Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'm Feeling Sorry for the Global Warming "Consensus" Crowd

One of the worst things that someone can do is to claim that a consensus exists when it does not. More and more, the so-called global warming "consensus"--that man-made global warming is destroying planet earth--is falling apart. This faux consensus has contributed more than most any other factor for man's lack of hospitality to earth.

It's time for some environmental honesty.

Can't we just work together using

It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that there is only a fringe of scientists who don't buy into anthropogenic global warming.

reality to encourage stewardship of the earth? Apparently not. From the early days of environmentalism, lies and exaggeration have been the norm. Global warming "expert" Stephen Schneider summed it up quite well about twenty years ago.
On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but - which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we'd like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public's imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.
One of the greatest "scary scenarios" of all--the one trying to hold all the rest of the lies together--is that there is some kind of consensus that man is now causing nearly irreversible global warming. There never has been, and there never will be, consensus of that sort, unless the definition of consensus has been legally changed to something like:
a general agreement or concord [among those who wish to politicize an issue]; [pretended or wished for] harmony.
I feel sorry for those who still hold to the unsupportable claim that there has ever been anything close to a consensus that man is causing significant global warming. If belief in such a consensus ever was based on science, it is now nothing more than worshipful cultism.

Patrick J. Michaels, a research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, says:
Global warming is real, and human beings have something to do with it. We don't have everything to do with it; but we can't stop it, and we couldn't even slow it down enough to measure our efforts if we tried.

Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media, p. 9
Michaels goes on in his book to show a plethora of reasons how and why there is no consensus on man-made global warming.

Stanley B. Goldenberg is an atmospheric scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hurricane Research Division. Goldenberg says
It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that there is only a fringe of scientists who don't buy into anthropogenic global warming.
This updated Senate report states that more than 650 scientists disagree that there is "consensus". The report's introduction says
Over 650 dissenting scientists from around the globe challenged man-made global warming claims made by the...IPCC...and former Vice President Al Gore. This new...[r]eport -- updated from 2007’s groundbreaking report of over 400 scientists who voiced skepticism about the so-called global warming “consensus” -- features the skeptical voices of over 650 prominent international scientists, including many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN IPCC. [This is] more than 12 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media-hyped IPCC 2007 Summary... (Emphasis added.)
Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner, says
I am a skeptic. ...global warming has become a new religion. We frequently hear about the number of scientists who support it. But the number is not important: only whether they are correct is important. We don’t really know what the actual effect on the global temperature is. There are better ways to spend the money...
Kiminori Itoh, a physical chemist from Japan, says of the "consensus"
It is the worst scientific scandal in history.
It is. How unfortunate.

A recent group of scientists who debunked the man-made global warming "consensus" is more than 12 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media-hyped IPCC 2007 Summary.

If we really want to take care of the earth, we need to first and foremost be honest about how bad the situation is. If we aren't honest, we effectively encourage the ignoring of truly important environmental issues that really shouldn't be ignored.

That's why I feel sorry for the global warming consensus crowd. Besides putting blind faith in a lie, these people are some of the environment's worst enemies.



Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ezra Taft Benson Predicts Economic Collapse of 2008-2009

Ezra Taft Benson, thirteenth prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was one of the greatest statesmen that has ever lived. Not only was he prophetic when it came to spiritual things, he was equally prescient when it comes to economic issues. I have read several times the economic warnings of President Benson, but his warnings have never rung more true than now--when we are in the midst of suffering for failing to heed his warnings.

Recently I wrote about the prophetic mantle of Gordon B. Hinckley as regards the world economy. With similar prophetic insight, Ezra Taft Benson authored The Red Carpet in 1962, and in 1969, he penned An Enemy Hath Done This. What follows are selections from those two books. Warning: If you feel a sense of dizzying deja vu, don't be surprised.

Care for a stimulus package, anyone?

A nation cannot spend itself into prosperity.

How about a bailout? When you read the following axiom from Benson, the futility of such economic silliness will make perfect sense to you.
A nation cannot spend itself into prosperity. Nor can we preserve our prosperity and our free-enterprise system by following a reckless policy of spending beyond our income...

The Red Carpet, p. 167
Do you ever wonder why Americans have become so conditioned to

Corporate entities lack social consciousness.

spend themselves into drunken oblivion? It's because we've been encouraged to do so by the profligate monetary policies of our government Treasury and quasi-government organizations, such as the Federal Reserve.
Few policies are more capable of destroying the moral, political, and social basis of a free society than the debauching of its currency.

An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 211
Free enterprise = corporations, right? No--not very often anymore. If it was bad enough in the 1960's for Benson to write the following, imagine how bad it must be today.
...corporate entities seem to lack that social consciousness proportionate to their power and the privileges granted them by the state. Some...still fail to recognize that there are social and spiritual values...that should be considered in their operations.

The Red Carpet, p. 119
In his recent book, Bad Money, Kevin Phillips observed the insanity

A nation enjoys in the form of goods and services only what it produces.

of the United States having nearly completely replaced its manufacturing capability with a non-productive financial sector. Forty-six years ago, Ezra Taft Benson warned against such foolishness.
In the long run, a nation enjoys in the form of goods and services only what it produces.

The Red Carpet, pp. 116-117
It has been common for economic analysts to

We abolished slavery once in America. Now, unfortunately without most of us even noticing it, slavery is coming back in vogue.

predict that the current economic collapse will ultimately be "great"er than The Great Depression. For statesmen like Benson, this was not hard to predict almost fifty years ago.
We must reverse our present dangerous fiscal policies. If we fail to do so, we will set off an international monetary debacle that could easily make the experience of the 1930's sink into insignificance.

The Red Carpet, p. 308
Much of our program of letting the government pay for it "can be described as an attempt to better yourself by increasing your pay and then sending yourself the bill."

The Red Carpet, p. 221
Ron Paul, among others, from a closer vantage point in time, had been warning about the obviousness of the pending economic collapse, although

The pending economic crisis that now faces America is painfully obvious.

hardly anyone would listen. But it takes a prophet to notice, from five decades hence, the obviousness of something the likes of which nearly everyone else observed only when it began affecting them personally. Part of Benson's prophecy is still yet future, however. Are we stupid enough to simply count him lucky in what he has correctly "predicted" so far?
The pending economic crisis that now faces America is painfully obvious. If even a fraction of potential foreign claims...were presented to the Treasury...the rush to get rid of dollars would rapidly accelerate the visible effects of inflation... Uncertainty over the future would cause the consumer to halt...spending. ...problems of unemployment and low production will be compounded by a monetary system that will be utterly worthless.

An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 216
Benson taught that free choice should

The welfare state not only fails to provide the economic security sought for, but it always ends in slavery.

always prevail, and that along these lines, government should never insinuate unfairness between business and labor unions. Yet with recent financial and automotive bailouts, this is precisely what's happening. Big business and labor bosses are getting the cream of the crop, and the rest of us get to pay for their indulgences.
My conscience forbids me to consent to granting exclusive privileges to either business or labor unions. ...the power of government should never...force it one way or the other.

An Enemy Hath Done This, pp. 237-239
What's the antidote? Free enterprise, says Benson, which we haven't experienced too much of lately.
The welfare state...not only fails to provide the economic security sought for, but [it] always ended in slavery---and it always will.

The Red Carpet, p. 308
We abolished slavery once in America. Now, unfortunately without most of us even noticing it, slavery is coming back in vogue.




Friday, December 26, 2008

Hopefully, a "Christmas Sweater" For Everyone

My wife gave me a copy of The Christmas Sweater for Christmas. I devoured in in all of a Christmas afternoon. I warn you...when you read it, prepare to not only be surprised, but to understand that, in your surprise, you will know that it all makes sense. And, hopefully, you'll want your own Christmas Sweater.

On the same day that I read The Christmas Sweater, I read coincidentally what might in retrospect be an astonishing development in the world of cancer research. My wish, for this Christmas season, is that everyone will come to appreciate the sweater's magnificent metaphor.

In the afterword to his newest book, author Glenn Beck explains why he wrote what he wrote:
In The Christmas Sweater, Eddie's trials begin when his father succumbs to cancer. I didn't select that disease by accident. Almost all of us know someone who has been affected by it in some way, and I am no different; my grandfather had cancer.
Six years ago, just after Christmas, my nephew, Tyson Taylor, died of cancer. In a matter of a few months, a strapping young life, with so

Regardless of whether, like Tyson Taylor, our bodies are ravaged by the sin of cancer, or whether our souls are stricken by the cancer of self-worthlessness, there lies somewhere on the messy floors of our minds the joy of a Christmas Sweater for each of us.

much promise, was prematurely snuffed out. "We have the latest medications," said the doctors, "and the success rate is very high." And for a while, we all had hope.

Regarding the subject of his book, Beck continues:
...I chose cancer for another reason as well--because of someone who I believe will cure it. His name is Jon Huntsman.
Published on Christmas Day, 2008, was , had I not been reading a particular book, what for me might have been a fairly innocuous headline in the Deseret News: "Scientists Make Key Cancer Discovery." The story begins:
A hallmark of cancer is unrestricted cell growth, which begins when gene mutations "turn off" or "silence" genes that regulate cell growth. Now researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute have identified two enzymes that can combine to "turn on" silenced genes and may also prevent gene silencing. That could put treatment or even a cure in reach if scientists can learn how to use this pair of enzymes to turn on key genes at will.
The discovery holds great promise of stimulating the healthy suppression of cancer cells in the body.
The key finding is the discovery of the use of two enzymes and a regulator to remove DNA methylation, which may allow genes to be turned back on.
Wouldn't it be remarkable if a newspaper report on Christmas Day 2008 signaled what ultimately turned out to be the cure for cancer? Beck says
Though involved in many charities, Mr. Huntsman's passion is the Huntsman Cancer Institute and Hospital in Salt Lake City. When I visited the Institute for the first time, I told Mr. Huntsman that I had never seen anything like it before. "I know," he replied, obviously used to hearing that kind of reaction. "We're going to cure cancer, and then we're going to turn this place into a Ritz Carlton."

He smiled, and I wasn't sure if he was kidding or not. Then he looked at me with zeal in his eyes... "Glenn," he said firmly and without an ounce of hesitation, "we are going to cure cancer here."
For those, like Tyson Taylor, whose spirits

Then he looked at me with zeal in his eyes... "Glenn," he said firmly and without an ounce of hesitation, "we are going to cure cancer here."

have already passed on to the next phase of existence, this particular cure will have come too late for their mortal bodies. But a cure for physical cancer is not The Christmas Sweater's only metaphor. The sweater represents also a cure for sin, a reminder that "many of us don't face ourselves because we are convinced that we're worthy of only a certain level of happiness". Instead of wadding our own Christmas Sweater up in a ball and tossing it on the floor, though, we should cherish it and wear it often. Beck says that:
My mom gave me the sweater, but the greatest gift was given to all of us by a loving Father in Heaven. It is the only true gift ever given to all and yet opened or appreciated by so few. It is the gift of redemption and atonement, and it sits on the top shelf, largely untouched, in the closets of our soul.
By the end of his story, "Glenn-Edward Lee-Beck" has come to realize that "I finally know who I am, and I am happy." Regardless of whether, like Tyson, our bodies are ravaged by the sin of cancer, or whether our souls are stricken by the cancer of self-worthlessness, there lies somewhere on the messy floors of our minds the joy of a Christmas Sweater for each of us.
I clearly remember the look in [my mom's] eyes as she saw my sweater rolled up in a ball on the floor of my room, and I remember realizing all that she had done for that gift. [In the same way, I had refused] to stand at His feet and see Him with the same look in his eyes as he asks me, "Son, is this the gift that I gave you?"
So, if you haven't already, pick up your Christmas sweater from that heap on the floor, smooth out its rumples, and put it on. And then, beginning to know who you really are, you can be happy, too.




Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I'd Like to Throw My Shoes at George W. Bush, Too

Over the last few days I haven't been able to stop thinking about the Iraqi reporter who threw both of his shoes at George W. Bush during a recent Iraqi press conference. After contemplating the "legacy" of the younger President Bush, I applaud the Iraqi reporter's actions. Come to think of it, given the chance, I might throw my shoes at President Bush as well. More than most pawns of the Establishment, he has been an unmitigated disaster for America.

Shoe throwing in the Arab world is a supreme insult. You may have

Like his father, George Jr. experienced a meteoric rise to fame coincident to his presidence over the destruction of Iraq. Also, like his father, George II left office amid plummeting popularity, once the American populace had come to understand his true character.

read that this very disgrace happened to President Bush on his "farewell tour" to Iraq on December 14, 2008. At the beginning of a joint press conference with Iraqi President Nouri al Maliki, Bush was accosted with both the left and right shoes of an angry reporter. The reporter was immediately thereafter subdued. Bush's hope for his surprise visit to Iraq--to show how far freedom in Iraq had progressed--was both illustrated and made a mockery of in the shoe-throwing incident.



Muntadhar al Zeidi will stand trial on December 31st for "assaulting a foreign head of state". If convicted he could serve at least seven years in prison. He wrote a letter to President Bush apologizing and asking for a pardon, but strong evidence corroborates his claim that he was compelled through torture to write the letter. While some members of the Iraqi press have opined that there are many more productive ways to have embarrassed Bush, thousands of fellow Iraqis are demanding al Zeidi's release from prison. Emotions ran high
I think what Muntadhar did to Bush was the least of what he deserved and this attack represents the freedom that he bragged about giving to us,” said Abu Mohamed, a 36-year-old taxi driver.
In a re-enactment of the incident, Iranian Basij students threw their shoes at a person symbolizing President Bush.

So far, two men have proposed giving their daughters' hand in marriage to al Zeidi.
. . .

I remember about 9 years ago being highly dismayed at how many of

While some members of the Iraqi press have opined that there are many more productive ways to have embarrassed Bush, thousands of fellow Iraqis are demanding al Zeidi's release from prison.

my Republican friends were excited to jump on the George W Bush for President bandwagon. His father was an Establishment dope, having been one of Ronald Reagan's fiercest critics, and then, somehow, having become Reagan's vice president. George HW Bush first gave Saddam Hussein the green light to attack Kuwait, and then intervened to push the Iraqi military back into Iraq. Bush Sr. strongly encouraged support for Shia uprisings against the Hussein government, yet stood by when the Shia uprisers were slaughtered.

The fruitcake doesn't fall far from the tree. It wasn't long into George W Bush's first term (and probably before the occurrence of 9/11) that W was contemplating cleaning up after his father in Iraq, who, he felt, hadn't gone far enough. After all, Saddam was still in power.

For a day or two after September 11, 2001, I was among those who joined in reverence for a somber president who led a humble country. It wasn't long before I noticed that it was all a charade, and that Bush's faux spirituality was a brazen attempt to strengthen United States domination in the Middle East.

Contrived tales of mobile chemical weapons labs, other weapons of mass destruction, and conspiracy between Saddam and al Qaeda became standard fare on the political talk circuit. Attention to Afghanistan, the real harbor for al Qaeda, was soon deflected to George Jr.'s pet project.

After a three-week campaign, the United States military occupied Baghdad. Iraqis and Iranians alike, who fought each other to an eight-year stalemate, were in awe of the American military juggernaut. At this point, using back channels, the Iranian

George W. Bush surrounded himself with yes-men and women who made weak attempts to justify invigorated American imperialism and culturally condescending torture. His "nursing" of the economy by fiat bailout has made him seem every bit the aspiring King like the George before him from whom patriotic Americans unceremoniously dissociated themselves in 1776.

government sought a rapprochement of sorts with the United States. George W. Bush--confident of his country's fresh victory, his new-found personal prominence, and the prospects of a successful military foray into Iran--ignored the offer.

Like his father, George Jr. experienced a meteoric rise to fame coincident to his presidence over the destruction of Iraq. Also, like his father, George II left office amid plummeting popularity, once the American populace had come to understand his true character. Unfortunately, the one major difference between their presidencies was that someone didn't come along and dethrone George Jr. after his first term.

George W. Bush has touched essentially nothing during his administration that has not ultimately turned to lead. In addition to his ongoing fiasco in the Arab and Persian Middle East, his nonchalance regarding the Kyoto protocol has given conservatives a black eye regarding environmental stewardship. His straddling of the fence on embryonic stem cell research has earned him enemies on the left and the right. He surrounded himself with yes-men and women who made weak attempts to justify invigorated American imperialism and culturally condescending torture. His "nursing" of the economy by fiat bailout has made him seem every bit the aspiring King like the George before him from whom patriotic Americans unceremoniously dissociated themselves in 1776.

Muntadhar al Zeidi had good reason to throw his shoes at George W. Bush. Given the chance, I might want throw my shoes at George W. Bush, too.




Saturday, December 20, 2008

Adam Smith Hated Corporations

A lot of supposedly free-market economists revere Adam Smith as one of the foremost proponents of free enterprise. Ironically, these same economists advocate corporate libertarianism, which ultimately allows powerful corporations, through special governmental favors, to make a mockery of the ability of people to freely exchange money, goods, and services. Adam Smith hated what corporations had become in 18th-century England. Today--at best--it's no better.

In today's world, money has become for most the sole measure of market value--civic, social, and environmental responsibility be damned. Without any sense of irony, today's self-proclaimed free marketeers argue that free markets should be completely unrestrained by government. Corporate law is their prominent blind spot, because, as these "economists" apparently haven't noticed, it is government regulation in favor of corporations that has allowed corporations to become 8- and 900-pound gorillas that are slowly choking out their competition. Meanwhile, the rich get richer.

This is not a problem unique to the 21st century.

Without any sense of irony, today's self-proclaimed free marketeers argue that free markets should be completely unrestrained by government. Corporate law is their prominent blind spot, because, as these "economists" apparently haven't noticed, it is government regulation in favor of corporations that has allowed corporations to become 8- and 900-pound gorillas that slowly squash all competition.

Adam Smith recognized corporations in his day for exactly what they are now--charters granted by government that ultimately cause the limitation of competition and the concentration of wealth into the hands of small groups of people. Smith termed corporations as "monopolies granted" by government "that has the same effect as a [trade] secret [which kept] the market constantly understocked." When markets are constantly understocked, products can be sold at prices far above their natural level. Which is not an advantage to the poor, by the way.
It is to prevent this reduction in price, and consequently the...profit, by restraining that free competition which would most certainly occasion it, that all corporations and [corresponding] laws have been established.

Corporation laws enable [corporations] to raise their prices without fearing to be undersold by the free competition of their own countrymen.
Or, as in the case of such paragons of free enterprise as Wal-Mart, it enables them to run their competition out of business first.
...the clamor and sophistry of merchants...easily persuade [governments] that the private interest of a part is...is the general interest of the whole.
Even if a large portion of that corporation's employees can't make ends meet without government assistance. With sophistication far beyond anything that George Orwell imagined in his book 1984, modern

With sophistication far beyond anything that George Orwell imagined in his book 1984, modern television commercials have somehow convinced far more than just governments that private corporate interest is the same as the general interest.

television commercials have somehow convinced far more than just governments that private corporate interest is the same as the general interest. Meanwhile, corporations continue to squash out their competition with greater and greater rates of success. And the rich get richer.

Smith warned that
People of the same trade seldom meet together,...but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public.
Which makes me wonder if a "War on K-Street" might not be much more productive than a War on Terror.

Restricted trade causes an agglomeration of companies (and workers) into bigger and bigger cities with bigger and bigger differences between the haves and the have nots, and with the bigger and bigger problems that come with the squeeze of city living. On the other hand, Smith teaches, that, through elimination of unfair governmental advantages to corporations, the
...lowering of profit in the [city] forces out stock to the country, whereby creating a new demand for country labor, it necessarily raises wages.
Corporations are all about maximizing personal wealth through blackmail and the obtaining of special favors, whereas true free enterprise (the free enterprise advocated by Adam Smith) involves service to fellowman in such a way that "all boats" are raised more or less together.

Today, corporations have the ability to uproot and move full operations on a whim and take them elsewhere, and, because of their limited liability, they don't suffer any penalties for the damage they caused to the social fabric they just tore apart, nor are they penalized for the destructive conditions in which their new employees work--employees in actuality nothing more than serfs who are never quite able to rise above the threshold required to actually get their own "piece of the pie". And the rich get richer.
...by restraining the competition...to a smaller number than would otherwise be disposed to enter into [various fields of labor], occasions a very important inequality.
Nearly one-third of all "market" transactions these days are in-house transactions--in other words, one-third of all goods and services are traded within the confines of individual companies. It's a fine way for the rich to get richer, but it does very little to help those who really need it.

Is it free enterprise when corporations give their CEO's

A "War on K-Street" might be much more productive than a War on Terror.

multi-million dollar salaries even when the company didn't make a profit? Adam Smith didn't think so, yet many economists who reverence Mr. Smith conveniently forget that he abhorred the advantages that had accreted to corporations. Corporate advantages are eerily similar today, except, as far as I know, they never received multi-billion-dollar bailouts. Adam Smith reached the conclusion that
The pretense that corporations are necessary for better government of the trade is without any foundation.
Hear, hear!

Smith talked disapprovingly of trade monopolies that were granted such organizations as the East India company.
The exclusive privileges of the East India companies...which these have procured them from their respective governments, have excited much envy against them. ...great quantities of silver [are] every year export[ed] from these countries...
In a very similar way today, the International Monetary Fund helps western multi-national companies to drain the economies of the countries that they purport to help. And the rich get richer.

I used to think that the rich were getting richer at no expense to the poor and through no fraud on their own part. I've come to discover that that's not true in a multitude of cases. I've also come to discover that those who support the distinct and unfair advantages that large corporations have in today's world had better stop quoting Adam Smith.

Because they would be lying.




Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why is Utah Voter Turnout So Lame? The "Lost-Cause" Voter

In the recent presidential election, only three states had a lower voter turnout than Utah. In 2006, Utah had the worst turnout in the nation. Why the apathy? I think it's because many Utahns feel like representative democracy, even in Utah, is a lost cause. Somehow we've got to enlist the "lost cause" voters and get them back on the path of optimism. Lost-Cause voters have martyr complexes, and , in large part, it is their fault that we are a country ruled more and more by a Republicrat oligarchy.

Do you know people who say they don't vote anymore because their vote doesn't count? I do. It's their fault that their country is going down the drain. If they're Latter-day Saints, they might be surprised when they see the big movie of their life on the other side of the veil and discover what might have been if they'd pulled their pathetic heads out of the sand.

Despite leaders of Utah's predominant religion (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) continually admonishing Church members to get to the ballot box, still less than 54% of Utah's voting age population made it out to vote. Why? Because most of the other 46% has given up. They think their vote doesn't count, so they'll show us!! These Lost-Cause voters exhibit gross negligence of their responsibility and a tacit hope that we lose our taken-for-granted freedoms so that they can say "I told you so." Here are two alleged reasons for the Lost-Cause martyr complex, which don't hold water:
  1. The feeling that there were only two candidates in the Presidential race.
  2. A dominant party whose dominance comes at the expense of integrity.
1. Why Do The Major Parties Conspire to Serve Up Crap for Presidential Candidates? Answer: In part because they know this will do more than any other one thing to keep the Lost-Causers at home on election day. It's working.

If Mitt Romney had been the Republican candidate for president this year, Utah would have had a better voter turnout for certain. But I still don't think it would have been that much better, because the Lost-Cause voters still wouldn't have turned out. It is baffling to me (1) that Republicans fielded the worst possible presidential candidate and pretended that he had a chance of winning, and (2) how so many Utahns thought there were only two candidates in the final race. This, though, is largely the fault of the Lost-Cause voter. If, nation wide, the Lost-Cause voters would have come back out of the woodwork, Ron Paul would have become the Republican nominee, and he might even now be the President of the United States. If the Lost-Cause voters had showed up in Utah, 3rd-party presidential candidates would have gotten as many votes as Thing 1 and Thing 2.

George W. Bush got his highest margins of victory in Utah. That's because the Lost-Causers--a huge bloc of the people who really know better--sat out one or both of those elections.

2. The Dominant Party Syndrome Must Break--Through Ethics Reform. There were a boatload of Republican incumbent powerbrokers that I hoped would lose in the 2008 election. Only 1 did. It was because of the inane ethics rules that Utah operates under, which allow incumbents to amass huge war chests, which they can then share with each other. What a racket!!

Brigham Young complained that from a business perspective, Utahns (read: Latter-Day Saints) were no better than the rest of the world. We have the same problem today in our politics, and in some cases, we are measurably worse than other states. Just less than a year ago, over 60% of Utahns thought significant ethics reform was well overdue. But still the success of needed legislation in this regard looks bleak--because so many Lost-Causers have stepped out of the political arena.

If we could get even 10% of the "lost-cause" voters involved in pushing for ethics reform, we could turn the tide and make Utah politics and example instead of the laughingstock that it has become.
. . .

Do you know any Lost-Cause voters? If you do, make sure you remind them that the current economic and political situation is in no small measure their fault. A lot of voters don't know any better when they vote for the lesser of two dumbers and when they keep Party mafioso in the Utah State legislature. But at one point in their lives, every one of the Lost-Cause voters knew better.

That's why in them lies the greater sin.




Monday, December 15, 2008

The Great Advantage of Mormonism--If We Choose to Accept It

Apart from claiming unique authority to act in God's name on the earth, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages its members to seek truth, even if a significant part of the truth we find is not from a study of standard church doctrine. To the best of my knowledge, no other religious denomination is so confident in its teachings and principles that it encourages its adherents to look into every field, under every rock, and in every nook and cranny to discover what is true. Unfortunately, not enough members of the LDS Church realize this enormous blessing and challenge. In many ways, many members of the Church are just like members of other denominations--limited by their creeds, superstitions, and ignorance.

Joseph Smith taught that:
...the most prominent difference in sentiment between Latter-day Saints and sectarians was, that the [sectarians] were all circumscribed by some peculiar creed, which deprived the members the privilege of believing anything not contained therein, whereas the Latter-day Saints...are ready to believe all true principles that exist, as they are made manifest from time to time.
That might surprise some of you who are not members of the LDS Church, based on LDS Church members that you know. But it's true.

I have much more respect for someone who opposed Proposition 8 on the grounds of their personal pondering and research than someone who voted for it because their Church leaders were in favor of it.

If there's a new scientific discovery, members of the LDS church are expected to determine for themselves whether the discovery is based on fact. If a supposed new social, political, or economic truth comes about, we are essentially bound by Church doctrine to neither ignore nor discount it. This is a nice theory. However in reality...

;-)

It's been said that it's not possible for any member of the LDS Church, including its leadership, to preach falsehood from the pulpit--because church congregations are able to be guided by the same Spirit of Truth that the speaker claims to be led by. Statistically, however, I suspect it would be fairly easy to get a sample congregation which could be led astray--because not enough Mormons think for themselves.

Even in the case of homosexual marriage, the LDS

It's been said that it's not possible for any member of the LDS Church, including its leadership, to preach falsehood from the pulpit--because church congregations are able to be guided by the same Spirit of Truth that the speaker claims to be led by. Statistically, however, I suspect it would be fairly easy to get a sample congregation which could be led astray--because many Mormons don't think for themselves.

Church hierarchy did not require its members, at the peril of their memberships, to vote in favor of Proposition 8. Unfortunately, many members of the Church didn't take the time to find out which side of the issue they were really on--or why. I have much more respect for someone who opposed Proposition 8 on the grounds of their personal pondering and research than someone who voted for it because their Church leaders were in favor of it.

Joseph Smith also taught:
Mormonism is truth; and every [one] who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck...
What a cool thing! Or at least it should be. I know enough Mormons (far too many by Joseph Smith's standards) who are steeped in bigotry, ignorance, and superstition, largely because they're either (1) working to pay off their credit cards, (2) watching Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, and CSI: Pluto most nights of the week, or (3) both. I hope that, for other reasons, I am not, from time to time, one of the ignorant, superstitious, Mormon bigots.

What I like most about

It might take us all a while to get there, but as we ponder and reason with each other, if we sincerely want to arrive at the truth--and not at the victory of our own personal dogma--the truth will prevail.

the internet is the genuineness of blogging. I'm disappointed that not more Mormon internet users share the zest of searching for truth that most bloggers enjoy. Simple Utah Mormon Politics has become part of my personal search for truth. It is usually after great study that I put my ideas and feelings down in a blog article. Although I wish more people would participate in the conversation here at SUMP, I am grateful for those of you who do share your insights with me--and occasionally correct my shortsightedness.

Not only was Joseph Smith a wise man, he was also a perpetual optimist. Along these lines, he opined:
I have always had the satisfaction of seeing the truth triumph over error, and darkness give way before light.
I think Mr. Smith will be proven right. It might take us all a while to get there, but as we ponder and reason with each other, if we sincerely want to arrive at the truth--and not at the victory of our own personal dogma--the truth will prevail.

Whatever that turns out to be--in individual cases as well as in the aggregate--as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I pledge myself to try to recognize it--and to accept it when I do.




Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Boring and Dangerous Homogenization of Culture

American culture is no longer the best culture, yet we export it to every corner of the globe. In addition to thwarting people's ability to provide for their own economic wants, the American corporatist culture shows a profound disrespect for other cultures around the world. Through so-called reduction in barriers to trade, we have destroyed their "mom and pop" shops and sold them Coca Cola instead. Like a cancer, corporatist culture, with its carefully and subtly pre-manufactured demand, marches across the globe homogenizing nearly everything in its wake.

Thomas Friedman, in his book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, tells of being in a Middle Eastern country, feeling a bit lost, but then walking around a street corner to see a Taco Bell sign greeting him. He was ecstatic. He mused that "before Taco Bell there was probably a fly-infested sidewalk stand." Friedman,

What started over a century ago as a homogenization of Native Americans and Hispanics into U.S. culture has become a worldwide flood. Go nearly anywhere in the world and you'll find something boringly American.

like many others, sees the homogenization of culture as a godsend to the world, because supposedly, it means that the poor are getting richer. From an economic standpoint, this might possibly be true, but from a social standpoint it is demonstrably false. The world would be much better off enjoying the variegated culture of the sidewalk stand, rather than being bombarded by the hackneyed image of Taco Bells everywhere.

One of my greatest regrets from having served with the U.S. Military in Iraq for 12 months is that I never once got a chance to sample the Iraqi cuisine. Ironically, amid a people we were ostensibly trying to help, the U.S. government would let citizens from nearly any country in the world serve as cooks for us military service members--except for Iraqis. The further irony was that the many-cultured dining workers didn't get to sample anything cultural either--except for the commonplace of American food.

What started over a century ago as a homogenization of Native Americans and Hispanics into U.S. culture has become a worldwide flood.

Do you ever wonder why the world seems so small? Part of the reason is because it has become so much the same wherever you go.

Go nearly anywhere in the world and you'll find something boringly American. More often than not those advocating that we become hyphenated Americans are really simply crying out that we respect and cherish their cultures--and keep them from extinction. Nearly absent such respect, America is becoming one large neon light that shines to glorify the good works of corporatism.

The average American sees over 20,000 television commercials per year. Approximately 100 U.S. corporations control about 75% of the commercials that we see on TV. With prime-time television commercial spots costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, it's no wonder that restaurants and convenience stores serve almost exclusively Coke or Pepsi products. It's no wonder that kids can get sugar fixes from a very limited assortment of goods from their school vending machines. It's no wonder that Lays is almost the only brand of chip on the potato chip aisle at the supermarket. It's no wonder that we think we're

More often than not those advocating that we become hyphenated Americans are really simply crying out for us to respect and cherish their cultures--and to keep them from extinction.

healthy because that grease we just ate has 0 grams of trans fats!!

I kind of like the idea that Arcata, California has come up with: the restriction of so-called "formula restaurants". Not only would that seem to portend well for our health, it would help us to better respect a heterogeneity of cultures--something that is sorely lacking in an America that sees itself in every way the world's primary benefactor.

In 1993, Sony's Akio Morita called for a reduction of trade barriers. The trade barriers that he specifically referred to were the barriers of local cultures. What's wrong with a variety of local cultures? Such variety makes it difficult for a handful of globally dominant corporations to keep their products in the ascendancy. Do you ever wonder why the world seems so small? Part of the reason is because it has become so much the same wherever you go.

To secure brand names, multinational corporations

At one time in America, we prided ourselves on our heterogeneity. We kept with us our cultures that we brought from across the sea, and we respected those we came in contact with. Now, however, we have been seduced into thinking that homogenized consumerism is the key to happiness, and this has become our primary export.

spend hundreds of billions of dollars yearly on advertising in order to manufacture demand for their products. This makes even the most orgiastic presidential campaign look tame by comparison. Such filthy lucre, spent solely on our seduction, is nearly as much as the entire world spends on educating our children. No wonder our world economy is staggering amid mountains of personal and corporate debt.

At one time in America, we prided ourselves on our heterogeneity. We kept with us our cultures that we brought from across the sea, and we respected those we came in contact with. Now, however, we have been seduced into thinking that homogenized consumerism is the key to happiness, and this has become our primary export. In more recent years, as a result, Americans are not the only ones to have been seduced by by the banality offered by predominantly American corporations. Nowadays, we see McDonalds and Taco Bells on every corner. Asians now make products that Americans have become so adept at demanding, to the point that they have come to demand the same lifeless products themselves. Our polished corporate advertising agencies have been successful in colonizing nearly every culture they've touched.

How boring. How dangerous.

. . .

--By the way, I just came across this excellent post by Tom at Alt-Tag. Enjoy!

--Here, from A Liberal Mormon, is another appropriate piece on what Christ would find if he returned to earth during this Christmas season.




Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Modern Corporations are Not as "Free Market" as We've Been Led to Believe

When you think of "free markets", you think of the corporation, right? Of course, the corporation is the quintessential attribute of the free market, isn't it? I've become surprised to find out that corporations in the modern United States are nothing like they used to be--back when they really did contribute to a free market.

In the fourth chapter of his very enlightening book, When Corporations Rule the World, David C. Korten describes what the ultimate free marketeer, Adam Smith, thought of what corporations had become in the Europe of the 1770's:
Adam Smith saw corporations, much as he saw governments, as instruments for suppressing the beneficial competitive forces of the market. His condemnation of corporations was uncompromising.

...The Wealth of Nations and the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence both occurred in 1776. Smith and the American colonists both shared a deep suspicion of both state and corporate power.

In the young American republic, there was little sense that corporations were either inevitable or necessary. Family farms and businesses were the mainstay of the economy, much in the spirit of Adam Smith's ideal...
It was corporate monopolies issued by the British government that so riled the American colonists that they ultimately secured their independence from "The Crown."

As a natural result, the fledgling United States

The limitations placed on the early American corporation were a blueprint of the hatred the new Americans had for English corporate empire. Now, jaded as we have become, we have adopted exactly their sinister anti-free-market practices and allowed them to be practiced by our most elite, who use their advantage as a bludgeon to further separate themselves in wealth from the rest of us.

abhorred corporations as now constituted in...the United States.

Early U.S. Corporate charters limited the ability to amass personal power. Members of the corporation were liable for all debts incurred by the corporation. Corporations were chartered for very prescribed purposes and for a limited number of years, and they could be revoked by the state courts and/or legislatures. States were able to limit corporate rates of return. Juries were allowed to assess damages for corporate-caused harm.

The Federal Government could not and did not issue corporate charters. Chartering of corporations is not listed in the Constitution as an authorized function of the federal government. This was affirmed by the 1855 Supreme Court case, Dodge v. Woolsey, which stated that
...combinations of classes...united by the bond of a corporate spirit...desire limitations on the sovereignty of the people [through corporations]. But the framers of the Constitution were imbued with no desire to call into existence such combinations.
This bedrock principle began to crack

Early U.S. Corporate charters limited the ability to amass personal power. Members of the corporation were liable for all debts incurred by the corporation. Corporations were chartered for very prescribed purposes and for a limited number of years, and they could be revoked by the state courts and/or legislatures.

during the disorder caused by the Civil War. Large companies that had been made rich through the supply of armaments to both sides of the great conflict were able to buy off a plethora of legislators in the Charge of the Corporate Light Brigade. Initial corporate inequities arose when conflicted legislators granted the war tycoons massive moneys and lands to expand the Western railroads (the railroad was not in and itself a bad thing, but it was bad in the way that its construction ultimately occurred).

This transformation had begun just prior to Abraham Lincoln's death. He observed the phenomenon enough to note that
Corporations have been enthroned...An era of corruption in high places will follow and the money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people...until wealth is aggregated in a few hands...and the Republic is destroyed.
Rutherford B Hayes who came to the presidency by secret negotiations in 1876, ultimately saw the problems of corporations. He said:
This is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people no longer. It is a government of corporations, by corporations, and for corporations.

For a while, citizen groups were able

Corporations have been enthroned...An era of corruption in high places will follow and the money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people...until wealth is aggregated in a few hands...and the Republic is destroyed.


--Abraham Lincoln

to persuade state courts and legislatures to revoke charters of overweening corporations. Gradually, however, the monopolists were able to buy off state legislatures and change the laws governing corporations. From this time, laws began to grant limited liability and perpetual corporate charters. As Korten states:
Corporations soon had the right to operate in any fashion not explicity prohibited by law.
And that, in a nutshell, is how previously limited operations became corporations that now have taken on the personalities, but not the risks, of people. That, also, is how we have gradually become used to the unwholesome concept known as "too big to fail".

And that, in a nutshell, is how previously limited operations became corporations that now have taken on the personalities, but not the risks, of people. That, also, is how we have gradually become used to the unwholesome concept known as "too big to fail".

The modern corporation--how else could we have come to a near consensus that government handouts are legal to give to gigantic automobile manufacturers? How otherwise would bankers be able to garner boatloads of fiat money without losing their corporate charters from a federal government that has no Constitutional authority to grant their charters in the first place, let alone give them any "free" money?

The limitations placed on the early American corporation were a blueprint of the hatred the new Americans had for English corporate empire. Now, jaded as we have become, we have adopted exactly their sinister anti-free-market practices and allowed them to be practiced by our most elite, who use their advantage as a bludgeon to further separate themselves in wealth from the rest of us. As a natural result, we have become the equivalent of the English monster we sought to destroy.

Should we really be surprised now that our modern-day pied pipers are leading the world into economic ignominy?




Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What Ever Happened to Global Warming?

I'm not sure if it's because we were so focused on a presidential campaign--but don't they usually talk about these things quite a bit during campaigns? Or maybe it was because the world economy went south, and the propagandizers that be realized they couldn't add greater economic catastrophe on top of economic cataclysm? I guess if we really are killing the earth that it's going to have to get in line behind all of our other problems. At any rate, not as many people are talking about global warming anymore.

Maybe they're not talking about it because

My greatest fear amid all of the propaganda about global warming is that government will be given the responsibility to fix the problem, because government has been part of this problem all along.

2008 was the coolest of the last ten years on record, and that the trend is downward. This year's cooling is primarily because of a La Nina effect. But if the globe were warming, why is the trend going down? It seems like natural variations, such as La Nina, have a much greater effect on global climate than many of those--whose livelihoods depend on us believing their propaganda--want us to believe.

"The debate is over." "The science is in." These two statements are so easily dripped from the tongue. But the debate is far from over. Fortunately, during a year of La Nina, the debate itself has cooled off as well. The NASA scientists in the following video story make two important points: (1) that they do not believe that man is the primary cause of global warming, and (2) that many of the so-called scientists who signed on to the study from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were actually nothing more than environmental activists with few science credentials. And thus a controversy, padded with propaganda, is really not a "concensus".


So, global warming is slowing? Not to worry:
In March, a team of climate scientists at Kiel University predicted that natural variation would mask the 0.3C warming predicted by the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change over the next decade. They said that global temperatures would remain constant until 2015 but would then begin to accelerate.
Glenn Beck replies:
I'm trying to get my arms around this "Natural variation would mask the warming thing." Let me see, because I'm an alcoholic, I speak bullcrap fluently. Let me see if I can translate that from bullcrap to English. They're saying that cooling will mask the warming. Cooling will mask the warming. See if I have this right. I mean, I'm not a scientist, but I'm a thinker, and help me out. Stu, if cooling is masking warming, then wouldn't it just be cooling?
Are there problems in how we carry out our stewardship over the earth? Absolutely. We need to reduce pollution. We need to stop making third world countries the dumping ground for Western decadence. We need to stop clear cutting forests. We need to make sure that our development isn't at the expense of the next generation. But, regardless of all of this, far too many people give the earth much less credit than it deserves when it comes to its resiliency.

Government has been part of the problem when it comes to destruction of the environment. The greatest environmental degradation occurred in former Communist countries. My greatest fear amid all of the (currently thankfully less) propaganda about global warming is that government will be given the responsibility to fix the problem.

Maybe we should just let this failing economy drag along for a little longer? Or at least I sure hope we have another La Nina next year. Because it sure has been nice not to have so many people lately whining that the global warming science is in and that the debate is settled.




Friday, December 05, 2008

Hey, Senator Buttars: "Happy Holidays!!"

Utah Senator Chris Buttars may be a well-meaning individual, but his actions often don't come out that way. His latest lament, with accompanying legislation that businesses use the phrase "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays", is at least the third case in point that I am aware of.

First, we were entertained by the faux pas made by the Senator in the 2008 Utah Legislative session, when referring to an

In reality, America has a Judeo-Christian heritage, so maybe Senator Buttars should change his legislation to "encourage" businesses to advertise with "Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas"...?

analogy of a human baby, of declaring that "this baby is black". Then there was the attempt to help a friend develop his property in Mapleton, Utah, by using the force if his legislative office. Let's see if we can top that...

Who cares that businesses hock their Christmas wares by using the term "Happy Holidays"? I guess I sort of do, but not enough to compel them, or even encourage them through the force of law, to use use the term "Merry Christmas" instead.

Buttars told the Salt Lake Tribune earlier this week that his resolution
...would encourage the use of 'Merry Christmas. I'm sick of the Christmas wars -- we're a Christian nation and ought to use the word.
Are you kidding me? We have enough government as it is! I suspect Senator Buttars is also contemplating a resolution "encouraging" everyone to use BC and AD instead of BCE and CE.

As far as the mixing of religion and politics, Afghanistan is a Muslim nation, and the Soviet Union was a Communist nation. Do we, in our own little way, mean to be as oppressive as that? I hope not! Although the United States is a nation that is predominantly Christian, it's stretching it quite a ways to claim that it's a Christian nation. In reality, America has a Judeo-Christian heritage, so maybe Senator Buttars should change his legislation to encourage businesses to say "Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas"...?

I like it when people say "Merry Christmas", and I actually wish more people would. But I'm not offended when they don't. I've got a better idea, Senator. Send out Christmas cards that say "Merry Christmas" to every household in the state (on your own dime, of course). Go door to door in your neighborhood! Invite proprietors of business to your home for a weenie roast! Then you can encourage your captive audiences to use Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays.

But don't do it with legislation. Better legislation would be to force people to stop denigrating the holiday with such greedy consumerism. But I don't support legislation for that, either.

So anyway--Happy Holidays, Senator Buttars. And Merry Christmas, too.




Thursday, December 04, 2008

Iran is as Democratic as the United States. You Shouldn't Be Surprised.

With the diabolical sneer of the Ayatollah Khomeini etched upon our minds, it's hard for us to imagine that Iran is democratic in the least. With George W. Bush having branded Iran as a charter member of the Axis of Evil, it's probably unpopular to think about such a possibility. But Iran is relatively democratic. When you compare recent presidential elections, you might be surprised to discover that, in its own way, Iran is as democratic as the United States.

That's really not saying much about the United States, though.

Prior to the 2005 Iranian presidential vote even occurring, George W. Bush had this to say about Iran.
Today, Iran is ruled by men who suppress liberty at home and spread terror across the world. Power is in the hands of an unelected few who have retained power through an electoral process that ignores the basic requirements of democracy.
If you substitute "United States" for "Iran" and "shock and awe" for "terrorism", you'd have a pretty ironically accurate description of the United States.

Quick--how many viable candidates did the United

It is unusual in an Iranian election for the voter turnout to fall below 70 percent. It's contrastingly unusual for voter turnout in the United States to exceed 50 percent. Maybe Iran is more democratic than we are...?

States have in the most recent presidential election--candidates that it seemed really belonged in the race? Six, seven? Maybe ten? Iran had eight in 2005. It was a surprise to the odds makers that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the election.

One of the worst things that could have happened for U.S.-Iranian relations and for political moderation in Iran is for George W. Bush to have added Iran as a charter member of the Axis of Evil. Woops! I guess that happened, didn't it?!

Over 1,000 Iranians aspired to become a presidential candidate in 2005. This was whittled down to 8 by the Guardian Council. We have the equivalent of a Guardian Council in the United States, but most of us don't realize it. It's called the Establishment, and its tool is the Mainstream Media. As the

We have a Guardian Council, and everyone knows them; you have one, too, but nobody knows them.

--Mehdi Rafsanjani

Guardian Council is the gatekeeper of political candidacy in Iran, so the Establishment Media performs nearly the same function in the U.S. Whereas the Guardian Council simply doesn't let you run for election, the Establishment Media either ignores you or destroys you.

It is unusual in an Iranian election for the voter turnout to fall below 70 percent. It's contrastingly unusual for voter turnout in the United States to exceed 50 percent. Voter apathy is a fairly good barometer of the health of a democracy. Many Americans have signed off from the political process because they feel it is largely a sham. Maybe Iran is more democratic than we are...?

Mehdi Rafsanjani, son of former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani, pointed out the ironic but (to most Americans) less than obvious reality.
We have a Guardian Council, and everyone knows them; you have one, too, but nobody knows them.
Actually, there are a few people who know about our "Guardian Council", and some of the even admit it. David Rockefeller is not bashful in this regard. He said:
For more than a century, ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as "internationalists" and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure - one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.
A lot of people I talk to see vaguely that we have a huge political problem in the United States, and that it involves both the Republican and Democrat parties. But most of these same people tell me that they are too busy or too afraid to delve into it and try to make a difference.

You know, though, if we plan to see any improvement in the United States economy and social environment, more of us need to not be scared and not be too busy. We need to discover the United States Guardian Council and route it out. Then and only then will we be able to say that we're more democratic than Iran.




Monday, December 01, 2008

Obama's Second Constitutional Crisis--And He's Not Even President Yet!!

The current "injury" is that Barack Obama may not meet Constitutional citizenship requirements for becoming President of the United States. To that we can now add an "insult". In a far more cut and dried case, Hillary Clinton cannot currently be appointed to serve as Secretary of State.

Darn it! That "[blankety-blank] piece of paper" is getting in the way again...

Hillary Clinton is a United States Senator. In her current term in the Senate,

Admittedly, it wouldn't be the first time that a president has used Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution to wipe his backside. Nixon did it, Carter did it, and Hillary's own husband did it. So, we can likely count on the Obama administration and its media patsies to pay about as much attention to this as they did to that little thing about the birth certificate.

the pay for the office of Secretary of State (among others) was raised. Senator Clinton is thereby disqualified from becoming Secretary of State--at least for now.

It's one of the clearest conflict-of-interest statements in the Constitution. Article I, Section 6 says:
No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.
Well, it does use the sexist term "he", so maybe Senator Clinton is exempted from this requirement...?

;-)

The "emoluments" of the office of Secretary of State were increased by executive order in January 2008, pursuant to the requirements of cost of living legislation. Well, at least now the Federal Reserve, with its inflationary tactics, has screwed someone else besides just us peons.

Senator

The "emoluments" of the office of Secretary of State were increased by executive order in January 2008, pursuant to the requirements of cost of living legislation. Well, at least now the Federal Reserve, with its inflationary tactics, has screwed someone else besides just us peons.

Clinton was first elected to the Senate in 2000. She was re-elected in 2006. Her current term lasts for four more years. Senator Clinton cannot, therefore, become Secretary of State until 2013 at the earliest.

Do Barack Obama and his transition team not know about these things? Or is the Constitution just as much a "[blankety-blank] piece of paper" to them as it is to George W. Bush?" And was it planned that way?

Admittedly, it wouldn't be the first time that a president has used Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution to wipe his backside. Nixon did it, Carter did it, and Hillary's own husband did it. So, we can likely count on the Obama administration and its media patsies to pay about as much attention to it as they did about that birth certificate thing.

Barack Obama has already been party to two Constitutional crises, and he's not even president yet. Holy cow! This is portending to be a long and bumpy ride.

Don't worry, though. You can go back to watching Dancing with the Stars.




Sunday, November 30, 2008

The U.S. Doctrine of Pre-Emption vs. The Book of Mormon Doctrine of Self-Defense

Modern-day America has been styled recently by both Republican and Democratic governments as the savior of the world. The natural result of such illogic is to claim that whatever America does is right. Out of this supposed inability to do wrong was hatched the "Doctrine of Pre-Emption"--or, in other words, to attack "them" before "they" attack us. The United States government would be more successful if it heeded the Doctrine of Self-Defense as advocated in the Book of Mormon.

The United States has employed the doctrine of pre-emption to some degree for decades now, but it has been most used blatantly by the George W. Bush administration. It is now, therefore, more commonly known as the Bush Doctrine. As fine-tuned by Bush's National Security Council, the Doctrine of Pre-Emption is this:

The security environment confronting the United States today is radically different from what we have faced before. Yet the first duty of the United States Government remains what it always has been: to protect the American people and American interests. It is an enduring American principle that this duty obligates the government to anticipate and counter threats, using all elements of national power, before the threats can do grave damage. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction – and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. There are few greater threats than a terrorist attack with WMD.

To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively in exercising our inherent right of self-defense.

It wasn't always that way. The United States started out as a country that wisely avoided entangling alliances. But then we started involving ourselves in military alliances and police actions on the other side of the globe. We have now comfortably mired ourselves in the geography and the affairs of the Middle East. As time marches on, the claim that virtually anything in the world is considered "an American interest" has become the further ironic result of American pre-emptive action.

The Doctrine of Self-Defense runs contrary to the doctrine of attacking them before they attack us. Moroni, ancient American Captain of the Nephite armies, understood that proper self-defense can never be pre-emptive. There must be an offense first. In The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Moroni did teach that war is sometimes necessary:
47 And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion.
Additionaly, though, he taught that we should join war only when an offense has been committed against us, not simply when we can imagine a potential one. Therefore, it wasn't until after
the armies of the Lamanites had gathered together in the land of Antionum [that] the armies of the Nephites...prepared to meet them in the land of Jershon.
Integral to the Doctrine of Self Defense is a reliance on God--not so that we can feel justified in launching a crusade against our enemies, but rather so that God will protect us when our enemies ultimately attack us. Lachoneus, the governor of the Nephite nation, taught this critical concept to his people.
12 Now behold, this Lachoneus, the governor, was a just man, and could not be frightened by the demands and the threatenings of a robber; therefore he did not hearken to the epistle of Giddianhi, the governor of the robbers, but he did cause that his people should cry unto the Lord for strength against the time that the robbers should come down against them.
Contrarily, the Bush Administration (as well as some previous administrations) has determined that since we are somehow God's chosen country, we can imagine or provoke any offense at all, in order that we can attack anyone we want to. We're not the first land with such foolish dreams of empire.

The Nephite populace of Lachoneus's time had much less patience for the Doctrine of Self-Defense than did he and his military chiefs. The people petitioned their leaders to allow them to pre-emptively take care of the problem. Fortunately, however, the people had elected as their leaders individuals who were wiser and more patient than themselves.
20 Now the people said unto Gidgiddoni: Pray unto the Lord, and let us go up upon the mountains and into the wilderness, that we may fall upon the robbers and destroy them in their own lands.

21 But Gidgiddoni saith unto them: The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together, and we will not go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands.
The Doctrine of Pre-emption is conducive to lying, whereas the Doctrine of Self-Defense is not. The War in Iraq was purely pre-emptive, and it was based on a demonstrably false pre-emptive justification. Six years later, some of the same people that advocated a pre-emptive strike against Iraq are calling for a similar attack on Iran. Pre-emption seems to have given the United States the idea that it can play the part of the sandlot bully. If we'd heeded counsel from modern-day statesmen and stateswomen--similar to that of ancient American prophets--we would have never gotten involved in Iraq in the first place.

I believe that America has been and can be a great nation, but only if we serve God as he should be served. God has only ever sanctioned the Doctrine of Self-Defense. If we fight much longer according to the Doctrine of Pre-Emption, we as a nation are doomed.




Saturday, November 29, 2008

How Did The Price of Oil Get So High? And Why Is It Now So Low? The "Enron Loophole"

It's beginning to look like we've reached the bottom as far as gas prices go. That's okay with me, as long as it doesn't return to previously exorbitant rates. I'd rather spend my money on products like books and restaurant food than gasoline whose price has become overly inflated due to speculation. I suspect, however, that prices won't get so high as they did a few months ago--at least not for the reasons that they did back then. That loophole has been closed.

Update 11/30/2008
: I think it important to correctly identify for the financially flummoxed what laissez faire actually means. See below.

Back in June, Republicans were

It's more than coincidental that gasoline prices have gone down markedly since the Enron Loophole was closed on September 30th.

claiming that oil prices had been on the rise because Democrats were blocking off-shore drilling, but they didn't talk much at all about the upward effect on prices due to speculation and the prior deregulation thereof. Although I support U.S. off-shore drilling, because it would have an almost immediate downward impact on the world price of oil, the effect of speculation had a much greater impact on the fact that oil prices reached record levels in 2008, and this factor should not be overlooked.

In the following video, Keith Olbermann talks about how John McCain (or at least his advisors) supported what's come to be known as the Enron loophole, which unleashed the ability of speculators to corner markets and run up energy prices. Olbermann called it "a legalized form of insider trading" which "lets speculators overwhelm trading in oil futures." The result? A huge increase in your energy costs.


By being able to speculate on the future of oil prices, according to Olbermann, the speculators had driven up the price of oil to more than double what it was before the loophole was created, and this speculation had created the potential explosion of a large 'oil bubble'.

Has the bubble finally burst? Yes. Government, which encouraged the bubble in the first place, popped it before it got too large, by closing what's come to be known as The Enron Loophole.

Is deregulation of speculation a good thing? I don't think so--at least not nearly to the extent that the Enron Loophole allowed. It's obviously good not when it's employed by self-seeking shysters like Enron, who nearly brought California to its knees by speculating on electricity there. The robber barons of Enron essentially cornered the California market on energy, and they were able to drive up prices dramatically because of it.

The price of oil has been affected largely by the same type of speculation--until recently.

Speculators have not just been placing bets on the price of energy, they have been been largely able to control future prices in an effort to profit from their insider knowledge, according to Michael Greenberger, former chairman of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, who testified before a US Senate committee meeting on June 3, 2008. It was estimated that in the last two years prior to that, the average family spent at least an extra $1500 on energy due to such collaborative speculation. Speculation and its deregulation, according to George Soros, had allowed banks and other financial institutions to purchase and set aside larger reserves of petroleum than even the U.S. has in its entire national reserve.

The Enron Loophole was closed on September 30, 2008. Not long thereafter, gas prices started coming down precipitously (I'm still not sure why the price of diesel remains high). Obviously, other factors, such as declining demand in a weak worldwide economy, have contributed to the downward pressure. However, it's clear that speculative control of large swaths of the oil market caused its price to go up. It's more than coincidental that gasoline prices have gone down markedly since the Enron Loophole was closed on September 30th.

Update 11/30/2008: George Reisman has an intelligent warning to those who claim that laissez faire capitalism is the cause of such bubbles as the recent "oil bubble" and the financial crisis of 2008:
The mentality displayed in these statements is so completely and utterly at odds with the actual meaning of laissez faire that it would be capable of describing the economic policy of the old Soviet Union as one of laissez faire in its last decades. By its logic, that is how it would have to describe the policy of Brezhnev and his successors of allowing workers on collective farms to cultivate plots of land of up to one acre in size on their own account and sell the produce in farmers’ markets in Soviet cities.

Laissez-faire capitalism is a politico-economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and in which the powers of the state are limited to the protection of the individual’s rights against the initiation of physical force. This protection applies to the initiation of physical force by other private individuals, by foreign governments, and, most importantly, by the individual’s own government.