Local Politics

Quick!: Name your representative in the U.S. House, your STATE senator, and any two people on your city council! I'd put money down right now that greater than 90% of the people in this country couldn't do it (myself included, incidently). Less Quick!: Name three people that are/were running for president this year. The vast majority can. Why? Isn't our focus skewed in the wrong direction?

Mike's last post got me to thinkin', and that can get scary. "...the politics of the presidential election have always been much more compelling to me than local or international politics." I hear this sentiment quite often. It seems to me that the vast majority of people are way more excited about voting for a president than they are about voting for any other office. To me, this makes little to no sense. Shouldn't people be the most interested in electing offices that will most directly effect their lives? I think that local offices, especially the city council, should be the primary focus of the electorate.

The things that most directly effect our lives are, for the most part, controlled by our local officials. Each city has its own policies governing everything from trash collection to business licenses to property taxes. These are the issues that REALLY matter in our day to day lives, right? Should that vacant lot at the corner be approved for a strip club or a religous book store? Or should it just sit as an empty lot? Aren't most of us really more concerned with "type of people" that are going to be frequenting our neighborhood businesses, driving by our houses everyday, than we are with issues that a president really deals with like what the Chinese think about our import taxes?

The President of the United States does not get to do whatever he or she wants to. They can't just jump into office and get all of the "sexy" issues dealt with (see Bush 43 and is Social Security plans...). Sure, sometimes they can force some legislation through, but for the most part the real law making and policy decisions of the country are left up the legislative branch. Because they are responsible for legislating. It's in the name. The president is ultimately responsible for executing the laws (making sure they are implemented and enforcing them). So why all the fuss and the millions upon millions of dollars to elect somebody that really, truly will hardly effect your "real" life? Why aren't we more concerned with our Senators and our U.S. Representatives? How come turnout is 25% for midterm elections and 70% for presidential ones? I declare (with all my authority) that we should be much more discriminating when choosing elected leaders that are more responsible for being responsive to our needs, that we are more likely to interact with, and are actually responsible for legislating issues that matter to us.

So please, try to be more intersested in voting for the town dogcatcher next time he or she is up for election. If you call and the strays don't get taken care of, vote for the other guy. Better yet, ask the candidates how they plan to implement their new-fangled dog catching initiatives and where the money is coming from. Let's pay more attention to electing the offices that really matter, please?



"Strategery." "Lockbox."

The year was 1988. Republican Vice President George H. W. Bush was running against Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts for the highest office in the land. This was the campaign of "Read my lips: no new taxes" and "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy: I knew Jack Kennedy; Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

In 1988, I was as strongly in the corner of Michael Dukakis as I've ever been for any candidate since, for one crucial reason. We had the same first name.

I was four years old.

Believe it or not, that's one of my first memories - unlike my wife, who basically remembers every life event since her birth, I have a terrible memory. Yet for some reason, that's always stuck with me; presidential elections are simply fascinating. Growing up, my parents had little interest in politics, so I was free of the unspoken obligation to join the parental political party (for the record, my mom's a Republican and an NRA member, and I think my dad's an independent). When I try to think back on what has shaped my personal political leanings, there are really no compelling factors. I've led toward liberalism as long as I can remember; it's always made more sense to me. One thing's for sure, though: the politics of the presidential election have always been much more compelling to me than local or international politics.

I remember little about the 1992 and 1996 elections. It may be that I supported Bill in '92 out of a desire for revenge on Bush I's victory over my beloved name-sharing candidate, and I vaguely remember liking Ross Perot in 1996, but the first real election for me was 2000.

2000: Bush v. Gore. I was a high school senior when the election took place. One of the first times I became aware of my mom's politics was her horror when I pulled my '92 Ford Taurus into the driveway, proudly sporting a Gore-Lieberman bumper sticker. The Gore campaign was badly run by all accounts, but I will always have a cold, hard place in my heart for Ralph Nader and Katherine Harris. I was never particularly enthusiastic about Gore, but I'm proud to say that I've thought Bush II was a poor choice ever since his entry into the national scene. If you take the Al Gore of 2008 and send him back to 2000, I think he wins handily (interestingly, the exact opposite may be true about John McCain, whom I probably would have crossed party lines to vote for in 2000, had he been nominated). My high school classes were heavily populated by conservative Mormons, so this made for some interesting - though always civil - discussion. I was a great sport, too, as evidenced by this picture. That's me, my old hair, a shirt I still wear, and KWS, by the way.

I vaguely remember being at a football game the night of the election - strange, because if I properly recall, games were on Fridays and the election was held on a Tuesday, so I could be wrong. Wherever I was, I remember instructing my mom before I left the house to call me when the important states were called. I remember jumping for joy when she called me to say Florida had gone for Gore. I remember swearing loudly when she called me back, later, to say that they'd taken Florida out of the Gore category. And finally, I remember the whole hanging chad fiasco, Bush v. Gore in the Supreme Court, and all that mess. Stunningly interesting, but ultimately disappointing. I blame the Democrats for nominating (that incarnation of) Al Gore.

In 2004, I was a Deaniac, a Howard Dean guy through and through, like many of my collegiate colleagues (hehe). I managed to go see him speak and answer questions at a community college during the primary campaign and was convinced by his speech as well as his responses to the questions he took. As you might imagine, Kerry's wins in Iowa and New Hampshire and Edwards' win in South Carolina were bad moments for me. And you better believe I remember the Dean Scream, which basically torpedoed the campaign. Though I doggedly supported Kerry over Bush, I had no enthusiasm for the guy - did anyone? He was the establishment choice over the fresh face. Does that sound familiar?

It should; it's happening again in 2008, except this time the fresh face just might pull it off. While I'll never underestimate the ability of the Democratic party to nominate the wrong candidate, I can't help but be hopeful, even more so than in 2004. Let me reiterate what I've said before: I don't hate Hillary Clinton. But I can't ever picture myself being enthusiastic about her. I'm enthusiastic about Barack Obama. Dems like me, with painful memories of '04 and '00, are cautiously optimistic; but we've been stung before, so we're waiting. Obama looks inevitable - but it's the Democratic party.

Republicans: you picked the wrong guy this time around, if you ask me. Romney was the fresh face, the one who could have engendered enthusiasm given the chance. McCain is Bush Redux, and he's not yet truly faced that accusation from his Republican opponents. The Democratic nominee will put this sticker on his forehead and never let him take it off, and he'll lose - I think.

In English class, I learned to close with a call to action, so here goes: what are your strongest memories of politics? What shaped your own views? And now, if I remember correctly, I'm supposed to have some conclusive statement, or something, but I've got nothin', so here's a vid.


News: NY Times Hasn't Learned from Dan Rather

"Oh snap."

That's what the editors of the New York Times have been thinking ever since they published a front page story on John McCain's alleged inappropriate relationship with a female lobbyist and the interests she represents. (The link worked at first, but while I was writing they decided to make it subscription only...) Within an hour of going to press, McCain's campaign denied the story and everyone realized the column wouldn't pass muster. And now, the conservative base is doing the improbable, namely lining up behind the McCain train. Thank you, New York Times, for not only endorsing John McCain, but also for bestowing him with a most cherished conservative credential: unfounded libel from America's most liberal paper.

Despite political editor Bill Keller's darnedest efforts to defend the timing and allegations and relevance of the story, Times public editor Clark Hoyt felt compelled to submit to the world his doubts about the article. He says, in part:

"A newspaper cannot begin a story about the all-but-certain Republican presidential nominee with the suggestion of an extramarital affair with an attractive lobbyist 31 years his junior and expect readers to focus on anything other than what most of them did. And if a newspaper is going to suggest an improper sexual affair, whether editors think that is the central point or not, it owes readers more proof than The Times was able to provide."


It's Not Easy Being Green....

Green - the term has taken on a whole new meaning in recent years. I read an article in BYU's horribly inept newspaper called the Daily Herald just yesterday about how BYU is trying to be more "green." That is, as a school, BYU is trying to recycle more - and they aren't doing a good job - it actually was a pretty pathetic article that showed just how inept organizations such as BYU, other universities, and businesses as a whole are at making real changes that can really reverse some of the negative effects that large businesses and establishments have on the environment.

In fact, many of the people, groups, products, and organizations that claim to be "green" or "eco-friendly" are anything but - the fact is, it has become a popular term of late and it is being exploited to make an extra buck in our intensely environmentally unfriendly capitalistic society.

What do LDS people think? Overwhelmingly, the response I get from people when I bring up issues such as pollution, recycling, or global warming is a resounding "meh....yawn...." I get sarcastic comments that comically approach the "ridiculous" topic of global warming (apparently the thought is that if Al Gore thinks it's a problem, then it is anything but - after all, the guy thinks he invented the internet, he's delusional.) They treat it like a big inside joke that I just haven't been let in on.

Others might admit that it is a problem and something we "probably should do something about," but, it inevitably takes a back seat to more "important" issues such as tax cuts, gay marriage, and.....this weekend's ball game. "After all," they might say, "the government wasn't meant to legislate the environment."

To top it off, many Utah politicians, individuals and organizations are openly anti-environmentalism (not to mention so many other candidates and organizations that we habitually support).

Apparently animal rights, holes in the ozone, and pollution levels are just not a concern. But is this an appropriate response for LDS citizens? Does our doctrine dictate an appropriate response? It is important to remember that LDS scripture has maintained as a core doctrine that human beings are to be stewards accountable before God for the use and care of His creations. D&C 59:18-20 does a great job of summing up this doctrine by saying:

"Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion." - or in other words, the world and its inhabitants were created to aid and assist man in his quest towards God - but we are not to overuse these gifts, or extort them.

Excess and extortion - that is a unique pair of words - Webster says
extort: to obtain by force, intimidation, or undue or unlawful use of authority or power
excess: more than or above what is necessary, usual, or specified.

When I think of American meat industries, crowded freeways at rushhour, three cars used by families with as many drivers, steroid-induced molting mutant chickens, and the sheer mass of street polution, these two words, extortion and excess come quickly to mind.

"All things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth" - Moses 6:63

It is clear that we have a responsibility to take care of the earth and use it only for the purposes for which it was created. But we, as a people, I fear largely ignore that responsibility. Instead, we opt for a life of excess - a life of large houses, cars, satiation of all wants, and a staggering amount of "needs." Thus we help drive the capitalist market to produce more and more, which hurts the environment more and more. Lives of excess, as Hugh Nibley so frequently pointed out, is the opposite of lives of consecration, which we were commanded to live. Lives of excess are what is causing the almost insurmountable enviromental problems that the world is facing now.

We must start giving man's stewardship over the earth the place of importance in our political and social approaches that it deserves. We've been trying to do just this in many aspects of my life - from choosing to not drive a car, becoming vegetarian, eliminating leather from my diet, paying for recycling (because it's not free in Utah county), and not buying packaged foods. It has been intensly hard - whenever people hear about the changes Aileena and I have been making, they shake their head - I'm not sure if it's in resigned admiration, or disgust. Even though it's not easy, I'm convinced that it's necessary for each of us. Each of us could cut back on car uses, buy cage free, hormone free food, recycle, don't shop at places like Walmart, don't buy fast-food....there are literally thousands of small changes that we can individually make that will help be a little more "green" while also helping us fulfill that stewardship that we have been given. So...do you agree? Disagree? Are you doing anything that the rest of us might be able to implement? Do share.

P.S. Rachael, I purposely didn't make this topic about climate change, but about environmentalism as a whole. - you are still home free to do your planned topic :)


News: Fidel Castro steps aside

CNN.com: Fidel Castro, longtime dictator of Cuba and thorn in the American side, has resigned, citing a critical health condition. His brother, Raúl Castro, has been named as successor.

Opinion: Can you imagine having the same guy leading your country for nearly fifty years? This guy went up against JFK! What a nightmare - something we Americans can't really conceive of. I can't imagine the oppressed people of Cuba having much hope, especially with another Castro taking over, but from what I've read, this guy might be a little more practical when it comes to relations with the United States. Here's hopin'...


Putting Some Rumors to Rest

This post could also be titled "A Brief Education on Latter-Day Saints, aka Mormons."
I thought I'd post on a less hot topic, at least to us contributors. If for some reason you do find this post controversial, feel free to let us know.

Here is the deal: I live in an area with very few "Mormons." When people find out I'm Mormon they invariably ask me about my lifestyle choices. The thing that gets me is they always start the sentences with "You're Mormon so that means you're not allowed to..." etc. It drives me nuts.

Although this topic isn't necessarily political in every sense, I thought it was still worthy of a post in light of the recent onslaught in news media talking about how much Mitt Romney's Mormonism played a silent factor in people's refusal to vote for him. Some have even said that they were surprised by how much anti-Mormonism was actually still out there, lurking silently, the modern equivalent of anti-Semitism. And it was surprising to many when Huckabee used "the widow's mite" in his speech and a lot of people seemed to have never heard the phrase before (its from the New Testament in case you were wondering). So maybe a lot of things that I take for granted other people knowing...they really don't know.

Please believe me when I tell you what Mormons believe in the following list. Trust me, I've been Mormon all my life, I grew up around a BUNCH of Mormons in Arizona, I attended college with lots of Mormons in Utah, I married a Mormon. I'm not sure why, but some people believe they know more about my church than I do. Maybe some people don't know why they attend a certain congregation, and do not know what their church believes in and is "allowed" to do...but I'm not one of those people. I'm a very active member of the Mormon faith, so take it with a grain of salt and give me the benefit of the doubt that I know what I'm talking about.

Also, the term 'Mormon' is something that people who are NOT Mormon call us. Back when Joseph Smith founded our religion the members referred to themselves as Saints and those who weren't members called them 'Mormons' after the Book of Mormon was translated and published. We will often say 'mormon' when talking to someone who isn't because they aren't familiar with the term LDS which stands for Latter Day Saint, part of the actual name of our church, which is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. So historically, the label of MORMON is something outsiders gave us: we didn't give it to ourselves.

Mormons use modern medicine.

Mormons can have blood transfusions. Yes, the blood can be from anyone regardless of the donor's religion. Hopefully the blood bank screened it for infectious blood-borne diseases.

Mormons do not drive around in horse and buggy/carriage. We drive cars. Or ride bikes. Or walk, depending on whether we live in the city or not.

Mormons live everywhere, not just Utah.

The Mormon religion started in NY. Because of hate and intolerance the people were driven out of every town they lived in until they finally fled to the west where they wouldn't be lynched or killed.

The Mormon religion is the only religion in the USA to have had an extermination order signed against it.

Mormons can dance.

Mormons do not have to have 10 children. Mormons are counseled to only have the # of children that they can feasibly care for emotionally, physically, financially. So for one family that might be 2 kids. For another family it might be 7.

Mormons love to party. In fact, Mormons party a lot. And the best part is that we wake up the next morning remembering everything we did with no hangover.

Mormons can be gay without being excommunicated. Let me expound: Mormons are counseled to refrain from unmarried sex. If you're sleeping around there is a great chance you'll be excommunicated if you don't stop. This applies to homosexuals as well as heterosexuals. So, if you're Mormon and you're gay you are held to the same standard: no sex before marriage. Since marriage is for the most part illegal in this country...gay Mormons are probably going to have a lonely life. It is actually a really really sad situation. I don't like people joking about it.

Steve Martin is not a Mormon.

Mormons are not required to get married inside the temple.

Mormon women can wear pants, trousers, overalls...whatever they want.

Mormons do not get paid for church service.

Mormons are not required to serve missions.

Girls can serve missions if they desire.

Mormons are not polygamists. Again, let me expound: once upon a time less than 10% of the LDS population practiced polygamy. BUT, it wasn't something that everyone was allowed to do. Men had to be called by the prophet to do so. And, once the church leaders got rid of polygamy anyone found practicing it has been excommunicated. The polygamists that show up on TV nowadays are people who do their whole thing outside of our church. Think Catholic and Lutheran. The Lutherans are not Catholic---they left the Catholic church. Well, the polygamists today are not Mormon. They've left our church. I don't know why this concept is so hard for people to understand.

Mormons pray regularly and then do everything in their power (like work, go to the doctor, etc) to make whatever they are praying about happen. Think Faith in action.

Mormons are encouraged to think and analyze and rationalize their actions. If you were raised Mormon it doesn't mean that you don't know how to think for yourself.

Mormons are not baptized until they are at least 8 years old so that each individual can make the choice to get baptized for themself, as opposed to having your parents decide to have you baptized when you're a baby and incapable of decision-making.

Mormons believe that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are 3 separate persons.

Mormons believe that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are united in purpose: to bring to pass the eternal life and salvation of mankind.

Not every Mormon woman knows how to sew.

Mormon women are encouraged to get as much education as possible.

Some Mormon families have the dad as the main breadwinner. Some have the mom and the dad both working to bring income. Some have the mom working while the dad stays home.

Mormons are encouraged not to drink coffee or alcohol.

Mormons can eat beef, pork, chicken, and any other meat that used to be alive.

Yes, Mormons can eat eggs and use vaccinations that have egg protein in them.

Mormons go to church for 3 hours on Sunday so we don't have to go during the week. A couple decades ago some church meetings were held during the week, but this was changed to make it easier for members to attend all their meetings. Its more convenient to do all things churchy in one block on the Sabbath.

Mormons read the bible, regularly.

Mormons believe in life after death.

Mormons believe in life before birth (that we exist as spirit children of our Heavenly Father before coming to earth to recieve a body and have mortal experiences which help us grow and become better individuals).

Mormons believe that for the most part everyone will go to heaven.

Mormons are encouraged to not smoke. It isn't healthy.

Mormons can drink soda pop. And carbonated beverages.

Mormons can watch tv. And cable tv. And they often go to the movie theater.

SO...I think we're pretty normal. I'm not sure why some people hate us and are anti-Mormon, but there are people out there who are willing to hate anything they don't know much about.

Or perhaps they hate what they fear and fear usually comes from a lack of understanding.


A sad topic

Let me preface this post by addressing any pregnant women out there who are considering abortion as an alternative. Please, please consider giving your child up for adoption. There are many families out there who are unable to have children on their own, and adoption is their only hope for having kids. My wife and I have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for over two years, and I can personally testify that it has been a depressing reality. If we ever decide to adopt, I can already promise you that the biological mother of our future child would be doing us one of the kindest acts of charity I can imagine. Check out adoption.com or crisispregnancy.com for more information.

I think that of all the issues in politics today that people feel passionately about, abortion may be the most prominent. It's a make-or-break issue for many; some will never vote for a "pro-life" candidate, some will never vote for a "pro-choice" candidate. Some believe that abortion is akin to murder; some believe that legislating abortion is akin to taking away a woman's most basic human rights, and so on, and so on. It's a tough, emotional issue. Here's my take:

I'm firmly pro-choice. Though I personally feel abortion is immoral, I believe that the choice to abort belongs solely to the pregnant woman. She will have to justify her choice - as we all will justify all our choices - before her God. The role of government, however, is not to take away our medical options, nor our personal liberty. The Supreme Court has established a reasonable standard, in the infamous Roe vs. Wade decision, whereby abortions are permissible up to the point of viability, i.e., the fetus can live on its own, outside the mother's body. The determination of this point in the life of the fetus is a medical issue. Let me explain how I deal with some of the common arguments against my position:

"Abortion is murder, i.e., the ultimate deprivation of another human being's liberty. The government must outlaw it."
I disagree, because I do not believe a fetus to be a human being, though it has the potential to become such. If the fetus has not developed to the point where it can live on its own, it is not yet a human being.

"Based on that argument, any person who has become dependent on machines is not a human being."
There's an important, reasonable distinction between a person who was born - in other words, a person who has achieved personhood - and a fetus which never has.

"The Church is against abortion. Therefore abortion is wrong."
Agreed. I also believe that the ingestion of coffee is wrong. Do I think there should be a law against it? On the contrary, there is no justification for legislating against coffee-drinking. (Please don't think I'm being glib by comparing abortion to drinking coffee; it's just an analogy).

The Church opposes elective abortion for its members, but allows for exceptions (rape/incest, life of the mother in danger, fetal defects which preclude life after birth), in consultation with the Lord and with local church leaders. The Church has not favored or opposed legislative proposals or public demonstrations concerning abortion. See this link for the official Church statement.

"You're wrong, and heartless."
Wrong is always a possiblity; heartless, not so much, except in that it rips my heart out to think about it, but what's right is not always what's easy, and it's unjust to take this right away.

Look, I don't expect this blog to convince a single soul; I've never met anyone that hasn't thoroughly thought this issue through. These are my thoughts, though, for what they're worth. Thanks for reading.


The Court of World Opinion

John Kerry was a terrible presidential candidate in many ways, and I think Democrats lost all confidence in him shortly after nominating him. One of the things that bothered me the greatest about his campaign was his denunciation of the Iraq War because we invaded in spite of disapproving frowns by friendly nations. The way John Kerry would have it, we should submit the sovereignty of the United States to a vote of the international community, whose members have nothing similar to the interests of the United States at heart.

I want to ask everyone what they think of this! Do we have an obligation to arrange our foreign policy in line with the preponderance of world opinion? It might help to frame the question in terms of something close to your heart, like such as the Iraq: If the majority of the world denounced a sudden and complete U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, should President Barack Obama fulfill his campaign pledge to "end the war"*? What about Iraq's neighbors? Should we care what they think, or do we do what is in our interest?

[*Note: I don't believe in an immediate "end" to this war, at least not one that we can effect. There will be conflict with or without the United States' involvement. A precipitous withdrawal is, in my opinion, likely to result in a failed state in Iraq with far worse violence and repression than at present. On that judgment, I consider such a withdrawal to be every bit as selfish as going into Iraq was misguided. So could the cut-and-run crowd please stop acting like they have some sort of moral superiority on Iraq? And for sure stop saying things like "end the war" and replace it with something accurate like "end the U.S. role in Iraq." Thanks.]



So, last Tuesday I was super pumped to vote - I missed the last election..something about me being too lazy to get myself registered (it takes a 3 minute bike ride to the city office buildings, filling out a half sheet of paper). Anyways, I decided that wouldn't be my problem this year, and so I did it. And on Tuesday, I was seriously way more excited than I should have been. Anyways, some of my peers noticed my excitement and inquired as to why. I told them I was excited to vote, and asked if they were going to. The answer was no. Not just from one person, but, seemingly, from everyone I talked to about it.

I had two classes that day - fairly good sized, and in the classes, I asked for a show of hands (for my own curiosity's sake) who would be voting. In the first class, NOBODY raised their hand (including the professor), and in the second class, myself, one other student and the professor. The apathy was infuriating. I wondered if this was a problem all across campus - so I kept talking about it for days... and for days, I didn't find anyone that I knew that voted. Here we are, at war time, with a president that has one of the lowest approval ratings in history, economy on the verge of a serious chasm, issue after issue that are potentially life changing, and, at least on my campus, the population was basically too lazy, or too apathetic to care about what went on. And this is BYU - I mean, students should have been rallying for Romney (you know that's who the majority of them would have voted for) but they were more interested in...I don't know, all the other wonderful things that can occupy a Tuesday evening at a major university.

I posted on this at my personal blog a few months ago - I don't want to retype it, but here it is. At the time, I was posting mostly on the war, and on global warming, but the same thing applies to the elections. I don't care if people think it's a done deal, or not, at least we could bat an eye. Did anyone notice something similar in your own respective schools/homes/work? Grumble-grumble...Peace - Rick


Super Tuesday, or, A Tale of Two Democrats, or, Three is a Crowd

Well, I'll be darned! How did Super Tuesday go down from where you sit?

I am pleased with the results from my alleged side of the aisle. It looks like it's going to be a race to the end, or at least a while longer, and I think that's best for everyone. We're going to get a couple more months to allow these guys to show their tru(er) colors, and the states with later primaries don't already have their choice made for them.

And Obama has a chance. Better than a chance. In fact, I think he may have the edge on Hillary at this point because of where the Republican race stands, which incidentally can be summed up as...

John McCain. Yes, it looks like our fears have been realized and Grandpa is the frontrunner. This is bad from my perspective for 3 reasons: firstly, John McCain is the frontrunner. Secondly, He's from Arizona so people are going to assume I had something to do with it (talked to any New Yorkers lately about who they planned to vote for? Hillary won there by a country mile - it never occurred to me personally to vote for someone because of the state from which they chose to pursue their political career, but whatever). And lastly, for reasons shrouded in mystery and inertia, I think John McCain holds the widest appeal of the Republican candidates and thus the best chance of winning the general election.

However, my flicker of hope resides in the fact that I think left-leaning voters realize this, and hopefully also realize how many people (on the left and the right) subscribe to the equally baffling Anyone But Hillary school of thought. I think Hillary might still win over McCain in a general election, but I think it would be close because I can't imagine a self-described conservative voter who didn't like McCain turning coat and voting for Mrs. Clinton, aka The She-Devil. I can imagine some of those same voters tossing their hat in with Obama - I can imagine it because I've heard several people say it in as many words. My very own father-in-law, lifelong Republican and conservative stronghold, has admitted to very seriously considering a vote for Obama over McCain if that's what it comes to.

And this post is getting long but it wouldn't be complete without a nod to Mike Huckabee. I think this is my favorite part of the whole story because I love to be wrong, and Huckabee's performance yesterday flies in the face of my theory that the frontrunners become such because the media *talks* them into position. I hadn't heard two words about The Huck in all the hype leading up to yesterday - it was a two-man race, and neither Chuck Norris nor Mike Huckabee was involved. Yes, we might have expected him to win Arkansas, and to make a showing in states with a large Baptist hick contingent, but he won almost as many delegates as Romney which was, I'm sure, quite a shock to both those gentlemen. Huck has said he's in this for the long haul so I guess we'll see how it plays out nationwide.

I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on all this. Who do you think will win the Democratic nod? Who do you want to win? Why do you think Romney did worse than expected, and Huckabee better? Is it just a weird side effect of a three-way race? Or is the so-called Evangelical vote really that powerful (and unanimous)? When it comes right down to it, does Romney's religion hurt him? (Of course, no one would ever admit it, so it's hard to get a feel for this one). Do you think McCain is a sure thing at this point?

I hope this is reasonably coherent - I wanted to wait until this morning to compose my post so I could have the benefit of all the Primary results from yesterday, but the downside of doing it this way is that during the course of writing this I have:

1) fixed breakfast for three people, eaten myself, and clean up afterward
2) dusted off my pathetically rusty Spanish skills to ascertain whether my backyard is dry enough for the landscapers who are currently milling around back there to start their business today
3) dry-heaved my way through not one, but TWO very unfortunate diarrhea incidents courtesy of the same toddler. I guess I should just be grateful that only one of them resulted in a puddle on the carpet, right?


Opening a Can

Hi! It's me. My last post was so fun, I figured I'd do it again. And, frankly, I hate talking about candidates, becuase it give me a headache. Now, before you throw digital stones at me, just hear me out. After all, the point of this blog is to show that active LDS people can and do have differing viewpoints.

First, I want to pose a question - if a candidate's platform was, "I'm going to propose an amendment to repeal the 21st Amendment (which itself was a repeal of the 18th Amendment - the prohibition Amendment)" How many of you would vote for him? Or, if this Amendment was proposed, how many of you would be in favor of it, or vote for it? I think it's interesting that Utah was the swing vote state for the 21st ammendment. What? Utah voted to repeal Alcohol? How could that be? Mormons don't drink, and in the 1930's, Utah was like all Mormon?!?!?! It's because they saw something that I think LDS people need to look at again - to re-evaluate. Alcohol was bad - it really was - but there was still a demand for it - so, making it illegal created vast amounts of crime and corruption where it hadn't previously been (see this for a concise history). Anyways, the repeal of prohibition got rid of the problems that prohibition had created - it was a good thing, and I think even the LDS could see that. (discussion continues after Chart info)

Withdrawal: Presence and severity of characteristic withdrawal symptoms.
Reinforcement: A measure of the substance's abilityto get users to take it again and again.
Tolerance: How much of the substance is needed to satisfy increasing cravings for it..
Dependence: How difficult it is for the user to quit, the relapse rate, the percentage of people who eventually become dependent, the rating users give their own need for the substance and the degree to which the substance will be used in the face of evidence that it causes harm.
Intoxication: Though not usually counted as a measure of addiction in itself, the level of intoxication is associated with addiction and increases the personal and social damage a substance may do.
Source: Jack E. Henningfield, PhD for NIDA, Reported by Philip J. Hilts, New York Times, Aug. 2, 1994 "Is Nicotine Addictive? It Depends on Whose Criteria You Use."

Fast forward to today. We have almost the exact same problem with marijuana. People want it, there is a demand for it, and it, being illegal, is sexy...right? Anyways, it's rediculous that MJ is illegal when nicotine, alcohol and even caffeen ARE legal. I don't know where I stand on the repealing the prohibition of ALL drugs, but I know for Marijuana that it absolutely should not be illegal. As you can see from the chart, the addictive properties of MJ are increadible low - dependance, withdrawl and tolerance, it is lower than caffeine! But, since it is illegal, it has a particularly bad rap. It is less damaging, has less long term effects, and is far, far less addictive than nicotine, so why is it illegal? And obvioulsy, the medical benifits can be great. However, our Jails are surprisingly full of inmates there for Posession of marijuana. It doesn't increase violent tendencies (it's a downer, not a stimulant), but the posessors and users of MJ are stereotyped and catagorized with violent criminals - and sharing Jail cells with them. ANd for what? For having something that is far less damaging than cigarettes? In relation to the 21st ammendment earlier referrend to, in exactly the same way as prohibition caused crime, so the illegality of Marijuna causes crime where it wouldn't otherwise exist. Drug runners, smugglers, gangs and organized crime to get drugs distributed - alot of that criminality would cease to be without the prohibition on pot. Just like with prohibition of alcohol, we have legally cut the supply of MJ, which caused the demand to get even bigger. Pot has been called the "gateway" drug - the reason being that some people who get into hard drugs started out their drug use with pot. Statistically, that isn't correct - actually, people who try hard drugs ussually first tried alcohol and nicotine. Pot is just the one on our radar, because it is illegal. If alcohol was illegal, people would call it the "gateway" drug. If nicotene were illegal, same thing. If caffine were illegal, same thing, and if carrot juice were illegal, I'd be willing to bet that it would be called the "gateway drug." People who are likely to try hard drugs are the ones who are attracted to illegal things. So, it would follow that, at least in this case, making it illegal would decrease the appeal quite a bit. Not only that, but we waste vast amount of funds and resources to prosecute MJ users, when that money could, and should be put to better use. Now, I don't smoke pot (surpise!). I never have even tried it. I simply see a problem that has an obvious fix, but, for some reason, isn't even on most people's radar. This website is basically the text for a book that I have and really appreciated called "Drug War Facts" it's propigated by an organization called LEAP - that is Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Basically a bunch of cops and stuff who have seen some of the things I've been talking about first hand and see the same obvious fix. I'm not telling you all to go buy pot - simply saying that, if we repealed its prohibition, we'd be fixing a huge leak of money, time, resources, and government intervention. Let me know what you think. Peace – Rick


McCain, the Republican's Democrat

Yes, I am from AZ. No, I am not a McCain fan. This post details why.

First, I don't believe he is honest. If you look at his history, what he says is very appealing to his republican conservative voters. What he does is appealing to liberal democrats. I firmly believe that McCain would be a democrat if he lived in a blue state, but he knew the political history of AZ therefore he chose to register as a republican in order to get elected to the Senate.

McCain is a huge flip-flopper. For example:

  • In NH in 1999 McCain told reporters that "in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade." He explained that overturning Roe would force "women in America to undergo illegal and dangerous operations."
  • In 2006, campaigning for the GOP nomination as a conservative, McCain said the opposite.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask one question about abortion. Then I want to turn to Iraq. You're for a constitutional amendment banning abortion, with some exceptions for life and rape and incest.

MCCAIN: Rape, incest and the life of the mother. Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So is President Bush, yet that hasn't advanced in the six years he's been in office. What are you going to do to advance a constitutional amendment that President Bush hasn't done?

MCCAIN: I don't think a constitutional amendment is probably going to take place, but I do believe that it's very likely or possible that the Supreme Court should — could overturn Roe v. Wade, which would then return these decisions to the states, which I support…. Just as I believe that the issue of gay marriage should be decided by the states, so do I believe that we would be better off by having Roe v. Wade return to the states.

This is just one of many topics that McCain has switched his story on. Want a source? Click here.

Basically, McCain is a democrat in republican clothing. Voting for McCain is almost worse than voting for Obama or Hillary, because at least they are honest about which party's affiliations they most strongly align with. You know what you're going to get with them. McCain is a fraud. Unfortunately our media and military just love a prisoner of war. Anyone else tired of hearing about that experience of his? No offense, but just because you were a POW does not mean that you are qualified to be a full time resident of the White House. As far as I am concerned, his biggest accomplishment is crashing planes.

Seriously, the man has spent how much time in Washington and he can't even understand a simple debate question. It is amazing how ignorant he is of the committees in Washington that actually deal with issues that affect us, the American people.

He isn't even that polite to people who oppose his views or have questions that he can't answer. Watch the video at the end of this post to see how he reacts when a reporter asks him a question that he isn't prepared for. Its like he believes voters are stupid enough to believe him when he says 'Oh, I am an honest man. I have a great record in the Senate. I am the conservative who can reach across the aisle.' And unfortunately for the rest of us, there seem to be a fair number who believe him when he says this without doing their homework. They think 'Oh, he will be a great president because I recognize his picture, and he says he is a true conservative.'

For myself, I would rather vote for Obama or Hillary than McCain. I hope I get the chance to vote for Mitt Romney this November, but if not I will definitely be voting blue.

Don't Ask McCain - video powered by Metacafe