Monday, October 31, 2016

More Thoughts on the Malheur Decision

   Some more thought on the recent court ruling regarding the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
   I see it was a jury's decision, not a judge's. I wonder on that. I see one juror was let go just before the decision was rendered after his impartiality was questioned. If we had one juror whose was not impartial, were their others, but they were not as blatant in their impartiality? Which side was he partial to, and how did it affect the jury's deliberations?
  I thought to read whether the judge offered any comments as why she acquitted the defendants. I had supposed it was because she found the defendants did not in any way prevent the workers from doing their job. And, I supposed she found no evidence the refuge could not be up and running, operating as normal, even though the Ammon Bundy and others were there. But, no judge? Then, there would have been no comments. Perhaps, now, we would have to go back to the court record to determine whether their was good evidence the protesters did, in fact, intimidate the workers from showing up for work, or did encourage the refuge to be closed.
   If there is such evidence -- good evidence -- then I question the court's decision. You do not march into a government facility, and take it over, and close it down. Yes, that is wrong.
  A final thought? Bundy and his co-defendants got much of what they wanted out of their protest. They wanted to make a statement against government overreach. They wanted to do something about it. Via the jury's decision, they got what they came for. "This message of government overreach has got to stop," attorney Marcus Mumford said. "We are very pleased with the decision we had here."

Sunday, October 30, 2016

We Should be Alarmed at How Money buys Influence

   It has been said, you can buy anything in this world with money. I do wonder, then: Is it wrong to consider how money buys things in politics?
   Money buys influence? No secret, no surprise? You've already considered this, and are not interested in the topic at the moment?
   If there is no sense of urgency, nothing will get done. Those who are not alarmed will not sound the alarm, nor answer to it. They won't answer the bell, so to speak.
   So, please bring yourself to being alarmed. Think: This is America, greatest nation on earth, and we cannot let our political needs be given to the highest bidder. If that word, "cannot," catches in your craw, perhaps it is because you are ahead of me. You already know we allow money to determine elections and policies. We have this thing called the lobbyist, and sometimes it almost seem it is a problem unique to us, and us, alone.
   It isn't. But, sufficient to say our lobbyists, we hear about, and those in China, we don't.
   Cannot let our political needs be given to the highest bidder? If we do let our needs be sold to the highest bidder, and if we do not do something about that fact, that shows our alarm level is not high enough correct the problem.
   Legislation should not be a matter of people with means sweeping into our doors and getting what they want. Legislation should not be a matter of money. It should not be a matter of, "I contributed $1,000 to your campaign, so please at least listen to my request." It should not be a matter of, "I'll take out a full-page ad in the Washington Post to argue our position."
   One way to curb the influence of lobbyists would be let the public into the meetings Congress members have with lobbyists. Invite the public to participate in the discussions with lobbyists. One way to curb the influence of paid advertising on the issues would be to invite responses. Ask the opponents not to buy their response, but give write free guest editorials. And, don't always pick "authorities" to write the responses. If the common man can make the argument, let the person with little credentials write the response. Maybe even hold a contest, inviting all to write arguments against the paid ad, and printing the best one or two.
  Money buys influence. Money, it sometimes seems, can buy anything in the world. I would that we could see the urgency of doing something about this. I would that the average Joe had as much influence in our political system as do the "esteemed" members of our society.

Malheur Occupiers Appear to have been in the Right

  I once felt the protesters at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were wrong. Now, in light of the court's decision to acquit them, I tend to believe I am the one who was wrong.
   The protesters were charged with obstructing officials from the performance of their duties, or some such similarly worded offense. I had supposed the occupiers, indeed, had prevented the refuge employees from doing their work. Although the news story I read doesn't say the jury found differently, that is implied by the acquittal. If the protesters were not preventing the refuge from being open, nor operating in its normal fashion, they were nothing more than peaceful protesters, albeit protesters who carried weapons, a touch that does not go unnoticed. If the employees truly felt threatened by working in an environment where those who opposed them were carrying guns, perhaps we need a new law that makes such intimidation a crime.
   Or, would that be an affront to the Second Amendment? I suggest it might. If you pull the gun out in a threatening manner, that is one thing. But, if you leave it in the holster, make no move for it, and give no verbal indication you might use it, then it would seem you are just keeping and bearing arms, as is your right under the Second Amendment.
  Since the news story doesn't definitively say otherwise, I suppose it is possible the protesters did prevent the refuge from being open and operating in its normal fashion, but the jury sided with their right to do so on grounds they, as citizens, owned the land. I'm guessing, though, that wasn't the case. If, by chance, that is what happened, then I still think the protesters were in the wrong.
(Blog edited 10/31/16, notably correcting that it was not the judge who rendered a decision, but a jury.)

 

Friday, October 28, 2016

I'm Guessing I Wouldn't Take Offense to What was in Hillary's Emails

   If we are going to have an opinion on whether Hillary Clinton posted state secrets in her emails, don't we pretty much need to know what was in the emails? And, since the information is classified, what are the chances our government will release that?
   I'm guessing -- but do not know -- that I wouldn't take offense to what she put in the emails. My impression is that government classifies way too much, way too often, and it is an affront to a free and open society, one that expects -- or should expect -- transparency in government.
   Freedom of speech? Doesn't that fall under the First Amendment? Isn't it one of our most cherished freedoms? Hillary used a server in her home while emailing as secretary of state. If she emailed something potentially damaging to national security, I do not condone it. For that matter, we wouldn't condone it whether she was using a secured server from her office, or an unsecured one in her home. Emailing things damaging to the security of the nation is wrong, either way.
   But, if nothing endangered this nation, I don't care that she used a personal server instead of a government one. I wonder but what freedom of speech doesn't mean you can use a personal server and not be required to use a government one.
   The undershot of what happened, is that she might have been trying to hide what she was writing. Deleted emails? Sometimes, you delete because you don't want something to be public. While I believe a person does have the right to be private, I have often wondered if  when it comes to doing the pubic's business, everything (or most everything) should be on the table,out in the open, and available to the public.
   But, if we expect this of Hillary, shouldn't we expect it of every one of our leaders and policy makers? I wonder what would happen if we told Trey Gowdy and Jason Chaffetz they should release their emails and communications regarding the Benghazi and email probes -- everything that wouldn't endanger national security -- for their probes are the conduction of public business and the public's business should be done in public.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

What if We Listened to Washington? What if He Reformed Us?

   If we were to take the advice of George Washington, who warned us gravely against the power of parties, what a major reformation it would bring to our country. If we let go of parties, aligning with them no more, having them no more, what a change it would have in the political make up of our nation.
   Imagine this: a country without parties. It would almost take the word "politics" out of things, leaving us to discuss issues and solve problems without politics. What greater reform do you want in a nation?
  If we were to but listen to Washington, what a great and wonderful difference it would make,

A Little Love for the Students

     As if someone where tapping me on the shoulder, I realize in the two blogs these past days on putting more love into education, while they discussed how teachers can express love, did not suggest how to get teachers who display greater love.
   Hire them. When interviewing them, look for teachers with loving attitudes. Tell them what you expect, and ask them if they would be willing and comfortable acting in such a manner.
   Train them. At least once or twice a year, explain to them how to treat the students, and how to love them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Washington Warned Us 'in the Most Solemn Manner'

   I wrote this four years ago, perhaps my best blog ever:

   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.
   

The Art of Heaven is to Treat Others Well

   People treating people well is the art of being in heaven. Practice it, and you'll get there.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

This Would be Reform: Changing Our Patent System

   If we are to amend our Constitution, I know of nothing more in need of amending than Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8.
   "The Congress shall have Power To . . . promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries . . ."
   I look at the high price of medicine, and can see this Constitutional decree has led to too powerful of monopolies. The Founding Fathers wanted to promote science and the arts. They wanted to protect writings and discoveries. And, note this, they wanted to  help authors and inventors.
   Too often, small inventors are not adequately served. They lack the funds, so they sell their ideas to large companies. I wish we would change that. I wish we would reform out patent laws, starting with the Constitution's Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8.
   Make it so the inventor gets a royalty. Anyone can make the product -- and thus we preserve competition and keep prices down -- but they all must pay royalties to the person who came up with the idea, at least for a limited time.
   Make the small inventor the rich man. Make it so coming up with an idea reaps its reward. I would that we would change our patent laws this way, as it would promote invention and help spur the economy. Making it easy for good ideas to get onto the market place probably will spark our economic growth.




The Congress shall have Power To...promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries....
ARTICLE I, SECTION 8, CLAUSE 8

Monday, October 24, 2016

This Would Reform Our Police Officers

   I'd reform our law enforcement system. What, with all the attention on police shootings, we ought to see we have no choice but to reform law enforcement.
   Reform, to me, would be no more than emphasizing to them that here are some things you do and here are some things you don't. Have pep talks each morning, if necessary, to ensure the message sinks in and is never forgotten.
  Teach them not to shoot unless necessary. Teach them, theirs is to arrest, not judge, convict, or punish. Teach them, it is not theirs to bring remorse to the criminal, not theirs to get mad and put someone in their place, not theirs to take a paddle out and teach them a lesson. Warn them against even making comments such as, "That guy needs to learn he can't do that. I ought to beat the living daylights out of him."
   Teach them that, by nature, criminals are going to do things that provoke. The police officer's badge of honor is to not be provoked. Make the arrest, but don't go beyond.
   Teach them that sometimes the lawbreaker does get away. No, you don't shoot just because the person is eluding arrest. Chase, but unless there is a real threat, don't kill just because the person will otherwise escape.
   Teach them they are not there to make fights or win fights, nor to show who is the toughest or baddest. They are there to arrest, and that is the long and the short of it. Injecting personal vendettas is a violation of police ethics, or should be. Exacting personal revenge is wrong, or should be. Charge offenders with resisting arrest, assaulting an officer or whatever, but do not swing a fist or fire a gun just to exact personal revenge.
   They are not there to make a point, or to show off, or to ride herd on or rule over others. Theirs is not to rant at the offender, nor exchange in trash talk.
   Yes, restraint needs to be part of what an officer is, part of what he is trained to be. If he isn't taught not to walk around with a "Don't-mess-with-me" attitude, he might well start thinking he is not just there to enforce the law, but to be the law.
   It is probably time to realize that is exactly what we don't want.
   I'm sure some and maybe much of the above is taught to officers. But, I am guessing it is no where near to being taught enough. If we taught these things maybe even daily, it would make a difference. It would reform our police officers.


A Little Love in Education and Justice Might go a Long Ways

   My take on love. As I sit down to write, I wonder if I will be able to verbalize what it is, and how you convey it, and why it makes a difference.
  If I have suggested inserting more love into our  criminal rehabilitation system, and into our schools, would make a difference, just how do I expect  us to go about it? Aren't the teachers already loving? Prison guards might be another matter, for they aren't expected to be loving, and bringing them up a few notches doesn't seem so hard.
  If inserting love is a way of reforming prisons and schools, what would I do to make such a difference?
  When people feel good about themselves, when you give them hope in themselves, they respond better. When you are positive and upbeat, warm and friendly, it can bring out the best in the other person. Smile, be positive, and be enthusiastic. How many guards greet prisoners with, "Tom! It is wonderful to see you this morning! How is everything?"
   Teachers might be a more loving lot. But, could they step up their love? How about, if at most every juncture, they were oozing with such talk. "Katelyn! Seeing you in that nice and warm coat is a sight for tired eyes. You are always so cute."
   What if our teachers were like that all day long? A little too much, you say? I don't know. I think it good. I think the students would feel more loved. I think people do appreciate it when you speak warm and friendly, when you show acceptance of them and are caring towards them.
    Love is a small thing. It's not a big program like tests and curriculum. No, it is a small thing. It is a touch you add to whatever else you decide to do to improve education. But, I would guess the results from it are as great (or greater), than what you get from whatever grandiose program you add.
    This, then, would be reform. Why not try it?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

This Would be Reform: More Love in Education and Criminal Justice

   Love, they say, is the most powerful of forces. We acknowledge this. We believe it, We don't doubt that it is true?
   Or do we?
   If someone were to ask me what would be one of the most important things we could do to improve our education system, I'd possibly tell them that we must insert more love into the system.
   And, they would roll their eyes and walk away. Nut case, they'd say.
  And, if someone were to ask me how to fix our criminal rehabilitation system, I might well reply that we need to show the prisoner more love.
   Now, there's a nut case, they would say, as they walked away.
   It remains, though, that if love is an important element, and if you truly want to improve your system, you look at the things that matter most. Love is one of them. If you are sincere in wanting to improve, you don't overlook the things that improve. You don't dismiss them as silly.
  So, if we are talking about education reform or prison reform, why not consider how we can insert more love into the models?



This Would Reform the High Court

   I should think this should count as real government reform. If we were to take all the judgeships in America, and succeed in placing men and women of wisdom in them, that would be reform.
  If we could do so with our highest court, if we could remove politics from that body, that would be reform.
  If we could place men like Solomon of old on the High Court, that would be reform. Remember Solomon?
  Since it is Sunday, consider on him. "For he was wiser than all men . . . and his fame was in all nations round about." (I Kings 4:31)
   To have leaders with such wisdom as Solomon would certainly count as reform. I don't know that we see many of our leaders as being so wise. To have them on the highest court would be an achievement.
   I only know this: We are not doing the things that would lead to the selection of such wise men on the Supreme Court. No, we are more concerned with whether they are conservative or liberal, than with whether they are wise. If you spent all your time in the confirmation process discussing politics, you are probably going to get someone because of their politics.
  So, what if your queries searched for their wisdom?
  I will repeat what I wrote last night:
  "If you would find a good judge, seek for someone who is non-judgmental. Search for someone who reserves judgment, who restrains from it. Seek for someone who does not hurry his opinion, but gives it time. Seek for a tolerant person, one who is not quick to cast a blame, who does not rush to find fault. Seek for someone who is not given to the winds of popular opinion, who will stand for what is right despite public pressure.
   "To be a good judge, you must be non-judgmental. You must be fair-minded, open-minded, even-tempered, and even-handed.
    "A good judge is like a good sailor. He doesn't set sail for a given destination, without first determining what would be the best destination. And, if there is a world to explore, he sails not for the predetermined point, but in search of the places that might not be known.
  "A good judge is a technician, not a cheerleader. He weighs the facts carefully, instead of chasing after those of a given opinion. A good judge should be someone who weighs right and wrong, not someone who has thrown away the scales.
   "A wise person is not someone who knows he is right, but someone who seeks to find out if he is wrong. So it is with a good judge.
    "A good judge does not seek to be a conservative nor a liberal. Rather, he seeks to find truth whether it falls in the conservative box or the liberal box.
   "Why, when we seek to find judges for the Supreme Court -- and for any bench position -- don't we seek candidates with these credentials?"
   It would be reform if we selected and confirmed court appointees with these credentials being required. Seek a person who has the attributes of a wise person, and you might find a wise person. But, if you seek only for someone who is liberal or conservative, you will likely only get someone who is liberal or conservative. That might be all you require in your judge, but I would do better for mine. I believe America will be a great country if it has great leaders, and that includes great Supreme Court judges. And, a great judge is not one who caters to the right nor the left, but someone who pursues only justice, truth and wisdom.

Friday, October 21, 2016

To be a Good Judge, You Must be Non-Judgmental

    If you would find a good judge, seek for someone who is non-judgmental. Search for someone who reserves judgment, who restrains from it. Seek for someone who does not hurry his opinion, but gives it time. Seek for a tolerant person, one who is not quick to cast a blame, who does not rush to find fault. Seek for someone who is not given to the winds of popular opinion, who will stand for what is right despite public pressure.
   To be a good judge, you must be non-judgmental. You must be fair-minded, open-minded, even-tempered, and even-handed.
   A good judge is like a good sailor. He doesn't set sail for a given destination, without first determining what would be the best destination. And, if there is a world to explore, he sails not for the predetermined point, but in search of the places that might not be known.
  A good judge is a technician, not a cheerleader. He weighs the facts carefully, instead of chasing after those of a given opinion. A good judge should be someone who weighs right and wrong, not someone who has thrown away the scales.
  A wise person is not someone who knows he is right, but someone who seeks to find out if he is wrong. So it is with a good judge.
    A good judge does not seek to be a conservative nor a liberal. Rather, he seeks to find truth whether it falls in the conservative box or the liberal box.
   Why, when we seek to find judges for the Supreme Court -- and for any bench position -- don't we seek candidates with these credentials? If we would take politics out of the bench, we must put integrity in. We must seek people of wise judgment, not of set judgment.
   If I were in position to suggest to presidents what criteria they should follow in selecting Supreme Court nominees, I would suggest these things. If I had chance to suggest to members of Congress what they should look for as they consider approving candidates, I would give them these guidelines. As they query the candidate, let them ask their questions to determine these things.
   Oh, I confess I want someone on the court who would side with me on abortion. I confess that is a big concern. I wonder, though, if we selected a candidate purely on the basis of whether he is of  the mettle of a good judge, if the abortion issue would work itself out on its own merits.

Would that Utah Stepped Forth in the Fight Against Climate Change

   How about a state -- Utah -- stepping forth to fight greenhouse emissions on its own? I mean, how about a state going beyond just meeting EPA requirements? How about a state getting proactive? How about a state being so concerned, it takes ownership of the problem and vows to do whatever can be done to curb greenhouse emissions?
   It would be wonderful to see a state say, "This is a problem. This is our planet. We should protect it. What is right is what is right, and as resident citizens of Planet Earth, we see it as our responsibility to help solve the problem." And, then that state went well beyond the EPA mandates and created a meaningful plan of attack to drastically reduce greenhouse emissions there..
   Why must we wait for the federal government to chase us into doing what we should be doing? State rights, you know. State governments before federal government when it comes to governing. If you believe in that, then don't wait for the federal government. Don't leave it to the feds to do all the legislating and to take all the action.
   Oh, you say, if any state is to step forth, it won't be Utah. Too many people there do not even believe in climate change.
   I am not so sure, though. The people of Utah can be very responsible. They can be very civic-minded, very caring about the society they live in. Witness how they lead in volunteer hours. Witness how carrying for the homeless is one of the major issues in the state. These people care for society and for the planet as much as anyone.
   And, they are but a revelatory moment away. They can be convinced. They can be open-minded. The argument to believe in climate change is huge: If most all scientists are sounding an alarm, if most of them are saying this is real, if most of them are concerned with what awaits the planet, then you listen. You listen to your experts. You listen to those in the know. Only a fool does not listen to wisdom.
   When you hear a voice of warning, if it comes from a responsible place, you listen. That is a way of thinking Utahns ascribe to.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Are We a Responsible People?

  I read how termites and livestock are major contributors to greenhouse gases. Some suggest that this being so, we should quit worrying about car emissions and industry emissions.
   I do not see that reasoning. These things do not mean we do not have a problem. Rather, they mean we have a bigger problem.
   I wonder on all the things that are causing greenhouse gases. I wonder at how if some of them cause climate change, then more of them might even cause more climate change. What are the limits? How much climate change can there be? How harmful is it? I only know that there definitely is at least some damage. I only know we should be taking the definite steps that we can to deal with this problem.
   That is what responsible people do. We must ask ourselves, then, Are we a responsible world?

Integrity on the Bench Means More than being a Conservative or Liberal

   I do not fault a judge for having opinions on abortion, the Second Amendment, and such.
   But, I would like him or her to be open to reason. A judge should be someone who weighs what is right and wrong, not someone who has thrown away the scales.
   That is why it bothers me that we  commit our judges to their viewpoints as we vet them for bench positions. Of course we are going to seek out their stances on abortion and the Second Amendment and such as we consider Supreme Court nominees.
   Of course.
   . . . Or should we?
  We have shoveled politics into the bench, and into the Supreme Court. Maybe we should be looking for ways to take it out. It seems these should be men and women who are even-handed, considering each issue on its merits, rather than what the conservative or liberal viewpoint is.
   I do not know the answer at the moment. I do not know what to do. But, I believe we should want the most fair-minded, open-minded, even-handed people on the Supreme Court bench.
  (The last sentence added 10/21/16)
 

The Uncomfortability of Listening to Too Many Zingers

   There was harshness in tonight's charity dinner, where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton took turns roasting each other. I wonder at such things. Part of me says, Go ahead and have your fun. Its all in good humor.
   Afterward, one of the media commentators suggested many felt uncomfortable listening to the two as they broadsided each other. I, too, as I listened, felt uncomfortable. So, the other part of me says, This is not right. We sink to lows when we indulge into too much humor at another person's expense.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Abortion as a Health Decision Might be a Worthy Idea

   Looking at this in a new light, I would say if abortion truly is a health decision, maybe we ought to give a bigger role to the doctor. If it is a medical decision -- and, that's what were hearing: its a women's health issue -- then the doctor ought play a leading role in the decision.
   I've never gone to a doctor without getting his opinion on what ought to be done.
   What if we handled abortion that way? What if the doctor diagnosed the health concerns and suggested whether the abortion should take place solely on the health concerns? If the mother's life was in jeopardy, of course he would recommend abortion. If there were to be other health complications, he also might recommend abortion.
   But, if there were no threat to the mother's health, there would be no reason for abortion. I wonder how many abortions that would leave us with. I can't help but think it would drastically cut the number of abortions.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I Cry for the Forest

I cry for the forest
I cry for a land far away
I know not its tombs nor its tulips
Nor the light that touches at break of day
But I cry
I cry for this forest

I see the loggerman swinging
I watch him swagger and swear
No harm in a tree a falling
No damage
And for the climate there is no care
And I cry
I cry for the forest

And, if I cry for a forest, I cry for a world
I cry for the skies so blue
Heavy weights are locking chemicals in
As we become a cooking stew

So, I cry
I cry for a forest
And I cry for a world
And a world that will not hear
Rain falls on a brow that wipes it off
And he swings another timber to clear

Like the thud of a great tree as it hits the ground
Where there is no one to listen
In a world where there are no ears
My tears can only glisten

Monday, October 17, 2016

As the Prison Population goes Down, the Homeless Population goes Up

   A week or so ago, I read how Utah's prison population has dropped. The story credited legislative reform, and noted it is sending fewer people to prison for drug offenses.
   At the same time, we are reading story after story about our homeless mess. In a city that just short years ago received national attention for cutting back on the number of homeless, we now have a bigger problem than ever. 
   Ever notice how among the homeless there are a lot of drug addicts and pushers? There might be a connection here. We decided not to send so many drug offenders to prison, and the same time our homeless problem explodes. The legislature's fixing of the prison situation might have only exacerbated our problem with the homeless.
   It might or might not be what is going on, but you have to wonder. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

If You take away Choice, You take away Agency

Libertarianism? It seems hinged to the premise that freedom comes with the doing away of the law. That might be a false siren. There is more freedom to be found in keeping a law than there is in doing away with the law. The same can be said of agency and choice. There is more agency and choice when you have a law than there is when you don't. If there is no law and there is no punishment, there is no choice. If you take away the need for choice -- the need to choose right over wrong -- you take away a person's agency.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

McMullin Suggests a Way to Help the Underpaid Workers

   I read how Presidential candidate Evan McMullin would subsidize the wages of the poor. This would serve us well in a number of ways. One, It would, in essence, raise the minimum wage. Two, It would encourage people to take jobs even though they didn't pay very well until the federal money was added. Thus, it would increase employment. Three, Such a system might be used to replace some or all of our current welfare programs. Four, those in the welfare program would now be working, instead of just collecting.
   But, the system would also have its problems. One, If employers could get the government to pay part of the payroll, they would be inclined to lower their pay and let the government do its magic. Two, Those companies not receiving government subsidized workers would complain their competition was receiving an unfair advantage. Three, With every employer seeking to get on the program, the burden on the federal government could be astronomical, breaking the bank, and increasing the national debt.
   I'd like to think we could work out some of the negative impacts,

What if Utah Banned the Gasoline Automobile?

   It would be no more than a small step in fighting climate change, but what if Utah became the first state to outlaw the gasoline automobile?
   If the experiment worked, other states would follow.
   You would have to do it incrementally, for you have to keep the automobile affordable, and you probably shouldn't require people to go out and buy new cars. So, start with new vehicles. Prohibit any new automobiles from being bought or brought into the state. Then, prohibit any sales of gasoline cars (even if they might be old cars) and prohibit buying any car out of state and bringing it into Utah. Then -- third step -- prohibit any use of gasoline vehicles at all.
   Remember the prohibition of alcohol? You were were probably about to bring that up. With prohibitions, come black markets and underground sales and pride that swells for having beat the system and beat the government.
   So, offer no punishment for those who break the law. Take away their glory. Hopefully, this would leave the person breaking the law to be shamed. When you do that which hurts society, there can be a shame. When you do not support that which is best for the whole of society, there is a shame. There might reach a point when most everyone is on-board, and at that point, you might institute penalties, but not before.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Place them on the Islands of the Sea?

   The Syrian refugees remain one of the largest humanitarian crises of our time. So, then, finding a solution remains one of the largest societal needs of our time.
  Go in and evacuate them? Not just wait for them to come, but go in and help them get out? I think so.
   Relocating them to a new homeland, instead of just strewing them among the rest of the world? I think,if this can be done, we should do it. But where? Siberia? For it is one of the few places large enough them all to come to, setting up their own land, if not nation. Alas, they would not go there and Russia would not have them.
   New Mexico? For it is one of the spots in the U.S. with enough open land for a fair share of them to come and start their own communities. And, unlike Siberia, it is temperature friendly.
   How about the islands around the world? Remember Naguib Sawiris, the billionaire Egyptian? A year ago, he proposed building them a community on a Greek or Italian island. Whatever happened to that effort?
   I believe there are enough islands. I think we could do this. But, we might need to do more than simply place them on the islands. We might need to help them build their buildings and start their businesses and construct their homes.
   I think of the scare some have of bringing people from a land that has interspersed among it hostility toward the U.S. Would terrorists come in with the rest of them? If we opened a place for them in Mexico, would we be opening a way here for terrorists to sneak in? Have we already opened that door by bringing in some of them? Or, is our vetting system good enough to screen them out? Is it like presidential candidate Evan McMullin suggests: Any terrorist wanting to come to the U.S. would not be wise to come as a refugee, for that would put him under the spotlight of the vetting system. Our agencies sift through the list of those coming here, looking for possible terrorists.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Vote is Divided

   The effort to defeat Trump is suffering from the same malaise it did during the primaries. The number of candidates are dividing the vote. We have Evan McMullin, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein and others.
   If the anti-Trump, anti Hillary vote were united, the effort would be a lot stronger.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fleeing can be as Good as Fighting, so Evacuate the Syrians

   I thought better of the notion of going all out in war with Syria. What if, instead, we evacuated everyone who wanted out? Instead of just letting them flee Syria, what if we went in and physically helped bring them out?
   Just a thought, but I tend to like it. I know there would be some real obstacles, like, where would we put them? With many people and countries already revolting against the refugees, where would we put them.
  To make it even a little more complicated, I like the idea of placing them in their own new country. I like the idea of giving them land and borders and maybe even a new nation all of their own. But, that might be dreaming a little too much. Where would we put them? Siberia? Russia is not at all likely to go along with that. Nor would the Syrians likely choose to move to such a cold place.
   I think of how the Israelites escaped the pharaoh. I think of how the LDS people fled westward. For those of us who believe in the Book of Mormon, that book of scripture gives a number of examples of how people fled their oppressors. Fleeing your foes can be as good an answer as fighting them.

Monday, October 10, 2016

We need to Consider all-out War in Syria

 It was the moderator, Martha Raddatz, who made one of the best points in Sunday's presidential debate. One of her questions dealt with the crisis in Aleppo and in Syria, as she wondered if we are failing to act to save a people just like we failed to act in time to save people from the Holocaust.
   If it shook no one else, it shook me. Are we? I wondered. Should we be doing something to save those people?
   Our taste for war has been soured by the years we have spent in Iraq and Afghanistan. War is not popular with us just now. This is not our concern. We are not the world's policeman.
  Or, are we? Or, should we be? If no one stands to defend these people, how many more will die or be run out of the country? You don't like taking them in as refugees? Then, one alternative is to fix their homeland.
  I suppose I am not ready to say, Go all out in war. But, I think we should think about it. Would we just amp up the deaths of the populace? Would we just be opening the country to ISIS? Should we first go hard after ISIS, and then turn to go hard after Syria? Again, would our efforts only lead to more human suffering and death?
   I heard a radio commentator suggest no one seems to have an answer as to what to do in Syria. I know I don't. But, I know the first step to having an answer is to consider the question. I don't think we are even doing that.
 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

I Wonder on Climate Change and the Last Days

      With all the debate about climate change, I wonder if we pause to consider what the effects will be. Let me mention some that are to come later this century: Increases in flooding and droughts, worse hurricanes, more heat waves, and maybe more disease and, in some places, loss of drinking water. Those are some of the possible effects.
   As I think on them, I wonder if I worry too much about climate change. Those are not good things, at all, but they don't appear to be catastrophic to the point of placing the planet in jeopardy.
   On the flip side, I cannot help but notice that some of these effects are things Bible readers expect to happen in the last days. It is said, the these days will be days of calamity.
   A large segment of society does not even believe in man-made climate change. They ridicule the idea. They mock it. Figuratively speaking, they cast the scientists out from among them. It sounds like a story from the scriptures: Someone warns of dire consequences if changes are not made, and the people reject and mock the messenger.
   The world is as if on cigarettes, smoking its way to self harm. I think how this is not so unlike when, decades ago, scientists began warning that tobacco was harmful, yet the tobacco industry had been saying cigarettes were not harmful.
   So it is, the energy industry is telling us their product is not harmful.
   And, maybe they are right. I Facebook with a friend who says termites, cows and volcanoes are many times more the cause than are man-made emissions."We are but a pimple on the surface of the world," he says, referring to the share of damage we do.
   I am not so certain. And, it seems to me we might yet pull back from doing the harm we are doing. The Paris Agreement and such could lead to reductions in greenhouse emissions eventually. Hillary Clinton spoke of clean coal in the presidential debate tonight.
  So, it seems we might change. But, what if we don't? What if we go on laughing and living and singing  -- partying, so to speak -- right up to the day it is too late? Is there a chance the problem might be bigger than even the scientists are supposing? What if the volcanoes become more common and emit more greenhouse gases than anticipated? What if, in some places, the greenhouse effect is so great that we have heatwaves that literally endanger peoples lives? I have not heard that that is even projected, so perhaps there is no need to worry.
  I will say, though, that when I read the scriptures of the end of days, I often wonder what will happen to bring those things to pass. I read how the earth will get so hot, it will roll up as a scroll. Is that literally, or figuratively? Could nuclear war bring it about?
   And, is there a chance global warming could bring it about? Perhaps it wouldn't be so severe as to actually make the earth roll up as a scroll, but could it become so hot, in some places, that segments of the soil dry up and roll up? Doesn't mud, when dried, do just that? We've all seen mud puddles that have dried, and how the top layer flakes and breaks into pieces, each flake curved up at the edges.
   Maybe the prophecy on the earth rolling together as a scroll means no more than that. Maybe it means more. I do not know. I can see, though, that if it means no more, this is something that will surely happen as a result of climate change. There will at least be some mud puddles drying and flaking -- scrolling up. Will enough of the earth's surface be so affected that a prophecy might have been made about it?


Let Social Security Workers Discuss When is the Best Time to Retire

    I hear the folks in the Social Security office are not allowed to advise people on when is the most advantageous time for them to start collecting Social Security, in order to maximize how much money they draw out of Social Security.
   I would to make a list of things that ought to be changed, and would guess this is probably one of them.
   

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Where are the Current Examples of High Conduct?


   I did like Trump's response to the news of the Billy Bush affair. He accounted for himself well. He notes he is a changed man, and that would mean the Donald Trump of 2005 is not the Donald Trump of 2016.
  I wonder, though, if we are not fair in wondering if he has, in fact, changed. He is running for the highest office in the land, and we are right to want someone who has proven to be of high character in that office.
   I wonder what things from the current landscape point to high moral conduct. One would be this, his avowal of having changed. It is good to own up to past mistakes. Am I stretching to find something? I say, though, I am in short supply in coming up with examples from either of the two candidates in their recent history. Am I just not looking? Is the media not covering them? At any rate, it would be wonderful if they were conducting themselves so admirably that something would be evident.
   I confess, I might be wanting too much. Just because I cannot see examples, does not mean they do not exist.

Trump Would not to Wander in these Deep Waters, but We Should

   When, during the first debate, Trump suggested he had been about to say something demeaning about Hillary and her family, but decided not to, I could not help but wondering if he is feeling the host of attacks now coming on his own character. Those who throw stones should not live in glass houses, it is said. And, by throwing stones at Hillary, he is inviting stones upon himself.
Then, maybe it was two days ago, he said something to the effect that  he might avoid personal attacks in debate two. I wondered, again, if he is not wanting to shield off personal attacks against himself, realizing there is deep fodder against him.
   With the current news of his groping women now causing a threat to his candidacy, Trump is not likely to stay true to this don't-dig-for-dirt approach. Traditionally, he does lash back. He does counter attack. With some of his offenses being so out in the open, he has little to lose by shaming Hillary for her faults.
   And, what of "personal attacks?" Are they okay? When they are discussing your character, I think they are good things to discuss, even very important. I don't think we should dismiss them so easily. The character of a candidate is as important as anything else.
   Hillary's shortcomings? Has she bullied, shamed and intimidated Bill Clinton's victims, as Trump suggests? This is not new news to me, but I believe I, as a voter, should look at it closer.

The Character of a Candidate is the Most Important Thing About Him

   To me, the character of a candidate is the most important thing about him. You may argue where he stands on the issues is more important. But, I see in his character, the seeds of his policies. If he is an honest man, given to truth, he will learn to weigh his facts. He will seek the truth, for honesty, of its nature, is a quest for truth.
   Give me a man who will seek the truth, before one who will proclaim he already knows it. Wisdom comes more often from those who weigh matters than it does from those who suppose they already know everything. The honest man will face the truth, but the dishonest cannot look it in the eye.
   Yes, give me the honest man. Give me the person who will take each situation, each issue, and press his mind to ponder in search of truth. In this, you have your Solomon. In this, you have your statesman.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

You Don't Respond to an Emergency with Planning; You Act

   Bless those who think differently. I know there are those not worried. I am. I surely am.  We are not reacting fast enough on global warming. We call for gradual reductions when what we need is to get off fossil fuels now, to whatever extent we can.
   I often wonder if we couldn't drop our fossil fuel addiction almost on the spot. Do it within, say, two or three short years. Could we built enough wind farms, and use enough other alternative sources so that we could drop the petroleum industry overnight, so to speak? Could we convert to electric cars within three years? I think so. We're already building them. It's not like they're still under development.
   If scientists are warning, if the planet is in jeopardy, if something needs done, we must do it. A plan of action with an end goal 15 years down the road is not adequate. What needs to be done, needs to be done now.
  You don't respond to a fire by scheduling fire fighters to get there in a week. You don't respond to a bank robbery by getting a policeman over there first thing in the morning. So why do we suppose to respond to this emergency in such a fashion?

McMullin's Picking a Running Mate Generates Excitement

  I became excited today listening to the news that Evan McMullin has picked a running mate, excited not only about who he named, but that the news is receiving good attention. The KSL Radio story had a good spin to it, something like, Utah's home-grown, long-shot presidential candidate has named Mindy Finn as his running mate.
   Then, I saw a story on ABC. Wonderful that it is getting that play.
   McMullin's pick comes too late to get on Utah's ballot, I believe. The ballots have already been printed, I understand.
   Mindy Finn is a digital media strategist, whatever that is. I'm hoping it is someone who knows how to get the ticket attention on the regular media and on social media.
 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Incentive to Help the Poor Should not be to make a Buck

   Operation Diversion 2: Police rounded up 32 homeless people from the Pioneer Park area, giving them a choice of jail or treatment. Most chose treatment.
   I would guess this perhaps might be a good program, but I do have some uncertainty. I have blogged in the past on how we should not let the homeless become an industry. What we do to help the homeless should be to help the homeless, not to provide industry for those who would make a dime off them.
   With the federal government picking up the tab, mind you.
   I understand Operation Division is a limited-time offering. Once the funding is gone, no more sending them so quickly into treatment. I do not know who the providers are -- who provides the treatment -- but I can see there is some danger in this. If they make a buck, of course they are willing to treat as many of the homeless as the police can bring to them.
   Now, if the treatment works, perhaps I have no reason to fear. If we are helping people and changing their lives, go ahead, that is wonderful.
  But, we should see two concerns. One, the federal government is in debt to the tune of $19 trillion. We should be watchful of spending we can't afford. Two, if a person is making his money off them, they are going to push for us to haul in as many people as possible. If their pockets grow, they have incentive to grow the program. It would be better if we did not have such an incentive in the program. What is done to help the poor should be done to help the poor, not to make a buck.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Trump, You're Brilliant; Let Us Elect Your President, They Say; But . . .

   Oh, there are those quick to defend Donald Trump for not paying taxes.  We are hypocrites if we find fault in him, they say. We all try to pay as little as possible.
  I suggest we should hold off on such justification. He might, indeed, be doing something the average person wouldn't do.
   Say, someone came along and cooked their books so much they didn't have to pay taxes, and we called him brilliant and told him we ought to make him our next president, and after he was elected, would he please show us how to make sure no one else ever did this to us.
   Is that what is going on? I suggest we don't know yet.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Teach the Officer Well, for in the Training Lies the Healing of Our Nation

  Considering the number of cases we are seeing, yes, we should want to train our officers against police violence. At this point, so much police violence being in the news, there should be a national outcry for anti-brutality instruction being instilled into every training academy in the nation.
  Surely, we should realize training is the key. Nothing taught, is nothing learned. But, when something is taught -- when it is hammered into heads and yelled into ears -- there is chance it will sink in.
  Teach them not to shoot unless necessary. Teach them, theirs is to arrest, not judge, convict, or punish. Teach them, it is not theirs to bring remorse to the criminal, not theirs to get mad and put someone in their place, not theirs to take a paddle out and teach them a lesson. Warn them against even making comments such as, "That guy needs to learn he can't do that. I ought to beat the living daylights out of him."
   Teach them that, by nature, criminals are going to do things that provoke. The police officer's badge of honor is to not be provoked. Make the arrest, but don't go beyond.
   Teach them that sometimes the lawbreaker does get away. No, you don't shoot just because the person is eluding arrest. Chase, but unless there is a real threat, don't kill just because the person will otherwise escape.
   Teach them they are not there to make fights or win fights, nor to show who is the toughest or baddest. They are there to arrest, and that is the long and the short of it. Injecting personal vendettas is a violation of police ethics, or should be. Exacting personal revenge is wrong, or should be. Charge offenders with resisting arrest, assaulting an officer or whatever, but do not swing a fist or fire a gun just to exact personal revenge.
   They are not there to make a point, or to show off, or to ride herd on or rule over others. Theirs is not to rant at the offender, nor exchange in trash talk.
   Yes, some of this seems a little different than what we currently allow officers to do. We might think there is nothing wrong with ranting at the arrestee.  But, maybe it is time to realize actions and attitudes are going to have to change if we want to change the results we are getting. Actions come out of attitudes. What we sow is what we reap, it is said, and, if we let our officers sow anger. their anger will sometimes be their undoing.
   Yes, restraint needs to be part of what an officer is, part of what he is trained to be. If he isn't taught not to walk around with a "Don't-mess-with-me" attitude, he might well start thinking he is not just there to enforce the law, but to be the law.
   It is probably time to realize that is exactly what we don't want.

The Character of a Candidate is the Predictor of their Policies

   Do we have it wrong? Are personal issues actually more important than where the candidate stands on the issues? I wonder but what we do have it wrong, at least as to those personal issues involving the character of the candidate. For, it seems to me, the character of the candidate is a predictor of their policies. For, out of their character will come their decisions. What you should want is a person who will take each issue and each situation and study it even-handily. Find this in your candidate, and you will have your Solomon.
  What are we electing if we ask them their positions, and then vote based on them? We are electing a person who will take into each issue and each situation, a pre-committed plan of action, not based on what is right, but on simply on the fact he or she already determined to go that direction. If the candidate's stand were always the result of having thought it out to the end, it would be good. And, often that is the case. But, perhaps more often, the candidate determines his position without thorough thought, and commits to a line of action in the heat of the campaign. Not every situation that comes up is going to fit into such a box, anyway. If you decide you are against gay marriage, but the weight of public opinion rises to favor it, you will need to be wise enough to factor that in. That does not need to be a matter of swaying to the political wind, but of realizing the people's will should be considered. Global warming? What if you determine it is fake, but as time goes on, the evidence continues to mount that it is a real threat? If you are stuck on a pre-commited path, you might not pull up and change your policy in time.
   We decry politicians who waffle on the issues, but it is often among them that we are most likely to uncover the statesman. For it is not the person who barrels hades-bent after something, not willing to give up, but rather, it is the man or woman who thoughtfully and thoroughly weighs each situation in the grass it arrives in who makes the wisest and best decisions.
   So, why do I say, character is the truest determinant of a good candidate? The person who is honest is the person who will weigh things evenly and thoroughly. If abortion is wrong, he or she will surely come to that conclusion. So, as I said, what you should want is a person who will take each situation and weigh it even-handily. The person who is honest and fair is the person who is more likely to look at things honestly and fairly. Find this in your candidate, and you will find your Solomon.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Don't Hang Up, America; Don't Let Police get Away with Murder

   Don't hang up, America. Don't get so tired of hearing these stories that you care to hear no more. Instead, get so tired of hearing them that you've had enough and demand something be done.
  Don't start to take what is going on as common place. Don't reach a point that it no longer shocks you. No, for it seems every story should shock you more. Are we to say they are isolated cases, when it is time-after-time?
  You might have started with the idea that police wouldn't kill unless necessary, but now do you see that something is direly wrong in our nation; We do have officers killing when they shouldn't. We should reach a point where we do something about it, where we demand something be done about it.
  I write the above after reading about the killing of Joseph Mann in Sacramento. At first, officers tried to bump him with their car, failing twice. Then, they got out of their car and shot him 14 times. I am still learning some of the details, and might not yet have enough to surely conclude what they did was wrong. But, from the story I did read, it was wrong. They needn't have thought their lives threatened. They killed him, anyway.
   This is America. We stand for justice. We stand up to injustice. We fight what is wrong. We rally against it. Do not, then, allow us to be a state where police are allowed to get away with murder.
   You are welcome to come back, and read this blog tomorrow. I will tell you what we should do.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Is it a Repentant Leonard Cohen Singing 'Hallelujah' this Time?

Hallelujah: one of the most-played, and most-covered songs of our time. But, read the lyrics carefully. Is it really a good song to be singing? Is it a really a song of praise? Or, is it a song of doubt -- even, perhaps, one mocking the Bible? Anyway, I ran across this version. Cohen gives a new verse (or at least one I hadn't heard). If you listen closely, you might wonder if it isn't a repentant Cohen.
"I've done my best; I know it wasn't much.
"I couldn't feel, so I learned to touch
"I've told the truth; I didn't come here to London just to fool you
"And and though, it all went wrong
"I'll stand right here before the Lord of song
"With nothing, nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah"
Cohen is known to have hidden meaning in his songs. He is a little like Isaiah that way. But, I wonder if what he is saying isn't clear.. My interpretation:
I've tried to live a goodly life and do good by God
I couldn't believe just from feeling, so I learned to believe through things tangible
I've been honest with my thoughts, and today with you in this audience in London, I am revealing the truth
I'll stand and sing before the God who judges songwriters
With nothing on my tongue but praise for God.
I note that through the whole song, he replaces "ya" (which is used in most versions you hear) with "you." I wonder if that is a sign of respect, if when he says, "you" (or "ya"), he is addressing God. So, in this version, as he confesses his belief, he chooses a more respectful vernacular. "Ya" rhymes with "Hallelujah," so that is the more natural, poetic choice, but, as a nod of respect, he chooses "you."
Music video by Leonard Cohen performing Hallelujah. (C) 2009 Sony Music Entertainment
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