Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Caffeine at BYU?!



The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or the Mormons) has a health code known as The Word of Wisdom. It is found in Section 89 of the LDS publication known as the Doctrine and Covenants. One vers refers to "hot drinks", interpreted as coffee and tea.
And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly. -- Doctrine & Covenants, 89:9

The general consensus is that this restriction is due to the addictive component of these drinks: caffeine -- not necessarily the "hot" temperature itself.

The world is flooded with caffeinated soft drinks -- which are served cold -- not hot. A substantial portion of faithful members of the LDS church consume these soft drinks every day, usually several times per day. Some even confess (brag about) their addiction to caffeine.

The Church has never issued a formal statement that consumption of caffeinated soft drinks violate the Word of Wisdom. Consumers of caffeinated coffee and tea are considered not worthy to enter LDS temples. Consumers of caffeinated sodas are considered worthy. Dunno why there is a double standard or why many consider caffeine in soda to be okay, but caffeine in "hot drinks" is bad.

LDS owned and operated Brigham Young University (BYU) has long restricted the sale of caffeinated soft drinks on campus. In September, this restriction was lifted. No announcement was made as to whether the Church now deems consumption of addictive caffeine is good or whether the Church capitulated to pressure. A capitulation reminds me of the case where the Lord capitulated to Joseph Smith and Martin Harris, resulting in the loss of 116 pages of the Book of Mormon transcript. The Lord essentially said no, no, then, okay do what you want and see what happens.

I grew up in Utah, but military life had me living outside of Utah for 26 years. During those years outside Utah, I never saw a member of the LDS church with a caffeinated drink. On my return to "Zion" 17 years ago, I was shocked to see a large portion of my fellow "Saints" flaunting their consumption of caffeine. I've even seen caffeinated drinks purchased from the ward budget and served at church functions -- even youth activities!

How am I supposed to counsel my children, grand children, and the young men I work with in the Aaronic priesthood to avoid addictive substances when they see their parents and their priesthood leaders defiantly and proudlly consuming caffeine?

Sure, the church hasn't taken a formal stand on caffeinated sodas. But, should they have to? Consider this:
For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefor he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness. -- D&C 58:25-26

As Dennis Miller says, "Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong."

Friday, October 6, 2017

Firearms and mental health



Regarding how to prevent mass shootings, a friend and former coworker asked the following:
What I'm asking here is your take on Pollard who seems to have followed all the rules obtaining his weapons. Apparently his modifications were not obtained illegally. He was an educated man who held professional employment positions and reputedly was of some wealth. He was not a felon and lived in a gated community. By all external appearances he was a "good" guy up until he crossed the line. Until that time he might have shared your argument with some validity. But, then what happened? What happened to make a difference? This was the question I posed to you Blaine years ago. Now we have the reality of the what if my question back then. The inanimate object in the hands of the law abiding citizen until the moment he became a law breaker. What happened? What do we do now?

My answer:

We can't know much about what went on in his mind that led to the shooting because that mind didn't have a flight recorder. We do know that he was taking a psychotropic drug (Valium) to treat anxiety. Such drugs have known, dangerous side effects (confusion, hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior, unusual risk-taking behavior, decreased inhibitions, no fear of danger, thoughts of suicide or hurting oneself, hyperactivity, agitation, aggression, hostility, restlessness, irritability). Adverse symptoms can be precipitated or exaggerated upon withdrawal. (We give that crap to our children to drug them into factory-like uniformity.) It was reported on Thursday that his girlfriend said some of his behaviors were troubling.

I am opposed to denying a person of any rights solely because that person is under treatment for mental health issues unless due process of law is taken to ensure his/her rights are protected. A blanket, arbitrary denial of everyone who takes Valium would discourage those who need help from seeking/accepting help.

However, even mild mental illness should be sufficient notice to friends, family, coworkers, physicians, therapists, etc. to watch a bit more closely for signs of danger and to intervene before the illness is out of control. Adequate signs of imminent danger were manifest in every mass-shooting incident I know of. Nobody did anything to stop it.

We cannot ban objects simply because they might be abused by someone. Likewise, we cannot arbitrarily imprison anyone who hasn't committed a crime, but has the potential to do so. In both cases, we can and should take steps to eliminate risk. In the case of objects that can be abused, we offer/require training and limit use of those objects to persons who are competent (eg, driving a vehicle after reaching a certain age or driving sober). In the case of persons, we impose background checks and age limits for firearm purchases (which the Las Vegas shooter obviously passed) to identify persons with documented dangerous and irresponsible behaviors and we must watch those around us for incipient behavioral problems and get that person help while treatment is still easy. At some point, after due process of law, we sometimes need to lock people up for treatment until behavioral problems are resolved.

We are our brother's keeper. As airmen, we do that for our fellow crew-members when they deviate from established standards in the cockpit. We need to do that for family and friends in everyday life too. The Las Vegas (Aurora, Austin, Charleston, Columbine, Ft. Hood, Luby's Cafeteria, Pulse Night Club, San Bernardino, Sandy Hook, Umpqua, Virginia Tech, etc.) shooter needed that help, and didn't get it.

Another safety step I take is personal avoidance of gun-free zones -- places where only dangerous people have guns. The venue for Sunday night's concert and surrounding casinos are examples.

Caveat: Although I have a graduate degree in counseling, I am not a practicing or licensed mental health therapist nor am I an attorney. I don't pretend to be either on TV.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

On Banning inanimate objects



The Las Vegas shooter is reported to have had several bump-fire stocks. The typical knee-jerk reaction is a call to do away with "bump" stocks. I suggest the best way to make bump-stocks go away is by working aggressively to have the unconstitutional federal firearm acts of 1927, 1934, 1938, 1968, 1972, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 1999, and 2008 (ya got enough government yet?) immediately rescinded. If we get that done, there will be absolutely no incentive for anyone to go to the bother to find the loopholes in those laws.

Now, even the NRA says it's willing to "talk" about "bump" stocks. The NRA seems unaware that the ATF, under the anti-gun Obama administration approved "bump" stocks. Regardless, I don't need a "bump" stock to bump-fire any semi-auto firearm. All the "bump" stock does is make bump-firing significantly safer.

The NRA says it's willing to compromise on a firearm safety device!

There is no room whatsoever for compromise on gun rights. We've already lost far too much. (Compromise with tyranny and evil always moves in the direction of tyranny and evil. Always.)

An attack on any segment of the responsible firearms community (including those who own/use "bump" stocks) is an attack on the entire firearms community -- even it that attack comes from within. (Anyone ever hear of Jim Zumbo?)

The NRA's leadership, of all people, should know that.

I am the NRA and I vote. I even vote in the elections to determine who will sit on the NRA Board of Directors. I will remember today's statement from the NRA the next time I vote therein.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The only effective way to implement gun control


Late on Sunday, October 1, 2017, a cowardly madman fired into a crowd of some 22,000 people at an open-air concert in Las Vegas. Dozens were killed, hundreds injured.

Naturally, the call for "reasonable" gun control immediately surfaced. (That call is a tacit admission that none of the 20,000+ gun-control laws already on the books are "reasonable" or effective.)

There is only one way to prevent this sort of tragedy: Simultaneous, instant, complete, 100% confiscation and destruction of all arms -- whether owned by civilians, police, military, or by gun-prohibitionists and their body guards.

Note that the US alone has hundreds of millions of civilian-owned arms (nearly all of which are used safely and responsibly).

How does one execute said confiscation?
• By simultaneously searching every inch of the world -- including in the closets, crawlspaces, and under the beds and carpets of gun prohibitionists.
• It'll require metal detector sweeps of yards, farm fields, and public lands to find any buried arms.
• We'll all (yes, even gun-prohibitionists and other children) be simultaneously marched through metal detectors and strip-search x-ray machines to find arms concealed on the body.
• Every barn, business, shed and vehicle will need to be searched (yes, even those possessed by gun prohibitionists).
• Children, spouses, cohabitants, coworkers, relatives, and neighbors will be required, maybe even bribed, to report any and all suspected possession of arms.
• All these searches will need to be repeated at least daily and forever to identify clandestine manufacture and acquisition of arms.
• Each and every piece of property must be searched simultaneously to catch the movement of arms from one location to another.
• Ironically, the necessarily massive force of searchers will be armed with hundreds of millions of firearms -- for their own safety, of course.

Total, instant, and simultaneous confiscation is the only way to disarm the people. I guarantee it will result in war. When it comes to intrusion on their own person and property, not even the most ardent gun-prohibitionist would tolerate what has to be done to satisfy their own goal.

If the Duchess of Chappaqua, the Indian princess from Massachusetts, the two senators from California, Space Man Mark Kelly, and the widow of Reagan's press secretary who took a head-shot shot in the gun-free zone known as Washington DC have a better plan for disarmament, I'd like to see it.

BTW, anyone who has ever smoked an illicit joint has no standing to call for prohibition of anything.

"While the desire to prevent atrocities like the one committed in Las Vegas is both understandable and good, it is impossible to have a reasoned discussion on the best ways to prevent mass attacks when emotions, rather than facts, are the foundation for debate." —Sean Davis

Emotion is a terrible way to make law or policy.


Roots of [gun] violence



Violence (gun or otherwise) has several roots:

• Selfishness
• Mental illness
• A mass "news" media that chooses to profit more from stirring up anger, divisiveness, and hatred than from simply reporting the news
• Broken and dysfunctional families -- especially families with no father
• Gangs
• Devaluing life to the point where the daily slaughter of 3,000 unborn children is normal (almost always for the mere convenience of one or both parents)
• Shameless, calculated destruction of entities that attempt to teach good values (eg churches, Boy Scouts, families)
• Harmful drugs and the "war on drugs"
• Diagnosing children with ADHD, then drugging them into factory-like uniformity with drugs known to have violent behavior as a side effect
• Government schools that are better at indoctrination than education
• Politicians who prohibit/mandate things/activities they know nothing about
• Dependence on a welfare/police state combined with ironic disrespect for authority
• Rejection of God in individual lives, families, communities, schools, and the nation as a whole
• Etc.

All of those problems are tough to fix. Blaming an inanimate object and responsible persons who own such objects is easier -- the lazy coward's way out.

"While the desire to prevent atrocities like the one committed in Las Vegas is both understandable and good, it is impossible to have a reasoned discussion on the best ways to prevent mass attacks when emotions, rather than facts, are the foundation for debate." —Sean Davis

Emotion is a terrible to make law or policy.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Most Americans are socialists, yet deny it


socialism - A political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole (ie government).

Most of the socialists in the nation deny they believe in socialism, yet they want government to own or control everything of importance and to take care of them from cradle to grave. They seem to think that noting important can be done unless the person(s) doing it receive a government paycheck.

Examples of socialism in the US include:
Airports
Airport security
Ambulance service
Business loans
Business regulations
Convention centers
Education (K through pHd)
Disaster loans
Entertainment (Shakespeare Festival)
Exercise classes
Fire departments
Gyms
Health care (including Medicaid, Medicare, ObamaCare, PHS, and VA)
Health insurance
Highways and highway maintenance
Housing (subsidized housing, homeless shelters, etc.)
Libraries
Museums
Nutrition (SNAP, soup kitchens, WIC, etc.)
Occupational licensing
Parks (city, county, state, national)
Postal service
Recreation (utah Summer Games)
Retirement homes
Product safety
Sanitation services (trash collection, etc.)
Senior centers
Social Security
Student loans & grants
Swimming pools
Theaters
etc.
Are the above functions important? Absolutely! Do the persons providing those services really need to be drawing a government pay check? Or, can they be performed just as well, maybe better in the private sector (businesses, charities, trade associations, etc.) if government would simply get out of the way?

I don't think most people really know what socialism is.
"Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy." — Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

"Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it." — Thomas Sowell

"Socialism is just another form of tyranny." — Walter E. Williams

"Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain." — Claude-Frédéric Bastiat

"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened." — Norman Thomas, Socialist Party presidential candidate 1936-68, Cofounder of the American Civil Liberties Union

"The main vice of capitalism is the uneven distribution of prosperity. The main vice of socialism is the even distribution of misery." — Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

"Democracy is indispensable to socialism." — Vladimir Lenin

"Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." — Alexis de Tocqueville

"The problem with Socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money." — Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister



Sunday, December 25, 2016

My gun-rights expectations for 2017


The Left keeps calling for "reasonable" restrictions on firearms. Unfortunately, virtually every existing gun law and every proposal from the anti-gun crowd is far from reasonable. They are almost entirely based on ignorance and emotion (horrible ways to make law).

I concede that some limitations on possession and use of arms is reasonable such as a prohibition on weapon possession by those who have proven to be irresponsible such as:
Felons
Former members of the Armed Forces who were discharged under dishonorable conditions
Fugitives from justice
Addicts and unlawful users of drugs
Those who have been adjudicated mentally incompetent
Persons who have renounced US citizenship
Illegal aliens


However, none of the 20,000+ gun-control laws already on the books has done anything to curb violent criminal behavior.

I expect Congress to work aggressively with President Trump to see that these changes in federal law are made promptly.

1 - Prohibit, by statute, all federal agencies from restricting arms and use of arms in any way. Congress must never delegate any authority to regulate arms in any way.

2 - Change "sporting purposes" to "lawful purposes" everywhere it is found in federal gun-control law.

3 - Clarify 18 USC § 930 to include personal protection as a lawful use of arms.

4 - Duplicate the concept of 36 CFR 2.4 in and on all federal properties such that any restrictions of the possession of arms be consistent with applicable state restrictions.

5 - Eliminate 39 CFR 232.1(l) or, at least, change the wording from "official purposes" to "lawful purposes as defined by state law".

6 - Eliminate all federal restrictions on arms in school zones (18 USC § 922(q)). Leave this matter to the states as required by the Tenth Amendment.

7 - Require the Department of Justice to aggressively enforce the Second Amendment in all 50 states, all US territories, and the District of Columbia.

8 - Use the Second Amendment to require all states, US territories, and the District of Columbia to give full recognition to all valid concealed carry permits issued by any other jurisdiction of the US.

9 - Remove short-barreled rifles, shotguns, silencers, and "any other weapons" From the National Firearms Act.

10 - Eliminate the Hughes Amendment which restricts private citizen ownership of a machine gun manufactured after the bill went into a law in 1986.

11 - Eliminate the Lautenberg Amendment which restricts gun rights based on certain misdemeanor convictions and restraining orders. (See 18 USC § 922(g)(8) and 18 USC § 922(g)(9)) If a person is dangerous enough to lose his/her gun rights, he/she should be in jail and/or have a felony conviction.)

12 - Eliminate the decades-old provision authored by Sen. Chuck Schumer that blocks appropriations for federal agencies that would restore gun rights for reformed ex-criminals. See 18 U.S.C. 925(c) and 27 CFR 478.144)

13 - In accordance with the Fifth Amendment, prohibit the VA and the Social Security Administration (and any other federal agency) from putting anyone (especially veterans) on any list that would restrict them from possessing and using arms for lawful purposes unless the individual is adjudicated in federal court as incompetent to possess and use arms. Immediately restore the gun rights of all veterans and other persons who have been restricted without due process of law.

14 - Authorize the repatriation of US-made collectible arms back into the US for sale to responsible adults.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Only Black lives matter?


People who live violent lives typically come to a violent end. That is sometimes the case when a cop confronts a violent thug. A disproportionate portion of those thugs seems to be Black. It is evident that the systematic destruction of the Black family has resulted in their young men being much more likely to be shot/arrested by law enforcement. That is a sociological and religious problem caused by "Progressive" politics -- not a police problem.

Last night movement calling itself "Black Lives Matter" (BLM) held a protest in Dallas. (Ironically, these people are angered want someone responds, "All Lives Matter" or "Blue Lives Matter".). Last night's protest protest ended with several police officers shot and at least 5 killed.

In response to that tragedy, a correspondent on Facebook posted a quote from the Dalai Lama:
I consider we are all the same as human beings, mentally, emotionally and physically. In order to ensure a more peaceful world and a healthier environment we sometimes point a finger at others saying they should do this or that. But change must start with us as individuals. If one individual becomes more compassionate it will influence others and so we will change the world.
Good advise. We are all children of God and deserve respect as such. Should that fail, however, the Dalai Lama also advises:
"If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun. (May 15, 2001)
To which, my correspondent responded:
I love you Blaine and respect your right to your opinion, but I guess I'm a turn the other cheek kind of gal who believes it will be a far dangerous world if we all start carrying guns around instead of smiles, hugs, handshakes and high fives.
Being a bit confrontational at times, I answered with the following commentary:

Smiles, hugs, handshakes and high fives were worthless in Dallas last night. They will not stop a violent man (or woman) who is determined to kill cops -- ar anyone else. Only violence can stop him -- unless one is simply willing to wait until he/she runs out of ammo/bombs/poison/accelerants or shoots himself.

You and the people you chose to associate with are good people. They respond to smiles, hugs, handshakes and high fives. Not everyone is like that. There are people out there who think the lives of your family are worth less than the $5 bill on your dresser and they'll be full of smiles, hugs, handshakes and high fives for their friends and accomplices after they leave.
If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun." — The 14th Dalai Lama, (May 15, 2001)
Democrats in the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are already promising (threatening) "a long hot summer" unless they get their way on infringing the rights of well over 100 million responsible American gun owners who don't shoot cops or anyone else.

I expect the area around this year's Democrat National Convention to [again] be one of the most violent places in the country this summer thanks, in part, to agitators in the leadership of the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM). Never-Trump Liberals will make the neighborhood around the Republican Convention almost as dangerous.

Then there are the typically cheerful "smiles, hugs, handshakes and high fives" chants at BLM protests: "Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon" and What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want them? Now!"

You want smiles, hugs, handshakes and high fives? Tell that to the BLM, CBC, and the Democrat leadership. Tell them to hold violent people accountable instead of attacking the law-abiding.

In the meantime, it is up to every responsible adult to be prepared to immediately meet violence with violence when smiles, hugs, handshakes and high fives don't work. No reasonable person wants to be among the statistics who wait for the rest of their lives for a man/woman with a gun to save them.
A citizen who shirks his duty to contribute to the security of his community is little better than the criminal who threatens it. — Robert Boatman


Thursday, June 16, 2016

"Easy access" to guns


Early Sunday morning, June 12, 2016, a radicalized muslim man shot some 100 defenseless persons, including 49 fatalities, in a "gun-free" Orlando nightclub. It took three hours for the police to bring the tragedy to a close!

Anti-rights activists were quick to blame Christians, and "easy access" to firearms. I imagine that at least a few patrons of a nightclub in Orlando wished, for the rest of their lives, that they had "easy access" in that "gun free" establishment. But, let's blame that tragedy on "easy access" -- not a madman led by a radical version of religion.

Here's a thought: How about we adopt a law that prohibits murder? That ought to work at least as well as banning "easy access" to guns.

Easy access? I had to pass -- and pay for -- an FBI background check for every firearm I've acquired since the adoption of the Gun Control Act of 1968. Everyone of those guns can be quickly traced to me if they are ever used in a crime, lost, or stolen. On the other hand the Supreme Court has determined that restricted persons (the deranged, felons, etc.) are not required to undergo those background checks or to register their guns (Haynes v. United States). How about fixing that "easy access" before you take away my "easy access"?

How do you fix "easy access" without a massive armed police force going door-to-door (including your door), simultaneously searching every closet, drawer, and flour barrel of every home, business, and outhouse in the world and confiscating every firearm that is not owned by government agencies?
(Now, there's something really terrifying -- only government agents having guns! That worked out nicely for millions of Jews and many other minorities in Nazi-controlled Europe.)

An interesting little bit of trivia: There are an estimated 10-14 million FBI-background-checked concealed firearm permit holders in the US. Statistically, they are the most law-abiding class of people in the nation -- 3-4 times more law-abiding than law enforcement (which, in turn, is 3-4 times more law-abiding than the general public). A few states have always had a provision for concealed carry, but since 1986, the number of states issuing permits has snowballed. Over the same period, government statistics show that gun-crime has dropped by half. Since the presidential election of 2008, gun ownership has skyrocketed while violent crime has continued to drop. Coincidence? I doubt it.

Until someone can guarantee absolute safety for everyone, I demand "easy access" for responsible adults who are willing to accept the responsibility, noting that the US Supreme Court has repeatedly dedecided that we commoners are not entitled to police protection (Castle Rock v. Gonzales).


Friday, May 27, 2016

Voters allow judges to usurp legislation


Many, if not most, Americans believe that the US Supreme Court has the last word on what's constitutional or what the Constitution means. Those believers are wrong.

The idea that the US Supreme Court has the final say on the law comes from the Court itself -- not from the Constitution (see Marbury v. Madison).

The US Supreme Court often issues opinions that are contradictory, wrong, and sometimes outright evil (eg Dred Scott and Roe v Wade). The justices on the Court rarely agree on anything. How can they get so much wrong? Because they rarely rely on the Constitution to determine what's constitutional. Instead, they rely on "precedents" -- often-flawed opinions of past judges as well as their own personal biases!

Now, we learn that, in the background, Supreme Court justices quietly edit their opinions without public notice or input!

The Constitution clearly specifies that Congress is the legislative (law-making) branch of the central government. Not bureaucrats in the executive branch. Not unelected lawyers in black dresses. Yet, these two oligarchies make new law every day!

The Constitution requires all government officials (politicians, judges, bureaucrats, law enforcement officers (including all attorneys) and members of the military) to swear to be loyal to the US Constitution -- not to judicial opinions, political parties, or to any person or group of persons. Sadly, most of these government agents give their loyalty to extraconstitutional laws and judicial rulings.
"One single object will merit the endless gratitude of the society: that of restraining the judges from usurping legislation." — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Livingston, March 25, 1825

"The public welfare demands that constitutional cases must be decided according to the terms of the Constitution itself, and not according to judges' views of fairness, reasonableness, or justice. I have no fear of constitutional amendments properly adopted, but I do fear the rewriting of the Constitution by judges under the guise of interpretation." — Justice Hugo Black, Columbia University's Charpentier Lectures (1968)
While many voters don't take a formal oath of loyalty to the Constitution, it is imperative that all voters understand the Constitution and the principles upon it was built and vote accordingly. Vote for principles -- not people, issues, or the letters "D", "R", or "L".

We need smarter voters.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Punish laser pointers!


A mother wants yet another thing banned in our schools because her son was assaulted and injured. This time, it's a laser pointer.

Our schools are full of things that can be used as weapons to assault students, school staff, and visitors: chairs, tables, pencils, pens, books, book bags, purses, nail files, etc. Think of all the potential weapons in shop class! Ban 'em all!

No, I have a better idea: Let's ban assault!

The boy in this story was assaulted. The weapon used in the assault is not nearly as important as the act itself. So, if we ban the act of assault, we can actually get something done about those who would harm others.

If we prohibit assault, the perpetrator could be arrested for assault, charged, convicted, and punished in criminal court. In addition, the victim could sue in civil court for redress -- damage to an eye could be worth a lot of money. The results of these court proceedings could be published to serve as a deterrent to further assaults.

Oh, wait. Assault already is a malum in se (look it up) crime punishable in both civil and criminal court!

Let's not pass yet another malum prohibitum (look it up) restriction which will be largely unenforceable. Instead of punishing laser pointers, how about simply punishing persons who cause harm to others?

Ya got enough government yet? One Mother doesn't think so. We need smarter voters.



Sunday, April 24, 2016

The political-party "establishment"


When a GOP official (or an official of any other party) says conventions pick nominees -- not primaries, they are correct. And that's the way our nation -- a republic -- was deliberately designed to work. It is not an "image problem" for anyone who understands the way a republic works.

Definition of republic: "A form of government in which power is explicitly vested in the people, who in turn exercise their power through elected representatives."

Too many Americans, even Republicans, fail to understand that the United States are multiple layers of republics within a republic. Even the Democrat Party is a republic! People who whine about the Republican "establishment" need to understand that the "establishment" got there through a grassroots republican process. The following applies to Democrats, Republicans, and less-known political parties:

In Utah, we begin by forming a mini-republic in our neighborhoods where, on caucus night, we make rules for the operation of our precinct meeting, then elect leaders and representatives (delegates).

A few weeks later, those delegates meet with delegates from other precincts in another mini-republic (county convention) where they make rules for the party in that county and elect county-level party officers as well as nominees for local public office.

Others of those delegates elected at the precinct level meet with other neighborhood-elected delegates in a state convention (another mini-republic). Delegates at the state convention make rules for the operation of the party at the state level and nominate candidates for multi-county, state, and national public office. They also elect representatives from among themselves to be delegates to the national party convention. The process then repeats itself at a national convention.

The result is a party "establishment" at all levels that got where it is by common people getting elected as precinct delegates by neighborhood elections. Ultimately, a few of them get elected to top-level positions in their political party.

Bottom line: If you don't like where the nation or your political party are taking you, show up for your local political meetings. Get to know the people who want to represent you. Run as a delegate yourself. The only people who have a voice are those who show up when it's time to take a vote. If you don't show up, you have no voice. If you see corruption in the "establishment", show up on caucus night and election day to help start the cleanup.

And that is probably the root of Donald Trump's complaints about the Republican "establishment". Few of his fans have likely ever been involved in local politics. They don't know how a republic works from the grassroots level to the top. They don't know that the "establishment" consists of their own neighbors who simply took an interest and the responsibility in making the political system work to the advantage of their neighbors and themselves.

If, like Trump, you don't know the rules of the game, it's really convenient to say that the game is rigged every time the game doesn't go your way or to blame it on an "image problem".



Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Cynicism and politics

A friend recently referred me to an essay from Lew Rockwell's website, then wrote, "Kind of bothers me that I've become cynical enough that I don't see what is talked about in this essay as such a bad thing. Because, we really have become the disunited states, sadly."

It is extremely easy to become cynical and defeatist when one sees the state of politics and society these days. But, I believe that cynicism and pessimism are a denial of the power and roles of the Comforter.

Here is what I wrote in return to my friend:

Common themes I hear from LDS leadership in general conferences and read in church magazines are:

• Be prepared. Being prepared means having basic resources on hand for rough times and being debt-free. It means having one's life in step with God's counsel. It means paying tithing and other offerings. It does not mean preparing to live in tent cities -- something that has never come from LDS leadership but which is a religious hobby among many.

• Be involved. I am consistently dismayed by the turnout at caucus meetings, political candidate meet-and-greets, city-council/school-board/county-commission meetings, etc. I am no longer shocked but the percentage of fellow Americans who can't name even one elected official other than the president of the US. Yet, they feel free to criticize government and to vote for the very people they can't name. Involvement also includes doing volunteer work. The Church does what it can to get us to do "volunteer" work through various callings. But, if one doesn't put his/her heart into a calling, I don't think it really counts as being involved. We also need to be involved in non-church volunteerism so we can touch the lives of people we don't see every Sunday.

• Be optimistic. I don't think Libertarians (such any pundit on Lew Rockwell's show and website, including the author of this article) are very good at being optimistic. Pessimism is contrary to what I see in church magazines and to what I hear in general conference. I never hear or read church leaders talk about what this author writes about. The Church has taken steps (including excommunication) to distance itself from pessimists who are predicting imminent apocalypse, societal collapse, and tent cities. Yes, there are prophecies about future calamities, but LDS leaders don't seem to be worried about them -- possibly because they are confident that prepared, involved, and optimistic people will do just fine and they will see that their neighbors do fine as well.

As Dennis Miller says, "That's just my opinion. I could be wrong."



Saturday, April 16, 2016

On Republicans who think they are too pure to vote for the Republican nominee


Who are Hillary fans going to vote for if Bernie gets the Democrat nomination? Bernie!

Who are Bernie fans going to vote for if Hillary gets the nomination? Hillary!

The secret to Democrat wins is they consistently unite behind the nominee.

Who are Cruz fans going to vote for if Trump gets the Republican nomination? Nobody!

Who are Trump fans going to vote for if Cruz gets the nomination? Nobody!

Who are Rand Paul fans going to vote for since he didn't get the Republican nomination? The same as with his father 4 years ago -- nobody!

Many Republicans myopically withhold their votes because their favorite isn't the nominee and forfeit the advantage that Conservatives outnumber Liberals as much as two to one.

That, folks, is how we got Bill Clinton -- twice. That is how we got Obama -- twice. That is how we got Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

The fools who stay home (or vote for a third-party candidate with absolutely no chance of winning) simply because their favorite isn't in the race are harming us all. The same goes for the fools who don't vote because they think their votes don't matter. (They're right -- votes don't matter if they don't exist.)

The argument against voting for the lesser of two evils (ie the person who do the least damage to the Constitution) presumes that there is a perfect alternative. The reason evil wins is the refusal to vote if perfection isn't on the ballot.

Remember this: We crucified the last person who was perfect. There will be no perfect person on the ballot in this year's primary election or in the general election. Your best choice is to vote for the candidate you think will do the least damage to the Constitution. Anything else gives the rest of us the person you know darned well will do the most damage.

They won't say it, but Democrats thank you.



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Congress is robbing veterans of the educational benefits they were promised


As a veteran, retired military and airline pilot I am deeply concerned by HR 3016 (the Veterans Employment, Education, and Healthcare Improvement Act) which will break promises that the United States of America has made to its veterans.

This bill will cause immediate and alarming changes to collegiate flight training degree benefits for our nation’s military veterans. It arbitrarily discriminates against veterans seeking a flight-training degree from public institutions of higher learning because it caps funding only for these degree programs. Other courses of study are not capped.

Without personal financial resources, a veteran would be unable to attain an aeronautical college degree with a commercial pilot license under the proposed cap of $20,235 on flight training for tuition and fee payments at public schools.

It is clear that the Veterans Administration (VA) has a long-standing systemic nationwide breakdown within the agency caused by mismanagement, infighting, and alleged corruption. There is absolutely no excuse or reason for using HR 3016 to punish veterans for bureaucratic and political incompetence and corruption in the VA and Congress.

I certainly understand and support the need for improved fiscal responsibility and strongly support a tightening of existing VA regulations to curb abuses that have occurred in recent years by a minority of flight schools affiliated with collegiate degree programs. However, capping education and training for pilots will harm veterans and limit their employment opportunities in the aviation industry.

It is important to remember three things:
1 - The GI Bill education benefits are an important recruiting tool for the Armed Forces.
2 - Veterans who use their educational benefits to qualify for a career in aviation will be moving into high-tax-paying jobs. Surely that investment is far more prudent than food stamps for able-bodied adult who refuse to find meaningful jobs.
3 - The high cost of preparing for a career in aviation is a direct result of congressional and FAA overreaction -- imposing an arbitrary minimum of 1,500 flying hours – up from 250 hours – before one can sit in the cockpit of a regional jet as a first officer. Helping veterans reach that 1,500-hour milestone is a small way that Congress can redeem itself.

HR 3016 is an egregious disservice to our nation’s veterans, will exacerbate the deteriorating pool of commercial pilots — thereby accelerating the pilot shortage in this country — and will have a lasting detrimental effect on commercial aviation in the United States. Therefore, I urge you to reject HR 3016 in its current form.



Sunday, February 7, 2016

The draft, a large standing army, and the militia


USC Title 10, Sec. 311 says, in part, "The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard."

Article XV, Section 1 of the Utah Constitution says, "The militia shall consist of all able-bodied male inhabitants of the State, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, except such as are exempted by law."

The militias of the separate States is what our founders envisioned as the defense force for the Union and the States -- that almost all men be a trained and equipped part of that force -- that we not rely on a large standing armed force. Most of the units deployed in the Union's early wars were, in fact, state militia units and carried the names of their States. Think of the draft as a little more than a way to remind all men of that duty -- not a form of slavery and claimed by hard-core Libertarians.

The problem is that we evolved to using a large standing armed force -- especially since the war between the States. The militia has largely become an object of disdain. The Army Clause of the US Constitution points to the notion that a large armed force shouldn't be necessary for periods loner than two years -- only during periods of national emergency.

Among other problems, our large standing armed force enables politicians to easily stick their noses into the affairs of other nations where and when it is none of our business. The draft becomes evil only when it supplements that large standing armed force.

If those who abhor the draft (and/or the large standing armed force) would push for phasing out the standing army combined with the full restoration of a well-regulated (ie established, equipped, and trained by each individual state) militia and then actively pursue their own duties in the militia the draft would forever be a distant memory. However, I suspect that many of those who most vocally reject the draft would also be the least likely among us to accept their militia duties (hence the justification for a draft). They are self-righteous pontificating cowards. You know who you are.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Gun rights in Virginia - Sic Semper Tyrannis


As a former resident of Virginia, I am deeply concerned by the recent announcement that Virginia has dropped its recognition of concealed-firearm permits issued by half of the United States.

This change will have absolutely no effect on the behavior of criminals. It only punishes responsible adults of other states who have taken the steps to lawfully carry a concealed firearm.

The argument for this change is based on allegedly inferior training required in the now-restricted states. I must remind Virginia politicians that several states no longer require a permit or training to carry a concealed firearm (Vermont never has had such a requirement). Yet, even without mandatory training, those liberty-loving states have a much better firearm safety record than do states with harsh restrictions on concealed carry.

Although this decision does [yet] not directly affect me -- a Utah citizen -- I must contest any decision that adversely affects the safety and rights of a fellow human being without due process on an individual basis.

I urge every Virginian to work aggressively to immediately reverse this anti-rights decision.

I also urge Virginians to fight for statutory recognition of all concealed-carry permits issued by any state or local jurisdiction in the US. That's what we do in Utah with great success.

Remember the Virginia State Motto: Sic Semper Tyrannis.



Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Legislative powers


"All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives." -- US Constitution, Article I, Section 1.

What is it about that simple paragraph that presidents who issue executive orders and executive actions can't understand?

What is it about that simple paragraph that bureaucrats who issue tens of thousands of new pages of laws every year can't understand?

What is it about that simple paragraph that judges who make law from the bench can't understand?

What is it about that simple paragraph that congressmen who allow, even authorize the above behavior can't understand?

What is it about that simple paragraph that voters who elect politicians to engage in the above behavior can't understand?

All voters must demand that laws be written by Congress! We need smarter voters!



Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Libertarians and the proper role of government


Let me start with the proper role of government as understood and expressed by the Founders in 1776: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...."

Government exists primarily to secure our rights.

Currently, Article 1, Section I of the Utah Constitution reads, "All men have the inherent and inalienable right to...acquire, possess, and protect property...."

Libertas proposes to add one word: "use". The revised phrase would then read, "All men have the inherent and inalienable right to...acquire, possess, use, and protect property...."

On the surface, this proposed change seems good, even necessary to fully protect property rights.

Currently, property is zoned for different uses such as single-family residential, multi-family residential, agricultural, industrial, commercial, etc. Sometimes, a municipality might have long-range plans that differ from current zoning.

For example, over two decades ago, my neighborhood was zoned for agricultural purposes, then, at the request of the owner and with no objections from neighboring property owners, the zoning was changed to single-family residences. The property was subdivided into residential lots. Streets were surveyed and paved. Utilities were installed. My home was built soon after that change and many fine homes have since been built, creating a nice middle-class neighborhood.

Some of the property in my neighborhood, having been grandfathered, is still vacant, but used for agricultural purposes. The city's long-term plan is for the entire neighborhood to eventually consist of single-family homes. If any of the property currently used for agricultural purposes changes ownership, the zoning automatically changes to single-family residential use.

Those were the conditions that I accepted when I bought my home 14 years ago. I knew that I had horses on the property behind my house. I accepted that fact when I made the purchase. I enjoy my four-legged neighbors. I also knew that one day the horses would be gone and I'd see a single-family home on the other side of the fence. I accept that. I expect to enjoy my new two-legged neighbors.

But, the possible, even probable, result of this one-word constitutional amendment could be a buyer buying that horse property -- knowing that it will automatically be zoned for single-family residences as expected by the current neighbors and the city -- but with the intention of using that land for commercial or industrial purposes such as an automobile wrecking yard -- right in the middle of a nice residential neighborhood! It will definitely result in homeowners and home buyers setting up full-scale all-day businesses in structures built and intended as residences right in the middle residential neighborhoods with associated signs, parking, and traffic. the folks at Libertas don't seem to mind the prospect of the nice home next door or next to a church or school being converted into a massage/tattoo parlor. (Maybe that's what they want to do.)

To justify its proposal, Libertas uses the example of a couple that bought some property near Virgin, Utah. Surely that couple was conscientious enough to know how it was zoned. Their act of buying that land was an implicit acceptance of any zoning and land-use restrictions. If they wanted to do anything that is inconsistent with the zoning, they should have bought somewhere else. Don't buy, then impose your will on the rest of the neighborhood, claiming "property rights".

Back to paragraph one above. Government's primary and proper role is to secure (protect) the rights of the people. My neighborhood has a right to the environment we chose when we bought our property. We need government to protect our right to the use of our property under the conditions established when we bought the property unless we all agree that there needs to be a change.

If anyone wants to create an automobile wrecking yard, storage facility, factory, hotel, pig farm, RV park, etc., they are welcome to do so -- in an area that is zoned in a way that it doesn't harm the property rights of those who are already there. Don't barge in to exploit the new wording of the Constitution to do whatever you please regardless of the rights of your neighbors.

Libertas -- presumably being far wiser than all the rest of us -- wants to allow anyone to thus change the rules in the middle of the game. Their goal in this and other Libertas initiatives seems to be the protection or expansion of the rights of a selfish few at the expense of the rights of the community as a whole.

Do we have an out-of-control government? Absolutely -- even at the local level in too many cases. We need organizations like Libertas to help identify the problems and identify ways to fix them. But, do you fix that problem by throwing out necessary roles of government and regulation that protect rights? The hard-core libertarians of Libertas need to come to grips with the fact that government is necessary and that its primary role is to protect our rights from harm by the selfish -- not to establish a new right for selfish property owners to harm the rights and property values of existing property owners.

The revised wording seems good on the surface. But, the sad fact is that most voters won't take the time to ponder the consequences. I predict that the amendment will pass. Then, everyone who voted for it will wonder why that wrecking yard is on the other side of the fence. "Feel good" laws are the domain of the Left. I am deeply disappointed that Libertas is going there too.

We need smarter voters at Libertas.



Thursday, December 10, 2015

Donald Trump, Tom Brokaw, and free speech


Who should be silenced simply because somebody doesn't like what someone else says -- even if it is hateful? How many people? What ideas should be prohibited? Who gets to decide? A majority of the people? (Remember that 50 votes in a lynch mob of 99 is a majority, but still a lynch mob.)

The First Amendment guarantees Trump's right to say anything he wants. However, the First Amendment doesn't guarantee him an audience.

I think it's unfortunate that Trump even has an audience -- either on TV or in politics. (I. for one, chose to not be in his audience.) It would be much more unfortunate -- and hateful -- to silence him simply because some -- even a majority -- disagree with him.

Unanimity of thought, speech, and action is acceptable only when that unanimity is in full conformance with God's guidance. That being highly unlikely for the time being, we need the debate to pull in all directions from the Bernie Sanders Left to Ron Paul's Right in order to fall somewhere in the middle. (Based on Trump's inconsistent past and present, it's hard to predict where he'll ultimately drag the debate.)
"A function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as the are, or even stirs people to anger....That is why freedom of speech, though not absolute...is nevertheless protected against censorship." — William O. Douglas, US Supreme Court Justice (Terminiello v. City of Chicago)
So, here's Tom Brokaw's perspective on free speech (Hint: It's only for those on his side of the debate):

Tom Brokaw blasts Donald Trump

This is one of the most powerful segments we've ever seen. Tom Brokaw compares Donald Trump's call to bar Muslims from America to Japanese internment, Nazi Germany, McCarthyism, and Jim Crow - and he didn't stop there. This amazing video is well worth taking a moment to watch, via NBC News

Posted by Media Matters for America on Tuesday, December 8, 2015