Showing posts from September, 2007

The Ron Paul Train is Picking Up Speed

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Even if you are a member of the Establishment, you must admit that the Ron Paul Presidential Campaign is becoming a reckoning force. "Ron who?" doesn't work anymore.

They've done their best to ignore him. Of course I talking about the rest of the Republican presidential hopefuls, not to mention the Democrats. But I'm also talking about our 'wonderfully impartial media'. In a recent Democrat debate, for example, the statement was made that no candidate on the Republican side has a plan to get out of Iraq. The media did not offer correction to the statement. But you know what?

Horse feathers. Ron Paul has such a plan! They know it, but it pains them to admit it, on both the Establishment's left and its right.

The self-annointed of the American Establishment might as well stop ignoring Ron Paul's presidential candidacy. Because that is becoming a pretty precariously e…

Man-Made Global Warming? Follow the Money

It's a trait of human nature that people can be influenced with small amounts of money. Imagine what happens when then they get tantalized with a whole bunch of money. Unfortunately, some advocates in the man-made global warming (MMGW) debate have been highly compromised by filthy lucre. It turns out that one of the greatest of these is the supposedly impartial NASA Director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, James Hansen.

Part of the mantra of the man-made global warming advocates is that everyone on the opposing side is bought and paid for. They have often cited specious claims that the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) sought to undermine the theory of MMGW by offering scientists $10,000 to speak out against it. The reality, however, was not that cut and dried:

The American Enterprise Institute offered scientists, including some who in no way can be seen as allies of the so-called "skeptic" camp, $10,000 to review several thousand pages of scientific mat…

Health Coverage: We Aren't Insured, We're Insulated

Health coverage that covers events that occur catastrophically or infrequently is called health insurance. Health coverage that covers almost anything is called health insulation, because we become insulated from the costs of the health care we receive. When we don't care about the cost of a product, we nearly always demand more of it. So it is with health care.

In 2002 there were only two countries where the people receiving the health care paid less of the costs for that care than in the United States. In the US, government and private insurers pay for nearly 90% of all health costs.

This is one significant reason that the cost of health care is so high in the US. (The other is because we have better health care technology, which costs more to provide.)

Until recently, insurance has always meant to insure against usually unexpected events that are "large" or "infrequent". Somehow, more recently, we have come to demand coverage for nearly everything, and we…

The Knockout...Mah-Moud...Ahhhh-maaaa-dinejad!!!

Columbia University President Lee Bollinger may have thought he was pulling a fast one by inviting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad into the ring of verbal opinion. But with only one minute gone in the second round, Bollinger's oral parries had been long forgotten, and he was laying on the canvas.

Americans are getting stupider all the time. What a silly claim that it would have been a violation of free speech to deny Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to appear at Columbia University? Okay, I want to appear as well! And I want the same amount of media coverage as Ahmadinejad got!

Columbia University just invited the #2 enemy of the United States to exercise his right of free speech on American soil. Imagine if we had invited Josef Stalin or Adolf Hitler to speak in their heydays! The only thing worse than inviting Ahmadinejad to speak in the US would have been to invite Osama b...wait a second...I don't want to give anybody any ideas.

Mahmoud Admadinejad is a tin-horn oligarch. He has no business be…

My Latest Qwest DSL Horror Story

From my perspective, Qwest has improved its service and offerings in several ways, but holy cow, they still have some silly policies.

This past June, our Qwest DSL modem went out. A technician came to the house and found nothing wrong. It took four days for him to get there. Ironically, just after he left it started working again. Then, about 3 weeks ago, it went out again. I called Qwest DSL tech support and was greeted by a much friendlier representative than before.

He pointed out that electrical surges, and particularly lightning storms, cause problems with the particular modem that I had. It all started to make sense--there had been lightning storms in close time proximity to when the modem had failed, sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for a few days.

They agreed to send me a newer-model modem for nothing but a deposit fee of $99.99. I have the new modem, and it works great. I sent the old modem back via UPS two weeks ago. My bank account is now overdrawn, because Qwest …

I Support a Consumption Tax to Replace the IRS

Here goes Don Quixote Staheli again, tilting this time not against the voucher windmill, but against the current income tax system in the United States. I haven't done a whole lot of study on it yet, but this is my announcement that I support a Consumption Tax to replace the Internal Revenue Service.

My brother is an accountant, so he probably won't really like this post too much, but I support a consumption tax instead of an income tax. There, I said it.

So I submit to you, the Committee of the Whole, my initial ideas on a consumption tax. (That way, if I have any hair-brained ideas, I can change my mind!! ;-) )

I know it's not an easy proposition. Because after all, there is still the behemoth known as the IRS. Any Consumption Tax would probably need a Constitutional amendment at the same time to repeal the 16th Amendment. Ron Paul reminded us of this a couple years ago:

One tax reform idea tacitly endorsed by Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan calls for a natio…

Nearly Everyone Has Their Own Axis of Evil

The vitriol that punctuates our political debate is fast becoming an epidemic. It is no cure for our collective malady when President George W. Bush refers to a handful of countries in the world as an Axis of Evil, directly implying that the facts are all in and that diplomacy has no chance of succeeding with such an opponent. Unfortunately, perhaps taking the lead from our governmental leaders, we as individuals more and more often treat those who disagree with us as our own personal Axis of Evil.

Do I think that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be allowed to speak at Columbia University while in the United States? No--because Iran is supporting the killing of US troops in Iraq. But the problem didn't start in recent Iraq. It started long before, with the US and other Western countries' meddling in Iran and most of the rest of the Middle East. This inflamed nationalistic passions against the United States, which are perfectly rational in the minds of those who hold such passio…

School Vouchers: "The Bramble Memo"

$429 million? What? Where?

The legislative fiscal analyst for the State of Utah calculated the costs to the public schools over the next 13 years if school vouchers are implemented. It said the costs would be $5.5M in the first year, and $71M in the 13th year. Suddenly, the number I have started seeing thrown around was $429 million, the total costs for vouchers over 13 years. Where did that number come from? Enter the mysterious "Bramble Memo".

In the past few days several of us (Jeremy, Utah Taxpayer, Craig, Sara, Urban Koda, Jesse, and me) have (sometimes?) enjoyed a lively discussion about school vouchers in Utah.

Jeremy clarified to me the costs of the venture by linking to a copy of the Utah Legislative Fiscal Analyst's Impartial Analysis (LFA) of the costs of Vouchers, found on "The Senate Site". In my previous voucher article, I quoted some of Lavar Webb's article from last Sunday's Deseret News, wherein he stated that those total costs are …

Kirilenko: Stop Tanking It, and Stop Asking for a Trade

I really used to love to watch Andre Kirilenko play for the Utah Jazz. Now I feel sort of sorry for him, because he's not much fun to watch anymore. It's not simply the game of basketball, but it's also the downfall of a great player. The key to the resurgence of Andre Kirilenko is Andre Kirilenko.

It came out during a very inopportune time for the Utah Jazz last year--right in the middle of the NBA playoffs, AK47 aired his dirty laundry. He wasn't getting as much playing time, and so he wanted to be traded to a team that appreciated him more. The problem is it will be hard for any other team to appreciate him enough to pay his salary. Yet still he remains vocal in his demand to leave Utah. Most NBA franchise cities would say "Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out of town." But somehow Utah is different. Despite his whining, we still love Andre.

It happens all the time--superstar gets the contract of a lifetime, then his performance…

If You Want More Money Per Student, Support Vouchers

For someone to categorically allege that there will be less money per student in the Utah public schools if vouchers become legal is to reveal that that person has either not followed the details of the voucher debate very closely, or purposefully ignored them. The likelihood of this (less money for public schools) happening is very small, because it would only happen if more students currently in private schools opt to use vouchers than do those who are currently in public schools.

The State Legislature acted in very good faith last year to increase teacher salaries. We need to do it again. But we can't do it forever. Therefore, the next best hope for increasing teacher salaries and funds for school supplies is for everyone to support vouchers.

In conjunction with a report that the National Education Association now thinks it has a dog in the Utah education voucher fight, the Salt Lake Tribune reported this:

Lisa Johnson, a parent of three children and spokeswoman for anti-vouch…

"Our Top Story This Morning Is"...OJ Simpson?

In a world where a Hollywood-infatuated media feels an obligation to report on a regular basis about Hollywood harlots, should I be surprised that at least one Utah radio station led off its news broadcast with a crime story involving OJ Simpson? Well, I'm unfortunately not surprised. But I haven't stopped expecting better out of organizations that purport to report the news.

KRNS AM 570 this morning (and for many of the past several mornings) has selected as their "top story" that OJ Simpson has been arrested in conjunction with some crime in Las Vegas. Please. There are probably at least 100 stories on any given day that could "top" that.

Out of a 3-4 minute newscast, KNRS devoted between 30 seconds and 1 minute to tell us all the latest--which was nothing. Such reporting is just plainly and simply lazy. As a result of this august reportage, we now know that
OJ will be arraigned today.Members of the media think they know which door he's going to co…

Utah Amicus Unfairly Criticizes Paul Mero

Why is it that Paul Mero of the Sutherland Institute is such a magnet for criticism? Is it because it is warranted? Maybe sometimes, but I think usually not. In the case of the recently published Sutherland Institute white paper entitled Vouchers, Vows, and Vexations, I think Mr. Mero is being criticized by some because it feels good for them to criticize him. There doesn't appear to be anything in the document worth as much vilification as he has received.

I've been disappointed with the Utah Amicus lately. Instead of well-reasoned logic regarding Utah education vouchers, the Utah Amicus web site has resorted to name calling and sound-biting that are neither fair nor accurate. UA discussed briefly in a recent post about the interview KVNU Radio's "For the People" had with Paul Mero. Here's part of what UA had to say:

The Sutherland Institution lead thinker is still regurgitating his doomsday revelation that our local public schools are devoid community …

'The San Fran Health Plan' - A Great Health Insurance Idea!!!

It could be worse. At least it's only one city that is offering to provide health insurance for every one of its residents. It's a great health insurance idea only because it doesn't involve the whole country, and when it fails it won't (at least initially) hit your and my pocketbooks. But it's also a terrible health insurance idea, because when it fails, you know who they'll eventually ask to bail them out.

As Time magazine is reporting, San Francisco is now providing health insurance coverage for all of its residents who don't have health insurance and don't qualify for Medicare and Medicaid. If it would only work. It won't. But pay attention to the shell game, because if you miss it, you'll think it did work.

Here's what I like about the 'San Fran Health Plan'--it's starting small, and (hopefully) its failure will be observable (unless the state and federal money spigots transfuse the process beginning immediately).


Impeach Bush Before He Attacks Iran

Previous fervor for the impeachment of George W. Bush has subsided as of late. If--as is being reported--he's thinking about attacking Iran before the end of his second term, though, I suggest we need to strike up the calls for impeachment once again.

It was a huge mistake to attack Iraq, and now we are cleaning up the mess. I'm all in favor of The Pottery Barn Rule. But if Bush is really planning to attack Iran, he would make a mistake of colossal proportions.

Since we are in Iraq, and we must fix what we have helped to break, I support General Petraeus in what everyone is calling "The Surge", even though it isn't much of a surge. It's actually a successful implementation of Counterinsurgency Tactics (working together with the populace to defeat the enemy instead of treating everyone like they are the enemy) that has caused most of the improvements in Iraq. These tactics, when implemented in limited areas of Iraq by Petraeus when he was a brigade commande…

Forget the Talk-Radio Bigots and Buffoons. Catch "The Right Balance"

The animosity and mind-numbness caused by the world of media sound bites is exacerbated by most radio talk show hosts. Some are not as bad as others. There is one, however, who stands head and shoulders above the rest-- Greg Allen. Catch him weekdays on The Right Balance. Update for Utah listeners (9-15-2007): You can listen to Greg's show on KNAK 540 AM and KHQN 1480 AM.

If you're tired of sound bites and if you're tired of pseudo-intellectual combat, then I hope you're not listening to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly. If you want in-depth perspective about important issues, Michael Medved and Glenn Beck aren't too bad, but if you want in-depth in conjunction with a down-to-earth, always-educational radio program, your best bet is The Right Balance with host Greg Allen. This morning's show, for example, included the following:

Lanny Davis -Former Clinton Administration official discussed President Bush's address to the nation last n…

Are We Too Busy to Be Good Samaritans?

Have you ever had a chance to help a stranded motorist push his dead car out of an intersection? Or to aid in a traffic accident? Did you take that opportunity? When we become the one who needs help and nobody stops, it changes our perspective.

On the way home today I noticed up ahead on the freeway a gigantic cloud of smoke followed by the sudden glare of dozens of brake lights. As I came closer, I could see a car swerving first to the left and then to the right. It came to a stop part way on the shoulder and part way in the right lane of traffic, all four tires belching smoke that had once been tread. The cars ahead of me streamed around the forlorn driver as she sat wondering what had just happened. I pulled over to the shoulder and backed up to see if she needed help. By that time she had gathered her wits, and, being uninjured, drove back into traffic, waving a thank you to me for taking the time to stop.

What made me stop? I'll admit that as often as not, I'm way …

Mountain Meadows and Jihad: One Lesson From Two September 11th Events

It’s interesting that the Mountain Meadows Massacre and Jihadist terror attacks happened on the same calendar day. Mormons and Americans can both learn the same lesson from both of these events: we usually get respect when we give respect. If we don’t–-if we think that people of other religions or cultures or nationalities are somehow inferior to us-–then we have lost the right to the respect of those other peoples.

The Mountain Meadows Massacre should never have happened. Actually, neither should the atrocities of September 11th, 2001. Both events occurred for the same reason: arrogance and a sense of self-superiority.

The Massacre at Mountain Meadows almost didn't occur, but Mormon leaders in Southern Utah continued to tempt themselves and follow temptation with justification until the situation got dreadfully out of hand. A massive cover-up, which included mass murder by Mormons, was the result.

Mormons had conjured up all sorts of bogeymen by the time the fated Fancher part…

On 9/11, I Nominate Newt Gingrich for Dogcatcher

I forgot why I didn't like Newt Gingrich. Well, all he had to do is open his mouth. Now I remember.

Mr. Gingrich spoke to the American Enterprise Institute today. Before his speech, he apparently didn't read up on American foreign policy and how its implementation over the past half century has pissed off nearly everyone else in the world. But, you see, it's all radical Islam's fault, according to Newt. Because of the Radical Islamic bogeyman, we must create even greater restrictions on your freedom. According to

"America needs a more realistic and more powerful solution to the challenges of our enemies," said Gingrich. "Beyond the Petraeus Report, we need a report on the larger war with the irreconcilable wing of Islam."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich criticized supporters and opponents of the Iraq progress report for not seeing the bigger picture.Gingrich called for "a debate about a vision of victory for the larger war i…

Dogpile on the Mormons!!!

September 11th is the anniversary of two terrorist acts: (1) the killing of approximately 3,000 people in the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Pennsylvania, and (2) the killing of 120 westward traveling settlers by Mormons and Indians at Mountain Meadows, Utah. Since I'm a Mormon, with the current re-dredged controversy surrounding the Massacre, I occasionally feel an urge to apologize for my part in the Mountain Meadows conspiracy.

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the most despicable act ever committed by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (unless you believe Fawn Brodie, according to which atrocities by Mormons had by that time become standard fare).

It's clear by now that the Native Americans of the Mountain Meadows area weren't nearly as involved in the murders as the guilt-ridden Mormon participants wanted everyone to believe. But it's also clear--except to the anti-Mormon axe grinders--that the Mountain Meadows Massacre was anything b…

What Happened to the $2,500 Teacher Pay Raise?

The $2,500 raises that Utah public school teachers were supposed to get is a lot less now. Somebody made a mistake in calculating how many public school employees there were in Utah. Who was it?

KCPW reported that

State officials miscalculated how much it would cost to give every teacher a 25-hundred dollar raise as lawmakers intended.
KSL said that

someone made a costly error, forgetting to count more than 2,500 jobs.
Who could it have been? The Legislature has pledged to get the problem fixed in the 2008 session, but it's interesting that neither the legislature nor the State Office of Education caught the problem.

Districts are working around the problem in different ways. For example, says KCPW

...Ogden says some districts have opted to rearrange their budgets and offer the raises now, in anticipation of the legislative appropriation.

Teachers in the Granite and Jordan School Districts will get about 19-hundred dollars for an average salary increase of about six percent.

We need to…

U.S. Poverty: Bad, But Not as Bad as We Think

Poverty is still a problem. Inflation and preferential policies for the super rich make it clear that a dollar doesn't go for most of us as far as it used to go. But a recent report about poverty made it seem worse than it actually is.

The Deseret News recently reported

The nation's real median income rose for the first time since 1999, while the poverty rate remained virtually unchanged at 12.6 percent, marking the end of four consecutive years of increasing poverty, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report.

...the fact that poverty rates failed to decline — despite four years of economic growth in Utah and across the country — is of particular concern, Utah anti-poverty advocates said Tuesday. And the number of seniors in poverty rose from 3.5 million in 2004 to 3.6 million in 2005, according to the report.
However, the nearly exclusive reason that the poverty rate remained unchanged (didn't go down) is due to the influx of Hispanic immigrants, legal and illegal, who s…

Larry Craig: We Are All Hypocrites

It seems to me that there have been two perspectives on the demise of Larry Craig. One is that it's good that he resigned, because he did something morally wrong. The other is that it's good that he resigned, because he is a hypocrite. Both sides asked for his resignation, each for their separate reasons. I'm not so sure if I'd have asked for him to resign.

The first of these groups says that hypocrisy is okay, but that hypocrites shouldn't be leaders. The second seems to feel that hypocrisy is the meanest of vices. I am a member of the first group. I hope that I understand the perspective of the second group correctly.

In the 1600's Fran├žois, duke of La Rochefoucauld penned the witty--and I think true--statement that "hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue." I agree. The failure of Larry Craig was not, in my opinion, that he took moral stands on issues (although he was clearly insensitive and wrong to call Bill Clinton a "naugh…

School Vouchers: Proving the Opponent's Point without Intending To

It was never a point of the pro-voucher crowd that students using education vouchers would end up being smarter than students in public schools (rather it was that students in both environments would become better learners).

It has been a strident point, however, of the anti-voucher crowd that there are no standards of measuring whether private schools provide at least the same quality of education as public schools. Utah Amicus, in an attempt to disprove a non-issue for the pro-voucher crowd, actually helped disprove a very fundamental theory of the anti-voucher crowd.

Utah Amicus has implied here that studies have shown that students who are educated through the use of vouchers are no smarter than children educated in the public schools. So? It's interesting that relative intelligence is hardly ever an issue to those who support vouchers, unless it is to cite evidence that the education of both vouchered and non-vouchered students improves when vouchers are implemented. Rather…