Monday, June 30, 2014

Throw Your Arms Around the Child, Even if From South of the Border

     Why not do the humanitarian thing and let the children remain? Are we concerned that there are criminals among them, or that they are going to take jobs from our own citizens? Why is it that these children -- and it may be they are fleeing from violence and are in need of protection -- should be turned back to the harms they are fleeing from?
   Immigration reform? Why not Congress take up just this corner of the issue? Why not act while the crisis is here? Why not pass a law allowing the children to stay?
   Yes, I know some are concerned that the reason they are coming is that word might be out that they will be allowed to stay. "A pervasive rumor," it is called, and President Obama has gone on record to counter it, saying the children will be deported.
   Perhaps, instead, this is a rumor we should make good on. Let 'em stay. Children in need, they are. Let them stay.
   Now, that being said, yes I do see the what could follow. You let the children stay and coming up behind them might be parents who demand to also be allowed in, so they can be with their children. I suppose at that point, you could say, "No, but here is the child. We're sending him back to your arms."
   I confess that I would prefer us to say, "You, too, may come." At what point do we see that our policy is wrong if that policy is to reject the needy from coming to America?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Liked the Statement from the Church

   Liked the statement issued yesterday by the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles, I did. It affirmed only men are ordained to priesthood offices. But, the priesthood blessings are available to all men and women, it said, noting all church service has equal merit in the eyes of God.
   Yes, I wish those of the Ordain Women movement might the statement and abandon their drive for obtaining the priesthood. Who knows. Could they not recognize this is God's spokesmen on earth speaking, His prophets speaking for Him?
   I also greatly appreciate that the statement said, "We understand that from time to time Church members will have questions about Church history, or practice." I think it quite normal for members to have questions. Do the questions bring doubts? Often they do. But to assume that a person is on the road to apostasy just because questions arise seems a little much to me. "Members are always free to ask questions and earnestly seek greater understanding," says the statement. I find that comforting, for I am among those who have had questions. Of a truth
   For me, I have concluded there will always be questions, always be things I don't understand, things I do not get answered to my satisfaction. I think, though, of the stories in the Four Gospels of how those around Christ hardened their hearts, not considering the miracles already before there eyes. I think of the time, just after a miracle, when they asked Christ for a sign from heaven. God does not need to give me new miracles, nor new evidences. And, likewise, He does not need to answer every question I have in order for me to believe in His church, for He has given me evidences enough.
   For every reason not to believe the church, I have found a more compelling reason to believe.

Jews are Jews, Usually both by Race and Religion

    The significance of the Jews being the world's only race with an accompanying religion primarily just for them crossed my mind yesterday. I guess it is most, anyway, though I haven't looked up the numbers. I did search a little yesterday. What I found was that some do not consider Jewish as being a race.
   It is significant because these are a covenant people
   It has long been significant to me that the Jews were scattered around the world, yet did not mix enough with other races that they were no longer a race of their own. Now, I add to that  my consideration how many Jews remain in the religion of the Jews and that Jewish might be the only designation that refers to both a race and a religion. More than just that, this the only religion on earth where such a large share of the race belongs to a religion dominated by that race?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

With His Bullet, Came the Dominos

   Ever heard of Gavrilo Princip? He started the world's first world war.
   This day has marked the 100th anniversary of Princip's pulling the trigger and killing the archduke of Austria. June 28, 1914, set in motion an series of events that led to such upheaval and war as the world had never seen. Four empires were brought down. Millions of lives were lost.
   With the United States entering the fray and making the difference, the Great War marked the emergence of the U.S. as the world's policeman, and as the world's greatest war power.
   Out of the ashes of the Great War came the idea of self-determination, letting parts of nations determine if they break away and go on their own.
   And, some say the roots of World War II are to be found in World War I.
   What change, then, this 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip unleashed upon the globe. And, consider that he did it with a gun, a single gun, I believe, as opposed to using an arsenal when he shot the Archduke of Austria Franz Ferdinand.
   Somewhere in Princip's upbringing, he learned the ways of the gun. And, with his bullet, came the dominos.

Reality is that Utility Workers, Cops, and Others do Enter Fenced Yards

   The biggest name in town right now is that of Geist. Okay, maybe that is a little over the top, and not just because this is the week of the NBA draft and there is Dante Exum to contend with.
   But, Geist looms large, what with him being shot and killed by Salt Lake Police Officer Brett Olsen, the same Officer Olsen who was a hero in the 2007 Trolley Square mass shooting.
   Geist, who you may have heard, is a dog. Officer Olsen was out searching for a missing three-year-old when his search took him into a back yard, and an angry Geist was there to protect it.
   Now, as to whether Olsen should have been in someones back yard without permission, Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Kirby points out: "Lots of people have legal access to our yards without our permission, including city workers, mail carriers, meter readers, fire-and rescue people and cops. Our dogs don't get a free pass at them."
   So, it might boil down to whether Olsen could have backed away and left peacefully, or whether Geist was about to sink his teeth deep into Olsen's flesh. Let's see what the internal investigation determines.
   Now, it does seem officers (and meter readers and others) ought to be trained to take pepper spray or some such with them when they enter fenced areas. A fenced area often means a dog, and often that dog is of the biting variety. So, common sense says bring something besides a gun if you are to enter such a yard.
   Geist is an international martyr. His cause is being taken up on the Internet around the world. His owner is calling for Olsen's termination. "Justice for Geist," says some of the signs at the protests.
   Should Olsen be fired? Probably not. If it becomes clear he could have backed away and left peacefully, then perhaps fire him. If he was truly protecting himself from being bitten, then definitely do not fire him.
   And, give some consideration to the fact he was doing his duty. 
   While it is true officers ought to think to carry mace or pepper spray whenever entered fenced areas, it is also true homeowners ought to realize there are those who will need to be coming into their yards who may need to shoot their dogs if the dogs get violent. That is not a pleasant reality, but it is reality. Reality is that fire and rescue people, meter readers, utility workers, and cops should be afforded the right to protect themselves.
   Maybe it should be policy that they carry mace or pepperspray. Either way, we should not take away their right to protect themselves.

Paolo Macchiarini at Forefront of This Medical Breakthrough

   He uses not an organ from another person and transplants it, but rather he fashions out of the person's own stem cells taken from bone marrow, and he creates a new organ.
   Is this to be considered an artificial organ? I believe the word being used is bio-artificial.
   Dr. Paolo Macchiarini of Italy is the leader in this breakthrough technology, accepting cases that other doctors will not. "As a human and as a doctor, are we allowed to say, 'No'? I don't think so," Macchiarini has said.
  While bio-artificial wind pipes have been planted in patients, this new, science fiction like technology is yet to be applied to such things as artificial hearts. The advantage of fashioning the replacement organs out of ones own body is that you sidestep the body's rejection to parts that come from other humans, and, therefore, of course, you do not need the anti-rejection medications.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Why is Segregation Applauded in the Holy Land?

   Would it be segregation if you suggested a certain race shouldn't be putting up housing units in places they don't belong?
   Some don't think Israel should be building homes in Golan Heights, the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. Spain and Italy have now joined other European Countries in warning their citizens not to invest in the settlements.
   I'm a little at a loss trying to understand what is wrong with the settlements. Is it because it is Jews who will be moving in?
   Now, if some country were to say, No blacks can move into our country, that would be considered racist, wouldn't it? So, how does this differ? I understand, of course, that the idea is for Jews to live in one part of the Holy Land and for Palestinians to live in the smaller spots. But, like I say, that seems like segregation, to me.
   Why not let both people live both in Israel, and in the Golan Heights, the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem -- and the Gaza Strip?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Give Me a Studious Electorate Ahead of One that Knows Little

   While we are anxious to have a high voter turn-out, voter turn-out is not as important as something that goes unmeasured and probably cannot be measured.
   How many study the issues and vote on what they learn.
   What have you accomplished if you get 50 percent of your voters to turn out, but they know nothing about the candidates when they arrive at the polls? Rather than concentrating on voter turn-out, we should be striving to put an election system in place that encourages the electorate to study both the candidates, themselves, and the issues those candidates are espousing.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

So, You Wonder if Women will Ever be Given the Priesthood

   There is a difference in the roles of men and women, in God's plan. Turn to The Family: A Declaration to the World, and read:
   "By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners."
   When God created man and woman, He only gave to one the power to bear children. Did He slight the male in that action? I think not.
   Will women ever be given the priesthood? I am not in position to know. I do not know so much as whether, in a way, women already have the priesthood. That is not saying they do. That is just saying that is how little I know.
  At this time of Kate Kelly and her Ordain Women organization, perhaps we might wonder on these things. But, neither you nor I know, nor are we likely to be told. God has prophets to speak to, so if He is to speak on this matter, He will speak through them.
  I do wonder if Kate Kelly and her group want change -- want women to have the priesthood -- if they ought to be appealing straight to God. Perhaps they are. I only say that since prophets get their direction from God, you cannot expect them to make the change because you say it should happen. That direction would have to come from God. So, Kate Kelly's group, it would seem, should be appealing to God to speak to the prophets.
   But, I do know that women and men have different roles. They were created different and they were given different tasks.
   Another thing to note, is that God is a male. How much weight you give to that, in wondering whether women will ever be given the priesthood, and in considering on the different roles of men and women, I do not know.
   But, it does seem to have some pertinence.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On Kate Kelly

   Kate Kelly. It was neat she encouraged her followers to remain in the church. It was neat a church spokeswoman emailed just before the verdict saying prayers were with those who have to make difficult decisions as well as with those who might be placed outside the church congregation.
  Goodwill is a good thing.
  One of my thoughts is that it is one thing to suggest you believe women might someday receive the priesthood, but it is another to demand the church grant women that priesthood. By demanding, it is as if to suggest the church is out of line in what it is doing.
   I do feel sorrow Kate Kelly was excommunicated, but it does seem if you rally people to suggest the church is wrong, that well could get you excommunicated.
   I believe in a God who is over the church. I do not know his ways. As the scripture says, My ways are not your ways, neither are my thoughts your thoughts. I do not know whether women will have the priesthood some day. I know they are not granted it now. Whatever God does, whatever He decides, is fair. Is there a chance God wants women to have His priesthood, but the church leaders on earth are not in tune enough to realize it? I only know that if God wanted to get that message through to them, He would.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Save the Immigrant Child

   The tens of thousands of children pouring into the United States illegally from Mexico has placed  a new face on the issue of illegal immigration. And, of course, it is easier to sympathize with the plight of children, easier to sympathize when the face is children than when it is adults.
   How do you turn children around and tell them to return to their own country? The response of many is that you don't. Rather, you welcome them, you house them, and you help them. If their parents are here, you get them to their parents. Why ever should there be a law, in the first place, that keeps children from being here with their parents? If you are going to deport the parents -- if you feel you must -- then deport them. But, until you do, let the children be here with them (and leave with them).
   As for the bill, as for the $2 billion the Obama Administration is asking to take care of these child immigrants, let it be financed through private charity. I have trouble thinking people would not rally to save the children if a charity were to step forth and ask for contributions.
   More than 70,000 children have been apprehended in the past eight or nine months? Save them. Help them. Bless them.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Testimony

   As an accompanying blog to the one I posted last week, I will reveal my own strength of testimony. I would not be surprised some might take my testimony as not being strong enough. It has been tried. There have even been times when it was tried so deeply that for a moment I lost it. I remember one such occasion lasted a span of five days, and left me weaker long after.
   I believe in the church.
   I hesitate at times to say I "know" it is true, but, no, I do not consider mine a weak testimony. One scripture says that if a person knows a thing he has no reason for faith. Indeed, I have considered that if God was going to let us know for sure that the gospel is true, that would defeat, in a way, one of the reasons for us being on earth, for we are here to gain faith. That is why we left God's presence and why our memories for pre-earth life were covered.
   Faith it is, then, and faith is fine with me.
   I have a saying, Truth doesn't run from knowledge. I do believe in considering questions if they are honest and searching. I do believe we should not turn away, but rather we should honestly consider all things, even if those things trouble us and our beliefs.
   But, that we find evidence against the church does not mean it is not true. To assume that is to discount the evidence that says the church is true.
   In the time of my testimony's trial, I cried at the prospect the church might not be true. I know longer see that as necessary. This is God's work. What evidence He wants to allow, He will allow. If the church is true, yet appears untrue, that might be because God allows it to be that way. I have come to appreciate the scripture in which the Lord says He will show the world that He is able to do His own work It is His work, and I need not lament how He handles it.
   Let God be God and give to us what evidence He wishes. I think of how Christ, just after performing the miracle of feeding 4,000 with seven loafs, was asked by the Pharisees to give a sign from heaven. Even so it is with us, perhaps, for we have evidences, if we will see them, and it might be that we will not be given more.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

From Redskins to Natives in the Flash of a Name Change

   Would a team adopt a disparaging nickname? Say, would they call themselves the Washington Stupids or the Washington Disfunctionals? No, when you pick a nickname, you pick one you can wear with pride.
   Unfortunately, even if the Washington Redskins like their name, a good share of Native Americans consider the term offensive. Indeed, the Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary says the word "redskin" is offensive and should be avoided.
   If, per chance, you named your team the Stupids before you found out it was offensive, you would be so embarrassed you would change the name as quick as you could. So, I guess the Washington Redskins ought to change their name.
   How about calling them the Washington Natives? The city already has the Nationals in MLB. The shortened version could be Nats for both teams. No, that isn't a reference to the insect, so it should not be considered derogatory.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Did Sheriffs Break Their Contract with BLM?

   There should be no surprise the Bureau of Land Management has terminated contracts with sheriff's departments throughout the state to provide law enforcement on BLM lands.
   No surprise.
   You don't just refuse to provide a service you are being paid to do and then expect the client to not drop you like a brick. Not much more than two months ago, the San Juan sheriff did just that. Activists staged an ATV ride on protected BLM land in  Recapture Canyon in southeastern Utah. Although the ride was on land that was closed to such riding, Sheriff Rick Edridge declined to enforce the law. He was there, and indicated his presence was to keep things from getting out of hand. But enforce the law? Eldridge said BLM officers made the law, so let them enforce it.
   Well, although news that the BLM has canceled the sheriffs' contracts broke just this week, the story didn't say when the cancelations happened. Maybe it went down before Recapture Canyon. Either way, the BLM is now justified for not wanting the sheriffs to provide its law enforcement.

A Year and a Half too Long a Time for Deciding Whether to Press Charges

   "Manipulated Evidence," that's what the lawyer for former West Valley Police detective Shaun Cowley calls the evidence against her client.
   I wonder if the evidence she refers to includes the supposed path the car took as the victim, Danielle Willard, attempted to get away. Willard was backing up when she was shot. Cowley contents that he felt threatened that the car could hit him.
   Ian Adams, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, noted it took the district attorney almost 600 days to make the decision to file a charge against an officer who had only seconds to make his decision to fire at Willard.
   Good point. It does seem if the case were solid, District Attorney Sim Gill would have decided to charge Cowley quicker. If we are approaching 600 days since the shooting, that should be enough time to have prosecuted the case, with time left over, to say nothing of being way too much time just to file the charge of manslaughter.
   I believe in a quick and speedy trial. However can you have that, though, if it takes a year and a half just to decide to press the charge?
   With all this said, though, I still question whether Cowley should have shot and killed Willard. You don't shoot to kill another person unless it is absolutely necessary. Was it necessary to kill Willard? I guess we will see in court. Hope that doesn't take another year and a half.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cowley: Another Case History Showing Guns Can Change Hearts?

   A former West Valley police officer, Shaun Cowley, has been charged with manslaughter for shooting a woman who tried to flee. One thought cascades upon another as I first hear, and then absorb the news.
   First, I think, No, don't do it. Don't charge him with manslaughter. I lament and mourn for Officer Cowley.
   Then, I think of how even good people can do wrong, and about how he might have, indeed, been reckless and killed another human being when there was no need for doing so. I consider how otherwise good people end up doing something wrong and must be held accountable. As the day goes on, I remind myself that after reading stories from months ago as to how it went down, that I, myself, had concluded it was a wrongful shooting, that the woman did not endanger the officers, and her shooting was unjustified.
   Finally, I think (yes, if you read my blogs much, you knew this was coming), Yes, it is true even good people can do wrong. And, well, having a gun can lead a person to error's path if care is not taken. Guns don't kill, people do, maybe. But, in some ways, guns do kill, for it seems people who aren't your 9-to-5 killers end up taking lives when they shouldn't.
  So, I repeat what I've said before, as the Cowley case might serve up another example, depending on whether it was a justified killing or not. A gun is an inanimate object, yes, but we are fools if the gun being an inanimate object does not allow us to realize it can have a real and powerful influence on us. The gun can damage the heart of the person who shoots it as much as it will damage the heart of the person who is shot.
   (This note added early in the morning.) My feelings are circling around, to where they began and through the whole cycle. I wonder if there is room for not charging Cowley. I wonder if he was but a police officer in pursuit of his duty, caught in a moment's decision that went awry. I hate to see his life ruined. I hate to see even the shame he is enduring. I think how humans pile on, finding fault with each other, seizing upon things and making them seem worse than they are. I wonder if this is the case with Cowley. I wonder if he was not guilty.
   I fear, though, I cannot dismiss this lightly. A person is dead. He shot her. He killed her. If there were no victim, mercy would be allowable. I wonder if he truly felt threatened by her that he should have killed her.
   And, finally, I wonder if there were unfortunate thoughts and things he taught himself that came into focus in that one moment. If he believed that when you shoot, you shoot to kill, it happened. That thought, alone, might have been all it took to ruin his heart, so to speak, to bring him to do what he did. Other possibilities? Did he devalue the lives of criminals, supposing it is alright to take their lives? Did he believe it was the right thing to do to shoot a fleeing person, regardless?
   We must be careful the things we teach ourselves, for they can reap a whirlwind. If we do not select our values carefully, they may come back to haunt us.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bring Back the Free Market System, or Pay $90,000 for Pills

   Heed the law of supply and demand, or end up paying up to $90,000 for medicine to treat hepatitis C. Oh, hepatitis C (transmitted by contact with infected blood and sometimes through sexual activity) is deadly, killing an estimate 15,000 in 2007 (do we have figures since then?), and this new medicine is a cure, stopping the virus in 9 out of 10 patients.
   But, that does not mean it should cost $90,000 in pills -- $90,000!
   Now, if a person could charge whatever they wanted for something, and if the customer had the choice between dying or paying it, and if there was someone rich enough to come up with the money and pay it for the customer . . .
   Well, get the picture? It's the picture of how our health system is set up. It's the way we do business (health business) these days. Pretty, pretty wise, aren't we.
   Sovaldi -- that's the name of this mega high-priced medicine -- has a corner on the market. It has customers whose lives are on the line. And, even though the patients clearly cannot afford it, these days patients don't have to pay, insurance does.
   Not that private insurers and Medicaid aren't balking, for they are. But, ultimately, if the product saves lives, how do they justify not covering the medicine?
   America, you love your patent laws and have your licensing laws, but this should have you reconsidering that affection. If companies are going to charge extortionate rates, you have got to quietly tell them you won't stand for it. If rewriting and loosening the patent laws and changing the licensing laws is what is needed to give us free enterprise and a free market, then do it.
   You've listened to lobbyists too much, America, and you've reaped the whirlwind. They are behind the patent laws and perhaps some of the other restraints upon free business. They came calling, saying allow inventors to be the sole sellers of a product, and you thought that was reasonable. If our patent and regulatory laws are to be good, they must not chase away much competition.
    We have monopolies. Our laws create them. Then, when prices get exhorbitant, we throw up our hands trying to figure out why and do not understand why prices are so high. If Sovaldi is clearly a step better than the other drugs, and no one else is allowed to duplicate it, that is a type of monopoly.
   A monopoly that demands as much as $90,000 for its product.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Shall We Seek Entertainers and Persuaders to Fill Teaching Positions?

   Perhaps our greatest entertainers shouldn't be on the improv circuits, but in the classrooms. Perhaps our most powerful communicators shouldn't be on talk radio, but in those classrooms.
   Let's give a little more consideration as to whether being an entertainer and a persuasive communicator are really things necessary to make a great teacher. I'm just tossing them out as possible pluses.
   Now, short hours ago, I read a Facebook post from a wonderful person I know, asking for prayers on his behalf as he tries to hire on as a teacher at a certain school. It occurred to me, he might not be of the highly entertaining type. (I don't know, though. I've never seen him teach.) Still, I so want him to get the job.
   That thought brought second thoughts to what I was preparing to say here. But, I write on, the same.
   I'm just wondering if we could funnel some of our greatest entertainers and persuaders into the classroom would that be a plus? I think it might.

How Big of News is Ahmed Abu Khattala's Arrest?

   I await the morning newspaper, then, wondering if this will be the lead story, complete with a screaming headline. The U.S. apprehended a key leader in the Benghazi attack, Ahmed Abu Khattala. How big of news is that?
   Now, if some kind of charges were brought against President Obama, or Hillary Clinton, or Susan Rice, I'm thinking the headline would scream. And, there would be great satisfaction among those who have called for heads over how Benghazi was handled.
   Seems to me, it is a bigger deal to catch someone who committed the crime than someone who stumbled trying to explain it. Isn't it just as great to see justice for the perpetrators of the crime as it would be to see it for those who might not have seen the crime coming, and failed to have the shields in place that could have saved the ambassador and three others?
   I await the morning paper, to see what play the story will get. I'll assume what play it gets in my local paper is probably reflects how it plays in papers across the country.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Teacher is Key to Classroom Success More Than Expensive Administrator

   Average teacher salary in Utah? Maybe $43,000. Average school superintendent pay with benefits? I don't know, but maybe $200,000. So, which one would I trust to do a better job deciding what to teach, and how to teach it?
   Give me a good teacher, and if the teacher is good, let him or her set the course.
   As I sat down to write this, I spotted a Deseret News report on a study out of the University of Utah suggesting companies with CEOs making more than $20 million are often not earning their keep. Their companies are losing money instead of turning profits.
   I can't help but wonder if the same principle applies in education: An expensive top executive does not s successful school make.
   In schools, it is the teacher doing the teaching. How great an education a child gets can depend much on the passion the teacher puts into it. Remembering the DesNews story on expensive companies CEOs, I am not suggesting we pump up the pay of educators drastically. Rather, in our hiring and training, we should seek for passionate, driven teachers.
   You don't get better simply by throwing money at a problem. You get better by putting in place people who can overcome the problem, teachers who are inspired and motivated. And, when it comes to really making a difference, it is perhaps with the teacher more than the administrator that you want to make the right hire. They are at the point of impact. They are where the rubber meets the road.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Of Kelly, Dehlin and Phillips

   So this week came news that Kate Kelly and John Dehlin might be excommunicated  from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Kate's case is being tried, it is said, in the same Virginia stake where Sonia Johnson was excommunicated so many years ago.
   It does seem she has taken the church to public task for not giving women the priesthood, and she has taught that women should have the priesthood. Bless her, the same, but it does seem that might be worthy of losing her membership.
   My thought on women getting the priesthood? I suppose I do not know all. I realize there were prophetesses in the Old Testament. But I don't know of any women in all history having received the priesthood. God gives the priesthood to men, and gives other things to women. Would God ever change that, and decide to give the priesthood to women? I'm guessing not, but, I repeat, I am no authority and do not know all. It does seem if Kate Kelly and others in the Ordain Women movement want a change, they should appeal to God to make the change, as well as appealing to the church. If you believe the church is God's church, and that He directs it, then wouldn't appealing to God be part of your effort to change things?
   John Dehlin? I hope it doesn't come to excommunication for him. I don't know all involved in his case. I had ran across his Mormon Stories website, but had not followed it beyond having known of its existence. I understand it was a site intending to help wavering Mormons remain Mormons. There obviously might be more to the site than just that (or perhaps it is something else Dehlin has done), though, or he wouldn't be in trouble.
   Tom Phillips? He has not been part of the news I have seen this week. But, a few months ago, his situation was in the news. He is a former stake president in England who no longer believes in the church. He brought a lawsuit against the church calling the teachings fraudulent, and asking that President Monson come to England to answer the charges. His case was thrown out of court.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Help Should be Administered on Basis of Need, not Loudness

   Not long after awaking this morning, I thought of last night's blog, and then thought of a friend in need. So poor is he as to not even have a television. I would be sure he lives off disability. At any rate, it hit me with a little bit of force how important it is that we do provide care for people such as him.
   I wondered if sometimes, those who raise their hands get more care than those who don't. I wondered if he shies from government assistance. Surely he takes it, for I cannot see how he could survive at all without it. But, I look around and see others who receive more. I think of another friend on disability who once came home with a brand new expensive vehicle. I knew his income was but government aid, yet he had a vehicle I would never be able to afford.
   Ohh, we must not short the ones who shy from getting help. Our system needs to be remade, so it is not the handraisers who have the advantage. As it is now, if you are turned down, you can appeal to a judge. Now, if you bring a lawyer to the hearing, your odds of winning the appeal are the best. Thus, the art of raising your hand higher than the next person is taken even to another level. This should not be. Need should be determined on basis of need, not loudness.

Friday, June 13, 2014

How Many Would Qualify for SSI-Disability if Everyone Were to Apply?

   We might wonder how many people would be on SSI-Disability if everyone were inclined to try. And, we might ought to wonder.
   Now? About 8.8 million. That out of a population of maybe 315 million. And, I believe we have something like 130 million households, or slightly more.
   But, what if everyone who could qualify were to apply? It is said that about 20 percent of all U.S. adults have a disability. So, what is that? Supposing we have 230 million adults, that's about 46 million who, on the surface, might qualify for SSI-Disability.
   It's more than one in every three households.
   I read how one in three SSI-Disability recipients qualifies through mental disorders. Sometimes, I think if we pushed the issue, most of us could claim some kind of mental issue. And, if we speak of physical impairment, all we need is a doctor to sign off on it. Most doctors won't sign off on something none legit, but some will. I hear of a thief who was suppose to be 100 percent disabled in the back who was making a crawl through a tight place (with no harm done) when he was caught.
   While we should want to help those who are disabled, we should be wary of the potentials in the SSI-Disability program. A nation not inclined to abuse it will perhaps be fine, but if the people become such that they seek out disability pay when perhaps they shouldn't -- and, yes, we do guess some of that is going on now -- then, to an equalling degree, an honest day's pay for an honest day's work will be lost.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Gun Becomes Your Enemy When it Becomes Your Best Friend

   As I read a story of how a devout Mormon teenager in Oregon took a gun to school and killed a fellow student Tuesday, I thought back to a blog I posted about three weeks ago. The story said Jared Michael Padget had a fascination with guns.
  And, I thought of what I had written: "The gun becomes an enemy to society when it becomes its best friend." Had the gun become too much of a friend to Padgett? He loved guns. I do not know what brought him to do what he did, but I do wonder if his love of guns was part of it. For all the good we see in guns, we should not overlook the influence they might have on us. We err if we speak with pride of how our  guns can rip the heart out of another person. If we find pride in the act of administering death, the gun is stirring up the dark side in us. The power of a gun over us comes as we are tempted to find joy in what that gun might do to another person.
   Plant a thought, reap an action, it is said, and are we not to believe that?
   No, I do not know if Padgett ever expressed joy in the power of what a gun could do. But I hear many speak with pride of the damage a gun can do, and I have always narrowed my eyes at such talk, realizing where it could lead. So, Padgett was a straight arrow Mormon boy? Even a good person can go wrong if given the wrong influences. Though it might anger you that I should refer to a gun as a bad influence, please consider that it can become such. How much do you love it? The gun becomes your enemy when it becomes your best friend. If you are not careful, a gun will change your heart and damage it as much as it will damage the heart of the person it is fired at.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

They are Products of Society, Whether that Society is With Us or Others

   So, we have so many mass murders, so many attacks on multiple people, that it almost seems they are daily.
   And, we wonder what can be done.
   One of the surest answers is getting no attention at all. Any person is influenceable. Any person can be affected by another. So, why don't we try to influence them? We, as a society, should see the need to be more nurturing, to be talking to those who are in danger of -- to use the term -- going off.
    I would guess the neighbors we see as a little edgy are the neighbors we tend to shy away from. Perhaps that is our mistake. These are the ones who need our influence, our direction, and they will never get it if we do not walk into their circle of friends.
   We've heard it said, It take a village to raise a child. Well, it also takes a village to keep a neighbor on the straight and narrow. We've heard it said that we are all products of our environment. Well, these people will be less likely to be good products if we don't offer to give them a good environment.
   To put it in religious terms, Let your light so shine that it will be a light for others. I also think of the Savior's advice to Peter that when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. In this case, that would mean not rushing in until you are strong enough to be the influencer, not the one being influenced.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Not Believing in Same-Sex Marriages does not a Bigot Make

   Do we discriminate when we do not allow of same sex to marry each other? Here's why we don't. Is this a form of prejudice? Here's why it isn't.
   Not allowing same-sex couples to marry is not to be classed with discrimination against blacks or against Jews or against women. Discrimination against blacks put them down simply because they are blacks. Discrimination against Jews puts them down just because they are Jews. Discrimination against women puts them down simply because they are women.
   Those who oppose same-sex marriage do it because they read the Bible and see God saying homosexual relationships are wrong. They do not oppose the marriages simply as a way of putting another person down. They dutifully oppose the marriages because they believe God says same-sex relations are wrong.
   Here is a comparable form of :discrimination. Tell me if the people who practice this form of discrimination are to be classed with racists. Let's say a person picks up the Bible and reads a couple verses in Proverbs and conclude that drinking is a sin. "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise," says Proverb 20:1. "Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine," says Proverb 23:29.
   So, the reader concludes too much alcohol is a sin. So it is with same-sex relations. Some pick up the Bible, read it, and conclude such relationships are wrong.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Why Don't We Believe in the Free Market When it Comes to Electricity?

   I'm scratching my head as to why we don't have a free market energy system. Please tell me, tell me again. Why can't I buy a little electricity from one company, and a little more from another.
   The free market, we've always believed it it. Why don't we when it comes to power?
   The power lines could be shared, either owned as a government utility, or, perhaps better, owned as a joint venture by the competing power companies. Obviously, we couldn't have each company running its own lines.
   If I wanted to buy wind farm electricity, I could. If I wanted to buy electricity from a plant in Delta, I could. Maybe there would even be two competing companies getting their power from the Delta plant.
   Whatever is wrong with competition? Perhaps it would help to keep prices low. So, can anybody tell me why we don't believe in the free market when it comes to electricity?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

It is Time We Started Tracking Government Aid on a Monthly Basis

   When the jobs report came out, I couldn't help but notice it showed the rate of people receiving government assistance up .5 percent.
   Okay, I'm kidding. There is no such monthly measurement. It would  be good if there were, though, as it would help us track the sources of income our society has. Whereas some job indicators come from survey data, the government assistance tracking should be easier, government simply releasing information (it would seem) already at its fingertips.
  We could have an average payout, and breakdowns showing payouts to those in various income brackets. It would be a report in and of itself, as opposed to being just one number added to the jobs report. It would include a monthly breakdown of the percentage of people on each government program: Food Stamps, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), SSI-Disabilities, etc.
   It would help us track need, being an indicator of how many people are so short of personal funds they must turn to the government.
   It would be an accounting to the people, disclosing monthly how much government money is being spent for our social programs.
   Welfare has become a big part of our government, and government welfare a big part of our society. It is time we started tracking it monthly.

Of Mace and Men

   Now, when most folks speak of self-defence against armed killers, they speak of toting guns themselves. Enter Jon Meis, he who made a habit of toting around pepper spray. Meis shows that pepper spray or mace can sometimes do the job nicely.
   Mace and pepper spray have the advantage of not being lethal weapons. You can stop your assailant without killing him (or her). For those who don't like killing, it is a huge plus.
   In this case, not killing was not only a plus for Meis, who became a national hero for stopping short what probably would have been a mass killing, but it was also a plus for justice, as the shooter, Aaron Ybarra, had intended to kill himself as soon as he was finished killing others. Had Ybarra been shot with a gun, he would have gotten his way with the ending his own life. Pepper spray robbed him of his death wish.
   If you haven't heard the story, Ybarra went to Seattle Pacific University, intent on a mass killing. He shot shot but three, including one who died, when he had to reload. Meis saw the opening, doused Ybarra with the pepper spray, and tackled him. Others rushed in to further subdue Ybarra until police could arrive.
   Maybe those of us who don't want to kill -- not even killing someone who would kill us -- should start carrying around mace or pepper spray. Me, I'd choose to carry a gun that could fire the mace, so I could stand a better chance of stopping a gunman without having to rush in close. I will confess to not even knowing how far away you can be with a can of mace before spraying it does any good.

Friday, June 6, 2014

17-Year-Old Shot with Stolen Gun

   It's a harp you might not want to hear, but the shooting of a 17-year-old Cottonwood Heights boy exemplifies the danger of a society having too many guns.
   The more guns out there, the greater the chance they will fall into the wrong hands. In the case of the three teens in Cottonwood Heights, they were the wrong people to be having a gun simply because they were inclined to play around with it, with one of them pointing it at the head of another. The gun cycled through several empty cylinders before coming to a cylinder with a bullet in it. The boys might have thought the gun was empty, but, if so, they were deadly mistaken.
   With an estimate 400,000 guns stolen each year, the greater danger is that they will fall into the hands of criminals, not just teenagers who don't respect the gun as something you don't play around with.
   The gun they were playing around with had, indeed, been stolen. How it came into their hands is not known.
   A good share of crimes are committed with stolen weapons. I think back to Sandy Hook, and how Adam Lanza stole his guns from his mother's arsenal. No gun arsenal and Lanza would have had to resort to another method of coming up with a gun. You can't steal that which isn't there.
  I am not in favor of banning guns, but I do wish fewer people saw the need to own them.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Of Unhonorable Alliances

   I do not condone things John Swallow is accused of, nor those Mark Shurtleff might have wrongfully done. But, I do wonder if many of them should rise to the level of criminal, prosecutional offenses. I'm not decided. Though I have followed most every news break on this issue, I'm not remembering the specific laws Swallow is accused of breaking. I just wonder if we really went after them all, many a politician could be found in the same wreck. I remember from yesterday's news, a story saying one thing prosecutors are looking at is a pay-to-play history. A person pays something, and they get better treatment.
   Hey, depending on where you draw the line, many a politician could be accused of pay-to-play. Yes, that is wrong. Yes, we should object when we see it. But, I don't know that we are talking criminal offenses.
   But, we should raise our voices against wrongful actions even when they do not raise to the level of criminal conduct.
   Today's Paul Rolly column in the Salt Lake Tribune notes State Rep. Ken Ivory was one of the just three representatives who voted against funding the Swallow investigation. At that time, Swallow got Ivory invited to make a presentation at the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG). Ivory made a presentation for his American Lands Council, which is an organization from which he derives some of his income.
   Inviting Ivory was not a criminal offense, of course.
   But, the thought that Swallow would reward Ivory with a sort of favorable payback (or vice versa, depending on which came first, the vote on funding the investigation or the CWAG conference) is offensive. Someone might say what is offensive is that I am assuming one favor was being granted in reply to the other. I simply think that if you want to avoid an unhonorable alliance, you can see both events going on, so you steer clear of the casting a political favor for the other person. The timing of these two events is too close to discard.
   Our votes and actions as public officials should be based on what is right or wrong, not on an exchange of favors. It would keep us very busy if we were to go after office holders every time they broached an unhonorable alliance, but that does not mean such relationships are not wrong.
   They are.
   There are times when I'll-scratch-your-back-if-you'll-scratch-mine is fine, but often it is inappropriate in the realm of making public policy. Our votes and actions as public officials should not be held out as barter.

(P.S. -- "Unhonorable" is not an official word in many dictionaries. The word is "dishonorable." I knew this when I posted this and left it as is. The word "unhonorable" seems natural enough to me, whether recognized by most dictionaries or not.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Children from Afar, Traveling Without Parents, Coming to America

   Imagine children migrating without their parents to America, thousands of them crossing the border illegally, most coming from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, large numbers of them being under the age of 13.
   Let's say 47,000 of them were apprehended in the last eight months. Can you imagine such a phenomenon, so many children migrating so far without parental supervision?
   News stories are reporting it, so I imagine it is really happening, but I'm awed. One story says many of the children are driven from Central American by the violence and poverty in their countries. So many children are being caught that the apprehending authorities are having trouble taking care of them, and the Obama Administration is asking for $1.4 billion to care for them.
   A humanitarian crisis at our southern border.
   If we must use federal money, we must, for we clearly want to take care of them. Still, I do wish we were turning to private charity to house these children and, when there are family members they are hoping to join already in the U.S., to transport them to those families. I can imagine there might be a great outpouring of support for such charities, as people rally to save the children.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Bring Bergdahl's Reasons for Deserting Into the Debate

   We free five Taliban members, including one who was once their deputy minister of defense, in exchange for the freedom of a single American soldier?
   We negotiate with Qatar instead of directly with the Taliban since U.S. policy forbids us to negotiate with terrorists? It seems if Qatar is representing the Taliban, the effect is the same, and the policy is still broken.
   Congress was not notified as required by law? I don't think we can justify this breaking of the law.
   And, to top it off, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl may have been a deserter. And, his platoon mates say six died while searching for him.
   Of course all these matters all to be considered as our nation debates his release. What may not get as much attention, should. If Sgt. Bergdahl had become disillusioned with the war, and perhaps even with America, what were the points that drove him that direction? We as a nation should be very concerned with our faults, and what we might be doing wrong. If Sgt. Bergdahl went out a soldier sold on the purpose ahead, but lost faith in what we were doing, let us consider the issues that led him to disillusionment.
  If he deserted, but deserted for righteous reasons, while we still hold him accountable for deserting, we should be understanding.
   And, we should bring his reasons into the debate that is upon the nation.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Ten-Year Drone War in Pakistan

   For 10 years now, the United States has been fighting a war that isn't a war. Iraq and Afghanistan were our wars, not this.
   Pakistan? Has anyone called that a war? Does it matter that we've taken perhaps more than 3,000 lives? War is when soldiers on each side are shooting at each other. This is not a war. We have no soldiers on the ground in Pakistan, do we? If we do, they are few, and hid away so as to not be shot at? 
    Pilots in the sky? I don't know if we have any of those, either. No, while we have planes in the sky, the planes have no pilots.
   Drones fight our battles, robotic planes.
   We began the drone war in June, 2004. Ten years later, we are still bombing away. It is a war some of us question, because our high-technology, supposedly surgical strikes take out civilians as well as targeted militants, and because most of the  al-Qaeda casualties are but rank-and-file soldiers who probably pose little threat to the United States.
   Why risk taking out civilians? If this were a war where we were desperately defending ourselves and we were striking where civilians might be only because we had no choice, it might be understandable. But, our backs are hardly against the wall. We fire with no fear of being shot back at. How, then, do we justify killing any civilians? Is it necessary? Necessary only comes when you have little choice.
   And are we justified in taking out the al-Qaeda soldiers? They represent an enemy, yes. But, North Korea is an enemy. Russia is an enemy. Iran is an enemy. Why don't we, then, strike them with our drones?
   The answer is obvious. North Korea, Russia and Iran would strike back, in some form or fashion. Then, there would be a war, a real war.
   But, al-Qaeda? While it is defenseless this time around, it is not as though it is not to be feared. It may lack the means to engage us in a war when we come after it with our drones, but it has the ability to fight battles that in a fashion are of the same sort we are fighting against them. We hit defenseless targets. They hit defenseless targets. We look for sitting ducks. They look for sitting ducks. Hit and run. Hit and hide.
   If we are justified in our killing, perhaps it is in that we are keeping them so preoccupied with running from us, they have less time to commit mischief.
   But, is that enough justification? The killing of another person is a terrible thing. We should deeply, gravely consider what we are doing. We might be assuming, but we don't know they will be more likely to attack if we let up the drone attacks. Do we kill another person simply on the supposition they might kill us, not knowing, but just wondering if they might?
   Or, is our justification that we are still extracting vengence for 9-11?
   Perhaps the Pakistan non-war is a war we should walk away from.