Thursday, January 31, 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 their prayers "in the name of Jesus Christ". This is a healthy policy. I'm not sure how other states think that this policy wouldn't work for them. Since it doesn't apparently work, some Christians think that Hindus shouldn't be able to specifically invoke their god (or absolute essence) either.

In the US Senate, Mr. Zed was unceremoniously disrespected as he began his prayer. They exclaimed
Lord Jesus, forgive us, Father, for allowing the prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight
Holy cow! That is just plain rude. Jesus probably needs to forgive them for interrupting someone else's prayer.

No religion is "more equal" than any other, despite what we might think. Is the United States a "Christian nation"? Many of the American Founders were Christian, but the answer to that question is "Absolutely not." We are a nation that encourages freedom of religion. Additionally, no religious test can be required for public office. So what gives with some of these bigoted Christians?

The solution is not--like crabs pulling another crab back into the pot--to demand that Hindus, Muslims, and others can't pray to god in their own way. The solution is to realize that if Christians expect to be able to pray in their fashion, so should everyone else.

I am surprised by some of the Christianocentric statements that are being uttered across America. Such as
David Barton, president of WallBuilders, a foundation that researches and promotes the Christian origination of American law and culture, said the Hindu belief in multiple gods contradicts the U.S. motto of "One Nation Under God."

He said it also conflicts with the historic references in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence to the Creator.

"We don't know which creator we're talking about within the Hindu religion," he said.
What??? So? How should that matter?

How about this one by Judge Roy Moore:
...there is only one true God and, unless our national motto is in vain, it is 'in God' that we and our forefathers have always trusted," Moore wrote. "When a nation embraces apostasy by rejecting God or embracing a false religion like Hinduism or Islam, it is God who renders judgment."
I thought I knew Roy Moore better. If he really said that, then he's got some serious problems.

I like the American Family Association as well, but apparently it thinks that you don't have a good family if you aren't Christian:
Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, told the San Francisco Chronicle that it remains a mystery to whom Zed was praying.

"I don't know if he even knows who he's praying to," he said. "We're not opposed to the ability of people to worship their own gods or god, but when it comes to our civil government … it's always been the recognition of the God of the Bible. Every religion is not equal. That's my belief. That's logic."
Mr. Wildmon, you're partly right--that is your belief. But it is far from logical. And, by the way, you're wrong.

I happen to be a Christian. I happen to be a Mormon as well, if you hadn't already noticed. ;-) But that doesn't mean that I think anyone who is not a Mormon is going to burn in hell. How should I know? There are a lot of people in other religions who are much better people than I.

I'm not perfect, but I try to respect all other religions as equal to my own. Do I believe that my religion is the only true one? Yes. But that's my belief. It can't necessarily be considered logical. Because you probably think your religion is the only true one as well.

And that's just fine. I can respect that. And I don't mind you praying about it either.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

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 gradually taking on the force of law, although it has never received consideration by the US Congress. This executive usurpation is reason by itself for impeaching George W. Bush. Utah Senate Resolution 1 points out the dangerous nature of the SPP.
37 WHEREAS, the SPP claims to be nothing more than "dialogue", yet requests made
38 under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) produce thousands of pages from the SPP office
39 in the U.S. Department of Commerce alone, which prove that the U.S. administration has
40 cooperated with Mexico and Canada on a broad range of policy issues, is rewriting U.S. law,
41 and appointing ministers, without public disclosure and Congressional approval;
Secondly, such a partnership ignores one of the United States' largest problems--illegal immigration.
42 WHEREAS, FOIA-released documents and information posted on government
43 websites indicate a wide range of SPP administrators from the Departments of State,
44 Commerce, Homeland Security, Energy, Treasury, Agriculture, Transportation, Trade, Health,
45 and Human Services are actively involved in harmonizing and integrating U.S. administrative
46 law with the administrative laws and regulations of Canada and Mexico;
It's very likely that the SPP is the reason why protection of America's borders has languished.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the SPP will destroy the United States Constitution.
47 WHEREAS, the gradual creation of a North American Community or North American
48 Union patterned after the European Union, from a merger of the United States, Mexico, and
49 Canada would be a direct threat to the United States Constitution and the national
50 independence of the United States;
Which country has the greatest governmental structure in the world? The answer is, of course, the United States of America. The structure may be profound, but government in the United States is not conducted as it was designed to be, which is all the more reason not to join a "partnership" of governments. Joining together with Canada and Mexico in such a partnership will only bring paroxysms.

Instead, let's have a race with Canada and Mexico to see who can get their own house cleaned up first, and then maybe we can talk about a partnership.

Governments are about securing the blessings of liberty to a country's citizens. The United States used to be pretty good at this. Canada has never been more than mediocre. Mexico's government is a travesty. Governments are not about burying liberties in an amalgamation of red tape, which is clearly what the SPP would do. It must be stopped. I salute the Utah Senate for having the courage to recommend a healthy action to the United States Senate--to reject the SPP. Americans, Mexicans, and Canadians will all be much better off.

It's too bad that state legislatures don't still appoint their states' US Senators, because then Utah could recall its congressional appointees if they don't evangelize for exit from the SPP.

The next best thing, though, is to let our representatives in Washington D.C. know that the people of Utah are concerned about a distinct loss of liberty. Contact your Utah Senator or Representative and urge them to support SR1.

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 appeals in Sugarcreek Township, Ohio, insists its 5-0 vote against a variance request that would have permitted the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton to build the mosque was not influenced by the local First Baptist Church. The rejection, officials say, was based only on the expected sewage and traffic impact, the Dayton Daily News reported.
But here's the interesting part. The pastor of the Baptist Church had this to say:
"We just feel that Christianity is right and that Islam is wrong," Jude told the Daily News. "Therefore, we take a stand to see (a mosque) not in our community. The wonderful thing about our American culture is that you have the right to speak out against something you don't support."
You know what? When I read a quote like that, I'll just bet that the impact on the traffic and sewer system wouldn't have been that overwhelming after all.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

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 passing. We thought it appropriate to sit down with the kids and reminisce about a very unique and shining life, and to talk about what he had taught us.

For our three youngest, including the 3rd oldest, who was born in May 1995, Gordon B. Hinckley is the only church prophet they have ever known. "I don't know why I'm crying," our middle child said to us, as she learned of his death.

We are only slightly saddened at Gordon B. Hinckley's passing. Because the things that he taught us most remind us that sadness is only transitory.

"But we do," my wife told her, and it's okay to cry. We've shed some tears ourselves.

Here are some of the things I remember about President Hinckley:
  • He always had a sense of humor. I best remember his "knighting" of President Henry B. Eyring in the most recent LDS general conference, and his pointing out at a Halloween devotional address to to BYU students and faculty last year that we was wearing a wicked cool jack-o-lantern tie.
  • He loved the greatness of America and the good things it stood for, like charity, hard work, and integrity. His travels to other countries always brought him home with a renewed sense of love for the USA.
  • He loved everyone. It didn't matter if they were kings or if they lived in a ramshackle hut, he loved them.
  • He served in the church for nearly all his life. When other prophets were dwindling in their old-aged faculties, Gordon B. Hinckley performed so many of the administrative affairs of the church.
  • Gordon B. Hinckley made it fashionable to discuss religion in the public square. He made the doctrines and practices of the LDS Church open to the world. He complimented the world for the goodness that their religions offered, and he invited them to learn more about his.
  • He always had time for his family. No matter how rigorous his church calling in life, he always made time to be a father, to attend his children's events, to provide for them, and to let them know how important they were to him.
We--my family and I--are only slightly saddened at Gordon B. Hinckley's passing. We'll miss his ever optimistic example, for sure. But the things that he taught us most remind us that sadness is only transitory, and that because life is eternal, all our sadnesses will ultimately transition into joy. So, we're happy for Gordon Hinckley, and we celebrate that he has written the final chapter of a life excellently lived.

"Are we going to go play basketball as a family in the morning?" my daughter asked, as we usually do play ball together on Monday mornings. I said "Sure, do you want to?" She said, very quietly wiping back tear, "Yes, because that would make me happy."

President Hinckley would want it that way.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

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 support the improvements to Utah State law that are a part of Utah House Bill 318.


When it comes to discrimination in Utah workplaces and other public places, current law includes the following categories as "protected" against discrimination (HB 89 would substitute the word "covered" for the term "protected"):
(a) race;
(b) color;
(c) sex;
(d) retaliation;
(e) pregnancy, childbirth, or pregnancy-related conditions;
(f) age;
(g) religion;
(h) national origin; [or]
(i) disability[.];
To this list, HB 89 would add sexual orientation and gender identity. As I try to imagine myself in the shoes of someone whose sexuality is oriented--or whose gender is identified--differently

They are people, too, who cannot hurt anyone by what they believe or feel.

than I think it should be, I can understand why that orientation or identification should be covered against discrimination. Because they are people, too, who cannot hurt anyone by what they believe or feel.

Just because they are covered, though, the law does not give them the right to flaunt their sexuality in public, any more than it gives a heterosexual individual the right to flaunt his or hers. It does not give such persons any preference at all--in fact the law would also be modified by HB 89 to make that very clear. It simply puts them on the same footing as other individuals. I think this is only fair. As the bill says:
556 (d) (i) This chapter may not be interpreted to require...
575 (e) An employer, employment agency, labor organization, vocational school, joint
576 labor-management committee, or apprenticeship program subject to this chapter [to]:
577 (i) adopt or implement a system under which a specific number or percentage of
578 persons are employed or selected to participate in a program on the basis of sexual orientation
579 or gender identity; or
580 (ii) give a preference to an individual on the basis of sexual orientation or gender
581 identity.
If I disagree with your politics, it shouldn't be a disqualification from me hiring you for employment.
Why then should an opinion regarding sexual orientation or gender identity be a disqualification? People can disagree on a whole host of things and still like each other.


My reservations about HB 318--or any potential legislation that might be like it--were these.
  • The implication that all homosexual adults would by the legislation be considered fit parents.
  • That the institution of marriage would be denigrated by this change in the law.
And then I read the bill. And I changed my mind. Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck, the sponsor of the bill, has done a marvelous job in the bill of balancing and recognizing the various interests that lead to a healthy society.

First of all, no attempt is made in the legislation to denigrate marriage between a man and a woman. In fact, existing language in the law is actually strengthened in that regard. Instead of alternate relationships being denigrated, legal marriage is affirmed as generally that "which is in a child's best interest".
100 (3) (a) The Legislature specifically finds that it is [not] in a child's best interest to be
101 adopted by a person or persons who are [cohabiting in a relationship that is not a legally valid
102 and binding marriage under the laws of this state] legally married.
Secondly, several methods are already in place to ensure that the child's best interests continue to be considered during adoption proceedings. All of that verbiage

I can think of quite a few situations that would be far more detrimental to the interests of the child.

is kept in place (see below), but is modified slightly to include non-traditional families only when such would be in the child's best interest.
70 the division or child-placing agency shall place the child with a man and a woman who are
71 married to each other, unless:
72 (a) there are no qualified married couples who:
73 (i) have applied to adopt a child;
74 (ii) are willing to adopt the child; and
75 (iii) are an appropriate placement for the child;
76 (b) the child is placed with a relative of the child;
78 relationship with the child;
79 (d) the child is placed with a person who:
80 (i) is selected by a parent or former parent of the child, if the parent or former parent
81 consented to the adoption of the child; and
82 (ii) the parent or former parent described in Subsection [(4)] (3)(d)(i):
83 (A) knew the person with whom the child is placed before the parent consented to the
84 adoption; or
85 (B) became aware of the person with whom the child is placed through a source other
86 than the division or the child-placing agency that assists with the adoption of the child; or
87 (e) it is in the best interests of the child to place the child [with a single person] in
88 another placement.
Is it conceivable that a child's best interest would be to continue to live with a cohabiting adult couple? In many situations, no, but in some cases yes. How about if that cohabiting couple is a homosexual couple? Again, in many situations, no, but in some cases yes.

I can think of quite a few situations that would be far more detrimental to the interests of the child.
. . .

Some people worry about what might happen after the proverbial camel gets his nose under the tent. In politics and society, we can't worry about that (usually such worries are unfounded anyway). We should, rather, consider what is, in each instance, fair and just. House Bills 89 and 318 help to foster that fairness and justice for all Utahns.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

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 will lead to higher consumer spending and more business incentives this year."
Yes, a little important. For a minute important. (About as important as Bush will be next January 20th.) But nothing will change, because we have yet to modify our suicidal domestic economic policies that got us where we are. A $150 billion "stimulus package" is to America's economy nothing but a light snack. It will stomp this "stimulus package" dead in a couple of weeks and then move on, undaunted, toward oblivion, its $53 trillion of unfunded expenditures gallantly in tow.

Congress, not to be perceived as not doing something, no matter how stupid, quickly asked President Bush where they were supposed to sign on to this panacea for America's economic ills.
Under pressure from the White House for swift action, leaders from both parties have agreed in principle to tax rebates which amount to between $300 and $600 per person.
Actually, I've been hearing that our economy is doing splendidly lately. In light of that good news, this stimulus package should help me be able to afford my own beach house in

A $150 billion "stimulus package" is to America's economy nothing but a light snack. It will stomp this "stimulus package" dead in a couple of weeks. The US teat can not be a source of infinite sustenance for everyone.

California, a new Lear jet, and season tickets to the New York Yankees!!

The American economy is on the verge of going down in flames. The only stimulus package that will help is for Congress to get its act together and make the tough decisions that it needs to. The US teat can not be a source of infinite sustenance for everyone, because that sustenance must first be taken from the finite amount of goods and services that everyone produces. Mao Tse Tung would almost be proud of the American experiment in near-total government.

The size of government has burgeoned far beyond healthy. The amount of money that the Federal Government spends is a disgrace. We have got to have more sensible policy in Washington D.C.

Any presidential candidate who tells you otherwise is a dolt. Any presidential candidate who thinks that today's stimulus band-aid is even a good stop-gap measure doesn't deserve your vote.

Congress: stop taking all our money. A freight train of disaster is bearing down full speed on the United States. Cut taxes now. Cut spending now. That is the stimulus package that the American economy needs. That is the only stimulus package that will work.

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 and domestic?

Alternet narrows it down a bit.
Today’s presidential frontrunners, John McCain and Hillary Clinton, were early prominent supporters of the Iraq War and appear to have suffered little political damage for lining up behind Bush in 2002 when he was at the peak of his power.
So we clearly cannot choose the goblet that has been placed in front of them.

Thompson, Kucinich, Richardson, Biden, and Hunter are gone, so let's not consider them either. And it looks like Democrats are coalescing away from Edwards as well.

How about Giuliani? Are you kidding? He's got an itchier trigger finger than Bush!

Barak Obama? He's got a much better stance than Bush on the war in Iraq and the War on Terror, but his domestic (social welfare) policies would drive America into the ground.

Mike Huckabee? He's a bit more of a socialist than I first thought, and he thinks the war on terror is going just fine.

Mitt Romney? He likes the Guantanamo idea. In fact he'd build more. He tries to sound like Bush more than any other candidate.

That's just about everyone, right, media?

Every candidate is almost exactly like George W. Bush. Except one. Ron Paul is the only candidate who is markedly different that President Bush in both foreign and domestic policy.

Did I forget someone? Oh that's right! The guy who has bested Giuliani in nearly every Republican primary so far. What was his name again? Ron...something?

The War on Terror has been conducted beneath a penumbra of disgraceful politics. The home front economy is in a shambles. It all happened (or got much worse) under George W. Bush. Every candidate is just like George W. Bush (or worse) in either their foreign or their domestic policy (and sometimes both).

Except one.

There is only one candidate who is markedly different that President Bush on both counts. He would make a fabulous President. So when you go to that balloting station, please...

...please support Ron Paul.

Or we're in for at least four more looooooooooong years.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

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 legislative campaign cash.

Meanwhile, Utah continues to have one of the nation's most wide-open set of campaign laws.

State candidates can raise campaign money from anyone, in any amount. They can spend the money in any amount on any legal activity or purchase. The only requirement is disclosure — they must say where they got donations of more than $50 and list all their expenditures. It's legal to give campaign money to themselves, with the only requirement that they pay income taxes on the gifts.
Want to avoid that conflict of interest of having a lobbyist pay for a front-row Jazz ticket for you? That's easy--just pay for it yourself...out of your campaign funds, which probably came from the same lobbyists that would have taken you to the Jazz game in the first place. Because you deserve it!!
Analysis shows that about 98 percent of the $848,000 in campaign money donated to legislators during the nonelection 2007 year came from special interests such as corporations, lobbyists and political action committees.
Did your car break down? Campaign funds will take care of that! Who cares if you already get a per diem for being in the legislature. You deserve it!

Does that pesky legislative job not pay as much as your civilian job? Campaign funds to the rescue!

Campaign gifts, mostly from the same lobbyists who lavish the legislators with

The reason legislators keep so many campaign funds is because they can. Utah campaign finance laws are some of the most lax in the country. But they deserve it..because they're the aristocracy, right?

lunches, hunts, and Jazz games, have been used for all of these purposes and more.

How about giving money to a different candidate. Not so bad, but the people who donated to you donated to you. How about giving money to your husband to run for a completely different political office?'s legal, isn't it? ;-)

While we're fixing the day-to-day lobbying gift problem, why don't we fix the other one as well. Campaign donations, in addition to being reported, as is already required, should not be transferrable, except for specifically designated causes.

Repaying yourself for previous personal loans to your campaign? That's legitimate. Buying clothes for yourself and your spouse? That's not.

It appears, by the way, the a lot more of these gift-getters have an "R" by their names than those who have a "D". But regardless of party affiliation, what can be going on in these people's minds? Someone interviewed by the Deseret News stated that
...the main reason so many politicians raise so much money — year after year even if they don't have an election — "is because they can. Lobbyists are always willing to give, in part to keep up good relations" with a legislator.
Do they think they deserve it? Maybe so, because, after all they're the Utah aristocracy...aren't they?

Monday, January 21, 2008

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 abide.

Government Should Not Go Back on Its Word

Nearly a year ago, apparently, the Springville, Utah City Council approved ceding thirteen acres of land to the neighboring city of Spanish Fork so that developer Cody Roberts could develop one large tract of his land instead of having to work the details out with two different city councils. Recently, after Roberts had spent $220,000 in engineering costs for the combined 80-acre development, a representative of Springville contacted him and told him that he needed to appear at the next city council meeting, because his request had never been finalized. At the next city council meeting, his request of the previous year was denied by a vote of 4-1.

I'm sure there's more to the other side of the story, but as it stands, I can't imagine how a city would lead someone on for nearly a year and then pull the rug out from under them. Sure, Roberts can still develop the other 67 acres in Spanish Fork, but the main point here is that even government is expected to have integrity. The answer to my surprise appears to be that Springville governmental leaders have suddenly become afraid that granting de-annexation would have caused others to approach the council with similar requests, despite the fact that there haven't been any other such requests in at least the last two years.
The mayor and council members felt differently, saying a change in the southern boundary for Roberts might cause others to ask for a border adjustment.

"I don't see any reason why this should happen and, frankly, I get concerned about the domino effect," said Mayor Gene R. Mangum, in Tuesday's meeting. "One piece of property after another and pretty soon the Spanish Fork boundary is going to be right here on our front door. It's 13 acres of Springville's future that you're asking us to give to Spanish Fork."
It shows a lack of integrity to go back on an agreement that has already been made, despite what reasons my now seem pertinent. The above statements by members of Springville city government make Springville's case worse.

If Springville wants to regain its integrity, their city council should apologize to Cody Roberts and finalize the agreement that they made last February.

Not Even a Mob Can Negate Rights to the Use of Property

Mapleton, Utah residents are up in arms because the City attempted to change a zoning designation so that a developer could build homes on his property. They filed a lawsuit
against Mapleton when the city was poised to rezone [Wendell] Gibby's land...from a critical environmental zone to a planned development on which Gibby could build 47 single-family residential units on his 118-acre property.

Lundberg and other Mapleton residents opposed the city's actions and circulated a petition that gathered 864 signatures requesting a referendum on the issue. City officials said the rezone was not referable. In response, Lundberg obtained a temporary restraining order, barring City Council from taking action on the rezone until the case was decided in court.

"In this case, the rights of the citizens have been abused and trampled on by Mapleton," he said.
I disagree. It's not the residents' rights who are about to be trampled. Utah, to include Mapleton, already has a plethora of land in "critical environmental zones"; it's called Federal Land. What several hundred residents of Mapleton wish to do is to trample on the rights of a property owner.

If Dr. Gibby got the land through unlawful means, then he should be forced to give it back to its rightful owner. Considering that that does not seem to be the case, Dr. Gibby should be able to use his land as he sees fit. If I lived in Mapleton, I probably wouldn't want Dr. Gibby to take away my view and scar the mountainside either, but how would that be my choice?

Nearly 900 residents have signed a petition requesting a referendum on the subject. Referenda are allowed in a limited number of situations in Utah. I'm not sure, but it doesn't appear that this should be one of those situations. But that's not the main point. The main point is that several hundred Mapleton residents have it in their mind to dictate what someone else can do with his property.

I remember a fair number of examples in Utah over the years when people built homes in the area of a long-existing cattle farm and then complained to have the farm removed. Now, something new and even scarier is afoot--property rights ruled generally by petition. If such politics is allowed to take off, there is no logical end to the carnage.
. . .

When it comes to private property, there are few things worse than the determination of its use by mobocracy, as currently seems to be happening in Mapleton. On that subject, there's only one thing that I can think of that's worse. We've got too much of that already, as illustrated by recent events in Springville.

Friday, January 18, 2008

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 had an excellent conversation this morning on The Right Balance about the importance of decorum in politics. I've learned a great deal from Greg over the past several months about this subject, which has informed my political ambitions.

Greg Allen is a consummate man of fair play, and a wide variety of people respect him for it. I need to get better at being fair. This morning I told Greg of an apology I made here on SUMP for incorrectly throwing all liberals into one bucket. I pointed out to him--like he needs me to tell him--that there are a great number of Democrats (traditionally I'm a Republican) that are upstanding, and that there are a great number of Republicans who aren't. No party has a

Politics is not a game. Members of the opposition party are not the enemy.

monopoly on goodness. Nearly every person has a story to tell or a point to make, and nearly every story or point is worth listening to.

I have been recently disappointed by my political party, in such areas as blind support for the Gods of war and empire, threatening fellow Republican legislators that if they didn't vote for education vouchers they would have less favors come their way, and being no longer able to see that a bribe is a bribe.

But then again, there are a lot of areas in which I don't agree with Democrats, particularly in the area of social welfare. I think private individuals need to take care of their fellow man, rather than government.

Are there too many Republicans in the Utah legislature? If the answer is based on how well they listen to the people and how well they coalesce with legislative Democrats on critical issues, then...Yes, there are too many Republicans. But that could be fixed by more Republicans being responsible to their constituents and less enamored by their office.

What is a good Republican? In many ways it's the same thing as a good Democrat. Here's the recipe:
  • Sticking to the principles, rather than bowing beneath the shifting winds of pragmatism.
  • Disagreeing with members of our party when it is appropriate, not just disagreeing with members of the opposition party, and in all cases amicably.
  • Being open to persuasion, because we know that our points of view are not infallible.
  • Realizing that members of the opposition party are not the enemy.
  • Attempting never to trash talk.
  • Ultimately apologizing when we do.
  • This recipe doesn't make for good theater by any means (and might mean far fewer mentions on the evening news), but it makes for much healthier government and a healthy society.

    Thursday, January 17, 2008

    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" agreement comes in. I don't believe in giving preferential tax breaks, period. Instead of giving preferences, why don't lawmakers do something that benefits the entire economy?

    I don't think Delta is going to "leave" just because we don't give them another tax break--unless they are already in negotiations with another Western city, which I don't think they would be while they're over a barrel. But what of it anyway? Are they threatening us?

    If Delta cuts back its operations, it will be because it is an inefficient air carrier. It will put a wrinkle in a few people's plans, probably, including some higher priced airline tickets. But that annoyance will pass as other, more efficient airlines notice the opportunity and fill the void.

    Government, while thinking it can solve far more problems than it really can, actually gets in the way and makes problems worse. If Delta is ailing, why should we encourage them to avoid finding an answer to their economic health problems?

    Besides being unfair to others, that's exactly what a tax break would do.

    I think the GOP legislators should back off. Let the market take care of itself. In the overall scheme of things, Utahns will be much better off.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2008

    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 never will. The US won and the Soviets lost, and the world is all the better for it. Millions more people now live in freedom.

    But you know the irony of it? America is on the same collision course with economic disaster as our erstwhile Communist enemy. Why? Because we have become socialist empire builders, just like the Soviets once were.

    It doesn't work. But we act like we don't understand this simple concept. We're either lazy or stupid.

    For the first time ever(?), the Canadian dollar is worth more than the US dollar. The US dollar, once the reserve currency of the world, is now being shunned more and more often in favor of a more reliable Euro. Here at home we contemplate buying health care for every American. Abroad we crusade with our tanks and daisy cutter bombs for 'liberty' for everyone else.

    Socialist empire building doesn't work. We act like we don't understand this simple concept. We're either lazy or stupid.

    And the debt continues to pile like a putrescent boil that is about to explode.

    As it stands, all debts held by the United States of America would require every man, woman, and child in the United States to pay $140,000 if we were to retire that debt. That is so unfathomable that we can't even really comprehend that we are in a serious predicament! Maybe that's why we think we can afford to pay for every American's health care and Social Security. Maybe that's why we think we can afford to tilt at every windmill in the Middle East.

    Glenn Beck reminds us that Congress thinks we can't handle that truth.
    Unfortunately, the American people never got to see those [debt] numbers because they were pulled out of the 2004 budget just a few days after then Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill -- who had ordered the analysis -- was fired. And why were they pulled? It's simple; because our leaders in both parties believe that we can't handle the truth. Well they're wrong. What we can't handle are leaders who refuse to tell the truth.
    Well, we'd better learn to handle that truth, or we're screwed. We'd better put in office a whole lot of representatives who want us to know what that truth is, because that truth is coming at us like a freight train.

    We have no alternative but to elect representatives to every level of government that understand fiscal responsibility. We must elect leaders who stop wasting American money making problems around the world even worse. We must have as our lawmakers and executives those men and women who realize that, even for a mighty nation, we can only afford so much. If we don't, we are headed for the greatest bankruptcy the world has ever known.

    If we fall, it will be much worse and much farther than the fall of the Soviet Union. We cannot afford to fall further into debt if we hope to remain a free nation.

    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 not to be easy. In the case of Grenada, plans were executed nearly without flaw, but it doesn't mean that the mission was easy. Would Grenada have been more acceptable to liberals if we had let a few hundred (or thousand) of our soldiers die?

    It helps if the news media gets out the entire story and doesn't make value judgments about it. In the case of Grenada, the media didn't do a very good job. It helps if members of Congress look at military operations from both sides of the issue. Many at the time did not. Here are some facts to help put the Grenada mission in perspective.
    • Radical Cuban-inspired Marxist group had murdered Maurice Bishop, the Prime Minister. His supporters were jailed, tortured, and shot. A 24-hour curfew had been imposed, with violators being shot on sight. 1,000 Americans were living in Grenada.
    • Only two days prior to the invasion, 241 US marines had been killed in Beruit, Lebanon by a suicide bomber.
    • Seven months prior to the Communist takeover, it had become known that a 10,000 foot runway was being built in Grenada, with Soviet financing. Its only purpose could have been military. A Soviet beachhead in Grenada had the possibility of affecting Panama Canal traffic.
    • Six of Grenada's Caribbean island neighbors sent a request to Reagan to come to their aid. Not knowing the size of the Communist military contingent in Grenada, a 5,000-man US force was sent in. An excellent plan, excellently executed, resulted in 19 American dead and 100 wounded. One gun battle was fought against 800 Cuban enemy soldiers.
    • Although the United Nations General Assembly voted 108 to 9 against the US action, all six Caribbean nations voted, as an appreciation of their rescue, with the the United States.
    • American students studying in Grenada were visibly moved and relieved to have been safely evacuated to American soil.
    • Following the fighting in Grenada, US troops discovered a plethora of weapons, ammunition, patrol boats, and personnel carriers. Weapons included tens of thousands of rockets and thousands of hand grenades and land mines.
    (See The Crusader by Paul Kengor, pages 191-196)

    Somehow liberals in Congress and the media used the overwhelming success of the mission to bolster their cries that an injustice had been committed by the Reagan administration. At the time, such American reaction to the Grenada invasion gave the Soviets a great deal of cannon fodder. Soviets were, for several weeks thereafter, fond of quoting American liberals who had chastised Reagan for (a) rescuing Americans in harms way, and (b) coming to the aid of six countries who had requested assistance.

    Was Reagan justified in using force against Grenada? Absolutely. Even many of those who questioned his motives early on later agreed that the mission had been necessary. American resolve and optimism--tempered by a brave rescue and lack of subsequent occupation of Caribbean territory--skyrocketed.

    Was the rescue mission to Grenada easy? No. It only appears that way in retrospect to Americans who haven't studied their history.

    Saturday, January 12, 2008

    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 fond of them, thank you very much.

    Legislative bribes are the greatest conflict of interest in the Utah Legislature.

    Utah has lost an excellent advocate of reducing legislative bribes in Ralph Becker, but Salt Lake City has gained an equally estimable chief executive. I can only hope that other Democrats will champion the cause of which Becker has been at the forefront for the past several years--because it's unlikely that the Republicans will.

    But, perhaps, the people of Utah will shame them into it.

    A new Deseret News/KSL poll found that 38% of Utahns want to ban legislative gifts all together. Twenty-six percent want to follow Becker's lead in limiting such gifts to $5. I am in the camp of Becker and the 26%. But banning them outright would not be such a bad thing, either.

    As I said during last years legislative session:
    A legislator's constituents are the people who elected them, not the ones who want to wine and dine and improperly influence them.
    I'm putting my money this year on the Democratic horse in this race. And I hope the Republicans who, by the logic of fellow legislators, can't be persuaded to agree that legislative gifts are an abhorrence, can be by the logic of the people of Utah.

    Friday, January 11, 2008

    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 replenished by then, but having that much left over with six months left in the fiscal year shows a record level of demand...

    Housing advocates say people are finding little success, particularly in Salt Lake City, where both private and state economic analysts say the rental vacancy rate is running at 0 percent.
    Why is it that the vacancy rate is running at 0 percent? (A) because home builders can make a lot more money building larger homes, and (B) because home builders have become conditioned to wait for grant assistance from the state of Utah before they build low income homes, so that their profit margin per home is closer to that of a larger home.

    Interestingly, the Deseret News article doesn't identify the source of the demand for the Olene Walker housing funds, but clearly the direct demand is from home builders. Only indirectly is the demand of home buyers or renters being considered--and that's why it's not being met.

    In another part of the world, where government has learned after long, sad experience that it functions best when it gets of of the free market's way, companies have now found a way to produce an automobile that the masses can afford...

    The India Car Market

    Indian car company Tata introduced its new model, the Nano, yesterday. At $2,500, it is more than 4 times cheaper than the cheapest-selling car in the United States. Ironically, it probably wouldn't make it in the U.S. Why? Government. Which is why we'd better be much surer than we are right now that global warming is man-caused. Because if it isn't the government will have even less reason to oppress the masses when it comes to improving their lot in life.
    Beyond the fact Tata doesn't have dealer network in the US (although it is about to take Land Rover and Jaguar off Ford's hands), the Nano almost certainly wouldn't meet US emissions and safety regulations, Wired magazine advised the enthusiasts.
    Only 1 in 7 Indians has heretofore been able to afford a car. That's about to change. And you wonder how crying wolf over global warming has economic effects.

    People cry foul over lax safety regulations in India. Well, let me ask you--are you safer riding in a car or on a bike? Such is the advantage that the Tata Nano will bring to tens of thousands of Indians.
    . . .

    Demand usually creates its own supply--except when government creates perverse incentives to not meet the demand as it occurs.

    When government gets in the way of a market--say the housing market--the cost of an "affordable home" goes up. Although the home buyer pays only a portion of that cost, while the taxpayer picks up the rest of the tab, the effect of this total cost ensures that truly affordable housing will not be built in that market.

    But when government gets out of the way of the market--say in the automobile market--suddenly cars are much more affordable, and thousands of people who have never had cars before have a much more economical means of transportation. This allows workers to get to their jobs more affordably, and it helps to improve the overall economy.

    And you wonder how crying wolf over global warming has economic effects.

    Utah's bureaucracy can improve the Utah affordable housing market by getting out of the way. I hope Utah can learn its lesson and select a better alternative to encouraging affordable housing than the Olene Walker housing fund. If we pay attention to India, we might learn something.

    Wednesday, January 09, 2008

    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 NOT a secessionist. Ron Paul is NOT an anti-Semite. The New Republic is scared spitless that Ron Paul will become president because, unlike anyone since perhaps Ronald Reagan, Ron Paul has the ability to rally people to the side of truth.

    The irony of the current presidential campaign is that the one candidate that has not packaged himself in soundbites was damaged by none other than a soundbite from the New Republic. The Ron Paul ship, however, is still more than seaworthy, and we will continue our mission.

    The New Republic, erstwhile champion of Communism and current defender of socialism in all its forms, timed the release of a series of lies and non-contextual statements, supposedly written by Ron Paul, to coincide with the New Hampshire presidential primary. Did it affect the vote? I don't know, but I'll respond to The New Republic (and anyone who believes their long-disproven allegations) about their charges of racism anyway (I plan to take up the other allegations in a subsequent article):

    Is Ron Paul a Racist?

    No. But TNR thinks that you won't click the hyperlinks in their article to find out just what they're claiming is evidence of Ron Paul's racism. Well...I clicked the hyperlinks.

    Here's TNR's first inept example of what it used to accuse Ron Paul of Racism. It does a terrible job, because there is no racism in the paper--merely documentation of events surrounding the largely black riots in Los Angeles after Rodney King resisted arrest by police. My synopsis of the article is in the paragraph below:
    In the 8-page paper, it speaks out not against black people, but instead inveighs against black icons who encourage black people to see themselves as social victims. It gives a long explanation of the untold portion of the Rodney King affair, which led to Los Angeles riots. The reality is that 3 people were in King's car. All were black. Two of them laid on the ground as instructed by police. King exhibited very erratic behavior, including reaching back into the car for what might have been a firearm. Rodney King was subsequently not arrested for another crime, due to his then-current notoriety. When the verdict was announced, an almost-exclusively black mob began a riot. Black leaders Jesse Jackson and Maxine Waters were on hand to encourage and condone the violence. Those, including many blacks involved, stopped the rioting, three days later, on the date that welfare checks were being handed out.
    Strike one.

    How about the accusation that Ron Paul is a racist because "he had kind words for David Duke." In addition to the fact there are any of a number of people who could have written the article in question, the article is once again a simple statement of facts, including these (some paraphrased, emphasis added):
    David Duke received 44% of the vote and 9% of the black vote.

    When Duke advocated equal rights for all Americans, the newsletter said this "seems like just good plain sense."

    "Liberals say Duke got so many votes because Louisianans were racists and ignorant. Baloney."
    Strike two.

    What about the supposedly racist things that Ron Paul said about Martin Luther King Jr.? Exhibit A has absolutely no markings to identify when it was published or who it was published by. That's pretty good evidence of Mr. Paul's racism, wouldn't you say?? Here's another one without any identifying markings. Who wrote it? I allege, with as much evidence as the New Republic has, the The New Republic wrote it, but it won't do me any good to smear them, because they aren't running for President of the United States! You want more? Here's another one, which is just as admissible in court as the first two!

    Here's what Ron Paul had to say about the (in my opinion carefully orchestrated) smear campaign against him:
    The quotations in The New Republic article are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed. I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts.
    In other words, it's not true, but the New Republic knew that at the same time that it knew nobody would have the time to look into the allegations before the New Hampshire primary.

    So, which would you believe? Ron Paul or a couple of photocopied pages that don't have any identificational markings on them?

    Steerike Three!! The batter is out!!

    I hope, in your liberty loving heart of hearts, that you can take a man at his word, rather than believing someone who has a lot to lose, as far as their stock in trade is concerned, if Ron Paul becomes president and exposes their socialist lies for what they are.

    That which combines against us usually makes us stronger and more successful. I hope that Americans everywhere, regardless of whether they vote for Ron Paul or not, will look at this filthy attempt to smear Ron Paul and make a determination that such lies will not influence our voting patterns or our search for the real truth.

    Voting history should influence us. Writings and speeches clearly attributable to the candidate should influence us. In short, truth should influence us.

    But not lies.

    Monday, January 07, 2008

    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". His post was complimentary, so I am assuming that his reference to me therein as a "true conservative" was complimentary as well, but for me it dredged up ghosts of Communists past, and I began to wonder, "Is that what I really am?"

    The term "true conservative" dredged up for me ghosts of Communists past. defines a conservative as someone who is
    disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
    Almost good...but yikes! Which one is it? Restoring, or preserving? You see my quandary?

    So for you who have read my blog, what am I? Take the following quiz. Am I a:
    1. Conservative
    2. Bircher
    3. Conspiracy nut
    4. Paulista
    5. Constitutionalist
    6. Paultard
    7. Other

    Sunday, January 06, 2008

    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 group called Nephites. On several occasions the Nephites sought out advice from their prophets on how to fight the Lamanites. One of their most revered leaders, Captain Moroni, was the quintessential prophet/statesman. In large part because of the teachings of the Book of Mormon, Latter-Day Saints today generally believe that God will help the righteous to fight their battles.

    George W. Bush, after coming into office with a pledge that America should not be in the business of nation- and empire building, used September 11, 2001 as a pretext to do perform just such "construction". He fooled many Utahns into thinking that it was America's God-ordained mission to stamp out evil wherever it may raise its ugly head--and that we had to strike preemptively in order that we would not ourselves be destroyed.

    What Utah Mormons failed to understand from their Books of Mormon, however, is that Nephites were successful only when they fought defensive wars, and that God never fights the battles of the arrogant aggressor. Clearly, Bush's war in Iraq was not a defensive one, as overwhelming evidence indicated from the outset such things as that Saddam Hussein had no air force and no navy. Bush's focus on his "crusade" was not to be thwarted, however, and many Utahns became fellow crusaders. Leading Bush influencer and Neoconservative, Michael Ledeen, explains (approvingly) the essence of Bush and Establishmentarian foreign policy:
    in order to achieve the most noble accomplishments, the leader may have to "enter into evil".
    Which, if they had been paying attention, Utah Mormons would have noticed that George Bush was doing exactly that. Somehow Utahns didn't notice that evil is not God, and God is not evil.

    Patriotism. The fraudulent tactic of branding the war opposition was not new to the Bush adminstration--it was very successful during Clinton's flattening of Bosnia--but it reached fever pitch during the Bush administration's prosecution of the war in Iraq.

    George W Bush tricked Utah Mormons where they are most vulnerable--God, patriotism, and compassion.

    Utah Mormons generally revere the Constitution of the United States, and they like to think themselves the most patriotic of Americans. When they aren't being deceived by political platitudes, they do a fairly good job of actually being patriotic. Many of them weren't, however, about to be branded as unpatriotic for not supporting the war in Iraq against an aggressor that was able to attack us with aluminum tubes and remote-control airplanes! In a manner similar to the effect invoked on the body by oxygen's counterfeit--carbon monoxide, Utah Mormons scarcely noticed the intellectual harm they were suffering as they breathed the delusory air of Bush's imperialistic and unconstitutional foreign policy.

    It was not patriotism in the least, but many Utah Mormons were too afraid to discover that truth for themselves in the midst of the fevered war cry.

    Compassion. In addition to donating 10% of their income to the Church, Latter-Day Saints are encouraged to donate to other worthy causes, such as help for the locally indigent (fast offerings) and humanitarian aid projects around the world. Mormons are some of the most charitable people in the world. Naturally, then--or so it seemed--when George W. Bush began talking of "compassionate conservatism", Mormons exclaimed "That's my kind of president." In the process of suffering this third strike of a delusional strikeout, Mormons completely ignored the fact that many (if not all) of their prophets had counseled against ceding to government this very ungovernmental responsibility.

    George W. Bush and his neo-conservative advisors milked the 9/11 tragedy for all it was worth and then some. Many Utah Mormons, unaware of the flimflammery of it all, got behind their leader in the most godless, unpatriotic, and incompassionate of causes.

    I hope that those who succumbed have since recovered.