Showing posts from January, 2008

Hindu, Christianity, Islam: Is One Religion Better Than Another?

Hindu leader Rajan Zed has offered several prayers recently--in the US Senate, and in various state legislatures. This has prompted some people to claim that the United States is a Christian nation, and that such things as Hindu prayer in government or other public gatherings should not be allowed.

Do you agree? I sure don't.

Apparently in some states, legislative bodies have prohibited the invocation of the name of "Jesus Christ" in legislative session prayers. This has some people in those states frustrated that Hindu leader Rajan Zed has been allowed to cite the Hindu "Om" in his prayers in various legislative bodies.

I contacted the person at the Utah legislature who coordinates prayers in the Utah House and Senate, and I was very impressed with Utah's policy. Utah invites members of various denominations to offer prayers, and no judgment is made as to the content of the prayer. In keeping with this policy people have not been prevented from ending th…

Support Utah Senate Resolution 1 - Oppose the "Security and Prosperity Paroxysm"

Mixing bad apples with bad apples will accelerate the ruination of the entire bunch. The United States, even though it has wandered far from its Constitutional moorings, would be dragged into despondency by joining the Strategic Partnership for Prosperity Security and Prosperity Partnership. The people of Mexico and Canada are great people, but their governments, including the people who run them, suck. They will only be prosperous when they realize and rectify this fact.

These are the reasons why I support the Utah Senate's call for the United States to exit from the misnamed "Security and Prosperity Partnership". Except for the riches and control that will accrue to the elite few if it is passed, there is no prosperity nor security in such a partnership.

The Utah Senate is correct to encourage the United States Senate to reject the SPP, because it is, instead of being a recipe for prosperity, a prescription for disaster.

The first problem with the SPP is that it is g…

No Mosque for You!: Freedom of Religion or Freedom of Speech?

Sugarcreek Township, Ohio has decided, based on traffic and sewage impact, that they will not allow a mosque (smaller than the one pictured) to be built near an existing Baptist church. The reason for denial might be accurate, but it sounds like--regardless of other impacts--the mosque would not have been built anyway. Opponents are celebrating a supposed victory for freedom of speech. But what about the most important freedom--religion?

The first question I ask Boy Scouts whenever I teach the Citizenship in the nation merit badge is "What is the first freedom protected in the Bill of Rights?" What do you think? Speech, right? No, actually. The first part of the First Amendment to the US Constitution says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...
In the past couple of days, it appears that a group of Muslims' freedom of religion was thwarted. I don't know for sure, because a supposedly valid reason was given:
The board of zoning appeal…

Gordon B. Hinckley: A Tribute

Sometimes when you expect things, they don't happen. Other times, when you least expect them, they do. So it was tonight with the passing of LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley. We'll miss his example, his wit, and his impenetrable optimism.

We were just concluding an LDS stake priesthood meeting when our stake president stood before the closing prayer to announce the passing of President Hinckley. Through the wonders of modern technology--a smart phone "dialed in" to local news sites--we confirmed the reality of a very sad event. I smiled, though, as I thought that the only ones who are sad are we, the ones who will miss his wit and good cheer-he'll miss us, too, I'm sure, but he's now back with his sweetheart Marjorie. Tears of sorrow at being apart from his best friend have now transformed themselves into tears of joy.

By the time my son and I got home from our meeting, the other members of our family had learned of President Hinckley's pas…

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: Why I Support Utah House Bills 89 and 318

Currently it is legal in Utah to discriminate against someone in the workplace because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. I personally think it's a choice rather than an orientation, but I don't support discrimination against it either way. To respect someone's sexual orientation or gender identity does not encourage or condone public displays of homosexuality any more than it encourages public displays of heterosexuality. For this reason I support the healthy changes that are included in Utah House Bill 89.

Currently, as well, cohabiting couples are legally prohibited in Utah from adopting a child, regardless of any other circumstances. I think that the courts should be able to consider those other circumstances. Cohabiting couples, regardless of sexual orientation, are not necessarily unfit to be adoptive parents. Measures are already in place to ensure that any unfit adult will not be considered as fit to adopt a child. For this reason, I also suppor…

Stimulus Package: The American Economy Mocks Thee

Because for years they haven't been able to bring themselves to do what needs to be done, Congress today, in bi-partisan fashion, approved a "stimulus package" for the American economy. It will be scarcely a speed bump to an economy whose political inertia propels it pell-mell in the wrong direction. In other news, a hospital in middle America today helped a man who lost an arm by applying a regular-sized Band-Aid to his bloody stump.

Say it with me! "Stimulus package! Stimulus PACKAGE! STIMULUS PACKAGE!" Like a mantra. If only we all believe collectively, then today's $150 billion bandage applied to America's gaping economic wounds today will put us on the path to making us whole again.

There are certain things that government does that make me so frustrated that I could scream myself an aneurysm. This is one of them. President Bush called the Band-Aid very important.
"This package has the right set of policies and is the right size. It wi…

Presidential Campaign 2008: Which Candidate Would Be Least Like George W. Bush?

I don't think there are very many people left in America who really like the job that President George W. Bush is doing. I certainly don't. If you're in my camp, you should probably be voting for the candidate who, regardless of political affiliation, is least like Bush. Who is that candidate? Ron Paul. Now that would be the real change that all the other candidates are talking about.

Alternet has some pretty somber words about our next president. He or she will probably be a lot like George W. Bush.
The political calendar indicates that in one more year – on Jan. 20, 2009 – the presidency of George W. Bush will come to an end. However, the worst consequences of his disastrous reign, including the Iraq War, may be nowhere near ending.I hope we Americans are more vigilant than that.

Considering that hardly anyone approves of Bush's performance as president, who should we elect as our new president to ensure that we don't have the same failed policies, both foreign…

More Trappings for the Utah Legislative Aristocracy

As if lobbying gifts aren't enough, now it comes out that Utah legislators are converting leftover campaign funds for personal use. That's pretty embarrassing. Is the fact that one makes less in the legislature than in his or her private job excuse enough to pay one's self from one's campaign funds? Nope.

A recent Utah poll indicated that Utah legislators were rather out of step when it comes to lobbying gifts (bribes). Most Utahns think such 'gifts' should be either severely curtailed or banned. Most legislators (and more Republican legislators than Democrat legislators) have disagreed up to this point. I'll bet a poll of Utahns would similarly indicate contrary feelings about legislators' application of campaign funds for personal use.
While campaign finance reform bills have been introduced in the past, major reforms continue to die. No bill has yet been filed in the 2008 Legislature that would curtail the unregulated fundraising and spending of …

Property Rights 101 for the Residents of Springville and Mapleton Utah

Two different events that occurred in Utah County in the past few days have made me concerned. Both deal with a failure to respect property rights. One incident illustrates a lack of government integrity in following through with a commitment. The other relates to a tendency toward mobocracy--a lack of respect for private property by others. Is it just a coincidence that two such episodes occured in such close time proximity to each other in nearly the same place? I hope so.

Note: I'm assuming that the facts I've been able to find in local newspapers are accurate and are representing both sides of the issue. If you know any details that haven't been reported, please let me know.

I have friends in Springville and Mapleton, and some of them might have been involved in either or both of the recent property rights incidents there, so I hope I don't offend them. That's not my point. Rather, my point is to clarify the principles by which I think we should all abid…

Is There a Place in Politics for Trash Talk?

I'm know I'm occasionally guilty of it (and my 'favorite' trash talking subject is Man-Caused Global Warming), so I need to get better at taking my own medicine, but I don't think trash talking has any place in politics, any more than I think it has any place in sports.

I once stopped playing in a basketball game because a guy on my team was huffing and puffing at someone on the other team. It's completely inappropriate. Rush Limbaugh is the political epitome of trash talk, so I don't listen to him much. Just as trash talkers desecrate the games of sports, so do political trash talkers desecrate politics, which is NOT a game. For me it's all about being fair. Political trash talking is not fair, and neither is the political secrecy that often accompanies it.

I teach my kids that they can tease each other from time to time as long as (a) it is meant in fun, and (b) it does not annoy the other person. After that it's trash talk.

Greg Allen and I ha…

Should Utah Give Delta Airlines a Tax Break?

Delta Airlines is on hard times, and is thinking about moving its hub out of Salt Lake City. Utah Republican legislators are thinking about giving Delta a tax break in an effort to entice them to keep their hub here. I think that smacks of unsound government. What do you think?

For once I'm with Governor Huntsman on this one--sort of. The Deseret News is reporting that the governor is in disagreement with GOP legislators on the issue:

Speaking Wednesday to the Deseret Morning News editorial board, Senate President John Valentine, R-Orem, said GOP senators like the idea of changing the corporate income tax to give specific breaks to the transportation industry, which would include Delta Air Lines, which has its Western hub in Utah.

The governor warned, as valuable an asset as Delta is to Utah, state officials still must be careful not to get into a tax-cutting bidding war that could ultimately harm state revenues so much that it would not be worth it.This is where my "sort-of…

Economic Failure: Following in the Footsteps of the Soviet Union

America is sick. We have no money, yet we are trying to solve everyone's problems--at home and abroad--with reckless abandon. According to the Government Accounting Office, to absolve America of the debt that our federal government currently owes, every single person in America would have to pay $140,000 right now. Where are you going to get that kind of spare change? Wait a minute...where are you ever going to get that much extra money in your whole life? Does that give you the idea that we have to do something drastic--and fast??

In the 1980's, the United States underwent an arms race with the Soviet Union. But that's not all. We sabotaged their efforts to bring natural gas to Europe, and we encouraged the Saudis to glut the world oil market so that the price of oil would go down. The result? The Soviet Union is no more. Socialism and empire building could not keep pace with the freedom of markets when it came to generating wealth--they never could, and they nev…

Note to Reagan Haters: Grenada Wasn't "Easy"

In today's polarized American political climate, I occasionally hear people claim that Ronald Reagan overstepped his bounds when calling for the attack on the tiny island of Grenada. They say that it was too "easy". I disagree on both counts. War is never too easy, and true to form, neither was Grenada. Here are some facts about Grenada that you may not have known.

Following the successful rescue mission to Grenada by US Military forces in October 1983, liberals scoffed at Ronald Reagan because it seemed to them like an 800-pound gorilla had just beaten a helpless child. Tell that to the 19 service members who lost their lives and the approximately 100 who were wounded. It was only because liberals didn't care to understand both sides of the issue that they made such baseless claims, which claims gave aid and comfort to our erstwhile Soviet enemy.

As the Iranian Hostage rescue mission, known as Desert One, indicates, even the best laid plans turn out some times n…

Republican Stranglehold On Lobbying Gifts May Be Over!

What do you get when one party remains in power for too long? A jaded bureaucracy. A party that can't see that something so clearly wrong is wrong. Based on the Utah populace's evolving opinion on lobbying gifts, however, the Republican party will either start seeing the wrong, or they may be thrown out of office on their ears.

Maybe I should be a Democrat. I agree with them on a lot of things. My dad was a Democrat. My mom was, too, but I think she is more unaffiliated with any party these days.

One of the silliest conventions in the Utah State Legislature is the constant refusal to remove, on the whole, the greatest conflict of interest in the Legislature, the bribe, otherwise known as the legislative--or lobbying--gift. While Democrats haven't been completely immune to the siren song of bribes, they have been on the forefront of trying to either abolish or severely limit bribes in the Legislature, while the republican 'good-ole-boy' network has grown quite …

Olene Walker Housing Fund Ensures Lack of Affordable Housing

When the free market doesn't cater to the masses, it is usually because the "market" really isn't "free". That usually means that government has got its fingers into something that it shouldn't have. Government involvement in the economy nearly always creates perverse incentives. The state of Utah could definitely learn something from India when it comes to making it possible for everyone to afford the market.

The Utah Un-Affordable Housing Market

Although the demand for affordable housing in Utah is at an all-time high, Utah home builders can't meet that demand. I'm sure there are other reasons, but the main reason? The Olene Walker Housing [Grant and] Loan Fund.
With the approval last week of $7.4 million for 13 projects — the fund's single-largest payout that will bring 700 units in the low-income market — the Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund has $200,000 to spend between now and mid-2008. The joint state and federal fund will be repleni…

New Republic Does Amateur Work in its "Ron Paul is a Racist" Smear Campaign

Ron Paul didn't do too badly in New Hampshire last night, but a lot of people expected him to poll about 5% higher. I found out a possible reason. A carefully timed smear campaign by The New Republic magazine. It would be interesting to find out how many New Hampshire voters had planned to vote for Ron Paul, but who changed their votes after they heard the screedish claim that Ron Paul must be a homophobic, secessionist, anti-Semitic racist.

Update 1/18/2008: Ilana Mercer observes that Beltway Libertarians are screaming bloody murder because Ron Paul doesn't bow to them.

How does one recover from the lowest of blows, wherein, with no time to respond, someone tells the vilest of lies about you, and it affects your presidential campaign at what was expected to be one of its brightest points? Good ultimately prevails, so I believe that the Ron Paul campaign will recover. And the ultimate truth will be told. Ron Paul is NOT a racist. Ron Paul is NOT a homophobe. Ron Paul is…

What is a True "Conservative"?

I've often wondered whether I am a conservative or not. I guess it's because I'm not sure if I know the definition--or at least the definition that everyone agrees on. Well, now I've been called one, so I guess I better find out what it is.

I know a conservative is someone that conserves (or is in favor of conserving) something. I always assumed that if I were a Conservative it meant that I was in favor of conserving the principles enshrined in the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Then, several years ago, when hard-line Soviet Communists were trying to depose Mikhail Gorbachev, they were described by the American press as Conservatives. That threw me into a conundrum. If that's what a conservative is--to conserve what currently exists--then throw this baby out with the bathwater!!

This morning in his Post of the Week, Bob Aagard at The World According to Me, linked to my recent post, "Why Utah Mormons Fell for George W. Bush&qu…

Why Utah Mormons Fell for George W. Bush

Hopefully most Utahns who voted for George W. Bush in 2004 realize by now that they made a cataclysmic mistake. Whether they do or not, they probably still don't know how the charlatan pied piper of Midland wooed them with his siren song. My opinion? He got them where they are most vulnerable--God, patriotism, and compassion.

I recognized George H. W. Bush for the establishment wonk that he was, and I didn't vote for him in 1988. Rotten fruit doesn't fall far from the tree, so I wasn't even tempted to support his dashing son, George W. Bush.

It is surprising, if only in retrospect, that so many Utahns supported this charlatan for president. But, having the presence of hindsight to guide my analysis, I think I know why. There are three reasons.

God. The Book of Mormon, considered by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to be additional scripture, is replete with wars between the usually pagan group called Lamanites and the usually god-fearing…