I support education vouchers and how they will be not only not detrimental to public education, but actually a benefit.

My uncle, who recently retired as a high-school teacher/basketball coach, has already seen those benefits. He still maintains regular conversation with former teaching and coaching colleagues, and they are excited that with fewer students and more left-over education dollars, they can get the smaller class sizes and bigger salaries that we all think they are worth. My uncle says that it's only a matter of time before a great number of educators see this (and I think several other) benefit(s) accruing to public education from the voucher program.

My cousin is an elementary school principal, and is very involved politically. Because in addition he has a very strong opinion about a lot of things, I was a bit nervous to talk with him about vouchers. I could tell quickly, however, that he had done a lot of thinking about it. He could see the benefits. He could see that there was nothing for public education to be offended about regarding education vouchers.

As long as both sides work together and don't point fingers, he said, this will be a huge benefit to Utah's children.

Hitler and Homeschooling

Originally Published March 17, 2007. Update: Homeschooler flees foster care to reunite with her family. Both sides are sure they have the monopoly on truth when it comes to the taking of a homeschooled German girl by State authorities. The undisputed truth is that Germany is not friendly to homeschooling families.

She was falling behind in two of her subjects at school. So her parents took her out of school and began homeschooling her where they could devote more time to her education. Her five siblings are still in the German public schools.

It is being claimed by some news organizations that a Hitler decree about home-schooling is still in effect.

In 1937, the dictator said, "The Youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing."

The Home School Legal Defense Association reports that several families have been forced by the state to put the children back in the public schools.

German law still requires public education for all children.

In the case of Melissa Busekros, if a hand-written letter by her can be trusted, she wants to be back with her family again. She is currently in a foster home, and her family members are allowed to see her once a week.

By why is she in the foster home? The family says that their rights are being taken away, plain and simple. But the German authorities have a different version:

However the Erlangen authorities deny that the case is related to the parents' decision to take the girl out of school. "The case has nothing to do with home schooling," Edeltraud Höllerer from the Erlangen Youth Welfare Office told SPIEGEL ONLINE, adding she could not discuss details of the case for legal reasons.

It's hard, based on scant evidence, to know what the truth is. But the other five children are still in the family home. Germany has a no-tolerance policy for homeschooling. Melissa's letter said she wants to be back with her family.

In response to the family's plea, Wolfgang Drautz, consul general of the Federal Republic of Germany, said

If we are to achieve integration, not only must the majority of the population prevent the ostracization of religious minorities or minorities with different world views, but minorities must also remain open and engage in dialogue with those who think differently or share different beliefs.

Article 7 of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany (the German constitution) places the entire school system under the supervision of the government and ensures that the government makes education available to every citizen. Homeschool may be equally effective in terms of test scores. It is important to keep in mind, however, that school teaches not only knowledge but also social conduct, encourages dialogue among people of different beliefs and cultures, and helps students to become responsible citizens.

A German court recently decided in favor of the state, saying in effect that state planning trumps parental desires.

I side with the family and against the state.

Update April 23, 2007 - To the surprise of her parents, Melissa showed up at her family's home at 3 AM this morning. She left a note for her foster family telling them she was leaving. Her birthday was today, and as a result of having turned 16 years of age, her legal status has changed. Good for her and her family. It's unfortunate that the German government felt they had power to intervene in the family's life in such an unnatural way in the first place.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Go Ahead: Desecrate Us Some More!

The Virginia Tech murders have given rise to the obviously misguided way in which so-called news organizations report what is going on in our world. Finally, though, someone speaks up against the filthy way that the filthy networks behave themselves!

The Accent Radio Network is reporting this hour that the families of the fallen in the recent Virginia Tech murders have canceled an appearance on NBC, due to the fact that NBC yesterday aired videotape from the murderer. Good for them!

I have not been able to listen to the radio for scarcely more than 5 minutes in the last 24 hours than I am bombarded by "shocking video", "chilling video", or "vengeful video". Good grief! Get out of my face!

I salute the families of the Virginia Tech dead for standing up to such greed and salacious salivation. Broadcasting video of the debauchery and demonic plans of a murderer is not news. It is titillating entertainment not worthy of people who appreciate liberty and its attendant responsibilities.

We do not need to be entertained. We deserve to be informed.

Everyone should reach out to those who are in need. But once someone commits a heinous crime, they are no longer a victim. The victims are the victims. As such, they should be treated with respect.

We shouldn't be dragged into the gutter. We should be lifted up. Shame on NBC.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Good Change to the BYU Honor Code

Some people don't like the BYU Honor Code, mostly because they just don't like BYU. I like it. I encourages students and faculty to be the best they can be. Including those with homosexual inclinations. But sometimes the meaning of policies is not clear.

The LDS Church has more understanding for homosexuals that most people give them credit for. In 1998, President Gordon B. Hinckley stated the position of the LDS church with regard to homosexuality.

"We believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. We believe that marriage may be eternal through exercise of the power of the everlasting priesthood in the house of the Lord.

"People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.

"We want to help these people, to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties. But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families" (Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71).

Brigham Young University supports the mission of the LDS church. Therefore I was a little bit confused why certain people felt, after reading the BYU Honor Code, that BYU had a different position with regard to homosexuals that the Church did. But the fact of the matter is--quite a few people felt that way. I think, therefore, that the clarification inspired by this confusion was an excellent change to the BYU Honor Code.

Regarding homosexuality, the BYU Honor Code previously said:

Advocacy of a homosexual lifestyle (whether implied or explicit) or any behaviors that indicate homosexual conduct, including those not sexual in nature, are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code.

The new wording is

Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or orientation and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards. Members of the university community can remain in good Honor Code standing if they conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code.

One's stated sexual orientation is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. Homosexual behavior or advocacy of homosexual behavior are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings. Advocacy includes seeking to influence others to engage in homosexual behavior or promoting homosexual relations as being morally acceptable.

A related paragraph remains unchanged:

Violations of the Honor Code may result in actions up to and including separation from the University.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

We Need Alternative Energy Sources

I've written enough about global warming on this site, that I have probably created in some of my readers a false notion. So let me disabuse it. I think it is wise that society pursue alternative energy sources. It won't do a dadgum thing about global warming, but it will clean up the air. And it will reduce a significant source of revenue for terrorists.

There are a lot of excellent alternative sources of energy besides coal and oil. Although known reserves of these two energy sources are sufficient for a long time, it's still good to reduce our dependence on them.

Hybrid Vehicles. I've just started looking into used hybrid vehicles. I'm not sure I trust a used hybrid, because they're still pretty expensive to maintain, but this will improve with time. This is the general inevitability with good ideas in a free market. Admittedly, my reasoning for wanting a hybrid is not primarily to clean up the air (that's secondary). It's cause I hate the prices at the gas pump! Toyota makes small (Prius), midsize (Camry), and SUV (Highlander). Interestingly, the Highlander hybrid is currently about $8,000 more expensive than the regular Highlander, as is the hybrid Camry as opposed to its neanderthal cousin. The price of the Prius is down about $6,000 from what it used to be, though! And you can get a federal tax deduction for buying a hybrid.

One of the dumbest things Ford and GM could have done is to not notice the market demand for hybrid vehicles. I have no stats, but my guess is that this is the major reason for their undoings.

Wind Energy. It's not completely reliable, but it's a start. It takes a boatload of wind turbines to provide much energy, and the best technology isn't made in the United States. What's funny is that a lot of otherwise "environmentally conscious" people say NIMBY, NIMBY, NIMBY when it comes to wind turbines in their area. The price of wind energy is bound to come down, in part in conjunction with more effective ways being discovered to harness its power.

Nuclear Energy. This is one of the greatest untapped sources of power that we aren't using. Finally, something good that we can take from France's example! A significant amount of France's power comes from nukyalur. The Three Mile Island incident scared a lot of people, and made insurance premiums for nuclear reactors to go sky high, but that was before we really knew much about how to regulate and control it.

Solar Energy. Solar energy is unreliable like wind, but that's not to say that we shouldn't use it. Some locales are providing for the ability of solar (and probably wind) power sources to feed their excesses back into the public power grid, which I think is a great idea. As the ability becomes available for homes and business to store more and more solar and wind power, these technologies will become more viable.

That's a good thing.

And I think that the improvements will most likely come about through market-driven initiatives.

That's a good thing to.

Monday, April 16, 2007

How Do You Feel About Gun Control Now?!

This I gotta hear. At least 32 people are dead at Virginia Tech University today, and it's all because only one guy had a gun. So tell, me: how can you still defend gun control?

Update April 17, 2007: Virginia General Assembly voted in 2006 to not allow handguns on campus...

Good thing he finally turned his gun on himself. Bad thing was there were a least 30 other people at Virginia Tech who didn't have the legal authority to defend themselves with equal force.

I think I know what they would say if they had another chance at life.

"Who is the lunatic who thinks that gun control works?"

Not everyone is going to carry a gun if they are legally allowed to. But some will. And with that knowledge, the murderer has a lot more to think about. He may still have gone on his senseless rampage, but chances are there would be a lot more people alive at Virginia Tech today.

Update April 17, 2007: In 2006, a member of the Virginia General Assembly submitted a bill that "would have given qualified college students and employees the right to carry handguns on campus." The bill was defeated. Those that defeated the bill were triumphant, because such banning of firearms "will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus" according to a representative from the Virginia Tech campus at the time.

Here are some other interesting facts leading up to yesterday's massacre.

In the spring of 2005, a Virginia Tech student who had a concealed handgun permit was disciplined for bringing a handgun to class, the Roanoke paper reported. Second Amendment groups questioned the university's authority, but the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police argued against guns on campus.

In June 2006, Virginia Tech's governing board approved a violence prevention policy that reaffirmed the school's ban.

Add Me to C, I'm Crap. Add E to Me, I'm Rape. What am I?

Everyone has a right to speak freely. But when that speech advocates wanton violence, should it still be free? If I can't yell fire in a crowded theater, why should I be able to advocate the abuse of women?

This morning on The Right Balance, I heard the host, Greg Allen, make an excellent point about rap music. "It's one letter away from crap. And it's one letter away from rape." It is beyond irony that we allow the degradation, not only of women, but of (mostly) black entertainers by giving rap music the time of day.

If everyone is free to say and do whatever they want, we will soon be captive to the lowest common denominator. To avoid such captivity, we need to start using our freedom of speech, and speaking out against crap when we hear or see it.

Rap music is crap. The artists can make much better of themselves and their lives.

A caller recently called into the Michael Medved show claiming that when a rapper refers to women as "hos", he is only referring to the ones that are perpetually on welfare and are child factories for sexual predators. She didn't, it just occurs to me, state which group they they were referring to when they talk about the 'b****' word.

Nice try, caller. Your wishful thinking did not get you a fish fry.

Rap music is what's wrong with America. Its rhythm is the only part of it that occasionally requires any talent. The lyrics never do. It advocates acts that all Americans should be embarrassed by.

More frustrating than the fact that rappers ply their trade in the first place, is that people actually buy their music. Must be that they don't think about the words they are mimicking. At least I hope that's the problem.

Rap music commonly advocates violence to women. Violence to women in our culture is up. There seems to be a correlation. Why don't more people speak out against it? Unfortunately, rappers have their right to say what they want.

Fortunately, so do we. So, let's stop listening to it. Let's stop buying it. And let's encourage everyone else to do the same.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Let's Leave No Child Left Behind Behind

The federal No Child Left Behind Act does very little to ensure that children are properly educated, and at the same time takes away decisions that have been traditionally, and rightly, the purview of state and local education authorities. Considering the near pittance that the federal government actually injects into Utah public education, Utah should find a way to tell the federal government to keep its money.

At one time, I thought the state of Utah got a substantial portion of their money--even a predominance--from the federal government. It received 8.4% of its public education budget (see page 4) from the Federal government in 2006, which amounts to about $220 million. I would just as soon find ways to get the federal government out of Utah public education, so that Utahns can make decisions as to the best way to educate our children. In a time of state surplus, it would be easy to whittle away at the federal contributions to our public education system, as well as the strings (or should we say cords) that come with it.

It's good to know that at least several federal legislators are trying to reduce the strings that the federal government has tied to distribution of federal monies. In my opinion, we'd be better to not have shipped that money off to Washington D.C. in the first place.

Utah has one of the best public education systems in the country. Utah educators take pride in their work, and love the children they teach. Utah can and should be trusted to make the appropriate educational decisions for Utah's children.

People on the other side of the issue want to strengthen the behemoth law even more, requiring a nationwide database to monitor student test scores and progress. As if our federal debt weren't already high enough.

As often happens when the square pegs of overly general solutions are pounded into the round holes of specific problems, the hammer, the peg, and the hole all suffer damage. The minutiae of NCLB are a monstrosity of a maze that make no sense.

In general, when it comes to government, my motto is "the localer the better". Public education is a clear example of the rightness of this motto.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Let's Get One Thing Clear: The Earth is Warming

Global warming is kind of like stem cell research. Which kind are we talking about? Well, in both the cases of global warming and stem cell research, it's a shell game. When it suits the supporters of the wrong kind either, the supporters dissimulate. It makes for entertaining confusion, but not for a very good deduction of the facts. On purpose.

Did you ever notice that it's pretty hard to tell which kind of stem cells the media and the Democrats and Barbra Streisand are talking about? It's on purpose. Isn't it interesting that (a) embryonic stem cells have never been a therapy or cure for anything, so they make it very difficult to know that there are actually two different kinds of stem cells, and (b) that adult stem cells are almost never identified as cures despite the fact that all stem cell therapies and cures in existence today are of the "adult" variety. Ergo, each news headline simply says something like "Patient Responding Well to Stem-Cell Therapy".

It's that way between the two kinds of global warming--man caused versus nature caused. They don't want you to know that there are two kinds of this either, because it ruins their PR campaign. So they just talk about GLOBAL WARMING, as if there only ever were and could be one kind. And then when reputable scientists say that they see no evidence of man-made global warming, the headline gets snipped to something like "Fringe Scientists Dispute Global Warming." Very helpful. Very educational.

Newsweek and Time do a good job of ticking me off from time to time. And the Newsweek "episode" regarding global warming on "newsstands" everywhere is an excellent case in point. With arrogant surety, it bloviates the following:

Science chipped away at the ranks of global-warming deniers, who have mostly been forced to concede that the Earth really is warming

Pay no attention to the dissimulator behind the curtain!

It has been quite a while (oh, 6,000 years or so, when was Adam born?) since anyone has disputed whether the earth is warming (or cooling), so it's pretty misleading to say that someone has been forced to admit what they've known and what has been evident all along.

And in the very next phrase, Newsweek makes another, albeit very small, eureka:

and that industrial pollution is at least partly to blame

McFly! Hello!

Of course it's partly to blame. But it's just that how 'partly' is a matter of discussion. Between whether you rely on science, which indicates that it's a very small partly, or whether you rely on the paid ministry of the new religion, which says it's definitely an "it just might be but we're not sure, but we can't be wrong about this, so we better hurry and do something about it" overwhelming 'partly', is a chasm of controversy . There needn't be.

But then the dismantling of one of the largest industries in the western world--scientific prostitution--would cause a great deal of economic upheaval.

Thomas Friedman's column today notes that in Kenya, droughts are becoming more common (as they have been before, but apparently he hasn't studied history) and that the Kenyans of all people have no ability to cope with such climactic climate change. He is correct, but, as the doctors who prescribed leeches to bleed the already blood starved Abraham Lincoln following a night at the Ford Theatre, Friedman prescribes exactly the wrong cure. The only way that Kenya or anyone else in a developing country will be able to cope with climate change (besides resettlement) is through improved technology. But that would cause global warming ( made) and lions and tigers and bears, oh my! So we can't do that!

If membership in the Church of Global Warming becomes a requirement, then the Kenyans are sunk. If not, they will be able to develop the technology that they need to either resettle or redistribute water from other areas of Africa.

This is what I'm afraid of. If Friedman and others like him were to have their way, only the creme de la creme will have a life of material comfort, while all the rest will, like the horse named Boxer in Animal Farm, be required to live a life much like the Kenyans live today. Such a draconian cure will surely be worse than the disease. And the greatest of man-made global warming advocates (to exclude Al Gore) won't even state categorically that we're sick yet.

Newsweek begins its article thusly:

No sooner did James McCarthy's name turn up in an associated Press story on the outlook for global warming than he started getting outraged e-mails from colleagues. All that McCarthy, a Harvard oceanographer who studies how climate change affects marine life, told the AP last week was that "the worst stuff is not going to happen ... not that I think the projections aren't that [accurate], but because we can't be that stupid."

If they'd have stopped there, it would have been a good article.

What Sort of Dirt Does Jesse Jackson have on Mike Nifong?

It happened early on that District Attorney Mike Nifong knew there was no evidence with which to convict the Duke Lacrosse players of raping a stripper. How did it take so long for the players to be exonerated? I have a theory, but the theory is based on sound historically circumstantial evidence. If anyone can prove my theory false, I will be glad to receive correction, but there is some merit to investigating it, because it involves Jesse Jackson. And Jesse Jackson has a motive.

About a year ago I wrote that the Duke players should never have been in the situation they were in, and they would never have been accused. But neither should they have been railroaded when they clearly were never guilty.

Why would the district attorney continue to press for their guilt when it could do nothing other than make him look like an eventual buffoon?

Here's my theory...

Mike Nifong felt pressure to continue his stance against the Duke lacrosse players. It was clear early on that there was no evidence. A normal district attorney would admit as much. But I can't see any other reason that Mr. Nifong would have acted the way he did, which was clearly abnormal.

Jesse Jackson became embroiled in the case early on, as he often does when he can see that there is a buck to be made and a greater division to be made among the races. He succeeded in his task very well once again.

Jesse Jackson offered to pay the girl's tuition, even if her allegations turned out to be false. He came down squarely on the side of race, at the expense of truth. Which he has done so many times before.

Mr. Jackson accused the accused of acting guilty by hiring lawyers. As if someone wrongly accused (clearly by that time) would simply roll over for him and do their time in the slammer.

And then he had this to say:

But something happened on the night of March 13th – something so compelling that Durham District Attorney Michael Nifong was prompted to say, “This case is not going away”.

That something, I think, was Jesse Jackson. Mike Nifong knew that the case wasn't going to go away because Jesse Jackson's mafia had dug up some kind of dirt on Mike Nifong. It's happened before, and lives of other people have been destroyed by the master race hustler. It's not only conceivable, but logical, to assume that it happened again.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bill O'Reilly Schmoozes with Shyster Sharpton

Al Sharpton is one of the biggest shysters, ignoramuses, and extortion artists in the history of the United States. We've heard a lot of him lately in the news for some reason. Like Jesse Jackson and Don King, he makes a lot of money extorting others. Unfortunately, they're all black. I'm sure there are white extortion artists, but they're not as fawned over by the media as Don, Jesse, and Al.

Al Sharpton, Don King, and Jesse Jackson are human desecrations of the dream espoused by Martin Luther King. Yet they are wildly popular in the media. Why?

And why would radio and TV talk show host Bill O'Reilly even give Al Sharpton the time of day? Why does he even have him on his show? Oh, ratings.

O'Reilly is a pretty smart guy, but his shows are a waste of time. He hardly lets his guests finish a sentence. His often extreme rudeness is an affront to the political views he allegedly espouses. So it should actually not surprise me that, along with Democratic Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards, Bill O'Reilly is one of the two guests of honor at Al Sharpton's upcoming "[Destroyers] of the Dream VIP Reception" next week.

Okay. It doesn't.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

US Passes on New Adult Stem Cell Treatment

It's too early to tell how generally effective a new form of adult stem cell therapy will be, but for 13 of 15 Type-1 diabetic patients in Brazil, it is working quite well. The question is, why didn't the United States, who was given first crack at the therapy, decide to do it? Ironically, Congress has been looking into stem cell research itself--research of a different kind.

When the media discusses "stem cells", which ones are they referring to--embryonic or adult? I suppose the layman could figure it out, maybe? What kind of stem cells can be harvested from and used on the same patient? If you said "adult" you are correct. If you didn't know, that's just what the media and embryonic stem cell research advocates want.

In a recent adult stem cell treatment program, the first patient needed more insulin. Another patient relapsed. But 13 Type-1 diabetics in Brazil no longer need insulin. Some haven't had to take insulin shots for three years now. But others...claimed that stem cell transplantation is hazardous and should not have included children. It's hazardous all right--to the advocates of embryonic stem cell treatments, which haven't been successfully used in any therapy yet.

But hey, don't freak out! They weren't using embryonic stem cells! They were using the patients' own stem cells (of the adult variety). The only thing that was slightly dangerous was the fact that chemotherapy treatment was administered first so that the newly introduced stem cells would not be attacked, as are insulin-producing cells in people who are diabetic.

“It’s the threshold of a very promising time for the field,” said Dr. Jay Skyler of the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami.

Skyler wrote an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which published the study, saying the results are likely to stimulate research that may lead to methods of preventing or reversing type 1 diabetes.

“These are exciting results. They look impressive,” said Dr. Gordon Weir of Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.

But it's clear that it's too early to decide whether a cure has been found. Additionally, the treatment would only work on those whose diabetes is in an early stage, where not all insulin-producing cells in the patient's body have been destroyed.

Interestingly, though, the therapy has been used to reverse other auto-immune disorders, including the restoration of sight to one individual.

Why didn't the United States want in on this potential break-through therapy? I'll hazard a guess or two. Not wanting to go against the tide of man-made global warm--er--embryonic stem cell research advocacy? Realizing that there is little research money in adult stem cell research?

At least medical researchers in other countries are still allowed to think for themselves.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Anna Nichole Benet Spears Imus

Some people look at it as the nicety that there's nothing else going on in the news, that we have nothing else to worry about. The problem with that sentiment is that its wrong. At any rate, some of the garbage that gets called news makes me sick to my stomach.

The religion of Jesus Christ teaches that we should love all people. I confess that under some circumstances I have trouble loving certain people, but through no fault of their own. It is, rather, the fault of the "news" and "entertainment" media, who report upon warts that no one should ever see, much less care about.

I find myself turning off the radio a lot lately. This occurs generally when a non-news story is reported as news, and especially when such a story is reported for the umpteenth time or day in a row. I have to realize that yelling "Shuuuuut uuuuup!!!" at the radio does me no good, because the people on the other end can't hear me.

How important is it to us that a playboy playmate, who did nothing substantial in life, died, and that we now know the father of her child? This is not news, yet it has besmirched the pages and airwaves of our "news"papers and television and radio "news" reports for the past several months. A dear friend of mine, who contributed a great deal of substance to mankind, much of whose life was very newsworthy, has still yet to be mentioned by any of these "news" outlets.

It is sad when anyone is abused or killed. Unfortunately, it happens far too often. But occasionally, the "news" outlets get short-circuited on one news story. The likelihood is great that the overbilled "news" story of abuse or death is about a beautiful person, and not a normal one. This is not news. It is rather an affront to the families who children were abused and killed, but who weren't pretty enough to make the major headlines for days on end.

How is it news when a carefully crafted faux person does something outlandish to their body or divorces their 5th spouse? It's not. Why do the news outlets continue to feed us such putrescence? We don't like it, although it has become a voyeuristic addiction. If we know them, we can attempt to help them in their suffering, but to condone reportage of such events as news is bizarre.

Why should I care if a foul-mouthed, lecherous radio talk show host calls someone a name that everyone knows is not an accurate reflection of that person? How is that news? Can't we just ignore such people?

Why would anyone wish to prostitute themselves and their talents before a triumvirate of mockery--on international television, no less--when they know that the likelihood is enormous that they will be mocked? How could someone's sense of need for affirmation be so skewed? How can so many of us be so lacking in self-esteem that we need as an ego boost to see a litany of young talent embarrassed, belittled, and shamed?

The siren call of such obtuse events and behavior is beyond that which most of us can bear. Not only can we not avoid watching it, but we fashion ourselves as somehow great because we can talk eruditely about it around the water cooler the next day. Everyone among us claims to have become a psychotherapist--when in reality what everyone has become is a voyeur. We have real problems, but our reverence for ourselves and our society takes away our capacity to notice them.

We know their names, even though we really don't need to, and probably don't want to.

The local "family values" radio station almost inevitably bills as its top story (actually nearly its only story) over and over and over something that should be mentioned perhaps once if at all--a grizly murder, a rape, a child molestation, or such truck. We are spared the incessancy only by the dawning of a new day, which is graced with its own sometimes new "top story". How does emphasizing the one (or the few) bizarre acts give us an accurate reflection of our society? How does such qualify a news organization as a "family values" organization? How does such an organization win news reporting awards? But it has.

What kinds of "news" stories would the decadent Romans have listened to--if they had radios--just before their civilization fell? Exactly the kind most of us listen to today--the kind of non sequiturs that so many have the audacity to call "news". What kinds of talent shows would they have watched? The kind where the participants were fed to the lions.

Further Proof that Judges are Not Good Scientists

I recently cited a US Supreme Court decision to indicate that judges often do not make good scientists. Two cases do not a certainty make, but the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals went a great way toward substantiating my theory today.

The State of South Dakota appeared in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals
today to defend its requirement that a doctor remind a woman prior to her receiving an abortion of the following:

  1. That abortion takes a human life
  2. That women have a right to continue the pregnancy
  3. That abortion may cause psychological harm to the mother
It might have been billed as an excellent waste of time brought on by the bullying of Planned Parenthood--who sees its main livelihood reduced as more and more women become more contemplative--simply because it can. Remind me again how Planned Parenthood has any standing in this case?

But then the following conversation ensued (a recording of which I heard on the CBS radio news at 6:00 PM mountain time this evening):

Chief Justice Loken: This compels the preaching of ideology.

Assistant Attorney General: Sir, we don't feel that this is ideology.

Chief Justice (with great fervor): It's not science!


Item 2 is a generally understood and agreed-upon tenet of political science, but I don't think that's the sentence the judge was referring to anyway.

Item 3 has been statistically and anecdotally proven to occur at least sometimes, but I don't think that was the issue he was looking at either.

Which leaves us with Item 1--which deals the non-science of ultrasound technology. Which deals with the non-science of reproductive biology.

The judge needs to go back to high school. And if he sticks to his guns that abortion cannot be scientifically proven to be the taking of a human life, then he shouldn't be a judge.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Glimpses of Integrity

There's enough wrong in the world than to compound it with a bunch of unruly and disrespectful children. Sometimes it seems they're everywhere. But they're not all that way. Here's a glimpse of a few moments of integrity that I have seen lately, however.

The other day I saw my 7-year-old's school teacher in the checkout line at Wal-Mart. We got talking about my son, and she said, "Your son is one of the best students I've ever had." At which point I told her that we talk with our children about being respectful of their elders, particularly their teachers. "Thank you!" she said. I know that she doesn't receive this kind of respect from some of her other students, and I think this is a travesty.

My 10-year-old son ran for class president at school today. They don't know who won yet, but he was afraid that he wasn't going to win, because nearly every other candidate handed out some sort of candy, gum, or other treat as part of their campaign. "I wish I would have thought of that," he said. "I'm actually glad you didn't," I told him. I'm proud that he didn't, because bribing and winning would be worse than losing. I explained to him a couple of things--first of all that it is lacking in integrity to bribe someone to vote for us, and secondly that he shouldn't think badly of those who used bribery--because they probably didn't know better--especially if one of them wins.

Have you ever noticed that athletics are becoming more jaded by the fact that many people think it's a really good play if you do something that is breaking the rules and the referee doesn't catch you? This is wrong. So it's good to know that my kids don't act that way. Recently one of my kids was playing in a basketball game. A ball went out of bounds, and the referee signaled that the ball would be awarded to my son's team. My son, bashful though he is, had the courage to admit that in fact he had touched the ball on its way out of bounds. The referee was pleasantly surprised at his honesty as he gave the ball over to the other team.

Integrity is critical to a well-functioning society. Sometimes we need children to remind us.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Adults 58 - Embryos 0: Who's Winning in Stem Cell Therapy?

Question: How many maladies have been cured using stem cells? Answer: Hundreds. Question: How many maladies have been cured using embryonic stem cells? Answer: ...

Zero. An attempt to treat Parkinson's was made using embryonic stem cells, but had to be stopped when further damage was caused to the patients. Adult Stem Cells, however, are being used to successfully treat 58 different human diseases.

Why the big hype, then? Because there's big money to be made from the harvesting and cloning of embryos. And the alleged promise of embryonic stem cells is an attempt to justify continued unnecessary abortions.

Even if it's not a moral issue, which I think it is, which therapy would you trust?

If you were a family, one of whose members needed therapy for which stem cells may effect a cure, which therapy would you choose?

Answer: Adult stem cells.

Perhaps we shouldn't call them "Adult" stem cells, because it leaves the impression that they are hard to come by. They aren't. In many cases, the patient's own stem cells can be used in the cure. "Adult" stem cells have been found in the placenta, and have been successfully used in therapy.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Christianity + Reason = Freedom & Capitalism

Why was it that when Enlightenment Europe stopped long enough to notice, they found out that no one else possessed the technical innovations that they did? Because while all other world religions embraced mysticism and the unknowableness of God, Christianity (to a greater or lesser degree) developed the idea that reason and logic can help us to come to a better understanding of God, science, and everything else.

The ingredients of capitalism existed in nearly every society, but in only one region of the globe did it actually take root. Christian Europe, which was admittedly influenced by Greek philosophy, was its breeding ground, and that not by chance. Western successes, including in the realm of science, cannot be explained any way other than by their being influenced by reason and individual freedoms inculcated by Christianity.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels actually express some approbation over Capitalism in The Communist Manifesto. They just felt like Capitalism could be improved upon (and it can indeed be--just not with the means they prescribed.)

Freedom was also an essential ingredient in the formation of capitalism. Interestingly, Christianity was at the forefront of the drive to rid the world of the most debauched of institutions--human slavery. Christianity stressed the importance of individual accountability and choice, which encouraged people to think, to dream, to reason, to innovate, and to create.

Capitalism has raised the standard of living for countless millions around the globe. When we think of capitalists, our first reaction should not be to criticize them because they are richer than us, but it should rather be a feeling of gratitude that their entrepreneurial insight made life much more enjoyable for us than it otherwise might have been.

Equally important to remember is that without Christianity, we most likely would not have had capitalism.

These ideas are based on the book The Victory of Reason, by Rodney Stark.

Do These Pants Make My Carbon Offsets Look Big?

For any of you husbands, has your wife ever asked you 'Do these pants make my butt look big?" The correct answer is "No", but have you ever been tempted to say, 'Well, maybe a little." (I don't have that problem; my wife and I go to the gym nearly every day.)

At any rate, imagine how much more complicated it would be if butt sizes were like greenhouse gas emissions.

"Honey, do these pants make my butt look too big?"

"Well, actually sweetheart..."

"Don't answer that--first you have to realize that Denise is thirty pounds underweight, so I'm offsetting my posterior by her thirty pounds, and I borrowed fifteen pounds from Terri."

"Well, in that case, dear, those pants make you look just fine!"

Such is the logic (ergo folly) of most carbon offsets. The only reason that the Kyoto Treaty got enough signatories is that some nations got to count their relatively skinny butts. Russia got to count the fact that great environmental strides have been made since Communism nearly destroyed portions of Europe and Asia, while Germany got to count the environmental debacle that was East Germany. But they didn't have to do anything but watch Communism fall. Similarly, Britain had recently closed several non-productive coal mines, and their skies cleared up markedly because of that, but that made economic sense.

What's going to happen in 2012 when, during Kyoto phase two, nations really have to do something other than count phony offsets?

Some carbon offsets make sense, so I should put at least some of my joking aside. Planting trees is an excellent way to improve our environment, because trees breathe carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen. Anything we can do to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels (solar power, wind power, hybrid cars) is a good thing, but it must be real, and not just a fake 'offset'.

Cheney Good? Cheney Bad? Let's Be Civil

BYU hosted two political demonstrations today--one (sponsored by BYU college Democrats) opposed to the appearance of Vice President Dick Cheney ( imagine that!) at upcoming graduation commencement exercises, and one (BYU college Republicans) in favor (imagine that, too!). I thought about going up to main campus to see what was going on, but I decided against it.

The BYU Daily Universe on Monday stated that it had received a lot of letters to the editor regarding Vice President Cheney and implied that many of them could be classified as hate mail, many of which were followed up with correspondences by the same submitters "pleading that we won't publish the first."

I used to think that only the craziest of people would fashion themselves conspiracy theorists, claiming outlandish things with no proof. It seems that for some on both the left and the right that this is becoming de rigueur (the left is more cacophonous right now only because a Republican is in the White House). Such theories and blathering have high entertainment value. But one of the huge problems with America is our insatiable appetite for entertainment. Juxtaposed with our inability to be civil in so many cases, this indicates huge problems for our future, including political decisions being made by those who can scream the loudest. And that may not be the worst problem to develop out of this sad state of affairs.

One of the quickest reactions by many against the Cheney visit was that BYU was showing its true political colors by not inviting any Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat) was invited to speak at the Law School commencement in 2004. He has been invited to speak again at BYU, and the invitation was extended before the Cheney invitation was given.

Considering the political stance (non-political) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, it is disingenuous for people to speak out against BYU and the Church for the Cheney visit. The church stated:

First, the Church prohibits any Church leader from endorsing a candidate in the name of the Church. Second, the Church bans the use of its chapels for party political purposes and also refuses to allow the distribution of Church membership rolls to anyone, including politicians and candidates. It also carefully avoids telling its members for whom they should vote. Neither does it tell elected Latter-day Saint officials how they should vote.

Far more important than whether or not Cheney lied, whether he still profits from Halliburton contracts, or whether he holds weekly interviews with the devil or Gordon B. Hinckley is that we can maintain a civil discourse in our society. Some have been able to. Far too many have not. It is ironic that most people's opinions of Cheney fall somewhere on one extreme or the other--either they hate him or they love him.

My opinion is different. I think he should never have been vice president (I didn't vote for George W Bush either time), but he is. I therefore respect the office. And I can give my reasons for not liking him as a politician without resorting to invective and theory.

If we can't learn this fact, then we're sunk. As Abraham Lincoln warned us, we are potentially our own worst destroyers.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Third Branch of Congress Settles Issue of Global Warming

It is the duty of the Supreme Court to interpret the laws of the United States (those laws can only be created by Congress). Yesterday, in MASSACHUSETTS ET AL. v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY ET AL. four Supreme Court justices did this, while five did not. It is the duty of the Supreme Court not to give opinions on facets of science that are still controversial and unproven, let alone to use such opinions for making new law (which the Constitution of the United States leaves to Congress). Yesterday, four Justices fulfilled their Constitutional duty, while five exceeded it.

I'm not sure why Al Gore visited congress recently, unless he's trying to run for President of the United States or Secretary General of the United Nations. Surely he must have known that "the third branch" of the legislature would "solve" the issue that he was trying to get the regularly elected Congress to decide. By a 5-4 decision yesterday, the Supreme Court decided once and for all that there is no controversy surrounding greenhouse gases, their source, and their effect on global warming.

"The EPA's steadfast refusal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions presents a risk of harm to Massachusetts that is both 'actual' and 'imminent'", said renowned scientist Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority. "Its action was therefore 'arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law,"' the arbitrary and capricious Stevens concluded.

Chief Justice John Roberts, speaking for the minority, stated that the minority decision "involves no judgment on whether global warming exists, what causes it, or the extent of the problem". As it should not. As neither should the majority's decision. The minority decision in the case was that such a monumental controversy should not be settled by 5 guys against 4. Rather, Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito correctly understood that such an issue must be decided by Congress.

In an attempt to turn western ideals of justice on its head, the majority required the EPA to prove a negative.

the justices said the agency can escape its regulatory duties "only if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change, or if it provides some reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether they do."

The explanations given by the EPA, and solicited by the majority of the court, were rejected out of hand.

"The Supreme Court has reaffirmed what we have been saying all along: The Clean Air Act gives EPA authority to fight global warming," said Howard Fox, a lawyer for Earthjustice, who argued the case before a federal appeals court, forgetting that Greenhouse Gases being the cause of Global Warming has not been proven.

Many scientists believe that greenhouse gases cause Global Warming, and thus they can be considered pollutants. Many scientists do not believe this, while many others feel that greenhouse gases have a much smaller effect on the warming of the globe.

So far, no scientist I have heard of, read about, or read from has stated that they know that Greenhouse Gases cause Global Warming (I don't consider Al Gore a scientist). Rather, the consensus among those who believe is that we can't take the chance that we're wrong.

I feel so much warmer and fuzzier now that we have 5 people in black robes who do know Greenhouse-Gas-caused Global Warming to be a fact. It saves Congress so much time!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Democratization Does Not Mean Westernization

In a recent radio interview that I participated in, I discussed my feeling that all people are born with a sense of goodness. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches that a power exists in the universe that we call The Light of Christ. Not only is this Light the power by which the entities in the universe are governed, it is also the power by which the minds of men are enlightened. Another name for the Light of Christ is "conscience". I believe that all people are born with this Light of Christ to enable them to distinguish good from bad. We can all, for example, understand that liberty is good.

Liberty, however, does not have to be American-style liberty. In fact, in our day and age of progressive law and Hollywood permeation of American society, it would be well for the rest of the world to not look too closely at America as a pattern for the kind of liberty they should like to enjoy.

This is the essence of Islamic ambivalence (and sometimes hatred) for America. Muslims the world over, quite accurately see the freedom that America wants to share with them as the political and entertainmental America. They are offended by this brand of "freedom" and they also fear it--for good reason.

Other nations and peoples form their opinions about the United States from our media. They watch our news, our movies, and our television programs. The messages they hear include the following: (1) that women should be just like men, (2) that homosexuality is okay, (3) that it is passe' to worship God and attend religious services, and (4) that the nuclear family is unimportant.

Imagine if you belonged to a country in which another nation occupied your land and told you they were giving you freedom. Then conjure up in your mind the "freedoms" listed in the above paragraph. You might not think so highly of democracy either.

One of the greatest failings of the Bush Administration in its attempt to bring democracy to the Middle East is not having explained that family, faith, and morality are time-tested and important ingredients of American democracy, and that American democracy is being hijacked by a small group of Americans who want to hijack these same values away from other countries. The Bush administration, besides having never apologized to the Iraqi people for the moral debaucheries of Abu Ghraib, seemed not even to recognize that it was the moral aspect of Abu Ghraib (not the torture) that so soured the Iraqi attitude toward American assistance in their democratic experiment.

Muslims and Christians have a great deal in common, but we Americans seem to go out of our way to avoid drawing this distinctive similarity. I remember the look of surprise when I explained to an Iraqi husband and father that he had a beautiful family, and that my most prized possession was also my family.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has this to say about the Constitution of the United States:

76 And again I say unto you, those who have been scattered by their enemies, it is my will that they should continue to importune for redress, and redemption, by the hands of those who are placed as rulers and are in authority over you—

77 According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;

78 That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.

79 Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in abondage one to another.

80 And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose...

This does not mean that every nation must adopt the Constitution of the United States. In fact, the people of Iraq adopted a Constitution all their own.

This sentiment does, however, mean that such Constitutional liberties are right for all people to enjoy--that all people are children of God with the inherent right to choose how they will worship and what they will think and be.

It's time that the real America stand up and that we let those we are trying to help learn that we are not foisting licentiousness on them, but that we truly want them to enjoy the blessings of liberty, as is every person's God-given right.

Then maybe they'd believe that we're serious about helping them achieve their liberty. They may not want our immorality (which some among us call freedom), and I don't blame them. But every person understands what freedom is--and every person wants to enjoy it.