take a sad song and make it better

Hey everybody. Sorry for the long, unannounced hiatus. Actually, I haven't posted since we found out my wife was pregnant with triplets. Those triplets are arriving on Monday!

Long story short, I don't have time to maintain this site anymore. It has been an informative and provocative experiment, and I plan on leaving it here where people can continue to post, comment or read through the archives.

If anyone out there is interested in taking over the site as the administrator, and has the time to devote to it, feel free to contact me. All I'd ask is that it continue in the spirit of learning and civil conversation in which it began.

Thanks to all the writers, commenters, and lurkers who have participated. I've learned a lot from many of you. I encourage you all to remain passionate about your beliefs while seeking to understand the perspectives of others.

All the best wishes for the future!


All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
-Edmund Burke


If I weren’t a RACIST REDECK, an OPEN-MINDED LIBERAL I would be!

This guest post was submitted by regular commenter, matt. If anyone else wishes to submit a guest post, please email it to Stephanie (link on side).

I love to hear comments such as, “Republicans are just a bunch of racist, religious [as if to say being religious is a bad thing], hate mongering bigots.”

If only we could all be as open-minded and non-judgmental as our friends, Keith and Janeane.

Any wonder why our nation is so divided?

Yes, it’s true, the GOP is no shining star, but after listening to the media coverage of the Tea Party protests, I am more than happy to be a racist redneck conservative.

Let’s break it down for all ya’ll rednecks that have ‘em misfiren’ synapse.

Jeneane: “Let’s be honest, this is about hating a black man in the White House.”

Yes, and that must be why the liberal media couldn’t find any protestor signs regarding Obama’s skin color. For me, the only good reason I had to vote for Obama was that he is the first black man to run for office. Not reason enough for me, so I didn’t vote for him. By the way, 98% of blacks voted for Obama, and who is the racist?

-Jeneane: “the limbic brain is much larger in [the conservatives'] head space…causing their synapse to misfire.”

(please note the laughing of Keith Olberman, and how he will not stand up to what is being said…maybe because he believes it) Kind of scary. I didn’t realize Jeneane was so educated in the field of medicine. I wish I was diagnosed before the Election, I could have treated the illness and would have voted for Obama.

-Jeneane: “This is pathological, it’s about philosophy and lifestyle, again, this is about racism…the conservative movement has now crystallized into the white power movement.”

Really?, Well aren’t we just the nicest racists you ever saw? I guess policy bashing translates into Racism somewhere in the intellectual liberal mind, with no misfiring synapse. On a separate show by Olberman, he showed video clips of White Power Nazi’s in a military Style march, behind quotes he was reading while covering the “Tea Parties”….and the Conservatives are the ones fear-mongering?

-Jeneane: “who else is FOX talking to other than older, urban white guys and their girlfriends suffering from Stockholm syndrome.”

Way to go Jeneane, fear-mongering yet again. Conservatives certainly have a lot of psychological problems now, don’t we? Still no defense by Olberman. My poor mother, held captive by my racist father all of those years and even forced to go to a white power church …Mormons!

-Olberman: “what if somebody gets hurt at one of these things?”

Jeneane ,“That is an unfortunate byproduct… of a volatile group like this of the limbic brain.”

Please MSNBC, find some kind of violence to show us…that’s right, there wasn’t any violence to be seen.

-Jeneane: “The Republican party now depends on immigrant bashing and hating a black man.”

You got us there, Jeneane, Upholding those darn immigration laws. Is it just me or is there no substance whatsoever to their claims? Must be an intellectual thing.

-Olberman: ”We’d have peace in our time if they didn’t do it.” (speaking of the conservative media’s so called misinformation.)

That’s right, peace and harmony all around. Obama is flawless after all. And with all of his experience we should just follow along like mindless intellects, never questioning a thing. That’s how the liberals treated Bush after all, right?

Now, I know Jeneane doesn’t speak for all liberals, but MSNBC and Keith Olberman agreed with, and aired every bit of the interview. If Rush Limbaugh is the face of the conservatives, doesn’t that make Keith Olberman that face of the Liberals? And people wonder why liberal talk radio doesn’t work.

Don’t worry, it gets even better.

The Tea Party Protests were advertised as exactly that, Tea Party Protests, except for a childish few who decided to portray it as a sexual “tea bagging” party. All that I can say is, conservatives are the “evil” ones?

I didn’t attend a Tea Party, and I know they didn’t exactly coincide with the purpose behind the “Boston Tea Party”, as liberals are very quick to point out, but aren’t liberals the ones pointing out that the “right” only sees “moral” issues as those pertaining to abortion , gay marriage etc? Well, here you go liberals, conservatives protesting “immoral” spending, that’s what these parties were about. I know darn well that this out of control spending started with Bush, as does the conservative media, but when Obama triples the debt in 3 months, people felt the need to protest. It had nothing to do with the skin color of our President.


Another political article in the Ensign

The March issue of the Ensign has an excellent article (reprinted) by Marion G. Romney called The Celestial Nature of Self-Reliance. I was introduced to this article last year at the BYU Women's Conference Broadcast of Sacred Relationships and Self-Reliance by Ana Maria Coburn and was delighted to see it reprinted in the Ensign.

What stood out to me in reading it was how many times it has the word "government" in it. I count 9. I find this particularly interesting because this is the third article in six months in the Ensign that relates to politics. I just wanted to share a few quotes, give my "analysis", and see what you think. So, here goes.

On this subject, Elder Albert E. Bowen said, “The … Church is not satisfied with any system which leaves able people permanently dependent, and insists, on the contrary, that the true function and office of giving, is to help people [get] into a position where they can help themselves and thus be free.”

Many programs have been set up by well-meaning individuals to aid those who are in need. However, many of these programs are designed with the shortsighted objective of “helping people,” as opposed to “helping people help themselves.” Our efforts must always be directed toward making able-bodied people self-reliant.

So, how do our current government welfare programs stack up in helping people "get into a position where they can help themselves"? It seems to me that our current programs are creating and enabling cycles of poverty (permanant dependence) rather than helping people to break free from poverty. I appreciate that he credits individuals who support these programs as "well-meaning". (I would probably have used "misguided", which might be offensive, so I appreciate well-meaning)

President Romney quotes a story about gullible gulls out of the Reader's Digest:
In our friendly neighbor city of St. Augustine great flocks of sea gulls are starving amid plenty. Fishing is still good, but the gulls don’t know how to fish. For generations they have depended on the shrimp fleet to toss them scraps from the nets. Now the fleet has moved. …

The shrimpers had created a Welfare State for the … sea gulls. The big birds never bothered to learn how to fish for themselves and they never taught their children to fish. Instead they led their little ones to the shrimp nets.

Now the sea gulls, the fine free birds that almost symbolize liberty itself, are starving to death because they gave in to the ‘something for nothing’ lure! They sacrificed their independence for a handout.

A lot of people are like that, too. They see nothing wrong in picking delectable scraps from the tax nets of the U.S. Government’s ‘shrimp fleet.’ But what will happen when the Government runs out of goods? What about our children of generations to come?

Let’s not be gullible gulls. We … must preserve our talents of self-sufficiency, our genius for creating things for ourselves, our sense of thrift and our true love of independence.

This one line in particular stood out to me: But what will happen when the Government runs out of goods? This is a very real possibility. In fact, what do you call an annual trillion dollar deficit? The government is long out of "goods" and is borrowing those goods from other countries. It was recently announced that the deficits of Obama's administration are even worse than previously forecasted. Economists all seem to agree that these kinds of deficits are unsustainable. And yet, Obama is marching forward with his spending agenda of "overhauling health care, exploring new energy sources and enacting scores of domestic programs".

The dismal deficit figures, if they prove to be accurate, inevitably raise the prospect that Obama and his Democratic allies controlling Congress would have to consider raising taxes after the recession ends or else pare back his agenda.
Well, Obama has made it clear that he is not paring back his agenda.
"What we will not cut are investments that will lead to real growth and prosperity over the long term," Obama said. "That's why our budget makes a historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform. That's why it enhances America's competitiveness by reducing our dependence on foreign oil and building a clean energy economy."

Obama's $3.6 trillion budget for the 2010 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 contains ambitious programs to overhaul the U.S. health care system and initiate new "cap-and-trade" rules to combat global warming.

Both initiatives involve raising federal revenues sharply higher, but those dollars wouldn't be used to defray the burgeoning deficit and would instead help pay for Obama's health plan and implement Obama's $400 tax credit for most workers and
$800 for couples.

I guess I just don't believe that Obama's agenda is actually going to lead to "real growth and prosperity over the long run". I wonder if we are "sacrificing our independence" for a $400 tax credit. So, if Obama won't cut spending, the alternatives are to borrow more or increase taxes. Believe it or not, there are limits on the amount the U.S. can borrow. We have to borrow from other countries (namely China), and they are giving us warnings about spending too much. Plus, the more debt we have, the weaker our currency becomes and the higher our interest rates go. That's why deficits around 5% of GDP are "unsustainable". So, I know the answer to "But what will happen when the Government runs out of goods?" Higher taxation. Glenn Beck pointed out that if every person who made more than $200,000 (the top 2% of the population) was taxed at 100% (so the government takes every single red cent from the "rich"), that would increase revenues by $1.3 trillion. Incidentally, that's almost the exact amount of Obama's projected deficit in 2010. But, you can't really tax them at 100%, can you (who would give the rest of us jobs?!?!?)? So, if taxes need to be raised, they will come to all of us.

To me, the answer to "What will happen when the Government runs out of goods?" is that I will likely see reduced services (more crappy roads, for example) and pay higher taxes. Can anyone say "oppression"? If not us, it will happen to our children. That's the answer to, "What about our generations of children to come?" We'll leave them with debt and deficits to oppress them.

Back to President Romney,
The practice of coveting and receiving unearned benefits has now become so fixed in our society that even men of wealth, possessing the means to produce more wealth, are expecting the government to guarantee them a profit.
Can anyone say "Bailouts"?
Elections often turn on what the candidates promise to do for voters from government funds.

This reminds me of the woman on youtube crying with joy because Obama is going to pay her mortgage and buy her gas . . .

This practice, if universally accepted and implemented in any society, will make slaves of its citizens.

We cannot afford to become wards of the government, even if we have a legal right to do so. It requires too great a sacrifice of self-respect and political, temporal, and spiritual independence.
President Romney repeatedly ties self-reliance to freedom. In an earlier part of the article, he says
It is easy to understand the reason the Lord places so much emphasis on this principle when we come to understand that it is tied very closely to freedom itself.
and in a later part, he says
Whenever we get into a situation which threatens our self-reliance, we will find our freedom threatened as well. If we increase our dependence, we will find an immediate decrease in our freedom to act.

Does anyone else feel that the more control we give to government, the less control we ourselves have? The less freedom we have? Conservatives (like me) are going crazy watching Obama because we can see our liberty rapidly slipping away.

We can’t always control government programs, but we can control our own homes and congregations. If we will teach these principles and live them, we can do much to counter the negative effects which may exist in government programs in any country.

Interesting, interesting. This is largely how I feel right now. As I listened to the last general conference, it seemed much more focused on strengthening our families and our stakes in Zion than on effecting change in our country and world. I am not sure there is much I can do as I watch the government (not just Obama, but Democrats and some Republicans) destroying our economy and leading us to socialism. However, if I teach principles of self-reliance to my children and live them myself, I may be able to "counter the negative effects" the government will have on our lives. Now, that is reason for hope!

Those quotes come from the first half of the article. The second half of the article is dedicated to encouraging (even admonishing) us to use our self-reliance to help others. After quoting several scriptures about helping the poor (and pointing out that it is a commandment),he says

There is an interdependence between those who have and those who have not. The process of giving exalts the poor and humbles the rich. In the process, both are sanctified. The poor, released from the bondage and limitations of poverty, are enabled as free men to rise to their full potential, both temporally and spiritually. The rich, by imparting of their surplus, participate in the eternal principle of giving. Once a person has been made whole, or self-reliant, he reaches out to aid others, and the cycle repeats itself.

I really like that. One thing we LDS liberals and conservatives agree on is that we are commanded to help the poor, to "Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you" (Jacob 2:17). We are commanded to "consecrate [our] properties" (D&C 42:30). We seek for Zion, where we will have all things in common.

However, we differ greatly on government's role in accomplishing that. I think that President Romney's talk does a pretty good job of showing how using government programs (however "well-intentioned" they may be) to accomplish that will decrease our individual freedoms and liberties and instead bring us into bondage or oppression (like the seagulls who "sacrifice their independence for a handout").


Pet Food and Capitalism

So last night I was on my way home from Walmart (you know - those dreaded Saturday night Mormon runs to make sure you have milk, etc. for Sunday. We might as well make it a ward activity. Half the ward is there.) Anyways, I was on my way home, listening to talk radio, when a very interesting conversation came up. (I have tried to find the text of the conversation for you, but it seems impossible since I don't have a subscription to the site. Based on the KLIF website, it appears I was listening to "Coast to Coast AM Encore", to a rebroadcast piece from 5/20/97 by Art Bell interviewing Ann N. Martin, authority on commercial pet food production. I am going to recap the best I can.)

Ann was explaining how dead animals (road kill, dead pets, euthanized animals, livestock unfit for human consumption, etc.) are rendered to create pet food. The entire animal (minus head because it's sent to a lab to be tested for rabies) is ground up - hair, bones, everything. Then the ground up animals are boiled for about 20 minutes at a high temperature. The fat floats to the top. The rest sinks to the bottom. The stuff at the bottom is dried out into "meat meal", which is then used to make pet food. Ann was saying that she feels human food is more healthy for animals to consume than pet food, despite what veterinarians may say.

Art then said something like this, "I've heard that sometimes people who are poor, particularly the elderly, will eat pet food because they can't afford real food".

Ann laughed and said that although she had heard that, it didn't appear to be true - just more of an urban legend. For one, she said, pet food is more expensive than alternative forms of protein. When comparing a can of tuna to a can of pet food, the tuna is cheaper, so she can't imagine someone choosing the pet food. Plus, she had researched these claims thoroughly and had never found anyone who had eaten pet food because they were too poor to afford real food.

Art replied like this, "Well, that's because you live in socialist Canada where they take care of their own. Here in America, our capitalism allows people to slip through the cracks, so believe me, people are eating pet food. I know".

Can someone please explain his logic to me because I am just not getting it. If people are "slipping through the cracks", that means that the government is not providing food for them. That leaves them with a few options:

  1. Go to a charity. What charities are giving out pet food to hungry people?
  2. Purchase your own food. As Ann pointed out, pet food is more expensive than people food. Since capitalism assumes people make rational choices in their best interest, what rational person would choose to purchase the more expensive pet food to eat if they are basing their purchase on cost?
  3. Steal. But again, if someone is stealing food, what rational person is going to choose to steal pet food rather than people food?

(Plus, there's the fact that he acknowledged she was a world-wide expert in commercial pet food and believed everything she said applied to the U.S. except this one little thing. I think that if you are going to discredit some aspect of someone's research based on the fact that they are "only in Canada", then you would need to discredit all of it.)

So, I am really not getting it. My take is that this was a very ignorant stab at capitalism. Am I missing something?


Big Free Speech

Ah, Big Love. I'm one of those bad Mormons who kind of likes HBO shows - I mean, John Adams was amazing, Rome is one of those guilty pleasures, and Flight of the Conchords is one of the best things to ever happen to TV - and Big Love....You know, a few years ago, when everyone had all their panties in a wrinkle over this show, I decided to just try it out, and I kinda liked it - I never became an avid fan or watcher - I've just sometimes caught an episode here or there. From what i've seen, I've felt like, despite the hype, it usually portrays the LDS Church in a remarkably respectful way. The drama (and disrespect, if there was any) was not on the LDS Church, but on some fictional fundamentalist compound in southern Utah - and they made the distinction between that group and the LDS Church multiple times. So I thought, kudos to them.

But, in true Hollywood fashion, they feel the need to keep pushing the bar, so now there is this. and this Oh c'mon, guys - really? Yes, that's right - the LDS temple ceremony is to feature (allegedly it will be prominent) in tonight's all new episode. It makes sense - I mean, the temple is a big question mark to most Americans - so exposing the secret...well I'm surprised it hasn't happened more often.

So I get that HBO execs have a right to free speech - couldn't this be viewed as a)slander, or b) copy right infringement? I mean the church is sure to own a copyright on the Temple Ceremony, right? I'd think it could be a little risky. From reading other blogs, its apparent just how many indignant Mormons have their blood pressure going out the roof. I get where you are coming from - experiencing a little righteous indigestion. Just remember this - its not the first time it has happened, and it surely won't be the last. The whole ceremony is available on the Internet, the God Makers movie parodied it a million years ago, And Bill Maher's Documentary, "Religilous" briefly forayed into LDS temple rites. The difference between Big Love and other anti-Mormon garbage out there (like God makers) is that Big Love, apparently, had a former temple worker as a consultant to recreate the situation. Not saying that I agree with this broadcast. I think it is wrong, insensitive, and outright upsetting. But maybe, just maybe, they'll portray it accurately and thus show just how...unexciting the Temple Ceremony really is. Then all those tasty little rumors of sacrificial cows, temple orgies, temple horns and necrophilia will fade into their appropriate obscurity. People love the unexplained mystery - they are fascinated by it -and ours has been unexplained for a long time. Now people can have a better idea of it. Before you get too upset and call for boycotts, as so many have done, remember that media misrepresentation really has no impact on your own personal experience.


Before Political Neutrality

The February issue of the Ensign has an article on Joseph Smith's Campaign for President of the United States. It is a pretty interesting read. After Joseph Smith appealed to President Van Buren and the candidates running against Van Buren for office for redress for the persecutions of the Saints in Missouri (and received little sympathy), he decided to run for President of the United States himself. This is why (in his own words):

I would not have suffered my name to have been used by my friends on anywise as President of the United States, or candidate for that office, if I and my friends could have had the privilege of enjoying our religious and civil rights as American citizens, even those rights which the Constitution guarantees unto all her citizens alike. But this as a people we have been denied from the beginning. Persecution has rolled upon our heads from time to time, from portions of the United States, like peals of thunder, because of our religion; and no portion of the Government as yet has stepped forward for our relief. And in view of these things, I feel it to be my right and privilege to obtain what influence and power I can, lawfully, in the United States, for the protection of injured innocence.
Do you think it is a call to action?

Joseph Smith, running as an Independent, wrote his platform, titled General Smith's Views of the Powers and Policy of the Government of the United States and sent it out. His platform included more power for the President to suppress mobs, eliminating slavery, reducing congressional pay, prison reform, forming a national bank, annexing Oregon and Texas, and extending the United States to the east coast (if Native Americans gave their consent). Many of his proposals eventually came to pass (although expansion of the U.S. obviously occurred without the consent of Native Americans). Elder John A. Widtsoe called Joseph Smith's platform "an intelligent, comprehensive, forward-looking statement of policies, worthy of a trained statesman."

Here is a quote from Joseph Smith's platform:

In the United States the people are the government; and their united voice is the only sovereign that should rule; the only power that should be obeyed; and the only gentleman that should be honored; at home and abroad; on the land and on the sea; Wherefore, were I the president of the United States, by the voice of a virtuous people, I would honor the old paths of the venerated fathers of freedom: I would walk in the tracks of the illustaious patriots, who carried the ark of the government upon their shoulders with an eye single to the glory of the people.

For the campaign, missionaries were called to both "preach the Gospel and electioneer". Yes, you read that right. There were a total of 337 electioneering missionaries, including Brigham Young and 9 other members of the Quorum of the Twelve. They kept their religious sermons and political speeches separate (usually doing the political gathering the night before a church conference), but they did do both.

Some of the enemies of Joseph Smith in Illinois were concerned that Joseph's "views on government were widely circulated and took like wildfire". According to a Dr. Wall Southwick, who attended a meeting where enemies were plotting to assassinate Joseph, they believed that if the Prophet "did not get into the Presidential chair this election, he would be sure to the next time; and if Illinois and Missouri would join together and kill him, they would not be brought to justice for it" (suggesting that Joseph Smith's assassination may have party been due to his Presidential campaign).

Joseph Smith was martyred on June 27, 1844. The electioneering missionaries did not get word until July 9.

The conclusion of the article says

Joseph Smith's presidential campaign had sought to make the United States a better place, not only for the Latter-Day Saints, but for all Americans.

My question is this: What do you think our church leaders today want us to learn from reading this article? Is it just an interesting piece of history, or is there more to it? Although the position on political neutrality is clearly present at the end of the article (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not endorse, promote, or oppose political parties, candidates, or platforms), I personally take it as a call to "obtain what power and influence" we can to "protect innocence" or preserve liberty (particularly religious liberties). I was just wondering what your opinion is.



Implosion - A sudden inward collapse

This is my prediction for Britain. I already commented on the campaign in Britain to "Stop at Two" (when the fertility rate is already below replacement). Now, the benevolent government of Britain, in an effort to curb teen pregnancy, is encouraging parents NOT to share their values with their children.

Beverly Hughes, the children's minister in England, is distributing pamphlets next month to parents (through pharmacies) entitled, "Talking to Your Children About Sex and Relationships". The pamphlet encourages parents to talk to their children about sex. Among the suggestions:

  • Start the "big talk" with children as young as possible, before they get "misinformation" from their peers.
  • The best time to talk is while doing "mundane" tasks like washing the car and watching t.v.
  • Take your daughter to the doctor to learn about birth control options. "Or, if you have a teenage son, suggest he talks to his girlfriend about it and visits a clinic with her."
  • Use the lives of celebrities as a way of introducing the topic

Um, really? Of the above, I am going to say that I only agree with suggestion number 1. I personally am grateful for Family Home Evening and PPI's (that my kids ask their dad for because they enjoy those chats) because they give us time to talk about lots of serious issues, so we don't have to "sneak" them in while washing the car. I'm not even going to begin with how I would feel about encouraging my son to go to a clinic with his girlfriend. And celebrities as role models? Perhaps if I want to teach my children everything NOT to do. But, this last one is really the kicker:

  • Avoid trying to convince your teenage children of the difference between right and wrong when talking to them about sex. “Discussing your values with your teenagers will help them to form their own. Remember, though, that trying to convince them of what’s right and wrong may discourage them from being open.”

Clinical Psychologist Linda Blair explains further, "We do not know what is right and wrong; right and wrong is relative, although your child does need clear guidelines".

Are you kidding me? Are you people for real? Let me fill you "experts" in on a little info: Children want to know what is right and wrong and to try to do what is right. Children want values. They are looking for them. And they will find them - it is just a matter of where they find them at. As a parent, are you really going to leave your children to the wind (the media, their peers, the government) to help them figure out what is right and wrong? And, really, Ms. Blair, right and wrong is relative? No wonder our world is so screwed up. As I commented on another thread: Most people don't even know what is right anymore. I wonder why. Perhaps it is because parents are listening to morons like you.

Ms. Hughes says, "When it comes to sex and relationships, young people tell us that they would prefer advice and information to come from their mum or dad". Um, Ms. Hughes, if young people want advice and information from their parents, what makes you think they don't want to know what their parents think is right and wrong? Further, I agree that we should start teaching our children about sex at a young age so they don't believe misinformation from their friends. But, why would I provide them with information and not values? Is it not possible that they will get misinformation on what is right and wrong from their peers? Do you not see the inconsistency at all?

In the U.S., we seem to have done well with the "Parents are the Anti-Drug" campaign. It is widely acknowledged that parents who spend time with their children and talk to their children about drugs and smoking can curb this behavior. Why not sex? Why not a "Parents are the Anti-Pregnancy" campaign?

Simon Calvert, deputy of the Christian Institute, said this about the pamphlet:

The idea that the government is telling families not to pass on their values is outrageous. Preserving children’s innocence is a worthy goal. We would like to see more of that kind of language rather than this amoral approach where parents are encouraged to present their children with a smorgasbord of sexual activities and leave them to make up their own minds.

About her "role" in curbing teen pregnancy, Hughes said:

[the government] doesn’t bring up children but . . . it does have a role to play in supporting parents and giving them access to advice and information

Uh, you know what? I'm not so sure parents need your help, particularly when you are giving such bad advice. Does the government really understand that its role is not to bring up children? More and more, we see government replacing parents because parents are doing such a "bad" job. And with the British government encouraging parents not to pass on their values, I have to wonder, in the near future, are parents going to have much of a role at all to play in their children's' lives? Or, will we be replaced by those who "know better"?

(One last question - when the church places a HUGE emphasis on parents teaching their children what is right and wrong, who do you think would be behind a movement to get parents NOT to teach their children these things?)


The Best of Both Worlds

So, I was just reading my sister-in-law's blog. She's not politically oriented (in fact, I think reading this blog regularly would take 20 years off her life) but once in awhile she gets fired up about something courtesy of Mr. Glenn Beck.

Now, I'm not familiar with him or his show, because I pretty successfully avoid all talking-head-type of media, but I did go through and read the 9 principles he is touting. And you know what?

I agree with them. All of them.

1. America is good.

2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life.

3. I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday.

4. The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.

5. If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.

6. I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.

7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.

8. It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.

9. The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.

I know I'm supposed to get my panties all in a twist like a good Liberal, because this came out of the serpent mouth of a Conservative, who as any leftie knows are always wrong! I must immediately go down this list point by point and refute them, pick them apart until there's nothing left and I can stand alone on my Pedestal of Truth again. After all, if I do not identify myself as Conservative, and these principles are obviously meant to resonate with Conservatives, so I can't agree with them! That would be, like, treasonous or something.

But just hang with me for a minute.

If I were to write these exact same principles myself, I would word some of them differently. That's my personal spin on things, and as Mr. Beck so rightly said, it is not un-American to share my opinion. But I think these 9 statements are much of what is right with the Conservative viewpoint, and I applaud them. I don't know what Mr. Beck plans to do with the results of his campaign (and from the sound of the rest of the article it is not necessarily something that I am going to like), but the way I see it, the foundation is there. People are people, and we pretty much all want the same things.

We want to be respected for who we are and the opinions we hold.

We want to be able to express those opinions, without fear of derision or retribution.

We want to be able to live according to our principles.

We want to be happy. We want our families to be happy.

We want the same things - we just don't always agree on the best way to affect those outcomes. And even Mr. Beck very graciously left room in his club for Godless Atheists, etc, by saying that anyone who agrees with 7 out of the 9 is good enough for him.

Really, can't we all agree on 7 out of 9? Is that so much to ask? Can't we stop nitpicking for a minute, extend each other some grace, and get to the spirit of the law, as it were - to the heart of what is underneath our ballots and our petitions? What would this country - the world! - be like if we all believed that even if someone is advocating something you violently disagree with, that their motivation is probably the very same as yours? That if someone asked you and your opponent why you do what you do, the answers might be identical?

Now, I'm not quite ready to send my picture in to Mr. Beck, because I'm not sure what he means by his promise to "pull back the curtain". I'm a little suspicious that he intends to unite us so he can once again pit us against each other once he's got us all in the same room. And I will say that it strikes me as premature at best to be complaining so bitterly about the "opposing" party in power only a month into (at least) a four year term. The pendulum has swung, as it always does, and will again, and that's how it is supposed to be (see Prinicple #1).

The fact is, "we" do not surround "them". We are them. They are us. We are all in this together, and the sooner we realize that, the more we can learn from each other.

Together we stand, divided we fall.


My Bi-Annual WOW Guilt Trip.

LDS folk are so motivated by guilt. Its like....marrow in our bones, you know? That's why I'm back with my bi-annual guilt trip.

Its amazing how often someone asks you, "why did you become vegetarian?" when you actually have become vegetarian. In all honesty, I'm starting to become confused about why I initially took the plunge. There are basically three reasons to become vegetarian.

1) Diet - Doctor says I should cut back on my cholesterol, risk for heart disease, etc.
2) Extreme Pacifism - In a true Tolstoyian fassion, someone becomes passionate about not causing harm to any living thing.
3) Environmentalism - this one is often over looked, and will, obviously, be the subject of this post.

The first two reasons are easily comprehended by most folks - "I get it - you don't want to hurt anything.." or, "I get it, you can't eat meat or you will die." Stuff like that - but how is eating meat hurting the environment? After all, people have been eating meat for....ever, basically, and the world hasn't crashed down yet.

This is true. The world hasn't crashed down, and human beings, by definition, are omnivorous. What we are failing to take into consideration is that:
a) There is a whole lot more people on the earth to be eating meat now than ever before - and the population is continually rising dramatically.
b) There is a whole lot more affluent people on the earth to buy way more than their fair share of meat. People like meat, and they will eat as much of it as they can logically afford.
c) The earth has never had this unprecidented demand for meat to have to try and satiate.

The stats are easy to find. Any Google search will bring you, basically, the same information that I'm posting here:
- in the USA, people consume some where between 170- 270lbs (depending on who you ask) of meat (not including fish) per year.
- Americans are spending, on average, $550 per person per year on red meat purchases.
- 1 in 6 people go hungry each day.
- The U.S,China(25% of total world pop) plus Brazil and the EU consumes over 60 percent of the world's beef, over 70 percent of the world's poultry, and over 80 percent of the world's pork.
- Deforestation
- The world's range land covers nearly twice the area as the world's cropland.
- As the Beef consumption increases, the current rangelands are being pushed to their production limits, causing intense slash and burn policies, especially in places such as South America
- Beef production drives 60-80% of the Amazon's deforestation.
- Roughly 80% (in 2003) of Brazil's cattle production was for exports (to Europe and US)
- Amazon produces 20% of the world's oxygen.
- Between 1990-2005, Brazil lost 8.1% of its forest (15 years.) at that rate of deforestation, the Amazon will largely be gone in about 100 years.
- The very land threatened by deforestation (due to beef production) is the same land that is home to most of the world's biodiversity (plant and animal species) (in Brazil and other tropic countries.)- many of which are projected to be pushed through to extinction within the next hundred years.
- Cattle account for 28% of the methane emissions in the world (according to EPA - 20% of US methane emissions).
- pound for pound, Methane is 30 times more damaging for environment than CO2
- internationally, livestock accounts for 18% of all greenhouse gas emitions - and that is not including emmisions produced in the transportation of livestock or grain.
- In order to produce 1 lb of meat, livestock must eat around 10lbs of grain - which could go to feed all those starving folks mentioned earlier.
- One third of the world's cereal harvest is fed to farm animals.
- 95% of US soya production (nearly 100 million tons per year) is used as feed
- 73% of maize, 95% of oilmeals and 93% of fishmeal is fed to animals - all of this "feed" could be used for human consumption.
- More that 1/3 of all fossil fuels produced in the United States go towards animal agriculture. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the production of one calorie of animal protein requires more than ten times the fossil fuel input as a calorie of plant protein. - Vegitarianism would help more than a hybrid car.

I've left out facts and statistics about overfishing, ocean polutants, and algae endangerment (which accounts for up to 80% of the world's oxygen) - keep in mind, some stats are deflated, and some are inflated - I tried to go with the middle ground in what I've collected here.

I just don' think that people realize the environmental impact meat consumption has. If we lived in small communites and every community had one or two cows - if we were like our neolithic ancestors, meat consumption wouldn't be so bad - but with the grand levels of mass consumerism we are living today, we simply can't afford to eat meat. If The world produced enough meat for every human to consume as much meat as the average american, something like 90% of habitable land would need to be used simply for meat production - it simply couldn't happen. There isn't enough room on this planet to feed cows to the point that everyone can eat like Americans. So maybe Americans should keep that in mind next time they get the craving.

Our beloved Ensign to the Nations,...the Word of Wisdom, reads as follows: "Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine." Nothing new there - but, We should remember, the US, Brazil, much of China, and the EU are emphatically NOT experiencing famine. However, much of the world is, and guess what? They are the ones that don't have access to meat at all. Why is that? Well, because we are eating it all. Compare these stats - US is number 1 meat consumer with around 150kg of meat per year, vs. India - #35 highest poultry consumer (.7kg) and #49 highest beef consuming country (1.5kg) ANd that's not the end of the story, because there are 195 countries in the world. Beef, its whats for dinner.


A Case for Better Border Control

A rancher on the Arizona border has been defending his property for years. Immigrants using his property to cross illegally into the U.S. have done significant damage:

He said the immigrants tore up water pumps, killed calves, destroyed fences and gates, stole trucks and broke into his home.

Some of his cattle died from ingesting the plastic bottles left behind by the immigrants, he said, adding that he installed a faucet on an 8,000-gallon water tank so the immigrants would stop damaging the tank to get water.

Mr. Barnett said some of the ranch´s established immigrant trails were littered with trash 10 inches deep, including human waste, used toilet paper, soiled diapers, cigarette packs, clothes, backpacks, empty 1-gallon water bottles, chewing-gum wrappers and aluminum foil - which supposedly is used to pack the drugs the immigrant smugglers give their "clients" to keep them running.

His government has not done much to protect him or his property. Now, let's think about this. What would you do if your property, your business, your home was being run over with vandalism and trash? Let your property (and livelihood) be ruined with trash and destruction? Consider it your God-given duty to spend time and money to clean it up because, after all, these people are just looking for a better life? Do you believe that you would have the right to protect yourself? Do you believe in private property (you know - one of those rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights)?

This is what he did: For the past 10 years, he has been driving his truck and his dog around his ranch, looking for illegal immigrants. He carries a pistol and keeps a rifle in his truck for protection (remember, many armed drug smugglers are among the immigrants he encounters). When he finds a group, he rounds them up at gunpoint and calls the Border Patrol to come and pick them up. Since the Border Patrol has been more successful in shutting down other border crossings, his ranch has become the "avenue of choice" for illegal immigrants.

How do you feel about that? Are you as outraged as I am that this man has to physically defend his property on a daily basis because his government is failing him? But wait - it gets better (or worse, depending on how you look at it). Now he is being SUED by 16 illegal immigrants (Mexican nationals) who tried to cross his property and were detained. Here is exactly what he did:

Attorneys for the immigrants - five women and 11 men who were trying to cross illegally into the United States - have accused Mr. Barnett of holding the group captive at gunpoint, threatening to turn his dog loose on them and saying he would shoot anyone who tried to escape.

The immigrants are represented at trial by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), which also charged that Sheriff Dever did nothing to prevent Mr. Barnett from holding their clients at "gunpoint, yelling obscenities at them and kicking one of the women." In the lawsuit, MALDEF said Mr. Barnett approached the group as the immigrants moved through his property, and that he was carrying a pistol and threatening them in English and Spanish. At one point, it said, Mr. Barnett's dog barked at several of the women and he yelled at them in Spanish, "My dog is hungry and he's hungry for buttocks."

The lawsuit said he then called his wife and two Border Patrol agents arrived at the site. It also said Mr. Barnett acknowledged that he had turned over 12,000 illegal immigrants to the Border Patrol since 1998.

The illegal immigrants are suing for 32 MILLION DOLLARS for violating their "civil rights" and for "emotional distress". Okay, I'm not going to say he acted in the classiest of manners here, but give me a break. I can say that anyone caught breaking and entering onto my property would not be treated much better (particularly since I live in Texas where it is still legal to shoot those who enter your property illegally). What about his rights? Which of his rights are being protected here? He is a citizen of the United States, protecting his own property from violators because his government is not doing their #1 responsibility of protecting him and his property, and he gets sued? The part that really blows my mind is that the judge proclaimed there was "sufficient evidence" to continue the trial. Sufficient evidence of what?

If the government won't protect us, aren't we guaranteed the right to protect ourselves? This trial needs to be dismissed. Our government (including the judicial system) needs to start protecting the people it is supposed to protect - its own citizens - and end this insanity.


Irony, Part 2

Irony? Hypocrisy? Or just another case of "Do as I say, and not as I do"? Come on, President Obama, don't make this so easy!

On the campaign trail, Obama admonished us about being environmentally-conscious:

Pitching his message to Oregon's environmentally-conscious voters, Obama called on the United States to "lead by example" on global warming, and develop new technologies at home which could be exported to developing countries.

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," Obama said.

"That's not leadership. That's not going to happen," he added.

I don't know. It kind of seems like it is happening - right from our own leadership. Is this really the same man who has cranked up the thermostat in the White House?

Mr. Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat. “He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”

Huh. Now I have to admit that I am no "environmentalist". I keep my thermostat down low, but it is not out of a concern for the environment or setting an example for the rest of the world. It's because I pay the bill, and I know how much turning the heat up or down a degree does to my bottom line. So my house is as cold as we can stand it in the winter and as hot as we can stand it in the summer. Of course, Obama is not paying his electric bill - I am - so I can see why this incentive to turn the heat down doesn't apply.

But still, wasn't his point that we should "sacrifice" and "lead by example"? I guess that doesn't apply to him.

(Come on, even you liberals have to admit this one is better than Al Gore and his electricity-guzzling mansion.)


Isn't It Ironic?

Irony. I love it. Ever since I heard Alanis Morrisette’s “Isn’t It Ironic?”, I have been a huge fan of irony. Irony is congratulating myself (a little early) on my son making it all the way through asthma season without any problems, and then having him go into full-blown asthma attack the next day. Ironic, really. In politics, amidst the hypocrisy, dishonesty and general idiocy, irony provides a breath of wry comedic relief - enough to remind myself to try not to take myself (or anyone else) too seriously.

Today’s tale of irony comes to us from the feminists – supporters of feminism, defined as “the movement aimed at equal rights for women”. From what I understand, they seek to end discrimination against women. One of the big platforms for feminists is unfettered access to abortion.

It’s interesting to see some of the consequences of this abortion. One is that sex-selective abortion is rampant in many countries around the world. Sex-selective abortion is when a woman waits to see what the sex of her unborn baby is (using technology like ultrasound) and then aborts it if it is the undesirable sex (primarily female). We already knew that China’s one-child policy has led to boy births outnumbering girl births 120 to 100. However, due to sex-selective abortion, the female sex ratio in India is also at an all-time low. The discrepancy is as much as "300 girls to every 1000 boys among higher caste families" in one state. Steven Mosher of the Population Research Institute says:

This is done in India in epidemic proportions. It’s done in China. It’s done in many, many of the civilizations of East Asia and Southeast Asia . . . The feminists, who want to eliminate all distinctions between men and women, are only exposing their unborn sisters to a horrible form of genocide.

Ironic, isn’t it? You might be thinking, “Well, that’s in other countries. That doesn’t happen here in America”. Not so.

Researchers contend that sex –selective abortions are reducing female births, and some of that is occurring in the United States. Female babies are being aborted largely by Asian immigrant families in America, based on the age-old cultural prejudices in their home countries.
Bill Saunders of the Family Research Council notes the “irony”:
Pro-life people are often accused of being anti-woman. The fact of the matter is legalized abortion is resulting in the disappearance of what demographers call the “girl child” around the world because a lot of potential parents are using medical technology to abort girls.

So our laws and our technology in America support sex-selective abortion, which is essentially discrimination against unborn women. How is that for feminism?

So now that this consequence is readily apparent, will anything change? Will feminists seek to reverse the killing off of their own kind? It doesn’t appear to be so. President Obama has already reversed the “Mexico City policy” so that the U.S. will now fund abortions internationally again. That’s progress. Now we’ll help more women who want to abort their daughters worldwide. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the move will

help save lives and empower the poorest women and families to improve their quality of life and their future.

Too bad there won’t be as many women or families – kind of hard to form families when your men greatly outnumber your women. (Just ask all the sexually frustrated men in China) And my tax dollars will be paying for it. I guess “now” I’m proud to be American.

Things won’t be any different here in the U.S. either. President Obama has promised to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which will eliminate all state restrictions on abortion. Planned Parenthood is asking for more money (after supporting his candidacy, I imagine they are looking for a “payback” like so many other liberal groups). The result will be more access to abortions, including those for the purpose of sex-selection, which means that more daughters than sons will continue to be killed off here in the U.S.

My question is directed to those of you who view yourself as both feminist and pro-choice: How do you feel about that? How do you feel about women being discriminated against (by women) in this manner? Do you support it? Do you support our tax dollars paying for it?

I suppose we’ve come a long way, baby. (Just not sure we’re headed in the right direction)


"When white will embrace what is right"

Inauguration day 2009 - A long awaited and blessed day for many. As an person who is reluctant about Obama, I still enjoyed the history-making significant inauguration day. I keep high hopes for a bright future.
Watching the inauguration did not leave me feeling bitter or upset, but on the contrary, I tried to have hope....up until the final 18 words of the closing prayer (Benediction) of the ceremony.
-The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery
"Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around ... when yellow will be mellow ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen. " -The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery
Those words seemed to leap out as a dagger right into the backs of those (like myself) who had turned our heads to the hope of a bright future. While my face was looking for the light, my back was jabbed in the darkness of the past. As of to suggest that we are still living in the 60's, as if to suggest that we have not progressed, as if to suggest the white race is wrong or somehow keeping the black, brown, yellow and red man behind them. Have we not changed America, so much that we are now LED by a black man?
Perhaps its because I was born in the 70's and missed much of racist America, but I believe we have put those racist days behind us, and already are moving forward. I many ways, our society is a reverse racism, where Affirmative action, and diversity rule over reality and logic. I have sat through so many college classes where the discussions were lost to the topic of "Diversity" instead of the class topic. Can we let divisions go? Must we constantly reiterate the line that divides us?
Personally, I have so many friends who are not white, and many people know that I have expressed that if I were born again, I would love to be born black. There is so much to love about black (Afro-american) culture. Yet when I heard Rev. Lowery un-bury the hatchet as it were, I wondered if we will ever progress out of the past. Where would be be today if Britain was still complaining about US breaking away? They got over the past, and we now work well together in a bright future.
If we never let past go and "embrace" the new future , there will never be progress.
Anyhow, my point is just to say plainly that when a speech like that occurs, it basically tells me that come black Americans will never let racism go, iroinically, despite their call for its abolishment.
As someone who regularly chats with my black friend in southern US, and share laughs about our respective race's silliness, I believe it is time to embrace the fact that racism is not the norm any more. Yes, there are and always will be riff raff who hold on to racist beliefs. But that is not me. And I believe it is not you either. Lets focus on the progress.
Let us move forward.


Too Little, and Almost Too Late

But he did the right thing. Thank you, President Bush, for commuting the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. I would have preferred a full pardon, but at least commuting the sentences will bring them home to their families. They have served enough time and suffered enough for their "crime". I pray that they may find jobs quickly and resume normal lives with their families (as normal as possible after you've been screwed over by your own government).


Go Michigan!

Every once in a while, I read a news report that makes me smile. You know, the kind where common sense actually prevails (few and far between in our politically correct world and liberal biased media). Such was the case with this story out of Michigan. Five years ago, Michigan amended its Paternity Act to include the following (specifically referring to children born out of wedlock):

If medicaid has paid the confinement and pregnancy expenses of a mother under this section, the court shall not apportion confinement and pregnancy expenses to the mother. After the effective date of the amendatory act that added this subsection, based on the father's ability to pay and any other relevant factor, the court may apportion not more than 100% of the reasonable and necessary confinement and pregnancy costs to the father. If medicaid has not paid the confinement and pregnancy expenses of the mother under this section, the court shall require an itemized bill for the expenses upon request from the father before an apportionment is made.

The court order shall provide that if the father marries the mother after the birth of the child and provides documentation of the marriage to the friend of the court, the father's obligation for payment of any remaining unpaid confinement and pregnancy expenses is abated subject to reinstatement after notice and hearing for good cause shown, including, but not limited to, dissolution of the marriage. The remaining unpaid amount of the confinement and pregnancy expenses owed by the father is abated as of the date that documentation of the marriage is provided to the friend of the court.

To sum, if the state or Medicaid pays for the birth of a child born out of wedlock, the state can go after the father to recoup the costs. However, if the father marries the mother, he is exempt from paying for the birth. The law is actually "an incentive to maintain the sanctity of marriage". When have you heard about anything like that recently? A law intended to maintain the sanctity of marriage? Go Michigan!

Now, enter Gary Johnson and Rebecca Witt, who apparently live together but are not married. Four years ago, Witt gave birth to a daughter. Johnson is the father. The state of Michigan paid for the $3,800 birth because Witt was on Medicaid at the time. But now, under this law, the state is going after Johnson, saying "Pay up. Either marry the mother or pay the bill". (And, by the way, the daughter in question is only #2 of 3 children for Witt and Johnson).

The mother's (Witt's) response is classic:
I don't think anybody should tell me when to get married. I would like to have a nice wedding, and I can wait for it.
The only thing even more funny to me is Johnson's (the father's) response to that:
Johnson said he understood the state wants to promote marriage for parents but he respects Witt's position. "It's a woman's dream to have the best wedding she can have," he said.
Hmm. I have an idea. Pay the stinking bill. What, you don't think that anyone should tell you what to do, when you should get married? But you think you can do whatever you want and make others pay for it? Shack up and create a baby and bill the state for it? Whatever happened to personal responsibility? I'd love to see a return to personal responsibility in our country, and Michigan seems like a pretty good place to start. Michigan's economy is tanking harder than probably any other state. There's not a lot of money to go around and pay for everyone else's irresponsibility. Perhaps the economic downturn will be a good thing if it returns common sense and personal responsibility to our country.

Either that, or Michigan should just pay for their nice wedding. I mean, marriage is a fundamental "right", isn't it?