Thursday, March 31, 2016

Refugees: Those Who do Care can be the Ones Who Give the Care

   I open Facebook. A poster laments immigrants coming to the United States from Mexico. I comment back, suggesting it would be nice if just those of us who do care about them could help them.
   And, yes, it would be nice if the burden of caring for them could be relegated just to those of us who want to help them. It would be nice if the burden of care didn't need to be handled by those who feel we should not be allowing them entry.
   As I posted my reply, I wondered if such a program -- one that singles out those who care to do the giving, does exist. I haven't caught up with the story yet, fully, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just called on its members worldwide (or, at least on the members of a church service organization, the Relief Society)  to help refugees. Is that just the European refugees, or does it also apply to the immigrants coming across our southern border?
   I take a moment to open the website the church has announced,, and quickly search, wondering. But, I find no verbiage other than that speaking of refugees. Perhaps, so far, the church is leaving it to the individual to decide if they want to include those coming across the southern border. Some, however, would probably say it does not apply to those people, as the term "refugee" normally is not used for someone coming across the southern border.
   "For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; I was in prison, and ye came unto me." The church website does quote that verse from Matthew 25.
   I only know there are many coming from across the southern border who are in this situation of needing help, the same as those who are refugees over in Europe.
   “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; Naked, and ye clothed me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”   Matthew 25:35-36

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

This Would be the Most Open Government in History

   What if our government was so open, that when a lobbyist scheduled a meeting, the date and time was posted online, along with an invitation to either come and view the meeting live, or to view it online?
   Hey, what if there were bleachers (or whatever we should call the seating), in the offices of our legislators, where we could come and view the legislators as they met with the lobbyists?  When a large company, or a powerful group such as the Eagle Forum scheduled a meeting, we could say, "Ooo --I want to be there for that meeting."
  Governance would obviously be given a major makeover, if we did this. Ours would be more open and accountable than any government in history has ever been.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Secrecy is no Friend to the Public, but a Tool to Circumvent the Public

   When laws are being made, you are bidding the public's business. So, why not do it in public? And, if you think I refer only to the legislative sessions, oh!, you sell this idea short.
   Keep the legislative sessions open, most every minute. Indeed. Of course. For sure. But, I mean meetings with lobbyists. I mean, every time a lobbyist steps a foot in your door, you, the legislator, pull out the microphone . . .
   And, record it, live on the Internet.
   We live in a wonderful world. Never in the past has such a thing been possible. Only in the last few years has such a thing been plausible. And, now that it is, we should do it. We should take advantage of technology to bring openness to government.
   I would not make it law that every time a person meets with a legislator to discuss legislation, it be mandatory that it be placed online. But, I would make it law that every time a person meets with a legislator, the legislator be encouraged to place it online. To make it mandatory would be oppressive. It would make it illegal to run into someone and discuss legislation. Besides, if the legislator is going to meet with the lobbyist off the record, he or she is going to do it.
   But, if you make a matter of being the correct practice to hold no private meetings, to do nothing behind closed doors, you set a standard that throws the system open to the public. This will be well enough.
  Government is the public's business, so why not invite the people to come in, sit down, and listen to everything you say? Lobbyists shouldn't be left to play in back rooms; Their doings should be in the light of day.Secrecy is not a friend of the public. but a tool of those who seek to circumvent the public.
  So, were I a lawmaker, would I call for such a law, a law that brings such radical openness to government? We have some openness, but this would be unprecedented. I would think about it. I would consider on whether such legislation were wise and such practice good.
   But, as I think on it at the moment, yes, I think though it be a drastic change in how we conduct our business as a government, this would be a good change.

Faithfulness to Your Homeland Should not be Considered a Vice

      Seeking out injustice and setting it right is what lawmaking should be about. Those elected to office should think much in terms of creating laws that bring justice where justice is not currently had.
   Like, our oath of citizenship, and how we require our immigrants to renounce allegiance and faithfulness to their past countries.
   Tonight, after a beautiful music performance by a family, I was in a conversation with the mother of the family when politics and the U.S. presidential race came up. The mother said she could not vote because she isn't a U.S. citizen. After, I don't know, maybe 18 years here, and being in the process of raising a wonderful family here, she remains a Canadian citizen.
   I asked her why she hasn't applied for U.S. citizenship. She told me she didn't feel right about renouncing her Canadian citizenship. She felt that would be kind of like being a traitor.
   I think it sad that the naturalization process in our country requires people to renounce their homelands. I think of the many wonderful countries around the world, and of how people should feel proud to be from those places, and should, indeed, recoil in horror at the thought of renouncing faithfulness to them. I consider on how there must be reasonable percentage of immigrants who retain warm feelings toward their homelands, and I am a little surprised that we don't hear of more who, due to their principles, decline to become Americans because they feel it wrong to renounce their homelands.
   And, I think it a wrong that we should require this of them.
   You can pledge to be true to America, to stand by it, and to fight for it, if necessary, without being required to renounce your fidelity and love of your homeland. If justice is justice, we should drop this requirement.

Making Foster Parenting a Volunteer Endeavor Provides Hope

   I am not coming up with more as I seek to create a law that would protect foster children from being placed in homes where sexual abuse would take place. Yesterday, I posted on how foster parenting should not be a paid endeavor, in order to keep the motives pure for taking in the children.
   I think it wise advice. I think it would reduce the chances of a child being placed in an abusive home. The parents doing it for free, would be doing it for love. Yes, it might reduce the pool of potential foster parents, but among those gone from the pool would be many of those more likely to abuse the children.
   Background checks? I would guess those are already required.

Monday, March 28, 2016

No One Should be Held Liable for the Unendorsed Actions of Another

   No one shall be held liable for the actions of another, if he or she did not endorse or condone the errant actions of the other.
   This, I would make law.
   I think on the Navajo siblings who filed lawsuit against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They seek damages for placement in foster care homes earlier in their lives, placement that allegedly was in homes where they were sexually abused.
   If the children were abused, that is a great wrong. We should seek and consider what we can do to shield children from such abuse, what we can do to screen out harmful foster parents. But, we should also be concerned with protecting people and organizations from fault that is not theirs. If one person in an organization in good faith places a child with another member of that organization, and that second member then commits an offense, the second person should be held liable, not the first.
   Blame should be where blame belongs.
   If we see an injustice in our society, we should change it. If people are to be sued for the wrongful actions committed by others -- actions that they did not condone nor endorse nor participate in -- that is an injustice. We would do well to change our laws to prevent this.

If Love is all There is to Gain, They'll be More Likely to Love the Children

   If we were chipping away at the ills of society one by one, we probably should change up the foster care program. If we can find enough volunteer families, then we should no more pay people to be foster parents.
   I'm sure many of the paid foster parents are wonderful. The problem is, some take the children for the money and then do not properly take care of them, treating them roughly and without love. The danger of the children becoming a paycheck without being truly loved is not a thing we should be doing.
   Children are perhaps our greatest responsibility, certainly one of them. Placing them at risk is not something we should do.
    As I said, and I want to emphasize it, I would guess most of the foster parents are tender and loving. But, I would also guess the share of them who care not for the kid but only for the money is more than we should allow. There is a rule about life: Where you place your carrots determines the results you get. If money is the carrot, some will become foster parents just to receive a paycheck though they don't bring love into the relationship.
   But, if they volunteer to take care of the children, they almost always will be doing so because they want to help. The carrot, then, is to help, to love, to benefit the child.
   Are children important? Is the raising of them a matter of utmost importance? Then, we should make this change.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

St. Matthew Passion

  Perhaps it would have been neat to take in Bach's St. Matthew Passion at the Cathedral of the Madeline yesterday. I'm told it is rarely performed, partly due to it requiring a double choir and numerous soloists. I wonder if the oratorio is good enough to be considered one of the best offerings our culture has to offer during the Easter Season. Is it good enough, that if it were offered enough, it might be equal to what "A Christmas Carol" is to Christmas?
   If so, I missed out.
   We have stories, songs, concerts, and plays a plenty that come with Christmas. It would be good to have more offerings for Easter, not to commercialize the season, but to contribute to its observance.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Suit by Navajo Siblings Points to Need for Two New Laws

   One of the responsibilities of a state legislator -- perhaps the responsibility -- is to feret out where injustice is being done, and, in those cases where laws are the proper vehicle for change, to change things.
   Pass laws that protect against unfairness and injustice.
   I am running for the state legislature, and it occurs to me that a person could be kept busy introducing such legislation. I pick up my paper and read a story I had been meaning to catch up on for a couple days now. Two Navajo siblings are suing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for placing them in homes where sexual abuse took place. They allege that it happened not just in one home, but in a series of homes.
   Obviously, if we can do anything to prevent children from being placed in bad homes, we want to do that. I ponder on what kind of legislation is possible.
   But, there is also another injustice to be concerned with here. I question whether the church should be made responsible for the abuse when it is clear the church does not condone, does not knowingly encourage, and does not want to be affiliated in anyway with sexual abuse. On the contrary, it fights against it.
   I do not know all the facts of the case. It might be, church representatives knew their was danger in placing children in the homes they did. There might have been culpability.
   But, I can see the need for protecting the church from injustice.
   I will post in the coming days on both sides of this question -- what can be done to protect the children and what can be done to protect the church. For those who might not want to wait, look up my July 1 blog from last year. It has some application here, and I will probably be reposting it, with some revision.

Friday, March 25, 2016

All Lives Matter, Even the Lives of Criminals

   I read a guest column in the Deseret News, titled, "My view: Amidst Rio Grande shooting investigation, police should be commended."  A man was shot by police, and a riot broke out in response. The column praises the police for how they handled the affair.
   While I do not know whether the police should be praised for the overall event, the riot, it seems a little much to praise them for the shooting of Abdi Mohamed.  Almost taking the life of a person -- even a criminal -- is not something we should be quick to praise. I also reflect on one of the online comments to the article, it saying the officers' concern is not for the safety of the perpetrator, but rather for the victim. That is a common sentiment, spoken so often it undoubtedly does carry into how officers respond to such situations. I see a slippery slope in such thinking. It can lead to dismissing the lives and safety of some. I think we should want to be careful against thinking anyone's life does not matter. I think of the popular expression, "All lives matter," and I believe it. All lives matter, even the lives of criminals.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Bombings and Shootings? The First Thing We Should do is to Teach

   From the Brussels bombings to a cat named Miss Kiss being shot with a blow dart in Springville, I wonder what we can do as a society to curb such violence.
   I pick up the USA Today newspaper which someone gave me, and see a headline. "Feds Nab 8,000 Violent Offenders." And, I wonder, how can we discourage violence, of all kinds.
  I will tell you, the first line of defense is to teach. If you are seeing a flood of violence, of terrorism, then one of the things you should be doing is teaching.
   Against it.
   Regardless what else you do. Regardless whether you take advice from Hillary Clinton or whoever on what needs to be done, the first thing you do, is you teach. You teach in the media, and you determine where possible violent offenders might be reached in communities, and you go reach them and you teach.
   I see Pope Francis has condemned the violence. That is part of teaching. But teaching must also be in a voice that reaches and connects with the possible offenders. Reason with them. Explain why they shouldn't do these things. Consider on the reasons they are committing the crimes, and give reply to the motives being seen.
   You may think you cannot reason with an ISIS supporter. You must try. Tell them why not to support ISIS.
   My, my, with all the experience we have with ad campaigns, all the successful advertisements we've learned how to make, now is the time for an advertisement blitz. Create clever, well-crafted, persuasive, hard-hitting, attractive ads that offer up the message not to sign on with ISIS, not to support it.
   Place the ads in the markets where potential terrorist are. Place them all across America to reach typical violent offenders.
   Teach the people. Teach them with a massive ad campaign that persuades some of them to turn from violence, to seek peach and to be peaceful.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Washington's 'Warnings of a Friend' Spoke Against Political Parties

   The America of today, deeply divided by political parties, is the America George Washington warned against.
  Actually,  he warned against political parties, period, warning us "in the most solemn manner." 
   And we, collectively as a nation, left his words at the podium where he offered them, walking away from that farewell address to join into political parties. And, we've been in them ever since, often having as much loyalty to them as we do for the nation, itself.
   If Washington's words, by chance, could echo down through the years, what would they tell us? They would tell us that for governments, the spirit of political parties "is truly their worst enemy."
   He said, "worst enemy," but we didn't listen. We didn't listen then, and we're not listening now.
   In that great address, Washington warned of "the danger of parties."
   He warned "against the baneful effects of the spirit of party."
   He warned against the "alternate domination" of one party over the other, "sharpened by the spirit of revenge."
   He warned that their fights might result in "the most horrid enormities" and become, in themselves, "a frightful despotism."
   He warned against "combinations and associations," including groups championing the interests of the various regions of the country.
   He warned of "artful and enterprising" people being in such groups.
   He warned such combinations and associations could "become potent engines by which cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men" would rise to power.
   He warned such groups could cause divisions among the people. Their "designing men may endeavor to excite" differences among the people, he said.
   He warned that parties "tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together."
    As if he could foresee the campaigns of our day, he warned such groups would "misrepresent the opinions and aims" of others.
   He warned that such groups would "put in place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party."
   He said the spirit of party, "is a spirit not to be encouraged." 
   He closed his comments on parties by saying, "A fire not to be quenched, it (the spirit of parties) demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume."
   Washington characterized his warnings "as the warnings of a parting friend." His farewell address is replete with these warnings against political parties. They are warnings that have gone unheeded. Instead of discouraging parties, we have embraced them.
   Perhaps there remains room to speculate whether Washington would not have had us join parties at all, nor to have had us run for office on them. We only know he spake so gravely ill of them in his farewell address, and said a wise people would "discourage and restrain" the spirit of party.
   And, we know he, himself, walked the talk. He is the only president ever elected without a party.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Come Visit Salt Lake City; Come Visit the Whole World

   The illuminated, interactive tunnel. I'm polishing up an invention I offered up months ago, thinking to make it even better. Now, I'll have the participants walk the tunnel with 4D glasses on, and the tunnel will have images on both sides, as well as above and beneath, with the top being rounded. It will offer the highest level of visual experience possible. If you want art that you can walk through and be a part of, nothing will equal this. We are not talking projected images that lose their focus when scattered by laser lights. No, we are talking high-definition, glowing, electronic billboard-type images.
   With the tunnel being just wide enough for you to pass through. The floor could be made of glass, so the the images could be on an wall extending downward, adding depth when scenery is cast below. Add the the 3D glasses, and you are literally there in the world's most real-like artificial environment, walking through . . .
 You shout, "The Narrows," and you are traversing through that wonder at Zions National Park.
  You shout, "Mount Timpanogos Cave," and you are right in that cave.
   You shout, "Top of Mount Olympus," and you are there, looking down on the glimmering lights of the city, the view being in some ways perhaps more up-close dramatic than it is in real life.
   You yell, "Jump," and suddenly it is as if you just jumped off the cliff and are free-falling down, till a parachute pops out above and eases you to the ground.
   All the best sites and experiences of Utah would be offered, in order to tout them. But the interactive tunnel would also offer up experiences from around the world. View Mount Kilimanjaro as if you were there. See the Pyramids. Go any place in the world you like.
    Oh, and the interaction of the walls is not limited to reacting to your voice. You see flowers and you reach out to pick them and they break from their stems and it almost seems (as far as your sight is concerned) they are, indeed, right in your grasp. Touch the sides of the tunnel, and the clouds you touch swirl away.
   The world's greatest visual experience. All the tourist experiences the world can offer, all in one place, for the taking in a single night. Tell me, this would not be a wonderful tourist attraction, one not worthy of coming to Utah to see.
   I'd like to see Utah develop a tourist zone near the airport, and this would be part of it.  I don't know of any city that utilizes land near its airport in this fashion, creating tourist attractions, but it seems the logically best location. "Location, location, location," it is said, and it is also said that convenience sells. Tourism can be increased by using the same principles. Salt Lake it fortunate, then, for much of the land out near the Salt Lake, next to the airport, remains available. Why not utilize it for its highest possible use?
   As for the interactive, illuminated, living-experience tunnels? The promos could read: "Come visit Salt Lake City. Come visit the whole world."
(Blog edited 3/23/16 and 3/26/16)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Since We Don't have Much a a Free-Market System, Let's Try One

   Once you realize how health-care system isn't operating under much of a competitive-market system -- wow! -- then you have something to be excited about.
   Come on, now, let's take a look at how competitive we are -- or aren't, that is. Say, your doctor calls you up and says it's time for an echo cardiogram. What do you do? You look at the schedule, and go in and get the echo, right?
   So, where was the competition? Did you choose from a number of offerings? Oh, you did chose a doctor in advance, but at this juncture, you had but one option. You should have a choice each time a product (in this case, the echo cardiogram) is about to be purchased. If you don't have a choice, how is it a competitive process?
    So, let's do this: let's put our health system under a free-market model.
   Now, the first thing we are going to have to do,is create a pricing system. We've got to have price tags hanging on the products. You can hardly pretend to have competition when there is not even so much as a way to price the products. Off top, I say require health-care providers to list their prices, and, in advance, when it is non-emergency.
   But, just having the price in advance will do no good, if you can't take it and compare it to  the prices of other providers. So, have a web site where all the health-care providers list not only their prices for all these procedures -- echo cardiograms and whatever -- but pitch why their product is a little better than what you'll get elsewhere.
   All of which presupposes you can do from one doctor for one thing, to another doctor for something else. And, there is no such thing as being out of network. There is no qualified provider that you are not free to choose from. Once you create this thing called out-of-network, you start driving nails into the free-market system.
   So, don't do it.
   So, there you have it, something to be excited about! We aren't exactly operating under a fully bona fide competitive-market system, so we ought to be excited wondering what will happen if we simply install it. What will happen, if we give it a try?
   The neat thing is, this ccan be done on a state-wide scale. And, it can be done whether Obamacare is repealed or not. .

Sunday, March 20, 2016

We can Hardly Pretend to have Competition, if We don't have This

   I read through Trump's proposals on health care, and there are a couple points I really like. Here is one:
   "Require price transparency from all heathcare providers, especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals. Individuals should be able to shop to find the best prices for procedures, exams or any other medical-related procedure."
   You can hardly pretend to have competition when there is not even a way to price the product. One of the important things we must do, if we are to rein in the high cost of medicine, is to bring price tags to the market place. Tell us the total cost, and tell us the cost that will not be covered by insurance.
  I believe this kind of transparency, at least to some extent, is something already required by Obamacare. But, much remains to be done. I think of my most recent event with a doctor. They wanted me to come in for an echo cardiogram. But, I did not receive a price quote. I should have.
   But, as important as it is to post price tags, it will not do any good if we do not take a partner step. These price quotes will only do us good if we can take our business to another provider. Not only should I have received a quote on how much the echo cardiogram would cost, but I should have had the option of going to another cardiologist for the procedure. That isn't the case. When we have doctors, we have doctors. We're locked in. We don't float from one doctor for one visit and on to another doctor for the next visit.
   We should be able to.
   As I think further on this, it is not only us, but the insurance companies that should be able to shop and choose. The person paying the bill has got to be provided the choice. If it is just us, we won't care to go to a less-expensive provider if it is all covered by insurance anyway and there is no cost to us either way.
   How we work that out, we might should consider. Do we just give the insurance company the choice, and force us to go to a doctor we aren't choosing ourselves? Or, do we just let the insurance company make a recommendation for us, and leave us with the actual choice?
   However we do it, restoring this principle of choice to our health-care system is vital. It is perhaps the crux of converting our system to the free market.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Average Americans are Among those Who Oppose Donald Trump

I went to the Salt Lake City protest against the Donald and it seemed dominated by those who were Bernie Sanders followers. That's great. They are fine people. But, I felt grateful to be there representing a different group, the non-bernie-ites. Obviously, many in average America do not want Trump, and I am among them. I wish more people from this group had attended, so that it not come across that just Bernie-ites oppose Trump.
   Trump might end up making a great president. We won't know until and if he is elected But, there is so much about him that fires off warning signs. His intolerance of other people has left me weary, so much so that I oppose him about as much as you can oppose a candidate. Bless him, though, as he has already reined in his emotions somewhat during the campaign, and who knows but what he will be fine. Still, I seek a different demeanor. As well, I oppose him on policies such as Muslims in America, and migrants.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Ability to Give Admonition, not Condemnation, is What is Needed

   Somehow, I don't think the Flint water crisis was Susan Hedman's fault. I became a little uncomfortable the other night listening to a sound bite of Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz laying so much guilt on her.
   Some fault might have been hers, but she did not deserve the grilling, the withering criticism Chaffetz dealt the Environmental Protection Agency official.
   No, it was not kind.
   I could not help but think of another national figure who deals out such biting, zinging criticism: the Donald. Trump's tendency to find so much fault is a large reason I oppose him in his run for the presidency.
   But, as I listened to Chaffetz, I realized Trump is not alone. Unfortunately, we, as Americans are much inflicted with this malady. And, it is reflected in politicians as diverse as Trump and Chaffetz. Maybe as much as anything, deciding who to vote for should be a matter of picking a candidate who does not display this tendency. America has some big problems  -- the economy, the national debt, our health care system, immigration, etc.  -- but polarization ranks as high as anything, to me.
   So, why not make this a defining reason for not voting for someone?
   I suppose it was only a couple weeks ago, the thought of looking for the ability to love in candidates occurred to me. I laughed inside myself at the thought. Now, how do you go about determining which candidate has the greater capacity to love? And, does that really matter as much as their stands on abortion and green house emissions?
   I see now, it does.
   I think on this Susan Hedman, and how she was vilified by Chaffetz, perhaps brought to tears. I felt sorry for her, I do not think her the villain she was given to be. I would guess she is a wonderful person. I do not know why we, as Americans, feel the need to tear each other apart so much.
   Pick a fault, and poke a stick. Get that stick inside the other person and twist it around, and do some real damage. We, as Americans, seem to see the necessity of this.
   One way to turn this around, would be to start looking for it in our politicians, and resolving not to elect them. Those we elect become our leaders, obviously. And, there is a circular effect. Who we elect, will lead us. They will influence us in what we become. Let's not elect those who have mastered the art of scorn, who fire off zingers at each other. Don't get me wrong, There is a place for criticism. Faults should be discussed. Hedman's failures should be discussed.
   But, civility is never so important as it is when we are finding faults in others. The ability to give admonition, not condemnation, that is what we should look for in our leaders.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

All Three Deserved Invites, and Gonzaga Deserved a Higher Seed

   I'll be rooting for Gonzaga against Utah in the round of 32, hoping the West Coast Conference will further show that it was disrespected by the NCAA tournament selectors. But, it is not the committee, alone, that sold the conference short, many of the fans agreeing the WCC only deserved one seed.
   The first rounds on the NCAA and NIT already make a strong argument that the conference was disrespected. The three WCC teams took the post-season competition they were given, and each won. St. Mary's defeated New Mexico State and BYU shattered Alabama Birmingham in the NIT. Mind you, UAB came in with what must have been one of the best records of the NIT teams, 26-6, so they were not a slouch opponent.
   Then, Gonzaga, which the NCAA committee felt deserved but an 11 seed this year, "upset" four-seed Seton Hall. Call it an upset, if you will, but Gonzaga is a strong enough team, it should have been considered the favorite.
   Going no further than the first round of the two tournaments, the WCC already has shown it was not given due respect. All three of its top teams deserved NCAA invitations.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Make it a Real Rendezvous, a Gathering Place for Budding Singers

   How about the Cache Valley Cowboy Rendezvous? I mean, as an event worth hyping, hoping to attract people from across the nation. I've never been to this event in Hyrum, (this year it was March 4-5), so I don't know how good it is.
   Cowboy poets, music and artisans.
   I suppose, to attract a nationwide audience, you'd need to be able to say you've got as good of cowboy poets and music and artisans as there is to be found. I wonder how close the Cache Valley Rendezvous makes it, in those terms.
   Another way to go for a national audience would be to invite all the western singers, or as many as you could fit in. You are already hailing it as a reunion of cowboy music, poets and artisans, so make it so anyone who can carry a good tune, can come and perform. Throw away the amplifiers, stick them each in rooms far enough apart, and let them play simultaneously. The concert-goers poke their heads in room after room, staying just long enough, perhaps, to see if they like the performers.
   You issue all kind of awards.
    It becomes a place where western singers come to to get a break in the industry. You issue CDs featuring the best performances of the year. It becomes a star search event. It becomes the biggest and best gathering of cowboy singers, bar none.
   Frankly, I think it would work.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Charity Makes Neighbors Out of the Needy Wherever They are Found

   Some suggest we should help veterans before immigrants, and starving American children before refugees. I am drawn to ask, can we pick and choose when it comes to the needy? Can we say, we have not time nor resources to help them all, so let's just help our own?
  Who are our own? I think of the lawyer who was told to love his neighbor, and he responded by asking who his neighbor was. In answer, the lawyer was then given the story of the good Samaritan, a story that ends, "Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?"
   Though the person be a stranger from another land, as was the case in that story, he can be our neighbor, if we will allow him. Even so, perhaps we should befriend and help everyone we can, making "our own" out of as many as we can.
   I think of another story, the one about the man found picking up starfish off the beach and tossing them back into sea, and being laughed at because he could not save them all. Even so, we cannot help all the needy. Still, it is good to help those we can. We cannot help every refugee, nor every veteran, nor every starving American child, but, we can help. We can donate a little to various causes, whether they be causes that help refugees or causes that help American veterans.
   Love of all is not a matter of picking and choosing. If you love everyone, you love everyone. Charity need not exclude, but can reach out to all it can find, all those it can help. I suggest we not pit refugees against veterans, and children against immigrants, but seek to help all those we can.

Monday, March 14, 2016

High Court Judges Should not be Wearing Tinted Glasses

   As much as anything, the ongoing dispute over President Obama's Supreme Court nominee should serve us notice as to how divided our nation has become. Before a person is even selected, he or she is opposed? Now, mind you, court nominees don't wear party colors.
   But, we know which are the conservatives and the liberals. I wonder at that. All you are ruling on is what the Constitution says on a matter. Shouldn't that be simply a matter of reading the Constitution, not a matter of reading conservative or liberal into it?
   And, now to swear that you are going to oppose a nominee before he or she has even been named, simply because it is a Democrat who is naming the person?
   If we do not see something wrong with such partisanship, if we cannot see this is not good, what will it ever take?
    Courts should be about justice, not about politics. Judges should be guided by a desire to be fair and unbiased and right and true, alone. They should not be wearing glasses tinted to be conservative or liberal.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Love Seeks Change in Others, While Hate Endeavor to Diminish Them

   An unjust person judges only to condemn, while the goodly look to fix the faults they find in others. By this rule, we can judge ourselves, to determine if we are being wicked or righteous in our judgments.
  What do we seek? Are we looking to scorn others? Do we scorn them when we spot a fault? Do we speak in derision of those in whom we find faults? Or, do we wonder what we can do to lead them from their errant ways?
   Hate speaks in the tongue of contempt. If we hold another person in contempt, we should question ourselves, for usually it means we are acting out of hate, and not out of love. Love seeks to bring about change in others. Hate endeavors only to diminish them.

If You Attack, Expect to Find Yourself Under Attack

   On first take, it seemed a little much to me to blame Donald Trump for the rioting in Chicago between his supporters and those opposed to him. For one thing, he wasn't in the fight. For a second thing, no, he did not ask people to fight. For a third thing, there were two sides in the fight, so why not blame both sides, not just the Trumpers.
   Then, someone rushed him on the stage. And, who gets blamed? I see a news reporter say Trump is not accepting any culpability. What? Someone rushes his stage, and he is to blame?
   But, there is a principle at play: Opposition begets opposition. If you sow hatred, you will come to know hatred. If you attack others -- even if just verbally -- expect to find yourself under attack. Foment violence, and you will have it.
    It is true, that those who fought are responsible for their own actions -- on both sides. But, those who tear at others should expect those they tear at to respond back.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Quick Thoughts on Donald Trump

   1. Wish Mitt Romney would continue to campaign against Donald Trump. I would that he would that he steer away from labels, but it is good to point out reasons for the man not being a good fit for president. I don't know of any of the GOP candidates that can stare down Trump as well as Romney can.
   2. How is it that Trump's spending only his own money is a plus? All that proves, is he can buy the presidency. He has enough money that he can do it without someone else's money.
   3. Please don't tell me Carson endorsed Trump.
   4. Didn't catch what it was, but I understand Marco Rubio apologized for something he said about Trump. Based on what I do know, I swing my support to Rubio. That he should care about being civil and care about treating Trump fairly goes a long ways with me. I want a candidate who is moral and upright, and it seems to me, Rubio is that.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Laugh Landing: A Museum of Fine Humor

   Is there no museum of fine humor? Is there no place in all the world where the best humor is sorted  through, cataloged, and institutionalized?
   Make Salt Lake City that place.
   And, do this also: We have the Emmys and the Academy Awards for television and movies. We have awards in the music industry. Why not awards for the best jokes? Let the museum give out these awards.
   This would be a performing museum, if there is such a thing. Yes, the jokes would be displayed in written form and in videos, but they would also be presented by live comedians, and acted out by actors.
   Clean jokes, all, and none demeaning of people.
   So, call it "The Laugh Landing," or whatever, and have the second line read, "A Museum of Fine Humor."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Let Utah Lead the Way on Medical Marijuana

   It will have to wait a year, but it would be wonderful if Utah passed a medical marijuana bill.
   Hold it there, for I do not mean a bill patterned after those in other states. No, I mean a bill that learns from the mistakes made in other states, a bill that frees marijuana for use for those who can benefit from it medically.
   Without freeing it for those who would use it recreationally.
   I wonder if marijuana has all the benefits it is touted to have, medically. Still, with the public pressure to legalize the drug, medicinally, it would be wonderful to craft a bill that works, that does not open the door for recreational use. I don't know of any state that has been successful at this, although it is hard to learn exactly what has been done in other states. We speak of Utah solutions. It would be wonderful to see this become a Utah solution. I would like to see Utah crate a law that other states turn to for a pattern. The whole nation is considering this, so lead the way in how it should be done.
    Perhaps waiting a year is better, anyway, as medicinal marijuana remains illegal by federal law, although, I am not sure if that ban extends to components of marijuana, since the FDA has said it is open to them, and one such product is in the third stage of FDA testing. Still, I have heard federal legislation might lift the ban on medical marijuana.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

It Should be Law that Killings are Investigated

   Anytime there is a killing, the life lost deserves at least to have someone look into whether the death was justified and necessary.
   I do not know the law, whether federal or any state laws make it mandatory that there be an investigation. I believe, such a law should exist. I notice it is practice to investigate killings, but if it is not law, then there might be occasions where the killings are not investigated.
  Every killing, whether by criminal gangsters or by border agents, should be investigated.

That FBI Agents didn't Reveal Shots is of Concern

   FBI agents failed to disclose they fired shots at LaVoy Finicum's vehicle, according to an investigation. That is a serious revelation, one that I wonder if it warrants obstruction of justice charges.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

In Their Humor, Lies Their Character, So Train Them in Good Humor

   I will tell you why humor is serious business if you are seeking to craft a noble society. People will joke and laugh whether you give them some direction in how to do it or not. Humor will always be part of a society.
   And, there is nothing more telling about their character than what they find to laugh about. If they laugh at others, and about them, that does not reflect well on them..
   In a a person's humor, lies his character.
   So, if you can train people to enjoy good, clean, undamaging humor, you can wield a better society. Help them understand it is not good to joke at another's expense, even when there is substance behind what they laugh about.
   If you can laugh with the person being joked about, that improves the humor. If the joke is more in the spirit of, we all make mistakes, and here's one, then that improves it.. But, that humor can still fall short, and better yet is humor where no specific person is targeted.
  So, laugh at situations, not individuals.
  Having a good house of comedy is important then, as it gives the people a place to come and partake of humor that doesn't pick at people. It becomes a training place, and an influence for good. In the evening's introduction at the comedy center, explain to the audience the harms of  humor critical of others. Then, let the audience enjoy one of the laughingest nights of their lives, that they learn humor can be humor without being hurtful.
   Such a house of humor benefits the community, And, if  made it so it attracts people from outside the city -- depending on how successful the marketing is -- it becomes an influence for good on a national or international basis.
   The character of a nation is affected by what it chooses to laugh about, so teach th art of good humor. Make it a value worth teaching, worth learning, and worth sharing.
   And, reap a better society.

Monday, March 7, 2016

They Die, and We Mourn not the Loss of Their Lives

   In the past 15 years, roughly 6,500 people have lost their lives trying to reach America by crossing the southern border, a number so large, it cries for more attention.
   People dying in such large numbers, while seeking to come to our country. Facing deprivation, and harsh conditions, and running into unsavory criminal elements and human traffickers as they come.
   All in the name of reaching America, the land of the free, the land of promise.
   I sadden, to think that their struggles go so unnoticed, that their deaths bring little remorse from those of us already in America. Would there be candlelight vigils if we loved them, if we cared, if we knew of their deaths? Are there any vigils? Do we hear of any?
   No. At least, I hear of none, other than the Pope's having prayed for them on a visit to the border.
   Silent people go to silent deaths. They die, and the loss of their lives is considered little loss to many of us in America.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

If You Want a Good People, then Facilitate Goodness

   If you want a have a good people, then facilitate goodness. If you want a society with values, give them places to go where those values are offered.
   And, don't stop with church. There are other venues to build. Good music is important. Knowing our heritage is important. Schools are important because education is important. Gyms are important because exercise is important.
   But, some things usually don't have venues. Good, clean humor being among them. We have comedy houses, but not many of which are devoted just to good, clean humor. How about civility? Do we have any place to go where that can be practiced or observed? Would a group in Salt Lake City called the Village Square provide that? I should learn.
  I confess I do not have time to consider more on what characteristics we should be focusing on. Maybe, honesty?  Love? Forgiveness? And, how would we provide those?
   It occurs to me that soberness is a good value, and so we have Alcoholics Anonymous. But, A.A. draws on a ready-made clientele, with people needing a place to go to get sober. Does anyone "need" places to go to get honest, or to learn to love or to forgive?
   If something is important, build a venue for it. Such things as honesty, love and forgiveness are important. I just haven't figured out how to tap into a market, and how to angle the venues.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

I'm Grateful for Investigations into Justified Killings

   More than a month has passed since his killing. Today, supporters of LaVoy Finicum gathered at the state capitol to protest his death and rally for the cause he had fought for. I mourn with them. From what I read, he was a wonderful person. I largely do not agree with what he advocated, though. And, I certainly do not feel the take over of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was justified.
   Now, of course, whenever someone is killed, there should be an investigation. It does not matter that the FBI was involved. Human life is precious. Anytime there is a killing, the life lost deserves at least to have someone look into whether the death was justified and necessary.
   And, in the Finicum case, there is an investigation underway, it being by the county attorney and sheriff's office. I do not know whether the two agencies involved in the shooting, the FBI and Oregon state troopers, are conducting internal investigations, but they should, and I would guess they are.
   Tonight, I just post saying I am grateful we have these investigations. I hope each is as thorough as can be reasonably expected, complete with questioning all potential witnesses and those who might know pertinent facts, with no investigation so limited that it does no more than wait for an autopsy report.

If it Elicits Feelings of Disdain, it is not Welcome Humor

   Cutting humor, biting humor, stinging humor.
   No better than dirty humor. Or, at least, it is also bad.
   If Salt Lake City were to seek acclaim for hosting a venue with clean humor, clean humor would not be enough. Mean humor would have to go, as well.
    And, that is one of the most common forms of humor. So dominant is is, in fact, one almost wonders if it is possible to have humor without picking on someone. I see a distinction, however, and wonder if I can verbalize it right now. That humor which evokes feelings of hatred, contempt and scorn would not be welcome. You can find humor in the situation of another person, but your joke needs to be fashioned so that it does not draw feelings of disdain for that person.
   If it does, it has crossed the line.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Anti-Establishment can also Mean not being Rich

  Not all so many years after Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz rode an anti-establishment wave into office, they are being painted as the establishment and washed aside by a newly minted anti-establishment figure, Donald Trump.
   I guess it depends on what you define as the establishment. All I can say, if it were me picking an anti-establishment figure, it wouldn't be one of the richer people in America, and it wouldn't be someone who has been a television star.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Why the Name Calling?

   The Donald isn't the only one. Politicians can be very demeaning of each other. It is a trait we Americans respond to. I believe it helpful to look at the candidates backgrounds, and who they are, and what they do, and what they have done.
   But, when you call a man a "con man," and a "fake," as Mitt Romney called Trump, I would like a little more of an explanation. Name calling, most of the time and maybe always, is better left out of the debate.
   I think on all the castigation we give to President Obama, and Hillary Clinton. We, as Americans, are very demeaning of politicians, ourselves. It is a trait I think we need to curb.  Yes, be concerned about who are candidates are, very much so, but there is a line where things become out of line, and that line often starts where the name calling begins.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

If We are a Nation that Loves to Scorn, We have Found our Hero

    A nation's character can sometimes be reflected in the leaders it elects. Usually, the electorate concentrates on the politics of the candidate, but there are those times when the persona of the office seeker lifts the candidate as much or more as his stands on the issues.
   Enter Donald Trump. There are few with such a strong personality.
   Part of what he is, is a person who lashes back at anyone who questions him. He responds to opposition with hatred. He matches criticism with belittlement. He berates any who dare speak against him. He serves up personal attacks for those with challenging questions.
   Donald Trump, the viper of American politics. If America values zingers, here is the king of them. If America's people value zingers more than being respectful of each other, here is their king.
  His contentious. spiteful personality is not seen as a fault, but is embraced by many, maybe even by enough that he shall be elected the next president of our country. If we are a nation that loves to hate, we have found our leader.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

For Health's Sake, not all Laughing is Created Equal

   Skip the gym. Head straight to the comedy club -- for your health's sake.With the thought that laughing reduces stress and benefits health, it could be argued watching television sitcoms and taking in other forms of comedy is a health benefit, same as going to the gym.
   My feeling, though, is that not all laughing is created equal. There is certainly a difference between the laughing that comes from a truly funny joke and the laughing that comes with enjoying the unfortunate plight of others. I suppose I picture in my mind a wicked witch laughing as she rides away on her broomstick. She laughs not at a joke, but at the damage she causes to others.
   That type of laughing, it is my guess, is not beneficial. It is my guess that mean-spirited humor is not a tonic like more strict forms of humor.

E-cigarretes and the Lungs

   Maybe it's not the water, but the flavor of the water. There is little regulation on what goes into e-cigarettes, and different companies use different flavorings, many of which irritate the lungs.
   Perhaps more significantly, nicotine, itself, has been determined to cause inflammation in the lungs.