Thursday, October 31, 2013

Israel Seeks but to Stay within Israel

   I do not believe Israel has ever involved itself in any war other than those affecting itself. I don't believe it has involved itself in any war that was not for its own defense. Although the Six-Day War and the 1948 war did expand the nation, never has it expanded beyond what is considered Israel. Never has it invaded another land to conquer it, to subdue it. When the nation was being shelled by missiles so much about a year ago, it tolerated them for a good time before responding with missiles of its own. This is not the picture of a war-making nation.
   I say this because I hear from those who oppose Israel, who think it a corrupt and evil nation. I listen to their accusations, though, and I do wonder if there have been atrocities committed by Israel. If there have, I do not apologize for them, nor condone them. But, it remains that Israel is not the aggressor in the Middle East. Israel seeks but to possess the land that is considered Israel, and has been considered Israel going back to biblical times. It is not Israel posturing to attack and take over other countries, but it is those who oppose Israel who would bring war to that land. If you side with peace, you do not side with those who seek war there.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Take Just One Word Out of Stand Your Ground

  I'll meet you halfway on one of the provisions of Stand Your Ground laws. I won't insist we get rid of it, if you will agree to take just one word out. Just one word. Remove that one word, and I'm good. Well, the way it is written, we will have to take a few others, to get at the offending word, but it is just the one word that I am after.
   Here, I'll quote from Utah's Stand Your Ground, and see if you can pick out the word I'd drop.
   "A person is justified in using force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury only if the person reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to the person or a third person as a result of another person's imminent use of unlawful force, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."
   Spot it?
   I'd rewrite the Utah Code this way:  "A person is justified in using force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury only if  that force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to the person or a third person as a result of another person's imminent use of unlawful force, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."
   I'd remove that word. Judges and juries and prosecutors often are not in position to determine what the gunman was thinking, what he believed. Often, if he says he believed he was in danger, so be it. No one can question him. He becomes his own judge and jury, in a way, for it is his to determine whether he had the right to pull the trigger.
   I am not against laws that allow people to defend themselves. I am against laws that allow ccriminals to defend themselves against justice.

Lessons to be Learned from Haun's Mill on its 175th Anniversary

   While we often consider what we can learn from mass murders today, as we look to avoid them, are there not also lessons to be learned from the past? Today, Oct. 30, marks the 175th anniversary of the Haun's Mill Massacre, one of the largest mass murders of its time. On Oct. 27, 1838, Missouri Gov. Lilburn Boggs issued an extermination order, calling for LDS people to leave the state or be killed. Three days later, about 55 militants attacked an LDS settlement at Haun's Mill, killing at least 17. It is not thought that Bogg's decree incited the mobsters, as they probably had  not even had time to hear about it. But, none of the 55 attackers were prosecuted, and one wonders how they could have been, since the governor gave such an order, and they had his permission to murder. What lessons are to be learned? Too many guns? Hatred kills, not guns?
   I consider how those were different times, that a governor would even dare to issue such an order. And, it makes me wonder about all the guns that were around then, perhaps even more than we have now, per capita. Guns back then were even more a part of daily life. Did that affect their attitudes, that a governor should get away with issuing such an order, and that the attackers were not even prosecuted?
   The mobsters may have not been afraid of being prosecuted even though they were unaware of the governor's decree. I consider that back then, hatred of a minority was more acceptable. I consider that the unending call for tolerance is making a difference, and has made us a better society.
   I consider the danger of government by militia, where we suppose that since government exists only at the will of the people, the people have the right to step in as a militia and put things straight. I fear such an attitude rising today, so perhaps this is a lesson we might also learn.
   I consider how when government is not vigilant, when it does not do its duty to police the people, the people are more likely to commit such a crime.
   I consider how outlying settlements were more vulnerable then, compared to today help being but a cellphone call away.
   But, perhaps most of all, I consider on the answer I received from James R. Olson, when I posted this on my own timeline: "The same lessons we refuse to listen to throughout our sad history. First, love one another. Second recognize, and to the extend humanly possible, do away with, the concept of the 'other'. John, I am an atheist, you are not. We are different as we are the same. Your rights and privileges and mine are the same. Experience shows me that the first step to killing a human being is to dehumanize them, to paint them as different or inferior, and consequently separate from "us", or our tribe, if you will. We must make it unacceptable to paint another human being as different or inferior, or less deserving of basic human rights than others. I am no fan of having dozens of hand guns around the house loaded or not, but a gun is an inanimate object which will only cause damage in the hands of a damaged human being. All the guns in the world left to themselves are impotent, and not really my concern. That's a start, I think, what say you?"
   I especially like his thought that a gun will only cause damage in the hands of a damaged human being. He is most wise to see through to what we should learn. He is wisest of all to see that love is the solution. It was hatred in the hearts of the militia men that led them to kill the LDS settlers. They were damaged human beings. James Olson's comments got me thinking of the youth in Nevada who killed the a teacher last just better than a week ago, and of how one of his classmates said he was really a nobody among those at the school. That indicates the boy did not recieve much love. he was damaged and caused damage. The greatest lesson to be learned from Haun's Mill, and from most any mass murder, is that love makes a difference. If those militia men could somehow have been taught the principle of loving others, they would not have murdered others.
   If we, as a society, would to end mass murder, the greatest thing we could do would be to foster love, teach love, and practice love. That might sound like a trite and silly answer, but I beg to differ. Love can be taught. We can encourage each other to love everyone. And, if we did teach love more,  and practice it harder, some people would become better, and somewhere along the line, a mass murder would go uncommitted.
  No time to edit this tonight. I need to go back to bed.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Obama Administration Should Allow Benghazi Survivors to Testify

   I do so question how this can be, that the State Department could prevent Benghazi survivors from testifying. Can government, itself, stand in the way?
   If it is the truth we seek, why would we not allow the witnesses to testify?
   If it is a speedy and public trial we seek, such as is called for by the Sixth Amendment, I suggest "speedy" might include not impeding the trial. I suggest a fair and impartial trial is not so far adrift from what the Founding Fathers wanted us to have. And, if you would suggest congressional hearings are not a form of trial, I would beg to differ. They are.
   If it is justice we seek, why would we prevent the survivors from testifying? I suggest, the Sixth Amendment also promises the accused the right to bring witnesses to his defense. I suggest, when the Founding Fathers wrote that, they intended to prevent the government from denying witnesses, which is exactly what the State Department is doing. It matters not that it is the prosecution that is being denied the witnesses, for the bottom line is, the court procedings are being denied witnesses.
   Justice is not justice if it is not allowed to speak. Let the survivors speak.

Monday, October 28, 2013

I Signed the Petition Asking Utah to Reconsider Stand Your Ground

   Murder is as serious of a sin, and as serious of a crime as there is. If we have a loophole in our murder law, allowing someone to take another person's life needlessly, we have a grave error in our law book. As a moral people, a people that does not justify murder, it seems we should jump to reconsider Stand Your Ground in this state. Utah wants to be the most moral of states, and the last state to justify murder.
   So, when I this link, asking me to sign the petition, I signed it.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Today Marks 175th Anniversary of Order for Extermination of LDS

   Today, 175 years ago, Missouri Gov. Lilburn Boggs signed Executive Order 44, calling for those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to either leave the state, or be killed. It ranks -- or should -- as one of the more infamous moments in American history.

Legalize Hemp

   Legalize hemp.
   Note, I did not say, legalize marijuana. I remain against that. But industrial hemp and marijuana, though cousins, should not be considered together. Hemp has uses ranging from rope to textiles and even as food. Marijuana is high in THC content, the ingredient that gets you high. Hemp is not. It has but 1 percent or less content of THC. If you smoke hemp, you don't get high, you get a headache.
   I would imagine they look much the same in plant form. Allow it to be legal for the sheriff to sample the crop, to ensure it is hemp being grown, not marijuana.
   Already, it is legal to buy and consume hemp, at least in Utah, and I would imagine in any state. I find it in health food stores I frequent here in the Salt Lake area.

Marijuana Users are Connected to Crime

   Ran into a clerk in a health food store who favored legalization of marijuana, and who argued its usage is not connected to crime.
   I differed, and came home to find what the Internet might offer. I found this story, saying a study was done of those arrested for crimes and more than half of the males tested positive for drugs at the time of their arrest.
   And marijuana was the most prevalent drug they tested positive for.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Key to Good Education is Finding Each Person's Passion

   As the U.S. scrambles to find its way back to the top in education, it ought to take a tip from a genius, or, that is, from the story of how Jacob Barnett became a genius.
   Jacob's is a story you've probably not heard -- yet. But, the way some talk of him, you'd think he will be the next Stephen Hawking. At age 14 or 15, some say he has the stuff that will someday make him a Nobel Prize winner. Now, Jacob didn't start this way. He has autism. His parents reportedly were told he probably would never learn to tie his shoes. And, his mother was pressed to not try to teach him more than the basic skills.
   Well, enter that mother, and continue this story.
    Kristine Barnett took her son to the a planetarium where a professor was lecturing one day. The teacher threw out some questions -- and little Jacob's hand shot up, and he offered answers. Kristine soon was letting Jacob lead the way, as to what he studied. The things that interested him were the things she encouraged him to study.
   Now, this model sometimes flies in the face of our current education program, where we hold back on physics and such until after they learn basic reading, writing and arithmetic. Maybe one key to good education, is to turn them loose on their educational passions as early as they display such passions.
   Find their heart's desires, and you've found the key to having them learn. 'Tis a principle that makes difficult all the canned programs and set curricula and standard tests, for you cannot measure one person against another when they all are on different paths, excelling in different things. Not to say all such programs and testing are bad, but they are if they don't leave room for individuality.
   You encourage genius when it is young. You don't tell a 14-year-old Bobby Fischer that chess is a man's game, or a six-year-old Wolfgang Mozart that he must wait to write his first musical composition, or a 15-year-old Pablo Picasso that he must learn more before he will really be a painter. You don't tell the teen-aged Beatles they are too young to perform, and must first get musical degrees. Talent comes without license, and so does genius. You don't tell eight-year-old William James Sidis, who some say is the smartest person to ever live (with a IQ of 250-300) that he is too young to be messing with logarithms.
   You don't suppress dreams, you open them.
   Oh, I would argue genius can come late, as well as early. But, the point is that most all geniuses developed  by pursuing their interests. You get to genius by starting with something you love. So, shouldn't the model for good education be that you find each person's starting point and set them off on that path? As soon as you find their key, you help them turn it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

13-Year-Old With AK-47 Looking Pellet Rifle Would Still be Alive if . . .

   This story broke our hearts: A kid shot, when he didn't even have a real gun. He carried but a pellet gun styled to look like an assault rifle, and police supposed it was a real weapon. Heartbreaking.
   A couple thoughts come to mind. One, Police are  often trained to shoot to kill, not to maim. I know the argument is that if you aim for the heart, you have more leeway for not missing. Still, it doesn't go unnoticed on me that had they shot his arm, he'd still be alive. Two, Doesn't our preoccupation (as a society) with guns have something to do with this? If the boy had been taught not to value guns so much, would he have had a pellet gun fashioned to look like an AK-47? He'd still be alive.
(Note: Story edited Oct. 26th.)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Spirulina, Let Me Live to Run a Marathon at Age 101!

  What? Not just one, but two people claiming to have run a marathon at 101 years of age?
  The first story says I need to eat spirulina, green tea extract, and broccoli. The second story would seem to suggest I need but a package of cigarettes smoke and a bottle of beer.
   Which will it be? 
   Well, I run to my kitchen -- where I just happen to have a neglected bottle of spirulina pills -- and swallow two. Morning will come, and my spirulina surely by then will have kicked in and I will be one healthy, healthy person, capable of not only running on that treadmill but maybe even leaping over it!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Of the War in Iraq and of Men's Hearts Failing Them

   This day, you get a Sunday-type post on a weekday, for it is what I suppose I can put together the quickest, and I am late for bed.
   A news story comes, telling of the hundreds of thousands of deaths associated with the war in Iraq, telling of the non-violent deaths tied to the war. And, it says heart attacks and cardiovascular problems were the leading cause.
   Men's hearts shall fail them. I think of the scriptural prophecies of this.
   "And in that day shall be heard of wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them, and they shall say that Christ delayeth his coming until the end of the earth." -- Doctrine and Covenants 45:26. (The Doctrine and Covenants is a scripture book of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)
   "Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth." -- Luke 21:26. Even so, the study reports men's hearts failing them as they witnessed war, even as the scripture says hearts would fail as there were wars and rumors of wars.
   I do not know whether the scriptures were speaking figuratively of men's hearts failing them, or both literally and figuratively. Nor do I know if the study is correct, accurate. Also, I realize heart failure has probably been a leading cause of death not just in these final years of the earth, but probably for as long as the earth has been..
   But, I do know it is good to look for the signs of the Savior's coming.
   "And it shall come to pass that he that feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man." Doctrine and Covenants 45:39

Men's hearts will fail them in the last days? The study says the leading cause of non-violent deaths was heart attacks and cardiovascular conditions. These are just the deaths tied to the war, I understand. How they would know which heart attacks were associated with the war, I do not know. Still, I much wonder if this is a fulfillment of scripture.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sam, You Advertised it as a Shutdown, and Gave Us Only 17 percent?

  Here's an estimate that only 17 percent of the government shut down. Hey! Next time, they gotta do us better than that. We deserve more. We've decried big government all our lives, and now we finally get a chance at reducing it temporarily, and the best they give us is 17 percent? To the streets, my friends! To the streets! They spun this as a government shutdown, made us think we were living through one, and all we got was 17 percent? Truth in advertising? There is none! Deceit! Deceit!
   Lol. Just having fun, but I do wish next time we praise the shutdown, instead of condemning it. I would love to see us, the people, step in and do the things government doesn't do.
   And, yes, I do believe it was overplayed. I do believe it was less of a shutdown than what it was made out to be. I don't know if it was as scant a shutdown as 17 percent, though, but perhaps.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Utah Could be First to Fight GMOs

   No state yet requires food to be labeled if it is genetically modified. No, not one.
   GMOs, they are called, short for genetically-modified organisms. They've been with us now since the mid-1990s. In 2005, they gained greater entry into our meat supply when the FDA approved genetically-modified alfalfa seeds and cattle began eating the new food. Same year, genetically-modified sugar beets were approved.
   I have always shied from too much meat, believing in the advice to eat it sparingly. Now, I have more reason to avoid meat. Milk, I quit drinking it a year ago, and now see more cause to not drink milk. Sugar? I have recently tried to quit eating it, and now have more reason. The GMOs in meat, milk and sugar might not be harmful, but the wee bit of studying I have done makes me wonder.
   If Utah required the labeling, it would prompt us, the public, to wonder what GMOs are all about. When they checked into it, many would learn the dangers being posed to the our food system.
   Maybe more on that later. For now, I must go to bed.
   (Note: Post modified 10/20/13)
   For my own research in the future, here are some links:

Legalize CBD, which is a component of Cannibis

   Would be good to have the benefits of marijuana, where there are benefits. A Utah mom, Jennifer May, is spearheading a drive to legalize use one of he components of marijuana as a treatment for seizures.
   Notice I said one of the components would be legalized. Marijuana contains CBD, which is the helpful ingredient for seizures. Rather than taking the whole of marijuana, they extract the CBD. The component that gets you high, THC, is left behind.
   It does seem CBD should be a legal drug.

Goblin Valley Rock Takes a Fall at Hands of Scout Leaders

   It took nature who knows how many years to balance a rock in Utah's Goblin Valley State Park. This week, it took Scout leaders but a moment to destroy it, and glory in doing so. Watch the video. The Scout leaders seem to have think they were doing the right thing, saving people from the danger of walking near the rock just as it collapsed.
   Perhaps, the park might have fenced it, and it could have become more of a feature attraction at the park. But, now that opportunity is gone, gone in one impulsive moment.
   We all make mistakes, do things we wish we wouldn't have. Surely, the Scout leaders are feeling remorse for this mistake.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

One is Taking Us Hostage, but the Other is Not?

   'Tis true, then, that the bill restoring government and upping the debt ceiling contained pork. I like John McCain's comment: "It shows that there are people in this body who are willing to use any occasion to get an outrageous pork-barrel project done at the cost of millions and millions of dollars."
   During the debate on the government shutdown, President Obama spoke of the tactic of taking hostage, suggesting that was what was being done by fashioning it so that the appropriations couldn't be approved unless the Affordable Care Act was defunded.
   Why is it not the same thing that the appropriations (and raising the debt ceiling) should not be achieved without congressional members also being forced to accept these pork provisions? Many felt they had no choice but to vote to raise the debt ceiling. The had no choice but that their vote should also count as a vote for these pork projects.
   Same form of taking us hostage.
   It is simply wrong, when a nation's health is up against the wall, to opportunistically slip in riders like this. We should be asking to find out who inserted them, and asking them why they did it. Many have suggested Obamacare should be debated on its own merits, separate from the appropriations bill. Why then should these projects not be considered on their own merits?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Three Quick Thoughts on the Impasse being Over

   Due for bed. No time to give any of these these things much attention, but I do have three thoughts as the government shutdown ends.
   1. I read how the bill contains pork. I do not even have time to study, to know if this is true. But, oh, do I wish it were not so. Oh, do I disapprove. It seems this is the formula for getting bills approved, insert some pork. I remember a few years ago when I learned the bill to raise the debt ceiling had pork inserted in it -- and the pork was courtesy of my own senator. This is a bill many congress members consider so vital to approve that even if they violently oppose giving money to a pharmaceutical concern (such was what was inserted), they have no choice but to vote for it. Being so opportunistic as to help a campaign contributor at such a dire juncture of national need does seem not right at all.
   2. I do wonder but what the media failed to give fair play to Cruz and Lee and Boehner, and also to the government shutdown. Wish I had saved the articles. It seems the tone of many were negative -- not just in the quotes from sources, but in the what the news writers said. And, where there any articles at all that searched out any good that might come from the shutdown? If we, as a nation, opposed the shutdown, it is no wonder. The media fed us no other opinion.
   3. And, that brings up my lament. This is opportunity lost. The moment is gone. Many of us have lamented big government for years. Many of us do wonder if it could be cut in half and we would be better off. This was our chance to experiment, to see if we could get along fine without so much government. Would that we had jumped, more, with private charities stepping in to help, and with private enterprise offering jobs to those who had been furloughed. Utah stepping in to open the national parks? That was a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Do Parties Help or Hinder Wise Decisions?

   Politics (meaning public policy) would be purer if we took politics (meaning political parties) out of it.
   What is it that makes us think we have to divide into parties, anyway? We would be more inclined to decide issues based on their merits, we would be more likely to adopt policies based on whether they are wise, if we didn't have parties pulling at us. As it is, we side up based on which side our team -- be that republican or democrat -- sides up on. We don't even need to think, we just pick our policies based on politics, based on which side our party is on.
   You cannot tell me it is a system that drives us to the best decisions. It is a system that encourages us to side up before we even know much of anything about the issue. Someone might argue that the party system provides opposition, and checks and balance, so that both sides of the issue get considered.
   My first thought is to say that is wrong, that people can disagree and have differences of opinion without having false differences of opinion ("false" meaning not natural, but rather prompted by loyalty to party).
   But, as I think more on it all, I do consider that without parties, there might be more of an inclination for everyone on a public policy board to agree, without considering both sides, if not for parties.
   So, my little blog tonight takes a U turn, and I am left not knowing which to think. It is too late to resolve this, as I must go to bed.

Monday, October 14, 2013

I Tend to Think GMOs Harmful

   Hooked up with another protest Saturday. As I was looking for the Federal Building, where I wanted to protest against the government reopening, I ran into a separate protest, this one against Monsanto. They marched for a few blocks, and I hooked up with them for a few of the few blocks.
   Part way in, I kneeled down and, grabbing one of my poster sheets, Wrote, ". . . And, keep the federal government shut down, too." I followed along at the end of the march with that sign.
   But, what of Monsanto? I have not studied it, but do tend to consider genetically modified foods (GMOs) harmful. I really should study it, and come up with a more conclusive opinion.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

'Now, We Just Need to Convince You to Stay Shut Down'

   Went a protesting, I did. Went down to the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building, and, being allowed no further than the public sidewalks, held up signs saying:
   "This might be a good idea you came up with, shutting yourself down."
   "Support the government shutdown. This is our chance to show we don't need so much government."
   "It turns out, we're doing fine without you."
   "Now, we just need to convince you to stay shut down."
   "Everything you can do, we can do better. Stay closed, and let's see if this works."
   "Please don't reopen. At least not soon. Give us a chance to see how much we like this."
   "If you didn't walk out, we were going to lock you out, anyway. (Just kidding, but don't hurry back.)"
   The idea for the last one was the idea of someone at work, though I cannot remember who to give credit to.

Perhaps We Deserve More of a Shutdown

   If failure to fund the government means an automatic shutdown, perhaps we should be concerned we are not getting our money's worth. Shut down more.
   I speak as someone who has really warmed up to the government shutdown, you see.
   If the shutdown is mandated, why was so much not shut down? Are we being shortchanged? If we have more than 2 million government workers, and only 800,000 were furloughed, that's not as much of a shutdown as perhaps we could have. We deserve better than this. Are we entitled to more of a shutdown? If the idea was to shutdown everything except the essential services and we didn't even shut down half of everything, maybe that's just not good enough. All our lives, we cry about how the government has too many programs and spends too much money, and now that we get you (government) to shut down, it isn't even a good shutdown.
   If this sounds uncaring for the 800,000 who lost their jobs, realize they are eligible for unemployment benefits. I would rather see us offer them new jobs, permanent or temporary. A prerequisite for receiving the benefits is not turning down an equal job. Why not we, as fellow citizens, then, offer them jobs? Nor am I uncaring about those receiving such things as WIC payments. Charity can fill that void. I heard of a group called the Peoples WIC here in Utah that was ready to step in and help those on WIC. The federal government issued emergency funding, though, so the Peoples WIC might be on hold.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Some Thoughts on Freedom of Religion

   "The only way to put your faith before your politics, is by not injecting your faith into politics. Otherwise, it's just all politics." So, posts someone on Facebook.
   I write back:
   "That is one thought, Gerald, but our values and where they come from have a lot to do with our opinions. You cannot say, I will strip my values from this and it will show that my values mean more to me than my decisions.
   "Every person should be allowed to form opinions based on their own values. I should not have to drop my own values and  thereby be forced to assume another person's values. Nor should I be forced to mask where my opinions are stemming from. We should not say, Yours are religious values, so you should not be bringing them into politics.
   "We should be allowed to interject who we are into what we think. To take this from us strips us of freedom of thought and exression. It takes from us the liberty to be who we will be. Or, at least it says, You can be who you will be, but not in public, or at least not when it comes to discussing social issues.
I say, Let a Christian be a Christian, and let him be it in public, if that is what he chooses.
   "Many do argue that it is the Christians who are forcing their opinions on others and that is why there should be a separation of religion from politics. I believe, however, that  to express an opinion does not force it upon another,  but to  suppress that opinion is a form of force."
   When another Facebooker notes that when we pass laws enforcing our opinions, that forces them on others, I write:
   "All laws are a form of force. It is not just the laws stemming from those with Christian backgrounds, but all laws. Someones values are behind every law. Do we say it is okay to have values behind our laws, but not Christian values?"
   When someone asks for an example, I write:
   "Any law comes from the values. Our law against murder being but one. The ACA stems from a desire to take care of people's health needs. That is a value, a moral one.
   "Not all share the values behind the ACA. If so, we would not have a budget impasse. While all might want to care for the sick and afflicted, not all see it as government's jurisdiction. That is not their personal value.
   "And, the backgrounds of the people largely determine their views, what they have been taught by others is a strong influence. Some value guns more than others, and such a value often comes with having been around those who champion guns, of hearing others tell them the need of guns for self-defense.
   "To ban Christian values, and not other values is discriminatory."
   And, later in the thread, I write:
   "To say a church should not be allowed to influence government laws, is to say not all influences should be allowed. If we are not 'banning' these influences, what are we doing?"
   And, shortly later:
   "Often, it is not the church, itself, but the just members in it who propose legislation limiting alcohol and tobacco. They come to the decision to propose the legislation on their own. To say this should not be allowed is to say their background should disqualify them from proposing such legislation. Everyone comes from a background. To say that's fine, as long as the background is not that of being LDS, is discriminatory."
   And, I write:
   "Some do believe it wrong that the church has an influence. They argue that separation of church and state means the church should not be allowed to have such an influence. You might say it is a justified ban, if you believe the ban should exist, but if the church is not allowed to have such an influence, that is a ban."

The Shutdown is a Libertarian's Dream

So, ten days ago we were ushered into the libertarian's dream world, for they believe that that government which governs least, governs best. The only portions of the federal government still open are those deemed essential. I, for one, am not so sure we should be upset with the shutdown. Instead, we should be anxious to show that we, the people, can provide the help to the needy. We can contribute where needed. We can offer the furloughed government workers new jobs, temporary or permanent. This shutdown is a chance to experiment, to see if libertarian government just might work. Seize the opportunity, America. Make good on this experiment.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sam Needs to Pay Up and Pay Up Quickly

   Perhaps you all don't need me today, after all. 'Tis true the day was wearing on with me becoming concerned that the credit-rating agencies warnings might go unheeded, and our debt ceiling might not be raised in a timely fashion.
   See, I do believe in raising the debt ceiling. I believe in raising the ceiling because I believe we should pay our bills. The vote for raising the ceiling is not a vote to increase our spending beyond current levels. What we've spent, we've spent. The vote is to increase the debt ceiling simply to pay for what already been spent.
   If we are to pay our bills, we must raise the debt ceiling. Don't even hesitate. Call both houses of Congress together tomorrow and pass the bill.
  Word comes, though, that meetings are close at hand to bring about just that, passage of a debt ceiling bill in a few coming days. (Yes, I'd urge them to wait no longer than tomorrow, but if they get it done within a reasonable number of days, perhaps that is suffice.)
   Now, don't mess with the turkey on Thanksgiving eve. Don't try to inject anything to do with the Affordable Care Act this close to the deadline (Oct. 17). We cannot risk falling into more bickering this close to that deadline. Perhaps more importantly, if we are talking about bills that are already due, I don't care if they are for Obamacare or what they are for, pay them.
   One more thought. It occurs to me that while the debt ceiling is to pay bills already rung up, Congress can fashion a bill to say whatever they want. If they want language in a debt ceiling bill that not only addresses money already spent, but money yet to be spent, they can write it that way. Don't do it now, because you haven't time, but if you want to put budgetary restrictions in the same bill as the one authorizing payment for bills already incurred, go for it.
   Next time.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Don't Hurry Back; We're Doing Just Fine Without You

   Pick up your signs and march, Americans. We're headed down to Zions National Park to protest against the park being shut down, and to protest against the government reopening it. We'll carry a sign, and it will say, "If you're moving out, we're moving in." And, we'll demand that the state government or us as the citizenry, or someone be allowed to run the park in the government's absence.
   Oh, but that is not nearly enough. We'll carry a sign that says, "Really, really, we're okay. Stay closed, Sam," and another that says, "No! You've got us wrong! We don't want you to reopen."
   See, there's a bunch of us who have been saying all along that the government ought to get out of this, and ought to get out of that. We've been saying for years that government spends way too much money.
   And, now it stops, and we're going to complain? No, guess again. This is our opportunity. This is our chance to step forward and do all the things the government has just left for us. Hungry people not getting fed? We can help. Was there ever a Katrina or a time when the Trade Towers were hit when we didn't step up and help? Why shouldn't we now? Eight-hundred thousand federal workers left without jobs? I'm not rich enough. I don't own a business. But, I believe America has thousands of businesses willing to take them in and employ them either on a temporary or permanent basis.
   We could step into this void, if we wanted. We could show we don't need so much government, anyway. We could carry a sign that says, "Don't hurry back, Sam. We're doing just fine without you."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Stop Your Bickering, America, and Seize this Opportunity

   Not sure we didn't hear we were deprived more things with the Sequester than we have with the shutdown. Well, maybe not, but, though there is a lot of pain, consider that everything considered non-essential has been shutdown, and is it so awfully terrible?
   As for the pain we do have, I wish we as a people would jump in to help meet the points of pain. If we would do this, this government shutdown could prove a decent little experiment, showing we can survive without much of the government spending.
   Instead of standing around whining and bickering, it would be neat to see the nation -- the people -- lift themselves up. Oh, and instead of complaining about the ineptitude of the politicians, it would be neat if we saw this as the opportunity it is. It is a golden chance to prove so much government is not needed. But we will not make that point unless we step in the void and do the things the government can't do due to being closed. And, it is an opportunity to serve others. People unemployed? I think it would be neat if private employers stepped in and offered the furloughed government workers temporary (or permanent) jobs.
   Stop your whining, bickering and fault-finding, America, and get to work.

Friday, October 4, 2013

I'm Warming Up to the Partial Government Shutdown

   So, how terrible is this government shutdown? I consider with the rest of you. I started against it. But now, I am warming to it.
   Though I warm to it, it is true, a government shutdown should not be allowed without much thought, for we do fear the dangers. We wonder about consumer confidence, and about the confidence of the credit rating agencies, and about whether we will entice another recession. We wonder that so many people should suddenly be unemployed, with no way to feed their families, and we wonder about those who will miss government assistance. We worry about national security.
  But, public reaction is as though these people in Congress are voting for a shutdown. They are not, not on either side of the aisle. Both sides are voting to keep the government open. They just can't agree on whether to keep Obamacare open, too. Consider the position of that part of Congress that supports shutting down Obamacare. They are willing to fund the government. Indeed, they are voting to fund the government, and they are voting to keep the government open -- all except Obamacare. They are saying, Yes, let's fund it, all except for this one part.
   I say, these are the people who are empowered to say what shall be paid for. Yes, they already passed a law creating Obamacare, but it remains their right, the same, to come along after that and decide what will and will not be funded. This, too, becomes law, and this, too, they have the right to decide.
  In the past, they may have taken the choice between funding it all or funding nothing, and always they have chosen to fund it all. But, it remains their right to pick what they will fund.
  With this said, I do believe they should choose to pay the bill for any service that has already occurred, simply because you pay for what you walk out of a store with. But, if the money hasn't been spent yet for portions of the Affordable Care Act, they have the right to say the money will not be spent.
   If a shopper in a store takes an item and puts it in their shopping cart, they still have the right to change their mind before they get to the checkout stand, as long as they have not damaged the item in any way. They still have the right to go back and place the item back on the shelf.
   So, put Obamacare back on the shelf. Buy everything else in the basket, but put Obamacare back on the shelf.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Government Shutdown is Your Chance to Shine, Private Charities

   Would now be a chance for Americans to respond like they did after 9-11, or after the earthquake in Haiti, or after Hurricane Katrina?
   The crisis is that many of those on government assistance are being shorted aid as a result of the government shutdown. Each day I open my paper to read of the need. I greatly wish Americans would step forward, like they did to help others after 9-11, and the Haiti earthquake, and Hurricane Katrina.
   I like the idea of private charities doing the work of helping the poor. I wish private charities did a lot of the work Uncle Sam is doing, freeing him up. It seems if we believe private charities can do it, now would be the time to prove it.
   Now would be a great time not to judge who needs help, but to just help.

Government Shutdown a Signature Moment for Who We have Become

   If you don't have an opponent, you will never go to war. The first step to create war -- if that is what you want -- is to divide, to create two sides, to create enmity, hatred and vitroilic fervor between the two.
   I will tell you this, there is about as much hatred and blaming between the Democrats and Republicans now, October 2013, as has been seen in decades and decades. It has reached a peak. Calls for civility and putting aside partisanship have gone unheeded. And, as the government shuts down, the impass is glaringly apparent.
    That we are not on the verge of physical war gives me no comfort. What is it that makes us think that to have hatred for each other, like this, is such a good thing? Love your neighbor, but hate all Democrats. Love even the stranger, but despise those dirty Republicans. Such is the reality of the way the Second Great Commandment is practiced in this Christian nation.
   I fear the government shutdown is a signature moment for who we have become.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Speaking Evil of Leaders has Nothing to do with being Civil?

   I joined a Facebook group that seeks to have civil discussion. Alas, the page is littered with vitriolic language. Speaking civilly of leaders seems especially ill-regarded, as if that has nothing to do with civility. So, I write my comment to the group:
   "Still do I like the idea of being respectful of those we discuss (government leaders) as part of being civil. Part of why I like it, is that helps set the tone of how we treat each other. Just as much, though, we are a nation divided by hatred, by parties. Why do we suppose this is necessary? Are we a nation of hatred? Have we become a nation of hatred? It does not speak well of us, as a nation, as a people. Do we speak of our neighbors the same as I see us speaking of the politicians? If so, love your neighbor has drifted far from America's heart. Why do we suppose we should treat people right, but somehow that should not include politicians? For those of you who are Christians, I know only of a scripture that says the opposite: 'But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.' " (2 Peter 2:10

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

2013 was the Year Defunding got its Start

   Thus it was, in 2013, the idea of defunding programs got its start. At the moment, it wasn't meant as a way to reduce the national deficit, but it didn't take Congress long to realize if they could defund Obamacare, they could defund other programs, as well.
   Probably not, but who knows but what history will record something along the lines of the paragraph above. I don't hear anyone even thinking along such lines at the moment, so, like I say, probably not.
   But, me, as we finish our first day of the government shutdown, I consider more on the idea of shutdowns as a way of reducing the national deficit. Now, this does not mean I like the current shutdown. It is very comprehensive. What I like is just picking some things, and defunding them. And, only defunding programs we have not already paid for, only ones where the money isn't already out the door and it is just a matter of whether we pay the bill, because we should pay our bills.
   Now, here's perhaps the biggest argument against defunding any part of the government: jobs. You defund a program, you lay off people, send them home to feed their families without having money to feed their families. Not a good thing. I've thought in the past that if we cut federal workers, we should place them in jobs in the private sector. I think this should be done, even if the federal government has to shepherd the creation of new jobs in the private sector in order to accomodate the dismissed federal workers.
   Doubt Congress would do this.
   And, what would likely happen instead, is many of the out-of-work federal employees would simply file for unemployment.