Thursday, February 28, 2013

This Man Might Just Be Willing to Pay His Share of National Debt

So, we're Facebooking along tonight, when one person offers to lay down $52,000 to help pay down the national debt!

Say, Whoa!

"I would like to stop all this sophomoric talk about the national debt," he writes. "I intend to do that by offering to pay off my share per capita which is $52,000. Are any of you whiners willing to join me?"


At first, I don't think he is serious, just jesting, just joking. I tell him if a person were to actually pay $52,000 to help pay down the debt, that would be news. And, what news it would be! I would guess it would be national news. Surely, he is just jesting, though. But, as as we write back and forth, he says he is serious, provided others join him. I offer to help organize a movement, to find others. Well, he doesn't respond to that, and I conclude he is only offering to make this small, little $52,000 donation if others on the FB site will join in right there and then.

'Course, that isn't going to happen.

Still, I wonder. I add him as a friend, tell him I would be honored to have him as a friend. And, well, who knows but what he might be half serious about paying his share of the national debt. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What if States Rejected Federal Funding?
Would it Mean They Were Rejecting Federal Spending?
So, what if states do, already, have a say in whether we continue to grow that $16.5 trillion debt, and whether the nation's budget is balanced each year? A fair share of all the federal spending is administered by the states, and it just might be that the states vote on whether they will accept the funding. Case in point: Tuesday, the Utah Legislature's Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee initially voted to reject $71 million in federal funding. They did re-vote, and in the re-vote, the federal funding was accepted. But, what if they had stuck to their original vote to reject the federal funds? Would it mean they were saying the money should not be spent at all, that it should go right back in the taxpayers' pockets?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How Can This Be?
How is it, then, that when they lowered the United States' credit rating, and when the deficit ceiling was the crisis, we could see something had to be done about the national deficit, and we set a Congressional committee to work, and they came back unable to agree, other than to say, "If we don't come to an agreement by March 2013, then these cuts will automatically take place," and, then, when March 2013 rolled around, we said, "Wait, this is too much." Never mind that the cuts were not reductions in overall spending, but just reductions in how fast our spending was increasing. We are not even reducing our spending, just reducing the rate at which our spending is increasing. If we can not even curb our rate of increase, what hope have we of ever dealing with the national deficit?

How Unwise are We on Food Stamps and Such Other Welfare?

Thought some more on welfare fraud, on how clerks at stores often let Food Stamps be used for coffee or cigarettes, or used for other things it was not intended for.

I don't know how much it happens, but I know it happens. Nor, do I like it that we set up a system where it can happen. We give them a debt card, send them down to the grocer with a debt card that is suppose to only be used for food, but with no way to say whether it will only be used for food. I wonder if all the clerks at all the stores are even trained to know that Food Stamps are for food only. If they are not, why ever do we suppose they will not stop someone from using the Food Stamps for non-food items?

It is, you must admit, not very wise of us to create a system with such obvious holes in it. Tsk, tsk.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ask the Defense Contractors to Cut Their Profits

Once upon a time, a company fell into financial trouble. Realizing its trouble, it went back to those it did business with, asking them to reduce how much they were charging for their services.

Actually, I'm thinking that is a normal-enough business practice. I've seen it done.

And, somehow, it seems this might be the time for the federal government to try this idea. Take our defense contractors. Would it be so wrong to ask them if their chief executives would consider taking pay cuts? Would it be so wrong to suggest they give up some dividends? Would it be wrong to ask the company officials to go back to their stockholders, asking them if they would be willing to hold onto their shares even though the company was planning to reduce the profits?

I do not know that that is even legal, asking stockholders such a question. But, if it is, I don't know why it would be wrong to introduce legislation making it legal.

Yes, you are hearing me right. I'm saying, Go to General Dynamics, and Halliburton, and Rockwell Collins, and Boeing, and Teledyne, and Navistar, and Lockheed, and Kellogg, Brown and Root  . . . Go to them all, asking each of them to cut their profit margin and cut their executives pay in the name of helping their country out a little.

Don't know how much, but, yes, it does seem a savings could be made. If this is the way businesses do business and if the U.S. is the biggest business of all and if it has the biggest debt of all . . . well, maybe we should try it.
Obama Stimulus Calls for Stimulus into 2019

I cough (okay, figuratively) as I just learn that last stimulus calls for spending way into 2019. Now, if you are trying to jump start the economy in 2009, why ever would wait until 2019 to spend the money?

I would doubt much of the money waits that long to be spent. Still, I do not understand, unless the logic is, if you inject the money into the economy, then take it out the very next year, the loss will cause the economy to turn down. In other words, the injection was very much like the injection of an addictive drug.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chances for Crime Increase When Tools for the Crime are Present

Leave the Second Amendment alone, and let us have no additional gun controls. But, I do wish we as a nation and state weren't so set on everyone owning a gun. There are dangers. Why did some of the wildest towns in the Old West (like Dodge City) require you to check your gun in at the marshal's office when you rode into town? They knew folks having guns meant folks having gun fights. Why does the military not allow guns to be brought on base? They know if guns are there, someone is apt to use them. It's common sense: the chances for the crime increase when the tools for the crime are present. 
From Whom Comes the Idea, Should Not Go the Profit

Wish we could go around, tapping on the shoulder each person who has suggested the prison should be moved, and say, "Fred, when it comes time to use this land, you can't be involved in anything, not in the selling of it, not in the buying of it, and not making any money from bringing any industry to it."

I don't know who all so far has suggested and lobbied for the move, other than maybe Greg Hughes, who has been a UTA lobbyist. If he, indeed, was one who approached the state to make the move (as opposed to simply liking the move but not being an initiator of it) then I'd tap him on the shoulder, and say, "Greg, no UTA yard, here. We won't be able to use this land for the UTA. I don't know whether it would be a great UTA location, anyway, but, just in case you might think of it, nix the idea right now."

'Cause we don't like the idea of special interests running our show. We just don't like it that someone might suggest how wonderful it would be for the state to make a profit moving the land, when all along it was they themselves who sought to make some money.

From whom comes the idea, should not go the profit.

America's Challenge is Two-Fold 

America faces this challenge: It must cut significantly into its defense spending while not endangering its ability to respond to possible attacks.

It must do both: cut spending and remain ready against invasions.

With a debt of $16 trillion, our nation should see it has no choice but to cut spending -- no choice -- and not just mildly, but drastically. But, with the words of George Washington hanging on a wall somewhere, we are reminded that our state of defense cannot be allowed to slip to where we are not prepared for most any contingency. Said Washington, "To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace."

This is a time we must consider twice or thrice before getting involved in foreign aggressions. We cannot afford them, so to enter into them is probably not wise at the moment. We must maintain our own state of readiness, but even there we must look for places where we might be spending without getting results, and cut them.

Frankly, I say we should even go to our contractors, asking them to cut their executives' pay, and to cut the profit margins they are enjoying. I do not know that I would have them cut their line workers' pay, or the pay of their general office workers. But, perhaps a savings could come from cutting the profit being made at the top by the executives and shareholders. Yes, I would suggest to them that they consider the situation our nation is in, that they consider how vital is the need for America to cut, and that they consider giving up profits they can live without.

Patriotism is not in the turning of a dollar at the expense of your nation. Patriotism is turning a dollar over to your nation even though it comes at personal expense.
Should We Leave Europe to Europe?

Leave Europe to Europe, at least to some degree. This is not a belief I am solid on, but one influenced by a teaching I found from one of the past leaders of the church to which I belong.

"The greatest and most powerful fortification in America is the 'Monroe Doctrine.' . . . It was the inspiration of the Almighty which rested upon John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson and the other statesmen, and which finally found authoritative expression in the message of James Monroe to Congress in the year 1823," said President Joseph Fielding Smith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (I found the quote on the Internet, and it cited the source as from the book The Progress of Man, by Deseret Book, pp. 466-467.)

The Monroe Doctrine called on Europe to not interfere in the colonization and affairs of America. In return, it pledged America to steer clear of interfering in European matters.

President Ezra Taft Benson in 1962 reaffirmed that the Monroe Doctrine was inspired, with the indication that the Doctrine still should be followed, rather than let go of as being a policy that while inspired, was inspired for another time.

Friday, February 22, 2013

We Would Strip Corporate America of the Right to Free Speech?

Would you believe this: A movement rises to strip free speech from corporate America, to take the right to speak from PACs and churches and businesses and any other group that is an "artificial entity."

They would take away free speech -- one of the most basic of all human rights -- and they would do this right here in America?

The startling thing, to me, is that the movement is winning in so many ways. The startling thing, to me, is that I run into so many people who agree with them. The startling thing, to me, is that while this issue has hardly caught the public's eye, when it has, people are buying in with it.

The startling thing, to me, is that (if I've been told correctly) Montana's voters have passed legislation calling on leaders to push for a constitutional amendment stripping free speech from corporate America. A citizen's initiative also passed in Colorado, but it called only for corporate campaigning limits, not actually altogether taking free speech from corporations. California is considering putting an initiative on the ballot. Voters in about 175 local entities have passed initiatives calling for amending the Constitution, and the governing bodies, themselves, of about 350 local entities have passed measures pushing for a constitutional amendment.

So, as I said, in many ways this movement is winning.

We begin to wonder if it might be more than just a small, extremist minority. It might be a substantial portion of America siding with the idea that corporate America should not be accorded the right to free speech. In an America whose history has been a steady march to extend freedoms to more and more, giving it to women, to blacks and others as we have advanced, this might well mark the most significant step backwards. It might be the most successful effort ever to take rights away.

Listen to their arguments, and tell me if they don't allure even you: Corporations are not people, and money is not free speech, they say. They look at all the PAC money unleashed in the last election, and can see it wasn't just. They see special interests controlling America so deeply that our leaders make their decisions based not on what is best for the common person, but what is best for corporate concerns.

You, the citizen, probably take it all in and say, "True, true, true," to each and every point. And you would ask why it is I am opposing such principles.

You read from the wording of the proposed amendment, and tell me if there is cause for concern:

"Artificial entities . . . shall have no rights under this Constitution."

My reply? If you seek no more than campaign spending limits, or if you want to do no more than to remove special interests from government, then word your proposed amendment accordingly. But to say artificial entities -- meaning businesses and churches and political action entities -- shall have no rights, that is dangerous language. That is language that does more than just assuring that money is not free speech; it is language that strips liberty and freedom from parts of our society.

Nor will achieve its aim, if the aim is to stop PACs from spending so much, for what is to stop a rich person from buying the ads? The payer of the ad simply shifts from being a PAC to being a person.

I say, only humans have rights, so it is only humans that can lose them. If we are to take rights from anyone, we can only take them from people. The piece of paper establishing Citigroup as an entity could care less about its constitutional rights. So, if only people have rights, how is it truthful to say that this amendment would not restrict the rights of people, that it would affect only corporations and artificial entities, but not people?

If Everyone Individually can do a Little, 
Everyone Together can do a Lot.

What if we did decide to make a productive person out of ever person in our society? What if we said, No one needs to go without work. Even the unemployed and those on Disability and those on welfare can work.

Everyone. Or, just about everyone.

So, we gave them all jobs, and tried to make every job meaningful. Let's say, though, that we ran across an 85-year-old lady with fingers too arthritic to do much of anything. She was not in condition to shuffle paperwork, and not in shape to type on the Internet. So, we let her read books, history books, and file reports over-the-phone. With today's technology, phone recordings can easily be converted to a written document, and our 85-year-old lady's report could be placed on the Internet, for others to learn from what she learned. It wouldn't be much, but it would be contributing.

If everyone individually can do a little, everyone together can do a lot.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Let those on Public Assistance Work

I suppose I don't understand why we don't let everyone work, everyone receiving social assistance of any kind.

We need not make ditch-diggers out of them, but each can offer something.

Everyone, or almost everyone. Some might be in a coma, but most anyone else can do something. If they can come in and do no more than organize paperwork, that's fine. If they are so sick they cannot come to the workplace, let them do something in their own homes. In the age of the Internet, a lot of work can be done at home. If their hands are so bent, they cannot operate a computer, give them do other work, perhaps asking them to read something in American history, and then give a verbal, over-the-phone report. I think it would be very seldom a person could not do something.  Doing to a little bit, whatever it is you are able to offer, is not being oppressed. It would keep minds active that otherwise might slip into inactivity. 

And, many who are disabled would actually appreciate being able to do something for what they receive.

Obama Should Rescind Jack Lew's Nomination

Saw a story about how Jack Lew, the nomination for Treasury secretary, received a $940,000 bonus, and the suggestion was that he got it fir getting Citigroup its $7 billion bailout. We should demand that such things cannot be, that we will decry and oppose them whenever we see them. We should be ringing Obama up and saying, "Hey, didn't you say a few years ago that it was obscene that companies needing bailouts are giving bonuses to their top executives. What is this, then? Please retract Jack Lew's nomination. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

They Would Bribe Him to Give Them Illicit Gains?

What if a Citigroup executive were told he would bonus $940,000 if he could secure a position with the government, the idea being he would then be in position to influence the government to benefit Citigroup? For, according to Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, it happened.

The Citigroup executive? Jack Lew, President Obama's nomination as secretary of the Treasury.

The payout? Don't know that Lew obtained a government job, but he apparently did win the $940,000 bonus, anyway, being paid the day before the government awarded Citigroup $7 billion.

Graft and corruption? I read how the definition of "graft" is the practice (especially bribery) of obtaining of illicit gains in business or politics. Guess you could argue anything Lew would do for Citigroup wouldn't be "illicit," but I surely say it was. Sure seems to me to be graft. Sure seems like bribery, to be offered almost a million dollars if you will find a way to get on board with the government so you can use your influence on behalf of the company.

You might argue that Citigroup needed the money, that it all ended up saving the company and helping save our economy. I don't know, though. It does seem Citigroup was asking Lew not to use more than logic to convince the government. Citigroup was asking him to get on the inside, where he could use more than logic, where he could use a-good-old-boy, you-are-one-of-us,-bonded-in-a-brotherhood emotion, I'm asking, should we be giving out $7 billion because someone cuddles up to us?

Hatch recalled President Obama's warning from a few years back, that it was time to stop the revolving door carrying special interest influence in and out of government.

Well, I don't know if Hatch's charges are accurate, but he does reference an employment agreement between Citigroup and Lew, seeming to have gotten the information directly from reading the agreement.

I sit here, thinking how this story broke about a week ago. No scandal has followed. Oh, the Wall Street Parade article does refer to Hatch's revelation as a "bombshell." But, we certainly haven't seen much of it in the media.

So, do we simply dismiss it as scandal 90023? Or is it not even a scandal at all? Is this simply the way politics are conducted, and no one even bats an eye, hardly reports it, and doesn't give a care?

Bat a eye, then, and agree with me that we should not stand to allow such things.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

We Position Our Lobbyists Before the Legislators

What is this, lobbyists buying the lunches for the legislators as the legislators go on break? Lee Davidson's Salt Lake Tribune article today reveals as much.

The luncheons place the lobbyists in a friendly fashion before the legislators at the most opportune of times. They allow the lobbyists to display friendship and good will and camaraderie at the very moment the legislators are considering the lobbyists desires. Influence peddling? This is influence peddling at point of impact, and coming from those who have money. Should we actually have a program that provides lobbyists such access, bringing them to the front of the line, ahead of other citizens, and more or less saying to the lobbyist: "It is you we will allow to extend good will to our legislators at this key time. It is you who will have this moment of impact. Bring your gifts and do well." Perhaps if there is to be a program where as legislators step out to recess, they find themselves greeted by those wanting legislation passed one way or the other, then those waiting to greet them should be the common citizens coming without gifts.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Maybe Food as Food is a Welfare Answer

Okay, maybe we should change things up, big time, with many of our welfare assistance programs, no more issuing checks, or debit cards, or Food Stamps.

Part of the reason to do this, is to fight fraud. 

The best way to avoid fraud is to have a system where it can't take place. In fact, that might be the only way. We don't know how many store clerks help their customers out a little, letting them use Food Stamps for cigarettes or pornography or whatever. But, this could help stop it. 

Deliver the food as food.

Now, you might warn me that there is going to be a whopping big delivery bill for all this. But, I mean this: Why-oh-why does it have to be the government delivering the food? We have food banks everywhere. Many of the food recipients live close enough they can pick the food up. Food banks also often deliver, though, so let them when they have to.

Expand the charity food banks. Let them build bigger warehouses. They are already doing this (providing food), so why take the job away from them? Why not just expand their role? Instead of expanding government, for once, expand the public's role. And, let the public continue to donate to the food banks, encouraging more contributions to cover increased expenses. (Food banks, though, already get federal dollars, so we should be looking for ways to shift that as much as possible back to public donations.)

I read a story recently, of how since we jacked up our cigarette taxes in Utah, now as much as one-third of the cigarettes are now contraband. I don't smoke, but it seems almost all cigarettes sold are sold at established, reputable stores. Are the clerks actually selling one-third of the product as contraband? I do very much doubt it. I can hardly imagine. But, it does make me wonder how many clerks are helping their welfare customers out. 

Well, as I close, I do see what might go wrong, and it is that the food banks might become too reliant upon the government for their support. Our charities will need  to go out and hire sizable new staffs, expand their warehouses and such. So, we must make it so that the money being allotted can only be allotted to pay for the client's food bill. The food bank must be forced to get the new money from public donations. You might say this won't work. I say it might. I say just because the public must participate more, does not mean it won't. I do believe in an America that steps up when something needs to be done. I do believe in an America that doesn't think the government has to do everything. I believe in an America, in fact, that actually would welcome this change.

And, I believe in starting a shift of welfare from the government's shoulders to the shoulders of the public.

So, while I ought to whittle my mind some more on this idea, it is a thought worth whittling.

More on the Sixth

Patient, you are, to listen to me hollering about how we need a little fix-up in our court system, to bring about the "speedy and public" trials promised us in the Sixth Amendment. To hear me talk about it, it is almost as if we never did get around to practicing the Sixth, and we need to institute it for the very first time.

Today, I tell you two things. One, this will work sometimes, but there are times a speedy trial truly isn't practical. I say, it works wonderfully in John Swallow-type cases, where a lot of evidence exists right from the start. And, there is a clear suspect.

But, some cases do take long-and-drawn-out investigations, in order to assemble enough evidence to convict. In such cases, it might well be impractical to hold a trial too quickly.

The second thing to tell you is, yes, you're right: There is also the Fifth Amendment, and it has its own say on how court proceedings are to be conducted, and it says a person cannot be subjected to the same offence twice. 

I like it that the initial hearing should bring all the facts known at the moment, and all the witnesses known, and bring them together to declare whether enough evidence either does exist or is expected to come forth. If it is determined the evidence likely to come forth already is available, then the case proceeds on the spot.

And, if there is an acquittal, yes, that ends the case. As for appeals by the defendant, they too should be limited. Not sure where to drawn the line, but the Fifth Amendment does, in part, work with the Sixth, in that it does not call for appeals. Some have suggested that if it is not fair to let acquittals be appealed, then perhaps to be fair to both sides, convictions should also be final. I am not ready to toss out our appeals process, but I do consider that we should rein it in.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

'A Nation Bringing Forth the Fruits Thereof'

A man is just to read the Scriptures, and wonder.

So, today, I am reading along and come to Matthew 21:43, where the Savior is speaking. "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof," says our Lord. Which nation would the kingdom be taken from, then? Was it not from the Jews? I could be wrong, but so it seems to me.

So, which nation was the kingdom to be given to? Look at the nations of the world since Christ's time, and look for a nation that qualifies. We are given but this to go by: that it will be "a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof."

I know not all the nations since Christ's time that we could put on a listing of "good" nations. But, I do believe the United States would be among them. I also think of how this land has symbolized itself as a Christian nation, with "In God We Trust," being printed on our coinage, and the words, "In this be our motto: In God is our trust," being in the national anthem, and, "one nation under God," being in the Pledge of Allegiance.

You can argue whether such things should be there, but they are. Few nations have so visibly attached themselves to God. If a "Christian nation" has ever existed since the time of Christ, outwardly, it does seem it would be the nation we call America.

But, what of inwardly? What of Christ's words, that it would be a nation bringing forth good fruits? One could argue whether the United States fits. But some would say no nation has ever been more of a do-gooder than the United States. 

I do not know whether Christ was referring to the United States, for it is not for me (not being a church leader) to know, definitively. But, as a simple person, I  wonder. And, it does seem to me He might have been referring to America. 

Do we leave it at that? Or do we wonder if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is this kingdom of God Christ spoke of? The church was brought forth in America, which is the place we are speaking of. It's members (myself included) believe it is God's kingdom. The church teaches that one of the meanings of "Zion" is America. It teaches that some of the gathering of Israel was to take place in America.

No, I do not think it wrong to wonder but what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being in America might be what the Savior was referring to.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Welfare Should Not Increase One's Lifestyle

Public assistance?

I'm just thinking out loud here. And, I'm thinking maybe one thing should not be allowed. The person on public assistance should not be able to increase his or her lifestyle by going on assistance. If he or she didn't have a nice car to begin with, why should going on Disability suddenly mean a pricey, polished car is now in order?

Along with no nice, new car, there should be no step up in housing. A person who couldn't afford a mortgage, shouldn't be given housing money that suddenly moves him or her from renter to homeowner, unless the mortgage is no more than the rent was.

These things might be rare. Increasing one's lifestyle through public assistance might not happen much at all. But, yes, I do wonder. 

John Swallow Case Cries for the Sixth Amendment

As much as any other case I can think of, the John Swallow situation underlines why it is so important that the Sixth Amendment promise of a speedy and public trail should be accorded our citizens. And, it underscores that it is not happening. Of course we should have a quicker system. Why would it in any way be wrong to have a trial right after the charges come up, and to bring all the charges and evidence and witnesses that at that point are available and act on them immediately? It does seem to me that that is no more than what the Bill of Rights calls for. If the case is pursued beyond that initial trial, so be it. If further investigation is warranted, and more evidence is found, and more witnesses step forth, that is fine. We already have cases lingering in the court long past when they were started. At least by having a quick trial, some of them can be nipped.

The spirit of "a speedy and public trial" promised in the Sixth Amendment suggests that wherever we can move to resolving such issues rapidly, we should. If this means quicker impeachment proceedings, that should happen. What are we waiting for? "Speedy" does not mean waiting six months while a cloud of doubt hangs over Swallow and his office. It does not mean leaving the office strangled until a resolution is finally arranged. Every government and political body that has a determination of justice to make in the matter -- whether it is the courts, themselves, the Legislature, or the party -- should be pursuing their decisions in "a speedy and public" manner. Seems to me that way, at least if the words of the Bill of Rights are to be taken to heart.

One more thought. Injustice is not in being tried and condemned. Injustice is being condemned without being tried. No, that does not we mean we wait for the courts to run their course, for we can see that the public will condemn on its own time frame. If we are to provide justice, then, we must place the trial ahead of the public's rush to judgement.

Friday, February 15, 2013

For the Sake of John Swallow, Bring on the Sixth Amendment

I'm guessing John Swallow did have a breach of conduct. But, whether or not that be so, he deserves better of us. 

For the sake of John Swallow, give us a faster legal system. I submit, if we had the legal system the Constitution calls for, much of the injustice we are seeing might possibly be avoided.

How is it just that Swallow should be forced to resign before he has even had a chance to have his name cleared in the courts?

How is it just that all this was under wraps from the public while the public was deciding who to vote for? 

How is it just that Utah is now saddled with an attorney general who some say cannot be effective due to the cloud upon his name?

So -- should we be listening -- comes the words from our Bill of Rights, wafting down though the years, that "the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial." Wisdom, there is in that injunction, for some justice cannot be accorded unless it is accorded speedily, and publicly.

What could we do? We could refashion our justice system to fit with what the Bill of Rights suggests. We could make it so a public trail takes place about as quick as the charges come up. A decision of first evidences could be rendered. All the evidences then available, and all witnesses then known, would immediately be called to the court, and everything laid out before the court, and this "decision of first evidences" rendered in a speedy and public way.

If more evidences, more witnesses, and more investigation came later, so be it. Let them come and let them be accepted. That would be extending the case no further than what it already is. But, some of these cases would be nipped. Some would go no further than the initial court finding. Sometimes, the good name of individuals would be preserved before irreparable harm was done.

If Swallow resigns, and then is later exonerated, what will we do, put him back in office? Time will have swept on. Better that justice is served while it can be served, than when it is too late.

Apples and Oranges, are These Executive Orders

Oh, you who would argue executive orders have been around all along and Obama has issued fewer than many other presidents. You might yet prove right. But, I do know that everything in our listing of executive orders is not in same class. Apples and oranges, it is.

George Washington's first executive order, if we can call it that, was to direct federal officers of the outgoing Articles of Confederation government to prepare a state of affairs report for him. That's hardly what we'd consider to be an executive order today. Imagine how many things would count as executive orders if President Obama listed every time he directed someone to give him a report.

On the flip side of the argument, the side saying we have long governed by executive order, is President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves. Surely, that is the most significant executive order in history.

Some would argue President Clinton's creation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah is an example of executive decree. It is. It was done by executive order. But, it is not an example of an executive decree that is not attached to a law to giving authority for the action. The Antiquities Act of 1906 gives presidents the authority to create national monuments.

I'm thinking some of President Obama's actions are going to stretching it when it comes time to ask what laws they are attached to.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Is This a Historic Shift in American Governance?

Are we witnessing one of the biggest shifts in governance in American history?

I cheered when I saw some of the early changes Obama made in our immigration system. Then, it finally reached through my thick little skull that these changes were being done by executive order. And, in the latest change or two, it was made clear and out-in-the-open that it was being done by executive order, as opposed to being by interpretation of existing law.

I think of a letter written to the President, from 200 or however many of our great legal minds, calling on Obama to use executive will. I think it was on the immigration issue. And, I wonder if such an endorsement as theirs furthered Obama's thoughts that this was the right way to govern. 

And, I think of the Mitt Romney ad, and of how it said on the first day in office, he would overturn Obamacare, and many of us wondered but what that could only be done so fast if done by executive order. Did Obama's seeing that Romney would use executive order further his resolve that it was right?

Some have seen what is happening and have responded by mockingly referring to our president as "King Obama." True, he is elected, and kings are usually not, But, kings of a sort can be elected. If we so want to reorder our government, we can make it so it is one where we elect a single leader to govern for us, saying, "Make for us whatever rules you will. Be for us a king for these next four years."

Our nation was not set up this way. It was set up for the Executive Branch to carry out the programs. But the making of laws was given to another, to the Legislative Branch. Now we find ourselves at a point in history where this is being challenged like never before, or so it seems to me.

I am much opposed to those who would take up arms against this country, and turn my voice against them, but we must be doing something. We must rise up against what is happening. We should be crying out to our Legislative Branch leaders to stand up. With each executive order, the Legislative Branch should move to stop it, politely passing legislation overruling it. In each case where the Legislative Branch feels the executive order was wise, it can follow the same day by making those same changes by legislative action. But, the Legislative Branch must insist that it is its power, not the president's, to make such decisions.

Yes, I will end this post with a nod to those who say I am overreacting, that it might not be as bad as it seems to me, and that amount of government-by-decree is no worse than it has been under others presidents. I will wonder but what you might be right. I can only respond that I can see the executive order being used (and that, alone, bothers me). And it does seem more than ever. And it does seem to be more accepted than ever. And it does seem our Constitution did not set it up this way. And it does seem we should do something if we cherish the  government we were given.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Right to Vote Means Right to Vote in Timely Fashion

So, more than 200 years in, we still haven't figured out how to ensure every American equal access to the polls?

Mind you, if there is truth to the assertion that Hispanics and African-Americans were more than twice as likely as whites to endure long lines this past November, someone is going to wonder if it was set up that way on purpose. Corruption? Yes, if someone purposefully made it harder for some to vote than for others, that would be corruption.

It might be that there was no corruption, though. It might be that there were even-handed reasons that it ended up that whites didn't wait so long (maybe, even the survey got it wrong), but even if there are even-handed explanations, six or seven hours is wrong. Six or seven hours should not be happening. It is still wrong to let such lines ever occur.

Do whatever you want to have vote-by-mail, early voting, and maybe even online voting, but the polls open on election day should still be staffed and organized so that no one waits more than, oh, say, 15 minutes.

The right to vote means the right to vote in a timely fashion.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Why no Half Human, Half Ape Today?

   I do not say evolution did not take place, but the theory does seem to have some holes in it.
   Like, how it is that the evolution of man from monkey seems to be a one-time thing. If evolution is a true principle, why isn't it still going on?
   Seems we should have some more Neanderthal Mans having just reached that stage, or something like them having developed, and they should be running around in our backwoods, today. At least, some sort of half human, half ape should be in out in our jungles.
   Or, perhaps at the other end, why don't we see a human here and there who has progressed to the next stage, into something we see in the movies?
   If evolution was a one-time thing, that's one thing. But, from what I understand about the theory of evolution, it is still going on. So, it seems the monkeys and apes should still be spinning off new varieties, if not humans, then creatures a lot like the human, and just as intelligent.
Why not?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

 In this Sense, Science Lacks a Single Case History of Evolution
   I'm thinking, this evolution debate has gone on quite long enough without anyone considering the most critical of all points.
   And, if scientists are unable to produce on this one point, perhaps, their theory that man and horse evolved from a common ancestor suffers heavily.
   So, if I could, I'd tap them each on the shoulder and ask, "Hey, do you have even one documented case of what you are talking about? Do you have, in all of recorded history, even so much as one record of a bat giving birth to a bird? Or, do you have even one recorded case of a lion, -- through the years man has been present to document such things -- evolving from an elk? I'm not talking a lion evolving into a tiger, for they are pretty similar to begin with. But, I mean, has anyone ever followed a herd of cattle through the years until what once was a species of elk is now a species of lion?"
   You can argue back -- and fairly -- that people come and live and die and are gone long before the changes occur, and therefore no one is around to say, "Hey, that old elk I once saw so often in the hills, look, it beget descendants through the years, and I have the genealogy right here, and this line has produced  a lion by the name of Frederick, and he's living at Hogle Zoo."
   I'm just saying, I don't think science can produce a single case, but I'm uneducated, and I could be wrong.
   Let's make it easier on them, and ask them to use DNA. Can they produce so much as one case where they found a  set of bones of, say, a dinosaur (we'll call him Herman), and they  found he was the 145th generation descendant of the bones they found of, say, a dog (who will will call Spot)? A DNA genealogy from Herman to Spot. That's asking a little more than just saying DNA markers in one species are 98 percent matches of those to another species.
    You would argue that billions of animals that have lived, the odds on running across such a match are astronomical. True, but what of the bones of Lucy, who some would suggest we all evolved from? Can we take her DNA and the DNA of a human alive today and find find a genealogical line, showing the person today is the 9,875th great-great-great-(etc.) grandchild of Lucy?
   The answer to that, per chance you did look it up, is that DNA is lost when bones are fossilized (so, there is no DNA left in Lucy's bones), which puts an end to much of the DNA genealogy possibilities we are here discussing. I understand, DNA has but a 521-year half life, whatever that means.
   Bottom line is, though, science lacks a single documented case where one individual person or animal evolved into another, unless I'm just not knowledgeable enough to know about it.
   Evolution might still have happened. I do not say it didn't. I just say there is this hole in the theory.

Quick and Public: We Should Adjust Our Courts to Fit
   So, along comes the court, and warns Jeremy Johnson to quit talking about the federal case against him. 
   I don't like the warning, though I do wonder but what Johnson probably is being unfair in a lot of what he is saying. Is he tainting the potential jury, by speaking out so much? Seems to me, everything should be on the table in a court case, anyway. Maybe, rather than expecting the jury to come to the case with lilly-clean minds, get the case started earlier, and let everything that the press brings up get immediate attention in the court.
   Instead of worrying about the case being tried in the media, try everything the media brings up in the court.
   I'm just trying to think how things would be if we applied the Sixth Amendment. "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury . . ."
   If it's to be a public trial, why not make it fit together with information that becomes public, instead of trying to shield the public out?
   I do see a counter argument to what I'm saying, though. If every time the press covered the case, the court found itself scurrying to consider the new evidence, the case might, indeed, end up getting tried by the press. Each media outlet would be competing more than ever to uncover new evidence. Plus, the jury might be in session an awfully long time, if we are not careful. The way we work it now, the case proceeds to the point where it is ready for the jury, then the jury spends but a few days and all is settled. You're not being drawn out by the latest piece of evidence.
   Part of the answer might be that we could try the case quickly, cutting off new evidence at a point, and coming to (if you want to call it that) a binding but preliminary decision, binding in that unless an appellate court overruled the decision, it would stand, but preliminary in that the decision could be appealed.
   We already have an appellate process, anyway, and many a case goes that route, anyway. Why not get them started and on their way a little quicker? Plus, if you do act quickly, those in the media aren't going to have much time to come up with evidence of their own.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

As We Teach Each Other, So Shall We Become
   One of the latest shootings to make national new comes to reinforce the thought, As we teach our children, so shall they become.
   All of us are the children I speak of, and all are the teachers. We teach each other, with words of what is right and wrong, even as we teach our children. It is we, as society, who assign values to the gun. It is we, the people, in our debates and public discussions who teach each other.
   One of our teachings is that blood must be spilt every once in a while, in order for freedom to endure. It can be a good teaching, but it can also be dangerous. Take this, from the "manifesto" Chris Dorner left: a quote from Thomas Jefferson:
   "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants," Dorner quotes Jefferson as saying, and then he says he is not applying that to the federal government, but to the LAPD.
   Dorner, a former officer himself, killed one officer and wounded two others. He escaped and is now the focus of one of the biggest manhunts in Southern California history, with his manifesto promising he will return to take out others..
   Would that somewhere --- maybe even in his formal training as an officer, as well as in his public discussions, -- someone had taught him better.
   "Chris, that quote from Thomas Jefferson, does it give you the right to jump over a few seats and grab someone by the neck because they used the word 'nigger'?
    "No, Chris, it doesn't. In police term, it would be unnecessary use of force. And, if you think what you really should do in that situation is to hold a gun to their head, well, that gets into assault with a deadly weapon, assault of an officer, and threatening to kill. Okay? 
    "With that gun you are strapping on, comes responsibility. If you think it makes you judge, jury and executioner, we are hiring the wrong man. We execute the law by bringing people to justice, not by executing punishment. We leave that up to the courts. Do you understand?
    "Oh, and Chris, what if you find a homeless person beaten by a fellow police officer and the fellow police officer goes unpunished, is that right?
     "No, it's not. It is way wrong. Does it mean you pick up your weapons and go on a search for officers a few years later, seeking out and killing them one at a time? You are highly trained, one of our best. Do you know better than to abuse all we have taught you?"
   Well, I wish somewhere back in his upbringing, Dorner had been taught that the value of a life remains even in those who you judge to be very wicked. The power of the Second Amendment lies not in enforcing our own beliefs of who is righteous and who is evil. That is something we should teach each other.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Jack Nicholson is against Abortion, Grateful for His Own Life
   Here's a worthy thought on abortion, this from Jack Nicholson: We should be grateful for our own lives, and that they were not aborted.
   "I'm very contra my constituency in terms of abortion because I'm positively against it. I don't have the right to any other view. My only emotion is gratitude, literally, for my life."
   Nicholson was 38 when he learned the woman he thought was his mother was actually his grandmother, and the person he thought was his sister was actually his mother. Back in 1990, he said he was pro-choice, but against abortion. "I'm an illegitimate child myself and it would be hypocritical to take any other position. I'd be dead. I wouldn't exist," he said. 
   Nicholson made his acting debut in 1958, in a movie titled, Cry Baby Killer.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Quick Thought on Same-Sex Orientation being at Birth
   Didn't give the predisposition-to-same sex-attraction belief much thought, after all. But, I do think to post on what I did think. 
   Why can't both conditions exist? On one side, people have their sexual orientation set at birth. And, on the other, some alter (if if they do not entirely change) their orientation. When that happens, it is usually early in life. 
   This much I do know: Tastes can be acquired. Enjoyments can be acquired. People make choices, and I see no good reason a person would not be able to say, I am going to get some sexual fulfillment from someone of my own sex.
   Does that mean they can change their orientation? Probably not. It just means they would also be finding fulfillment in something that was not natural to them. (Updated 2-10-13)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tonight, I Think of Sexual Orientation

Alas, bedtime is upon me and I haven't posted. Quickly, then.

I choose to speak of gays, as I thought them today, what with the Boy Scouts considering the topic.

To reach the thought I came to, I started with this one: Each one of us has some insight, or can, into whether sexual orientation is locked in at birth: ourselves.

So, I considered myself. I've never been attracted to the opposite sex in the slightest way. But, let's suppose I were to make a mental decision to go there, do I believe I might end up there and enjoying it. I believe so.

Now, that would make me a bisexual, for I am not all convinced I could give up my attraction to females. I wonder, though, if long ago I mentally had found myself given to male attraction, if I might then have been able to have oriented all my attractions toward men, and convinced myself I did not like women. I do not know, but I will think about it and wonder some more.

Science cannot be easily discounted. No, not at all. Science says sexual attraction is something we are born with. But, I will wonder tonight as I go to bed. Science might well be right, but is there also a chance that we set our own orientation by the influences that come at us very early?

Perhaps not, but I do not think it wrong to wonder.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Our Gun Attitudes Must Change
   It is our attitude toward guns, the uses we assign to the gun, that get us in trouble as much as anything. You cannot legislate attitudes, but we should change how we view the gun.
   One of our attitudes is that the gun is there to protect private property. Another is shoot to kill. (I understand shoot to kill is actually taught in our concealed weapons classes.) Last week, a group of teenagers pulled into a driveway, thinking it was the home where a friend lived, and the homeowner came out with a gun, fearful his home was to be burglarized, and blew the driver away. The homeowner was a church-going man, with no criminal background, but now might face manslaughter charges or whatever. 
   Yes, I do wonder if he had been taught to protect his property with his gun.
   In another incident, this one in Utah, a man came home to find someone trying to break into his home. When the would-be burglar began to flee, the homeowner shot at him. We teach that if someone is breaking into you home, their life has no value, and they should be shot. I think we need to teach that all life has value, even the lives of criminals.
   We teach that if our rights are being taken away by our government, we should take up arms. Tell me that is not a dangerous thing to teach? It is great to protect freedom, even to fight for it, but sooner or later, someone is going to organize a sedition without sufficient cause. For all I know, the attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City was at the hands of someone (Timothy McVeigh) who had been taught to put government in its place with armed force. It was a bombing, but such bombs are a form of arms and fall under the Second Amendment. Was McVeigh influenced by public sentiment that the Second Amendment is there so we will have weapons to fight abuses in government, and, is that all he felt he was doing?
    Such things as protecting one's property, and standing up to tyranny are good things. But, we should be able to see the dangerous side of them, as well. If we are to teach them to each other, it would be good to teach the restraints that go with them, to teach that protecting property does not mean blowing someone away for trespassing, and that if use of a gun is not required, it is best not to use the gun at all. 
   Shoot to kill? If, per chance, we see a need to teach that there are times when you shoot to kill, then we must also teach -- and emphasize, greatly -- the times when one should not shoot to kill. And, we must teach about the sanctity of life. Perhaps as much as anything we should teach, it is this sanctity of life. Weapons are instruments of death. If someone is to have one, they become someone who can administer death. Would we not want to give them values, teach them that all life is valuable, lest they unnecessarily take the life of another?
    And what should we teach those who view the gun as a defense against tyranny, against government? I suppose we could teach them history. I understand our forefathers worked through civil means long before they took out their muskets and went to war. I suppose we could teach them that some injustice might need to be suffered, even some loss of freedom, without taking up arms? And -- this one will be a hard one -- I suppose it would be good if we didn't harp on and teach so much to each other about the evils of our government, that it is wicked. We are a country that loves to hate our government, aren't we? Is there any among us who does not decry, condemn, and castigate our country, our government? 
   Perhaps we should counter such thoughts, whenever we utter them, with comments on what is right about our current government, and what is good about our current government leaders. All I know is, giving someone a gun and telling them it is to be used to defend freedom when the government tries to take it, and then to teach hatred of that government could have a dire effect.
   We don't need to take guns away from people, we need to teach them what they are for -- and not for.
   That said, one of the values we should change is that everyone should own a gun. Some read the Second Amendment and assume it is their patriotic duty to go out and buy a gun. It is said America, with only 5 percent of the population, has 50 percent of the world's guns. We have, it is said, 600,000 guns stolen every year, and a large number of our violent crimes are committed with stolen weapons.
   Back in the days of the Wild West, they could see that just having guns around was dangerous. Dodge City, Kansas, and Tombstone, Arizona, both had laws requiring you to check your guns in at the marshall's office upon arriving in town. Today, our military bases require people to leave their guns at home, off base, when they are not being used. If the military can see the danger of everyone having guns, we all should.
   Everyone does not need a gun. I've lived all my 58 years of life without having need to use one.
   Guns can be good. I've heard mass murders often take place in gun-free zones, where the murderer feels he will not be opposed. I say, put the guns where you need them, but don't just scatter them at random.

  (I will finish writing this and edit it later. I'm late for work.)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Even as Our Nation Went to the Brink, Political Favors Continued

The senatorial candidate who went up in flames -- lost so bad it was a wildfire -- remains on a worthy Hatch watch.

Even while the Jeremy Johnson / John Swallow / Harry Reid scandal envelopes us, with Johnson wondering out loud what the difference is between lobbying and bribing, and even as we, the people, wonder as much as ever at the influence of campaign spending, comes Scott Howell, the defeated candidate for the U.S. Senate.

And, he says Hatch maneuvered a last-minute clip-on into the Fiscal Cliff legislation, delaying price controls on a life-saving drug. 

I fail to see how delaying such price controls would save us from going over the Fiscal Cliff. When I have heard about other riders on that bill, I have shaken my head. How is it that politicians would be so opportunistic as to extend to companies (can I say lobbyists?) political favors at a time like this?

Our nation's financial well-being is in the balance, and they are using the bill to attach pork barrel legislation and favors to lobbyists? Yes, it seems shameless.

Howell (in a Salt Lake Tribune opinion piece) points out that Amgen, the company that was being given permission to charge the public more for its drug, contributed heavily to Hatch's campaign.

Even though we might like Mr. Hatch, can we condone this? Should we not be demanding better? We should lament that our political system is so low that even some of those we consider as among the best are corrupted by the practice of extending favors to their political contributors, even as the nation is struggling mightily to avoid the Fiscal Cliff and many senators and representatives are feeling they have no choice but to vote for the legislation. They ended up voting for the pork barrel and the special interests even though opposed to them.

Putting such riders into bills is a time-honored protocol. Rewarding political contributors with favors is an accepted practice. This is the way business is done in Washington, and such practices did not pause even though our nation went to the brink of the Fiscal Cliff.

I like Sen. Hatch, but this is not right. The corruption is so en graven, that even some of the best and brightest find no wrong in joining into it.   
These were Americans -- Utahns -- and they set about making theirs a better society.

Didn't wait for government to tell them what needed to be done. Didn't even wait until they could agree with each other on what should be done.

They just set about doing what they could, as individuals. They took each problem one at a time, and said, "Well, what can I do to help?"

Will finish this post later

Friday, February 1, 2013

Let Us Say What We Want, and in What Language We Want

We could require immigrants to learn English in order to be granted citizenship. But, I'd sure hate to see us to do that. 

In America, we should be free not only to say what we want, but to say it in whatever language we want. There is no law saying everyone has to attend community meetings, to get to know each other, and, in the same vein, we shouldn't be required to learn the same language in order to get to know each other and to communicate with each other.