Saturday, April 30, 2011

Really Bad Art - In More Ways Than One

Well, I really lost my moderation on this one. The passion just overcame me this time. I got caught up in some ongoing Bloggernacle postings on the latest controversy at the BYU.  The Bookstore recently removed this print of a painting by  Utahn Jon McNaughton from display and sales. The artist was offended and removed all his works with some scathing criticisms of the "liberals" taking over at the Y (of all places!) with their evil political correctness. For a taste of that, you really should read McNaughton's protest and especially the comments. This controversy was also reported in the local press, the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rope-a-Dope Hope? or Nope?

Some analysts are saying that the President's release of the original, long-form birth certificate isn't really part of his plan to marginalize the Republicans and their candidates who play into the birther delusions. But even Karl Rove concedes the President was playing a little rope-a-dope. This is likely to help the President politically with the moderate independents who think the birther movement is the craziest thing since Nixon claimed he wasn't a crook. (I will admit that I actually fell for that one at the time. I've been suspicious of sanctimonious conservatives ever since.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Andrew Sullivan - Almost Fair and Rational

Well, you have to give me some credit for getting quoted. And Andrew's style is to quote his readers' e-mails anonymously, which is just fine. And I will reveal here that the second block quote in this recent piece of his is none other than little old Passionate Moderate Mormon - me. But I think Andrew still doesn't get it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Proof-texting the Constitution - Starring: Mike Lee

From the Atlantic on-line Garrett Epps compares Constitutional Originalism to interpreting the Da Vinci Code. The most obvious expression of language supposedly hides "secret meaning" only to be interpreted by the possessors of the secret knowledge of the ancients, or maybe Tom Hanks. This is on the same line as what I've been saying with regard to the extreme right proof-texting the Founding Fathers here and here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He Is Risen!

I can't help it. I have to say it. On this Easter morning, I woke early beside my beloved wife. I've set out Easter baskets while my almost grown kids still sleep. I went through a Sunday School lesson I was asked to teach last night for a sister who needed to be with her elderly mother in serious illness. The lesson is "I Am the Light of the World." I share my fervent belief that He is.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Forgot Gary Johnson!

I left out Gary Johnson in my review of the Republican field and he has now announced his candidacy for the presidential nomination. And the funny thing about that is, he is the only one of the candidates I have actually met. I sat down and had dinner with him at a Boy Scout Eagle Court of Honor some years ago when he was Governor of New Mexico.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Breaking into the Bloggernacle

I have recently been engaged in a very interesting exchange on the LDS-themed Blog, Times & Seasons. You can find the string here. I am fascinated to have stumbled into this whole world of LDS bloggers! It affectionately goes by the name of "Bloggernacle" which you have to admit is kind of clever. I haven't yet linked to the Mormon blogger lists yet. I'm still feeling my way here and like to think I'm independent but there is a whole world out there with a wide variety of LDS (or former LDS) or outsider views on LDS issues. A typical list is here.

My niche of faithful, left-of-center, LDS political blogging still seems to be fairly small. I have linked to a few like-minded blogs and those that go even farther left of center while still maintaining a faithful LDS outlook. And I do recommend Times & Seasons (T&S) as one of the good standards. There's not a lot of politics there but the LDS themes are varied and interesting.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

There's a Birther Born Every Minute!

Donald Trump. Come on, people! You have to know he is in this for the self-promotion. There never was a greater huckster since P.T. Barnum himself! I mean no disrespect, but it does tend to link the Birthers and the targets of Barnum's hucksterism. The donald sure knows his audience, though. What is it? Over 50% of Republicans who are Birthers or have doubts? ("If only Obama would just prove he wasn't born in Kenya, Indonesia and every other square foot of the planet, then we might believe he was actually born in Hawaii!")

The donald isn't the only one, either. It always is an odd collection of characters when a party's nomination for president is wide open. But never (that I can think of) has there been such a menagerie of craziness. And not just the donald is using the presidential field for self-boosterism.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Peter: Denying the Lord Yet Continuing in Faith to the End

I had someone point out a new, significant perspective on the story of Peter denying the Lord three times. Peter, we know, was sometimes a little rash in interesting ways: leaping out of the ship to walk on the water until his fears reminded him of the weakness of his faith; anxiously offering to build tabernacles for the divine visitors on the Mount of Transfiguration; and smiting off the ear of the guard among those come to arrest Jesus in the Garden.

I'm sure he was confusedly impetuous as he stealthily followed the Lord's captors and waited outside for purposes he probably didn't completely think through. He likely wanted to do what he could to protect the Lord. Maybe there would be a chance yet to free Him. He may have wanted to learn all he could about what they were doing with Him so he could report it back to the other disciples. It is perfectly understandable that to further any of these options, he tried to disguise himself and as part of that, denied three times that he was with or knew the Man. Then the cock crew and he wept his bitter tears.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sutherland Institute Calls It Like It Is

This is an amazing piece that I highly recommend from the Sutherland Institute, a conservative think tank from right here in Utah. The part I like the best is how the extremists end up at odds with the LDS Church because of their nativist, anti-Hispanic positions on immigration.

This is the message (for the most part) that I have been trying to convey for some time here. It is so encouraging to see it come from a reputable conservative source. I'm almost convinced to be a rational conservative again.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Deficit: Ryan's Gambit, the President's Check, and Mate Comes in November 2012

Heh, heh, heh. The President still has a few tricks up his sleeve. (Although I still think he's playing chess, rather than quick rounds of cards). I thought there was something more to this budget business. The Republicans refused to move first on the Health Care Reform (for decades, and decades, for that matter). So, when the Dems came forward, again, it was just too easy for the Repubs to stir up opposition with those predisposed to dislike the President when all we got, was a fairly centrist opportunity to help a lot more people get private health insurance. If you don't believe me, just look how angry those on the more progressive left are who wanted single-payer, government option (like Medicare). The law we got, including the mandate, is no more than the concept previously proposed by Republicans in the 1990s, by the Heritage Foundation, and, of course, Romney in Massachusetts. And as the Prez came out successful with Health Care Reform, now it looks as if he will do even better with long-term debt reduction.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tea Party Aims, Fires, Yet Misses their Shots at Fort Sumter

I'm not making this up! Sometimes life and history just roll around each other to try to teach us something. So, what is it? It looks like we have a budget deal. So our Union remains purple instead of fragmented into red and blue.

One of the things that would be affected next Tuesday if there is were to be a government shut-down is the commemoration of the first shots at Ft. Sumter that opened the Civil War 150 years ago. Before the right wingers out there go all crazy on me trying to argue the Civil War was not about slavery but the tariff and tax tyranny of Lincoln and his invading armies, read this excellent post by a fellow blogger. Yes, the Civil War was principally about the preservation and expansion of slavery. And the first shots were fired by individuals in the State of South Carolina at a United States Fort in the middle of Charleston Harbor. Principally due to Abraham Lincoln, this nation was able to have a "new birth of freedom" as it abolished slavery and strengthened the Constitutional Union that has helped us all to be free as we still, for the most part, enjoy our liberty and prosper in the greatest nation on earth!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Non-Essential Shutdown of the People's Government

Obviously it's personal. But I'll try to pass by most of that.

I had predicted that the shutdown really wouldn't happen and it hasn't yet, but it's not looking good. I thought our pragmatic process president would figure out somehow a way to compromise out of this. What he has done, though, is pretty good in a political sense (well, except for all the Obama-haters out there for whom he can do nothing right.) But it's now set up so that he appears to most to be the reasonable adult in the room. And he doesn't even have to blame it on Speaker Boehner like Clinton successfully blamed the last one on the newt's petulance. The President has a new foil.

Moderating My Idealism (with shoes on the ground) - But Still Passionate

CIA operatives in Libya? I hope so. But I also hope they are not engaging in violent overthrow of the Qadafi regime. Intelligence gathering is necessary. Coordinating with legitimate, indigenous Libyan opposition is entirely appropriate. But the CIA should not be creating or leading such an enterprise or actually engaged in covert, violent action. The Congress has responsibilities to oversee this in confidence under national security protections. They and the President are ultimately responsible to the people.

What we don't want is manipulation as in the Eisenhower Administration (he comes up again?) when we used covert operations to overthrow and set up governments in Guatemala and Iran for fear of the spread of communism. The whole Iran interference resulted in serious problems for us 20-some years later that continue still another 20-some years to the present. Nixon and Kissinger interfered in Chile to put Pinochet in power. (Pinochet was charged with crimes against humanity, why not them?) And don't even get me started with Reagan, Ollie North, Poindexter and company.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Live-blogging LDS Conference April 3, 2011

This is a lot of fun! It helps me stay awake and pay attention to do a good job knowing my notes are going out to the whole world. I hope I'm being respectful enough to the speakers. This should be no substitute for going to the official transcriptions or the live and recorded broadcasts at But it also pleases me that this conference blogging has had more hits than anything else I've ever posted.

Daughter Anne is fixing breakfast burritos. Of course, I have already broken into the 72-hour snacks we eat every April Conference to rotate out the old stuff so when the earthquake strikes we're not eating stale goldfish crackers, etc. But it's nice to have Anne home from BYU for the weekend.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

General Conference Priesthood Session

Went with my boys to our local ward to watch on satellite. As per usual, they turned out the lights so I really couldn't take notes. Actually, it was worse than usual because we were in the gym in the dark, and they still had lights on in the chapel washing out the screen. It also gave me a headache looking in through the dark. But I survived. Then we folded chairs and went off to Arctic Circle.

Anyway, I only got highlights:

Live-blogging LDS Conference April 2, 2011

We'll give this a try. I think the way to do it is to type and post then edit the same posting. This may even help me stay awake as I take notes for the world. Of course, there may be a few private inspirational things that I will not launch out into the cyber-ether.

So the big news from the Saturday Morning Session, besides the new Temples, one in Meridian, Idaho closer to my parents and sister's family than Boise, was Elder Cook's talk that we should respect women who choose to be in the workplace outside the home and President Eyring's talk that we should be doing more to live up to our covenants in the nature of the Law of Consecration to serve the poor in the Church Welfare Program.

Saturday Afternoon was about Charity, Testimony, Families, Faith, Desires, and Miscellanea from President Packer.

Errors in reporting are mine and not from the speakers or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Taxation as Theft. Or Is It "Property Is Theft?"

I'm getting really tired of the arguments from the far right that taxation is somehow stealing from the deserving and giving to the undeserving. It makes as much sense to me as "property is theft" from the leftists. I think that's an anarchist sentiment from Proudhon, but it fits in with Marxist Communism just fine.

Both sayings have some basic logic to them. They really fall apart though, when you use them as a  response to any opposing political or economic theory. I lose respect for argument or discussion when they turn into fights over dogma.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Possible Political Changes

Anything can happen. It is April First, after all.
I've decided that I will become a Republican (again) the day they nominate Jon Huntsman to be their Presidential Candidate. Vice President isn't good enough because sometimes you just need a moderate for supposed balance, like Nixon needed Agnew. It's still amazing to me that Huntsman was ever Governor of Utah. But then he didn't let his moderation slip until he was safely into his second term and then Obama whisked him off to China.
And, I’ll become a Libertarian the day I actually see them using their hoarded gold to “help the poor come out of poverty” and join the “unfettered market.”
And now, for something completely different (and even half serious):