Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Liberty Shattered at the Point of an M-1 Abrams Tank

The ostensible back-up plan of the George W. Bush Administration for Iraq (once it discovered that Saddam really didn't have weapons of mass destruction) was to establish Iraq as a pattern of democracy for the rest of the Middle East to emulate. Ironically, if you ask almost anyone who lives in the Middle East, you'll find out that the prospects for democracy there are much worse than they were before the US attack on Iraq in 2003.  Destruction of nascent liberty couldn't have been planned any better.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Global Warming Basics: It's Called Climate Change for a Reason

Contrary to the shrill cries of those who don't really want to have a debate, it's called climate change for a reason.The globe does not always warm.  Sometimes it cools. Both the terms "climate change" and "global warming" have been in use for decades.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Do We Need God In Order to be Good? Apparently Not.

How is it that secularists and even atheists can live more moral lives than many adherents of the various religions? First, because many religionists misunderstand why we have religion in the first place. Second, because, despite whether someone believes in God, they are still enlightened by the spirit of God. We don't need to believe in God in order to be good.  Rather, we are good, because it is in our natures to do so.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Global Warming Basics: Consensus? Yes. But "Settled"? No.

I agree that there is a consensus that man is making significant contributions to global warming. I just don't think that the science is settled. To say it was would be a bad thing. Considering that essentially all global warming scientists don't think that we know everything there is to know about anthropogenic global warming (AGW), I think it is healthy and important to foster an anti-AGW"Yin" as a counterweight to the pro-AGW "Yang".

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Global Warming Basics: The Facts as Best We Know Them, Without the Name Calling

I've finally come to the conclusion that I am sick to death of the shrill name calling that masquerades as the man-made global warming debate. Admittedly, part of that cacophony is my fault. So, with the lofty goal of not participating in the "you're stupid because..." game anymore, here is some of my research on the subject.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Republicans Are What Took So Long for US Senate to Ratify START Treaty with Russia

Why has it taken more than eight months for the US Senate to ratify an extension of a treaty that has worked so well? Because certain Republicans want to make the Democrats look bad. Unfortunately, they're making themselves look silly in the process.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

In a Technological Age War is Much Less of an Answer Than Ever Before

You may remember (or have read in history books) when Vietnam Era war protesters chanted "War is not the answer." They were right. And that was nearly 50 years ago. War is much less of an answer today. Why? Information technology. War makes people who don't have democracy hate democracy. But information technology brings democracy to their fingertips and invites them to embrace it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Terrorists and Freedom Fighters: There IS a Difference

Despite our desperation to believe otherwise, there is a difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter. Those who spend the effort to think rationally can distinguish the difference. Those who don't distinguish the nuances between the two make it easier for terrorists to thrive. We may even be thought of by the rest of the world as terrorists themselves, and perhaps rightly so.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Immigration: A Legacy of Mexican Self-Destruction and the Only Way to Stop It

Mexico has for decades been fraught with civil war and unrest. With a few exceptions, such as the American Civil War and the struggles of the Civil Rights Era, the United States has experienced far less civil disturbance than her neighbor to the south. As a result, the American economy is much more vibrant than its Mexican counterpart. This  helps to explain why, while millions of Mexicans have immigrated northward to the United States, the converse is not true. It also indicates how damaging it would be for the United States to stanch immigration from Mexico.

Because America may be Mexico's only hope for recovering from a century of self-destruction.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Live-Blogging Utah Immigration Law: Steve Sandstrom Comes to Payson, Utah

My appreciation goes out to Patrick Painter, my Utah State Representative from Nephi, Utah, who invited me to a presentation of Steve Sandstrom's "Utah Immigration Enforcement Act" that will be presented in Utah's next legislative session. Steve Sandstrom says the bill is alive and well, but he'll have to convince me.

Update 9:00 PM: Rep Sandstrom has been very informative, but I'm not sure that he has persuaded me. I have some studying to do. Rep Sandstrom will send me links to a variety of studies he has conducted or researched in the formulation of this bill.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yes to the "Utah Compact", No to Arizona-Style Immigration Reform

A couple of months ago, I wrote here that I prefer the style of immigration reform supported by Utah Senator Luz Robles, rather than that being proposed by Representative Steve Sandstrom. I'm not sure whether Senator Robles was involved in today's announcement of the Utah Compact, but it is what I strongly support as an excellent foundation for immigration reform in Utah--and anywhere.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

LDS Stake Conference Was Not Boring: A Tweet For Every Day of The Month

I've discovered that I learn a lot more in any meeting when I take notes. Twitter works very well for this purpose. When all was said and done, I produced 31 different tweets during today's LDS Stake Conference in Santaquin, Utah. And it was NOT boring. I hope you like some of them.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Birmingham, Alabama: The Most Racist City in America

Why do we know so much about some terrorists, but not about the ones who lived in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960's? Because the Birmingham terrorists got to write the official history.

"We found a way to live normally in highly abnormal circumstances," wrote Condoleezza Rice in her autobiography entitled Extraordinary, Ordinary People. "But there was no denying that Birmingham eclipsed every other big American city in the ugliness of its racism. Birmingham would shortly become [in 1963] 'Bombingham'."

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Live-Blogging Election Day 2010

Election Day 2010 sure started out crappy for me, but I finally got to vote. Hopefully by the end of the day it will have turned out much better. Stay tuned all day long as I live-blog my experiences and feelings on Election Day 2010.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

We Mormons Are Getting Better at Making Our Tent Bigger

In politics there is a great deal of controversy as to whether the greater inclusion of a "big tent" is better.  But in religion, there is no question that a big tent is good.

Ralph J. Bunche
It has taken us Mormons a great deal of time to understand the concept, but we're starting to get better at it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Live-Blogging Immigration: A Civil Conversation About A Heated Topic

I've been following the Sutherland Institute much more closely lately, in large part because Sutherland places a high premium on civil dialog. The topic Sutherland is hosting today is one that desperately needs such courteous conversation. The topic is entitled "Undocumented Immigrants in Utah: A Civil Conversation About the Facts".  You can watch the live broadcast here, or check back later at the same site for the archived presentation.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Book of Mormon: A Political Lesson on Peace

Once we have a correct understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we no longer beat the drums of war. Instead, we seek to understand other peoples and cultures and what motivates them. Disciples of Jesus Christ advocate peaceful solutions to our problems.

As a nation, we Americans are not doing a very good job of living the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mormania: 1974-Black Young Men Can Be Boy Scout Patrol Leaders

I find it ironic, in light of this recent article about Mormons being intentionally kicked out as scout leaders in another Christian church, that in 1974 the LDS Church changed its policies when it found that they were having unintended consequences.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Politicization of Global Warming: A Short History

As important as the science of man-made global warming is the hotly politicized history behind the man-causes-global-warming movement. When one understands the political nature behind the so-called global warming consensus, one does not need to be a scientist to realize that any consensus cannot be taken at scientific face value.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Spiritual Preparedness is More Than You Might Think

I and my family members were asked to speak in our LDS ward sacrament meeting this past Sunday on the topic of "Spiritual Preparedness".  Here are the thoughts that I conveyed in my talk.

"Throw[ing] The Rascals Out" Is Not Enough

Does it seem to you that nothing ever changes in Washington, D.C.? Well, it's your fault. You've been co-opted by a carefully crafted plan to get you to think that you're doing something by voting when in reality you're doing worse than nothing at all by continually voting for the same insane cabal of rascal politicians that runs our country.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mormania: The December 1969 Statement on Blacks and the LDS Priesthood

In December 1969, the LDS Church First Presidency issued a statement stating that, while a revelation had not yet been given authorizing the priesthood to be given to black males, it is yet important to uphold the Constitutional and civil rights of all citizens regardless of skin color. Ironically, in light of the failure of the United States and other nations of that time to uphold the civil rights of all citizens, many people chose instead to focus on the supposed racism and hypocrisy of the LDS Church.

Help, I Can't Do This! The Essence of Faith in Jesus Christ

We often talk of having faith in Christ to help us accomplish things that we can't do by ourselves. The real essence of faith in Christ, however, is to ask him to accomplish things for us that we can't do at all.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

I Wish Boyd K. Packer Had Said "It"

Many people think that LDS Apostle Boyd K. Packer's talk in October 2010 LDS General Conference was hateful toward homosexuals or that it encouraged hatred toward homosexuals. I don't. However, Elder Packer could have helped a lot of people if, in his talk, he had said "it".What, then, is "it"? "It" is this...

"Does Our Moral Sense Have a Darwinian Origin?"

The question posed in the title of this article is one that was asked by Richard Dawkins in his book The God Delusion. To the religious person, at first glance, the question might seem preposterous.  But the more I think about the eternal nature of eternity, the more I think Dawkins is onto something.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Ten Things I Plan To Do Better As A Result Of LDS General Conference

Here is a list of ten things that I resolve to be better at as a result of what I have learned and felt while participating in the October 2010 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Shall We Place A Cross Along I-15 for Peter Corroon's Political Death?

The more I learn about the allegations of malfeasance in I-15 construction project bidding, the more I think that Peter Corroon has dug his political grave in the race for Utah's governor. How anyone could vote for Corroon for governor after this fiasco is beyond me.

I Choose the Good, But Not Because God Wants Me To

It's important to be able to recognize and choose the good.  While it's okay to choose good because God wants us to, ultimately, we can't aim to please God or anyone else with our choices.  We've got to become able to choose good simply because we want to.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Are You Always Honest? Yeah, Right. Me, Too!

A funny thing happened to me on the way home from a seminar at the Sutherland Institute today--a seminar on the topic of integrity.  It illustrated quite clearly to me how difficult it is to be completely honest all the time.  I probably wouldn't have given the incident a moment's thought, however, if I hadn't just attended that excellent seminar.

Friday, September 24, 2010

No, We Are NOT #1: A Modern-Day Nephite vs Lamanite Story

For the bulk of Book of Mormon history, the Nephite nation was more righteous, and resultantly more prosperous, than their Lamanite counterparts. During at least one period, however, the Lamanites came to exceed the Nephites in both righteousness and prosperity.

It's starting to look that Americans are the modern-day equivalent of the decadent Nephites. Who are their Lamanite equivalents?  Here's one example...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Destruction of the Family deja vu: Soviet Style

The nuclear family was enemy number one for the Soviet Communists of yesteryear.  Ironically, many of the same tactics applied by the Bolsheviks are being employed in modern-day America.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Imagine an American Foreign Policy that Included God

Bombs Over Hanoi
Would American foreign policy be more productive if Americans and their leadership thought more about how God would want us to act among ourselves and toward the other nations of the world? Absolutely--because if we turned to him, he would bless us with peace.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How Did the Universe Come to Be? You Have to Take It On Faith

Has the universe always existed?  Rather, did it have its beginning in a big bang?  Or did God create it?  Interestingly, no matter what your opinion is on the matter, it cannot be scientifically proven.  Every finite human opinion about the origin and purpose of the universe must rest on faith.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Some Thoughts on Homosexuality

Heterosexual promiscuity in the world today has done far more damage to society than homosexual promiscuity has. Homosexuality is no more "gross" than heterosexuality. It is a way of life for some people.  While I think it is not a healthy way of life, I am much more convinced that it is wrong to belittle people who  happen to live that lifestyle.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I Prefer Luz Robles' Immigration Reform to that of Steve Sandstrom

It seems as though everyone in the Utah legislature agrees that the federal government is not doing a very good job of enforcing illegal immigration laws in the United States. Utah Representative Steve Sandstrom wants to "skin that cat" by doing the federal government's job for it. That's not a good solution. I expect Senator Luz Robles has a much better idea, and I prefer to wait for her legislation, which will appear in the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

14th Amendment: Mike Lee is Right, and Sam Granato is...Well..Campaigning

Can the 14th Amendment be clarified to remove automatic citizenship for "anchor babies" without another Amendment to the Constitution?  When visiting with Rod Arquette yesterday on KNRS 105.7, Republican Senate candidate Mike Lee got the answer right, while Democrat Senate candidate Sam Granato didn't really give an answer to that question, because he was too busy campaigning for your vote.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Debit Card Overdraft "Service": As Though Government and Bankers Haven't Already Screwed Us Enough

At least my credit union isn't THIS disingenuous.
Five months ago, Bank of America announced that it was no longer going to charge overdraft fees on debit card transactions.  On August 15, BOA, along with every other bank and credit union, will no longer have the option of not charging such fees if customers "opt in". I'm trying to figure out how this is better for me.

Update: 8/2/2010 - 9:31 PM: On second thought, maybe my credit union is the problem.

Update 8/3/2010 - 2:30 PM After all the confusion, fostered by the federal government, I am just fine.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Saviors On Mount Zion" Are Not Just For Temple Work

I've often thought of the term "Saviors on Mount Zion" as referring exclusively to the kind of service that Latter-day Saints provide to our kindred dead in LDS temples. What I've discovered, though, is that temple service helps us to recognize the obligation to save people in need who are not dead, but who are instead living all around us.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

American Exceptionalism - Myopic History = Oops!

I believe that America is an exceptionally good nation, but not more exceptionally good than it really is.  Bad American history turns America into an airbrushed supermodel--exaggerating its virtues and even inventing quite a few. One of the latest airbrushings is the somewhat unfortunate book Seven Miracles that Saved America, which, among other things, displays a profound misunderstanding of the damage that United States foreign policy has done to the world.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Iraq and Wicked Israelite Kings--A Parallel

Good leaders serve the people.  Bad leaders oppress them.  This concept was reinforced for me today as we read about an oppressive Israelite king in our Sunday School class.  It struck home when I realized that the Israelite king had an unfortunate modern-day parallel--the American oppression of Iraq, a problem which has only recently begun to be fixed.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Essence of True Patriotism

Is THIS Patriotism???
After having served in the military in a war that I think we shouldn't have been involved in, it seems to me that patriotism in the United States has become synonymous with a strong military. This bothers me.  Patriotism is not about empire.  Although patriotism is about love of country, it does not think it's better than someone else. Although it possesses national pride, it recognizes and rectifies national faults. True patriotism is not ethnocentric; rather, it welcomes and celebrates all nations and cultures. It does not dominate. Instead, it sets an example of goodness that is worthy of emulation.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Is Hell Really That Hot?

A staple of the Christian religious tradition is that hell is a physical place where the guilty are tormented by unending fire. Interestingly, the Islamic concept of hell is very similar. Both Christianity and Islam seem to imply that hordes of the dead will occupy this inferno. Where did we get these ideas? Are they true?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Why Big Business Loves Government Regulation

Basic government regulation is good. It sets forth good social order for such things as the punishment of crime. It ensures that life is fair. Much government regulation, however, is not fair. This kind of regulation involves minutiae written into law by government at the express request of their friends in big business. As you can imagine, this kind of regulation is expressly intended to benefit those big corporations that asked for (and often wrote) the regulation in the first place.

Monday, July 05, 2010

My Surprise Church Talk on 4th of July Patriotism

If patriotism means supporting one's government, then it's not always right to be patriotic.

Our LDS priesthood lesson, about the sacrifices of the Founding Fathers, got over a bit early. One of my friends in the group noted that I had been with the United States military in Iraq and suggested that it would be enjoyable to hear my testimony. I don't think they were quite prepared for what they heard, but several came up to me after the meeting and said that it was exactly what they needed to hear. Here is the essence of what I told them.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

It's Not So Hard to be a Friend

I stopped by to see a friend the other day. I didn't get to see her, because she was still trying to catch up on her sleep before she went back to work on the graveyard shift. It turns out that it it hadn't been one of her betters days, but, fortunately, she's having more and more good days these days.

Yesterday as I drove by her house, I saw her sitting on the front porch with her son and grandson, so I stopped to say hi. She seems to have a little more bounce in her step now. I told her that she seems like she's smiling a lot more lately.  She said that indeed she is.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Unfortunate Legacy of an American Megalomaniac

Who has had more lasting influence on America's form of governance than any other?  George Washington, who refused to serve more than two terms as president, and who reminded Americans of future generations to avoid empire and entangling alliances with foreign countries?  James Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution?  Abraham Lincoln, who, some say, saved the country from destruction? Thomas Jefferson, penman of the Declaration of Independence?

Although they grace the pages of our history books, none of these men has left on America its most lasting political impression. The award for political influence actually goes to a less well-known founder--an openly adulterous big-government megalomaniac. Vestiges of his paw prints--paeans to power mongers throughout 21st century America--are everywhere. For that we are most unfortunate.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

S-C-A-M: The G20 and the IMF in a Nutshell

The leaders and chief central bankers of the richest 20 nations have been meeting in Toronto, Canada today and yesterday to discuss the economic plight of the world. This group is known as the G20. In this context, I thought it appropriate--and definitely ironic--that in our Sunday School today class we read the parable of a rich man who stole the very last sheep that his neighbor, the poor man, owned.

This is the essence of the G20. Once you understand this fundamental concept, that it is a cabal of hghway robbers, you will begin to understand why it must be opposed at all costs. The G20 ensures that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. With its henchman,  the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the G20 has been stealing our sheep, and some of us are just about down to our last one.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Government Subsidies Cause Bigger Problems than the Ones They Were Intended to Solve

When government subsidizes something, demand for it goes up.  When the subsidy expires, demand for that which is no longer subsidized plummets. The latest housing and Cash for Clunkers incentives offered by government illustrate the concept very clearly. What is not illustrated clearly, however, are the just as real economic repercussions below the surface--such as lost jobs and destroyed families.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Of 8-Track Tapes and MP3 Players: A Lesson in Economics

Are you old enough to have owned an 8-track tape player? Why don't they make them anymore? Because nobody wants them except as souvenirs. Because much better alternatives, such as MP3 players, exist today.  It's a good thing the government didn't subsidize the 8-track industry, because if it had, we might not have MP3 players today.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Drug Wars and the Destruction of the Inner City Black Man

A survey of the decline of the metropolitan inner city points a damning finger at the effects of the United States war on drugs. Unless it was planned that way, the evidence of inner-city destruction makes it clear that the drug war has been an utter failure and should be abandoned. If dealing crack cocaine and other drugs were not so lucrative, it could not have hoped to so effectively displace legitimate employment in the inner city.