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I'm a single Mormon Democrat, an NPR & BBC news junkie, a dog lover, opera buff, bookavore, migraineur, knows just enough about technology to be a danger to myself, fan of James Bond and Godzilla. 

Micah 6:8; D&C 11:20 

"do justly, walk humbly, judge righteously."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Advent Day 7 - December 7

Moroni 7: 28

For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.

Yes, I am still making my way through the Advent. Yes, I am quite behind. But I have made a promise to myself to do a blog posting for each of them. (Hopefully, before Christmas.)

For he hath answered the ends of the law...

Christ came to fulfill the law of Moses. Many Christians forget this. He came to answer for our "crimes" or sins. So he "answered" the law by giving his life for us. This was a great and terrible sacrifice He made for us. 

He claimeth all those who have faith in him...

This is a great promise and, though we have responsibilities, there is little He asks in return. Just faith. Not just faith that He lived. Not just faith in His sacrifice. But faith that He will deliver. Faith in things unseen. 

...and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing...

This seems to be one of those chicken-and-egg things to me. Do I have faith in him because I "cleave unto every good thing" or do I "cleave unto every good thing" because I have faith in him. Funny, huh? I'm an opinionated sort of person and sometimes I have opinions that clash with statements from those in authority in or out of the church.  And I usually come back to my test. Is what I am being asked to do or believe in "a good thing"? 

Doing "the good thing" isn't just a way to get back to Heavenly Father. In the end, we want to go back to Heavenly Father because he is "a good thing".

...he advocateth the cause of the children of men...

According to Merriam-Websters on-line dictionary an advocate is:
  1. one that pleads the cause of another
  2. one that defends or maintains a cause of proposal 
  3. one that supports or promotes the interests of another.
I think that Christ would pretty much fit the bill for any of those, but the one that is most pertinent is the first one. Christ pleads our cause - salvation - to Heavenly Father for us. And, as such, our retainer - such as it is - is faith in Him and staying true to our covenants. A small price to pay, really, considering the price He paid.

...and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.

That is our goal. To dwell eternally in the heavens with our elder brother and our Heavenly Father.

I testify that I have faith in Jesus Christ. That I know that he died for my sins. He died for all of our sins. And by following him, and emulating him, we can return to our Heavenly Father in heaven.

Amen.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Advent Day 6 - December 6

Mark 16:5 

And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.






"He is Risen"

Much more of an Easter message than than of Advent. I love the fact that the first to get the message of Christ's resurrection would be the women. What's more, it is the women that come up early that morning to attend to their teacher after his death. The men are absent. The women are putting their grief aside to do that which is right by their teacher. Because of this they are given the message first. They are the first witnesses to his resurrection.

Being a witness is a vital thing. There are witnesses to his birth in the Manger. And who witnessed his birth? The great and mighty men of the world? No. The witnesses were livestock and the shepherds. Shepherds - common men. Again, when he committed his miracles, they were among the common and the poor. 

Even in our own Church, the Prophet Joseph Smith had witnesses. And they were not the great and mighty men of the world either. They were hardworking average men. 

Back to the ladies. It is highly significant that it was women that saw him first. Women were not even allowed to testify at this time. Yet, Christ came to them first. What a great message.

Advent Day 5 - December 5

3 Nephi 1-11

1 And now it came to pass that there were a great multitude gathered together of the people of Nephi, round about the temple which was in the land Bountiful; and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and were showing one to another the great and marvelous change which had taken place.

2 And they were also conversing about this Jesus Christ, of who the sign had been given concerning his death.

3 And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause the hearts to burn.

4 And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not.

5 And again the third time they did hear the voice; and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.

6 And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:

7 Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name -- hear ye him.

8 And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.

9 And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:

10 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.

11 And behold, I am the light and life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.





How would I react if the Savior came to my community? Would we react the way the humble Nephites did. I'm not so sure. Additionally, I'm not sure my community is ready for Christ's appearance.

It is humbling to know what Christ has done for us. But we need to realize that it is not a one way street. He expects us to meet us halfway (or even a quarter way). We need to be ready for him.

As it lays out in the start of this progression, first the Nephites had to open their ears to hear him. How many of us have closed our ears to the promptings of the Spirit? Then we have to open our eyes to see Him. And finally we have to hold out our hands to greet Him.

How does this apply to our lives? I think one thing is to apply it practically. Redemption isn't about going to church every Sunday and paying our tithing. These acts can become habits. Things we just do. We need to apply Christ's principles in every aspect of our lives.

Do we see the poor and the sick and the humble and meek? Or do we avert our eyes and pass them by? Are we listening to the Holy Spirit? When it prompts us to take action do we? Or do we rationalize a reason not to?

I know many times I think I ought to do something. I may talk about why something must be done, I may feel and hear the Spirit telling me it needs to be done. But when it comes down to it, I excuse myself. I'm too busy. I'm not fit enough. It's too much work.

So, in this season where we put Christ at the center of our celebrations, ask ourselves do we incorporate Him into our daily life?




Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tucson Safety, Aurora Movie Theater, and the Clackamas Town Center

I was going to continue doing my Advent postings. But yesterday's shooting and the tweets and Google+ postings I've seen have convinced me I should say something about it. Many of the people that follow me on Twitter or Google+ probably think I'm a bleeding heart liberal who thinks all guns should be banned. You couldn't be more wrong.

The shooting yesterday affected me on many levels. (1) Again??; (2) In Oregon? Western Oregon? (3) Can't we do something about this?

So, I want to make this posting as a conversation starter. I want to hear from liberals and libertarians, progressives and conservatives. But I don't want to see any hostility. No foul language. Let's keep it nice.

Full disclosure: I don't like guns. They make nervous. They scare me. But I also believe - barring a change in our culture and/or technology - that they are needed on some level. 

Okay, I'm going to start this blog by asking questions and making statements. These are only my opinions. These are things that occur to me, they are perceptions I have. 

(1) What is wrong with closing the gun show loophole? Yes, it won't solve the problem. But it will stop certain people getting guns. It will close off one leakage. 

(2) I believe that handguns, rifles, and shotguns should be legal. I believe that guns are a good self-defense tool. They are also needed for hunting. But these other weapons? The ones that are only used for slaughter or urban warfare? I don't think they should be accessible by the general public.

(3) Stockpiling. Why? Are there laws that track this? If there are, why aren't there bells and whistles ringing when these people stockpile guns? 

(4) Mental Health. Now, I don't know if there a feasible way to make sure that people with serious mental health issues can be stopped from getting guns. I don't know about the Clackamas shooting. But James Holmes and Jared Loughner definitely had issues. 

This is not just a gun control issue. If we had a better system for taking care of people when they have mental health problems, we could stop a lot of these issues before they become public safety threat.

(5) State v. Federal. I'm not up on this. But how many of these attacks are aggravated by the fact that laws and databases vary from state to state.

(6) Gun Culture. I feel and perceive that many of the pro-gun people are too emotional about guns. In a way, it reminds me of how pro-choice women feel about keeping abortion legal. They will stand up for all guns, all the time. It is frightening to hear some of them talk. People feel that they need their guns for some level of status or power. This needs to change before much of the violence to stop.

It is a sense of powerlessness that leads to these slaughters. These really bad ones are hardly ever a strictly criminal activity. The perpetrator seems to feel he is the victim and this is the only way they can make themselves heard. 
 
In the end, I'd like to say that I'd like to see an open and honest discussion on this. It is a public health issue at this point. We need to take the National Rifle Association out of the conversation. At one point, the NRA was about public safety. They were focused on gun safety. Now, they are more about making sure the gun industry continues to make money. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Advent Day 4: December 4






2 Nephi 2:9: "Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved."

Firstfruits. Another example of how Christ is the sacrifice that fulfilled Mosaic law, thus paying for our sins. Because he fulfilled the law, we moved on to a new law. 

Another thing it puts me in mind of is tithing. We pay our tithing as another form of sacrifice. As another form of "firstfruits". Tithing isn't just a commandment, or an ordinance, it has real value. Our tithing goes to help build the temples. The temples help to further the work. The eternal work. There is no telling how many souls are saved because of the work we do in the Temple. 

Allow me to tell a personal story. A personal testimony as it were. When I first joined the Church, I had no real testimony of baptisms for the dead. I didn't really believe in it. It sounded strange, peculiar, irrational. But I believed in the Book of Mormon. I believed it was true. So, I figured when it was time, God would show me the truth. 

So, I went to church. I went to Gospel Essentials class. I read my Book of Mormon. I looked for anyway to learn more. When I was offered a chance to go to the Seattle temple with the Young Adult ward to do baptisms for the dead, I thought it would be a perfect chance. So, I went.


Still, no real testimony. But, no testimony against. So, I felt it wasn't time yet. Every thing else felt very true, so I remained patient. A couple of years later I got my recommend and went for my temple ordinances. A beautiful and spiritual experience, but still no real testimony of baptism for the dead. 

Then, years later after working on my genealogy, I got to do the work for my four grandparents. I remember being baptised for my maternal grandmother, who had died when I was only 3 years old, 



and - oh! - the feeling that overcame me. It was the single most spiritual experience I have ever had. I felt that I was in the presence of my grandmother. A person I cannot remember at all. It was wonderful. 

I had my testimony. After all, it was true. And my patience was rewarded. Just like all our patience will be rewarded if we just endure to the end. By putting our faith in  Christ, all will be rewarded.     

Advent Day 3: December 3






Matthew 15:30: "And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were  lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet: and he healed them:"

I think during this Christmas holiday season, we need to slow down and remember what our Savior put first. He didn't avert His gaze when He passed the less fortunate, the homeless, the disabled, the sick, the elderly, the poor in body. He didn't pass them at all. 

We need to remember that this Season isn't about buying presents, putting up the tree, finding the ugliest Christmas sweater, going to parties, etc. It's about remembering Christ and His message. He asks us to follow His example. 

Remember, in Matthew 25:40, "...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Remember being Christian isn't so much about helping your fellow Christians, it's about helping your fellow beings. Those that you despise, or look down upon, this is when you should help the most. For only by helping those that you are uncomfortable around will you grow the most.

I challenge you all to do the most you can not only this holiday season but year-round to help those that need it. 

Feed the hungry.

Quench the thirsty. 

Be hospitable to the stranger. 

Clothe the naked.

Heal the sick.

Visit those in prison.

Let the light of Christ shine out on your fellow man. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Advent Day 2: December 2

2 Nephi 26:3: "And after the Messiah shall come there shall be signs given unto my people of his birth, and also of his death and resurrection; and great and terrible shall that day be unto the wicked, for they shall perish; and they perish because they cast out the prophets, and the saints, and stone them, and slay them; wherefore the cry of the blood of the saints shall ascend up to God from the ground against them."

At first glance, not a very cheery or Christmas-y piece of Scripture. But Nephi lived at a time of much contention and dissension amongst the descendants in America. I guess he was practicing a little hard love. But he is prophesying the good work. He is prophesying that the Savior won't just visit those Jews in Jerusalem and Israel, but also those across the sea in America. They too will be given signs of His birth and death and resurrection. 

He also prophesies that justice will be given and will be hard. That God will not forget the murders of His saints and His prophets. 

There is a lesson there. Think of all the prophets and saints that have given their lives for His work. I am not only thinking of those like the Prophet Joseph Smith, who died for the Gospel. But the others who died because they were doing the right thing. Because they died standing up for the widows and the orphans like the nuns that died in Guatemala and El Salvador, or Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor, who died defying the Nazis. They too will be remembered by our Heavenly Father. 

We all will be remembered if we only stand up for Him and His desires for us. As it says in Zechariah 7:9-10, "...execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother. And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let not of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart."

It is my prayer that we all incorporate that in our every action and thought.  

Advent Day 1: December 1st






The Savior has many names. In this verse, he is called Immanuel, Hebrew for "with us is God". What a great statement that is. It isn't so much that Heavenly Father sent him down here to suffer and die for our sins. But also to live. Christ has just as much in common with us as he does with God. We, too, could have been perfect as he was. And we can be again. 

Christ was with us. He showed us the Way. He was given to one of us to be raised and nurtured. God could've sent Him down fully adult. But what was really important was the journey. That is important to remember. It is how we live our lives, how we treat our brothers and sisters on this Earth, how we treat the gifts that we have been given that is truly important. How we handle temptation. I believe that it is the journey that is important, not the destination.

Also, this particular Scripture shows us that God keeps His promises. Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah (according to Elder Bruce R. McConkie) from 735-720  B.C. This means that it took nearly 8 centuries for this prophecy to be fulfilled. Think about that. Would we have the patience to wait for the same amount of time? We must have faith that the Lord will remember us and bless us if only we have faith in him. 

I testify that I have faith in my Lord and Savior. That I believe that He has my interests at heart even if I do not truly know what those interests are. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent, Being a Mormon, and My Testimony

As a Mormon, I am not the best at being open about it to those around me. I rarely bear my testimony even amongst my own congregation. I dislike trying to proselytize to my faith, even if I believe that my neighbors would benefit from the experience of being a member of the Church. 

This is not to say I do not have a strong testimony not only in the message of the Church, but also in the truth of the experience of Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove (The First Vision). I do. I just am not a very aggressive or assertive individual. Also, I believe that my faith, my spiritual experience is a personal journey. 

But I can testify of my own faith. Recently, during the nasty political season, I discovered many people that I communicate with on-line do not understand how I can believe not only in a Supreme Being, but specifically be a Mormon. I tried my best to explain a little here, a little there. 

But, recently, I came across a great blog posting on the Mormon Women on the Advent Season





She provided several scriptures from the King James Bible and the Book of Mormon to celebrate Advent with. As I was walking my dogs this morning...




I realize that this would be a great subject for a blog and an opportunity to not only bear my testimony of the Savior and the restored Church of Jesus Christ, but also my personal vision of my faith.

I hope that I will not offend anyone. I am not trying to proselytize at all. But I welcome all polite comments. Stay tuned... and I hope everyone has a wonderful and joyous Christmas Season!

     

Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

O, my fevered mind... well almost! The thoughts that come to you while listening to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein courtesy of Blackstone Audio and via my local library's Overdrive site. This book was excellently narrated by Simon TemplemanAnthony Heald, and Stefan Rudnicki.

What thoughts? Firstly, the ambivalent nature of the creature. It seems to me that he did not have to be as he ended up. At any point in the narrative, it could have turned up differently. In many ways, he was more human than his Creator. I am sure I am not the first to notice the analogies with religion in this novel. Was Mary Shelley conflicted in her own faith? I am sure I could find writing to say she was. (After all, she was living in sin for years. She probably had her own issues with the faith of the time.)

Victor created this creature and then abandoned it. It disgusted him and rather than taking the responsibility and destroy the creature, he turned his back. I suppose you could say that God turned His back on us when He ejected us from the Garden of Eden. (Though I don't really think that's true. God has always kept in contact with us. And wants us to return to Him.) Victor just wanted the Creature to be gone. 

The Creature, you end up feeling sorry for. He could've been different at any point. What if Victor had been there through his "childhood" and education? What if mankind hadn't been repelled by him? What if Victor had created the female and let him go?

Also, while our own (and Victor's) Creator takes responsibility for us, Victor never really does. He never allows any blame for the Creature's actions or even its Creation. He seems to believe that the Creation was a good thing. That it was just the extent of Man's intelligence and desire for more knowledge. Somehow ethics doesn't come into it. In the end, he doesn't seem to think his actions affect his soul or where he goes after death. 

The denouement of the novel occurs between September 9-12. This got me thinking of Al Qaeda. After all, in a way, they are our government's Frankenstein Monster. We funded them, we armed them, and then turned our backs. They became bitter and wanted revenge against us. They attacked us. Is there a relevance? Or do I just think this way because of the date. Who knows?

An additional comment: it had been a while since I read the actual book so I guess I forgot the actual ending, which had been replaced by the ending in the Kenneth Branagh production of Frankenstein. Sad, but true.

I am going to give this 4 stars on Good Reads - I loved the beauty of the language and the very Gothic feel. Oh, for the days, that people wrote letters as long as this. Or even diary entries this vivid and exacting. Sadly, I do not keep a diary. I wish I did. But, I can barely write a blog posting with regularity.

(This book was the October read for the Classic Science Fiction Book Club)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Why the double standard??

 I used to be a big supporter of Israel. I felt (1) God promised them the land and (2) after the Holocaust, I felt they needed a place where they could live in peace away from the persecution. But over the last few years, I realized just what a double standard we use for Israel.

Think about it. Take any news item about Israel's behavior. Replace the name Israel with - say - Russia or China or Venezuela - what would our reaction be? Wouldn't we condemn their actions? Wouldn't we call them human rights violations? It is very troubling. I feel we share in the guilt of the deaths in Gaza. We empower Israel. Yes, Israel needs support. But it should be tough love.

Noam Chomsky: The Soul-Crushing Cruelties Perpetrated by America's Number 1 Ally | Alternet

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Republicans aren't all bad... No, Seriously!

Just got off the phone with a Republican survey. Basically, it was your basic "if the election were held today..." phone call. Now, I wouldn't have answered as the CallerID said "Friends of Doc" as in Doc Hastings my too long in office Congressman.

As you can see, he looks downright creepy with a goatee...

But as my parents are not morning people, I picked up the phone so they wouldn't wake up. I didn't even let the poor lady get a word in edgewise as I began to tell her that Doc wouldn't get my vote even if I were on my deathbed. Well, it turned out she wasn't there to talk about him. So, I thought I'd give her a shot. It turned out is was more about our governor and the presidential race.

So, I decided I'd try to be as open and pleasant as possible without being personal with the candidates. It turned out to be a very pleasant experience so I thought I'd write a little about it. (I was going to do it on Google+, but I thought I'd use my blog instead.)

First, the gubernatorial race between Attorney General Rob McKenna and former Representative Jay Inslee. I explained to her that while I normally vote strictly Democrat, I'm a little hesitant when it comes to this race. I am leaning Democratic, but I have great respect for Rob as an AG. I think he is a man of great integrity. I also think he has come out better in the two debates I have heard between him and Mr. Inslee. (I actually wish he would stay as AG, the two guys running for that position can't seem to agree which one of them missed the most King County council meetings.)

However, Mr. McKenna has come out against gay marriage and joined a bunch of other AGs in filing suit against Obamacare. Doesn't really endear him to me.

Then, she asked me about Mr. Romney. What could I say but it didn't matter if I voted today or on Election Day, he would not have my vote.  And then she asked me why. I explained it was the National Republican Party. I explained that the economics and the foreign policy didn't matter to me as much as the justice issue. That I didn't believe the Republicans were any longer a party that believed in the values put forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  Items in particular:
  • the party is anti-women
  • the party seems to be about hate and taking rights away from people
  • the party is too tied to one religion and is consistently trying to foist one set of values on a diverse population
  • the Christian right has too much influence on the party
  • the denigrating of science and people that are educated, and the glorifying of ignorance
  • the idea that science and faith are mutually exclusive ( I even told her I was Mormon and not the only one that won't be voting for Romney.)
I explained to her that until the Republicans took a long hard look at themselves they would never have my vote. I also told her that if the Republicans were just fiscal conservatives they'd have my respect. I even toyed with voting for Gov. Huntsman since he was so rational.

She then asked how long I had been voting strictly Democratic. I told her since George W Bush's re-election. I explained one of my problems was when I first noticed that Republicans (in the federal sense, at least) were no longer representing their individual constituencies as much as the party line and more particularly GW's line. (One of my pet peeve's with Doc, actually.)

All in all, it was very pleasant. I asked her to pass my concerns on up the line.  And I apologized for leaping down her throat when I thought she was for Doc. Maybe I should pick up the phone more often, instead of screening my calls??

Thursday, September 6, 2012

My Freedom and Theirs

I have on-line friends on the right and the left of the political spectrum. What I have noticed is that we are both concerned about the same things: freedom and fair play. What is funny is that both the left and the right seem to interpret how to solve these problems differently.

The idea of freedom is a funny one. Those on the right believe that President Obama has restricted their freedom by introducing socialism into the government. They believe he has helped to weaken our country by adding regulations and spending.

However, I, as one on the left, believe that the Republicans espouse principles that are even more hazardous to our freedom. Introducing Voter ID laws that restrict voting rights to the poor and ethnic minorities. Taking away a woman's right to choose and restricting her access to birth control. Denying the LGBT community the right to marry the one they love and protection from persecution. These are worrying issues to me.

Those on the right and those on the left love to demonize each other. I am guilty of this myself. However, it really isn't fair. The policies may be criticized and condemned. Even the leaders (to a point) should be condemned for their stances and their statements. But we really need to tone down our arguments. After all, our goal is the same. We want a better country. We want the American Dream. We are all Americans.


I also wish that we would look at what each other wants. Even if you disagree with the policies of your opponents, we should try and understand what kind of America we all want. Good luck to you all.  There are only 61 days left!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Harry Truman and his Farewell Address


I found myself listening to the Farewell Address of President Harry S. Truman this morning as I was walking my dogs. (That's right, I'm a history geek! So sue me!) I have always put a  lot of faith in the old saying "those that ignore history are doomed to repeat it".
The commonly used expression, "Those who ignore history are bound (or doomed) to repeat it" is actually a misquotation of the original text written by George Santayana, who, in his Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1, wrote "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Santayana's quotation, in turn, was a slight modification of an Edmund Burke (1729-1797) statement, "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." Burke was a British Statesman and Philosopher who is generally viewed as the philosophical founder of modern political conservatism. 
 As I was saying, I was listening to the man from Independence. Many of the things he stated in this speech had such resonance today. I felt I had to share it with others. It is my hope that both the Right and the Left can take something from this speech. Perhaps, remember a simpler more genteel time when the word gentleman meant something.

I suggest that you listen to the entire speech, it is very enlightening. I also recommend this website from the Miler Center: Presidential Speech Archive you can find an entire archive of presidential speeches. It is an incredible resource. But I would like to share some passages that really struck me as relevant or just struck me.
The greatest part of the President's job is to make decisions—big ones and small ones, dozens of them almost every day. The papers may circulate around the Government for a while but they finally reach this desk. And then, there's no place else for them to go. The President—whoever he is—has to decide. He can't pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That's his job.
 Or as former President George W. Bush once said, "I'm the decider".  That was the first thing that struck me as I head this quote. I immediately thought of that particular Bush-ism. This next quote isn't relevant or even that important but I found it a little humorous.
Of course, for more than 3 years Mrs. Truman and I were not living in the White House. We were across the street in the Blair House. That was when the White House almost fell down on us and had to be rebuilt. I had a study over at the Blair House, too, but living in the Blair House was not as convenient as living in the White House. The Secret Service wouldn't let me walk across the street, so I had to get in a car every morning to cross the street to the White House office, again at noon to go to the Blair House for lunch, again to go back to the office after lunch, and finally take an automobile at night to return to the Blair House. Fantastic, isn't it? But necessary, so my guards thought—and they are the bosses on such matters as that.
 Poor Mr. Truman.  Back and forth and forth and back. It just struck me as a little funny as I thought of Harry Truman - one of our more down-to-earth Presidents going back and forth by car across a street. He probably thought it was ridiculous.

Next was this section. It showed me how very different Harry Truman was from all the Presidents there have been in my memory. The first I remember was Jimmy Carter, then there was Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, and now Barack Obama. Six Presidents. But none as down-to-earth and immediate as Harry Truman. Don't misunderstand me. Truman is not my favorite president. If I had to choose one for the 20th Century, it would be either JFK or FDR. But there is a lot to admire in Mr. Truman.

I want all of you to realize how big a job, how hard a job, it is—not for my sake, because I am stepping out of it—but for the sake of my successor. He needs the understanding and the help of every citizen. It is not enough for you to come out once every 4 years and vote for a candidate, and then go back home and say, "Well, I've done my part, now let the new President do the worrying." He can't do the job alone.

Regardless of your politics, whether you are Republican or Democrat, your fate is tied up with what is done here in this room. The President is President of the whole country. We must give him our support as citizens of the United States. He will have mine, and I want you to give him yours. [bold and italic added for emphasis]
I add the emphasis because this really struck me. We have lost this respect for the President of the United States. Whether it was we on the left that who did not believe that President Bush was the popularly elected President, or those on the right who believed that President Obama was not even eligible to be President. We did not give either of them our complete support. Indeed. When members of the Congress pledge to make President Obama "a one-term President" or when Joe Walsh interrupts a Presidential speech with "You lie!", we have to wonder what kind of example we are setting. As others before me have said, you don't have to respect the man, but you should respect the office.

I think President Truman hit the nail on the head. We need to support the President. Maybe not the policies but we do need to support the Office. He is our representative to other countries. He speaks for all of us when he talks with foreigners. If we show him disrespect, could we be surprised if others do? Additionally what are we showing to our children? If I showed the same disrespect some do to President Obama, to one of my schoolteachers or - God forbid - my parents... Well, let's just say I hope I would have made some arrangements ahead of time.

President Truman went on in his speech to talk about the Cold War - how it began in his term, how he believed that he had set the policies that would eventually win it. Much of this section was tarnished by knowledge of what had happened. But many of his standards, his policies, are ones I wish we had today. They were high ideals. Of course, this is before the military-industrial complex really took over. Before we had compromised ourselves totally with our foreign relations in suspect countries.

Truman referred to conflict against the Communists as:
...this conflict between those who love freedom and those who would lead the world back into slavery and darkness
 He also believed that he had set the policies that could win it:
We have succeeded in carving out a new set of policies to attain peace—positive policies, policies of world leadership, policies that express faith in other free people. 
 In today's world, we may consider this simplistic and idealistic, but many of the conflicts in today's world may have been avoided if we had used policies "that express faith in other free people." How many times have we sided with the dictator for reasons of trade or other circumstances?

He then goes on to talk on history, to remind his "fellow Americans" of the lessons history has taught us and that we need not make the same mistakes. I really enjoyed this section so I will quote it in full.
These are great and historic achievements that we can all be proud of. Think of the difference between our course now and our course 30 years ago. After the First World War we withdrew from world affairs—we failed to act in concert with other peoples against aggression—we helped to kill the League of Nations—and we built up tariff barriers that strangled world trade. This time, we avoided those mistakes. We helped to found and sustain the United Nations. We have welded alliances that include the greater part of the free world. And we have gone ahead with other free countries to help build their economies and link us all together in a healthy world trade.

Think back for a moment to the 1930's and you will see the difference. The Japanese moved into Manchuria, and free men did not act. The Fascists moved into Ethiopia, and we did not act. The Nazis marched into the Rhineland, into Austria, into Czechoslovakia, and free men were paralyzed for lack of strength and unity and will.

Think about those years of weakness and indecision, and the World War II which was their evil result. Then think about the speed and courage and decisiveness with which we have moved against the Communist threat since World War II.

The first crisis came in 1945 and 1946, when the Soviet Union refused to honor its agreement to remove its troops from Iran. Members of my Cabinet came to me and asked if we were ready to take the risk that a firm stand involved. I replied that we were. So we took our stand—we made it clear to the Soviet Union that we expected them to honor their agreement—and the Soviet troops were withdrawn from Iran.

Then, in early 1947, the Soviet Union threatened Greece and Turkey. The British sent me a message saying they could no longer keep their forces in that area. Something had to be done at once, or the eastern Mediterranean would be taken over by the Communists. On March 12th, I went before the Congress and stated our determination to help the people of Greece and Turkey maintain their independence. Today, Greece is still free and independent; and Turkey is a bulwark of strength at a strategic corner of the world.

Then came the Marshall plan which saved Europe, the heroic Berlin airlift, and our military aid programs.

We inaugurated the North Atlantic Pact, the Rio Pact binding the Western Hemisphere together, and the defense pacts with countries of the Far Pacific.

Most important of all, we acted in Korea. I was in Independence, Missouri, in June 1950, when Secretary Acheson telephoned me and gave me the news about the invasion of Korea. I told the Secretary to lay the matter at once before the United Nations, and I came on back to Washington.

Flying back over the flatlands of the Middle West and over the Appalachians that summer afternoon, I had a lot of time to think. I turned the problem over in my mind in many ways, but my thoughts kept coming back to the 1930's—to Manchuria, to Ethiopia, the Rhineland, Austria, and finally to
Munich.

Here was history repeating itself. Here was another probing action, another testing action. If we let the Republic of Korea go under, some other country would be next, and then another. And all the time, the courage and confidence of the free world would be ebbing away, just as it did in the 1930's. And the United Nations would go the way of the League of Nations.

When I reached Washington, I met immediately with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and General Bradley, and the other civilian and military officials who had information and advice to help me decide on what to do. We talked about the problems long and hard. We considered those problems very carefully.

It was not easy to make the decision to send American boys again into battle. I was a soldier in the First World War, and I know what a soldier goes through. I know well the anguish that mothers and fathers and families go through. So I knew what was ahead if we acted in Korea.

But after all this was said, we realized that the issue was whether there would be fighting in a limited area now or on a much larger scale later on—whether there would be some casualties now or many more casualties
later.

So a decision was reached—the decision I believe was the most important in my time as President of the United States.

In the days that followed, the most heartening fact was that the American people clearly agreed with the decision.

And in Korea, our men are fighting as valiantly as Americans have ever fought—because they know they are fighting in the same cause of freedom in which Americans have stood ever since the beginning of the Republic.

Where free men had failed the test before, this time we met the test.
Inspirational, isn't it? Sometimes I think that our memory goes back only one generation and not even that. Many times I have found myself thinking of how history is repeating itself (and I'm not just bemoaning hairstyles from the 1970's and 1980's returning). Things I thought had been settled in my mother's time are still issues. There are still genocides and we still turn our backs. We see people struggling for autonomy, respect, and independence and we do nothing.

He goes on to talk about the atomic bomb and why he only used it in Japan. He even got letter about it.
Now, once in a while, I get a letter from some impatient person asking, why don't we get it over with? Why don't we issue an ultimatum, make all-out war, drop the atomic bomb?

For most Americans, the answer is quite simple: We are not made that way. We are a moral people. Peace is our goal, with justice and freedom. We cannot, of our own free will, violate the very principles that we are striving to defend. The whole purpose of what we are doing is to prevent world war III. Starting a war is no way to make peace.

But if anyone still thinks that just this once, bad means can bring good ends, then let me remind you of this: We are living in the 8th year of the atomic age. We are not the only nation that is learning to unleash the power of the atom. A third world war might dig the grave not only of our Communist opponents but also of our own society, our world as well as theirs.

Starting an atomic war is totally unthinkable for rational men.
 Such simple yet eloquent statements. Of course, Harry Truman had been to war. How many of our Presidents have actually seen combat? The senior George Bush served in the Pacific theater of World War II, as did John F Kennedy. Richard Nixon also served in the Navy but saw no actual combat. Jimmy Carter was US Naval officer in the submarine service, but this was in postwar time. Even Ronald Reagan was in the service, but saw no overseas duty due to bad eyesight. But Harry Truman saw service in the quagmire that was World War I. He also joined the service as a Private and worked his way to Captain. He was 33 when the United States joined the war. He did not need to go. But he re-enlisted in April 1917 leaving his mother and sister to manage the family farm. He was put in charge of a Field Artillery Unit and commended himself well. As I found on the Truman Library website:
Early in September 1918, the 129th Field Artillery undertook one of the longest and most brutal road marches of the war, from the Vosges mountains to the Argonne forest. The men guided their horses and equipment over one hundred miles of crowded, muddy back roads to the new American sector. This march and the five days of intense combat that followed were the ultimate test for Battery D. In the closing weeks of the war, the 129th Field Artillery moved into action for the final time on the old battlefields of Verdun. They fired their last shots fifteen minutes before the Armistice took effect. Battery D had fired more than 10,000 shells during the war.
So, Harry Truman knew what war was like. He knew what the families went through. As a Captain, he probably had to write letters to grieving families. He was an ideal president to have at this time. Many times history has an aspect of serendipity to it. Where would we be if President John F Kennedy had not just finished reading The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman just before the Cuban Missile Crisis? And, in many ways, Harry Truman was the right person to have at the critical junctures of the end of World War II, the birth of the Atomic Age, and the start of the Cold War. War wasn't an abstract concept to him. He knew it, he had experienced, he had felt its influences. It is remarkable as the Cold War started that the United States never bombed Soviet Russia or even North Korea. (Though General Douglas MacArthur certainly wanted to do that as well as Red China.) Having a President of high moral fiber and not just a prominent statesman was quite an advantage. Pretty good for a former haberdasher.

When it came to the Cold War, apparently, he had great faith the American system would come through:
The Communist world has great resources, and it looks strong. But there is a fatal flaw in their society. Theirs is a godless system, a system of slavery; there is no freedom in it, no consent. The Iron Curtain, the secret police, the constant purges, all these are symptoms of a great basic weakness—the rulers' fear of their own people.

In the long run the strength of our free society, and our ideals, will prevail over a system that has respect for neither God nor man.
A simple yet accurate description. Today, communism and socialism are dirty words and a sure way to drag your political opponent through the muck. But we need to realize that capital C Communism is the "godless" system of "slavery". Socialism is an economic system and even if an American endorses it, it does not taint our system. As long as we respect and honor our Constitution, we are safe. As long we are honest to our ideals - the ideals of Harry Truman - we will always prevail.

Truman had a "deep and abiding faith in the destiny of free men". He - like most Democrats - was a dreamer.
With patience and courage, we shall some day move on into a new era—a wonderful golden age—an age when we can use the peaceful tools that science has forged for us to do away with poverty and human misery everywhere on earth.

Think what can be done, once our capital, our skills, our science—most of all atomic energy—can be released from the tasks of defense and turned wholly to peaceful purposes all around the world.

There is no end to what can be done.

I can't help but dream out loud just a little here.

The Tigris and Euphrates Valley can be made to bloom as it did in the times of Babylon and Nineveh. Israel can be made the country of milk and honey as it was in the time of Joshua.

There is a plateau in Ethiopia some 6,000 to 8,000 feet high, that has 65,000 square miles of land just exactly like the corn belt in northern Illinois. Enough food can be raised there to feed a hundred million people.

There are places in South America—places in Colombia and Venezuela and Brazil—just like that plateau in Ethiopia—places where food could be raised for millions of people.

These things can be done, and they are self-liquidating projects. If we can get peace and safety in the world under the United Nations, the developments will come so fast we will not recognize the world in which we now live.

This is our dream of the future—our picture of the world we hope to have when the Communist threat is overcome.
In today's world, many politicians are ridiculed for dreams. They are told just focus on those of us at home. But what happens when you dream? JFK dreamed that we could to the moon. And what did we gain? Those of us at home? We gained a lot - and not just the fun that was Tang.


LEDs, Infrared Ear Thermometers, Artificial Limbs, Anti-Icing Systems, Improved Radial Tires, Firefighter Gear, Cordless Vacuums, Water Purification, Global Positioning - these are just a few. Also, Lyndon Baines Johnson had a dream of his own. Yes, Vietnam detracted from his dream. But he still dreamed "to end poverty, promote equality, improve education, rejuvenate cities, and protect the environment." Quite a dream? Did he succeed? Many would say no. But as John Gardner, his Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, said:

"What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems."
But we did get the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965,the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, Social Security Amendments of 1965 (establishing Medicare and Medicaid), and the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967

Even our current President has had his own dreams. The Affordable Care Act being one example. It is too soon to tell what kind of impact it will have. It is very controversial. But so were the landmark legislation that LBJ enacted (pushing it through Congress). Even the much derided President George W Bush made a great impact on global health by making a commitment to fight the Global AIDS epidemic.
"I ask the Congress to commit $15 billion over the next five years, to turn the tide against AIDS in the most afflicted nations of Africa and the Caribbean." President George W. Bush
This program, President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has had a significant impact on the disease overseas.

So, I don't think we should criticize Truman for his big ideas.  What if we hadn't thrown so much money at the military-industrial complex? Could Eisenhower and later Kennedy have made a dent in those dreams?

Then Truman lists some of the great strides they had made in the United States since he had been President:
We have 62 1/2 million people at work. Businessmen, farmers, laborers, white-collar people, all have better incomes and more of the good things of life than ever before in the history of the world.
 There hasn't been a failure of an insured bank in nearly 9 years. No depositor has lost a cent in that period.
 And this was when Glass-Steagall was in effect.
And the income of our people has been fairly distributed, perhaps more so than at any other time in recent history.
 This time period was also known as the Great Compression.

We have made progress in spreading the blessings of American life to all of our people. There has been a tremendous awakening of the American conscience on the great issues of civil rights—equal economic opportunities, equal rights of citizenship, and equal educational opportunities for all our people, whatever their race or religion or status of birth.
 It strikes me as significant that these are aspirations that Americans still strive for. These are still our values. These are not radical, liberal ideas. These are ideas that came from the mouth of a haberdasher, ex-Army soldier from Missouri. Hardly a radical.

He concluded his speech as follows:

When Franklin Roosevelt died, I felt there must be a million men better qualified than I, to take up the Presidential task. But the work was mine to do, and I had to do it. And I have tried to give it everything that was in me.

Through all of it, through all the years that I have worked here in this room, I have been well aware I did not really work alone—that you were working with me.

No President could ever hope to lead our country, or to sustain the burdens of this office, save as the people helped with their support. I have had that help—you have given me that support—on all our great essential undertakings to build the free world's strength and keep the peace.

Those are the big things. Those are the things we have done together.

For that I shall be grateful, always.

And now, the time has come for me to say good night—and God bless you all.
 This brought to mind a recent speech President Obama made
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business. you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. 
He was ridiculed, derided, and demonized for this. But I think the spirit is the same today as it was in 1953. It was referring to a sense of community. That the great things are never done alone. Whether it is a small or large business, a municipal project, the Space Race, the fight for Civil Rights, we all need each other. This country was built by people cooperating towards a common cause.  Our Congress, State Legislatures, our school boards, our court system - they are all based on the tenet that together we can decide our own future.

This blog has lasted much longer than I thought it would. I hope you have borne with me and I welcome any comments you may like to post below. You can also visit me at Twitter or Google+. Finally I'd like to leave you with a final quote by President Harry Truman:
There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A response to J.C. Kendall

Curmudgeon Musings from the “Corporations” to the rest of you.  (by J. C. Kendall on Google+)

1. We are not your enemy. Your enemy is whoever causes you to think that our success is an accident, or that we just got lucky, and that we did not really earn it. It is a distraction, an encouragement to look at us, while they rob you and your children blind. 


There are many enemies in this system. 

2. The reason for Corporate Tax Structures separate from Individual Taxation is a tacit admission that what we do benefits society. Corporations provide jobs that pay into the tax base, not steal from it. Corporations are an economic engine, not a drag on the economy, which is why states and other nations fight for us, offering incentives and tax breaks because they know that what we do is beneficial overall. 

"that what we do benefits society" - academically this argument should be right. But maybe we should have a system where if you don't then you don't get the special tax breaks and/or subsidies. There are many corporations that poison our water and air and (sometimes) food. Some corporations are not employing that many people and move more and more jobs out of the U.S. Industry is the economic engine, not corporations. You may argue "same diff", but there are flaws in your argument. 

3. You could take all our money, all our property, everything we have, and not be able to fund the U.S. for more than a few months. This is a fact. With our businesses, our jobs, and revenue gone, then what? You gonna tax breathing? 


No, I suppose not. Don't give them any ideas. 

4. In the same way that not everyone who is poor is a criminal, the same goes for us. We have our bad apples, but those our Individuals, not businesses. The way that Corporations are tagged as criminals would amount to suggesting that everyone who lives in Detroit is a felon. Neither is true. 

No not all corporations are criminals. However, the people that are criminals are accountable for their actions. I am just concerned that corporations should be accountable for what they have done.

5. No matter how much you tax us, it is you, who will ultimately pay. The U.S. used to have a thriving luxury ship building industry. The U.S. decided to slap a tax on Luxury Yachts, as a means to add more revenue to the coffers. Ship builders simply closed up shop and moved to other countries where they, and the jobs they provided, were welcomed with open arms. That industry is lost to the U.S. forever, as are the jobs. The U.S. lost money overall. A Corporation is not a charity. We are not in business to give away money. We are in business to make a profitable return to our shareholders. What is taken from us will be charged to YOU, one way or another. If we cannot do that, we will stop doing business, and the jobs we provide will go away. Make your choice. 

No argument.

6. Corporations do not have souls, hearts, compassion, or feelings. Stop expecting it from us. If we claim compassion, it because it is a good sales pitch vs our competition. We exist to make money via providing a service or value to a select audience. Unless we call ourselves “Non-Profit, trust me; we aint. That does not make us evil, any more than an Eagle swooping down on a fish and pulling it out of a lake. It is simply what they do. Making money is not evil. Not giving it away is not evil either. Wanting to use our money to invest and expand, and ultimately create more jobs, is not evil either.

No they do not have "souls, hearts, compassion, or feelings" - but maybe they could act a little ethically? The Quaker business leaders of the chocolate industry (read Deborah Cadbury's Chocolate Wars) were able to incorporate the two.

7. Suggesting that we owe you something for nothing is as evil as it gets. We pay taxes too. More than you do. Maybe not directly, but add up the revenue from those we employ, the permits we buy, the energy we buy, and the markets we fund, and you will find that we pay more than “our share”. 

Something for nothing? In what way? Corporations get a playing field slanted in their direction, better access to representatives. 

8. Because we have a stake in the operation of the nation that taxes us, the Supreme Court has decided that we get a say with respect to voting and the support of elective candidates. The term “Taxation without Representation” applies here. We have as much right to support or reject those who would determine our futures as you. Want us to stop? Fine, stop taxing us. Bitch and Moan all you want, it is in the Constitution. 

The problem with citing "taxation without representation" is that it's a flawed argument. You have better access to representatives than the actual electorate. Additionally, a corporation is not a citizen. It would be one thing if the different stakeholders were doing the supporting of the candidate. It's when it's done in the name of some "corporation" that I take issue. 

9. When we succeed, you succeed. Do you know what a COG is? A COG is an acronym for “Cost of Goods” , or in short the cost of doing business. When our costs go up, those costs are passed along to you. Did you think we would just eat it? Nope. If Gas prices go up for shipping those Strawberries to your local grocer, well guess what? You are going to pay more for that Strawberry, dude. Don’t like it? Don’t buy it. It really is that simple. 

No argument. 

10. If you are an educated individual, none of this should bother you in the slightest. The above are facts, period. If this does bother you, it is because you have been sold a bill of goods by some politician who believes the best way to win your vote, is to pit you against us. The point is, the very laws that allow for Incorporation, protect us from YOU. Our responsibility is to operate within the law, not to make you happy. If our members break the law, we want them punished as much as you do. They do us no favors by inviting increased scrutiny of our operations. 

I think the main reason many are "bothered" by this is the fairness issue. Americans are big on fairness. You are taught from day one that as long as you play by the rules you can do anything: be an astronaut, be President, etc. That is my problem too. I believe in the free market. 


"If our members break the law, we want them punished as much as you do." - Really? Are you sure? Massie broke safety regulations, were they held accountable? How about all the companies that used the derivatives and contributed to the housing and subprime markets to destroy the economy? Were they punished? This is my biggest complaint with corporations. They can destroy people's lives, they can destroy the air and water, they can drag down our economy, but they are not punished. 
11. The largest set of investors in corporations are PENSION FUNDS. Hurt us through legislation, and you hurt yourselves, your families and your futures. Pension Funds invest in corporations because we provide a safe and steady growth opportunity for their capital. Tax us more, they get less. They is YOU. Get it? 

Sadly, very few Americans have access to a pension. I don't know the actual figures. But it seems to me that unless you are a union member or one of a diminishing number of people, most people don't get a pension.

I wrote this, because frankly, I’m growing tired of the meme of the “Evil Corporation”, because we are mere entities, and not designed to give a rats -ass about your day. We have jobs to do for those who invest in us, and who buy our products or services.

I responded to this because I am tired of the us or them meme. There are people in the middle. People who through no fault of their own that are destroyed between the two.

We follow the law. If you don’t like the laws, vote for those who can change them, just like we do with our dollars. Its legal. You get a voice, Unions get a voice, and thererfore WE get a voice. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy. 

You follow the law? Good. I'm more concerned with those that don't. I get a voice because I vote. My voice should not be a so quiet compared to a corporation who has no interest in jobs, clean air, clean water, etc. Unions are there to represent the wishes of their members (workers and their families). Corporations are interested in dollars and their profit margin. Slightly different.

If you chose to reply, please do so on the above, and not with irrelevant feelings about Corporations. If you dispute an assertion, come with it. If you cant, don’t bitch at me for saying something you don’t want to hear. In short, debate it. 

Come at me, BRO! 

P.S. Off-Topic comments will be blasted from the thread. Do it twice, and you get blocked. Let’s have a fun, lively debate. It aint personal, so let’s keep it that way. 

-J.C.