Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The GOP in Vegas

Last night was the GOP presidential debate in Las Vegas, broadcast by CNN.

More than ever the candidates talked about immigration reform.  The fence was the first topic and a couple of people suggested all 2,100 miles of it.

That may be overkill, but others talked about strategic placement, drone monitoring and a rapid response by BP agents.  That's more like it.  Our problem in the past is that executive control of enforcement on the border amounted to enforcing to the desired number.

For example, if you want to "prove" that fewer people are trying to cross, you either TBS (meaning that when you catch someone, instead of doing the paperwork you simply tell them to turn around) or you sit on an "X" (meaning that the BP agents position themselves in one spot, allowing illegals to avoid arrest by using another path).  There are ways to make the numbers say anything you want.

Some candidates talked about military presence ("boots on the ground") to stop the flow.  The obvious follow-up question involves the rules of engagement.  Will they patrol the border?  Will they carry weapons?  We learned that when they "call out the guard," all they are doing is acting as construction workers to put up light poles  and build fences.  A few sit in buildings and monitor screens for movement.

Real military presence would mean true force-multipliers for the BP.  And when you do that, expect backlash from Mexico.  Are these candidates willing to stand tall against Calderon?  That seems like a stupid question, but this president and the last one have been cowards when it comes to Mexican diplomacy.

Some of the GOP candidates were bold enough to talk about mandatory E-Verify.

None talked about deportation, detention beds, withholding benefits and local cooperation programs.

I'm glad they are talking about enforcement, and glad they are talking tough.  But there is still much that is left unsaid.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

AWOL Senators

Perhaps Washington is too busy.  Perhaps they have too many meetings.
But one thing is certain: They do a lousy job of representing us.
A case in point is a Senate Finance Committee hearing held today (October 18, 2011)
Keep in mind that this committee consists of 24 members, about half from each party.

The topic was tax deductions for charitable giving.

Now, some photos of the proceedings:
This screen shot shows Max Baucus as Chairman.  He will open the meeting and stay for 20 minutes of the two hour hearing.

Grassley makes an appearance and makes a statement, then leaves.  He shows no interest in what the presenters have to say.

Cardin, Carper and Thune also attended parts of the hearing.  And they had questions for the panel of five.
At one point, about 75 minutes in, Hatch excuses himself, leaving the meeting without a chairman.
At the end, he was alone to swing the gavel.

How in the world do our leaders expect to lead when they don't even attend the meetings?

Here's a nugget of truth from one of the presenters at the hearing:

“Some economists and other scholars contend that this is, in effect, a tax expenditure because tax revenues are reduced by the benefit granted. In other words, because the government could have denied the charitable deduction there is a government expenditure in its granting the deduction and forgoing the revenue. By that reasoning the personal income we think is ours is really the government’s because of its choice not to take it away by taxation. That is surely an attitude not shared by most Americans.”

Elder Dallin H Oaks, Senate Hearing on Charitable Giving, October 18, 2011

For the record, here is a list of all the Senate Finance Committee members.

Chairman: Max Baucus, Democrat MT
Ranking member: Orrin Hatch, Republican UT

John D. Rockefeller IV WV
Kent Conrad ND
Jeff Bingaman NM
John F. Kerry MA
Ron Wyden OR
Charles E. Schumer NY
Debbie Stabenow MI
Maria Cantwell WA
Bill Nelson FL
Robert Menendez NJ
Thomas R. Carper DE
Benjamin L. Cardin MD

Chuck Grassley IA
Olympia J. Snowe ME
Jon  Kyl  AZ
Mike Crapo ID
Pat Roberts KS
Michael B. Enzi WY
John Cornyn TX
Tom Coburn OK
John Thune SD
Richard Burr NC

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A 46-year-old time capsule

That was then...
this is now.

I take you back to the year 1965.  It was a time of unrest in America.  Students were burning everything from bras to draft cards, with a few American flags and effigies of Presidents thrown in for good measure.

A prophetic voice sounded in the form of Gordon B. Hinckley, then an apostle of the LDS Church.  (We would do well to note that Mitt Romney’s father was probably in attendance at the meeting.  It is clear that he raised his children according to the principles outlined by Hinckley.  Obama was probably never taught anything of the sort, since his mother was one of the protesters of the day.  Just sayin’.)

Hinckley opened the Saturday morning session of the LDS General Conference on October 2, 1965.  His sermon was titled, “A Charter for Youth.”

Below are excerpts from his remarks: 

It is a four-point charter. It is a bill of entitlement, setting forth briefly some of those priceless values we owe every young American, and the youth of the world. They are—

1. A home to grow in.
I mention first a home to grow in. I recently read an article written by a young man who roamed the Berkeley campus and its environs. His descriptions were clever, but his illustrations were tragic. He told of a girl, a student from an affluent home. Her father was a man of means, an executive of a large corporation, loyal to the company, loyal to his club, loyal to his party, but unwittingly a traitor to his family. Her mother had saved the civic opera, but had lost her children. The daughter, a child of promise, had become entangled in a student revolt, and without an anchor, had quit school, and had drifted to the beatnik crowd, her will-o'-the-wisp satisfactions coming only from nights of reveling and days of rebellion.

Of course, her father mourned and her mother wept. They blamed her, evidently unaware of their own miserable example of parenthood which had done much to bring her to the tragic circumstances in which she found herself.

As I read that account there passed through my mind the classic statement uttered at this pulpit by President McKay—"No other success can compensate for failure in the home."

It is the rightful heritage of every child to be part of a home in which to grow—to grow in love in the family relationship, to grow in appreciation one for another, to grow in understanding of the things of the world, to grow in knowledge of the things of God.

I was recently handed these statistics taken from the county records of one of our Southwest communities. In 1964 in this county of which I speak, there were 5807 marriages and 5419 divorces, almost one divorce for every marriage. Can we expect stability out of instability? Is it any wonder that many of our youth wander in rebellion when they come from homes where there is no evidence of love, where there is a lack of respect one for another, where there is no expression of faith? We hear much these days of the Great Society, and I do not disparage the motives of those who espouse it, but we shall have a great society only as we develop good people, and the source of good people is good homes.

It was said of old, "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it" ( Ps. 127:1).

2. An Education Worth Striving For
I move to the second premise of this charter for youth—an education worth striving for. Time will permit little more than a brief mention of a few observations.

Education has become our largest business. On the basis of economics alone, it is larger than steel, or automobiles, or chemicals. On the basis of its influence upon our society, its impact is incalculable. Its very size, particularly in our universities, has brought into relief its most serious problem—a lack of communication between teacher and student, and a consequent lack of motivation of those who come to be taught.

A recent article in one of our national magazines contained this statement from a college teacher: ". . . there has hardly been a time, in my experience, when students needed more attention and patient listening to by experienced professors than today. The pity is that so many of us retreat into research, government contracts, and sabbatical travel, leaving counsel and instruction to junior colleagues and graduate assistants . . . What is needed are fewer books and articles by college professors and more cooperative search by teacher and taught for an authority upon which to base freedom and individuality." (J. Glenn Gray, Harper's Magazine, May 1965; p. 59.)

The great thoughts, the great expressions, the great acts of all time deserve more than cursory criticism. They deserve a sympathetic and an enthusiastic presentation to youth, who in their hearts hunger for ideals and long to look at the stars. Nor is it our responsibility as teachers to destroy the faith of those who come to us, it is our opportunity to recognize and build on that faith. If God be the author of all truth, as we believe, then there can be no conflict between true science, true philosophy, and true religion.

3. A Land To Be Proud of
I move to the next—a land to be proud of. Congress recently passed a law inflicting heavy penalties for the willful destruction of draft cards. That destruction was essentially an act of defiance, but it was most serious as a symptom of a malady that is not likely to be cured by legislation. Patriotism evidently is gone from the hearts of many of our youth.

Perhaps this condition comes of lack of knowledge, a provincialism that knows nothing else and scoffs at what little it knows. Perhaps it comes of ingratitude. This attitude is not new. Joshua, speaking for the Lord, doubtless had in mind this same indifference when he said to a new generation that had not known the trials of the old: ". . . I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat" ( Josh. 24:13).
We shall not build love of country by taking away from our youth the principles which made us strong—thrift, initiative, self-reliance, and an overriding sense of duty to God and to man.

A terrible price has been paid by those who have gone before us, this that we might have the blessings of liberty and peace. I stood not long ago at Valley Forge, where George Washington and his ragged army spent the winter of 1776. As I did so, I thought of a scene from Maxwell Anderson's play in which Washington looks on a little group of his soldiers, shoveling the cold earth over a dead comrade, and says grimly, "This liberty will look easy by and by when nobody dies to get it."

How we need to kindle in the hearts of youth an old-fashioned love of country and a reverence for the land of their birth. But we shall not do it with tawdry political maneuvering and enormous handouts for which nothing is given in return.

Love of country is born of nobler stuff—of the challenge of struggle that makes precious the prize that's earned.

This is a good land, declared by the Lord in the scripture in which we believe to be ". . . a land . . . choice above all other lands" ( 1 Ne. 2:20), governed under a constitution framed under the inspiration of the Almighty.

4. A Faith To Live By
And now the fourth premise of my charter—a faith to live by.

It was said of old that "where there is no vision, the people perish" ( Prov. 29:18). Vision of what? Vision concerning the things of God, and a stem and unbending adherence to divinely pronounced standards. There is evidence aplenty that young people will respond to the clear call of divine truth, but they are quick to detect and abandon that which has only a form of godliness but denies the power thereof ( 2 Tim. 3:5), "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" ( Matt. 15:9; see  JS—H 1:19).

I have sincere respect for my brethren of other faiths, and I know that they are aware of the great problem they face in a dilution of their teachings as some try to make their doctrine more generally acceptable. Dr. Robert McAffee Brown, professor of religion at Stanford, was recently quoted as saying:

"Much of what is going on at present on the Protestant scene gives the impression of being willing to jettison whatever is necessary in order to appeal to the modern mentality . . .

"It is not the task of Christians to whittle away their heritage until it is finally palatable to all." (The Daily Herald, [Provo, Utah], August 12, 1965, p. 13-A.)

To this we might add that what is palatable to all is not likely to be satisfying to any, and particularly to a generation of searching, questioning, seeking, probing young men and women.

In all the change about them, they need a constancy of faith in unchanging verities. They need the testimony of their parents and their teachers, of their preachers and their leaders that God our Eternal Father lives and rules over the universe; that Jesus is the Christ, his Only Begotten in the flesh, the Savior of the world, that the heavens are not sealed; that revelation comes to those appointed of God to receive it; that divine authority is upon the earth.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Crosshairs aren't new

There is a great deal of noise these days about how mean spirited our criticism has been toward our politicians.  Everyone is on high alert whenever anyone talks about "crosshairs" or words with any sort of double meaning.

My personal observation has been that the left has redefined criticism as hate speech.  Disrespect of the president happened all the time, but became a "civility" issue in January of 2009.  Hmmm.

Dick Cheney was on WLS radio yesterday and he was asked the question about this lack of civility.  His answer was an interesting one.  He said he was ill-qualified to judge the question, but that he recalled that when he first moved his family to Washington in 1968 there were 14,000 US troops in the streets of DC.  Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King had been killed that year and people were marching in the streets all the time. 

I remember those days.  I recall civil right marches, anti-war marches and feminist marches. 

I remember regular burnings of the flag and effigies of the president.  You don't get more uncivil than that!

The Tea Party has a reputation for hauling out their own trash and policing the area to pick up the garbage left by others.  And yet they are painted as hateful.

The real problem is that they are tugging at the leftist narrative and challenging the progressive movement on its corrupt leadership and self-serving motives.

And in case you hadn't noticed, the people blowing things up aren't conservatives.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Libertarians and the GOP

I'm sifting through my thoughts these days, challenged by the GOP debates and Ron Paul, the Republican.

A friend asked me a few years ago if I was a Libertarian, and I had to admit that I was leaning in that direction.  Their message of limiting government appealed to me.  I was tired of Washington telling me what kind of toilet to buy and my city telling me where I could park on my property.

Joining the Tea Party parade of less government and lower taxes was a natural mutation for Libertarians.

But here's the problem, and Ron Paul exhibits it perfectly.  Libertarians are incompatible with Republicans in these key areas:
1) A strong defense.  Paul would argue that he is in favor of a strong defense if our enemies were selected constitutionally.  We find common ground in the actions of Obama regarding Libya.  But he goes too far.  He says Iraq and Afghanistan are illegal wars as well.  How so?  Congress has approved and funded both wars.  Two presidents have chosen to fight there.  How are they not constitutional wars?

He gets away with that rhetoric because America is tired of both wars.  And we need to have that discussion, but it is simplistic on Paul's part to simply pull out because it doesn't pass the constitutionality test drawn up by Libertarians.

2) Legalizing street drugs.  That's a common saw of Libertarians.  It just doesn't sit well with conservatives.

3) Paul opposes the Real ID program.  On the surface, we're all tired of government tracking.  But at some point he's going to be looking in the mirror regarding immigration enforcement.  Like it or not, "Show me your papers," is the law for all non-citizens.  Come to think of it, we all must show our drivers license or ID to a police officer upon request.  Paul might say he supports Arizona, but that doesn't square with his liberty side.

4) The ACLU.  Most Republicans have a real problem with the ACLU.  We maybe side with their efforts 1% of the time.  Libertarianism is what the ACLU stands for.

5) Extreme application of concepts.  Be it the Federal Reserve, public education, health care or foreclosure, the Libertarians have taken an extreme view.  Conservatives want the Fed audited and better controlled; Paul wants it abolished.  Just how do you do that?

6) Lack of party standing.  When you want to get something done in Washington, you need votes.  It is a matter of those pesky checks and balances.  President Paul would have very few votes to work with.  He's too far out there.  How would he possibly get anything done, especially with his plan to reinvent government.  He has few Congressional votes behind him.

For me the Libertarians need to stay within their own party.  We've seen what happens when the far left creates a White House staff and tries to pull America to an extreme.  How would Ron Paul be any different?