Friday, November 30, 2012

Let the West Bank Be an Arab Nation

If I had my way with the West Bank, I would not do the thing I would want to do.

I would like the West Bank to be part of Israel. After all, it includes Bethlehem, and I'm told it also is the historical birthplace of the Jewish people.

But, alas, 75 percent of the people in the West Bank are Muslims. I say, let a people be part of what nation they want to be part of. If they were given a chance to vote, they would vote for sovereignty, perhaps with Gaza, rather than choosing to be part of Israel.

Let them, then. Self-determination, we call it, and we believe in it, don't we?

But, I also say immigration there should not be restricted. The right of a person to move and locate where they want is a human right, to me. Let the Jews move there, even after a Palestinian state there is free from Israeli presence.

And, should the point ever be reached that the West Bank is populated more by Jews than by Arabs, take another vote and let it become part of Israel.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

America is not Most Barbaric Society in History, but . . .

The 55 million abortions since Roe v. Wade probably represents the largest loss of lives any society in history has ever inflicted on its own. More, it is perhaps the largest loss of lives any society has caused, period, whether upon its own people or upon another. 

I do not think it follows that America is the most barbaric society in history, but can see how someone might justify the claim. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Let's Not Overlook One of Greatest of Our Freedoms

We all believe in freedom. But just what are the freedoms we believe in? Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom to bear arms, the right to a fair trial, protection from searches and seizures, the right to vote, the right to own property? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

You're missing one, if you only came up with all those. The Bill of Rights actually doesn't mention the one I'm thinking of, yet it is one of the greatest of all our rights, one of the most vital of all freedoms.

I just think it interesting that we might enumerate all the freedoms we can think of, and yet skip over this one.

The right to better our lot in life.

We speak of America as being the land of opportunity. Well, it wouldn't be if we didn't have the freedom to better ourselves and our position in life. This is a freedom of degree. Most nations allow their people some degree of being able to make their lives better. The countries that provide this freedom the most are the ones that make it most likely for you to go from being a pauper to being a millionaire. 

I've always thought of that as being America. Hope it is so.

This is a freedom that comes not so much by decree, as by having mechanisms in place so people can succeed. Being able to become educated, is part of it. Having the time and resources to invent, is part of it. Being able to pick a job instead of being assigned to one, is part of it. Being able to participate in competitive sports, being able to express our talents in arts, and crafts and music, is part of it.

Indeed, the country that provides you the best shot at becoming a rock star or a sports star or a screen star, is the country providing this freedom the most. I like to think that is America.

If America is the land of opportunity, if chasing our dreams is so wonderful, and if the pursuit of happiness means more than just the right to have a smile on our face, then the freedom to better our lot in life is one of the most precious freedoms of all. It is a freedom central to being an American, yet we might not think of it if asked to enumerate our freedoms.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

We can Accept it, or Change it; Which Will it be?
   "Thomas McDahley, he's a lobbyist with the National Pharmaceutical Institute. He would like to see you Tuesday."
   Rep. Huey V. Dibble jumped at the news. This was not an election year, but he could not help but thinking of how the NPI could be a campaign contributor in 2014.
   Now, me, I've never sat in a congressperson's office, as requests for meetings come in, to know if some get accepted or rejected just based on whether they are potential campaign contributors. But, it sure seems there could be a natural tendency for that.
   It seems the congressperson might have more incentive to sponsor legislation if it occurs to him or her that a potential contributor might be involved
   You already knew this. No great revelation at all. But sometimes we have to have a picture drawn for us before we stop to reflect on what is going on. This is America we live in, considered as noble a nation as ever there was. Somehow, it sure seems if there is a way keep such influence out of our government, we should. Are these improprieties? Of course they are. Do we say that is the way it is, and leave it at that, or do we find a solution and correct the problem? For it is a problem.
   Truth be told, this is something we can see is wrong, yet there is not movement, no groundswell, nothing much being done to change it. As a nation, we are accepting it, and not changing it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Utah Redistricting Should be Done Without Waiting
  Brandon Mills, it is, who makes a point in a letter to the editor in the Salt Lake Tribune: Now is the time to change our way of redistricting in Utah. Change the system now. If having the legislators draw their own lines isn't as fair as having an independent commission draw the lines, then switch to an independent commission -- now.
   And, Sterling Bascom, writing in the online comments to the letter, suggests we should not wait until 2020 to change the boundaries, themselves.
   I must agree. If the lines were drawn to the benefit of the politicians, and not to benefit the voters, they were drawn wrongly. If they were drawn to the detriment of any party, or candidate, then they were drawn with malice, and not impartially.
   If injustice has been done, what do we do, wait nine years? That's nine long years. Do we wait nine long years for justice? No, if the process is flawed, correct it now. Now is the time to change the way we redistrict, so when the 2020 census is conducted, we already have in place a new system for reapportioning, one that is fair. 
   And, if we want to be fair, why wait until then do the actual redistricting? There are four elections between now and then. Why not reapportion now and have fair districting in place for each of them? If the redistricting was unfair, why suffer for four elections when it should be corrected now?
   Yes, it will take a state constitutional amendment, but if that is what it takes to right a wrong, let's do it. Let's not put off for nine years righting a wrong. If something is wrong, and you can change it before more damage is done, you should.
Demand a Little Charity for Cuba
   If people are dying in Cuba, starving, why would we not step in and try to save them? Let's allow our charities to go there, contribute, and save a few lives. Lift the embargo just that much.
   If we worry that the government will take the aid items before they reach the people, then let us administer the relief ourselves, not through their government. And, if we think Cuba won't allow the aid, then let us demand that they do, not by threatening to chase a few rockets at them if they don't let us in, but just with a plea for humanity, just by saying, "Cuba, your people are suffering, and we can help. In the name of humanity, you let us in. You must."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Of All Miracle-Performers, None has Equaled Savior
   There will be told stories of miracles being performed, by Elisha, and Matthew Cowley, and Joseph Smith, and Moses . . . and many others.
   But not too often is told a story of an evil spirit being removed, save that it was the Savior, Himself, who did it. There must be such stories, but, sitting here now to write this, I cannot recall any.
  Only those of the Savior.
  Beyond those performed by the Savior, though there may be some, none come to my memory, not from the Old Testament, not from the New and not from the modern-day church.
  This one is wonderful: 
   "And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit: and he cried out,
   "Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know who there art, the Holy One of God.
   "And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.
   "And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.
   "And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him."
   Perhaps we find in this story a key to explaining why there are so few stories of unclean spirits being removed. "What new doctrine is this?" they asked. If they were asking such a question, it surely shows it was, indeed, not common that evil spirits were removed. These people Christ ministered to were studied. They had scriptures. Apparently, there was no mention in their scriptures of evil spirits being removed, for to them, this was a new doctrine.
   You are also familiar with the scripture where the disciples tried to remove a spirit, but were unable to, and Christ was asked why they were not able to, and said that that kind came out but by prayer and fasting.
   It is not a common thing for evil spirits to be removed. And, yet, our Savior did it routinely, regularly and often. Of all miracle-performers the world has known, none has equaled the Savior, Himself.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bless the Starving People of Cuba, and Send Them Aid
   For 21 years, the UN has been tapping on our arm, asking the U.S. to end its trade embargo on Cuba. The UN passes non-binding resolutions. This year, 188 countries voted for ending the embargo. Only Israel and the tiny Pacific island of Palau voted to support the U.S. in the embargo.
   It's time. If only in part. If we do not completely lift the embargo, that would be fine, as long as we lift it enough to allow aid to get into the country. I just viewed a picture, taken in January 2010, I believe, of three who starved while in a psychiatric hospital in Havana. Altogether, 26 people, I believe, died at that time from starvation in the hospital.
   If people are starving there, let us help, not with U.S. foreign aid, but with aid from the Red Cross or other service organizations. Let us take relief to them. If we have erred for 51 years by not giving relief, and letting people die, let us give it now. If their people are under the rule of communism, that is a bad thing, a punishment upon them. But, why should we add to their punishment? If it is the government we would hurt, why hurt the people?
 Those Who Misspend Freedom Responsible for America's Decline
   Who is responsible for America's decline? Those who misspend freedom. 
   Some use it to purchase lives of laxity. Some find in it leeway for corruption. Some use it to borrow unwisely from future generations.
   The rise and fall of nations is determined, to some degree, by what freedoms they choose to value. If they see freedom at the right to riotous living (to taking drugs and such), they will become a lazy and unproductive society. But, if they see freedom as the right to better themselves (to gain an education and such), they will be more inclined to prosper.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

'Tis a Matter of What is Right and Wrong in Israel

Whether Israel should be the land of the Jews, and whether Gaza, and the West Bank, and Golan Heights should be governed by Israel -- those are, to me, not so much matters that should be decided by ancient history.

Though ancient history is often cited, and though Jerusalem is central to the Jews, and Christians, and Muslims, and though I, myself, am thoroughly convinced the Bible is God's word and if it says Israel will cut its enemies in pieces, then that is exactly what will happen -- still these are not the foremost reasons for determining what is done in the Middle East.

Rather, we must use our own judgement. We should reduce the Israel situation to what is right or wrong. We should throw out all the ancient history everyone cites and reiterates. (Well, maybe not throw it out, but let right and wrong be the lead determinant in what is done.) 

This Event didn't Get Much Attention

The Hamas-Israeli conflict has received more and more attention as the week has gone by, but one of the most notable occurrences of the whole thing still hasn't attracted much attention. We all know how missiles out of Gaza have long been considered to be practically homemade. Well, that was about to change. Sophisticated made-in-Iran Fajr-5 rockets were stockpiled in Gaza. The hope was that they would be tie-breakers in a conflict with Israel. They were to be day-of-judgement weapons, saved for a special effort. Then, even as that moment was about to be unveiled, Israel destroyed virtually all of them in a matter of minutes. Perhaps Hamas will quickly replace them, I do not know. But, if the link below is correct, the stockpile they had was decimated.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Southern Israelis Live in Fear of Missiles

About 1,600 missiles have rained down on Israel in 2012, making it a very common thing for the people in the southern section to run for bomb shelters. Though most of them have come in November, hundreds came in the previous months. It has become a way of life, for Israelis -- a way of life that would  be tolerated by how many other nations? Perhaps as much as 1 in 5 Israelis lives in daily fear of the missile attacks. I do not know if Israel responded to any of the missiles until just this past week. That is a notable thing, a lot of tolerance and turning of the other cheek.

"I don't know any country that would show restraint for as long as Israel did during the attacks on the south," said Israeli President Shimon Perez a few days ago.,_2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Current Conflict First Since Two Allies Became Enemies

Significant, this: The current Israeli-Gaza conflict is the first since the Arab Spring brought an Egyptian government hostile to Israel. Also, it is perhaps the first notable military conflict in Israel since Turkey left off being an ally. (Both Egypt and Turkey have now become financial backers of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.) 

Israel is more on its own in the region than it has been in a long time, and, so, we think of the scripture saying that in the last days, Jerusalem would be "a cup of trembling unto all the people round about," and that all who burdened themselves with Jerusalem would "be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it," and that the rulers of Judah would "devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left." (Zechariah 12:3-6)

Also of note, as we discuss the current Israel-Gaza conflict, there is debate as to who started it. The link below to a PBS segment suggests Hamas had long been firing missiles at Israel, but recently had ratcheted up the shelling to the point that the Israelis took cover in bomb shelters. So, understandably, the Israelis finally said enough is enough and fired back. My understanding is that Hamas missiles historically were ineffective, but recently had become more sophisticated. Was Israel justified? Surely it was justified in doing at least something, even if you do not allow it should have assassinated a Hamas military commander. If one million Americans were sent scurrying to a bomb shelter to avoid a missile shelling, we as a nation -- same as Israel did -- would be screaming for something to be done.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Our Eyes Cast to Israel, and to Gaza

Our eyes cast to Israel, and to Gaza, and to rockets flying both ways. I hear that for the first time in 40 years, Jerusalem is targeted by the missiles. In the past, fear of hitting Muslim shrines and Arab neighborhoods has deterred enemies from firing upon the Holy City.

And, word comes that missiles are being fired out of Egypt, perhaps marking the inevitable turn of that country's military against Israel following the change in government there. Does it portend more from Egypt? Will Israel respond to the missiles launched from Egyptian soil? We can only wait and see. The Egyptian prime minister did visit Gaza earlier in the day, to express solidarity with Hamas. 

Israel has grown to become one of the world's greatest nations. I'm told it has more high-tech start ups per capita, as  measured by patents, than any nation on earth. I'm told it has more companies listed on NASDEQ than any nation save the U.S. and China. It has become the nation prophesied of in the Old Testament. I think of the prophecies of it standing against its neighbors in the last days, and watch.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Parallels of the Unborn and the Immigrant

The unborn and the immigrant, I say, have a lot in common. One is told he is not welcome on earth, and the other is told he is not welcome on this part of earth. Both are told they have no rights. Both are treated as invaders, the unborn invading the mother's body and the immigrant invading this country. Both are inconveniences to other people. Both are considered parasites. One we say is not viable, since it could not live on its own outside the mother's womb. The other we call illegal for living outside its home country. One is not allowed to be called a citizen. And, the other is not allowed to be called a person. One just wants to come to earth and be part of a family. The other often wants no more than to join family already here. One is told he would be an economic burden on parents already living on earth. And, the other is told he would be an economic burden on the people already in America.

I say, let them both come. Welcome them both. Let the unborn come to live on earth and let the immigrant come to live in America.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Obama to Sit Down with Romney?
   A favorite part of President Obama's press conference today, for me, was his saying he wanted to sit down with Mitt Romney and get some advice.
   "There are certain aspects of Governor Romney's record and his ideas that I think could be very helpful," the president said. ". . . There are a lot of ideas that I don't think are partisan ideas but are just smart ideas. . . . I'm not either prejudging what he's interested in doing, nor am I suggesting I've got some specific assignment. But I -- what I want to do is to -- is to get ideas from him and see if -- see if there are some ways that we can potentially work together."
   Wouldn't mind it if that working together meant Romney would be the secretary of labor, or commerce, but Obama did say he was not suggesting some specific assignment. The significant thing to me, though, about what Obama's comments is that he was reaching out to the opponent he just defeated for advice, which seems to be a very magnanimous offer. His willingness to reach across the aisle, to take advice from a foe, to  find solutions wherever they can be found, seems to indicate high moral character in our president. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

George Advises Me on How to Elect a President
  "Hello, George? George Washington?"
  "Yes, this is George."
  "George, this is John -- John Jackson. I'm calling you from 2012. How's everything doing back there in 1789?"
  "Oh, real good. You know I was just elected president, don't you."
  "Oh, yeah? Well, that sure is kind of neat. We just had an election of our own, you know."
  "You did?"
  "Yeah. Actually, that's why I'm calling. I'm wondering if you think we're doing it any differently now."
  "You still have the Electoral College, don't you?"
  "Well, then you're still doing it the same. That's how we set it up."
  "Yes. George, I was wondering how many popular votes you just got, in your election."
  "Oh? Well, I don't know that I got any at all. That's not the way we set it up, you know."
  "Yeah, I see, and I know the Electoral College votes are the only ones that count, but, I was just wondering how many popular votes you got."
  "Oh, John, Could you be so serious? Some states didn't have a popular vote, at all. All the states were allowed to elect their members to the Electoral College in the manner they saw fit. In some, the state legislatures elected the delegates. Now, there were six states that let the citizens pick the Electoral College delegates, and the delegates who voted for me did receive a total of 38,818 votes."
  "So, you received 38,818 votes?"
  "Well, no, at least I don't think so. That would depend whether it was my name on the ballot, or whether it was the delegates' names on the ballot. Tell me, how are you doing it up there in your day, up there in 2012?"
  "The presidential candidates names are on the ballot."
  "Not the delegates' names?"
  "No. We don't even know who the delegates are. It's not like the day after the election the newspapers are screaming, 'Jumian James Wins Spot on Electoral College.' "
  "Well, then, what do you think of the republican form of government?"
  "George, you're asking me?"
  "Well, yes. We set it up that way. So I'm just wondering what became of it."
  "Well, actually, we've still got it. We still have the Electoral College."
  "I see. But you don't even vote for the electors, but just for the presidential candidates themselves?"
  "And, you don't even know the names of the electors before you vote for them."
  "No. I guess not."
  "And their names are not even on the ballot?"
  "Well, no."
  "And once the election is all said and done, no one even knows the names of the people they've elected?"
  "Guess not."
  "They don't even care. It doesn't even matter?"
  "Not to me, it doesn't."
  "Well, John, I must be going. I've got a call coming in from 2032. I'm hoping it has better news."
  "Wait! George, before you go! Please tell me if you think we're doing it right."
  "John, I'm sorry, but we set it up so the Electoral College members were to be trusted with a very important task. And to these people you give no thought at all as to who you are electing. Did you say you don't even know their names?"
  "Yeah. We don't even know who we're electing."
  "It's really of no concern."
  "No. Not at all. As long as we've got a warm body to vote for our Republican or Democrat, what more could we ask for?
  George didn't answer.
  "You wanted us, maybe, to make this Electoral College into something more substantive?"
  "John," George said in exasperation, "do you even know what a republican form of government is?"
  I put George on hold and scurried off to find my dictionary. Hurrying back, I said, "George? Yes, I've got it right here. It says, 'A state in which the power is vested in the people and is exercised by governing officials chosen either directly or indirectly by them.' "
  "Yes. Thank you."
  "But, since it says, 'either directly or indirectly,' that means we can elect the president directly. But, we don't. The Electoral College hasn't gone anywhere since you set it up."
  "Well, John, I must disagree. Your Electoral College is not performing a republican function at all. It's simply stamping approval on the popular vote after the count is slightly altered. Your Electoral College does not deliberate, does not debate nor discuss, and does not weigh the matter of who the president shall be, at all. What is that expression you have up in your day? Your Electoral College might as well be programmed by a computer, for all the effort it gives to this matter. Why do you even still have one?"
  "What do you mean? I thought you'd be glad to hear we still had it?"
  "But why have it, if you are not going to use it?"
  "Well, we kind of, sort of do."
  "John, if electing an elector is to mean anything at all, they've got to bring something to the table. Maybe you could elect people you thought had wisdom."
  "Why ever would we want to do that? We can just vote on them because they are Republicans or Democrats. That's all that matters. We've broken the system down to where its a lot simpler."
  "Broken it down, is right. You've done just a wonderful job of breaking it."
  "George, if you were alive today, which party would you belong to?"
  "Neither. I am not a member of a party today, so why would I join one if I were alive in your day?"
  "I see. Well, to us, parties mean everything. We don't need to elect smart delegates because the only thing that matters is if they are Republican or Democrat. We don't need to know their names. We don't need to know who they are. We don't need to talk to them. Nothing. All we need to know is whether they are Republicans or Democrats."
  "Well, John, I'm going to go ahead and take this call from 2032. Maybe he'll feel a little different. I sure hope so. It would be neat to see if the way we set things up meant something to those of you in the future."
  "Oh, George. You're our hero. What you've set up for us does mean something to us."
   "Then, just try it the way we set it up. That's all I would ask."
  "George, we just thought the only reason you set up the Electoral College was to give the smaller states a little help. Since the delegates equal the number of senators and representatives, that means a portion (two electoral delegates) are there regardless the size of the state."
   "Thanks, John. And, you're right, that is a good thing. But make the delegates mean something. If we had meant just to even up things for the small states, we could have just weighted the votes and made them automatic. We didn't need to set it up with actual people to do the voting in the Electoral College."
  "I guess I see what you mean. You have been pretty persuasive."
  "Just try this, John, please. Put aside the bit about electing people who will vote automatically based on party. Just see if you can make the republican principle work. You might like it. You might find it to be quite a nice thing. Have your Electoral College delegates actually do something, mean something, and put some actual thought into who they will vote for for president."
  "Yes, George, I guess I don't have but a sliver of a whisper of a voice in what America does -- if even that -- but it does seem you might be right. I do wish we would do it the way you are suggesting."
  "Well, thanks for calling, John. You can't read our minds all those years later, to know what we were trying to do. But, it sure seems, if we set it up this way, with delegates to do the electing, then it might we worth a little something."
  He then hung up, and I was left to wonder how his call was going with 2032.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tidbits from Presidential Election HIstory

Tidbits of extreme interest, I say, from the history of presidential campaigns:

1. The first presidential debate between candidates in the general election was not held until 1960, when John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon squared off.

2. It once may have been considered improper for candidates to actively campaign on their own behalf. Can this be?
3. Has ever an election in the U.S. been fraught with so much fraud as to give reason to think the fraud changed the outcome? Possibly. Samuel J. Tilden's loss to Rutherford B. Hayes raises that concern. Could this happen in the U.S., of all places?
4.. We all know the Electoral College vote counts, not the popular vote. How about this, though: No national popular vote was even recorded until 1824.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Higher Law is Don't Trash Thy Neighbor

This Living the Higher Law Will Not be Easy

I've long known that when Christ came, he instituted a higher law, but I don't think I've been alone in not knowing exactly what that higher law is. When asked, I would often say something like, "Well, for one thing, they had animal sacrifices back in Old Testament times, and now we just offer up a broken heart."
Now, if Christ had spelled out what the higher law was, maybe mentioning just six or seven things that are in it, would I even know what those six or seven things are? I mean, if it is the law for me, doesn't this higher law become  something I will be judged on, the code of conduct I am expected to live by? And, if this is so, shouldn't I know exactly what the higher law is? If it is my law, it becomes my goal. How can I go through the whole of my life without having a very clear idea of just what is expected of me?

Well, I might not be ready to tell you every thing in the higher law, but a week or two ago, I realized at least much of it is right there in the scriptures, memorized by few despite its importance.

I am now memorizing what is in it.

Once, it was said, Thou shalt not kill. But now, the law for me, is that I must no longer speak of someone I know as being a fool. I must no longer hold him (or her ) in derision or contempt. I can no longer even get angry at someone without cause. I would guess this means I should not say things like, "Tom over there is losing it," or, "That guy is an idiot."

My, my, this is quite a large bill, if this is what is expected of me. A higher law, indeed, and I can only pray and hope and try. This is much to be expected of me. The higher law says I should not even get angry with someone without cause. I wonder if at least some of the "righteous" indignation I feel is something I should let go of.

The higher law means no divorcing except for cause of fortification. 

And, it was once said that we should not commit adultery. Now, the higher law says I shouldn't even look on a woman to lust after her. This sends many of us scurrying, wondering what that means. For me, and how I think I will interprete it, when I see a beautiful woman, I want to leave it at that and go no further. No taking of a deep breath, no uttering, "Ouch," underneath my breath, and no second glance.

The new law means I should agree with my adversary quickly.

The new law means I should not only not forswear myself except in God's name, but I should not forswear at all. I can only hope I am interpreting this right when I consider ways we sometimes use God's name to proclaim how things will or should be. 

"If you do that, so help me God, I'm going to make sure you don't get that position." Better if I were just to use the yea-yea or nay-nay approach and say, "Oh, my friend, no, it is not a good thing to do that. It might risk whether you get the position."

Or, how about,  "In the name of God in His Heaven, I ask you not to do that"? Better that I just gently say, "No. I'm asking you not to do that."

The old law said an eye for an eye. Maybe that is like saying, "Fight, but just fight fairly," or "Don't hit them unless they hit you first." The new law is if they take something from me, I'm to give them something else, also. The new law is that if a person asks me for a ride to the corner, I'm to give him a ride all the way to his house.

The old law said for me to love my friends, but it was understandable if I hated my enemies. The new law says I am to bless those who curse me. i am to do good to those who hate me. I'm to pray for those who disrespect me and treat me despitefully. If someone speaks ill of me, or steps in the way of my doing something, or whispers a rumor against me, those are people I am to seek out and do something good to them.

Ahh, this higher law: It will not be easy to keep. I notice after the scriptures spell out what is in it, there is the passage, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect," and I note how it has been suggested that that was a reference to being complete, and whole.

That is probably accurate. Coming after such a code as is spelled out in the higher law, I wonder at how complete and perfect I must be. I can hardly be a more complete person than if I live the higher law, and I can hardly be a more perfect one.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

If We are to Keep Electoral College, Let's do it Right

Perhaps, in the name of doing things as the Founding Fathers intended, we should not vote for president, at all. Instead, we should vote for delegates to the Electoral College.

I think on this as I reflect on how talk of going to a straight popular vote elicits strong sentiment against it from those who see the Electoral College as sacrosanct, something the Founding Fathers designed through divine inspiration.

And, I think perhaps they are right.

The Electoral College came to us as a compromise between those who wanted the president elected by popular vote and those who wanted him or her elected by Congress. Perhaps they wanted a little bit of republican governmentism to stand in this matter, with us electing a president in a republican fashion. But, tell me, how does the way we have ended up doing it count as a republican form of governing? We vote for a presidential candidate, but our votes are transferred to electors pledged in advance to vote for the candidate we have selected. It is a system that lacks the benefits of republican government. The electors bring no special study of the candidates, and no special wisdom of their own to the table, rather they reflect the vote of the people once the vote of the people has been skewed by such factors as the winner taking all.

So, then, maybe the Electoral College was not conceived at all as a way of administering a republican form of government. Maybe, instead, it was simply envisioned as a way to give a better balance of  power to smaller states. I've heard a lot of people argue this. The Electoral College representation helps small states have slightly higher representation than they would otherwise have. But, if helping the small states was the intent, why have electors at all? Why not just say the vote of the people will be calculated automatically to equal the proportions of each state's congressional delegation?

If the Founding Fathers didn't suggest just calculating the vote that way, but instead wanted electors, they must have had more in mind than just balancing things out for the small states.

So, I'm just saying. I'm just saying maybe we aren't doing it right. Yes, the Constitution does give each state the right to choose the electors in the manner it sees fit. But, I really wonder if this is what the Founding Fathers had in mind. 

And, I doubt it is.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Save the Lamb that has Wandered Away; Save the Prostitute

Place value in that study from about 10 years ago. Would that we saw reason in it to save the prostitute. I reflect on it, and conclude this is an area of society where we could do much good, if we were just to take a few prompts from Melissa Farley's study.

Begin with this thought: No human being should be undervalued. None should be thrown away. If the prostitute is someone who has wandered . . . well, think of the biblical story of the lost sheep, of how the good shepherd leaves the ninety and nine and goes after the one that is lost.

Melissa Farley's study from 2003 painted the prostitute as a victim. It was not a perfect study. It's statistics might have been off. Maybe 68 percent of prostitutes do not experience PTSD. Maybe the percentage is much less. Maybe the study was not clear in what it meant when it said 89 percent, "wanted to escape prostitution, but did not have other options for survival." How much of the 89 percent were physically captured, and seeking escape, and how many were no more than simply in a dead-end jobs with no other jobs available?

Farley, a feminist, said the study by her and her colleagues dispelled many myths, including, "the assumption that street prostitution is the worst type of prostitution, . . . that most of those in prostitution freely consent to it, . . . that prostitution is qualitatively different than trafficking, and that legalizing or decriminalizing prostitution would decrease its harm."

Some have decried Farley's lack of objectivity and questioned her methodology. Their criticism might well be in order, but the study remains with value. Farley and her colleagues did collect some real indicators of what is going on, and rather than reject what she says, we as a society should be looking into them. If some points in the study turn out to be false, so be it, but I would guess the body of the study will stand.

So, what should we be doing?

One thought, of course, is that we should offer the prostitute a shelter. Shelters do exist, but I fear they are not plentiful enough, and I wonder if they make providing alternative employment a priority. If they are to do any good, the prostitute must know shelters are available, so she will seek them out. If even a quarter of all prostitutes (as opposed to 89 percent) really want out, then a quarter of all prostitutes will go to the shelters if they just know they exist. 

This could make a very deep dent in the sex trade. Take away a quarter of the practitioners? Why would we not want to do this? Let's make sure every sizable city in America has a shelter, one that places the prostitute in an alternative job, and then let's advertise the shelters, making sure every prostitute knows they are out there.

And knows there is a way out of prostitution. 

Save the lamb that has wandered away; save the prostitute.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Organizer Promises Marijuana 'Tsunami'  
   Is the big news simply that the marijuana industry holds an out-in-the-open business conference? It opened today, not much more than a day removed from Colorado and Washington becoming the first states in the nation where voters have approved recreational drug use.
   And, no less, the convention is right there in one of the states that just made marijuana legal, being held in Denver. The two-day event closes Friday.
   Or, is the big news that the convention's organizer, Cassandra Farrington, promises that a marijuana "tsunami" is coming, sparked by what has happened in Colorado and Washington?
   The National Marijuana Business Conference is for those in the medical marijuana industry. I should not be so surprised to learn there is a national conference on marijuana use. After all, a third of all states now allow medical marijuana, I am told. So, thus the National Marijuana Business Conference.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Free the Prostitutes; Offer Them Shelters

Oh, prostitution is surely wrong, and not a thing to be legalized at all. But, there is more to this matter of prostitution than whether we should legalize it. We should have a little heart for the prostitutes, themselves. I read how 89 percent of the prostitutes would like to escape, but see no way out. Some just don't have income options, but a good share of them are victims of human trafficking, nudged into prostitution by others. So, regardless whether we say prostitution should be illegal, shouldn't we should be concerned about the prostitute as a victim, and help her find a way out?

Add to the list of things that would improve our society, the freeing of the prostitute. As the song says, "Free, free. Set them free."

Seems like a few good shelters would be in order. Googling, I see shelters do exist. But, if women are going to leave prostitution, they need to know they have that option. They need to know the shelters exist. We should ensure that shelters are situated in every reasonable-sized city, and that enough advertising is being done so the prostitutes become aware of them, and know that they can escape to them.

I suggest the shelters offer employment as part of their way of taking care of prostitutes, rather than just taking them in and taking care of all their needs. If part of the reason prostitutes choose that profession is that they need the job, then part of the solution should be giving them an alternate job. Indeed, the shelters should require the prostitutes take the offered job in order to remain at the shelter.

Oh, I would not be surprised if the number of them who want out is not near 89 percent. Fine. Still, if there are even a decent number of them, at all, who want out, help them. 

You are going to have to tell me what would be wrong with this idea, if you oppose it. All I am asking is that we offer them a job to replace their prostitution, and a simple place to live that allows them to remove themselves from the influence of the pimps. If you want someone to change, you are wise to offer them an alternative.

(Note: Updated 7/9/14 as I corrected the Sting quote. On 9/21/15, I added the last paragraph.)

On Mary Jane and Mary Marrying Jane

I never did understand all the talk about how this was to be the most crucial election of our lifetimes, until now. It's not Romney or Obama I'm talking about, nor control of Congress by the Democrats or Republicans. None of that. But, recreational marijuana won approval in two states, Washington and Colorado, and I believe this is the first time voters have approved such a measure. (Small amounts of marijuana are legal in Alaska and other states have have reduced small amounts to being infractions, instead of misdemeanors) Voters in Maine and Maryland approved same-sex marriages. Okay, I'm just joking in saying now I see why this election was the most crucial in our nation's history. Still, these two things seem significant.

Monday, November 5, 2012

   Let Federal Government Keep Lands, That Our Word Be Our Bond
Your word is your bond, it is said. This being true, surely then, Utah should give up efforts to take public lands away from the federal government.
   Our word is our bond. We gave our word we would not do this thing, and we must not. Way back before any of the current generation were here, the federal government handed us a little paper to sign. Called the Utah Enabling Act, it set forth the conditions for us becoming a state.
   Read from it, what we signed: "The people inhabiting said proposed State do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within the boundaries thereof."
   That's sweet and simple and easy to understand.
   When I presented this to one of the legislators who voted for the bill calling on the federal government to give us those lands, he suggested the provision was only put in the Enabling Act just to establish clear title.
   Clear title or not, we still signed it. 
   When I brought it up with the chief sponsor of the bill petitioning the federal government to turn the lands over to us, he, also, did not seem fazed.
   This movement to claim public lands from the federal government has been around for decades. It once was called the Sagebrush Rebellion, but we have gotten away from using that term much. From appealing to the courts, to burning a National Parks Service airplane in Alaska, those in the movement have been quite vocal about their perceived rights.
   Ironically, though, the very document that says, No, to them says, Yes.
   They point to a phrase saying that money from public lands that "shall be sold by the United States subsequent to the admission of said State into the Union" is to go to the state to pay for schools. To them, "shall" means the lands must be sold. I say otherwise. I say that where it speaks of the federal government selling the land, it is saying that IF the federal government sells the lands subsequent to Utah becoming a state, then the money goes to the schools.
   They also quote from a part of the act that says, "and that until the title thereto shall have been extinguished by the United States" without quoting the words that come just after that, which say, "the same shall be and remain subject to the disposition of the United States."
   That the law does give the contingency of what should be done with lands sold by the federal government prior to statehood, but it does not say all lands must be sold. To the opposite, it says until that time, they must remain subject to U.S. disposition.

    And, to the opposite, the agreement forbids us from pursuing these lands. We said we will "forever disclaim all right and title," and so we must.
   For our word is our honor.

John Jackson for House District 44
   I would to sell you on a candidate -- myself -- who likes to think he is not for sale.
   This time, elect someone who doesn't accept money from special interests, be that from corporations or from civic-cause concerns such as education, for if it is wrong for influence to come from anyone, then that includes it being wrong for it to come from even good causes. A couple years ago, when I asked one state candidate about taking contributions, she shot back that, no, she wouldn't take money from anyone who doesn't serve the public interest. Somehow that has an ironic spin to it. Do we say the bad guys shouldn't be allowed to practice the crime, but the good guys should? Wrong is wrong, even in small matters, and if you consider this a small matter, it still is one we should not like.
   We set finance disclosure rules because we see the danger of special-interest influencing. It's like we know our system is wrong, yet instead of changing it, we simply make sure it is transparent.
   If wrong is wrong, change it. Don't simply monitor the wrong, get rid of it.
   Some would argue in favor of allowing contributions from individuals, but can't we be just as beholden to an individual as to a lobbyist? Why set up a system that shields off one person's influence, but allows another's?
   No one doubts the reason many give money to politicians is they want them to remember them when elected. Most contributors do not do that, but the candidate often cannot know which ones are doing it until after the election,when legislation appears on the table that would benefit the contributors.
  Well, your vote counts. One vote for either of the other two candidates is not likely to decide the election, it is not likely to be the deciding vote. But, a vote for me sends a message against influence spending. In me, you will get just as much of a prudent, thoughtful, reasonable, and well-reasoning public official as you will if you elect one the other two candidates. This time, cast a vote for someone campaigning without contributions.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What Would George Washington Think of Today's Libertarianism?

   What would George Washington think of today's libertarianism, which holds that government should not restrict prostitution, pornography or drug usage? I do not know, but I found three quotes that make me wonder:
   "Discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness."
   "Licentiousness may not be substituted for liberty."
   "Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness."
   Licentiousness is unrestrained immorality and the ignoring of legal restraints. Washington often wrote about the need to put down the Whiskey Rebellion, which was an uprising against an alcohol tax. When he used the word "licentiousness," did he view the uprising, itself and alone, as licentiousness? Or do the above quotes refer to unrestrained immorality as we think of it today, applying to such things as prostitution, etc.?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

You Cannot Vote for Just Anyone You Want

   You cannot vote for just anyone you like in Utah. Nope, can't do it. Your vote won't count.
   You can only vote for candidates registered with the state. If you write in someone's name, your vote will be trashed. It won't count unless that person is registered as a write-in candidate.
   Are we to be told who we can and cannot vote for? Are we to cast our vote only from a state-approved list of candidates?
   I guess I do think this is wrong. A small thing, in ways, but in principle, it is a big deal. Isn't voting for whomever we choose a basic American right? Somehow, I assumed we've had this privilege ever since Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and a few others sat down and drafted the documents making this the free-est nation on earth.
   I say, change the law. This is America. We deserve not only the right to vote, but the right to vote for anyone we choose.

I'll Cast My Own Vote, Thank You
   The caucus system is a great idea in that it involves the citizenry in the political process. Keep it, then, but change it, because it has one very big flaw: What do we do when we get to the caucus meeting? We turn our right to vote over to someone else. Is that such a good thing? We elect someone to do our future electing, sending them off to convention to select the slate of candidates for us.
   It doesn't make sense, to me, to get all dressed up and go to a meeting in the name of being involved just to cough that right to be involved up to someone else. What makes the thought even less palatable is who we are coughing up our future participation to: political activists.
  Why not use the caucus to pare down the number of candidates, and to come up with proposals for party platforms, but invite the whole bunch -- everyone -- to come along to the next step, the convention itself? (We could teleconference our conventions to combine different venues, making room for everybody.)
   Government of the people, by the people, and for the people doesn't mean surrendering your right to vote to political activists. It means keeping that right for yourself. So, if you don't mind, I'll cast my own vote. If the caucus meetings are such a good idea because they involve the people, then having the people along at the next step, the convention, is also a good thing. A good patriot doesn't surrender his rights, he exercises them.