Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Prayer of Thanksgiving – 318.5

In many ways, this year has not been the year that I planned on having, and it seems like many of the immediate things to be thankful for have a “but” attached, which I do not like. There is nonetheless a lot to be thankful for, and I wanted to express some of that in commemoration of the day.

Yes, I am unemployed, and that is scary. At the same time, I can’t really regret the loss of CDI, and we are getting by so far. I believe this period will eventually launch us in to something better. Also, we have a dog in the hospital right now, but we get her back tomorrow, and can hope that she will do better now. Other than those concerns, things are pretty good. So here are some of the things I am thankful for.

I am grateful for modern conveniences. We have soft mattresses, hot showers, and indoor plumbing. It would be lovely to have a dishwasher, but we can nonetheless wash the dishes and have them clean without building a fire or scouring them with sand. Having a computer means that I can write at a good pace, in a readable format that is easy to correct, without my hand cramping up. It’s much better than a typewriter.

I am grateful for my health, said the overweight diabetic whose blood sugar is becoming erratic without a trace of irony. For one thing, the way it is becoming erratic is that it is more likely to become low now, and that is easier to fix than a tendency to be high, and maybe means that I can slowly be weaned off some of these medicines that are designed to keep it low. In addition, I still have good mobility, and I am grateful to be able to walk and lift and reach and to not always be in pain. I am grateful to have the full use of my five senses. My eyesight is not great on its own, but modern optometry means that I do still get to see. I even have prescription sunglasses!

The dogs do worry us and cost us money, but they also provide unconditional love and amusement and warmth. The cat does not provide quite as much warmth, but she’s a lot cheaper to maintain and rarely worries us, so it works out.

I am thankful for my friends. I have some really good ones. Jennie goes back to third grade, and Karen and Ericka go back to seventh. I am especially lucky in that I did not maintain constant contact with Karen and Jennie, but I was able to find them again and reconnect, and I am glad to have them in my life. Now they have been joined by newer friends like Tara and Mollie and Jill, and that’s a good group of women. I am really thankful for Josh and Rachel, not only for pushing me to start this blog for about a year before I actually did it, but also for continually supporting me in keeping it up (even though I swear they said I should start one because I was so funny, and I don’t seem to get very funny most of the time).

This may sound cheesy, but I am grateful for Facebook. You can’t stay close to everyone whom you like or are interested in, but there are means to keep tabs on them, and that is great. And it’s free.

I’m grateful to be writing. I haven’t really posted updates about how that is going, but Monday I completed my third screenplay. It’s too short, incidentally, but this is the first time I have written in strict chronological order, and so I think as I edit I will see things that are missing that did not come up earlier. Regardless, I know how long I spent on the first one, and the second one was faster, and this one was faster yet. Sure, the extra spare time is a factor, but I am also getting more sure of myself and more skilled, and I am finding it very satisfying. Not a source of income yet, but I still have hope.

I am grateful for my church calling with emergency preparedness, in that I have a way to serve, and it is a calling that challenges me but that I am still good at. I loved teaching Sunday School, and I still like it when I get to sub for other teachers, but the truth is, it’s not hard for me. Emergency preparedness requires more of me, and that’s a good thing. And Maria and I got to take the CERT training this year!

I am grateful that there is so much beauty everywhere. Well, mainly in nature, but also in music, and sometimes in architecture and art. There are things that feed the soul, and you don’t have to look very hard to find them.

I am grateful to have been born in the Church. It makes my life so much better, and I hope I would have accepted it anyway, but it helped to have it early on, and to have at least some family members doing the same things. I see people who join on their own, and it is hard with no support and often they fall away, or they make it, but with some really lonely times. It is true that we have family members that are problematic, but that might just be families.

I am grateful to have served a mission, and gone to college, and to have had many of the work experiences I have had. I can see quite clearly at times how I could have made better choices and perhaps progressed at a faster rate. At the same time, I don’t know what I would have lost. There are people I have met along the way, and experiences I have had, that have been gifts. Sure, I could have been, like, married for twelve years already, with five kids, but then there might not be a Mollie and Tara and Jill in my life, and I might never have done emergency preparedness, and maybe I wouldn’t have gone to Australia. You really can’t know that, you just need to cherish what you do get.

I am grateful to have gone to Australia, and Italy, and other places in other years. I hope I get to go more places in the future. Barring a serious head injury or dementia, those memories are mine and they are good ones.

I am grateful for my family in Italy, and their warmth and love for me. I am grateful for second chances (and third and fourth and fifth chances—how ever many it takes, seriously).

Finally, I am grateful to be an American. We have been through some hard times, and collectively done some stupid things, but we have a new president on the way, and it happened without a military overthrow or civil war. Democracy can only be as good as it’s people, but it beats pretty much everything else.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Hold on close to the ones you love.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Education – 316.5

I seem to be finding a lot of tangents as I go over my political leanings, but that is not too surprising for me. When I was thinking about the issues of charter schools and home schooling, I started thinking about intelligent design and things like that, and it sort of dovetailed with a recent controversy in Sherwood School District about whether or not Grendel should be allowed in the curriculum, so I am going to write about that.

Starting with Grendel, the curriculum for that particular class includes Beowulf, so having the same story told from two different angles makes a certain amount of sense, though I tend to hate those kinds of books. It has been done with several classic novels, and the re-imaginings tend to ruin the characters and end up more vulgar or more nihilistic or more ugly, if for no other reason than the new one is trying to provide some edge. (Parental permission was required, with alternative choices for students whose parents objected, but some people wanted it completely removed.)

In this case, there is graphic violence in the novel, but the controversy comes more from a passage where the monster confronts the queen, rejects female anatomy as ugly (with violent fantasizing) but ultimately lets her go because killing her would be as meaningless as not killing her, but not killing her would confuse the other humans.

So, will reading this corrupt teenagers? Possibly. There are ugly thoughts in it, but they come from someone alienated, and I doubt anything a monster says in a book will make teenage boys reject female anatomy, and the way it is written would probably not give girls a complex in this case. I didn’t see any thing from former students who had read it and what they thought, but that might be good to find out.

Honestly, I think what makes it more of a bad idea for teenagers is the general angst. “I understand them, but they don’t understand me. All the world is against me and no one else is like me.” (The author was very influenced by Sartre.) I can see a lot of teenagers relating to that, and it would not necessarily be the healthiest thing to validate. I read something recently about different age limits for books where if you don’t read by a certain time, it won’t have much of an impact on you. I don’t remember the ages, but the books were The Catcher in the Rye, A Confederacy of Dunces, and either something specific by Ayn Rand or her work in general. It is definitely true that there are some viewpoints that will sound less valid as you gain in experience and maturity. That being said, is elimination of these viewpoints the answer?

Honestly, I don’t know about the book. I have researched it some, but I haven’t read it. If my child was going to be in that class, I would try and make a point of reading it, but so far it sounds like it would be really annoying, and since I don’t need to read it, I’m not going to. I feel more comfortable saying that intelligent design should not be taught in science class.

I believe in the Creation. I don’t particularly believe in evolution, and there were times when that was kind of uncomfortable in science class. However, there are things that you know by faith, and they are the opposite of science, and therefore science class is not where they belong.

Studying the regular, largely accepted science can teach you a lot about how different features work well, and symbiotic relationships, and just how various processes work. On the other hand, will teaching a skeptic about intelligent design really lead to faith? Especially because they often get pretty stupid.

It’s amazing to me how strictly some people adhere to the six days of creation as six twenty-four hour periods. First of all, we get our twenty-four hour period from the period between one sunrise and another, and the lights in the firmament are not mentioned until the fourth day. Also, there are other verses that say a thousand years is as a day to God, indicating that our measurement and understanding of time is different than His. Finally, like the Bible is never figurative?

And really, how much do we know about the Creation? Could we do it right now? No, and that is fine. We will understand that later, but it is completely beside the point right now, when clearly we have still not adequately learned how to love each other.

That’s not to say that no one can have an explicit revelation of how it happened, but if they did, it would probably be something to keep personal. I sometimes get ideas of how specific things could work, and that is fine, but they could easily sound silly to someone else, and since they are not essential, I’m not going to worry about it too much.

My real concern is that often it seems the fundamentalists are having knee-jerk reactions against things that are bad. I am still pro-thought, so I am against the knee-jerk in general, but my experience has also been that my thoughts strengthen my faith. Yes, I start out believing, and coming from that viewpoint, but as I ponder things I find logic and beauty in them, and that reaffirms my faith in God. He is good. His plan is good. I can trust Him.
If we are afraid that questioning things is evil, are we saying that God can’t stand up to the questions?

One thing that has been interesting to me is that at several meetings where we have had area authorities they have opened the floor to questions. This strikes me as very brave and generous, but unfortunately people ask really stupid questions. The questions I have heard have usually seemed to be more about trying to make the asker look smart or justify their selves or settle a disagreement, instead of actually being a sincere question. However, there was one that was a sincere question that got asked of Elder Brinkerhoff, about organ donation. She had heard that the Church was against it, and I think she said that her father told her that if you donated your organs you would not get them back in the Resurrection.
It’s just mind-boggling to me that even if you did believe that selflessly making one last contribution to others at the end of your life was wrong, that you could actually thwart the Resurrection. It seems to show a lack of faith. I think it shows even less faith to believe that God cannot stand up to being questioned. No, scientific inquiry is not how people learn about Him, and grow in faith, but there is still inquiry even if the answers are coming to the heart.

My point is, this is why I sometimes think that fundamentalists or evangelicals or whatever you want to call them (and certainly including some Mormons) don’t seem to have a very high opinion of God. They shout down differing viewpoints, but shouting makes it impossible to hear the still small voice that would actually resolve the question.

I don’t completely despair though, because I see that people are often instinctively smarter than doctrines. Post-Nicaea, Catholic doctrine described a God without parts and passions, and technically the tenets of the Protestant sects still subscribe to that belief. However, some time ago there was an article that even though most churches will say this, most people will say that the first thing they want to do when they get to Heaven is to give God a hug. Their hearts know that He has a form, and can be hugged, and it is something they long for. I believe this is the light of Christ working within them.

False doctrine does get in the way, and maybe this is why so many people seem to believe their God is a bit of a jerk. I mean, if you really believe that unbaptized infants go straight to Hell, or residents of lands where they have never heard the Gospel and never had the chance to accept it, or if, like my old friend Lise you know Mormons who are good people and are tormented knowing that they will go straight to Hell, well, the God who ordained that would be hard to confide in. But He is so much better than that.

There was a guy in my ward in college that I couldn’t stand, who said that on his mission he would knock on people’s doors, and tell them that if they didn’t listen to him they were going to Hell. I’d like to think it was a joke, but I doubt it. He wasn’t funny. He thought he was clever for saying that, but he wasn’t doing the listeners or the Church any favors. First of all, the tone is combative, so that is leading into contention right there, making it hard for anyone to feel the Spirit. In addition, what he meant by going to Hell would not be the same thing that the other person would understand. Also, that their eternal salvation would rest upon letting this obnoxious, arrogant person into their house is patently untrue—therefore, there is no opportunity for the Spirit to confirm anything to them. It’s just not the way.

I know that everyone can know the truth of the Gospel, and I know that everyone will get a chance. That is wonderful, and amazing, and beautiful. It is also logical if you have any kind of a God worthy of the title, and we do. It is incredibly worthwhile to spread this knowledge. It will not be well spread by fighting, or Bible bashing, or visits to Creation Museums where the displays show human children playing with a Triceratops.

It can grow with sincere expressions of faith, where the person listening feels something in the heart, and then wants to hear more. Thinking about it can be good, and some people will get it wrong, because they will think only as a means of explaining it away, or maybe they will let negative thoughts drown it out, but they won’t listen any better to shouts and condescension. That’s just logical.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why I am not a Republican, part 2 – 315.5

Weighing in on the moral issues aspect, it may be harder for me to stay coherent. These are the areas where I get angriest, because I find myself getting more and more frustrated with people on issues where technically we agree. I’ll try though.

Let’s take abortion. I believe it is wrong. That’s pretty straightforward. At the same time, I can’t support making it illegal. If it never had been legal I probably would not want that to change, but we’re here, and it’s been around, and I think there is some value to that.

When we were studying the Civil War, I remember Mr. Pitzer saying that the only issue that seemed to have the potential for a similar conflict was abortion, because of how emotional is. However, since the two sides were not split into separate geographic areas it was not likely that it would ever come to that. So, one reason that I could not favor anti-abortion legislation was the turmoil it would cause, with really ugly feelings coming out, and hatred brewing between neighbors. Also, it seemed like a silly area to focus on because I did not believe that we would ever even come close to overturning Roe versus Wade, so why stir up all of that anger for nothing? I guess now that the idea has come closer to reality, I have to take it a little more seriously.

I guess where I generally get most frustrated with “Christians” (including “Mormons”), is that they get so caught up in the judging that they forget the compassion. My scripture reading has given me the idea that the most important thing is charity, and that judging should actually be avoided. I do have charity for the unborn children, but they are sinless and I know God will take care of them. Perhaps we should focus loving the sinner.

That I know of, I know two women who have had abortions. Realistically, the number is probably a lot higher. For those two, I know that neither of them wanted an abortion. They hated getting that, but they did not feel like they could go through with the pregnancy. There was fear and shame and yes, they should not have gotten pregnant, and it both cases it should have been avoidable, but I still do not feel like I have a right to judge.
Again, in terms of things I found interesting about the third debate, I found a couple of things very interesting. One was McCain’s response to Obama saying that there are surely areas that we can all agree on, like supporting adoption and education, and the look I saw on McCain told me that he strongly disagreed with that (and I am going to write more about education later). The other thing that surprised me was that on the topic of the health of the mother (an exception clause was missing from one bill that Obama did not support), McCain said that people twist that to mean anything.

The only person I have ever heard twist the definition of the health of the mother was Senator Bill Napoli of South Dakota trying to justify new stricter laws that did not have an exception for rape. (The idea was that if the rape was brutal enough maybe an abortion could be allowed so that the mental stress wouldn’t kill her. I’m paraphrasing but I am not making it more twisted than it was because I don’t think I could.)

That’s actually another thing that concerns me. It used to be that any proposed abortion legislation would automatically include exceptions for rape, incest, and the health of the mother, but lately it seems to be trending away from that. Granted, those things make up a small percentage of all abortions (the last I knew, that number was about 7% and also included cases where it was related to the health of the fetus), but the trend away from consideration of the woman is what disturbs me.

I believe that if I were raped, and got pregnant from it, I would carry the pregnancy to term and either give up the child for adoption or maybe even keep it, because I believe abortion is wrong, and that it is taking a life. At the same time, my saying that assumes that it is my choice to make, and if I did have to deal with that kind of trauma I don’t think any lawmaker or voter should have a say in it. I know people who have had high-risk pregnancies, and you ponder and pray and counsel with your Bishop, but again, you can do all of those things because you have a choice.

My sisters recently shocked another friend with their support for Obama, and one thing the girl asked was that if they knew that the First Presidency was voting for McCain, then would they? But the marvelous thing about that is that they are very careful to not give us an idea of their political preference, or how they are voting, because they don’t want to exercise undue influence. (Besides which, how many candidates would really deserve endorsement by a prophet in this typically lesser-of-two-evils world?)

Now, they do speak out sometimes on moral issues, which is perfectly acceptable, and to which I would pay attention. Many people are angry with the support of California proposition 8, but a church should be able to speak on moral issues. Regardless, I think it may be instructive to look back at some of the areas that they have spoken on.

Since I have been voting, they have spoken on two Oregon state ballot measures. They encouraged us to vote against assisted suicide and for strengthening child pornography laws. (I believe they have also spoken out against legalizing gambling and starting lotteries, but when the Oregon state one started I was twelve, and I have no memories of it.) Every time they do come out with something, they still say to study the issues and vote your conscience.

Here are some of the things that they have not spoken on. I remember at least two bills that would make abortion less accessible. One was parental notification for teenagers, and I can’t remember, but the other one might have been too. There was nothing from the church on that. (Furthermore, when we had someone from LDS Social Services come speak to us, she told us that they will go over all of the options, including abortion. They may not encourage it, but to really be helpful to their clients they do leave everything on the table.)

I also remember two bills by the Oregon Citizens Alliance to stop special rights for homosexuals. There was nothing on that. And why should there be? They didn’t actually have any special rights on the books, so there was nothing for the measure to really do except stir up antagonism between the supporters and opponents. And it doesn’t mean abortions or homosexuality are good things, but some things are not good laws.

Think about it. The War in Heaven was fought over choice, and that means the freedom to make bad choices too. Satan’s plan was to take away choice and so no one would ever sin but no one would ever really be good either. God wants people’s hearts, and they have to give those of their own free will, not because there are things that will get them arrested or that can’t be done without them heading down to Mexico.

Yes, leave immoral things legal, and bad things do happen, but again, that was what we wanted coming down here. We would all have the freedom to choose, and sometimes we would hurt our selves, and sometimes we would hurt others, and sometimes others would hurt us, but our choices actually have meaning, and there is the Atonement to heal the wrongs that get done.

I’m not an anarchist or a Libertarian, so there are lots of laws I support, and sometimes knowing where to draw the line can be really complicated. Right now I know that there are people angry at the Church for supporting Prop 8, but I also know that there are other people (even members) who cannot fathom the simultaneous support for other rights for same-sex couples. I am at peace with it.

I do have one final note, as less recently there was controversy about posting the Ten Commandments in courtrooms, or other monuments. Again, I believe in the Ten Commandments, and try to follow them. I don’t think they belong in a courtroom. The first half are all about our relationship with God, and the courts should not be any judge of that. The last one, against coveting, is about one’s heart, and too intangible to enforce. Killing, stealing, and bearing false witness are reasonably covered by law, and there have been laws on the books about adultery, but it is hard to imagine many modern politicians wanting those enforced. (I guess honoring one’s father and mother can be partially covered by laws against elder abuse.).

They are good commandments, and it would be a better world if everyone believed in them and followed them, but not appropriate for enforcement. Placards with the preamble to the Constitution, or the Declaration of Independence, would be more appropriate, and I believe there was inspiration in those documents too, and it shouldn't be a difficult concept for any follower of Christ to understand that they should be better people than the law requires.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Notes on an election – 316.5

I know I am in the middle of a series here, but history has happened and I am thinking about this more at the moment, so here we go.

Overall I am very pleased with the results. I really had doubts that Obama would be able to pull it off, and I was expecting a real nail-biter of a night. And yet, there it was, so early, and so much more emotional that I was expecting. There faces of the crowd, there in Chicago and the local audiences they showed were great, and it really felt like a cause for celebration.

It does take me back though, to 1988. Naturally I supported Dukakis, but I remember my friend Patrice kind of wishing he wasn’t running, because she liked him and her prediction was that the next president would inherit a mess, only survive a term, and then the next person in would have a successful presidency. This ended up being pretty accurate, coming true with the first Bush and Clinton. Obama is getting a much worse situation than George H.W. Bush did. We all know it, which may help, and I think Obama will use better policy in his efforts, but I do feel some sympathy there.

I am impressed with the Democratic sweep. Certainly in Oregon, where we are down to one Republican representative and no senators, and no Republicans holding key state positions, it is impressive. It may not necessarily be good, and I do understand the risk of a filibuster-proof Senate. However, I think it would be much worse to have a majority of bitter Republicans blocking things out of spite. In addition, the tendency has been for Democrats to be more centrist and moderate, certainly Obama is, and I hope that this will be an opportunity for moderate Republicans to step forward again. If this election can be viewed as a rejection of Neocons and divisive Rovian tactics, good. Yes, those tactics were used, and I can’t believe the amount of people who still think that Obama is a terrorist, or is not eligible to be president by birth, or who think he disrespects the flag, but again, the smear tactics ultimately failed.

I know a lot of people are disappointed in the passing of Proposition 8 in California, but I see something encouraging in it in that while there is a strong majority who voted for it, there is an even stronger majority who voted for Obama for president. If we can get out of the pattern of voters thinking that moral issues are the only criteria for candidate selection, good.

For our own ballot measures, I was pretty happy. I was worried about Measure 64 for a while, and they are still counting, but it looks like it has pulled ahead, and honestly, even if that passes there are legal challenges that can be made. I am thrilled that the double majority was repealed. There was a letter in the Oregonian about how the double majority is the only fair way, because how can something pass if only 26% (say 51% of the 60% who actually vote) of the people support it?

If only 26% of the people were asked, or hey, if only 60% were asked, that would be unfair, but why should the vote of the apathetic count more? The double majority encourages people not to vote if there is a tax measure that they don’t support but appears to have broad support. And exactly how much easier does it need to be to vote? They send you the ballots and the guide two weeks in advance!

There were also a couple of letters ridiculing the indecisiveness of voters and editors who were against the crime measures but for local bond measures. Well, I’ll tell you what, with the crime measures, we don’t know that the sentences will be effective, or necessarily even fair, but we do know that they will cost a lot and that it needs to come out of the already stressed budget, possibly without a real benefit. With the bond measures, there is a plan for paying, an estimate of the impact per homeowner, and a clear set of benefits. Nope, no difference there.

Finally, of course I was disappointed with the election of Matt Wingard, and with what it bodes for his political future. However, two years, and I think I will be volunteering with his opponent’s campaign. Could make the 20-year reunion awkward, but I don’t care. More has come out about additional child abuse, and I suspect there is a lot more out there. It was interesting that at one point I was thinking that I can’t be the only one who is mad about the way he got in, and I found a web site,, where not only were there people talking about it, but people who know a lot, and can go back and give you six similar situations with there results, and who work phone banks. This is good stuff to know.

Honestly, there were so many gifts this election that it would be ungrateful to get too hung up on one Oregon House member, even if he is evil.

So, I hope none of that sounds like gloating. I am happy about a lot of things, but I’m not feeling scornful towards anyone who voted for McCain. I may think the people stockpiling guns are ridiculous, but at least one part of the retail market is strong.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Why I am not a Republican – 321

I had thought I would write one entry on the topic, but it looks like it will be at least three. That means that I will still be writing on this after the election, but it’s not like there won’t be other elections, and my point is that I want people to think. I am vehemently pro-thought.

So I thought I would start off with the tax issue, because it seems to me that there has been a lot more fear mongering this election than the last one, and a lot of that is based around economic issues.

(And it’s not just economic fears, and not just Mormons. One of my sister’s fundamentalist-surely-does-not-consider-her-a-Christian co-workers seems to think that an Obama victory will bring on enough turmoil that he went and bought a gun. My first thought was surprise that he didn’t already have one, but I was also perplexed. Was it just that Kerry did not seem likely enough to win, or is part of it that Obama is black? Exactly why do you need a gun this time when you didn’t before?)

Anyway, yes, I intend to go off on economics. I’ve been pretty open about the fact that I am currently unemployed and looking for a job. At least one person has suggested to me that businesses are holding off on hiring, because if Obama wins their taxes will go up, and that will hurt business.

I realize taxes are an expense, and can be significant, but I’m just not sure they will hurt the economy. He wants the Bush tax cuts to expire. Okay, were they really helping the economy that much? Really? Because it looks like the economy is in pretty bad shape now, after eight years of Republican rule, and I just don’t think it’s logical to believe another four years will fix it. Maybe the shift will not fix things, but doesn’t trying something different make sense?

The last time my family was doing really well financially was during the Clinton years. People were hiring all over the place and the money was not bad. I wish it were like that now. My brother will tell you that the prosperity we enjoyed then was due to policies implemented by the previous republicans, or the republican congress, so perhaps some will argue that our current downturn is the final result of the Clinton administration. However, it seems more likely to me that the irresponsible tax cuts and increased spending, especially for the military, is the more probable cause.

There’s actually an important point in here in that, with the last three Republican administrations (Reagan and both Bushes), there has been a lack of true fiscal conservatism. Yes, taxes were cut, but spending was not cut proportionally. One thing church leaders strongly admonish members to do is to avoid debt and live within our means. Strange that so many members support political leaders that refuse to do so.

The truth is, there are some things that work better through public finance. It’s not practical for people to build their own roads, so gasoline taxes are collected or road tolls are charged, and the money comes from there. If every family were individually responsible for the full cost of educating its own children, there would be a huge disparity. There is going to be some disparity anyway, in terms of the home resources and support available, but schools are a key area for leveling that playing field. It’s one area where children who start out disadvantaged can get the tools to overcome that.

Taking away from that fund to pay for vouchers or charter schools is robbery. Because the way they do the credits doesn’t mean that poor families can suddenly afford to send their children to exclusive private schools. It just means that the people who can afford it anyway get some of that money back, and maybe the people who can afford an okay school can afford a better school, but the public school has less in its budget. In addition, there is a message of exclusivity sent. Maybe segregating your children from others who are different will protect them from corruption, but it also might make them more judgmental, less compassionate, and take away opportunities to serve and uplift. No Christian should have that as a goal, and are leaders are constantly preaching inclusion.

As for health care, I would be thrilled to have socialized medicine. My medical premiums were almost $2400 a year, not counting co-pays and out of pocket expenses, and also not counting what my employer paid (based on the COBRA paperwork, I’m guessing they paid about $2400 annually also). Now consider the administration and advertising costs of the insurance industry, and maybe even tossing away the advertising and lobbying expenses of the pharmaceutical industry, and the money is already there. We could have it so much better than we actually do, and the redbaiting is ridiculous. Is Canada a repressive Socialist country because they have socialized medicine?

Privatization is not always the answer—not for schools, not for healthcare, and certainly not for retirement funds. Social Security doesn’t pay a lot, but it has been a lot more dependable than the stock market, especially with the sort of corporate dishonesty we have been seeing, from Enron to recent stockbroker scandal. I guess the market does correct itself, in a way, even from lies, theft, and greed. However, if the way it corrects itself is economic collapse, and if we are not willing to take the results of the collapse (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout), maybe we should just go back to strict regulation. It was suggested a few years ago that more oversight was needed (by a Republican in fact), but the lobbyists won. That worked out well.

So really, looking at the current state of disarray, I can’t see that anyone should be afraid of a policy shift making it worse, and yet fear is what is being sold. There are ads there for Smith that have given up on McCain, so just say that Merkley can’t go because a united president and congress will be too powerful. Yes, it would be a shame if they actually had the power to try and change anything, because everything is so sweet now.

So I have a problem with that, and I have a problem with how smug the Republican members I know are. I don’t think I condescend to them, and I certainly use all of my intelligence and heart to come to my political views, but they are just so sure that I am misguided, and they enjoy thinking it. I don’t want to be like that, so I will at least make one promise, that if Obama does win, I will not gloat.

I am afraid he won’t though. The election has been ugly, people close their minds to logic, and even if the majority of voters do back Obama, I have a nagging fear that with Diebold in the mix it won’t matter. And then there’s no way that I believe McCain will survive for years, so we would have the stain of Palin as the first female president, after which I doubt we could ever get another female in office. But I won’t move to Canada, because I believe in being part of the solution, even when things are bleak.

Just in case anyone is wondering, on economic policies I tend to agree with recent Nobel winner Paul Krugman, and my political hero seems to be Henry Waxman. I know that to some extent he is just doing his job, but it’s an important one, he does it well, and he seems to have plenty of that common sense I adore so.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Why Mormons are usually Republicans – 321.5

Before I get to that, I need to make a side note. Remember at the end of July I did a multi-part series reviewing my “romantic” history, and I mentioned one potential problem for me was that I hung out with guys that I didn’t really like in junior high. There were basically four in the group, and we have already reviewed that one is a dirty politician, and tonight on the ten o’ clock news another one is being investigated for showing porn to kids at the camp where he was a counselor, and possibly doing other things.

I am just really upset about this. I guess I am not as surprised as I could be, and maybe he didn’t do it. They are just investigating and everyone is presumed innocent unless proven guilty, which is why I am not writing his name, but it’s just sickening, and there is no satisfaction in having creepy feelings confirmed, and I feel sorry for him but also angry. It should just be a given that there are things that you do not do, especially when children are involved. Anyway, what I really want is for someone to tell me that Joel is doing great, and is a respected member of his community with no criminal convictions, but I don’t know anyone who has stayed in touch with him. It would be nice if one of the four turned out okay.

Okay, I am ready to get back on track.

Church members will know that it is pretty common for Latter-Day Saints to be politically conservative. If you are not in the church, you may still kind of know, but not realize how certain they tend to be that it is the only correct choice. This is strange, because whenever there are elections, church leaders will read a letter reminding members that the church does not endorse any political party or candidate, but they encourage members to be educated on the issues and choose based on that.

Still, there will be members who are shocked if you are politically liberal, because it is evil. I guess when Brother Weed read the letter a few weeks ago, he shared that when he first registered to vote, someone asked him whom he was voting for, and when he answered “Kennedy” he was told that meant he wasn’t a real Mormon. (I can only assume that would have been against Nixon.)

While Latter-Day Saints is a better name for members of the church, I used Mormons in the title because there is the Gospel, and then there is the culture. Believing that you have to be a Republican is a part of the culture, and the culture has its good points and bad points (and weird ones, like green Jell-o salad with carrots), but it is important not to get the two confused.

Generally there are a few specific issues that lead to the political conservatism. My plan is to go over those issues, and then in the next post go over why I am a Democrat anyway.

Abortion is the biggest one of all, as far as I can tell. You created this life, so you have the responsibility not to destroy it, and part of that is Gospel, in terms of what would be sin, though not necessarily for what should be law. Other moral issues may relate, but it is not uncommon to have single-issue voters on this topic, and if that is your single issue, yeah, you will pretty much be veering right politically.

Guns are also a key issue. Believing that there are hard times coming leading up to Christ’s return, many people want to be able to use firearms as protection, and they know the democrats want nothing more than to forcefully take away everyone’s guns, leaving only the criminals armed. In addition, many of heard of a prophecy that at one point the Constitution of the United States will hang by a thread, and that it will need to be saved, and they envision this meaning armed conflict, for which they will need their guns.

Taxes are also an issue, as we already lose some income paying tithing. I know the first date I went on after high school was with a guy who was very anti-tax because of that. His argument was that the British have ninety percent of their income taxed away, so how could they even pay tithing when they only had the ten percent for their own in the first place? (Actually, that date didn’t go very well.) A Republican government will let you keep your money to decide to give it to charity and do venture capital efforts, and you will. Otherwise you’re just Communists.

School choice, with vouchers and charter schools, may also be an issue for some, as there are some strong home-school proponents, but that kind of gets back to the morals issue, so you can be separated from the vermin in public schools and the filth they teach.

I believe those are the basics right there, maybe with some oversimplification. It will get a bit longer next time when I give the rebuttal.