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.