Archive for December, 2007

Centerville Citizen and a First Presidency Message

December 26, 2007

In a day when some think that Utah is “for war,” it is worth recalling with the Centerville Citizen the words of the First Presidency during WWII—a war which was unquestionably a just war (at least in the Atlantic Theatre). How much more should we take to heart their words during this current explosion of U.S. military adventurism?

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Romney Hides His Light from the World

December 24, 2007

Yesterday at work, a co-worker informed me that Mitt Romney had denied modern revelation to the press. I was skeptical, but later found that she was right.

I found it very ironic to hear the report of this incident the very day on which I was preparing my Gospel Doctrine lesson on Revelations 1-3. Revelations 1 talks about the Church being a candlestick for the Christ and the Gospel, and Revelations 2 includes a rebuke for a Church which has wandered from their “first love” (ie, Christ). The implication of the lesson is that we, the members, should stand tall in representing the Gospel, and not allow worldly pursuits to dissuade us from representing Christ and his Gospel at all times, in all places, and in all things. Yes, many outside of our faith question—even scorn—some of the fundamental doctrines of our faith. And one of those doctrines is the concept of modern revelation and priesthood authority. Romney could have honestly and plainly answered the root question by stating “As President, I would answer only to the Constitution and the public of the United States.” Instead, his flippant answer dodged the question entirely and turned his back on one of the crucial principles of our faith.

I have no problem with the idea that a presidential candidate does not believe in the restored priesthood and modern revelation. Such theological points have no part in the political debate (whether or not a candidate considers him/herself answerable to a particular ecclesiastical body in their role as public servant is relevant to the political discussion). What I do have a problem with is a person, such as Romney, who claims to have a firm conviction of my faith, but who chooses not to acknowledge the principles of that faith when it is not politically expedient to do so.

Some will rationalize this lack of political and religious courage. They might claim he was only making a joke, and that he technically left himself an “out” with his “perhaps some others” clause. Such weaseling is hardly a prime example of standing for something. By making a joke and refusing to give a straight, truthful answer to the question, Romney did not hold his light high, but chose to hide it under a bushel. He makes a mockery of the already questionable speech he gave only days ago.

Others might protest that Romney was only doing what he has to do to be a viable candidate for a nation in which Mormons are not, as Ken Jennings recently noted, as mainstreamed as we might have thought. Romney is toeing the line to placate the Evangelical right. How can this justify his public religious waffling? I do not deny that embracing the doctrines of the Gospel may well be a hindrance in the world to achieving certain worldly goals, such as the Presidency. If that is the price of being either hot or cold, that is the price the Lord expects us to pay.

Matheson is Right On

December 22, 2007

Very rarely do I find myself agreeing with Utah Representative Jim Matheson, a politician neither hot nor cold, one who usually tries to straddle the fence and like most of his “Blue Dog Democrat” ilk, is all too willing to be duped by those who would dispense with any and all ethics in the name of national security.

But when he criticizes both parties for passing a “patch” on the AMT which only widens our budget deficits, he hits the nail on the head.

Matheson called the parties “gutless” in a statement released after the House gave its final approval to a “patch” on the alternative minimum tax, or AMT.

He was one of 64 representatives who voted against the bill that will add $50 billion to the national debt.

“The Blue Dogs may be the last ones standing who put their money where their mouths are when it comes to fiscal responsibility,” Matheson said, referring to a group of fiscally conservative Democrats (Salt Lake Tribune, 12/20/2007).

It’s difficult to lay too much blame at the feet of the Democratic Party, since the Republicans and the administration could trump any move the Democrats made. Still, the Democrats could have stood on their principles and forced a showdown. If they had made their case of fiscal responsibility to the nation, they might have won that showdown. Alas, they decided yet again to back down.

(Typically, Chris Cannon showed his lack of integrity by criticizing the Democrats for level of spending in Washington, while completely ignoring the fact that the quickest and most effective way to lower federal spending would be to end this administration’s misbegotten wars.)

A Prayer for Compassion

December 20, 2007

Rob reminds his readers of the need for compassion, empathy, and charity with a great prayer. An important message to consider at this time of year.

Real Christmas Spirit

December 18, 2007

Now here‘s a family which understands Christmas.

No doubt, they are hardly unique. I’m sure there are many individuals and families around the nation (and world) who forgo the conventional commodified Christmas for one more representative of him for whom the holiday is named. But we’re so bombarded by slick ads, cloying Christmas specials and bad music that these simple and yet powerful acts of Christian charity are overlooked and undervalued.

The Brand family may not be receiving presents this year, but the gifts they will obtain through their unselfishness will be priceless.

(Thanks to Farnsworth for the heads-up)

AMT confusion

December 15, 2007

One of the big issues which has been looming over the federal government over the past several weeks is the Alternative Minimum Tax. The House of Representatives recently passed a bill reforming the AMT and making up for the reduced revenues in other places. The administration, however, has consistently warned against such a fix.

“The administration does not believe the appropriate way to protect 21 million additional taxpayers from 2007 AMT liability is to impose a tax increase on other taxpayers,” the White House said in a policy statement.

They would prefer a bill like that passed by the Senate, which does not compensate for the lost revenues.

How confusing. I thought part of conservatism was living within your means, paying as you go. Strange that conservatives today are so eager to reduce revenues, but not to reduce expenditures. Oh, sure, they’ll talk about cutting back on social programs. But this administration and most conservatives have no desire to cut back on military spending—by far the biggest drain on government coffers, as has been mentioned before. Never before has this nation—any nation—engaged in a war without requiring sacrifice from their citizens in order to help pay for the war. This administration? They would prefer for citizens to act as if the war didn’t exist. These conservatives want to buy their illegal and immoral war on credit.

Why not. Go ahead, cut taxes. Our kids can figure out a way to pay for our generation’s blunders.

When is the Black Mass?

December 14, 2007

Speaking of less outrageous Conservative Advocates, lets here from a more outrageous one.

On Fox News yesterday, Bill O’Reilly let loose on “far-left websites” like DailyKos, stating, “If you read these far-left websites, you’re a devil worshipper. You are.” O’Reilly’s ombudsman responded, “As a journalist, you know better than that.” O’Reilly shot back: “Satan is running the DailyKos. Yes, he is!”

Watch the video.

Score one for the Culture Warrior. He found me out. Of course, to the Evangelicals that comprise most of the Religious Right, that’s my second strikee. A member of a cult and a far-left blog writer? I may as well go watch The Golden Compass for the trifecta.

Tortured Logic

December 13, 2007

Tony Blankley believes that the U.S. needs to foster goodwill between our nation and the moderate Muslims of the Middle-East. A brilliant suggestion. And for this reason, according to his commentary for NPR’s All Things Considered, he is thrilled that the tapes of CIA torture were destroyed.

Might I suggest that the best method of developing relations with a given group of people is to deal with them respectfully, honestly, and humanely? In case you were wondering, the use of torture fits in none of those three categories. The concept of trying to maintain friendly relationships by hiding deliberate immoral behavior is disingenuous—as well as morally bankrupt.

What’s really disturbing about this?

Tony is one of the less outrageous conservative advocates.

Street Prophets on Congress’s Christmas Resolution

December 13, 2007

Blogger Pastor Dan noted another example of conservative church-state-Christmas lunacy.

Overtreated: The Case for Single-Payer Healthcare

December 13, 2007

Steve Olsen, one of the most lucid writers in the Utah blogosphere, has written a nice post on Shannon Brownlee’s book Overtreated.

Brownlee’s (and Olsen’s) points are very relevant. It very much makes sense that in a free-market system where the ultimate goal is maximization of profits, health-care institutions would be less interested in curing illness efficiently. It is only rational (if amoral) that they would be more focused on keeping a catheter to your wallet.

For those who insist that the U.S. healthcare system is not a truly free-market system: you’re right. But it is a whole lot closer than the European systems which routinely provide more efficient care (not to mention the “socialized” VA system).

And yet still free-market apologists complain; most perplexingly about “undiscriminating” overuse (or abuse) of our health-care system, a complaint which I’ve addressed before. I would really like to know who these people are who “abuse” our health care system. How many people are making the regular, routine visits to their physician recommended to maintain optimal health? Just how many people are seeking professional medical advice at the first signs of developing problems? I’m betting the numbers are low. I suspect that to improve overall health in the U.S, we should be encouraging more use of the health care system (albeit use dictated by patient need rather than industry profit as mentioned in Overtreated) not less. The conservative attitude that we should just “walk it off” when our body warns us about health problems and only seek medical attention when things get serious courts disaster.