Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mitt vs. Newt

Son of a Politician!

Now, Romney goes negative on Gingrich, calling him (horrors!) a politician! This from the son of a prominent Governor of Michigan and presidential candidate in 1968. Mitt Romney himself has been Governor of Massachusetts, a candidate for the Senate from Massachusetts in a serious challenge to Ted Kennedy that got a lot of national attention, and a guy who has been running for president himself for at least four years, and really, much longer than that. Gingrich, to his credit and our relief, has at least been out of politics the last ten years. (He, ahem, sort of had to because of ethical issues and because his reputation had been trashed for his breaches of "family values" as he was going after President Clinton for his).

I really wish I could like Romney. He is the best of the Republican field (with the exception of Huntsman). But he seems so desperate to be president he will say things and take positions that are against his better self. I would love to see the old Romney successful. I really liked him as the moderately progressive governor of Massachusetts. I really liked the legacy of his dad who truly was an old-style progressive Republican and perhaps, the last of the Republicans who promoted civil rights for African-Americans.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Is Newt More "Utah Compact" Than Romney?

The most interesting outcome of the last Republican debate, well, besides the Cain/"Blitz" exchange, was the dispute between the newt and Mitt on immigration. The newt evidenced a slight sense of compassion in an attempt to remain consistent with his Reagan-era immigration-reform record. The newt injected "humane" sentiments back into the immigration debate much to the consternation of some of the other candidates and the Republican base as well.

Lest we forget, the Utah Compact is a broad-based approach to influence the tone of the discussion about immigration in the State of Utah. It calls for humane treatment of our fellow human beings as we recognize some general principles that illegal immigration is a national problem of the civil law - not local, criminal law enforcement, and that families are important along with a free society and free markets. I signed it. Have you?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What About Mountain Meadows?!

That's how I first heard about it, shouted at me when I was just a kid heading to Primary. With our suburban Seattle ward spread out for miles - in fact, the eastern boundary in those days was the crest of the Cascade Mountains - we had a mothers' car pool to gather us up every Tuesday after school to take us to church for Primary some miles away. One of the kids we sometimes picked up was a girl my age who blurted out those words on one occasion, I'm not even sure it was on a Primary trip, but I was with one of the Primary moms. This girl lived in terrible conditions that I guess we were not supposed to talk about because no one ever did. Her mom was very active in the church and silently strong, yet always appeared a little bedraggled with her hair out of place. The dad was not active, in fact the whisper was that he drank and it was doubtful he worked much if at all. Their house was not the typical suburban tract home like the rest of us came from. It was hard to see it other than as a shack, and the yard was full of junk.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Mormon Helps End The Cold War

One more mild Mormon I have known came to mind as I rewatched one of my all-time favorite movies, "The Яussians are Coming! The Яussians are Coming!" This was the first film for child actor Johnny Whitaker (credited as "Johnnie" Whitaker). I knew him as a missionary heading for Portugal when I taught in the MTC (the LDS Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah). He was a very nice Elder and an example of the rare successful survivor of childhood stardom. He had his troubles later as an adult, and he still came out a survivor now counseling those with substance abuse problems.
Johnny Whitaker circa 1966

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I am grateful (and continually surprised) by any and all who care to read what I have to say.

I am grateful I am not running for president (and I bet you all are too.)

I am grateful for a good family, a wife who amazingly loves me, and kids who are better than both of us (even if they get most of that from their mom). And, of course, the grandkids including the one on his way and hopefully many more to come.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

LIVE Blogging Republicans on Foreign Things (CNN National Security Debate)

Banned to the bedroom. I was all ready once the visiting teachers left to go down and blog from the family room but my wife said I should stay here because she really didn't want to watch those guys. And she's a registered Republican!

There are some like Senator Marco (Sort-of-a-son-of-refugees) Rubio who say that this debate season has not been a good idea for the Republican nomination and maybe the party as a whole. What about the idea that the Republicans have not been good for debates? I mean, good grief!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Government Is the Problem?

So say the Reaganites, the Anarchists, the Culture Warriors, the Old South, the Ayn Randian Utopians, the Newtonian Amphibians, a lot of taxpayers (especially the wealthiest or wanna-be-ers), etc., etc., etc.

The funny thing is that it is an easy self-fulfilling political philosophy because if you do get a little authority in government, as one supposes, you can prove your thesis by acting incompetently. The last administration is pretty much the prime example. ("Heck of a job, Brownie" and "Mission accomplished" come to mind lest we forget.)

Now, even our current President is buying in at least to the point that he says "Congress is the problem." We'll see how that flies. I still think that he may be trying to restore some of the balance and responsibility to the constitutionally designated branch of government for the budget, taxes, and debt (Article I - the Legislative Branch, people). And of course, those are the people's representatives to the extent they're not bought up by all the corporate people.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

LIVE Republican Values Blogging ("Christian" Edition)

Don't know if there's enough Diet Coke in the world to keep be going through these two hours. Even Romney is passing on this Iowa Values Debate. But we'll give it a try. It's not on TV either, but there is a live webcast here. This is in a church. It is purposely a "Christian" test of the Republican candidates (in spite of Art. VI)

Ron Paul challenged on "so help me God." His oath is to the Constitution and Rule of Law - before God. Cain needs God. Bachmann on Washington kissing the Bible. "Without His Hand" we won't get back on track. She got baptized in Iowa (that's both political and religious pandering). She was a sinner and needed Jesus.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mike Lee Learns He Doesn't Rule the Senate

Yes, our Junior Senator (that's not supposed to be a pejorative, but . . . ), Mayor of the Munchkin City (OK, I'll admit that one), had to learn the hard way that one U.S. Senator just can't make up his own rules and run Senate Office Buildings. This week, he had what he called a "hearing" in the Capitol to have a tea party group announce how they would solve all our economic woes (I think it had something to do with dismantling the government of, by and for the people - especially all the parts that actually help people - except the corporate ones, of course).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

With White and Black Sail

Out of the Labyrinth. I can't talk about the Minotaur. I am still clutching the thread. And it's over.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Can You See the Real Me?

So it begins, the Who's over-the-top Wagnerian Rock Opera, Quadrophenia. Actually, "The Real Me" comes crashing in on Pete's guitar after a brief prologue of waves crashing on the cold, wet coast of Brighton, England. I was 16, exactly the right age for teenage disillusionment, loneliness, and search for something to cling to for salvation. Sometimes we all feel like we're drowning.

Let me flow into the ocean
Let me get back to the sea
Let me be stormy and let me be calm
Let the tide in, and set me free.
Set me free.

Monday, November 14, 2011

From Deep within the Labrynth

Still battling the Minotaur. Rather than talk about it now, the ultimate decision will be a public document so win or lose, I'll post it when it comes. It will be a few months, though. These things take time.

Without going into the substantive issues or the relative merits I can tell this story. As it is a mining contest before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), it is still sort of in-house. The ALJ also works for the Secretary of the Interior. His decision will be subject to appeal to the Interior Board of Land Appeals. That decision can be taken to federal district court for a hearing on the record. With the best luck, as it is still in the Department, the hearing was scheduled for our federal building. We got up there early this morning to help arrange the setting in the 8th Floor Conference Room.

It's not a pretty place. The 3rd and 4th Floors have been nicely remodeled in the past few years. The 8th Floor motif doesn't go quite as far back as New Frontier style when the building was dedicated, but it goes back at least to Reagan with the metal paint-peeling walls. We moved the tables around guessing at how we thought the ALJ might be satisfied still giving us our preferred counsel table on the right. We carried up our notebooks and exhibits. There was still something missing.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Stay Tuned: LIVE Republican Blogging Tonight! 11-12-11 Spanish Inquisition Edition

The last one proved so entertaining and popular, even if I did miss the best part live (you get three guesses- well at least two). We're looking forward to 8 p.m. Eastern tonight for the next Republican Presidential Debate. I finally found a schedule of all the debates. Of course they could let me down by ending up boring again. Yet with the newt now climbing in the polls and attention focused on him, besides all the fall-out from last Wednesday, it really can't help but be entertaining.

So, I'll try to be here live-blogging. Tune in elsewhere to watch or on the internet link above. And keep clicking here for live commentary updates later tonight. (I'll try to get my work done in time - both the laundry and case preparation).

Battling the Minotaur

Apologized to my wife this morning because I was a little grouchy yesterday. I have been stressed and anxious working with another attorney as we get ready for a mining contest on common variety building stone because the U of U asked BLM to help protect some rare, soft-bodied, Cambrian fossil. We were in the office yesterday on the federal, Veterans Day holiday, and I've got to keep going through the exhibit notebooks today and maybe even tomorrow to make sure I didn't miss anything. That's all I will say about the case because I don't talk specifics about my government work.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Republicans Piddle while Rome Burns

Last night at the Republican debate, besides Perry losing his marbles, the crowd booing a female reporter just for raising a question about sexual harassment, and the newt pontificating his general idiocy, I was most astounded that they pretty much brushed off the issue of Italy going bankrupt. "Europe is Europe's problem," said Mitt. Cain acted like he had never even heard of Italy or even the question mentioning "cabooses" for some reason (probably not the best choice of words under the circumstances). Ron Paul said that we should stand back and let Italy liquidate its debts - maybe selling off Michelangelo's David in the free market of art masterpieces?

One slightly used Civilization and Nation State
credits to: jaymce Flickr gallery [http://www.flic)

Mild Mormons I Have Known

It’s name-dropping time today. It occurs to me that I have met some moderately well-known Mormons in contexts out of the norm, all tending to establish they there good, decent people. I’m not sure if any of them would really remember me, (well, Rick is one of my Facebook buddies) but if I ever become famous . . . . (maybe linking them on my blog will do it!)

Terryl Givens – College Professor, Scholar, Author.

Terryl and I were in the Language Training Mission, or LTM, now MTC, on our way to Brazil. In fact, we were stuck there for some months waiting for our visas. I had no idea at the time that Terryl was so smart yet he was as part of another district of Elders that was very serious about their studies – not all districts had that reputation. The distinct recollection I have is from our gym period one day when Terryl collapsed on the floor and turned green. I didn’t know that actually happened to people. It happened to Terryl because his appendix burst and he was rushed to the hospital and fortunately returned soon to his missionary duties. He always seemed very serious-minded and obviously determined as I saw him for a few days before the appendix attack clutching his side in some pain but determined to run his laps along with all his other missionary training duties.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Republican Debate November 9, 2011 LIVE (until I have to leave)

I do have to go bowling with the Scouts a little later. I will attempt to get this started, and it will be a great relief from the painful boredom to go bowl a line or two.

Is it really true that the newt is on the rise now that the Cain bubble is deflating? Ya gotta be kidding me!

Well, Mitt, Herman and Dr. Paul are still getting the cheers. I'm not sure I can stand listening to Jim Cramer and that Santelli guy.

Cain starts out on platitudes and cabooses in response to European debt. Mitt says Europe is Europe's problem. No TARP in US for Italian debt! (Reminds me of staying out of Wiemar Reparations). I kind of like Cramer yelling at these guys. Then Paul says we liquidate Europe? (I think he means their debt). Huntsman says Europe is our future (using big words) Huntsman wants smaller banks (so join a credit union!) Mitt still wants to have seen auto industry bankruptcy and people in Detroit actually applaud. Mitt gets a flip-flopper question and he says he's steady and constant but nearly forgets his anniversary and that he's been in the same church for all his life (that's an odd basis for consistency. What's he getting at here?) and he won't "apologize" for America. Perry says America will be America again. Consumers not DC pick winners and losers whether it's Wall Street or Italy. The newt on tax reform question responds by firing Bernancke. And he's waxing nostalgic on "Contract with America" as he declares class warfare on Saul Alinsky. Bachman whining on taxes. She says we're stuck in 1986 (well, somebody is). Santorum wants to compete on taxes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Civil War Isn't Over

Hat tip to Ardis at who linked on her Mormon History blog a fascinating clip from the National Archives of elderly Confederate Civil War Veterans giving the "Rebel Yell." It is entertaining, informative, and absolutely chilling.

Also, in the same Smithsonian article is reference to another clip of film that I haven't been able to find yet on-line--an elderly Union Veteran, William Smallwood, of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment performing the manual of arms with a wooden crutch. That I would like to see. The 54th Massachusetts was the all African-American Regiment honored in the film Glory. If I were King of the World, I would require every U.S. Citizen to see that movie. Of course, the whole point of that film is to inspire us beyond the divine right of kings and the ownership of humans in chattel slavery. But it is so much more than that.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ezra Taft Benson, Prophet of God (not Politics)

I was present when then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, Ezra Taft Benson, gave his "Fourteen Fundamentals" address in the Mariott Center at BYU. I didn't have any particular problem with the substance, it was a little of the tone and the context that made me, in a purely human way, feel a little odd. President Benson was the senior Apostle after then President Spencer W. Kimball and would likely be the next President of  Church. The speech is a strongly stated testimony of the authority of the Prophet in all areas, spiritual, temporal, and even "civic."

Well aware of President Benson's very conservative political views, and also aware that they were not the same as the rest of the church leadership, he being perhaps, the most conservative on any continuum, I lodged it away in my mind sure in my ultimate faith that all things work out under the Lord's ultimate leadership.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Are the President's Successes His Failures?

There was hope among so many that the election of our current president would help move us to a more post-racial, post-partisan nation. That was the promise and even the Hope of that campaign, wasn't it? Something went terribly wrong. Don't get me wrong, I still really like the guy and his political philosophies are so close to the ones that I have independently developed over the years I can't help but like him. The lack of anything but craziness and opposition in the opposition leads nowhere but to Romney, the obvious result as we ask what it is that they really stand for? Because, of course with Romney, it could be anything. But we'll deal more with Romney later.

And we'll put the "easy" issue to the side, at least for a moment. It's basic human nature in American politics that the current president is held responsible for the current situation of the economy. It’s a simple formula. If there is a big boom (unlikely) or even a stronger wind at the back towards a boom (possible), President Obama wins in a landslide. If the slowest recovery in history continues to eke (most likely), he has a chance. If there is a double-dip, even if on European debt or something else outside our borders (hard to tell), he loses and we can only hope and pray that Romney can run the country as well as he did the Olympics.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Who's Your Senator? Nevada Edition

The Honorable Gentleman A
The less than "Gentleman" B 

The Honorable Gentlewoman C
The Honorable Gentleman  D

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Serving the United States in the Hour of Our Nation's Need

When  colleague of mine retired a few years ago, I inherited his files (and his work) and found a framed poster from the days back when his career began. I put it up on the wall in my office:

Our Role in the New Frontier
Let every public servant know, whether his post is high or low, that a man's rank and reputation in this Administration will be determined by the size of the job he does, and not by the size of his staff, his office or his budget. Let it be clear that this Administration recognizes the value of daring and dissent--that we greet healthy controversy as the hallmark of healthy change. Let the public service be a proud and lively career. And let every man and woman who works in any area of our national government, in any branch, at any level, be able to say with pride and honor in future years: "I served the United States Government in the hour of our nation's need."
John F. Kennedy
President of the United States
From his State of the Union Message
January 30, 1961  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cain Just Blew the Settlement

We will never know what really happened with the allegations of sexual harassment with soon-to-be toast candidate Herman Cain. (Actually, he never was a serious candidate - just a little better at playing the self-promotion game than the donald or the sarah). I certainly haven't seen the settlement agreement with the female employee either, but I know enough of personnel law to say that Cain has blown it big time.

No doubt the settlement has a confidentiality provision that the parties are not to talk about the settlement or the allegations. That is the condition the woman's attorney is trying to justify getting her out of. It may have been accomplished by Cain's stupidity in saying what he has said so far. By saying that it was a settlement to get rid of a nuisance complaint, he may have broken another likely provision of such a settlement.