Monday, October 29, 2012

Domestic Tranquility & the General Welfare

When I leave out the back door of the first floor of the Federal Building, I'm always fascinated to see all the huge screens and fancy computers down the hall of the National Weather Service, part of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA - pronounced "Noah") of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Sometimes we all could use an ark or a dove (or maybe that's a seagull - but they can be good too).

Saturday, October 27, 2012

David Frum & David Brooks: Honorary Passionate Moderates

The election is over for me as I have already voted. And it's too late to persuade anyone else except that I urge you to go vote for whomever. There are still bigger principles at stake than this current presidential contest.

My freshman college son sent me a link to a video from his American Heritage class. He asked me for advice on an essay he was required to write about the video. I was pleasantly surprised to see the video myself as it is a wonderful presentation of many of the themes I have tried to express in this blog. The video was by David Frum, a conservative columnist branded as a heretic by the far-right for criticizing Sarah Palin, among other things. The video follows the jump:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Live-Blogging Presidential Debate III

Do we really need more of these?
We're going to try something a little different tonight. Instead of wearing out my fingers trying to keep up with their canned statements, I will try to give highlights and more commentary. Typing on the fly is one skill. Thinking may be tougher. But that's what these guys have to do.

Former Governor (former Republican?) Charlie Crist is sitting in the First Lady's group. Ann Romney is surrounded by her boys.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bi-Partisan Collector Bona Fides

Trying to avoid stirring too much controversy the closer we get to the election, and on a peaceful Sunday morning at that, I thought I would share pics of my campaign button collection. Clearly, I'm not one of those disturbed individuals who has a collection of either elephant or donkey figurines to the exclusion of the other.

The collection started in 1980 while at University (British talk). It was actually BYU where I started my shift from a solid moderate Republican to eventually becoming a moderate Democrat - such a drastic switch! I collected the Reagan, Carter, and even John Anderson buttons at the Wilkinson Center booths for the various candidates. After that, I made the point every election cycle to visit the campaign offices of the various parties to collect a button. The Dems usually handed them out for free. I usually had to pay a buck to the Republicans to get a button - no free lunch with them!

While in Santa Fe, we often visited the quaint little town of Cerrillos that had a great antique store that sold old campaign buttons. On our trips down there with tourist guests I would pick up an item from the past.

Then, in more modern digital times when I discovered E-bay, I figured it was time to fill out the collection so I bid on some desirables and occasionally was a lucky bidder to snatch them up. Once I even got a whole set of Humphrey buttons for cheap - apparently as the sole bidder.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Family History Adventure: Herding Holsteins in Hereford

Back this morning from the Bountiful Temple having done Initiatory work for family names I found last week, I was regretting not visiting all the villages connected to our ancestors on our trip two years ago. Then I remembered to be grateful for the amazing experiences we did have, truly led by the Lord not knowing beforehand.

We had intended to visit Stowe Farm where our Jenkins Ancestress Elinor originated, wife of John Vaughan married 1810 in Hay, Breconshire, Wales. We knew from the 1851 Census she had been born in "Stow" a fairly common place name throughout England also spelled as "Stowe." Some on ancestral file had placed her birth in a "Stowe" in Shropshire, but we thought that a bit far off. On old maps of Herefordshire, we found Stow as a part of Whitney Parish within walking distance of Hay across the Welsh border. And we found a matching Jenkins Family with a daughter Elinor in Whitney Parish records.

So we were off to visit Stowe. Knowing it was a private farm, I was hoping to find someone who could give us permission to take some pictures. From my trip journal:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Debate Fail - Or, Way Back with Mr. Peabody and Sherman

Another broader perspective from Anonymous D bringing us back to the moderation of reality:

Ok, with two debates down I feel like I can say this and it’s not sour grapes, or an attempt to blame poor performance on the moderator. I don’t like debates, they might be useful to some as a way of zinging your opponent, or giving them a mental smack-down when their memory fails, but as a means of assessing the truth they are pretty useless. Presentation is everything in a debate, the facts behind presentation less so. Thus the trip to the way back machine. Let’s go back to say, the second century A.D. for this one. Clement of Rome being a sensitive soul had many question. Questions about the immortality of the soul, or and if that soul had always existed so forth. Important questions, mind. He worried about it a great deal. He went everywhere he could to find an answer. He spent a lot of time listening to the debates in the philosophy schools concerning the subject. I will quote him:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Live-Blogging Presidential Debate II

This is the one when they vote who gets thrown off the island - I'm pretty sure.

All the punditry is certainly extra excited to see if Governor Romney can pull a knock-out punch or the President can fight back to be a contender for round three next week. I can't figure this out to predict much. Neither one seems capable of "feeling pain" as well as President Clinton. And neither seems like they will be as distracted as George H.W. Bush checking his watch and misunderstanding the questions - or wandering the stage like McCain. Certainly the President will be more engaged but something less than the excitable Vice President. Governor Romney will continue his best equity salesman persona with all the moderation he can muster. We'll see if the President can call him on any of that this time. Or, the complete unknown, how the audience will play on either one of them.

Classy & Classless

Secretary of State Clinton is a very popular and successful member of the Obama Administration. She is so popular that even Republicans claim to love her, as in, "if only she had won instead of Obama!" Take that for what it's worth.

The classy thing she did was to fall on her sword over the Benghazi attack. She claimed full responsibility and that the President and Vice President didn't have any reason to know about any requests for increased security. This is clearly a political attempt to deflect the Republican attacks against the President on this. Of course the ultimate buck stops with the President and her deflection will only work to a point. Yet I'm sure Secretary Clinton, along with many others, is more concerned about the tragedy in Benghazi becoming a political football in the closing weeks of this election. We will eventually know the truth of all this yet it will take some time. Now comes the classless part.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Week of Heart-Turning

Having vacation leave saved up but not enough moolah to actually go anywhere - yet needing a break, I took the week off and spent it in the LDS Family History Library just off Temple Square.

My work station(s)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Release the Biden! (or the Ryan!)

I regret that I will not be able to live-blog the Biden-Ryan gaffe fest. There are some family obligations this evening. I will try to comment on the highlights as the new, shiny, bright items grab the attention of the Fourth Estate for the next little news cycle.

Predictions? Biden will say at least one stupid thing. Ryan will say a few more. There will be some rough altercations and Ryan will hold his own against the Biden. He's no Theseus, though. I hope they address the Randian philophy head on. Let the people choose.

More later.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Choose Your Poison or Zion

A post from Anonymous D:

For many people, especially Mormons, everything is a religious contest.  Let’s face it, Mormons are largely one issue voters and that issue is Abortion, well two issues if you include gay marriage.  Most don’t really care about economic issues, and if they do they are for vote for the class they would like to be rather than the class to which they belong. But having adopted conservative political thought based on Family Values issues they buy into the rest of the philosophy without much thought.  So they parrot whatever their conservative hero’s might say about the economy.

The problem with this line of thought, as I've pointed out before, is that conservatives are do nothings on so-called moral issues, but they are all out to remake the economy into some Randian nightmare that cannot possibly benefit the average Republican voter.  It is nearly impossible for most Mormons to make the intellectual leap which suggests that perhaps their pre-conditioned ideas about conservative political might not match ideas from scripture.  The idea for example that we are all beggars.  The idea suggests that we do have a responsibility to take care of the poor, and the widow?  I know the argument is that we shouldn't be forced to it by taxes. I fail to see the difference actually. A people who won’t help the poor or consider them unworthy of help is mean spirited, whether they refuse to help through taxation or community giving.  Either way fail to get the job done. Can you imagine your local ward or community trying to tackle the health care and wide spread needs of a whole community?  It’s the reason we pooled our resources as a nation and not individual communities. The Government is the only organization  which in hard times can actually handle the problem.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Live-Blogging LDS General Conference - Sunday PM

In between sessions with kids home from college, we had Father's and Grandfather's Interviews. The latter were the highlight.

To a 4-year-old: "What happens when you grow up?"
"You die."
We talked about mission and marriage and all first.
Me: "What happens when you get married?"
"You have to kiss. My mom and dad have kissed."
"Do you want to have kids?"
"Yeah. Then you die."

And this from my 15-year-old when I asked what he thought about going on a mission at 18.
"If I could, I would go now."

Don't forget! You can watch the real thing live here. And later, official recordings and transcripts. My personal notes certainly should not serve as a substitute for the real thing!

Check the end of yesterday morning's session for my live-blog of the news conference with Elders Nelson and Holland on the change to the age to serve a Mission.

I'll keep updating.

Live-Blogging LDS General Conference - Sunday AM

Don't forget! You can watch the real thing live here. And later, official recordings and transcripts. My personal notes certainly should not serve as a substitute for the real thing!

Check the end of yesterday morning's session for my live-blog of the news conference with Elders Nelson and Holland on the change to the age to serve a Mission.

I'll keep updating (there may be a brunch break as my son, daughter, and wife are cooking now - and I will have to help clean up)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Late-Blogging Priesthood Session (Notes from the Dark)

They had the lights off again so it was pretty hard to take notes. I just got a few scratches of subject matters and highlights.

And there was something else going on with the Stake's best laid plans. We got there a few minutes before the start because we don't mind sitting on the folding chairs in the cultural hall. Our bishop was just opening the curtain and there were no chairs! Then I saw a counselor in the Stake Presidency talking to our bishop and picked up something about how they wanted us all in the chapel. But the chapel was packed full. Weird. Anyway, instead of planning ahead for the expected reality based on every past Priesthood Session, we were clanging around metal chairs as the meeting began. And it went on, as it always does, a full ten minutes or so into the session. Even during the prayer. I hope the Stake Presidency rethinks whatever they were attempting.

Live-Blogging LDS General Conference - Saturday PM

Don't forget! You can watch the real thing live here. And later, official recordings and transcripts. My personal notes certainly should not serve as a substitute for the real thing!

Check the end of this morning's session for my live-blog of the news conference with Elders Nelson and Holland on the change to the age to serve a Mission.

Here we go! Keep clicking back!

Live-Blogging LDS General Conference - Saturday AM - AND Press Conference on Change to Missionary Age

Here we go! [Big announcement with Pres. Monson and notes of Press Conference with Elders Nelson & Oaks below]

[don't forget live-broadcast, recordings, transcripts - eventually are all at right here]

Keep checking back as we'll keep updating.

Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy will be released into Emeritus status. There is a wonderful write-up by Peggy Fletcher Stack at the SL Trib.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Big Bird Is My Hero

On the political light side tonight, I can't resist sharing the best of Big Bird from the internest today.

It's Bull Pucky

Yes, the President appeared disengaged and not on his game at the debate. I'm sure he was thinking that he would rather be spending the evening with Michelle. And the strategy failed in that they were probably hoping to hold back a little and let Governor Romney slip somehow. Governor Romney was in top form that night. And I just read something that churns up my passion to threaten moderation.

CNN reports that Governor Romney now admits (I'm sure with the greatest of "sincerity") that he was "completely wrong" about calling 47% of America irresponsible victims demanding entitlements (such as "health care, food, housing" -the nerve!). If the President had mentioned anything at all to call him out on the 47% the other night, Romney would have walloped him with this prepared and practiced line of "sincerity."

Thursday, October 4, 2012

That's the Guy I Was Talking About!

I'm really trying hard to express this without sounding sarcastic or cynical. But Mitt Romney last night did really well and reminds me of why I used to like him! I did! I really liked him when he came in and saved the Salt Lake City Olympics. I liked him when he was a moderate Republican Governor of Massachusetts (even more progressive than me at the time on pro-choice and pro-gay!). And I especially liked him when he gave Ted Kennedy a run for his money in 1994!

I mean, it was really great to see a take-charge, moderate, even progressive Mormon Republican doing well. He was so outside the extreme-conservative wing of the Republican Party that I thought he was a breath of fresh air and someone I could have supported for political office had I lived in Massachusetts. And then there was his dad. I was only a kid, but George was kind of a hero as a successful, Mormon politician from Michigan, far from the Mormon homeland. And then he served honorably in the Nixon Administration - one of the few who didn't end up in jail!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Live-Blogging Presidential Debate No. 1

Thanks to the election heating up, September was the biggest month yet on the blog. We had 5,438 page views. October should be good what with Presidential Debates, LDS General Conference, and all.

Keep clicking back. We'll try to keep updating . . .

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Debate Prep - NOT Fasting for Mitt

Maybe I need to start a pledge e-mail chain . . . .

Last night I was invited by a Facebook friend to join a fast for Mitt Romney so he will do well in the debate tomorrow and win the Presidency. I was somewhat shocked and disturbed. Calming down a little, I posted this:
I've just been invited to a "fast" for Mitt Romney. I declined. This reminds of when members of my ward were using their manipulative tricks to get me to sign up for their "spiritual" self-awareness seminars. I declined that too. As a public notice to all - Please! No more invitations! If you don't understand why this is so highly inappropriate, then just condemn me to heck and move on. Please! (I think my Libertarian Mormon friends are with me on this one! Respect them too!)
I think that was a pretty temperate response. (The whole "self-awareness seminar business" I'll save for another time).

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Matter of Perception

I don't usually go for the laugh on the blog. In fact, some think I'm a little too serious (maybe even full of myself). So, in an attempt to lighten up a bit, I share this great little matrix I found on the web: