Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Manifesto of the Perfect Union Party

Nowadays we call it a mission statement. Inspired by my blogger friend, Middle-aged Mormon Man, I thought about Lincoln's words at Gettysburg. It seems that neither of today's major parties nor even any of the fringe's parties are anywhere near the Great Emancipator in political philosophy. With some trepidation in daring to edit the great man's expressions, I took out Civil War references and fused in a couple of lines from his Second Inaugural. I came up with an inspired policy platform - all in the words of Lincoln:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Announcing the Perfect Union Party!

I finally came up with a good name for my new political philosophy. The Perfect Union Party, or PUP. Because everybody loves PUPpies!!

Chesapeake Bay Retriever pups, a true, American breed
And we'll take German Shepherds, Irish Setters, Chihuahuas,
Shih Tzu, and even French Poodle PUPs!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Perry Wakes Up One of His Gorillas

Or maybe it's "guerilla" as Perry now wants to start up again the arguments about the Viet Nam War. He might as well start up arguments about secession. Oh, wait.

According to this report, Perry spoke to a Veterans' group to lay out his foreign policy which is apparently non-interventionist except when we do and then we have to stay in charge to we can win and not have to fight civilian enemies at home like all the Viet Nam Vets did. Oh, my heck!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Our Golden Age Is Still to Come

One of the ideas of the tea party types that bothers me is the seeming obsession that things were better in a mythical past. They go on about the inspired founders and how he need to get back to those ideals completely ignoring things like, well, slavery. It's not just a political thing but a cultural and sometimes religious idea that somehow everything used to be so much better and now we are heading for some kind of apocalyptic reckoning for all our current evils. Maybe it's part of human nature to idealize the past, and maybe it's a personality difference I have in that I tend to idealize the future. But it sure makes me feel better about life and my place in it to maintain the hope of a better world ahead.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rick Perry, Gunnin' fer Libruhls!

Well, to be fair, he may have been shooting blanks at the "rain gods" with a
little Texan, anti-drought humor  ("Har-de-har!" and "Yippee, Kiy-oh!")
Due to Governor Perry's rise to the top in the polls, I thought I'd better check him out a bit. My first reaction is that he seems an awful lot like a recent president except that Perry appears to be a "real" Texan and no poser. And I'm not sure that's necessarily a good thing.

All my initial reactions were negative, so I was really trying to find something to like about him. Then I ran into that 800-pound gorilla, again.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mormon Plastic Grapes: Inspired by Mary Tyler Moore

Our Family Inheritance - The Turquoise Grapes
Yes, I just solved another Mormon Culture mystery. For anyone who was in an active LDS home in 1960s, you would have seen the plastic resin grapes prominently displayed. My mom had deep purple ones in the Seattle suburbs. I don't know where those ended up. Fortunately, my wife and I were able to appropriate her mother's oddly-colored turquoise (?) grapes. My mother-in-law lived in Albuquerque which might help explain the color, but my wife recently explained that her grandmother in Salt Lake made every daughter and daughter-in-law a set of grapes to match the decor of their respective homes. So, my mother-in-law got turquoise. Most fun of all, I hear that my wife's grandmother's were pink. (My wife thinks her Aunt Virginia has them!)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The President's Near Perfect Pitch on Race

The Problem We All Live With by Norman Rockwell (1963)
The President had this painting placed in the White House just outside the Oval Office. The picture is based on a 1960 incident in Louisiana from the Civil Rights Era. Guess who was President in 1960 and authorized federal enforcement of Civil Rights recognized by Brown v. Board of Education? Yep. That would be President Eisenhower again, the slightly right of center guy a lot like our slightly left of center current President.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Exceptions Make Bad Law, Except . . .

Respect the Rule of Law, please, people. The appearance of injustice has clearly occurred in the apparent abuse of the UK Courts and International Law when the Lockerbie bombing terrorist was released to Libya on the belief he was dying. Now, self-appointed masters of the universe are calling for a new, barely organized government of a nearly liberated Libya to turn over the terrorist to return him to prison. By what authority? I dunno. I guess it's the authority of political pandering. Big, big mistake, people. We might as well just occupy Libya and dictate democracy or whatever.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Huntsman Humanistically Explains Mormon History; Hatch Panders with Palin; and Libya Is Nearly Liberated

So, Jon Huntsman makes national news announcing he actually believes in science and local news in response to a national press question saying the LDS practice of banning African-Americans from the priesthood was "wrong." I suppose it is easy for some to be offended by a sense of lack of loyalty, but here's an Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:
Forget everything that I have said, or what . . .  Brigham Young . . . . or whomsoever has said . . . that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. 
Elder Bruce R. McConkie. I dunno, but that sounds like it was "wrong" to me. That's why the Lord had to reveal a new course and "all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past" are gone. Don't let semantics offend so easily especially when outweighed by much bigger offenses. Let's move on, people.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Shakespeare on a "Just" War and Checking in with Captain Moroni

So, back from the Cedar City Shakespeare Festival, which I highly recommend, I was moved again to patriotic (British) passion for the Earl of Richmond, who becomes Henry VII, in his victory over the very evil Richard III. When he gave his speech to his troops before the battle, he ended with "God and Saint George, Richmond and victory!"  His followers shouted, "Amen!" joined loudly by me with an elbow from my wife (although she first thought it was the guy next to me.)

It doesn't get any more "God, and St. George!" than this.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Hope of Jerusalem

Just back from round one in three days of Shakespeare. It was Henry IV, Part 2 tonight at the Cinemark in South Salt Lake that used to be the domes where I went once before in 1975 and saw "Yessongs" in that old pickup we borrowed and had to push to start at every stoplight on State Street - but that's another story. My wife and I are heading to Cedar City tomorrow for our anniversary to see Richard III, and Midsummer Night's Dream. Tonight was a special showing filmed at London's Globe Theater last summer with the same cast and production that did the Henry IV, Part 1, that we saw in person. It was our chance we could not pass up.

So, I was so moved, and surprised again by it, at the scene of the dying Henry IV and his yearning for Jerusalem. He had wanted to be a Crusader, yet he was too occupied in defending his crown "uneasy lies the head" and all. His speech in being lead to the Jerusalem Chamber evokes that strange, mystical yearning the British have for Zion:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How We Avoided Blowing up in the Bubble

I hesitate to trumpet "good works" as I walk that fine line between explaining myself with real-life example and self-righteous arrogance. Yet I also want to defend my theoretical views of life with practical application. It's been nagging me since I published my last piece about the economy and how we all ought to just get along. So, I'll just go for it.

In 2005 while the real estate bubble was expanding a few years still before it popped, my office reorganized and transferred me to Utah. We had to move fast which worked well when the housing market was as hot as pancakes slipping off the griddle at Scout camp. We loved the house we had in Albuquerque and decided we would sell and try to match it as closely as possible in value here. We were absolutely shocked when our realtor told us how much we should ask for our existing home. That was the market we were in, so we listed.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Odd Brushes with History at the OK Corral and a Tragic Day in Memphis

Two good reads came from History Book Club recently, Hellhound on his Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assasin by Hampton Sides and The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral-And How it Changed the American West, by Jeff Guinn.

My dad took us to Tombstone when we were kids and it was a fascinating place to drink sarsaparilla and stand in the shadows of the Earps and Clantons at the OK Corral (even if it did really happen just down the street.) Even then, my dad, Western fan that he is, wisely cautioned that it isn't always easy to tell who were the good guys and who were the bad guys.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Mormon in the White House: It'll Be Close, But No Cigar

I've been trying to draft up an update on the current state of the Republican field for President 2012. But it's been by fits and starts. It's been especially difficult, with the crazy Bachmann win in the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll, Pawlenty dropping out for being less than boring, and Governor Rick "Anti-Mitt" Perry fresh off his latest Evangelical Prayer Crusade now announced for the race.

I am ready to go out on a limb, even if a limb with an option. It's will be either Perry/Huntsman or Romney/Bachmann.  That's my limb, there will be a Mormon on the ticket. And I'm not promoting this either as both of those tickets would have serious problems not likely to get my support. My preference for Huntsman is well stated. But Perry is beyond the pale.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Darling, I Don't Know Why We Go to Supremes

So, the 11th Circuit strikes down the mandate to buy health insurance as "unconstitutional." Since the 6th Circuit already says it is constitutional, now we have a split in the Circuits that likely means the Supreme Court will actually hear it. (There is only a slight hope that the 11th Circuit en banc, that is, all the judges on the Circuit, rehear the case and overturn its panel  - then the Supremes could still dodge). I will keep following these developments and refer you to a great blog I read on this and other matters. And the anti-Obama-health-care-reform crowd sure wants to get it to the high court. Which, when you think about it, is kind of funny. (Hint: they usually don't like the Supreme Court telling us what to do).
And the Supremes
Billy Joel

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Utah's Lollipop Guild

Utah Senator Mike Lee
Current Mayor of the Munchkin City
Long-time Conservative and
Wannabee-Munchkin Orrin Hatch
and Wannabee-Hatch Jason Chaffetz

I know I'm being less than charitable here, but I'm trying to make a moderately passionate point.  I leave out my own Congressman Rob Bishop because, while positively, absolutely, undeniably, and reliably conservative, and my favorite guy to yell at during patriotic, community parades, he has successfully maintained just the sliver of independence from the Utah Munchkin Caucus.

Monday, August 8, 2011

It's NOT the Economy!

Tempting to add "Stupid!" but that would defeat the point of my post.

I'm not a great economist. The only consolation I have is that I don't think anyone else really is either. Well, they do give those gold prizes away every year to somebody, but what do they know?.

The good old US of A is in another economic crisis. In spite of new Congressional authority for debt, Wall Street is crashing, bond ratings are downgrading, and everybody is blaming everybody else. America is rather exceptional that way. The only economic prediction I want to make is one that of course I also want to see happen. That is that the next bubble to burst will be the price of gold. I just can't wait to see all those crazed-eyed, jig-dancing Humphrey Bogarts and Gabby Hayses Walter Hustons stuck with chump change.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

American Patriots: Lee Greenwood and Keb' Mo'

I'm probably just digging myself deeper into a hole but I'll give it a try. I was at Philmont Scout Ranch this last week. It is a wonderful, beautiful place and part of that is because everyone is so nice there, motivated by personal choice to live the principles of the Scout Oath and Law. Now, that is not to say the Scouts don't have their controversies and issues as I step aside the 800-pound gorilla waiving the little rainbow flag. I will note that I have never personally experienced, in any official Scouting function, a negative word or even official statement against gays. Of course, there is the all too common and inappropriate gay-bashing by jokes among youth, and maybe some adults, although I think that is less frequent now than when I was a kid. And I have actually heard it condemned by Scout leaders, yours truly included. It seems to be a courteous "don't ask, don't tell" policy in practice. And while I might prefer a more straightforward policy of acknowledgment and strict adherence to conduct standards, more like the current, official LDS church policy, I will leave it for now.

Nobody owns the rainbow. God shares it with everybody, even Philmont.
(It's good it shows up here though, even if a little under the radar)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Trails Hurt and Heal: In Honor of Milton Smith, 1825-1846

I have a new idea which I think is original on the differences of understanding and perception among humans. At least I think I think it's original, so stop me if you've heard this one.

Santa Fe Trail cut just south of Cimarron, NM, north of Villa Philmont (through the low point of the fence line)
Could it be that the veil that separates us from the Spirit World works the same to cloud our individual minds and cut us off from each other's spirits in the here and now? Otherwise, we would more easily understand, and love, and have no further need for experience in this life to help us learn how to live the Lord's Charity with each other. Yet there are certainly those times where spirit connects to spirit and we understand things we cannot easily express in human terms.

A Philmont Story from 2002

I was driving back into Cimarron from my Santa Fe Trail explorations today and Paul McCartney came out of random play on my iPod. It reminded me of something I had written a few years back in my Albuquerque days wrapping together running, Philmont, and even sort of a love story. 


My wife is getting a little jealous because I’m in love with my shoes.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Running the Galisteo River in Search of the Mormon Battalion Route

I finished last night's posting pretty late with the reference to running the Galisteo. When I thought about it this morning, I realized that was sort of an inside joke if only in my subconscious because, well, I wasn't exactly talking about white water adventures. As I started out with my love and respect for the rivers of the Pacific Northwest, the Galisteo isn't like them. I suppose the Santo Domingos appreciate the huge, monstrosity of the Army Corps Engineers Dam, because there have been flash floods that washed away parts of the ancient Pueblo which has been moved based on those floods. And I am sure there may be 500- or thousand-year floods that might actually float a boat. But in my experience, the Galisteo was for trail-running - on foot. Please note that the information for the recreation site above indicates no "water sports" "fishing" or even "drinking water." Remember, this is New Mexico.

Our Constitution Survives Even Unnecessary, Drummed-up Crises!!! (Or maybe not?)

I still say ANY compromise is good for the President, and our Constitutional Union (that's ALL of us), because the opposition ends up "compromising" with a President they have been trying to make fail. Oh, and did they forget he's some kind of Communist/Nazi/Foreign/Muslim/Elitist/etc., or maybe, just maybe,they are beginning to acknowledge he's a real American like all the rest of us and actually our legitimate President????? That's good enough for me. Feel free to disagree within our Constitutional processes.

That's all I'm asking. Please feel free to disagree through our inspired Constitutional processes including all of the Amendments, our Court decisions, and 200+ years of Constitutional History (not to mention our heritage of the common law.) Our Constitution did not die with the Founding.

Monday, August 1, 2011

We Explore the Battalion Route on Public Lands, Then I Help the US Give it back to the Santo Domingos

If you look closely at that map from the last posting, the route pretty much follows modern roadways with the glaring exception of that 24-mile, near marathon day from October 20-21, 1846. And if you look even closer, there is one very interesting geometrical configuration, a triangle, the apex of which points sideways, sharply at San Felipe Pueblo close to the number 21, and the narrow base of which is State Road 22 that intersects with the dark, thick line of the route right at another intersection of a broken line that forms the southern boundary of Santo Domingo Pueblo. I thought that might be a point on a map that I could find in real life.

The first time out there with my boys, and there were a few more to follow so I get the trips a little mixed up, I found the spot right on because the diagonal line at the top that intersects with SR 22 is the fence line of the Santo Domingo boundary. Just east and south of that intersection, I pulled over off of 22 and noted that yes, just to the east looked like ruts that went onto Santo Domingo. I did not go that way respecting the Pueblo's land. So I turned to the west on the BLM public lands portion and looked for something on the other side. It was a large, flat space, empty of vegetation other than course grass. I wandered a bit and got over to the edge where it dropped off into some piñon/juniper, and there it was! The old Camino Real that comes all the way up from Chihuahua City to Santa Fe and beyond to the first Spanish Settlements at San Juan, now, Ohkay Owingeh in its original Tewa name.

In which Marc Simmons and the Utah State Historical Society Come through for me.

Marc Simmons is a great guy and one of many interesting characters in New Mexico. I think per capita, New Mexico may outdo California, New York and even Utah for its eccentric characters. Simmons is a great popular historian who writes to explain things to regular people rather than impress the academic crowd. He lives fairly close to Santa Fe but rather far in an "off-the-grid" sort of way. At least when I had my minimal contacts a few years ago, he had no electricity, computer (a manual typewriter kind of a guy) or even a phone.  He picked up his mail at the newspaper office in Santa Fe, where I had left my letter, and with no moral aversions to the telephone (he just preferred not to have one) he gave me a call when he was in town.

 About the same time, I had come across a publication by Utah State Historical Society which was a detailed study of route of the Mormon Battalion Trail. (Yippee!)