Monday, September 30, 2013

Shutdown 2013 Update No. 4

About two hours to go! I was feeling up all weekend with the prospect of a few days away from work, but this has to have been the most depressing day of work in my 30 years. I don't know which was worse, the concern on the face of those with families worried about possible loss or delay of pay, or those who were going on like nothing was happening - planning, scheduling, setting things up for the week and the new month. Yikes!

For my part, I arrived to find a rather urgent matter that I prepared for briefing DC and passed it on, only to have it apparently lost in the shutdown preparations - how much time and money has already been wasted and will continue to be wasted! Something is certainly wrong here. Well, enough of my woes. Here's the latest (redacted) shutdown info:

The Address

Something along these lines is what I would like to hear from the President tonight. But, hey! If John Boehner wants to give it, fine by me!
One hundred and fifty years ago, President Abraham Lincoln linked the concept of our nation’s founding with the structure of the Constitution asserting that this nation was conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great political war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are eternally grateful that this nation has passed far beyond a resort to violence and bloodshed disputing the rights and responsibilities of free men and women of all races and creeds. Yet we still are tempted by willful political whim, rather than the rule of constitutionally tested law and the results of broad-based elections.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Daniel's Stone

The Book of Mormon in many languages
The Book of Mormon has been translated from English into 106 languages! Nobody's seen the original Reformed Egyptian for a while, but at least twelve did (one + three + eight = 12. An interesting number).

This struck me yesterday when I went to the local Distribution Center, blessedly, just a couple of blocks away right here in Centerville. My wife asked me to pick up a paperback, standard blue copy of the Book of Mormon for my grandson's baptism. In the old days (about 3 years ago), it was traditional to buy a nice set of scriptures for an eight-year-old being baptized. But now in this digital age, my wife was trying to make a point about marking scriptures by having me show them on my smartphone while our grandson marked them in a more traditional way in the blue paperback.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Shutdown 2013 Update No. 3

It is now a 99.99% chance that we will shutdown Tuesday morning. There are only two ways for it to be avoided, as I see it.

1. The House could reject its own bill just passed today that includes a one-year delay of the ACA and the removal of the medical devices tax, and pass a clean CR that the Senate would approve by unanimous consent (I think the Senate can do that).

2. The Senate by unanimous consent could pass the House Bill passed today. Any amendments or even debate would take us well beyond Tuesday.

Friday, September 27, 2013

We're Still Arguing Obamacare?


Let me start with this confession and observation that we humans tend to decide things in our hearts and then justify them in our heads. So, it is often difficult to meet the standard of objective, reasonable and rational discussion. Usually we just fall back on who is more like hitler. Of course it's always the other side. (Check out Jon Stewart's critique of Cruz's competing show the other night).

A really good friend on FB, somebody I truly admire, put out a basic argument about why Obamacare was so bad. I've heard this from other Republicans just this week. (I don't think that particular friend reads the blog, but I still won't further identify the person. I don't want this in any way to be a personal attack).

The argument goes something like - "Obamacare wasn't really a compromise because a dictatorial majority rammed it through like bullies in the middle of the night with it too long to even read."

Shutdown 2013 Update No. 2

It was gratifying to see a couple of pundits (Ezra Klein of WaPo & Politico's Ben White) agreeing with my analysis on the likelihood of a shutdown with very similar reasoning. I have co-workers who will vouch that I figured this out a few days back before I ever typed it in here.

While I have to be real careful here because I don't want to reveal any internal processes or names unnecessarily, we got additional instructions from our office on shutting down (I wasn't there late Thurs. evening when this email came). Redacted version:
Here are the highlights of today's (September 26) senior staff call, with some slight tweaking to account for more recent information:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Shutdown 2013 Update No. 1

My boss called me in today. He's a really good guy. He tried so hard to soften the message. "Well, I, uh, -sit down. I regret this, but I need to let you know that, well, you have been officially designated as 'non-essential.'"

My response: "Ha! No problem! I've been 'non-essential' for 30 years! I was shutdown by Reagan and Tip O'Neill!" He is too, of course.

We also found out, and I'm not supposed to say much about this, but certain persons, while still "non-essential," are paid out of different sources of funds. And as their salaries are already paid, they have to work. Of course that also means they will have no worries about being paid. When we get furloughed, we are legally prohibited from performing any work. And we have no expectation of being paid.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Live-blogging Shutdown 2013

Yes, I may have a lot more time on my hands next week for blogging so I'll get started a little early. I do not see a way to avoid the government shutdown. This is not a stand-off between the Republicans and the Democrats or the Republicans and the President. This is a stand-off between the tea-party extremists and the main-stream conservatives of the Republican Party. And I don't see a way out.

So, here goes from a work perspective. First, an email from our DC office this morning:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why I Continue My Fight

Time for a little open-heart reflection and explanation why I continue my fight against Senators Cruz, Lee, & Paul along with the tea-party Representatives and the political entertainers Beck & Limbaugh.

I've read a little history and seen enough old news reels to wish somebody had stood up to Senator Joe McCarthy earlier. I also wish more people had stood up to Cleon Skousen too. Even Ernie Wilkinson could have used a bit more of a kick in the rear when he imposed his anti-communist spy-ring on my alma mater. So I'm standing up to the demagogues now in hopes of saving them and their followers from worse abuses like those we've known in the past in this very country. And they've mostly come from the extreme Right.
Bottom line, what I fight against is the demagoguery that pulls in some very good friends and family that I care about.

Open Letter to Senator Mike Lee

Dear Senator Lee:

Let my start by stating that I am an American Citizen of legal residence in the State of Utah. That makes you one of my two U.S. Senators even though I did not vote for you. But I am your constituent and I write this to offer a little advice.

I understand that you had a little talking-to from your Minority Leader today. It's really too bad you didn't pay more attention to my blog, or your old Home Teacher - Brother Reid, or even your Dad. I knew your Dad. I realize that you must have known him much better. And I can't understand how you came away from such a good man and a conservative of solid credentials to promote the ideas about government and the U.S. Constitution that you do.

There is help that I offer in the form of a publication that one of Senator Hatch's Aides gave me up there on the 8th Floor of the Federal Building in SLC. I went to get some of those copies of the U.S. Constitution that Senators give away so I could pass them out to Boy Scouts working on their First Class Badge. I used to go down to Senator Bennett's office because I liked him best of all, but he seems to be gone. You can also get the book on-line at this place you can click at. Anyway, the booklet is called "Our American Government." Here's a picture in case you haven't seen it:

It's a really cool guide to the U.S. Constitution and our wonderful system of Government. It was printed by the Government Printing Office and produced by a Concurrent Resolution of the One Hundred Eighth Congress of the United States of America. H. Con. Res. 108-139 (so you can have a staffer look it up to check!) That was the Congress elected in 2002 right when President Bush was rallying us all for our patriotic fight in Iraq! Those guys (and a few gals) must have been real patriots! I mean, even the President said that those who weren't with us were against us so I know the Congress went along with him!

Anyway, there's some really good stuff in there about how our Government works with three branches, checks & balances, and all the stuff about how to make laws! That part might really be good since you're now one of those guys with that job!

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Big Lie of "Socialism!"

I got a little snarky on a FB post of a friend with whom I share some political views. In his attempts to promote a little Social Justice from solid, Mormon History, he was met with all the usual screed about the evils of "Socialism." My best comment was:
"Socialism. You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it does."
My point here is to try and explain that when tea-partiers on the Right talk about "Socialism" they are not using the classic, dictionary definition of an economic system in which the state owns and controls the means of production.

(By the way, I am not a Socialist. I believe in property rights and open markets regulated by representative democracy. Sigh!)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Beck Is Either Stupid or Dishonest (Maybe Both!)

The latest from Nazi-memorabilia collector Glenn Beck is his call to impeach the President for "treason." Because he (the President, not Beck) is sending some aid to international groups and "vetted" Syrian rebels. Politico reports today:
“We did not get into bed with Hitler to defeat Japan. We did not do it,” Beck said. “It’s the height of insanity. But I also believe it is impeachable. I believe it is treason.”
Well, he's sorta right. We did not sleep with Hitler to defeat Japan. No, we had another Ally that admittedly came in late against Japan but was pretty heavily involved in our defeat of Hitler.
Soviet Flag on top of the Reichstag at the Capture of Berlin, May 1945

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Booze Doesn't Cause Drunk Driving!

Absolutely true!

Booze doesn't kill, people who drink too much and drive kill. I think that's pretty obvious.

Let me tell you a little story. Back in the 1990s we lived in New Mexico. A political issue arose about drive-up liquor stores. As an odd side note, the campaign to close drive-up liquor informed that there were only four states in the U.S. that still allowed unrestricted drive-up liquor sales.* I realized that I had lived in three of the four! Wyoming, Maryland, and New Mexico! The fourth was Louisiana.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Syria - The Way to Enter (or Not Enter) a War

Do I personally want the U.S to go to war in Syria? No. Do I want anyone to be gassed by their own government's chemical weapons? No. And I don't think the President wants either of these as well. He just said that he has requested that congressional leaders postpone any vote on the use of force for the US to pursue a diplomatic solution, particularly the one supported by Russia that Iraq declare its chemical weapons and place them under international supervision. I'm just fine with that.

A war in Syria right now does not meet my predetermined standards for going to war. There is no UN authorization, and with Russia, China, and now the UK opposed and on the Security Counsel that is not going to happen. Arguably, there is a legal way to go which would be to consider the Syrian incursions across the border or even the disruption caused by numerous refugees to be an attack on Turkey. As a NATO member, an attack on one is an attack on all. And while the UN acknowledges collective security in these regional organizations, only notice, not pre-approval, is all that is required under the UN Charter (still preserving each nation's sovereignty so no nation actually has to do anything). Yes, I'm overly legalistic as I look to the idealism of international law to structure war and peace. The UN has a messy history, but we're still here instead of flying through the universe as glowing atoms.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Racist Rush & Nazi-Collector Beck

I'm calling it. The great, big intellect of conservative thought said on this radio show today that President Obama's policy on Syria is not "shock and awe," but "shuck and jive" This is from Politico, a right of center source (although they are clearly mainstream Republican right, so they are not inclined to be big fans of Rush).

Rush is a racist - no question about it. If you think what he said is funny or you don't understand how it could possibly be racist*, then you are a racist too. Just because you are a racist doesn't mean that you are all bad. And you can always repent, change, learn, and grow.