Friday, August 31, 2012

The Founders Didn't Build That

The U.S. Capitol. Symbol of Democracy, Constitutional Government, and Freedom around the world. Built by Slave labor.

Yep. I ran across an interesting article published by the Architect of the Capitol. It analyzes the "contribution" of African-American Slaves in the construction of the U.S. Capitol and many other historic buildings in our nation's capital. The United States didn't actually own the Slaves, we only rented them from their owners. I'm so relieved.

I Am, I Said

Romney did just fine with his speech. His supporters should be pleased. He didn't win me over and we'll continue to talk about that. But it is really unfortunate that this convention will go down in history not for Romney's speech, not even for Paul Ryan's. It will not be the hurricane or the code pink disruption. This convention will go down in history because of the old man mumbling incoherently to a chair. They are joking about talking to the empty chair on "Morning Joe" this morning as I type.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Live Blogging Republicans (Thurs.)

Something has happened. Bloggers (including me) and the Press (mainstream, liberal and evil as many believe it to be) are calling out the Republicans on lies. No longer are false equivalences ruling the day as in, "Republican leader says this, and Democratic leader says that." Maybe it's a move from the whole "Crossfire" mentality of lining up proponents or experts equal on each side to duke it out and not change a single mind. I give some credit to James Fallows at The Atlantic who has been calling out "false equivalencies." So, I will give him a link here. If  anyone wants to jump in and explain why the lies we called aren't, feel free. I'm not afraid to make corrections.

Of course, one spokesman for the Romney campaign said that they don't care much about fact checking. I hope they will. And I certainly hope the Dems will pay attention to facts and the truth. If they do (and I'm not entirely hopeful) they could revive the enthusiasm about Obama and help fulfill the hope so many had (and so many Republicans claim they had) that President Obama was going to make things different. We'll see. I'll hold them accountable too.

The Divine Right of Shark Jumping

"You work and I'll get the tax cut"

Yep. I think the Republicans have finally jumped the shark. Governor Romney will be joining Paul Ryan and the Fonz on the water skis tonight.

In the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, Lincoln skewered the underlying philosophy of slavery protected by Stephen Douglas's "Popular Sovereignty" (as long as you were a white, male voter) when he compared slavery to the Divine Right of Kings with his cutting summary "You work and I'll eat the bread." Now, the party formerly of Lincoln, now of the former Southern Segregationists (or their kids), has jumped the shark with their tax cut plans and anti-We-the-People economics. Of course they've actually been doing this since Reagan, but I think we're finally catching on.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Live-Blogging Republicans (Wed.)

This isn't even as much fun as the debates. I don't know how long I can tough it out.

I will make the commitment that in watching the Democratic Convention next week (there is no "Democrat" convention by the way), I will try really hard to call out their errors. I admit my preferences, but I will take off my blinders. And for heaven's sake, I hope they don't pound the dog on the car theme like the Republicans are pounding how they "built it." (At least the dog story is true unlike the manipulation of the President's words even if inartfully expressed.)

Well, I'd better get to blogging. John McCain is up. He just called Governor Romney his friend.

Oh Say, What Is Truth?

The question is asked by the old, Mormon Hymn with a pretty definitive answer that there is Truth if only we would seek after it.

As reported by James Bennett at The Atlantic:
"We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers," said Neil Newhouse, Romney pollster.
Well, I'm glad we got that cleared up. I guess we're free to believe anything we want (which is true) and can never be challenged on whether there is any basis for our beliefs other than what we want to believe (which I'm really worried about).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Live-Blogging Republicans (Tues.)

Political party conventions are like a sporting event. Everyone gets to cheer their team and trash-talk the opponents. The funny part is that each team takes the field on their own to run up the score for a few days then the other team gets their chance. It's hard to keep score that way.

Just FYI, I'm sticking with Nate Silver's 538 for score keeping even if I've surpassed my ten free views for the month on the NY Times website. They let you get on the main page and only sometimes when you click to read more of a particular posting will the notice pop up to invite you to pay. It's as if the NY Times thinks they built the internet by themselves or something.

Anyway, keep on clicking. I'll have a few updates through the evening. Or I might just give up with all my grouchiness and annoyances.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Happy Days are Here Again!

Politics can be fun - 'bout time.

OK. I know I said I'd be reading in my new library, but we are heading into the Republican Convention and there was a hurricane this morning. Not the one out in the gulf - and my prayers are going for the people of the Gulf Coast. I'm talking about Chris Matthews on "Morning Joe." Oh my heck!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rock Center & Mormons

My wife and I had to stop by McDonald's in Provo the other day to get on the internet to remind ourselves where Home Depot was so we could buy four cinder blocks to prop up our daughter's bed in her student apartment for extra storage space. When we got to Home Depot, they were almost all gone. One would think the Provo store would realize there is a run on cinder blocks the end of every August so they could stock up. It's one of those odd Mormon practices NBC missed in their reporting the other night.

While in McDonald's, I couldn't help but overhear two local men rather loudly expressing their view of what a disgusting program the "most-liberal" NBC had put on. That was one of several indicators that they were locals of Utah County. For my part, I have no interest in nit-picking NBC on some reporting that in instances was every bit as weird as we Mormons.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Live-Blogging the Library

Final Update, Monday, August 27, 2012

I may never come out. Paul Simon's lyrics haunt me, "I have my books/And my poetry to protect me;/ I am shielded in my armor,/Hiding in my room,/Safe within my womb. . . ." Good thing I'm not that anti-social. But I do enjoy sitting and pulling this or that old book I love from the shelves. I may cut back on my blogging as I read more. We'll see. . . .

Even the "comfy chair" fits in the room well.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

America's Original Sin

What do you see?
Race? Racist? or the President?
The original intent of the Founders was that "all men are created equal." They certainly had a problem with that in reality. The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments did not fully resolve their problem. Why do we still have a problem with race? Some of you may even think I'm the racist just for bringing it up!

A while back, a relative with whom I haven't had much contact over the years took some offense at my positive opinions about and defense of President Obama. Never had this relative seen such division in America "caused by President Obama!" I tried to understand the sentiment, but we mutually agreed to disagree and the parting words from my relative were, "We don't have to talk politics, but we'll always share blood and that's more important to me than to win."

That really bothered me. But I left it alone, not because I share the view that our shared blood is more important than any political "win," but because I didn't want to go to that place where those sentiments came from. I think I do understand. After all, we are related.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Whimsical Wednesday

You would think you could buy a new door knob and replace it in the same hole as the old one. But, noooooo! Door knobs are not fungible. And on the metal door leading to the garage, I had to file away at the hole finally getting the new door knob to fit. Now, no one can sneak in and kill us when we leave the garage door open. So far it's just been the Centerville police leaving friendly little notes reminding us that we should close the garage door at night.

Recovering from my ill mood with home repairs (apologies to my family), I share with you the photo I snapped of the rather whimsical character I saw downtown today as the bus stopped in front of the old Social Hall.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Notes on the State of Virginia

While a little presumptuous of me, I thought that a good title. And I do belong to the political party founded by Jefferson even if it's been through many philosophical permutations over the past two hundred or so years. At least since the mid-60s, we are pretty solid on the principles that "all men and women are created equal" even if Jefferson himself didn't always live up to his own aspirations in that regard.

Reston City Center from the Hospital
Maybe I should call it "Notes on the State of Northern Virginia" as my kids who were down at Virginia Tech a couple of years ago say the culture is quite different down there. We are in the blue part - or as some say, the "communist" part of Virginia as opposed to the "pro-America" "real Virginia" farther south and west. It is fairly common to see Obama/Biden 2012 stickers on cars around here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Rhetorical Flourishes

Please, People! I don't suppose this will help, but here's my passionate plea:
It's Governor or Mitt Romney, not "Mittens" or "Willard."
It's President or Barack Obama, not "Barry" (or worse.)
It's the Democratic Party not the "Democrat" Party.
It's LDS or Mormon, not "Morman" Church.
It's right-wing or left-wing not "fascism" vs. "socialism" (which are sort of different versions of the same thing anyway.)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Vaughans Help Conquer Harlech

While my stomach recovers from illness of tragic discoveries in the neighborhood, and avoiding [modern] politics so as not to make it any worse, I return to the Wars of the Roses.

I was very pleased to find an online, public source for the beautiful picture that graces the cover of the book I'm reading. It's from an illuminated manuscript having absolutely nothing to do with the picture. But I guess that's the nature of the medieval book business.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sick to my Stomach

The worst possible thing has happened. I won't even link to the news articles. But a guy I know who lives two blocks away and served (until Friday) on our LDS Stake High Council was just arrested for child sexual abuse. I only wish I had been a better friend to him. Maybe I could have somehow helped him.

I don't know what to say or how to explain. As I'm still out of town, I've been calling and texting my boy who is the same age as our accused neighbor's son and has been a friend of his. Instead of trying to rephrase this, I'll paste in here the painful message I sent off to our Troop Committee members:

A Letter from the King

Armorial of Henry VI of England
Enjoying a book on Wales in the War of the Roses, I searched in sources cited for this interesting letter addressed to some of my ancestral families. I was fascinated to find the text of the letter from the King, Henry VI, the ill-fortuned and sometimes mentally ill son of the great Henry V and Catherine of France (who later had children by Owen Tudor). This was in the initial stages of the War of the Roses. As I've noted previously, the English and Welsh in the Marches were all over the place switching sides between York and Lancaster. It complicated matters that the Welsh Tudors were half-brothers or nephews to the Lancastrian kings. The Tudors eventually won creating a new dynasty by fusing the red and white roses in marriage, but not before a lot of confused alliances - the very nature of a Civil War. But here's the basic chronology for context of the 1460 letter:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Update on Reid & Romney's Percentages

Whatever the truth of the "no taxes for 10 years" and whether Reid or his alleged source or Romney are lying (or all of the above?), Reid has now skunked Romney out to state that he has never paid less than 13% in taxes in the last 10 years. Did Reid successfully fall on his ethical or decency sword to get Romney to fess that up? He did get a rise out of Romney who took the bait. And the issue goes on.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Liars, Dang Liars, and Sarah Palin

BOTH campaigns are lyin', lyin', lyin'. The whole country is disappointed to one degree or another with President Obama. But why should we Mormons have to be so disappointed in Mitt Romney?

I read another interesting article at The Atlantic online on the theme that people have grown tired of fact-checking journalism. People just seem to root for their side no matter how many fouls are committed by their team much like sports fans stay true to their school or their chosen professional sports teams. It seems like those choices of sports allegiance even with somewhat arbitrary origins as to where you happen to live or end up going to school are pretty ingrained into a person's being - just like political preferences.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Socialism vs. Social Darwinism

That's how some are describing the 2012 Presidential contest now that Paul Ryan shores up the campaign linkage to his proposed budget. It is a bit of an exaggeration on both sides, but that's how they describe each other, so we can freely use it in our considerations.
They, at least, seem to like each other

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Good News! Evangeline Has Arrived!

But a celestial brightness—a more ethereal beauty—
Shone on her face and encircled her form . . . 

From Longfellow's Evangeline.
I have three wonderful and highly entertaining grandsons. Now, I have a beautiful granddaughter!

"All the water in Wye"

That's Shakespeare in the mouth of Fluellin the Welsh Captain in Henry V who some say was based on my ancestor, Dafydd [or David] Gam. The scene is a moving one as the Monarch, victorious after Agincourt, exults in his birth in Wales as Fluellen notes "All the water in Wye cannot wash your majesty's Welsh [b]lood out of your [b]ody, I can tell you that." Act IV, Scene 7, lines 2628-29.

As I've already blogged numerous times, my Welsh blood originates on the banks of the Wye just as did Prince Hal's. My dad's cousin just reminded me of the signature on an 1810 marriage record in Hay, Breconshire, that on close examination reveals that my 4th Great Grandfather probably spoke Welsh.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Everyone Against Everyone

My Bro-in-law, Anonymous D, just sent me a great email message venting a little. But I thought it was great to post here on the blog  (with his permission and minor edits). I try to get him to write up more postings, but we do have this that is right on point. Take it away, Bro-D!
For years I’ve labored under the delusion that I was somehow normal; that is for a Mormon.  Finally I’ve come to the conclusion which is inescapable; I’m not normal. I’m a radical -way out there.  Actually I’ve known this for some time. But, thought I, when presented with the evidence in the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, members would pretty much come to the same conclusion about things that I’ve come to. It’s in the book right?  The book is nothing if not plain. Matter of fact as it takes pains to point out, it’s as blunt as possible.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

That They Rudely Not Aryse

A used book shop in Reston, Virginia had this great book on Wales and the War of the Roses. I checked the index and it's full of references to my families of Vaughan, Gam, and Herbert. It even has a picture of the tomb of the Lady Gwladys! Of course I had to buy it.

I'm still pretty weak in medieval and even modern Welsh. My Middle English isn't so great either but it's much, much easier to understand. I really enjoyed this quote to explain the tension between the English and the Welsh. The point comes across well enough:

Vaughan Family History - Immigrant Tragedy

I've been obsessively compiling a Family History Chronology for my family surname origins in Wales to our arrival in the United States. I've even decided to post it here on a special page to maybe pick up any connections through the internet with those distant cousins out there who may be interested or even able to help us.

The frustration with family history is that the more you know, the more you want to know. At least that's how it works with me. We have lots of unanswered questions. And there is much already apparent that moves me with the amazing challenges and difficulties these ancestors faced. They become real to me as I feel the triumphs and tragedies of their lives.

The Right to Bear Government

It struck me in the middle of the night so maybe it was only a dream. Though it seems odd to me that many people consider guns to be a God-given right as tools for self defense or other problem solving measures. And many of these same people deny that government is a tool for the benefit of people. It's not that people always have to be consistent (I'm certainly not). It's just that it seems to fly in the face of the Lincoln philosophy of government of, by, and for the people.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Romney Runs with Ryan

At least he's helping me out with my alliteration.

I've been traveling all day and visiting with my son and daughter-in-law in preparation for the imminent arrival of my first granddaughter - much more important than any politics. It put me in a unique position to be shielded from the news reports and analyses today even though I caught the first announcement of the selection of Ryan before I boarded the plane. And I had a whole day to think about it on my own.

Monday, August 6, 2012

If We Outlaw Assault Weapons . . .

. . . then only outlaws will have assault weapons. But the crazy people probably won't. It seems like that would improve our chances of not getting blown away at a movie theater or house of worship at least a little bit.

That's almost down to bumper-sticker size. It's always harder to explain nuance and common sense than to simply go for the gut. That's what crazy people do either with weapons of assault or just words.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Why I Wear a Flat Cap

Undated photo of Workers at Blaenavon Ironworks, Wales
Besides the immediate, practical need of protecting my balding head from sunburn, there must be some ancestral urge in me to place the hat on my head. I think I first noticed it on the heads of the Gaúchos in southern Brazil. It is also used by sports car enthusiasts and many others. Yet it appears to have its origins as a common workman's hat from many parts of the world. My paternal grandfather occasionally wore a hat like this and his family origins were among the Welsh like those pictured above.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Low Blow to the Glass Chin

Senate Majority Leader and Pugilist, Harry Reid of Nevada
Harry Reid played some really dirty politics by referencing a "reliable" anonymous source that Romney won't release his tax returns because he paid no tax for ten years. Mitt Romney played some really stupid politics by responding to Reid, "Put up or shut up!"

Uh. Think about that for a minute. Governor Romney's response to allegedly false charges about what is in the income tax returns he refuses to release is "put up or shut up?" Besides, that's not the guy he's supposed to be fighting. I think Governor Romney just fell for a sucker punch.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cold War Relic

My college daughter works at the dollar store this summer between terms. I love going in to ask her what each thing in the store costs. "Everything's a dollar!!" I like her other job even better at Tonyburger because of their great family discount! (Mmm, Tonyburger "like") But the dollar store has its upsides, too (besides the fact that "everything's a dollar!"). She was excited to text me today that she had found a treasure in the cash register. Her boss let her take it home. [I got it backwards. It was actually in the till at Tonyburger!]

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

These Aren't the Culture Wars You're Looking For

Good grief, Governor Romney! Doubling down on the superiority of certain cultures over others? Even if there is some merit to your argument, is this really the fight you want to get into? You are not exactly inspiring confidence in your diplomatic skills. It does look a little better on honesty about what you truly believe as well as consistency except you did initially try to back off your ideas about the inferiority of the Palestinian culture.