Sunday, December 28, 2008

Is America Losing its Soul?

It is interesting to look at the things people think Obama's election means for the future of the country. My biggest worry is that something like universal healthcare will pass. People don't like the results of a relatively free market determining who gets medical treatment, but I don't trust the government to do anything better.

The bigger problem is the cultural implications of the nation wanting universal healthcare. What has happened to the American independent spirit which drives people to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps? If healthcare pases this time, it will be because most Americans want it. That is more troubling than the results to the healthcare system.

Looking to government to solve every little problem is a slippery slope to mediocrity. Just look at all the financial bailouts. There is no way passing out money like this will make any of these businesses successful in the long run. Now any business in trouble will come, hat in hand, to Washington asking for money. They will say they are "too big to fail" or "too many jobs are at risk". That is no way to create innovation and economic growth.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Preach On Brother!

This is one of the reasons I wanted Mitt Romney to do better this cycle. No one makes more sense about the economy that Mitt:
Harvard professor and economist Greg Mankiw points out that recent research confirms that tax cuts have a greater multiplier effect than new spending — more economic bang for the federal buck. We should lower tax rates for middle-income families and eliminate their tax on savings altogether — no tax on interest, dividends or capital gains. Let’s also align our corporate tax rate with those of competing nations. These actions will rapidly expand consumption and investment, and right now, time is of the essence.
The federal government is a black hole. Letting them keep too much money will dampen future economic growth.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Encouraging News From Across the Pond

I found this interesting:
The Tories understand that the only way of reducing the size of the state is to cut the demand for government services by strengthening civil society. They understand, finally, that the Left has lost the war on poverty. And they are rediscovering that conservatism is at its best when politicians support and never supplant the Burkean little platoons of family, voluntary organization, and local school.
Society is only stable when citizens obey the unenforceable. This article seems to indicate that some in Britain are starting to recognize that that can only be cultivated by families.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Senate for Sale and Secret Combinations

I know there is a lot of money in politics, but the governor of Illinois tried to give Obama's vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder. Luckily the rule of law still matters here. In corrupt political systems, there is only one way to get ahead: you play the game. When in Rome...

Thinking internationally, no one can get ahead in Pakistan, Bangladesh, or any other place like that without playing the local game. Which is why reform is so difficult. The only way to get power is to play by the rules. If the rules are corruption and conspiracy that is what you do.

Which is what makes Obama's image so interesting. His groupies consider him a messiah figure. Rush made me laugh today:
Jesus walked on water. Obama apparently walks on a cesspool and is untainted by it.
The thing is, Obama got to the top by playing the game. Once out of Chicago, he shed those who helped him rise up as fast as possible: "That's not the _____ I knew."

Obama choosing Gates says to me that he is playing by slightly different rules to get the same goal. He wants as much power as possible, so he will not do anything too crazy right off. The only Democrat presidents in his memory are Clinton and Carter. I wonder which president he will pattern himself after more closely.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Pleasantly Surprised

I have to admit being pleasantly surprised by the picks Obama has made as he as assembled his cabinet. The people mad at him for choosing Robert Gates to continue as the Secretary of Defense are all the people I want mad about foreign policy. Sec. Gates is beloved here in Aggieland from his time as president of Texas A&M University.

My first time on campus was the week President Bush chose Dr. Gates to be the new SecDef. I was attending my first Midnight Yell at Kyle Field just before the Nebraska game in 2006. Dr. Gates spoke to the students for the last time. They have placed a monument on campus honoring the fight against terrorism. This is the plaque on that monument:

Gadiantons All Around

This is a fascinating take on the recent terrorist bloodbath in India. I don't personally think there will be any good solution to the terrorist problem no matter whose strategy is used. Evil men see a way to get power for themselves. The money quote from that article is this:
Violence in Kashmir, the principal bone of contention between India and Pakistan since 1947, is on the decline...

This is precisely what the terrorists don’t want, of course. It’s the fact that tensions over Kashmir are diminishing that prompted them to attack on the November 28 — just as al-Qaeda blew up Samarra’s Golden Mosque in Iraq back in 2006 in order to keep Shias and Sunnis hating and killing each other. The illusion that formal agreements between peoples and governments — whether between India and Pakistan or Israel and the Palestinian Authority — can somehow defuse the terrorist problem was the among the first casualties in Mumbai. Terrorists see it the other way around: the relaxation of tensions is a problem requiring bloodshed.

Islamic terrorists don’t want justice or respect for their beliefs, or restoration of some imaginary homeland. They want violence and death.
The complaints of the terrorist groups sound a lot like Lamanite and Gadianton complaints from the Book of Mormon (see Mosiah 10:12-17; Alma 54:16-24; and 3 Nephi 3:2-10). The inclusion of descriptions of modern terrorist tactics is just another witness that Joseph Smith - or anyone else in the 1820's - could not have fabricated the Book of Mormon. The only explanation is that Joseph was inspired to translate the writings of ancient prophets.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Book of Mormon Burning Fascists

I just ran across this editorial at I hadn't heard about the Book of Mormon being burned and left at the Denver Temple. The money quotes:
a Georgetown University law professor and gay activist who helps draft federal legislation related to sexual orientation, says that, when religious liberty conflicts with gay rights, “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.”
They’ve already burned the Book of Mormon. The First Amendment is next.
Parts of the gay rights movement is quickly approaching modern fascism.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What If Prop 8 Lost?

I was reading this from Orson Scott Card tonight and it prompted the question: What if Prop 8 lost? Citing Helaman 16:20-21, Card had this insight about the "No on 8" crowd:
Their story is that we Mormons somehow oppress them and force them; they claim to be our victims. And yet they are the ones who tried to force us to accept their radical change through judicial edict, rejecting a clear majority vote only a few years before.
How would things look different if Prop 8 were defeated? The first thing would be that the gay movement would be hailing this a huge victory and a repudiation of each member of the coalition for Prop 8. This would be the first electoral victory for the gay movement; all they have now are some court decisions decided by one justice.

With the Prop 8 victory, states are 30/30 in passing marriage amendments for state constitutions. Had this been defeated in California, it would have spread to other states. California has long been a bellwether for laws and regulations soon to be passed in other states.

Another major difference is that the "Yes on 8" crowd would not be illegally protesting in the streets. (Protesting is fine, but most of the early protests were without permits.) There would be no meaningful call to boycott Google and Apple, who both opposed Prop 8. There would be no vandalism against churches who opposed Prop 8. There would not likely be any lawsuits to overturn the democratic process.

Basically, the "No on 8" crowd is doing exactly what they are accusing us of doing. At the same time, they are proving correct the fears of the "Yes on 8" campaign: there have been lots of calls to remove the tax exempt status of churches involved.

Liberty and Security

I have often heard this little quote from Benjamin Franklin:
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Many who opposed President Bush's actions in the War on Terror loved that quote. They cite problems with the Patriot Act, wiretapping, and a host of other issues. The thing is, there is another way to consider that quote.

What kinds of liberty will we be giving up if there is nationalized healthcare? What about the massive government bailouts for a host of industries? Are there other problems coming which will cause people to turn to the government for solutions? My observation is that any time the government tries to solve a problem, it causes more.

If there is no incentive to work, there will be no prosperity. Individuals may worry about the cost of healthcare, job security, or anything else, but giving up liberty to get safety is a dangerous path. The intrusion of government into every aspect of life is accelerating at a breakneck pace. If this recession gets too deep, there will be a wave of sentiment to have government bail out more industries, individuals, and then everyone will be on the government dole.

Then we will have neither prosperity nor safety, and Ben Franklin will be proven correct: They who give up liberty to obtain safety, will lose both liberty and safety.

The Real Thanksgiving

Freedom, private property, and personal responsibility work every time they are tried.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Is the Church Being Unfairly Singled Out?

I would have to say probably so. I immediately follow that by asking, "So what?" As I read Church history, every time there has been massive persecution, great blessings have followed. There may be some members of the Church who struggle with the Church choosing to be involved in Prop 8.

My hope is that far more will be strengthened by the opposition they face right now. To see the temple protested against may well help us realize the blessing the temple really is. There will be people attracted to the Church by its unwavering adherence to standards.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Those Who Disagree

I had a realization this morning about the debate over same-sex marriage. There is some portion of the population who opposed Prop 8 who are not gay themselves, but don't think marriage is a moral issue. When marriage is looked at as optional for strait people, then one of the most compelling reasons against gay marriage evaporates.

The moral standard that matters is that sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sin. All kinds of things have attacked that standard over the last 50 years or so: no-fault divorce, the increasing frequency of divorce, the cultural expectation of couples shacking up for a while to try out 'marriage-lite' before making the real commitment, and yes, the push to promote gay marriage as the moral equal of heterosexual marriage.

Society has a vested interest in the success of marriage. There are decades of research studies showing the disastrous effects of divorce on women and children. Poverty, bad behavior in schools, crime, and the likelihood of the children getting divorces all increase when parents separate. Even the divorce of parents of adult children has bad consequences.

This culture needs to push back against more than just gay marriage. There is only one way to accomplish that. Hearts and minds need to be changed - one at a time if necessary.

Alma told us how to do it and it is incredibly difficult:
And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God (Alma 31:5).
To change hearts today, after more than a generation of neglect, will require miracles greater than the parting of the Red Sea. Notice that the children of Israel who saw that miracle could not abide the commandments of Moses. They wanted to go back to Egypt when things got tough. They told Moses:
For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness (Exodus 14:12).
The Lord had to raise an entire generation for 40 years in the wilderness before he could take these people to the Promised Land. Has modern society been in the wilderness long enough, or do we need more trouble before we will collectively listen to the commandments of the Lord? Based on the prophesies of the last days, my money is on more trouble coming.

No wonder prophets, seers, and revelators were inspired to give us this document 13 years ago:
We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Defending Our Constitutional Rights

I have been amazed to see the protests against the Church. As a religious body, we have a right and responsibility to speak out on moral issues. Additionally, we need to prevent future erosion of our constitutional rights. If same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land, there will be discrimination suits and some will try to take away to Church's right to solemnize marriages.

Bishops could lose that authority from the state because they will never perform gay marriages and the Temples would no longer hold the legal authority to perform marriages. Luckily, the sealing power is beyond the reach of man. But Mormon couples could be forced to visit the justice of the peace to be legally married before the (eternally more important) sealing took place inside.

The anger of the pro-gay-marriage lobby after passing Prop 8 proves that they would not hesitate to take away our Constitutional rights if the electoral winds had been at their back.

I think it may be a good time for President Monson to have asked the Church to pray that new nations may be opened to the preaching of the Gospel. It kinda feels like the effectiveness of American missionary work is going to sharply decline.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

On Prop 8

I know Prop 8 just passed in California, but I just found this webpage supporting the traditional definition of marriage: This is an official webpage of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

They had this video which has several important arguments in favor of the constitutional definition of marriage:
The most important reasons in my view are that religious charities might be forced to stop adoption services like the Catholic Charities in Massachusetts. Also, public schools would be forced to teach same-sex marriage. To redefine marriage would be a frontal assault on the First Amendment freedoms of speech and religion. Without the First Amendment, the whole founding founding of this nation is made meaningless.

I have also heard how some of the fringes who opposed Prop 8 are threatening Mormon Temples and other Christian and Jewish meetinghouses for groups in the coalition that was in favor of Prop 8. That is just sad.

Update: I like this video as well:There are some who claim that opposing same-sex marriage means you are homophobic.

While I am unloading links on the importance of preserving marriage, this is a Forum given October 28, 2008 at BYU by Professor Robert P. George, professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University. There is a free MP3 on the linked page.

Is This Creepy?

I just ran across this website: Notice the .gov ending. This is an official government website.

I just want to ask. Is it more creepy that they (a) have it at all (b) have it so quickly or (c) that it screams cult of personality?

It is as if change were a virtue in and of itself. There are a lot of things in life I would like to see change.

Politically, I would love to see an actual two party system. Other than tax cuts and foreign policy, the Bush administration has seemed a lot like a Democrat administration. No Child Left Behind was written by Ted Kennedy. The farm bills were massively bloated. Congressional earmarks unacceptably ballooned. The prescription drug bill expanded government. The Department of Homeland Security is a massive, new, unmanageable bureaucracy which combined several existing bureaucracies.

The financial bailouts have essentially nationalized the banking and insurance industries. Once government gets its hands in the pot, they rarely have the self control to get out. If they nationalize the auto industry, then that will be one more death knell to the free market. Nationalizing the economy will stifle innovation.

I hope I am wrong about Obama and his policies, but his increased taxes are aimed at where I intend to be within a few years. Increasing capital gains taxes from 15% to 24% will instantly decrease the value of stocks and real estate by 11%.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Change? We'll See

My dad listened to Obama's speech last night and his comment was, "That almost sounded normal." Everyone already knew Obama gives a good speech. I remember actually liking his speech at the 2004 Democrat Convention. The real test will be when the rubber hits the road and he starts proposing legislation and enacting his policies.

No matter who won last night, there has not been an incoming president with the deck so stacked against him in a long time. There are several layers of the financial crisis that have not even started to unravel yet. The world is going crazy around us and it is likely to get worse before it gets better. Obama has a small window to enact his change, but if he doesn't get results quickly, there will be large blocs of his supporters who will be very angry.

As a past and future small business owner, I am not happy about his tax policies aimed at me. As far as Obama standing up to his party, I am not holding my breath - he hasn't done it before.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The New Deal was (and will be) a Raw Deal

It drive me crazy that some people still love the New Deal despite how it will soon bankrupt our society. And an Obama administration will expand it. The only way to "spread the wealth" as Obama claims to want is to encourage massive economic growth. Taxing those companies and entrepreneurs who are the very engine of growth will not accomplish that.

Check this article out:
The purpose of New Deal legislation was not, as commonly thought, to restore economic growth but rather to freeze the economy in place at a time when it seemed locked in a downward spiral...These policies did break the downward spiral. But, as Amity Shlaes points out in The Forgotten Man, they failed to restore growth.

Lower Corporate Taxes!

It's pretty funny. When designing employee incentive packages, you need to reward those things that are good for your business so the employee will want the same things as you. But sometimes, there are unintended consequences.

A software company wanted its programmers to find and fix bugs in the program and they gave them a bonus for each bug they fixed. Sounds good, right? Except the programmers fixing the bugs were the same ones who wrote the software. They purposefully wrote bugs into the software to increase their bonuses on the back end. The result was buggy software and lots of bonuses for the programmers.

The same thing is true in government and taxes. If the government wants to decrease a particular activity, they tax it. Tobacco and alcohol are an example of this. (Except they don't really want these to go away because they are cash cows for the government. They tax enough to maximize revenue without making them go away.)

Companies that make products that have a good substitute and high taxes will go out of business. Just look at when Congress wanted to tax the rich and placed a massive tax on yachts. Over 7000 jobs were lost in New England ship building areas.

The US has the second highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world. The only logical conclusion is that Congress doesn't want new startup businesses, job growth, business expansion, higher wages, or stronger imports and exports. The only thing higher taxes does is increase the size of government. Oh, wait, that is what government wants: bigger government.

(h/t NRO)

Monday, October 27, 2008

From Ezra Taft Benson

I ran across this remarkable discussion on the proper role of government. It is especially important viewing the 2001 interview where Obama said he wants to shred the Constitution. Obama said that
he is frustrated that the Warren Court "didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution."
Here are some of the money quotes from Ezra Taft Benson, former Secretary of Agriculture and Mormon Prophet: (This ended up lots longer than I expected. Sorry. It is all worth the read though.)
- Unlike the political opportunist, the true statesman values principle above popularity, and works to create popularity for those political principles which are wise and just.
- I support the doctrine of separation of church and state as traditionally interpreted to prohibit the establishment of an official national religion. But I am opposed to the doctrine of separation of church and state as currently interpreted to divorce government from any formal recognition of God. The current trend strikes a potentially fatal blow at the concept of the divine origin of our rights, and unlocks the door for an easy entry of future tyranny.
- If "A" has no proper power to take "B's" property, can he delegate any such power to the sheriff? No. Even if everyone in the community desires that "B" give his extra horse to "A", they have no right individually or collectively to force him to do it. They cannot delegate a power they themselves do not have.
- I believe we Americans should use extreme care before lending our support to any proposed government program. We should fully recognize that government is no plaything. As George Washington warned, "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence - it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master!" (The Red Carpet, p.142)
- It is well to remember that the states of this republic created the Federal Government. The Federal Government did not create the states.
- A category of government activity which, today, not only requires the closest scrutiny, but which also poses a grave danger to our continued freedom, is the activity NOT within the proper sphere of government. No one has the authority to grant such powers, as welfare programs, schemes for re-distributing the wealth, and activities which coerce people into acting in accordance with a prescribed code of social planning. There is one simple test. Do I as an individual have a right to use force upon my neighbor to accomplish this goal? If I do have such a right, then I may delegate that power to my government to exercise on my behalf. If I do not have that right as an individual, then I cannot delegate it to government, and I cannot ask my government to perform the act for me.
These two just blew me away after the Obama quote that surfaced this week:
- [O]nce government steps over this clear line between the protective or negative role into the aggressive role of redistributing the wealth and providing so-called "benefits" for some of its citizens, it then becomes a means for what he accurately described as legalized plunder.
- [A]s history has proven, each class or special interest group competes with the others to throw the lever of governmental power in their favor, or at least to immunize itself against the effects of a previous thrust. Labor gets a minimum wage, so agriculture seeks a price support. Consumers demand price controls, and industry gets protective tariffs. In the end, no one is much further ahead, and everyone sufffers the burdens of a gigantic bureaucracy and a loss of personal freedom.
- [N]o government in the history of mankind has ever created any wealth.
This one sounds a lot like where Pelosi, Reid, and Obama will take us:
- The Soviet constitution reflects this philosophy in its emphasis on security: food, clothing, housing, medical care - the same things that might be considered in a jail.
- As Henry David Thoreau explained:
"This government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. IT does not educate. THE CHARACTER INHERENT IN THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAS DONE ALL THAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED; AND IT WOULD HAVE DONE SOMEWHAT MORE, IF THE GOVERNMMENT HAD NOT SOMETIMES GO IN ITS WAY. For government is an expedient by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it." (Quoted by Clarence B. Carson, THE AMERICAN TRADITION, p. 100; P.P.S.N., p.171)
(Caps in original)
- Economic security for all is impossible without widespread abundance. Abundance is impossible without industrious and efficient production. Such production is impossible without energetic, willing and eager labor. This is not possible without incentive.

Of all forms of incentive - the freedom to attain a reward for one's labors is the most sustaining for most people. Sometimes called THE PROFIT MOTIVE, it is simply the right to plan and to earn and to enjoy the fruits of your labor. This profit motive DIMINISHES as government controls, regulations and taxes INCREASE to deny the fruits of success to those who produce.

Therefore, any attempt THROUGH GOVERNMENTAL INTERVENTION to redistribute the material rewards of labor can only result in the eventual destruction of the productive base of society, without which real abundance and security for more than the ruling elite is quite impossible.
- On the surface this may sound heartless and insensitive to the needs of those less fortunate individuals who are found in any society, no matter how affluent. "What about the lame, the sick and the destitute? Is an often-voice question. Most other countries in the world have attempted to use the power of government to meet this need. Yet, in every case, the improvement has been marginal at best and has resulted in the long run creating more misery, more poverty, and certainly less freedom than when government first stepped in.
- In reply to the argument that a little bit of socialism is good so long as it doesn't go too far, it is tempting to say that, in like fashion, just a little bit of theft or a little bit of cancer is all right, too! History proves that the growth of the welfare state is difficult to check before it comes to its full flower of dictatorship. But let us hope that this time around, the trend can be reversed.
- The abundance which is ours, the carefree existence which we have come to accept as a matter of course, CAN BE TOPPLED BY THESE FOOLISH EXPERIMENTERS AND POWER SEEKERS.
This republic seems ready to implode economically. I have supported Bush overall when he has done things that I felt were wrong (farm bills, prescription drugs, NCLB, profligate spending, etc.), but these bailouts have set a dangerous precedent. If Obama wins, as it looks like he will, there will be nothing to stop the destruction of the American Entrepreneurial Spirit. It will not die overnight, but the best and brightest will seek greener pastures. At least I don't live in a blue state to be oppressed by the state AND federal governments. And Obama's teacher union controlled educational policy will prevent the development of a new generation of the best and brightest.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dividing Church and State

I sometimes feel weird ranting about politics and having my testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the same page. In order to more appropriately delineate between the sacred and the profane, I have created a new blog to store items of a religious nature: Next Year In Zion.The name comes from a motto Joseph Smith adopted after the Saints were expelled from Jackson County, Missouri.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Stealing Elections - Continued

To continue from before: The Barack Obama campaign is perpetrating one of the most elaborate frauds in the history of this country. The Campaign Finance Reform law which John McCain created is going to cost him the election. There is a loophole where details of donations under $200 don't have to be reported. The idea was to allow private citizens to make small donations to their favorite candidate. Ok, fine.

Obama took the Democrat nomination partly on the strength of his online contributions. So now it turns out that simple fraud detectors have been intentionally turned off by the Obama people. The invaluable Mark Steyn points out:
The gentleman who started the ball rolling made four donations under the names "John Galt", "Saddam Hussein", "Osama bin Laden", and "William Ayers", all using the same credit card number.
If Obama supporters can make thousands of small donations and still fly under the radar, this election is meaningless. Between fake voters registered by ACORN and massive fundraising fraud, there is no chance McCain could win this election.

Is there any way to challenge the results of an election when Obama is a cheater? Oh, wait. Obama has the trial lawyers all on his side. I feel pretty confident saying that 2008 is the year the Constitution was shredded.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Temporary Nature Of Most Church Callings

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is no paid clergy. We each have responsibility to look after each other. Some may serve as bishop, as Elders Quorum president, as Relief Society president, or as teacher of a class. Each of these responsibilities is temporary. Once a person has served for some time period, the are released and another is called in their place.

In my observation, there are three callings that never go away - at least as far as the elders go: home teaching, helping people move, and stacking chairs after meetings.

Home teachers are asked to visit each family in the Church to share a gospel message and look after their needs. These visits are to be done monthly.

There is no moving company that can compete with the efficiency of a Mormon Elders Quorum. And the price tag is usually a few pizzas.

There is no counting how many chairs a man in the Church will set up and take down over his lifetime. It may be as many as there are stars in the heavens.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Divide That Government!

I personally dislike the idea of an Obama presidency because that will give Pelosi and Reid unchecked power. I don't think I can afford what they will do with my money. I have not been happy with the results of the recently ended Republican control of Congress and the Presidency. Frankly, I thought they acted too much like Democrats. Recent history would suggest that a divided government is the best for the American People.

I suppose it is sad that one of the more persuasive arguments to me for a McCain presidency is a divided government. I do like his policies better overall, but he has a long history of making me want to pull my hair out.

Orson Scott Card Is Right On

He writes this letter to all "journalists" who have buried stories of Obama and his fellow Democrats' corruption for causing the current housing/financial crisis. This is a pretty stern indictment:
...right now, you are consenting to or actively promoting a big fat lie -- that the housing crisis should somehow be blamed on Bush, McCain, and the Republicans. You have trained the American people to blame everything bad -- even bad weather -- on Bush, and they are responding as you have taught them to.

If you had any personal honor, each reporter and editor would be insisting on telling the truth -- even if it hurts the election chances of your favorite candidate.
Sadly, there is no honor in journalism today.

Friday, October 17, 2008

If McCain Loses, There Is Always Comedy

This had me rolling. Part two is great as well.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Stealing Elections

It is interesting to remember complaints in 2000 about Bush stealing the election even though election law and all recounts showed Bush won. Lately I have been learning about the group Obama did his community organizing with - ACORN. This group goes around registering as many voters as possible; living, dead, felons, six year olds, cartoon characters. Apparently the whole Dallas Cowboys roster has been registered to vote in several places.

Not to mention Obama's illegal fundraising. McCain-Feingold has a loophole where campaigns don't have to report donors who give less than $200. So people who support Obama just give over and over under the name Good Will. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars Obama has raised illegally. There should be massive investigations and prosecutions from all the illegal activities the Obama people have been doing.

It strikes me as really strange, too. Obama is likely to win anyway, but his people are still cheating. I have heard a few people mention the idea of using purple dye on fingers - like in Iraqi elections - to prevent voter fraud. That sounds pretty appealing. If the people actually choose Obama, so be it, but the last thing I want is to have a very undesirable president force on my country by a bunch of cheaters.

If the constitution ever is to hang by a thread, illegitimate election results sounds like a pretty quick way to get there.

Update: This is a pretty good summary of ACORN activity that I just found. A couple of highlights:
Then there's Lake County, Indiana, which has already found more than 2,100 bogus applications among the 5,000 Acorn dumped right before the deadline. "All the signatures looked exactly the same," said Ruthann Hoagland, of the county election board. Bridgeport, Connecticut estimates about 20% of Acorn's registrations were faulty. As of July, the city of Houston had rejected or put on hold about 40% of the 27,000 registration cards submitted by Acorn.
The Justice Department needs to treat these fraud reports as something larger than a few local violators. The question is whether Acorn is systematically subverting U.S. election law -- on the taxpayer's dime.
All I can conclude is that community organizing is a fancy phrase for breaking the law and stealing elections.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Called Out

After being called out specifically, here it goes:

Quirk 1: I respond to blog posts at 12:16 AM, even though I have class and a trip to Dallas tomorrow.

Quirk 2: I love making home teaching visits, but I hate setting them up. It is really bizarre. I genuinely hate calling people on the phone. Specifically people I am not real close to. Once I arrive, I love teaching. You would think I would get past my phone dislike to get to teach more. (I did actually get 100% last month, but it has been over a year since that has happened.)

Quirk 3: I yell at the TV when watching political debates. Both sides usually say things that drive me crazy. I try to watch them alone or not at all. (The not at all has been easy lately, I don't have a TV at my house right now.)

Quirk 4: I have no patience for studying. Odd that I am in grad school, huh? Ask Kyle about that business class final exam we took. We got bored and went to throw a baseball in the IPF at BYU.

You didn't think I could possibly leave the Church or politics out of my response, did you, Michelle?

This list is by no means exhaustive. You either have lots of quirks (which have kept you single) or you develop them over time when you have been in student wards in various locations for 7 years.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Democrats Are Dirty For Destroying The Economy

They should be run out of town for their corruption. This is infuriating. Every politician that supported FANNIE MAE and FREDDIE MAC should be voted out of office. If McCain doesn't take these people down, he doesn't deserve the presidency. Democrats ran opposing the "Culture of Corruption" 2 years ago. They DEFINE the culture of corruption.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Problem With Third Parties

The problem with a third party is that the whole job description for incumbents of either party is to get reelected. Let me illustrate this in a different way. In the soft drink industry, Coke and Pepsi dominate sales. Their high sales allow for massive advertising campaigns. Other than small regional powers, no one can compete with Coke and Pepsi. They have a rivalry with each other, but they completely destroy any smaller competition.

It is the same for Democrats and Republicans. They want to defeat the other party, but most vital is to eliminate all other competition. That way, there are only two real contenders for each seat. Each election, less than 100 House seats are competitive. That allows massive advertising in a few places. No third party could dream of competing with that.

A third party president would be the quickest way to unify Congress. They would destroy any chances that president would have of accomplishing anything.

I can only think of a few ways to lower the polarization of the House of Representatives. They need to eliminate the gerrymandered districts because they just protect the incumbent. Protecting the incumbent keeps the house full of the fringes of both parties. Anyone trying to run from the middle would be wiped out by the more "ideologically pure" candidates.

Coupled with redistricting could be to lower the number of representatives in the House. That would give larger districts and make them harder to gerrymander.

Mark Steyn on the Bailout

Despite a few convincing arguments for the bailout, implementation will be a bear. For this thing not to cause worse problems 10 years from now is highly improbable. Mark Steyn has an observation about he bailout and political elites telling us of impending crisis.
As a general proposition, when told by unanimous elites that a particular course of action is urgent and necessary to avoid disaster, there's a lot to be said for going fishing.
Just look at the recent results on global temperatures:
The four major agencies tracking Earth’s temperature, including NASA’s Goddard Institute, report that the Earth cooled 0.7 degree Celsius in 2007, the fastest decline in the age of instrumentation, putting us back to where the Earth was in 1930.
Global warming hype was far overblown. It was only useful insofar as people and businesses increased their energy efficiency in cost effective ways.

It is problematic about the bailout that people are declaring with glee that the free markets have failed. This is not a free market failure; it is a failure of government being too generous with other people's money. Had the free markets been allowed to assess risk normally without government intervention, there would have been no subprime or alt-a loans. In turn there would have been no real estate bubble.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Jim DeMint: New Senate Hero

I am now a fan of Jim DeMint. This video lays out the whole subprime debacle in chronological order:

Federal regulations were set up to encourage banks to encourage people to live beyond their means. Debt is killer. "Predatory lending" as Obama's people like to call it now was done in order to meet federal requirements and avoid lawsuits from firms like the one Obama worked at in Chicago.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Case For The Bailout?

I am pretty susceptible to arguments against the federal government bailing out Wall Street. Part of my rationale is that federal regulations are very much to blame for the problems on Wall Street. Investors Business Daily has a pretty good diagnosis of the cause of the current financial crisis here.

Basically, banks were told to lend to uncreditworthy people in order to boost home ownership. As usually happens, when the government subsidizes something, it becomes more expensive and a real estate boom followed. The worst part is that the government's efforts to boost home ownership among certain minority groups didn't work. So the only solution was to throw more money at the problem.

Larry Kudlow, at NRO, has a convincing argument here for the bailout (and keeping Congress's hands out of the pot).
When the assets are worked out over time — as they will be once housing and the economy recover — taxpayers will actually make money on the deal.
This isn't some speculative venture either. It has been done before.
This is similar to the RTC story twenty years ago, when Bill Seidman presided over similar asset sales from bankrupt S&Ls and wound up making money for Uncle Sam and his taxpayers.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Newt Makes a lot of Sense

Here is some of what Newt Gingrich had to say about the current economic mess. Sounds about right to me:
Before D.C. Gets Our Money, It Owes Us Some Answers

Watching Washington rush to throw taxpayer money at Wall Street has been sobering and a little frightening.

We are being told Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has a plan which will shift $700 billion in obligations from private companies to the taxpayer.

We are being warned that this $700 billion bailout is the only answer to a crisis.

We are being reassured that we can trust Secretary Paulson "because he knows what he is doing".

Congress had better ask a lot of questions before it shifts this much burden to the taxpayer and shifts this much power to a Washington bureaucracy.

Imagine that the political balance of power in Washington were different.

If this were a Democratic administration the Republicans in the House and Senate would be demanding answers and would be organizing for a “no” vote.

If a Democratic administration were proposing this plan, Republicans would realize that having Connecticut Democratic senator Chris Dodd (the largest recipient of political funds from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) as chairman of the Banking Committee guarantees that the Obama-Reid-Pelosi-Paulson plan that will emerge will be much worse as legislation than it started out as the Paulson proposal.

If this were a Democratic proposal, Republicans would remember that the Democrats wrote a grotesque housing bailout bill this summer that paid off their left-wing allies with taxpayer money, which despite its price tag of $300 billion has apparently failed as of last week, and could expect even more damage in this bill.

But because this gigantic power shift to Washington and this avalanche of taxpayer money is being proposed by a Republican administration, the normal conservative voices have been silent or confused.

It’s time to end the silence and clear up the confusion.

Congress has an obligation to protect the taxpayer.

Congress has an obligation to limit the executive branch to the rule of law.

Congress has an obligation to perform oversight.

Congress was designed by the Founding Fathers to move slowly, precisely to avoid the sudden panic of a one-week solution that becomes a 20-year mess.

There are four major questions that have to be answered before Congress adopts a new $700 billion burden for the American taxpayer. On each of these questions, I believe Congress’s answer will be “no” if it slows down long enough to examine the facts.

Question One: Is the current financial crisis the only crisis affecting the economy?

Answer: There are actually multiple crises hurting the economy.

There is an immediate crisis of liquidity on Wall Street.

There is a longer time crisis of a bad energy policy transferring $700 billion a year to foreign countries (so foreign sovereign capital funds are now using our energy payments to buy our companies).

There is a longer term crisis of Sarbanes-Oxley (the last "crisis"-inspired congressional disaster) crippling entrepreneurial start ups, driving public companies private, driving smart business people off public boards, and driving offerings from New York to London.

There is a long term crisis of a high corporate tax rate driving business out of the United States.

No solution to the immediate liquidity crisis should further cripple the American economy for the long run. Instead, the liquidity solution should be designed to strengthen the economy for competition in the world market.

Question Two: Is a big bureaucracy solution the only answer?

Answer: There is a non-bureaucratic solution that would stop the liquidity crisis almost overnight and do it using private capital rather than taxpayer money.

Four reform steps will have capital flowing with no government bureaucracy and no taxpayer burden.

First, suspend the mark-to-market rule which is insanely driving companies to unnecessary bankruptcy. If short selling can be suspended on 799 stocks (an arbitrary number and a warning of the rule by bureaucrats which is coming under the Paulson plan), the mark-to-market rule can be suspended for six months and then replaced with a more accurate three year rolling average mark-to-market.

Second, repeal Sarbanes-Oxley. It failed with Freddy Mac. It failed with Fannie Mae. It failed with Bear Stearns. It failed with Lehman Brothers. It failed with AIG. It is crippling our entrepreneurial economy. I spent three days this week in Silicon Valley. Everyone agreed Sarbanes-Oxley was crippling the economy. One firm told me they would bring more than 20 companies public in the next year if the law was repealed. Its Sarbanes-Oxley’s $3 million per startup annual accounting fee that is keeping these companies private.

Third, match our competitors in China and Singapore by going to a zero capital gains tax. Private capital will flood into Wall Street with zero capital gains and it will come at no cost to the taxpayer. Even if you believe in a static analytical model in which lower capital gains taxes mean lower revenues for the Treasury, a zero capital gains tax costs much less than the Paulson plan. And if you believe in a historic model (as I do), a zero capital gains tax would lead to a dramatic increase in federal revenue through a larger, more competitive and more prosperous economy.

Fourth, immediately pass an “all of the above” energy plan designed to bring home $500 billion of the $700 billion a year we are sending overseas. With that much energy income the American economy would boom and government revenues would grow.

Question Three: Will the Paulson plan be implemented with transparency and oversight?

Answer: Implementation of the Paulson plan is going to be a mess. It is going to be a great opportunity for lobbyists and lawyers to make a lot of money. Who are the financial magicians Paulson is going to hire? Are they from Wall Street? If they’re from Wall Street, aren't they the very people we are saving? And doesn’t that mean that we’re using the taxpayers’ money to hire people to save their friends with even more taxpayer money? Won't this inevitably lead to crony capitalism? Who is going to do oversight? How much transparency is there going to be? We still haven't seen the report which led to bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It is "secret". Is our $700 billion going to be spent in "secret" too? In practical terms, will a bill be written in public so people can analyze it? Or will it be written in a closed room by the very people who have been collecting money from the institutions they are now going to use our money to bail out?

Question Four: In two months we will have an election and then there will be a new administration. Is this plan something we want to trust to a post-Paulson Treasury?

Answer: We don’t know who will inherit this plan.

The balance of power on election day will shift to either McCain or Obama. Who will they pick for Treasury Secretary? What will their allies want done? We are about to give the next administration a level of detailed control over big companies on a scale even FDR did not exercise during the Great Depression. Is this really wise?

For these reasons I hope Congress will slow down and have an open debate.

And in the course of that debate, I hope someone will introduce an economic recovery act that makes America a better place to grow jobs. I hope the details will be made public before the vote.

For more details on my action plan for getting the American economy back on track and building long-term economic prosperity, you can read this message recorded yesterday to American Solutions members.

This is a very important week for the integrity of the Congress.

This is a very important week for the future of America.

If Washington wants our money, then it owes us some answers.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Perfect Storm

What an interesting time to live in. I just had Hurricane Ike skirt near me. My neck of the woods just got a little rain and wind. As far as power outages go, the counties all around mine were hit harder. I was very fortunate. It is not far to places that were devastated.

I am inclined to pay the "What if?" game. What if world events combined into the perfect storm? Here is my list off the top of my head, in no particular order, of big problems:

- Mortgage crisis - this thing is just getting started. There are mortgages not as bad as the sub-primes that have not gone sour yet. Lots of mortgages were granted to people who didn't verify their income (or exaggerated their income). Just wait.

- All credit dries up and there is nothing left to stimulate the economy until the mortgage crisis is cleaned up.

- All the sovereign wealth funds and foreign investors lose trust in the US economy and stop investing here. That hurts the economy.

- Pakistan - Musharraf is gone and crazies may be have closer ties to the power (and nukes).

- Iran - Mahmoud Ahmidenijad is nuts.

- Venezuela - Chavez is also nuts.

- Russia, loaded with petro-wealth, is looking to become a bear again. With a dying population, they know they need to make a move now to regain old power.

- The US Dollar weakens because the American consumer has nothing extra for anything other than oil.

- Food shortages caused by commodity price inflation.

- Disease running rampant across Africa and other places.

Now, what if all these things blew up - literally and figuratively - at once? I think John McCain, Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden should all be sent to the loony bin and tested for insanity for seeking the Presidency and Vice-Presidency. No wonder so few actually want that job. It is entirely possible that things will work out well in the end (if the time horizon is long enough, it always works out). I could just be worried because I graduate soon and need to find my way through murky water.

I have my preference on the winner of the next election, but I pray that God helps whoever wins to use the power of the Presidency well. We can't afford to have a president chasing windmills.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This From My Favorite Writer

OK, at least one of my favorites, Jay Nordlinger:

Loved something a senior politician told us in Minnesota: It’s hard to run against the Democrats. Because they’re the party that proposes to give people free stuff. And it’s very, very hard to run against people promising free stuff. You have to say, “We, by contrast, will give you the opportunity to make your own way, while keeping a net under you lest you fall too far.”

A Fascinating Article

Camille Pagila has written a fascinating article about Sarah Palin as McCain's VP pick. She may be the most honest liberal writer I have read.

My favorite excerpt:
It is nonsensical and counterproductive for Democrats to imagine that pro-life values can be defeated by maliciously destroying their proponents. And it is equally foolish to expect that feminism must for all time be inextricably wed to the pro-choice agenda. There is plenty of room in modern thought for a pro-life feminism -- one in fact that would have far more appeal to third-world cultures where motherhood is still honored and where the Western model of the hard-driving, self-absorbed career woman is less admired.
From the rest of the article, it is apparent that I would agree with Camille Pagila on very little in the political world. But (as least in this one article) she seems like the kind of opponent where you can state policy preferences, disagree, and let the people decide.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Obama's Speech Last Week

I figured I would listen to Obama's speech from the DNC last week. I knew it would make me crazy.

A few thoughts: Obama says privatizing Social Security is gambling your retirement. That is ridiculous. People of my generation will never see Social Security unless it gets privatized. The real gamble is to think there will be any Social Security to support retirement at all. No thanks. I am not going to rely on the government for my retirement.

Obama cites the fundamental belief that "I am my brother's keeper." Sounds nice, but the government is notoriously poor at helping anyone. The more that is left in private citizens' hands, the more generous they are. As Reagan said, "The most frightening words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government, and I am here to help.'"

Obama thinks we can end dependency on foreign oil in 10 years. I will call a big BS on that. It will take 20 to 25 years to pull that off. The technology is not even close to viable.

I like the idea of going through the federal budget and slashing programs. The problem with Obama is the people he keeps near him who will influence what he slashes. I bet it will not be deep enough.

Kudos to Obama about what he said about parenthood and fatherhood.

"If you don't have a record to run on, you paint your opponent as someone to run from." Sounds like what Obama's supporters do to McCain and Palin.

Obama correctly chides Republicans about the deficit and spending, but the problem is that they have been acting like Democrats. Obama's proposals will do nothing but expand government and raise taxes on corporations. I wonder what they will do under a higher tax burden. Oh, wait. They will move overseas, raise prices, and cut their workforce.

"Republicans who never thought they would pick up a Democrat ballot, but did." Thank you Operation Chaos. Hehehe.

Overall, a well delivered speech, but I still have no idea what Obama has actually accomplished. He talks a lot about change, but I have no clue about his ability to deliver on it. Besides that, the change he talks about sounds pretty scary.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Faith to Stand Fast

I had the chance to speak at Church today. Here is the text:
Brothers and sisters, I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But I have no idea why some of the things I pray for most earnestly are not granted. On some things it seems like Heaven is silent. It could be that I ask the wrong questions. There is a story from the Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt. Parley was one of the early missionaries in the Church and faced severe persecution in some areas where he labored. In one location, he was unjustly imprisoned. He prayed and prayed to know when he would get out of prison. Eventually, Parley reduced his prayer to: “Will I get out of prison?” That night an angel visited Parley and said, “Yes, you will be freed.” Parley responded: “When?”

Faith in God also includes faith in His timing. That is why it requires faith to stand fast. Faith is trust that God will keep his promises. In Alma’s classic definition, faith is “hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:17).

The Father of the Faithful
Abraham is such an example of faith in God’s ability to fulfill His promises that he is known as the father of the faithful. God had promised Abraham something impossible. At 100 years old, Abraham was as good as dead. His wife, Sara, was only 10 years younger. For them to have a son was impossible. Abraham essentially said, ‘so what?’ The scriptural phrase is, “he staggered not… through unbelief.” God promises impossible things and delivers. In Abraham’s mind, having the promise of God was as good as the promise already being fulfilled. Abraham was “fully persuaded that, what [God] had promised, he was able also to perform” (Romans 4:18-21).

Joseph Smith had the kind of faith we are talking about from his earliest days. When he found James 1:5 – which reads: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” – he had no doubt that God would answer his prayer.

Developing Faith
Faith like Abraham or Joseph Smith does not come by accident. There are some specific things we can do to help nurture our own faith. In the Book of Mormon, Alma compares the word of God to a seed and shows that if faith is nourished, it can grow until it brings forth fruit.

One of the first requirements Alma cites for the nourishment of faith is humility. Anyone who is not teachable will not develop faith. Next, Alma instructs us to “give place” in our hearts for the seed to be planted (Alma 32:28). There are several things we can do to give place for the word of God: read the scriptures, attend church and participate in the class discussions, and attend Institute. I am amazed at how the lessons at Institute are so often exactly what I have needed to hear to strengthen my faith. By placing myself in settings where the Spirit can speak to me, I have been reminded that God knows me and loves me.

When nourished, the fruit from the seed of the word of God will begin to “enlarge my soul” and “enlighten my understanding” (Alma 32:28). The fruit is the gifts of the Spirit: charity, testimony, miracles, prophecy, revelation, visions, and healing. These gifts teach us that God loves us and how we can show our love for Him – by serving others. Eventually, Alma describes the fruit as “the fruit of the tree of life” (Alma 32:40). So the ultimate fruit is to live again with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Remember the Covenants: Past, Present, and Future
We often sing of the Lord: “We’ve proved Him in days that are past” (Hymns 19). God’s kept promises give us reason for hope. Our individual and collective experiences give us ample reason to trust in the Lord.

One of THE purposes of the Book of Mormon is to show all Israel “the covenants (or promises) of the Lord” (Title Page). Alma taught: “For he will fulfil all his promises which he shall make unto you, for he has fulfilled his promises which he has made unto our fathers” (Alma 37:17, emphasis added). Alma helps us have faith in God’s promises to us by reminding us of the promises already fulfilled to ancient Israel.

Nephi had to constantly remind his wayward brothers of the great things the Lord had done for their fathers in delivering them from Egypt. He says: “And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?” (1 Nephi 17:51). We need to constantly ask that same question: ‘how is it that the Lord cannot instruct me?’

Faith in the Promises
The problem that led Joseph Smith to pray in 1820 was “they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (JS-H 1:19). They didn’t believe the promises. If we don’t believe the promises, we are no different. The Lord has made tremendous promises to us – in the scriptures, through modern prophets, but also in our patriarchal blessings. Do we believe what the Lord has promised us there? Of all people, we should have faith in God’s promises.

Luke asked, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). In the Lord’s preface to the Doctrine and Covenants, he said one purpose of the Restoration was “that faith may increase in the earth” (D&C 1:21). Without the gospel context of promises and covenants, there would be no faith - or at least not much faith – on the earth.

I served my mission in Philadelphia. One of the most heartrending things I saw was the lack of intact families. It seemed that very few had fathers in the whole city. The missing fathers imply broken promises, or at least promises that should have been made but never were. The phrase from the parable of the sheep and goats: “As ye have done it unto one of the least of these… ye have done it unto me” certainly applies to breaking or keeping promises to our families (Matthew 25:40).

Broken promises are like wrecking balls leaving individuals, families, communities, and nations in shambles. Rightly did modern prophets warn that the disintegration of the family would bring destruction (see The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

Mortal life is specifically structured so that we may learn to be like our Heavenly Father. We learn firsthand the disastrous consequences of un-kept promises, infidelity, and the lack of faith. We also have the opportunity to make the most important kinds of promises: sacred covenants, the keeping of which will activate the power of the atonement in our lives.

Joseph Smith taught that “Being born again comes by the spirit of God through ordinances” (TPJS 162). Or, in other words, being born again comes by the Spirit through making and keeping promises.

Faith to Anchor the Souls of Men
Our faith in Jesus Christ allows the possibility of hope strong enough to anchor the souls of men (see Ether 12:4). When God makes a promise, He delivers. Ultimate hope, hope in the resurrection through Jesus Christ, is what Moroni calls “a more excellent hope” (Ether 12:32). Proximate, short-term hopes – like getting to date a particular girl or getting a particular job offer – are often disappointed. But these need not diminish our faithfulness to eternal promises. Neal A. Maxwell reminds us not to mistake local cloud cover for general darkness (see Lord, Increase Our Faith, 43-44).

In a masterpiece of a talk, Elder Holland points out just one more promise we have: “Mine angels shall go before you, and also my presence, and in time ye shall possess the goodly land” (D&C 103:20). Elder Holland continues, “What goodly land? Your goodly land. Your promised land. Your New Jerusalem. Your own little acre flowing with milk and honey. Your future. Your dreams. Your destiny” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence” BYU Speeches 98-99).

Faith and hope centered in Jesus Christ allow us to be “steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works” (Mosiah 5:15). We can see the promise of the resurrection, when we will be united forever with our families. We can see past difficulty and disappointment, and hold on to our faith. We can know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ covers not just our sins, but our sicknesses, our sorrows, our heartaches, and our trials (see Alma 7:11-13).

In evaluating your own faith, the best questions would be: Do you keep your baptismal covenants? Do you keep your temple covenants? Do you renew all your covenants regularly? Or, to borrow some grammar from the 19th century: Does you, or does you not keep your promise?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dispelling Myths

I was streaming the BYU radio station, Classical 89, and they had a fascinating discussion on Thinking Aloud.

There were several points I was shocked to hear given the modern day political rhetoric. All I hear from Liberals is that the rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer. The historical economist said some of these things:

In the last 200 years in the US, the income gap between the rich and poor is virtually unchanged.

Some gaps have changed drastically. The gap between the rich and poor's education is vastly smaller: the top 20% of the highly educated have only 25% of the total education; the bottom 20% of the educated have 15% of the total education.

Consumption of leisure time gives an advantage to the poor. The difference in life span between the rich and poor had decreased drastically in the last 200 years.

I wish that the wealthy did not have more access than the poor to the political process, but the only way to change that is to curtail freedom.

The government is not successful at changing the income distribution, see the New Deal and Great Society.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

An Important Document on the Family

I haven't posted much in a while, but this article from the Church is important. The conclusion states:
Strong, stable families, headed by a father and mother, are the anchor of civilized society. When marriage is undermined by gender confusion and by distortions of its God-given meaning, the rising generation of children and youth will find it increasingly difficult to develop their natural identity as a man or a woman. Some will find it more difficult to engage in wholesome courtships, form stable marriages, and raise yet another generation imbued with moral strength and purpose.
There are so many things in the world undermining morality. Protecting the sanctity of the family will insulate children from those degrading influences.

Friday, August 01, 2008

I <3 EFY

I have been away for most of July doing something great. I took two weeks to be a counselor at Especially For Youth in San Antonio. Each week at EFY, I was responsible for 12 boys, ages 16 - 18. I have never had an experience like that in my life. EFY is incredibly fun, but also intensely spiritual.

My goal each week was to get my boys excited to serve a mission. I had several boys who were already excited, and a few who became excited by the end of their week at EFY. A couple of stories:

They ask new EFY counselors to show up for training the weekend before the kids arrive. On Sunday night, we had a fireside with the session director - the main teacher and instructor of the week. For the opening hymn before the first session, we sang I am a Child of God. I have never been struck by that simple song in that way. The Spirit was powerful as it washed over me and really taught me that I am a Child of God.

I have been taught the Gospel my whole life, but lately I have noticed my most powerful spiritual experiences are tied to the most simple and basic principles of the Gospel - things I have been taught since Primary. I attribute the special power of the Spirit at that Sunday night fireside to two things: the quality of the people I was working with - the group who takes time out of their lives to work with those kids are consecrating their time to the work of the Lord, and that the work of that next week would have a transforming power for some of those kids we served.

The next story also involves that same song. For the second San Antonio session, they brought a couple of hundred of Hispanic kids from Houston. EFY had not previously been heavily promoted to the two Spanish stakes, so most of these kids had never been to EFY before. There was a special Spirit the whole week and on Thursday, they have a musical program in preparation for the testimony meetings later that night.

One of the young sisters from those Spanish stakes sang a verse of I am a Child of God as a solo in Spanish. When the week started, the white kids and the Hispanic kids didn't really know how to interact. Their taste in music at the dances was different. The Spanish kids were all bilingual, and there were barriers between the groups of kids.

That familiar song, sung in Spanish, combined with other things that week to unify the groups despite different cultural backgrounds. It taught us all in a special way that we are all children of God.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Why I Love BYU

There are lots of reasons, but this is on the list: #1 Stone-Cold Sober for the 11th year in a row.

Here is an article from a couple of years ago that says the most popular drink on campus is milk (338,000 gallons that year), followed by chocolate milk (75,000 gallons).

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Solving the Energy Crisis

I don't pretend to believe that any one thing will fix the high cost of energy, but this ( combined with this ( seem like two parts of a rational solution.

The thing is, we have lots of solutions here at home that, if we just do them, would make a dent in the price of oil and gas. Sending so much money overseas for oil is increasing inflation because of international exchange rates. Each part of this solution will help the US consumer, and really the world.

UPDATE: I for got this one:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Teaching Things I Did Not Previously Know

One of the great benefits of teaching in the Church is that when you have prepared diligently and under the influence of the Spirit, the lesson will improve in the delivery. I was teaching from this talk on service last Sunday in Elders Quorum. The sermon of Brigham Young where the handcart companies were out on the plains was brought up. Brigham's message was to bring those Saints in or your faith is vain.

As we discussed that I made a connection I hadn't thought of before. In the Old Testament, Naaman was told to wash in the River Jordan seven times to be cleansed from leprosy. He walked away angry. Naaman's wise servant asked, "My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it?" (2 Kings 5:13). I think it is easier to do some of the big stuff, like saving the Saints on the plains, than to wash in the Jordan seven times.

Serving a mission is a big deal. It is one of the big sacrifices the Church asks us to do. But, how often after a mission do we get lazy and fat, spiritually speaking? I think it is much easier to go on a mission than to do home teaching every month. I do terrible at home teaching. I do other things better, but that one area of my ministry is weak. It is the modern equivalent of washing seven times in the Jordan.

Why I Love Jeb Hensarling

It is not just because he is a fellow Aggie. This just showed up in my inbox:
Recently, the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reported that two senators allegedly received preferential treatment on multiple mortgage loans through an elite V.I.P. program at Countrywide Financial. Reports indicate that the program was designed to give unique perks for government officials who were deemed “friends” of Countrywide's chairman and chief executive office, Angelo Mozilo.

According to these same news reports, the preferential treatment resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in savings for some of the most powerful lawmakers in Congress. It is extremely troubling that these sweetheart deals have emerged shortly before the Senate was scheduled to consider a $300 billion bail out bill for mortgage lenders that would place the burden to finance this bill on the backs of hardworking taxpayers.

Although these reports are still merely allegations, it is disconcerting to think members of Congress might be receiving sweetheart deals on their mortgages, while millions of hardworking Americans struggle to repay their mortgage debts and cope with $4 per gallon gasoline and soaring foods prices.

That is why I have demanded that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi convene a congressional investigation into whether the Senators received preferential treatment from the nation's largest loan provider, simply because they are a member of Congress.

If Congress has time to investigate the thoroughbred horse racing industry or sewage treatment in San Diego, surely Congress has time to determine the facts surrounding this matter and what must be done to prevent other Members of Congress from seeking or receiving sweetheart deals.

When we see this much smoke, it is time to look for fire.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

From Larry Kudlow

On the Corner.
McCain’s Drilling Flip-Flop Is a Good First Step [Larry Kudlow]

Warts and all, John McCain’s flip-flop on offshore drilling is a very welcome development. When circumstances change, political leaders should change their policies. And $4 at the pump and $140 in the open market is certainly enough changing circumstances to warrant McCain’s constructive shift on offshore drilling. Regrettably, McCain still talks about the “pristine” ANWR patch. But he’s just not gonna move on that.

Obama, meanwhile, is repeating the tired old Democratic response that there’s no way offshore drilling will lower prices now. But he is wrong. And McCain has an opening here if he’d only stop his silly attacks on “reckless speculators.”

The Arizona senator doesn’t know anything about speculators or investors or commodity trading or any of that stuff. The reality is, should Congress overturn its offshore-drilling moratorium, those very same speculators are gonna start selling crude-oil futures contracts and price declines will filter backwards from the longer-term contracts to the cash market. In other words, what can be bought will be sold. If drilling expectations change on the hope that future oil supplies will rise, prices will adjust lower and it will happen fast.

This is what Obama doesn’t understand. It’s also what McCain doesn’t understand. Price changes are pulled forward in response to shifting oil-supply policies. Ironically, one of McCain’s senior economic advisors, Kevin Hassett of the AEI think-tank, has just written a column on this very subject. So I don’t know who McCain is talking to, but he ought to talk to Kevin Hassett, who is a very smart guy.

Regarding the investigation of commodity futures undertaken by the CFTC, acting chairman Walter Lukken has said they have not found a smoking gun. And this whole exercise in investigating traders reminds me of the nonsensical investigations of so-called price gouging, which for decades have come to nothing.

In addition, McCain should get off this “obscene profits” song about oil-company earnings. Obscene profits are the near cousin of the windfall profits tax. Once again that puts McCain on the liberal-Democratic side of the issue. What you don’t want is to deter oil drillers and producers from going into new fields offshore and onshore if Congress lets them.

One reason for all this is economic growth and jobs. A Wharton Econometrics study (hat tip to Mark Perry at Carpe Diem) shows that total employment at full production in ANWR would come to 735,000 new jobs created across the country, not just in Alaska. So not only would offshore drilling and ANWR and other domestic sources of energy reduce prices, they would also be huge job creators to spur the economy. This is something McCain should push.

Finally, President Bush made a very strong statement today to lift the moratorium on domestic and offshore production. In his statement he emphasized the oil-shale fields in the Green River Basin of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. There is the equivalent of 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil in this area, more than three-times larger than the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.

Now get this: Bush charged that in last year’s budget bill Democrats inserted a provision blocking oil-shale leasing on federal lands. That’s unbelievable. McCain should pick up on that point, too. That oil shale could create another million jobs, bringing oil prices back down to about $75 a barrel and pushing gas pump prices way down as well.

Onshore, offshore, oil shale. The mantra here is drill, drill, drill. Oil, jobs, and the economy may determine this year’s election. Sen. McCain has made a very good start but he has much more work to do.

More On Gay Marriage

This is a pretty level headed critique of the problems with the gay marriage movement. The money paragraph:
[Gay marriage] is about inserting into the law the principle that “gay is the new black” — that sexual orientation should be treated exactly the same way we treat race in law and culture.

Gay-marriage advocates say it all the time: People who think marriage is the union of husband and wife are like bigots who opposed interracial marriage. Believe them. They say it because they mean it.

The architects of this strategy have targeted marriage because it stands in the way of the America they want to create: They hope to use the law to reshape the culture in exactly the same way that the law was used to reshape the culture of the old racist south.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

High Taxes and Inflation

From the Texas A&M University Real Estate Center, I found this interesting presentation.

Slide 31 asks when the last time we had high taxes and inflation. From 1966 to 1982 the US had higher taxes, inflation, and regulation with a lower level of globalization an lower profit growth. The presentation then reports the Dow as almost unchanged for 16 years: in January 1966, the Dow was 924; in July 1974, the Dow was 607; in July 1982, the Dow was 896. Now the political pendulum is swinging back that way (sadly, both parties are guilty).

Populism of the sort advocated by Naomi Klein and Thom Hartman would increase regulations and taxes and increase trade barriers. Some of the things they say make sense on the surface, but they only highlight the part of arguments that they agree with. Prosperity and quality of life come from free trade. Of course, free trade should be fair trade. Currency manipulation and inadequate quality inspection (China is guilty of both) should not be tolerated.

That is what has me worried about the upcoming election. McObama both have bought into some of the populist message on trade and taxes. Sure, McCain says some good things on taxes, but then he promotes cap 'n trade - a massive tax on businesses. Obama is running for Jimmy Carter's second term. He wants to do all the stuff that created a stagnant economy from 1966 to 1982.

Powerful - This Day in History

(h/t the Corner)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Little Perspective

Every once in a while, I find something that reminds me how sweet life is and can be. This talk, given at BYU-Idaho, was very touching to me. The speaker, Ann M. Dibb, is a daughter of President Monson. Several stories she shares brought tears to my eyes. Some remind me of my grandpa, who has always been one of my best friends.

How grateful I am to have a prophet named Thomas S. Monson! Few men have been able to live with such love and faith in all their actions. The example he sets is worthy of emulation, and if I can do a better job, it will bring me closer to Christ.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Happy D-Day Anniversary

I almost forgot that 64 years ago today was D-Day. My paternal grandpa was part of the group that landed D-Day plus 1 (64 years ago tomorrow). I barely knew him, but I honor his service daily with his belt buckle to remind me where I come from. The insignia is from the 2nd Infantry Division - the Indian Head division.
The plate on the wall in the background of the picture is from when he and Grannie lived in Japan during reconstruction.



(H/t the Corner)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

For the Record

This is worth quoting in full instead of just linking in my shared items to the right. James Robbins reports:
Today's release of the remaining sections of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on prewar intelligence, and especially the statements of some committee members, are generating some headlines that there were no operational links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. I'd just like to quote from an article on the topic published on NRO in 2003::
Iraq made direct payments to the Philippine-based al Qaeda-affiliated Abu Sayyaf group. Hamsiraji Sali, an Abu Sayyaf leader on the U.S. most-wanted terrorist list, stated that his gang received about one million pesos (around $20,000) each year from Iraq, for chemicals to make bombs. The link was substantiated immediately after a bombing in Zamboanga City in October 2002 (in which three people were killed including an American Green Beret), when Abu Sayyaf leaders called up the deputy secretary of the Iraqi embassy in Manila, Husham Hussain. Six days later, the cell phone used to call Hussain was employed as the timer on a bomb set to go off near the Philippine military's Southern Command headquarters. Fortunately, the bomb failed to detonate, and the phone yielded various contact numbers, including Hussain's and Sali's. This evidence, coupled with other intelligence the Philippine government would not release, led to Hussain's expulsion in February 2003. In March, ten Iraqi nationals, some with direct links to al Qaeda, were rounded up in the Philippines and deported as undesirable aliens. In addition, two more consulate officials were expelled for spying.
These events were widely reported in the Philippine press at the time. They were not mentioned by the Bush Administration. They don't seem to have made it into the recent Institute for Defense Analysis report on the topic. But they certainly seem to demonstrate substantial, direct links between an al-Qaeda franchise and Saddam's regime.
Me: Just to be clear, Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. But they had plenty to do with terrorism. Now they don't. Tell me how that doesn't make America safer.


How many times can Obama say "That's not the (pick unsavory character's name) I knew"?

A Republican would have been slaughtered in the media by now if they had even been in the same room as a guy like Rezco. Not that Rezco makes Obama dirty, but how many dirty people has Obama been continually associated with? Wasn't the 2006 election about a "culture of corruption?" Didn't all Republicans need to be thrown out of office because a few were corrupt?

One last thing. Change doesn't mean improvement. (That thought comes from here.)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Robin Hood - Conservative

I seem to remember Democrats several years ago idealizing Robin Hood as a justification for redistributing wealth and taxing the rich. There is a problem with that analogy. Robin Hood didn't rob the rich to feed the poor. Some of the rich were already working hard to feed the poor. Robin Hood stole from the government to return the money back to the people who had been taxed into poverty and starvation.

Obama's Speech Last Night

For all the rhetorical flair of Obama, his ideas are old hat liberalism. His nomination is the first time he, his wife, and his supporters have had faith in America? That is sure what his speeches sound like. So what if he loses the election in November? Does that suddenly mean that America has sold out its dream?

I don't buy it. From Reagan to now, we have created the most prosperous economy ever. I even give Clinton some credit there. Once the Contract with America came in, he signed some responsible bills and had a pro-growth policy. Bush has been OK on economic issues, but his weakness comes when he acts like a Democrat.

I guarantee that if Gore had been president and had done the exact things Bush has (I know, Gore wouldn't have been smart enough to do what Bush has done), the moonbats would love him. The main reason they hate Bush is the (R) after his name.

The problem if Obama wins is that it will reshape America to something more like Europe. Their fuel prices are twice ours. Taxes are half of income. Unassimilated immigration is an even bigger problem. Unemployment is twice as high. And Family breakdown has reached epidemic levels. Have all these liberal blow-hards paid any attention to Europe? Europe has started looking more to us. From Italy to France to Germany the pro-American, pro-growth candidate has been winning elections.

I hope McCain wins, because otherwise there will be no opposition party. Democrat majorities in Congress will probably be too big for Republicans to slow down without the White House. Democrats sometimes talk about moving to Canada or Europe if Bush and now McCain win. I wish some would. The problem for conservatives is that there isn't anywhere else to go. The United States really is the last best hope of mankind.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Only in DC

I liked this and took a picture when I was in DC in March. Alas, most people in DC only turn left.

No Comment

(h/t NRO)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Random Comment

I can't read blogs with black backgrounds. It hurts my eyes.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Where do we find oil?

People criticized the last Republican Congress as a do nothing congress. The current Democrat Congress has done even less.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Article Dump

Here are a few articles I liked:

This is just good satire.

Here are two articles from Thomas Sowell, one of my favorite writers. The first relates to a police shooting trial from New York. Several officers had killed an unarmed man driving a car. All I heard in the news about the case was Al Sharpton was angry that the officers were found not guilty of murder. Only after reading this Sowell piece did I learn that the dude was trying to run down a cop.

The second Sowell piece is about the symbolism behind racial quotas. Administrations like having different color skins because it makes them feel good. Nevermind the fact that many students are ill-served by being admitted to schools they are not otherwise qualified for. I am a fairly smart guy, but I would probably not have that great an experience at Harvard.

This last article is from the Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, who would like to debate Al Gore on global warming. Klaus is an economist. Gore so far has been unwilling to look at the merits of any argument that discredits his Nobel Prize or Academy Award (I'm not sure what meaningless award Gore actually got for Inconvenient Truth). Klaus compares climate alarmists the the Communists who had run Czechoslovakia. Let's face it, calling someone a Communist is my favorite insult.