Monday, May 30, 2011

Knights of the Air and Sea

On Memorial Day I reflect about loved ones gone and the ultimate sacrifice of our honored Veterans who died in the elusive cause of freedom and protection of their people as a community. War is horrible. And while I remain a temperate pacifist, I actually agree with Grant and Sherman that if war is necessary, then it should be total war to end the horror as soon as possible. I want none of that gentlemanly, organized slaughter where we line up across a field and take shots at the other side under European rules of "civilization.". Now we have the option of ending human life on our planet. And that has tempered the world to avoid all-out war. Yet, one day it could all end by the action of enough crazed people. It will take more than one to push enough nuclear buttons for the full effect of global annihilation.

Having contemplated the absolute horror of war and potential global destruction we see the necessity of avoiding that total war at all costs. Yet, I still find in my heart a human need to respect and honor those who served in the cause or at least the genuine and sincere intent of protection of the lives and the ideals of the people with whom they are united in the community of a nation.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Real Prophet

Last Friday was one of the few LDS Scout meetings after which I didn't have to stay and put away the chairs. But then it was in a fancy hotel in San Diego. My wife was attending the Annual Meeting of the Boy Scouts of America. The only official event I attended was the Friday afternoon LDS reception with President Thomas S. Monson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Also there were Sisters Wixom and Stevens of the Primary and the entire Young Mens Presidency, Presidents Beck, Gibson, and Ochoa.
Left to right: Sister Wixom, President Monson, Presidents Beck, Gibson, and Ochoa
in front of Scout Chorus, San Diego, CA, May 27, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Republicans Need Better Candidates (and California Dreaming)

Daniels out. Pawlenty officially in. Daniels is out apparently because he and his family simply did not want the scrutiny and constant criticism. He and his wife have had some difficulties which really shouldn't be anyone's business, but it is. And here I am on a visit to California where the recent Governator proves that point. Maybe Pawlenty is in because he is so boring there is nothing to worry about.

Christie still swears he's not going to run. Same for Jeb Bush. (If  you ever saw the movie "W," which was really pretty good and even somewhat sympathetic to ol' W, there was a theme there that the "wrong brother" became president).

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Republicans Need Better Issues

Sure, the economy and deficit need to be addressed. I'm just not sure how to trust the party of "deficits don't matter.*" But moving on from those challenging and controversial issues which are certainly enough for a healthy political debate in the upcoming campaign - as in "Where are the jobs, Congress?" I would like to propose that the Republicans come up with some better issues, or at least better arguments.

No. 1. End the silliness about Obama being a socialist. He's proved in the past couple of years that he is rather moderate in the main-stream of American politics. The more they make noise with the socialist/fascist/communist/Kenyan/Muslim business - none of which is true, they make others wonder if there's not something else about this historically unique president that troubles them. Or they just may fall into the "stupid" trap like the donald just did.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Zion in Alegrete, not just Pocatello

I'm probably going to get in trouble with a lot of people from southeastern Idaho on this one. But I want to emphasize a point that I believe the Gospel of Christ is about basic principles that require no advanced level of sophistication in religious belief or practice.

When I came back to the States after my LDS mission in Brazil, my parents had moved from Wyoming to Pocatello, Idaho. And as strange as it may seem, that was a real step up. (Now I'm in trouble with all my friends from Wyoming - but you'll have to remember that most of my growing up years were in the Seattle suburbs. And I still have trouble understanding the Intermountain West.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sarah Palin Fair and Balanced

A friend with Alaskan connections referred me to a very good article by Joshua Green from the Atlantic. My friend said that it is very accurate as to how Alaskans thought of her before the 2008 campaign and how she is perceived now. What I really liked about this article was the even-handed treatment supporting my philosophy that there is good and bad in everybody. I admit I've been a little harsh on her, but I have my reasons.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Osmonds Save Utah!

OK. Probably over the top and rather late as I wasn't paying attention and I missed this one. But for the record, I will take whatever victories I can get, however incremental, that move us away from extreme conservatism. This is in the right direction. The good people of South Jordan in Republican convention elected Aaron Osmond to fill the State Senate seat vacated by everybody's favorite anti-gay, old grouch, Chris Buttars.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Huckabee & Trump Out - I'm Two for Two!

Yep, I called it. Well, I knew Trump was in it for the exposure and he got exposed pretty bad by the President. I thought Huckabee might keep his FOX gig if he wasn't interested in going after Romney again. And I still  think Palin and Gingrich will still drop. Palin is also in for the self-promotion, and I thought the newt was too. He is in officially and will stay for a while until he fails in the primaries. I could be wrong because he just may be a little too crazy to figure out.

A friend sent me this link from Slate which is a little disconcerting. It points out that Huckabee was the only one in the potential Republican field who actually believed in government and did not buy into the unrealistic Libertarian anti-government philosophy which I think is a potential risk to our of, by, and for the people Union. I'm not sure I believed in the economic populist, socially conservative activist government Huckabee was promoting, but he did have some acceptance of the social protections for the elderly and poor. If that is "compassion," I guess the Slate article works.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Neither a NOM nor a Stake President: Breaking into the Bloggernacle II

It's probably not a good idea to address things I don't fully understand. But then, what else are blogs for?

I have been fascinated, mostly from the sidelines, by some recent debates going on in the Bloggernacle about a term, New Order Mormons, or NOM.  This apparently refers to cultural Mormons who don't believe in the literal aspects of certain tenets of the church, most dealing with the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. There were a couple of these posts recently in Times & Seasonshere and here. Also, Joanna Brooks discusses in her blog about Jon Huntsman's odd statement about being LDS. (I prefer to think he was deftly promoting the Constitutional standard as in "no religious test.") And it all reminds me of a life choice I made a long time ago.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Miracle of the Scout iPod

Sometimes as a Scout leader I pray for really strange things.  Even stranger, sometimes someone is actually responding. And that's absolutely humbling especially when it comes after my own mistakes.

Yesterday afternoon I went with a group of 14/15-year-old Varsity Scouts backpacking in the Canyon just up the hill from us. With the extremely high snow pack this year in the Wasatch, the water was just roaring down Deuel Creek. I've never seen it raging like that. We thought it would be a great time to get up to the waterfall with such a flow.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Huntsman's Mormonism - "That's tough to define!"

That is an amazing response to a reporter’s questions about Huntsman's views and commitment to his religious faith. It’s seems so much better than Romney’s uncomfortable defenses of his faith. Romney seems to wear it on his sleeve at the same time he is somehow uncomfortable about it – one minute telling bad jokes about polygamy, and the next saying how he can’ think of  "anything more awful." (Does he think his great-grandparents were more awful than anything?) For the record, it appears that Huntsman has and I know I have polygamous ancestors as well. Sometimes it does seem a little funny, but there were a lot of things more “awful.” Yet, it’s a very good thing it is gone as I just don’t think I would be very good at it. (‘nuf said). Even Romney's speech on faith left me a little uncomfortable. I much preferred candidate Obama's.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Who Turned Him into a Newt? Will He Get Better?

So, Gingrich is expected to officially announce for the Republican nomination. I still think he's in it for the exposure and book sales. He can't possibly win. But then I never would have thought it possible for anyone to call  their child "Newt." I usually wouldn't make fun of people with funny names, but the newt has it coming.

Sure, people should be forgiven, but for crass hypocrisy? Do not forget that the big-splash, Contract-for-America Speaker of the House had to resign after ethics violations and for doing exactly the same thing, if not worse, than what President Clinton did with the intern! At least the newt recognized his ridiculous position and stepped down instead of continuing as the leader of  the "family values" party with the political and sexual vendetta against Clinton.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Vaughan Family Crest: No, We're Not Really from Slytherin

Sigh. I've been waiting for someone to ask, but since no one has I'll go ahead and answer anyway. The unarticulated question is, why do I have a picture of a boy with a snake around his neck as my profile pic? It is a legitimate symbol of heraldry belonging to some of my ancestors bearing my surname - Vaughan. That's the old anglicized spelling of the original Welsh "Fychan" roughly sounding like "Vaughan" but with two clear syllables and sort of a throat-clearing in the middle. (Which makes me feel a little better about my Little League coach referring to me as "VAH-gun" all that season. Maybe he was Welsh?) My people dropped the second "a" or maybe it was forced on them at Castle Garden, New York, when they arrived in this country in 1886.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Boring Republicans for 2012

I heard Chris Matthews of MSNBC say a while back, "Perhaps it's God's will that Obama not have a reasonable opponent out there." The weakness of the Republican field was demonstrated last night with the first candidates debate. While President Obama, newly perceived as cool, tough and decisive (for obvious reasons), was congratulating Special Operations Forces, five of the Republican candidates met in South Carolina for the first debate of this upcoming campaign. Did anybody watch?

Political junkie that I am, I had it on for a while, but it was so boooooring. I did hear Pawlenty's masterfully practiced line on Romneycare, "Well, Governor Romney isn't here to defend himself . . ." and went on with essentially trashing him anyway. Herman Cain was there, the right's favorite African-American, at least since Michael Steele. They were joined by Libertarian hero Ron Paul (apparently, he's not abdicating in favor of his heir this round), culture warrior Santorum, and a competing Republiterian, Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico, pot-smoker, and my one-time dinner companion.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Bountiful Cemetery - Where We're All Connected

I was in the Bountiful Cemetery today for the graveside service of a dear uncle. He was a good and generous man who lived a full life. And while his spirit goes on to a better place, through the Atonement and Resurrection  of Jesus Christ, that body will be raised one day in immortality. For now, his mortal remains lie at rest among numerous family and friends.

I love cemeteries. And in this one, there are so many family names of people I know or am connected to in some way. Standing at the graveside, I noticed a headstone a couple of plots down for James Howard, 1846-1926 and Juliatte Fackrell Howard, 1849-1924.  I realized those must be the parents of the second (plural) wife of my my 2nd Great Grandfather who went to prison in 1886 for that second marriage. The whole area where we were standing seemed to be full of Howards. I confirmed tonight on new.familysearch that those were indeed her parents.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Jon Huntsman and the Nice Guy Strategy

I'm still trying to figure out Jon Huntsman. Here's an interesting link explaining that Huntsman is going for the "Maverick" Republican position. Well, it worked for the nomination last time. And Huntsman was about the only McCain supporter in the State of Utah. If the tea-partier types, born-againers, culture warriors, and other assorted "ahem" interesting candidates all kick Romney around for a while, maybe a Maverick has the chance to get in (as long as the "Maverick" isn't from Alaska).

It could also be that Huntsman is going for the "nice guy" strategy. I know some may dispute, but he does seem to be a "nice guy" and has money, good looks, hair almost as nice as Mitt's but with charisma (Huntsman, not the hair - Trump's hair has that demographic sown up). And most amazingly, fairly moderate Republican cred. Solid business credentials, slightly moderate on social issues, etc. However, I can't figure how he could possibly think he won't be tagged to Obama by his opponents. Obama's strategy is to be nice to Huntsman and hold him close to link him up and destroy him with at least the Republican base. They pretty much admitted even as they tried to joke that Huntsman was the Republican who most threatened Obama's reelection and sent him off to China.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

President Barack Hussein Eisenhower

OK. Bear with me on this one. As I have already blogged, I am not the only one to compare President Obama with that icon of the 1950s, the President with the big grin who stumbled over his words. And it's not that precise style I am talking about. Simply stated, what was the President doing Saturday night? Telling jokes. What was the President doing Sunday morning before the Navy Seals caught up with that Al Qaeda leader? Golfing.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Best Mormon History Blog - Keepapitchinin

Well, I haven't found many others to compare. But this one's great! Besides the fact that I had a guest posting published there, I've found the Blog to be highly entertaining. And while the Blog author tends to avoid political issues (heats the blood), she has indicated by some comments posted on other blogs, and links she made to this one, that she shares some "moderate" and even "passionate" views about politics and society. So I link to it on my blog list as it is at least in the moderate middle of the political spectrum if not as slightly left as I am. (Or maybe it is?)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Leader of Al Qaeda Dead

That was the big news tonight as my boy told us and we switched on CNN. They must be pretty sure of it before they would announce it like that. It would be an absolute disaster in so many ways if he is still alive and this is some elaborate fraud. President Carter's failed rescue of the hostages in Tehran with helicopters crashing in the desert sand was such a heartbreak for the nation and certainly didn't help that President's legacy much.