Thursday, January 12, 2012

Patrick Henry or Gideon?

Patrick Henry's famous quote:

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

Gideon's famous quote:

"For it is better that we should be in bondage than that we should lose our lives; therefore, let us put a stop to the shedding of so much blood."

Where do you come down?

Friday, October 14, 2011

The perils of scripture and politics

Read this and tell me what you think it means:

4 And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.

5 And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

6 Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;

7 And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.

[D&C 98:4-7]

Do you think that

a.) This means the Lord supports the U.S. Constitution as the only law of the land, and that anything more or less than the Constitution "cometh of evil", or

b.) This means the Lord supports his followers in upholding the law, and that he generally approves of the Constitution (but doesn't explicitly rule out other forms of government) because it allows his followers the freedom to follow Him, or

c.) None of the above?

Operators are standing by...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Scriptural Basis For Mormon Environmentalism

As a Mormon and an environmentalist I believe that ensuring healthy air, water, and ecosystems is our moral and religious duty.  My own Mormon environmentalism is based on three important principles found in the scriptures.

First, all of creation is imbued with a soul, and thus has value.  We are taught that all things, both animate and inanimate, were created “spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth” (Moses 3:5), therefore they all have a “living soul” (Moses 3:9), and the “worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10).  We are even taught that our mother earth herself has a soul and is conscious of our “filthiness”  (Moses 7:48).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pro-Death Bona Fides

In a strange twist, Republican candidates now must seemingly prove their pro-death bona fides to the Tea Party extremist base.  In the last two Republican debates the crowd has made it clear that death is preferable to life, eye-for-an-eye-tooth-for-a-tooth is preferable to love thy neighbor and blessed-are-the-peacemakers and good-samaritanism and so forth.  (Videos below)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Social Justice in Book of Mormon-Era Governments

I recently came across the following verse in the Book of Mormon, Helaman 6:39:
And thus they did obtain the sole management of the government, insomuch that they did trample under their feet and smite and rend and turn their backs upon the poor and the meek, and the humble followers of God.
At this time in the history of the Book of Mormon, the Lamanites are righteous and the Nephites are not, so much so that the Nephites have allowed the Gadianton robbers to take control of the government.  Upon taking control the Gadianton folks immediately started harassing and making life miserable for the poor.
There are various ways to interpret this verse, we don't really know for sure exactly what was going on, but it struck me that this verse may be evidence of social justice in Book of Mormon-era government.  The assumption of the verse seems to me to be that previous to the robbers taking over the government, the government was in the business, to some unknown degree, of helping the poor.  Following the take-over the policy is reversed and the robbers used the government as described.  Why else would the author describe of the oppression of the poor and meek in the same sentence he states that the Gadianton's took over the government if not to draw that contrast?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Down With the Two-Party System

. . . kind of.
As it stands now, there are two major political parties that are supposed to somehow represent the infinitely more complex political views of hundreds of millions of Americans.  It's a political duopoly.  Our two political parties, meanwhile, are failing us spectacularly.

Not only are the two parties failing us, but the two-party system itself, regardless of which parties are in control, is failing us.  It is a system which actively suppresses diverse ideas and candidates and thinking-outside-the-box, which results is less choice and less democratic representation for Americans.

The 2000 presidential election is an apt illustration of this problem.  More people voted for Al Gore than George W. Bush, but Bush became president of the United States.  So you have a situation where the president of the United States did not garner a majority vote of Americans.  This might be attributed to two major factors.  First, the electoral college and, second, the presence of Ralph Nader.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Huntsman the Environmentalist

I think Jon Huntsman might be campaigning for my specific vote.  I'm not sure he even cares if he becomes president, as long as I vote for him.  Because, really, I can't see who his constituency might otherwise be.

Huntsman recently had dinner with a bunch of environmentalists and declared that "conservation is conservative."  Add this to a list of other moderate-to-liberal stances, and I'm not sure Huntsman has a firm grasp on today's Republican Party.  This is not a party of moderation, generally, and certainly not a party hospitable to even inklings of environmentalism.

I've already expressed a little political crush on him, so if he keeps reaching out to me personally like this I'm in trouble because my steamy new political partner is the Green Party and I don't want them getting jealous.  But a moderate Mormon environmentalist as President of the United States?  That's hot.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Two More Debt Ceiling Facepalms

1.  If one didn't know any better, one might conclude that our elected officials don't care whatsoever about the American people.  I know it may sound shocking, but I have this sneaking suspicion.  As evidence, I give you this Washington Post-ABC poll which asked people, among other things, if they would oppose or support certain items in an effort to reduce the national debt.  Here's a summary:

Cut spending on Medicaid:  26% support, 72% oppose

Cut military spending:  43% support, 56% oppose

Raising taxes on Americans earning over $250,000 a year:  72% support, 27% oppose

Gradually raising Medicare age from 65 to 67:  46% support, 54% oppose

Changing the way SS benefits are calculated so they increase slower:  42% support, 53% oppose

Raising taxes on oil and gas companies:  59% support, 39% oppose

Means testing Medicare:  61% support, 36% oppose

Removing SS tax income cap currently at $107,000:  66% support, 33% oppose

Raising taxes on hedge fund managers (essentially changing capital gains taxes to income taxes):  64% support, 25% oppose

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Debt Ceiling Drama Makes Everyone Look Incompetent

The debt ceiling stuff makes me sick to my stomach.  Despite the fact that the warnings about default are clear and dire, our elected leaders seem to be only interested in political showmanship and not actually solving the problem.

On the one hand you have the Republicans who are the party much more responsible for our unwieldy debt, refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless all of their suddenly austere measures are met without any inkling of desire to compromise on any issue.  They are the major cause of the problem, are completely hypocritical about government debt and size now that they believe it is politically advantageous, and are unwilling to negotiate like responsible adults to avoid the catastrophe they precipitated.  They are more interested, it seems, in pleasing their corporate overlords than doing what is right for the American people.  Here is one graph, among many many many, that illustrates the level to which Republicans are at fault for the debt:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Good News Everyone: Corporations Are Doing Great

The economic recovery isn't going so well for Americans.  The unemployment rate is still over nine percent and hiring is actually slowing down again.  Home foreclosures are still occurring at an alarmingly high rate.  Regular people are not doing well.  In short, as the Wall Street Journal notes: "Across a wide range of measures—employment growth, unemployment levels, bank lending, economic output, income growth, home prices and household expectations for financial well-being—the economy's improvement since the recession's end in June 2009 has been the worst, or one of the worst, since the government started tracking these trends after World War II."

In contrast--stark, ugly contrast--corporations are doing great.  Corporate profits are at an all-time high.  Corporations are holding onto a record amount of cash, around $2 trillion.  The GDP is higher now than it was pre-recession, but virtually all increased income was captured as profits by corporations.  Stocks are the highest they've been since the recession began.  Taxes on the wealthiest Americans are at all-time lows.  The Wall Street Journal astutely noted that there is a "dichotomy between corporate performance and the overall health of the economy."

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mormon and Green

It seems to me that every instinct that the current American political class has is wrong.  The economy is faltering badly after banks and insurance firms drove it to disaster with too many risks and bad investments?  Let's deregulate, cut programs to the poor and those most vulnerable, and lower taxes on the rich.  The western forests are unhealthy and in bad shape because of decades of mismanagement?  Let's manage them with an even heavier hand.  The debt ceiling is about to be reached, and default by the government could have dire consequences for an already weak economy?  Let's play political games with it.  Climate change problem?  Scientists are communists.  No one seems to have the gumption or desire to stand up for something better.

As I looked over and contemplated my glib list of problems, politically, with America, it became glaringly clear that the Democrats and Republicans don't have the solutions.  They are too entrenched and powerful to come up with big, new ideas to fix big, new problems.  I've known this for quite a while, of course, on some level I think we all do, but the idea is continually sharpening in my mind.  As a Mormon with the political convictions that I have, I feel more and more compelled to cast my lot with the Green Party.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What's Wrong With Us? Some ideas.

Perhaps I'm just in a bad mood, politically, but I made a list of what's wrong with America right now.  Enjoy:
  1. Pointless, horrible wars that we won't end.
  2. An assault on our civil liberties, mostly due to the Patriot Act.
  3. A complete lack of initiative and desire to do something about climate change and out-of-control consumption of fossil fuels.
  4. The deterioration of our public school system.
  5. The ever-growing income disparity chasm between the rich and poor.
  6. A broken health care system and no universal health care on the horizon to fix it.
  7. Underregulated crony corporatism.
  8. Insulated, unaccountable politicians.
  9. Incivility and bigotry.
  10. The New York Yankees.
To sum it up: we have a bipartisan assault on peace, liberty, niceness, the poor, and the environment.  Am I missing anything?