Sunday, July 31, 2016

Liberty for All Takes a Fall

With liberty and justice for all
Now, there's a wonderful sentiment
But liberty for all takes a fall
If we don't include the immigrant

If freedom isn't for everyone
If it isn't for these working folk
If we take one class and write them off
Then the "all" part becomes a joke.

Freedom is not a jail cell.
It is not a deportation hearing
Its not a forced trip back to Mexico
Nor is it hiding in shadows and fearing

If liberty for all, means everyone
Then why do we leave them out?
Why do we say they are undeserving
Of their freedom to go about?

The Mexican Immigrants and 'Too Narrow by Reason of the Inhabitants'

   Would the prophecies of Isaiah have anything to say about the influx of immigrants from Central and South America in our day?  It has been suggested that many of those coming from south of the border are Israelites, with Native Americans descending from the House of Israel and with their blood mixing with those who came from Europe.
   So, is what is found in Isaiah 49 a likeness to what is happening in our day, or is it more than a likeness. Is it what the scripture meant.
   My wondering that it could be speaking of America increases when verse 8 refers to "isles of the sea," and I consider that is not talking, then, of Jerusalem. A Book of Mormon prophet, Jacob, said, his people lived, "upon an isle of the sea."
   That would be America, then.
  The America before Columbus: I think you might call it desolate before the Old World invasion. Native Americans lived here, but even with them here, it could be considered desolate. As the European settlers moved in, they destroyed much of the American Indian's home.
   So, when I come to Isaiah 49:18, yes, of course I wonder if it is referring to the land of the American Indian.
   "For thy waste and thy desolate places, and the land of thy destruction, shall even now be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants; and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away."
   I think of how it is said we do not have room for all those who would come from Central and South America, if we were to throw open our borders. The scripture says the land would be, "too narrow by reason of the inhabitants." Could that be a prophecy that people would not want the immigrants to come for fear there would not be room for all of them? "They that swallowed thee up?" Yes, that sounds like the Europeans who took the land from the American Indians. It says, "They that swallowed thee up shall be far away." Shall be far away? Europe is far away. The people who took the land from the American Indians did come from far away.
   There are other things to wonder about in Isaiah 49. For now, I will hold my comment on them. Now, I do not say that what I offer above means that that is definitively what the scripture is referring to. But, I do not think you can say there is no likeness in what the scripture says to what is taking place.

In the Land of the Free, They are Not Free

I wonder at us, how we jail and deport undocumented immigrants
How instead of giving them liberty, we give them a list of can'ts.
I wonder at us, how we make them illegal
How their birth on other soil, means they aren't as us so regal.
A country prejudiced against others
Because they come from a different place.
A country that callously calls them aliens
And tells them to do an about-face.
In the land of the free they are not free
No, in the land of the just they're not.
It's as if freedom is not free
But something that must be bought.
So, freedom becomes a birthright
Or a right that a court must give
It's not exactly like the Declaration of Independence says
Something for all who live.
Bless this nation, bless this land
To change the way it thinks.
For its not their coming here
But our attitude that stinks.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Freedom for All takes a Fall

   I wonder at us, how we jail and deport undocumented immigrants, and make them illegal, how we say they don't qualify for the same rights given the rest of us by the Constitution because they aren't Americans.
   Even in the land of the free, they are not considered worthy to be free. Even in the land of the free, they are not free.
   Such an attitude we have. Freedom for all takes a fall.

If the Laws Need to be More Specific, They Should be

   I look at the Mark Shurtleff case, and at the Freddie Gray case, and wonder if there is not sometimes too much leeway in whether a case is prosecuted. Do we need more clearly defined laws?
   If what Shurtleff did was wrong, perhaps the law needs rewritten to spell it out. If it is wrong to accept a gift from someone you are prosecuting, do we have a law that says specifically that?
   If it is dangerous and wrong for a person while in shackles to be left to roll around the floor of a van while being transported to a police station, perhaps we need a law saying exactly that. If "rough rides" should be illegal, perhaps we need a law that specifically spells it out: "No person shall be subjected to a 'rough ride,' in which that person is not secured for his or her safety, or is left to be tossed when the vehicle either turns or changes acceleration. Nor shall any detainee shall be placed in travel conditions unsafer for him or her than for the officers providing the transport."
   Officer William Porter successfully argued in court that he had no reason to believe Freddie Gray was injured until they reached the police station. It shouldn't have come to that. Porter should not be expected to lift a hand of help only when the injury has already occurred and been observed. He should be responsible for not putting Gray in the situation that led to the injury and death in the first place.
   There is elbow room for officials to exercise their own will in our justice system, as to whether they press charges. The law should be spelled out, and as specific as necessary, even if you have to be so specific as to say prosecutors shall not accept boat trips from those they are prosecuting, nor stays in resort homes owned by those they are prosecuting. If the law needs to say no political donation shall be given to one person to give to another (laundered) if coming from a person in a criminal case influenced by the person receiving the gift, so be it. Say it.
   Baltimore and Maryland in the Freddie Gray case, and Utah in the Mark Shurtleff case, should not be sitting back and saying, "Justice has spoken." They should be considering whether justice went unserved due to insufficient laws.

Friday, July 29, 2016

I Fear Chaffetz Overreaches in His Pursuit of Corruption

     The Army-McCarthy Hearings rocketed Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy to fame in the 1950s. Even so, the hearings Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz is conducting as chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform are increasing his star.
   The hearings in McCarthy's day and those in Chaffetz's day have similar backdrops: No one likes communism and no one likes government corruption. They have similar objectives: Root out the evil.
    I must remain a fan of Jason Chaffetz. This is a person who has stood for principles, who swept into office despite a lack of money, who slept on cot in his office to save taxpayer dollars, who campaigned against earmarks. Bless him, he has done some wonderful things.
   I only say there are similarities to what happened back then to what I see happening now. I believe in learning from history. The lesson from McCarthyism is that contempt and hatred of a legitimate foe can lead to the persecution of those who shouldn't be persecuted. Communism was a legitimate foe. People naturally rallied to oppose it. But, along the way, those whose political views did not meet approval were swept into a net, condemned and persecuted.
   Persecuted in the name of Americanism.
   Even so, government corruption is a worthy foe. Would anyone stand up for it, any more than for communism? It becomes easy to make someone into a villain by simply shouting that they are corrupt. Who would oppose fighting corruption, and who will not, then, oppose them?
   I do not know that of the heads that have rolled since Jason Chaffetz took over the Oversight Committee, some were justified. But, I wonder if many of them were victims of overreach, even as many were victims of McCarthy's overreach in the '50s.
   Bless Chaffetz. I see him as a noble politician, yet. I admire him, for his pursuit of high ideals. But, most all of his political career, perhaps he has been too much of a make-heads-roll public official. There is a danger in such an attitude. Better is it to be a person who would not harm another person wrongly. The pursuit of evil must not be carried to manufacturing fictitious evil in others.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

I Mourn Sam Wheeler's Death

   Sam Wheeler -- 72-year-old motorcycle legend Sam Wheeler -- went to his grave this week attempting to again become the fastest man on a motorcycle in all the world.
  His motorcycle fishtailed and went out of control on the slick surface of the Great Salt Lake.
   I do not know, but it seems to me of all the racing done on the Salt Flats, motorcycle racing would demand the most athleticism. That a 72-year-old man was still pursuing the world's fastest pass on the Salt Flats seems remarkable in and of itself.
  I mourn Wheeler's dying. I wonder if anything could be done to make the Salt Flats safer. I wonder what kind of protective gear the land speed racers wear. I wonder if the motorcycle racers wear the same protective gear worn by motocross racers, nothing more than that.
  It seems the level up in danger should signal a level up in protective wear, maybe a balloon-type covering, or would that be too restrictive for the athleticism necessary?

Chaffetzism has Another Victim in its Sights

   The fire master, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, is after another person, seeking to fire IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
   The IRS is not an agency many feel warmly toward, so some might agree, on no more grounds than that, that Koskinen should go. I am not so sure. I view all the firings Chaffetz has brought about and I have to wonder. Some how, it seems as though he is seeking a legacy for fighting corrupt government by firing as many people as he can, as if firing people proves there was corruption, and proves he successfully fought it.
   I'm not so sure that is the right approach. I think these are people. You treat people right, and that means you don't dismiss them on shallow claims.
  I, again quote Wikipedia. "McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence." Even so, Chaffetzism is the practice of making accusations of government corruption without proper regard for evidence. We all want to get rid of government corruption, but that shouldn't give us license to falsely accusing anyone we want of that government corruption.
   I think on what someone at the Democratic National Convention said about Trump, noting he is takes pride in firing people, and that that is not a good trait.
   I see Chaffetz as more of the same.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Is this the McCarthyism of Our Age?

   I wonder at all the attacks on Hillary. I cannot help but see a likeness to the McCarthyism of the 1950s.
   I read this definition in Wikipedia: "McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence."
   I wonder if that doesn't parallel what is being done to Hillary.

Protecting the inventor is Better Done by Giving Him Royalties

   You would amend our Constitution, you say? I'll tell you where I think there is a pressing need for a change in that venerable document. It is a wonderful document, but this part is direly in need of change.
   "The Congress shall have Power . . . To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Investors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."
   That, from Article I, Section 8, defines how our patent system operates. The system has proven to protect not so much the inventor, as the rich. You need money to develop your invention, and often investors buy out the inventor.
   Or reap the benefits while employing them.
   We would do much better if we awarded the inventor royalties. Let whoever might, copy the product . . . but only if they pay the inventor royalties. This way, the inventor is freed from having to come up with money to develop the product. He needs to do no more than come up with an idea, and patent it, and, if it is a good product, the money starts rolling his way.
   He is rewarded for having the idea, not for having the money to develop the idea. One system, the one I'm proposing, rewards the inventor, regardless. The other system, the one we have, rewards the person who has the financial means for developing the product. That would be the rich, the investors. I don't see a big need for rewarding them.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Chaffetz's Responsibility in the Hillary Email Affair is to Legislate

   The whole reason for making laws is to make things just. So, each time we see an injustice, we should be asking, is there a law we can make, to do away with this injustice?
   If you are a careful legislator, you look at all that happens, each time looking for a way to correct the injustice. Now, if you are Jason Chaffetz, what is one of the supposed injustices you might have run into recently? Hillary's emails? Didn't the FBI head decide against charges? So, Chaffetz hauled FBI Director James Comey in. It was like he wanted to investigate Comey for making a bad decision.
   We have three branches of government. Chaffetz belongs in the legislative branch. If you think our Constitution got it right, then shouldn't Chaffetz be filling the legislative needs?
   Now, if it is an injustice that Hillary isn't being prosecuted, and if you are a good legislator -- one who seeks to correct injustice each time you see it -- then create a law to correct this injustice from ever happening again. That's your job.
   I kind of wonder how this would play out. I am not in favor of our government classifying anywhere near all that it classifies. I do not know that I find any fault in what Hillary put in her emails. But, if you do feel she did wrong, you better put teeth in the laws. It seems Chaffetz, if he feels what Hillary did was wrong, should be introducing legislation to strengthen the government's ability to classify information, and to make it so those who break this law face unavoidable penalties. I would oppose such legislation, but it seems if Chaffetz (and everyone else who thinks she did wrong) should be pushing to correct the situation so she cannot go unpunished next time.
 

Wildfire Abatement Districts, Take II

   How about irrigating our forests, not because the trees need the water, but to keep them wet to avoid wildfires?
   My brother tossed out this idea, as I was thinking about how to keep the trees wet to avoid forest fires. After I blogged this morning, I realized air lifting ocean water in California might not be the answer. Too much salt for the trees.
   I also got thinking on Utah. Perhaps we could tap into a lake, supposing the lake has spare water, with airplanes lifting the water back to the potential burn areas.
   Or, maybe the reason we don't do all this is because the forest administrators want the burns, relying on them. Seems to me, though, if they want burning, controlled burns work. Wildfires get out of control. Half of Antelope Island burned up this past week. Wasn't that a little much?
   But putting in irrigation systems? Maybe you couldn't do it everywhere. But, it might work in some areas. Tap into underground water when it is available. Put in pipelines that rise above the trees, and retract when not in use.
   I guess I wonder why we don't do some kind of preventative watering. Wildfires are not something we want, are they? And, why would not preventative watering be something we could do? Why shouldn't we do it?

Perhaps We Should have Forest-Fire Abatement Districts

   Just wonder this morning on the feasibility of preventative watering. Each year, we have wildfires, in part because the area becomes too dry. Could some of these fires be avoided if some of the area was watered with air drops? I think of California, where many of the fires take place, and of how there is all the water you could want right next to the area. Why not airlift the water and regularly irrigate the wilderness areas?
    It seems in California, if no other place, there should be enough water.
   We have everything from mosquito abatement programs to weed abatement programs. I wonder why we do not have programs to keep our forests wet.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Has the Salt Lake Valley Blossomed as a Rose?

   Ah, then, is the Salt Lake Valley one of the fulfillments of that biblical prophecy that, "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose." -- Isaiah 35
   Not sure how this valley qualifies as a desert, critics might fire back. It rains and snows often enough. It's not a rain haven like Seattle, but it is hardly a desert.
   I think to say, it is not like you can open up a map and see something called the Great Salt Lake Desert. Actually, though, there is. The Great Salt Lake Desert stretches to the west, towards Nevada, a dry lake bed, layered in salt.
   But, that area hardly has blossomed as a rose. As I say that, I think of my own posts of the past, and of how I would turn the area into a massive tourist zone. I don't say it would be on the salt bed, but it would be in the area next to it.
   I think on the Isaiah passage, and of how it says it will be a solitary place. I wonder but what that is reference to a place that was uninhabited, solitary.
   I also consider that maybe the Salt Lake Valley is not what was referred to in the scripture, but just has some likeness to it. I do not know.
   I do know this, the valley is not a watershed. The clouds to not burst over this valley, nor it there a large aquifer underneath. I search the Internet, and find a pie chart, showing that only 16 percent of our water comes from wells. The graph suggests that 43 percent comes from streams. If it were not for the mountains, from where much of our water pours from winter's snowfall, we would not have the water we need.
   I wonder at the condition of the valley when the pioneers arrived, and think to search the Internet, but the hour is late and I'm due for bed. Was it dry? What kind of plants were to be found. Can we say it has blossomed as a rose?
   I also wonder if the answer is literal, or figurative. Maybe it doesn't have to be plant life we are talking about, but making the area area attractive, as if a rose. I think again on my desire that we should develop the area west of the city for tourism, and make it as a rose. Maybe, in those terms, we already are an attractive city, even as a rose.
   My brother suggests the term, "desert," might be a reference to the area being uninhabited back then. Now it is teaming with people. It has blossomed as a rose.
   All these are my thoughts, this day that we celebrate as Pioneer Day. Whether the Salt Lake Valley is fulfillment the biblical passage, I do not know, for certain. But, yes, I do think it to be.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

My Hometown Might be Fulfillment of Prophecy

   I consider the settling of this valley, and how some say it was a fulfillment of Isaiah 35:1, which speaks of the desert blossoming as a rose. And. I consider that if this is true, then the settling of my hometown, Rupert, Idaho, was also a fulfillment.
   There stands a plaque in Rupert, proclaiming, "The Desert Blossoms." The area was considered a desert. A river ran through it, but diverting water from it would not serve many. It took what was then modern technology, hydroelectric dams, to make it possible for water to be pumped and canaled to the farms. The timeliness of the technology is attested to by Rupert High School being the first all-electric high school in the nation. Even, then, there was a limit to how many people the water could serve. But, when the Snake Plain Aquifer was discovered in 1947, it opened the area to more settlers. The government then invited military veterans to farm the land. My dad and mom won a farm in the drawing, and became part of the largest homestead farming project in the nation. Dad and Mom had been parade marshals in Manassa, Colorado, for the Pioneer Day and now, this short time later, were pioneers, themselves, opening up new land as America was going through some of its last expansion.
   I've always joked that that kind of makes the area the New York City of rural areas. Just as New York City is the largest city, so the area I grew up in was the largest homestead project in the nation.
   Anyway, an area that was desert, covered with sagebrush, is now one of the noteworthy agriculture developments our nation has had. It was once uninhabited. It once was solitary. (It still might be considered, "solitary," depending on how you take that word.) That it lacks natural water is testified to by the fact a strip of land next to my father's farm remained in sagebrush right up past the year Dad sold the farm.
  So, consider whether this all could be considered a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 35:1.
   "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose."
   Perhaps there are many places on this green earth of ours that could be counted as fulfillment of this prophecy. Any place that was a desert and uninhabited has been made livable by modern watering systems. The Salt Lake Valley needs imported water, or it would remain too dry to support the number of people who are here. Israel is a place that has blossomed as a rose, thanks to a creative irrigation system.
  In the religion I belong to, both America and Israel are considered gathering places for Israelites. And, these are considered the last days. While there may be places throughout the earth that were isolated, that blossomed, certainly America (especially the West) and Israel fit the bill.
   Forgive if you disagree, but I think one has to give some credence to at least the possibility that both America and Israel are fulfillments of ancient prophecy.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Utah's Delegates Got What they Deserved

   Now, I don't know that I read anything spelling it out, but I understand the Utah delegation's hope at the national convention was to derail Donald Trump.
   Only thing wrong with that, is that Donald Trump won the popular vote, nationwide. So, it seems a little amiss to try to rob him of the nomination. If the people have picked him, you shouldn't be going about unpicking him . . . unless your plan is simply to open it up for the people to unpick him. I understand, the Utah delegates wanted to change the rules. Change the rules, then. But the rule change I suggest, is that you change it so there can be a recall election. The convention is in July. The general election is not until November. Why not slip a recall election in between? If the people's vote is to mean anything, you can't derail Trump's nomination without their approval.
   The Utah delegation ended up being served a comeuppance. Utah voters -- many of them, anyway -- had gone to the polls not so much as to vote for any one candidate, as to vote against Donald Trump. When the delegates got to the convention, they were marshaled and ready to vote for Ted Cruz. They did, but then someone pointed out that Utah's own rule book doesn't allow someone who has dropped out of the race to be voted for.
    With all the other candidates out of the race, only Trump was legal to receive votes. So, Utah's votes were all taken from Cruz and handed to Trump, all 40 of them. You can say that wasn't fair, and you can say such a thing hailed from across the seas and back a few years to the old Soviet Union, when your vote was forced. You can say it wasn't democracy, but rather democracy in reverse. And, you can say it wasn't just.
   I'd certainly agree with you. It probably was one of the biggest miscarriages of justice ever to unfold in an election in the U.S.
   So, Utah's voters -- a large share of them -- turned out to the caucuses just to vote against Trump, and yet he ended up sweeping all 40 of the state's delegate votes? Well, in some ways, that was indeed just. For if Utah's delegates were seeking to derail the national popular vote, it seems they earned their reward, their comeuppance, when it turned out, it was only their own state's votes that were turned on end.
   Utah's delegates got what they deserved. The voters back home didn't deserve what happened. But the delegates did.

 
 

These are the Rules for Changing the Drunk

   When you ask how to cure an alcoholic, you might as well ask how to change any person. So, come, seek the rules of change. What are they?
    You must give them hope, of course. You must give them belief. They must see that recovery is something that can be achieved. They must see it is possible to become sober. Tell them stories of people who have achieved it.
   You must build a dream in them, Tell them how wonderful it will be. Remind them how great it is to have a good job, or a lovely wife, if they have lost their wife. Remind them of the things they had when they were sober. Build in them a desire, a dream, a want.
   Encourage them. Take every small victory and hail it. If they stay sober long enough to read 10 pages in a good book, praise them. If they water the lawn, praise them. Praise the victories.
   Love them. It is said, love is the most powerful force in the world. Express your love. Shower them with it. Make it a sure thing that your love does not go unnoticed.
  Surround them with as many good influences as you can find. Good music? If you can, then get them listening to, and enjoying music that champions good things. If Elvis Presley's "In the Ghetto" teaches them to care for the poor, then that is noble music, and might help shape them.
   Good music, good movies, good entertainment -- these things can help persuade them to do that which is good. Reading the scriptures. Reading good books. Whatever they will latch onto that is a good influence, encourage it. Going to church? If they will go, encourage it.
   Good influences also means removing them from friends who drink, and friends who party, and friends who aren't so good. It means, taking pornography out of their lives. It means, placing them in a good environment.
   Give them an example, someone to look up to, someone to pattern their life after.
   You must lead them through the steps of repentance, which are nothing if not rules of change. One, is that they recognize what they are doing. If they are sneaking out to buy a bottle of liquor each night, help them get to the point where they are honest about it. If they are drunk, but insist they are not, work with them to get them to where they will confess they are drunk.
   Get them to restore those things that are lost, when you can. If their drunkenness is leading them to hurt others, help them see as much, and encourage them to treat those people better. Encourage them to go back to those they have hurt, and seek to make amends.
   Help them forgive themselves. Don't hang their drunkenness over them. Don't view treat them in a condemning way. If they sense you are condemning, they might continue to condemn themselves.
   Give them peace. For those of you who are religious, consider Christ's promise, "My peace I give unto you." He was seeking to change people, and it is noteworthy that he made having peace part of the way he went about changing them.
   Educate them. Teach them about alcoholism. Let them become experts on what leads to it, and what harms it bears, and how they can escape it.
  Give them alternatives. Give them other things to be involved with other than alcohol. Fill their lives with other activities, if you can. If they will work, get them into a job.
   Give them incentives, rewards for when they stay sober.
   Give them punishments? I ponder on that. I think it perhaps good. Perhaps have them sleep outside on the lawn when they are drunk. I'm not too good at forcing them to do so, but, just the same, I believe punishments might be helpful. Punishments, if you are careful not to take them too far, can be beneficial in bringing change.
   Lastly, and probably as important as anything, give them a place to practice being sober. Practice is one of the most basic principles of change. A person who wants to be a good football player, practices. A person who wants to become a good singer, practices. Likewise, if the drunk wants to become sober, he must practice. I don't know that anything is achieved without practice. In caring for the drunk, this is perhaps where the alcohol treatment center comes into play. There, they are deprived of the alcohol, and they practice being sober. Game day, though, doesn't come until they are released from the treatment facility.
   If they are not to go to a treatment facility, it seems that if they are to practice, then you almost have to be with them all of the day, watching them, discouraging them from drinking.
   Although I already said practice is the last thing I would mention, one more element comes to mind. Give them agency. You might think placing them in a detox center is the opposite of that. It is not. When they are deep into their alcoholism, that is when they are without agency. That is when they have no choice. They are addicted. They are servants to their bottles. They are not in their normal minds. So, sometimes it is that they need someone to help them out of their prison. Just as a child is ever watched to see that he does the right things, until reaching an age when they can make choices on their own, so it is with the drunk. He must be watched over to see that he does not drink until he has been sober enough long enough to make the choice for himself.
   The alcoholic needs to be freed from the bottle, before he is free to make his own choices.




 

Government-Instituted Drinking is Part of the Problem

   Roll back the centuries, and you will find Russia has always been addicted to alcohol. I'm talking the government has been addicted, not just the people. The rulers have relied on alcohol for revenue, and this has contributed heavily to heavy drinking being heavily popular.
   The government instituted drinking at least as far back as the 1540s, when Ivan the Terrible built places where spirits were made and sold. He encouraged his subjects to spend all their money in his taverns as the money went to him.
  One wonders if government-instituted drinking goes back centuries before that, as the Russian army suffered a horrendous defeat to the Tartars and Mongols in 1223, in part because the Russians were drunk. If the army was drunk, one wonders was it was the leaders who supplied the drinks? That, too, is government-instituted drinking.
   Government encouragement of drinking? In the 1700s, Peter the Great decreed that wives should be whipped if they tried to drag their husbands out of the state-owned taverns before they were ready to leave.
   And, so it has continued through the years. The state's money has continued to come in part from the drunk's pocket. As recent as 2010, the Russian finance minister, Aleksei L. Kudrin, suggested that the best thing Russians could do to prop up a staggering economy was to drink and smoke more, thus paying more in taxes. Again, then, the state was encouraging drinking.
   I got the material fro this blog from, "How Alcohol Conquered Russia," in the Atlantic by Stan Fedun, Sept. 25, 2013, issue.
   Fedun says that so far, there have only been two big efforts to curb alcohol, one coming under Vladimir Lenin and the other under Mikhail Gorbachev. Lenin banned vodka, but after his death, Josef Stalin returned the government to relying on vodka for government revenue. Gorbachev's efforts were successful for a time, but eventually failed. The failure, at least in part, if not altogether, was due to the loss in state revenue. Gorbachev's experts had told him the loss in revenue would be offset by a 10 percent increase in productivity, but that failed to materialize.
   So, the lessons from history we learn?  If the state is profiting from liquor, there often is incentive for the government to encourage drinking. And, government's encouragement of liquor can lead a nation to becoming a nation flowing in alcohol. The government can become just as addicted as are the people. And, the addiction to the drug money can be as long-standing to the government as addiction to the drug can be to the drunk. Just as a drunk often is a drunk for life, even so, Russia's addiction flings back centuries.
   So, there is a danger in sin taxes. What we learn from Russia does not mean every sin tax rises to the level where the state becomes so reliant on it that it encourages the "sin," but when that level is achieved, the damage is done.
 
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/09/how-alcohol-conquered-russia/279965/

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Freedom of Alcohol is not Always a Good Thing

   No less than 30.5 percent of all deaths in Russia in 2012 were attributed to alcohol. That's nearly one in three. It is an astounding death rate, and points out how serious a problem alcohol can become to a nation.
   It has festered in Russia. They have had a culture of drinking for quite some time. Yesterday, I wrote how we should learn from history, lest we repeat it. I believe we should take the lessons of history, and look to them for guidance. So, we should look across the seas, to Russia, and review what brought on this culture of drinking, and seek to avoid it.
   I have few answers tonight. And, don't know whether I will pursue this, but I might. One thought I do wonder about tonight? I know the problem in Russia became larger when the Soviet Union collapsed. I know alcohol prices dropped. I do wonder if Russia stands as an example that freedom of alcohol is not always a good thing. I do not know whether Russia ever had a prohibition, but I would imagine it was freer than before with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

It was Twisted, Reverse Democracy this Time Around

   What a strange election system it was. The good portion of Utah's Republican voters turned out not so much to vote for any one candidate, but to vote against Donald Trump. Yet, when the final votes were tallied at the national convention, all 40 went to Donald Trump.
   Whatever you call such a system, don't call it democracy. When the person voted against ends up with all the votes, that's not democracy. Nor should it count as a republican form of government. What it is, is just plain wrong.
   Imagine creating a system where the one who gets the most votes is declared the loser and the one the majority opposes is declared the winner. It was twisted, reverse democracy this time around.
   

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Barriers along Sidewalks Will Avert a Mass Killing

   It is said, those who fail to learn from history are bound to repeat it. With each mass murder, we should be seeking to learn what we could have done to avoid it.
   I do not know whether any of the mass murders has left a more clear solution than the Bastille Day massacre, where the truck plowed down so many people. A day or two later, I heard a news commentator speaking of how barrier (usually made of concrete) prevent vehicles from jumping into areas filled with pedestrians.
   What I want to know is, why haven't we seen a big call to build these barriers along our busiest sidewalks, and along our parks? Why? Those who fail to learn from the present will be stuck in it. If you would have a future you must learn from the present. If we do not learn from the mass murders happening now, we will not begin to escape them. It seems, each time when you see a way to lessen the ways a mass murderer can achieve his objective, you snap to reduce what he can do.
   There will still be many ways for the killer to achieve his objective, but we will have taken one tool out of his hands. And, though you cannot make a count of crimes that never materialize, this will prevent a slaughtering somewhere along the line.
   Those who fail to learn from history, fail. And, we will fail, if we do not pause to look for an answer each time there is a slaughtering. Those who will not take their lessons from the present, must again be administered them in the future. We must adapt or die.

You Cannot Criminalize Popularity, and Alcohol Remains Popular

   You cannot make illegal that which is popular. If you pass a law against it, the people will find a way to do it, anyway.
   Case in point: The Prohibition. With so many wanting to drink, there were those who would run into the market place, more than willing to provide the product. That's supply and demand, one of the basic principles of the American economy. It is funny, then, that one of the basic principles of the American economy led to the downfall of America's attempt to prohibit alcohol.
   I do not know that I oppose another prohibition. But, before there is one, the nation would need to tone down its drinking habits. You cannot criminalize popularity. You cannot make illegal a substance the people clamor for.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Though the Scripture not Apply to Washington, it is Interesting

   After learning George Washington was never wounded in all his days of battle, my mind soon swept to a prophecy in the Book of Mormon.
   "But behold, the life of my servant shall be in my hand; therefore they shall not hurt him, although he shall be marred because of them. Yet I will heal him, for I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.
   I know that prophecy is said to be about Joseph Smith, who was murdered. It certainly would not seem to be about Washington, as it says, "he shall be marred because of them. Yet I will heal him, for I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil." (3 Nephi 21:10)
   I just think it of note, though, that Washington -- certainly a servant in the last days -- was never wounded, and that the LDS have a scripture suggesting that in the last days there would be a servant who would not be hurt. Even thought the scripture not apply to Washington, this is interesting.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Four Bullet Holes Thru His Coat and Two Horses from Under Him

   There have been embellishments around the story that apparently aren't true, but the basic story of George Washington escaping without a wound in the Battle of Monongahela 21 years before the Revolutionary War is true. Washington had four bullets pass through his coat and two horses shot from underneath him, yet he suffered no injury.
   The documentation comes from a letter to his mother, Mary Ball Washington, in which he wrote, "I luckily escapd witht a wound, tho’ I had four Bullets through my Coat, and two Horses shot under me . . ."
   I also learned tonight that Washington was never wounded in all his military career. A remarkable thing, as well. I did not have time to verify this, but it appears to be true.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

George Washington's Surviving this Battle Should be a Story Well Told

   Is it legend or is it true? We should look as deeply into history as we can to determine if it is true. But, if it is, it should be a larger story in our school history books.
   I believe inspiring events should be emphasized in our schools textbooks of history. If there are miracles, they should be told. If the hand of God is evident, those are things that should be shared. George Washington's having two horses shot from underneath him, four bullets piercing his clothes, and his hat being shot off and bullet fragments being left in his hair -- that is a story that should be well told.
   It is a story all of us as Americans should be well aware of.
   But, I would not to be deluded. I would not to be deceived. If this is a false story, if it was fabricated, I would that we should know so.

Republicans to be Lauded for Addressing Pornography

   I will echo the Deseret News tonight, as its editorial lauds the Republican Party for placing a plank opposing pornography in its national platform.
   It is a bold thing, even as the newspaper suggests. I consider the ridicule Utah received when it declared pornography a health hazard. To think that the Republicans would adopt the plank, in face of the heat they will take, is putting principle before popularity.
  The Deseret News points out that many will suggest the Republicans should be pursuing more important issues.
   "And that is indeed part of the problem," says the editorial. "The nation as a whole is out of touch with the enormous harm pornography is doing."
   I laud the Republicans for placing an anti-porn plank in their platform. If  politics are to make America a better place, they must address the problems that are making it a badder place. If we do not address pornography, we will limit how great we can become.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

There is another Part of this War to be Fought

   If it is the hearts of men we must change -- if we would curb mass murders and terrorist attacks -- then how shall we go about it? If it is necessary to persuade the mass murderers and terrorists that what they are doing is wrong, how shall we go about persuading them?
   There is power in persuasion. It might not reach all the potential murderers, but some will be reached, if we reach out to them, and encourage them not to commit such heinous acts. What are the ways of reaching them? These days, Facebook looms large. Reach out to them with spots on the radio, on TV, in newspapers, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Reach out to them in concerts, when entertainers are found who will join in the cause and speak out. Reach out to them with what leaders they have who are opposed to violent crimes. When we find Muslim religious leaders who will speak out against these crimes, let us get them in promo spots condemning ISIS and mass murders.
   Make it a worldwide blitz.
   There is as much power in persuasion as there is in war. Polish up the public promos. Make them as creative, exciting and polished as any advertisement can be. Don't stop with domestic advertising against mass murder and terrorism in this country and countries such as France. Take the battle to their countries, advertising on al-jazeera and in the media in the middle east against ISIS and other terrorist groups.
   There is a war being fought for the hearts of men, and if you are to win it, you must win it with what you say and by making what you say attractive enough to persuade. Guns and bombs and drones win the part of the war that must be fought with those weapons. But, there is a part of the war that must be won with words.
   We took up our weapons of war long ago in the first part of the war.  We've been at it at least as far back as when President Bush declared the war on terrorism. But, we haven't yet even began to fight on the second front in this war.
   Why not?
 


Cement Barriers are a Thing Whose Time has Come

   Woke this morning to hearing how cement and other barriers are often used to protect against cars entering areas where pedestrians are.
   Throwing them up, then, is a more reasonable answer than what I had last night. I suggested a sensor system that shuts off engines when they enter the pedestrian area. Cement barricades, though, would be less expensive and more effective.
   Perhaps we have come to this, cement barriers lining every busy sidewalk, protecting the pedestrians from those who would tear into the crowds with their vehicles. And, perhaps it isn't such a grave inconvenience, nor expense.
   Perhaps it is just a precaution whose time has come.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Could We have Sensor Systems to Detect Motor Vehicles?

   Could we invent a sensor system that detects when motor vehicles are entering a place where no vehicles are allowed, and shuts their engines down?
   I think on the Bastille Day massacre. I think of another incident, where a lady plowed into a crowd with her car. I think how such sensor systems might remove or reduce the danger of such things happening. I wonder what the cost would be.
   If this would work, if the price is not prohibitive, perhaps we should have such systems at every mass gathering place that could be invaded by vehicles.

Other Diseases Catch our Concern, but with this one, We Turn them Out

   Name this disease: With most every other disease, everyone rallies around the patient, showering them with love, support and concern, But, with this disease, they are more likely to reject diseased person. In fact, it is common for families to turn members out of their homes when this disease overtakes them.
   Name it, if you can.
   Alcoholism.
   And, is it not so? Often, when the person becomes an alcoholic, the family grows concerned they are enabling the drinking by just letting the drunk live in the home, doing nothing but drinking. We should stop and consider, though. Those who are drunkards are disabled.
   Now, I do not say it is always wrong to turn them out, but I wonder. I do not know what incentives are good for them, and if it might be good for them to have the incentive of a good home when they are sober, but a gutter when they are not. I wonder, however, if they they are in condition, mentally, to be incentivized by such a challenge.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Alcohol: I Would for an Investigation

    Certainly alcohol, with the many damages it does to our society, deserves a task force to study those impacts.
   A first step to solving a problem, can be to quantify it. While we know much about the damage to society caused by alcohol, there is much we do not know. We have had a study informing us that one in six unemployed is addicted to drugs or alcohol, but do we know how many turn to drugs and alcohol as a reaction to being unemployed as opposed to how many are sent to their unemployment because of alcohol?
   We should learn how many are disabled by alcohol. Is it the leading disabler? We should look deeper into how many deaths are contributed to by alcohol. We should identify all the ways alcohol brings about death, and quantify how many die in each category. We undoubtedly have much of that information already in hand, but should fill it in with what we don't have.
   We should study the social impacts, from break ups in families, to loss of friendships. We should study how many people alcohol sends to the gutter, how many people are homeless because of it.
   Crime? That 40 percent of our violent crimes intersect with alcohol use should, alone, shock us so much that we would investigate. Can we identify how many of our violent crimes are actually being brought about because of alcohol? Is there the potential to reduce our violent crime rate by 40 percent?
   When an issue is important enough to Congress, it appoints a committee to study it. I would suggest, alcohol is more worthy of a study than is Hillary Clinton.
   A presidential commission? Perhaps. Whatever the nature of the commission -- whoever appoints it -- such a study is deserving. Alcohol is a major menace to our society. It deserves a major study. We should identify and quantify all the problems and search for answers to each. Finding answers would be of great worth, considering the damage alcohol does.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Alcohol Makes a Case for being America's Biggest Problem

   Alcohol makes a case for being America's biggest problem. It is said it is a factor in 40 percent of our violent crimes. It is the fourth-leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. It is estimated that more than a third of all traffic fatalities are alcohol related.
 One in six unemployed workers are said to be addicted to alcohol or drugs.
 Then, there is towering cost to society. Alcohol problems cost us more than $250 billion every year.
 And, there is the devastation to family lives, friendships and social relationships.
 Alcohol disables more people than most any other cause, Indeed, one wonders if it is the leading disabler. Certainly, when all these things are considered, while you might not conclude alcohol is America's biggest problem, surely you can see it certainly is one of the largest, easily.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

NIAAA is the Organization

   There is an organization fighting alcohol abuse, after all, and there is a name for the disability that comes from the use of alcohol, after all. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is surely a wonderful organization. Alcohol Use Disorder, or alcoholism, is the term that applies to using alcohol to the point that it becomes a problem.
   I guess that falls short of labeling alcoholism as a disability, but it is close. I do still think we should address alcoholism more in terms of it being a disability. And, I wonder at our count of deaths. I read how nearly 4 percent of all deaths are related to alcohol. I guess, I had thought it would be greater, if all things were included, but it is great to have some kind of figure. That is still about one in every 25 deaths.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Are We Willing to Discuss Why so Many Mass Shooters were Military?

   Oh, we shy from discussing a part of this mass shooting issue that needs to be discussed: Why are so many of the assailants former members of the military?
   PTSD? Do we leave it at that, and suppose there is no more to it?
   We should consider that using guns for violence can sometimes become a trait, when introduced into a person's life. We should consider that for all the good the serviceman does, in fighting for freedom, he runs the risk of being ill affected. Some will go that direction. Others will not. But there is a danger.
   I think of Micah Johnson, the Dallas sniper, and of how it is said he came back from the military a different person. The experience transformed him, and it wasn't for the better. I wonder if we can just lay it off as mental illness, or as PTSD. I suggest we should consider war and soldiering's ill effects on the character of the soldier.
   (Note: The last two sentences were added 7/12/16.)

Aye, How Much Better Our Economic System Would be!

   It has gone unnoticed on us that our economic system has a couple flaws. Big ones. We heap praises upon the competitive free market system, and it is wonderful.
   But, it has two significant flaws that we should be concerned about if we were to seek a perfect economic system.
  One, at time of sale, sometimes there isn't any competition. That should shock you. But, yes, its true.
  Two, at the point we need information about the product, usually the person giving us answers has a conflict of interest.
   On these two flaws hang many a problem. Prices are jacked up. Items are overpriced. Customers are taken advantage of. Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if we could pretty much check prices from being inflated, and if we could save people from being ripped off, and if we could save them from buying things they don't need?
   Sounds to me like this would improve society as much as most anything. So, if you ever set about solving all the ills of society, don't leave this off the list.
   Here's my thoughts tonight on what we might do.
   On that first problem: At point of sale, often there isn't any competition. I had someone come look at my air conditioner the other night. As he concluded I needed a new condenser and a new coil, I stood at point of sale. And, he alone stood before me for me to choose from. He -- ABT Mechanical -- alone offered me a product. Action, Whipple, Manwill -- all the other companies were gone from the scene. I call this having a captive customer. I call it the monopoly moment. Although we have a competitive market, if a monopoly exists at the point in time, the moment when the sale is being purchased, it washes away much of effect of the competitive market system, for that system isn't there at the most crucial point.
   Alas, in our system, often at point of sale, there is no competition, the customer is captive, and the seller has a monopoly.
   And, I said we have a second problem. When we are in need of information, the person giving us the information has a conflict of interest. As I was buying the air conditioner, there were a lot of things I knew nothing about. I needed someone to guide me through the sale, and the only person there to do it was the person making the sale. I may have fared a little better than many do, on this occasion, as ABT seems a company bent on integrity. Still, the usual scenario is for the company to look for a sale, and the information given comes through that set of glasses. At one point, I told the worker/salesman that I wanted to convert my heater to electricity because I was going to go solar, and the heater would need to be electric if it were to use solar. It didn't occur to me that one might be cheaper than the other, gas and electricity not being equal in price. The salesman/worker did not provide input and it was not until I spoke to the owner days later that I got that information.
   So, what do we do? How do we correct our economic system, so that these two problems are done away with? Pass a law? Yes, we could pass a law, saying that when a diagnosis is needed before a product can be sold, then the company making the diagnosis cannot make the sale until all other companies have had a chance to bid.
   Now, just a few years ago, this solution would not have been practical. It is only with the coming of the Internet that it is. The Internet makes it possible to place the sale on line and have all the air conditioning companies offer their bids. The company that came to my house -- ABT Mechanical -- would post the diagnosis online, and within a short time -- minutes, perhaps -- all the other companies would make their bids.
   This model would work for car repairs, as well. You would go to one shop to have the car diagnosed, then you would have the option of driving to another shop for the repair once the bids came back on the Internet.
   What about conflict of interest? To really erase that, you probably would need to say that the company making the diagnosis could not also make the sale. Off top, you might see some problems with this. One, what about when your car is towed to the garage? You hardly want to pay for a second tow to get it to a different garage. Second, there is the inconvenience of going to a second garage, period. Thirdly, there is the time factor. It takes extra time to go from the place where the diagnosis is made to the place where the repairs are made.
   But, those problems might not play out quite so severely as might be seen. As for towing the car to a second garage, in making their bids, companies would likely realize the need to move the car and often offer to tow it at no cost. This would also remove the inconvenience of having to drive to a second shop.
  What about, then, the concern it takes extra time to get the job done if one company is doing the diagnosis and you must wait for a second company to do the fixing? Well, actually, there will be times when the new system is quicker. When you go to the garage, they sometimes make the diagnosis but do not do the repairs immediately because they must wait for parts. So, they call you up, give you up, give you the estimate, and tell you it will be later before they can get to it, and you are placed behind other customers also there at the shop. In an Internet system, if someone does not have a customer at the moment, they can come get your car and fix it right then.
   There are different ways to address the conflict of issue problem. One, would be to have diagnostic shops be separate from the fix-it shops. You'd take your car to a place, tell them what you wanted checked, and they would charge you a flat fee, regardless what they did or didn't find wrong. So, you would have a whole line of diagnostic shops, and a whole separate line of fix-it shops. It would be illegal to own both.

Is this a Nostradamus-Type Application, or is there more to it than that?

   There is some likeness to modern-day scriptures in what is happening today. Is it fulfillment? I am somewhat of the though that it isn't, but who knows.
   There was the Arab Spring, in which people rose up against  their governments. Back then, I wondered if their was any likeness in that to a prophecy in a book of scripture called the Doctrine and Covenants. The 87th Section of that book prophesies the Civil War, and then prophesies war being poured out upon all nations. After saying those two things shall take place, it says, "And it shall come to pass, after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters."
   So, is this, "slaves rising up against their masters,"  reference to  the Civil War? Or, does it  refer to another event, for it says it comes "after many days." The order of things suggests it comes many days not only after the Civil War, but after war being poured out upon all nations?
   It was only a short time after the Arab Spring that we had the Occupy movement here in America, and, ever since that time, we have had discontent over the 1 or 2 percent who have all the money. There is a rebellious discontent against the rich. And, now, there is a growing protest against the police. Is it a little much to say that, in a manner of speaking, police are the masters, and the people are their slaves? Perhaps.
   I have sometimes thought of the prophecies of Nostradamus, and of how they are so vague that things can easily be found as "fulfillments" of them. Perhaps that is all there is to what is going on now, in relation to what is in the Doctrine and Covenants.
   I think of two other scriptures from the Doctrine and Covenants. In Section 45, verse 63, it says: "Ye hear of wars in foreign lands; but, behold, I say unto you, they are nigh, even at your doors, and not many years hence ye shall hear of wars in your own lands."
   And, in 38:29, it says: "Ye hear of wars in far countries, and you say there will soon be great wars in far countries, but ye know not the hearts of men in your own land."
   Those two scriptures perhaps refer to something else. Still, though . . .
   It says, "you say there will soon be great wars." Even so, we do not doubt more war in the Middle East. We see it coming. We see Israel and other situations, and we know war will continue in the Middle East.
   Do we, though, not know the hearts of men in our own land? Do we not know how deep the anti-government sentiment runs? There are those in this land who speak ill of our current government, who feel ill toward it, but do we not fully consider where it might lead?
   "Ye know not the hearts of men in your own land."
    I want to say, again, that I think of Nostradamus's predictions, and of how there are always going to be happenings that can be suggested as fulfillments of  them, I do wonder but what this is but the same thing.
   Still, I confess, I do wonder.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

There will be Deaths, as Long as Guns are Everywhere

   In Minnesota, tragedy. "I told him not to reach for it," an officer is heard saying on the video after the shooting. "I told him to get his hand out." Watching the video, you can tell the officer is clearly spooked.
   The Minnesota shooting was not a case of the officer shooting in a spirit of hatred. The officer was frightened by a gun in the car. As Minnesota attorney Thomas Kelly told the Associated Press, "This had everything to do with the presence of a gun."
   One must wonder. We are not of a mind to outlaw guns, but if we did, would Philando Castile yet be alive? If he had not had a gun, would the traffic stop never have escalated to his death. Consider, then, that this is true: A simple traffic stop can escalate into a shooting simply because a gun is on the scene.
   We might not want to ban guns. We certainly should not, in light of the Second Amendment. But, we should see there will be meaningless deaths as long as guns are everywhere.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Monopoly of the Moment isn't Competitive Marketing

      Actually, our economic system could use some improvement. I speak of the competitive market system. It just seems that sometimes it breaks down, and isn't all that competitive.
   Like, take tonight. I invited someone to come tell me what is wrong with my air conditioner. They showed up, told me I needed a new coil and a new condenser, and I was ready to buy.
   Ready, but didn't.
   After they left, I realized I was only getting one estimate. The company had a monopoly at the moment, for there was no one else for me to listen to, nobody else to bid the price down.
   I was a captive customer, a captive buyer.
   If we would improve our system, we would look for all these spots where competition vanishes, where one company has a monopoly of the moment, where we are captive customers, and at each such point, we would inject competition.
    How would we go about doing that? One way, would be to have a third party broker the sale. Have one company to diagnose the problem, and a separate one to fix it. The diagnostic agent is paid a flat fee, that does not change, regardless what problem he does or doesn't find. He, then, posts the diagnoses on the Internet, and the repair companies bid on it.


Arm Everyone at Football Games

   If we believe the answer to gun violence is to arm more people, so that whenever a criminal commences shooting, there is someone in the crowd who to shoot back and save us, then why don't we test our theory?
   Let's arm everyone attending our football and basketball games. Yes, imagine it: What if everyone at a football game had a gun?
   I'll tell you, for my part, that is one place I wouldn't feel safe being at.

Was this Biggest One-Day Mass Murder Targeting Police Officers?

    I wonder if Dallas was the biggest one-day mass killing of targeted police officers as there  has been in modern history?
    Oh, there have been more officers killed in mass shooting. Seventy-one died in 9/11. Eight officers officers were killed in 1995 in the Timothy McVeigh bombing in Oklahoma City. But, those killings did did not focus on police officers.
    Across eight days in 1972 and 1973, five officers were killed by a sniper in New Orleans. So, in number of deaths, that equals Dallas.


Shootings Scream for the Need to Hire More Carefully, Train Better

   Giving a man a badge does not turn him into a good guy. It makes him responsible to be a good guy. It gives him the image of being a good guy. But, it does not make him good.
   I do not know that all the investigation in the world makes much difference when the video of Alton Sterling's shooting seems to say it all. He is pinned to the ground. It is an execution, just as is being said.
   The pretext for shooting him might have been that he had a gun. Good luck with that. When you are a bad guy, you will justify what you've done, but no amount of self belief that what you did was right will change the fact it was wrong.
   Wrong is wrong, regardless which side of the badge it falls on.
   Philando Castile? We do not have as much evidence. Was it a little different of a situation? Was an officer too quickly spooked, shooting without good cause, but not without good fear?
   I know this: We should be gravely concerned that we are not screening candidates closely enough before pinning badges on them. We can also wonder if anything in their training leads to the officers turning criminal.
   The shooting of Alton Sterling underscores the need for reform in how officers are hired and how they are trained. People with these tendencies should not be being placed behind badges, in the first place. And, if they are hired, training should be in place steering them from ever committing such crimes.
   Can we not see that these two things are what needs to be done? What is happening screams for the need to screen candidates better, and train them better,

Thursday, July 7, 2016

If They had not had Guns, They'd Still be Alive

   In all those cases where police officers have shot someone, how many happened because the officer was just trying to protect himself?
   From a gun.
   Not all. Maybe not even half. Still, a fair share.
   I pause, and reflect, realizing that if the person never had a gun, the police would not have felt compelled to shoot. Translation: If people weren't allowed to carry around guns, some of these souls wouldn't have have been carrying them when the officer came calling.
    And, as a result, they'd still be alive.
   Yes, this alone doesn't necessarily mean we take people's guns from them. There are other considerations -- like the Second Amendment, quite notably. Still, I don't think it should go unnoticed that some would still be alive if they had not had guns.
 

Two Keys to Helping the Alcoholic: Love and Music

   I'm sitting here thinking about what can be done to help a person overcome alcoholism. Perhaps all the answers we've ever known about changing people are all we have for changing the alcoholic. At the top of the list: love. The most important, most instrumental thing is love. Well, as I'm thinking on all this, this song comes on, and I think how music with noble sentiments, how positive and uplifting music can help people overcome their addiction.
   So, love and music: two of the most powerful influences in the world. If you would effect change, place these among your resources.
   The opening words of the song? It haunts me, they are so appropriate to what I am thinking as the song comes on:
   "I hear a lot of stories
   "I suppose they could be true.
   "All about love,
   "And what it can do to you."
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nlh_JJihv4g

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

What if Donald Trump Started Packing?

   One suggested solution for gun violence, and mass shootings, is to encourage more people to pack.
   I wonder what if those who suggest it, practiced it? What if Donald Trump showed up with an AK-47 strapped to his shoulder? What if he encouraged his followers to show up to his rallies guns in their waistbands?
   After all, there is always the danger there could be a mass shooting at a Trump rally, right? If the answer to such danger is to have enough people there packing, then do it, right?
   I ask you to think on it first, though. Consider the confrontations there have been at some of Trump's rallies. Now, if both sides had been armed, what might have happened? If the Trump backers are bringing guns, and those who come to protest Trump know it, I wonder if they are going to be more inclined to bring guns of their own?
   The arms race would be on. Violence begets violence and guns attract more guns. Some would say, fight fire with fire, but I wonder if sometimes that just creates a bigger fire. Violence rises to the height of the nearest weapon, so there is value to limiting the weaponry.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Back, You Angry Dogs! Back, You Angry Wolves!

    Half the country, it seems, is infected with the witch hunt of Hillary Clinton. They will not be satisfied by the FBI's decision to not bring charges against her. They will not say justice has been served. They will not suppose the FBI was fair and equitable.
  No, when you are a lynch mob, you demand a hanging. And, half America, it seems, is in this lynch mob.
   "No reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case," FBI Director James Comey said. And, we wonder on the why. Is it because she isn't guilty? Is it that she is not any more guilty than many others? At any rate, do we now say justice has spoken? Or, is the taste of blood already in our mouths, and do we continue to snarl at her, and snap at her with our fangs?
   Back, you angry dogs! Back, you angry wolves!

With Liberty, and Justice and America for all

   I believe in an America for everyone, regardless what part of the globe they live in. I believe in justice and freedom, in fairness and ethics, in equality and love. In other words, I believe in America.
   I believe in the value of every human soul. I believe in treating others with decency and dignity. I believe in the pursuit of happiness, in being able to pursue dreams and prosperity, in being allowed to chase goals and ambitions. Yes, in other words, I believe in America.
   I would not reject anyone from coming to this land, other than those who would come to commit crimes. I would say, This is the land of the free, and you are free to come.
   I believe in an America for everyone, regardless where they live. Oh, let me condition that. I do not believe in fomenting change in other countries. If the people lack freedoms, but are not wanting or asking for those freedoms -- if they are satisfied with their lots in life -- then let them be. You do not force freedom on a people because that runs counter to what freedom is about. Our values might not be their values. If they do not value being free, if they are happy living under a king or dictator, then let them alone to their own way of life, and don't force ours upon them.
   But, if they are in oppression and in need of help, and will welcome that help, then I would go to war to free them. Just as we, as individuals, should help every neighbor we can, so we, as a nation, should help every people we can. Just as we, as individuals, would stand up for the rights of any one person in our communities, so we, as a nation, should stand up for any people in the world community.
   I believe in an America for everyone. I wish that America could be on our soil. But, as that cannot be, then let "America" be in other lands, as well. If they cannot come to America, let the spirit of America be with them in lands afar. Let theirs, as well, be lands where justice, and freedom and fairness and love are the standards of life.

Monday, July 4, 2016

A Nation that Would be Great, Must First be Good

   One of the greatest truths to be found, is found in a spurious quote.
   "America is great because she is good. And, if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great."
   It is said that Alexis de Toqueville said that, but he didn't. Still, it remains one of the world's great quotes, regardless who said it.
   Greatness is attained not by seeking greatness, but by seeking goodness. Goodness leads to greatness more surely than will a pursuit of greatness itself. This is true in people, and it is true in nations. The pursuit of greatness is vanity, and those who would attain it this way end up with their vanity. Often, they attain power and fear more than respect and admiration.
   There is more greatness to be found in goodness than there is to be found in power. It is a greater thing for a nation to help people than to hurt them.
    Now, I will venture into politics, that is, into opinions you might disagree with.
   When I say that it is a greater thing for a nation to help people than to hurt them, one thing I think of is our immigration policy. If we would ease restrictions, it would help people who come from other countries. That is helping people. That is a good thing. That is goodness. That is the pursuit of goodness.
   On the other hand, what do we do? Do we seek to wield power over these immigrants? Do we remind them that this is our land, and that they are not citizens and that they cannot come here without our permission? Do we seek power over them? Do we say we are a nation of rules, and insist they keep our rules, and thus we keep them under our power?
   What do we do? Do  we seek to be great? For, in suggesting they will lower our economy, we are seeking not for goodness, but for greatness. We are seeking to be economically great at the expense of being good to others.
   In your values, lie your spoils. If the nation seeks greatness this way, it will not reap true greatness.
 




Sunday, July 3, 2016

Perhaps, the Book of Mormon Society was also a Democratic Republic

   If you would have asked me before today, which form of government the Book of Mormon people lived under, I perhaps would have pointed to Mosiah 29:26, said, "Democracy," and thought the point settled at that.
  "Do your business by the voice of the people," it says.
   But, as I searched Book of Mormon passages this morning, I realized I had overlooked some things, some parallels to the republican form of government set up by our founding fathers. Although it may be hard to determine exactly how the Book of Mormon people operated their government, the verses we do have, do, indeed, point to wonderful parallels with what was established by our founding fathers.
   We elect representatives who then enact the laws. Even so, Mosiah 29:26 says, "Choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that you might be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers."
   Laws given by their fathers? That sounds like being governed by a constitution, same as we are.
   Shortly after the Book of Mormon people adopted this form of government, Alma, the first chief judge, stepped down. At that time, we are told he turned the government over to another, "to enact laws according to the laws which had been given."
   It sounds to me like it might have been, then, that the judges created laws that fit under the existing laws of their constitution. That they enacted -- created -- them is significant. This indicates that rather than the people voting on every matter, the judges created the laws.
   That's representative government. That's a republic.
   I also find interesting the process by which the government was transferred to Nephihah when Alma stepped down. "He selected a wise man who was among the elders of the church, and gave him power according to the voice of the people . . ." (Alma 4:16)
   Whether Alma appointed the next chief judge, or just recommended someone and the people then ratified his choice, I do not know. I only know I see similarities to the way our leader was to be selected, according to the Constitution. We were to have an Electoral College -- composed of elected electors -- and that group was to select the president. Even so, Alma, who had been elected, was selecting the chief officer of the land.
   That's the republican form of government.
   Well, I remain a fan of democracy. I ascribe to the words of Abraham Lincoln, that we should not let government of the people, by the people and for the people perish from this land. Despite what I have learned this morning, I still consider that perhaps the people wielded the ultimate authority in Book of Mormon times, for it remains, that if they did their business by the voice of the people, then it was the people who were in charge. But, principles of the republican form of government were also dominant in the Book of Mormon society, even as principles of both are part of our society.
   We are not just a democracy. Nor, are we just a republic. We are a democratic republic. Even so, perhaps, the Book of Mormon society was a democratic republic.






Cathedral Canyon Might be the Most Gorgeous Place in all of Utah

   Some say it is the most beautiful place in all of Utah. But, if you are the average person, don't expect to ever see it.
   It's too out of the way. It's too hard to get to. I don't know, what is it, 27 miles on unpaved road, just to get to the trail head? And, you need a 4WD for the final miles. Then, once you reach the trail head, expert-class hiking takes you another 4.5 miles.
   For those who can make it, the scene is the reward, perhaps the most magnificent place in all of Utah. This morning, I woke up to see Xfinity showing, "The Most Beautiful Places in All 50 States." For Utah, it picked the Golden Cathedral in Neon Canyon in the Grand Staircase--Escalante National Monument.
   "If you like dramatic light beaming down through sandstone and landing in a pool, this will blow your mind," says a post at Utah.com.
   "It was awesome. The pictures don't do the place justice," writes the reviewer at Your Hike Guide.
    The Intermountain Health Care website calls it "incredible . . . awe-inspiring."
   "Truly a remarkable place, and no wonder people will hike 5 miles though the desert to see it," says Anne's Travels.
   The tops of canyon walls fold over to join each other, creating a large room with skylight openings, That's my understanding. The name of the place suggests as much, Golden Cathedral implying a room large enough to be a ornate and colorful chapel.
   But, is it ever hard to get to. It lies in an area that was the last place in the Lower 48 states to have illustrated maps made of it (cartographed). To get there, you traverse Hole in the Rock Road. The Golden Cathedral is not so far from Hole in the Rock, sharing the same rugged terrain which stopped Mormon pioneers until they were able to find that steep, narrow pass through  which they lowered their wagons. That should tell you how almost impassable this area is.

https://utah.com/hiking/golden-cathedral-trail

http://www.yourhikeguide.com/golden-cathedral/

https://intermountainhealthcare.org/live-well/move-well/healthy-hikes/challenging-hikes/the-golden-cathedral/

http://www.annestravels.net/neon-canyon/

Escalante Interagency Visitor Center at 755 W Main St in Escalante, call (435) 826-5499





The Very Rich Trump Works Out a Tax Break for the Very Rich

   If you have not yet been persuaded not to vote for Donald Trump, look no further than his tax plan. Various organizations have estimated it would cost $9.5 to $12 trillion across 10 years.
   That's a whopping lot of money. It's a tremendous increase to an already sky-high national deficit.
   And, who would get the tax cuts Trump is planning? Maybe everybody, but mostly, the rich. Yes, the bottom 20 percent of earners would see an average decrease of $128. But, the top 20 percent would see a cut averaging $25,000. And, the richer the rich, the greater the tax break. The cut for the top 1 percent would be $275,000. And, the top 1/10th of 1 percent would save an average of $1.3 million.
   So, a very rich man like Donald Trump runs for president, and works out a tax plan that would benefit the very rich people like himself?
   And, we vote for him?

http://www.npr.org/2015/12/22/460743371/analysis-trump-tax-plan-boosts-the-rich-could-be-a-drag-on-the-economy

Friday, July 1, 2016

How Should We Treat Those Who are Disabled by Alcohol?

   It's a scenario playing out all across America. Someone slips so deeply into drinking that they lose their job. Then, their family kicks them out of the home because they do not want to "enable" them. They do not want to be providing a place where the person can just drink and live without paying their own way. After all, if a person doesn't have to pay their way, they will have no incentive to go out and get a job, right? If they can just lounge around and be drunk all day, they'll do it, right? So, the family of such a person often feels that providing free housing is enabling the child. They feel if the child is to be handled properly, he or she must learn to be responsible for his own actions.
   Truly, we as a society don't know how to handle this situation. We grapple, wanting to help, but not wanting to encourage the drunkenness by providing a free place to stay, not wanting to reward bad behavior. I, too, do not know what to do, how to handle it. I wonder on this, what should be done for these people to give them a path back.
   The first step, perhaps, is to recognize that we have a problem, that problem being that we haven't come up with a way to handle them. With so many lives being lost to alcohol, this seems an urgent matter. If lives are being lost -- and they are -- if we can save them, we must.