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Monday, December 31, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Deal?

There's still a lot of back and forth on this. I still see very few signs that even if the Senate passes any legislation resolving any part of the fiscal cliff, though the House has made repeated attempts to do so, that President Obama would sign that bill into law.

It also seems that more people are aware of Obama's lack of interest in averting tax increases!

That's a great sign, in my book. Yes, the more ignorant of voters will still believe Obama when he blames Republicans for all the nation's woes, but those who pay the smallest amount of attention will realize that Obama could have and should have been much more engaged in fiscal cliff negotiations if he was serious about averting tax increases. Which he's not. As I've known since the day after Election Day. I'm so glad that more people realize the same thing now, even though it's December 31 and the cliff begins TOMORROW.

An exclusive article up at Breitbart says more authoritatively what I've been telling you for weeks:
“It can’t be overstated,” said our source, “that President Obama has no interest in avoiding the fiscal cliff. He gets everything he wants from a policy and political standpoint if we go off the fiscal cliff.”

But Obama won’t get everything: his failure to assure an indefinite suspension of the debt ceiling means that the real spending debate will center around that, which will prevent Obama from holding the American people hostage on their tax rates in order to guard his vast spending. “That discussion beings [sic] immediately,” the Senate source told us. “The priority for now was avoiding the cliff and trying to help as many taxpayers as possible avoid Democratic tax increases. But now the debate will turn to purely spending.”

The Senate source assured Breitbart News that taxes will not be on the table in terms of cutting our deficit regarding the debt ceiling. “This negotiation will not look like 2011,” the source said. “No repeats.” In fact, there are discussions under way among House and Senate Republicans to make raising the debt ceiling contingent on restructuring the vast bureaucracy that is Obamacare. There has also been talk about restructuring the cost of living adjustments for Social Security, and about restructuring other entitlement programs.

The Senate source emphasized that President Obama did not want to make a deal of any sort. “I don’t think enough interest has been put on the president’s lack of interest in doing anything,” the source stated. Obama hadn’t called McConnell since Thanksgiving; he flew to Hawaii for a week of golf, flew back, and then blamed Congress for getting nothing done.

President Obama has not been merely disengaged; it is clear he wanted to go over the cliff. Most of all, he wanted to tie the cliff to the debt ceiling debate; for him, spending is sacrosanct. “Every penny is sacrosanct to them,” said our source. “You need dynamite to move them off that position. That dynamite is the debt ceiling.”
 
If the Republicans in Congress can successfully insert the debt ceiling in this debate, I will be extremely surprised, and I will think pigs can fly if they can get Obama to sign anything into law! However, it is their one position of strength and at least they know it now. I give them props for that. Plus, if they can get Obama to refuse to sign something it irrefutably puts Obama against the American people loud and clear. Even more clear, if possible, than the evidence of the past four years, endlessly spun in Obama's favor by our Obama-loving liberal media.

I still believe we'll be going over the cliff tomorrow. May our politicians prove me wrong! I'd love to not pay an extra $300 a month in taxes for my tax bracket including the lowered child tax credit. Realistically, however, I prepare to pay the government my savings just because they haven't figured out how to save any of my/taxpayers' money themselves.

UPDATE: Obama hints at his opposition to any deal.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

On parenting

Let's take a break from the impending economic doom of the fiscal cliff and all the taxes and unemployment and rising costs of living the cliff implies.

Let's instead talk about the future. Our children!

I had forgotten how unique a perspective Mormons have about children. Yes, we believe everyone is a child of God, but more importantly for our parenting experiences on earth, we believe that each child existed with God before coming to Earth, and each child is born with individual strengths and weaknesses which no amount of "molding" will change. The more children one has, the more one recognizes the truth of this statement. They come different! Each of my children is extremely different from his or her siblings. I parent them differently from each other as a result, because they need different kinds of care from their parents.

I found this LDS writer's analogy helpful.
A much better analogy would be seedlings in a nursery. You know how all the little plants look the same when they are just little green shoots? But until you stop to read the little label on each one, you don’t know if it is an oak tree, a fir tree or a lilac bush.
The fact is that we will never turn a pine into an oak, but the more we know about what each little seedling is, the better we can apply the right amount of water, the right kind of nutrients and make it the best pine it can be.
If you are looking for a New Year’s resolution as a parent, this might be a good one: “Treat each child as the unique and eternal being that he or she is!” Now that is a resolution that will make you watch and pray about each child and perhaps appreciate a little bit more how our Heavenly Father knows and deals with each of us — his own unique children.

Friday, December 28, 2012

"Negotiations"

No doubt you've noticed that top leaders are meeting to discuss the "fiscal cliff." This is all posturing. Last week the Democrats were lambasting Boehner's Plan B, and now they are lamenting that it wasn't passed? Last week Reid was no where to be seen, but now all of the sudden he's hard at work "trying" to prevent tax increases? The House did pass all the legislation necessary to avert the fiscal cliff but the Senate has touched few if any House bills all year long. Posturing, that's all this is. A charade.

I even saw that our leaders haven't met for six weeks, until today. If they (Obama and Reid) were actually serious about averting the cliff (which they aren't) they would have been meeting together regularly and frequently, daily if necessary. Obama is no leader. And Obama wants the fiscal cliff, he already admitted as much. Get ready for your tax increases to pay for his new spending, leaving the federal deficit growing exponentially until the economy falls flat on its face. The government has two options at that point: to print money, causing horrible inflation (think Kenya and elsewhere). Or to cut spending! The people won't have any money left to tax at that point, or jobs or businesses from which to pay taxes.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Government Dependence

Just quickly: Government dependents Outnumber Those with Private Sector Jobs in 11 States. That almost says it all.

This is significant because government jobs rely on taxpayer money for their income, as do dependents. Government cannot create growth because it depends on the private sector, which is the only place true economic growth takes place. Government is a drain on the private sector, and never more than now.

In a few days, all of our taxes will go up to fund a government so bloated that Obama never managed less than $1T deficit on any of the past four years. And he wants to spend even more on new things rather than pay down the deficit! This spells even more economic trouble, beyond the obvious trouble for middle America with higher taxes, higher premiums thanks to Obamacare, and higher costs of living in part thanks to taxes being passed along from businesses to consumers, as they always are just to avoid bankruptcy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"I Was Adam Lanza"

I found another excellent look at the psychiatric aspects of mass shootings in "I Was Adam Lanza." See older posts for other similar articles. In it is the account of someone who had the same propensities as Adam Lanza and all the other shooters, but he didn't act on it thanks to his psychologist and mother, though he calls out the media for their part in immortalizing murderers, which is exactly what they want.
Like the author of that piece [I am Adam Lanza's mother], Liza Long, my mother had no idea what to do about my sudden transformation (in my case, around 16) into a borderline homicidal maniac. Like her son, I used knives to try and make my threats of violence seem more real. Like her son, I would leap out of our car in the middle of the road just to get away from my mother, over the most trivial of offenses. Like her son, I screamed obscenities at my mother shortly after moments of relative peace. And worse than this poor woman's son, whose mindset toward his peers we can only guess, I will admit that I fantasized multiple times about taking ordnance to my classmates.
By the logic which leads Liza Long to say, "I am Adam Lanza's mother,” I have to say: “I was Adam Lanza.”
I don't say this to get attention. It's in the past, and I honestly would prefer to pretend those years of my life never happened. I’ve struggled hard for psychological healing, and I sincerely believe I’ve made progress.
However, given recent events, I have a warning to offer - and an obligation to offer it.
I hope that by giving this explanation, including why I was the way I was, the world will work out that it is possible for kids like me – kids contemplating the most awful crimes - to get better. Kids like me and Liza Long’s son are not psychotic lost causes. We can be stopped. We can be saved.
Read more. There are three installments. Understanding how the smart social outcasts think and understanding how they can be helped may very well make an enormous difference in the number of such incidents in the United States and certainly in the strength and compassion of our communities.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Fellow Christians, please consider watching Silent Night: the powerful true story behind the most popular Christmas carol of all time.  It is available on DVD or off a Roku through the BYUTV channel (free). It is a moving film about Joseph Mohr, a young Austrian priest in 1818 trying to teach the common people of God's love in their own language instead of Latin.

As an aside, the filmmaker is Austrian himself, Christian Vuissa. Incidentally, I knew him and his family long ago at BYU when we attended the same LDS congregation.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Relationship between Business and Jobs Explained

Finally, a business person, Harvard MBA professor Clayton M. Christensen, talking about how the two correlate. It's more complicated than just having capital, as is obvious by the past four years of businesses and banks flush with capital but high unemployment lingering, with more and more people leaving the work force permanently.
There are three types of innovations that affect jobs and capital: empowering innovations, sustaining innovations and efficiency innovations.
 
Empowering innovations transform something that is complicated and expensive into something that is so much more simple and affordable that a much larger population can enjoy it. The Model T did that, making an automobile affordable and accessible. Apple and IBM computers made it so all of us could have a computer. Google made it possible for almost anyone to advertise at low costs.
 
It turns out that almost all net growth in jobs in America has been created by companies that were empowering — companies that made complicated things affordable and accessible so that more people could own them and use them. When more people are buying them, more people have to be hired to make them and distribute them and to service them. Empowering innovations make up the core engine of economic growth.
(...)
In a healthy economy empowering, sustaining and efficiency innovations operate in balance. A healthy economy creates and sustains more jobs before squeezing out inefficiencies.
 
Over the past 20 years, however, there has been far less money flowing into empowering innovations and much more capital flowing into efficiency innovations and sustaining innovations. As a result, we are not creating new jobs at a rate that will sustain our economy.
And then he talks about why businesses/MBAs these days aren't focuses on restoring this balance. Fascinating! Rather than quote the entire remainder of his article to you, you should just read it yourself. Teaser: the Church of Finance.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Psychiatric Care in the United States

Dr. Ablow who I quoted a few days ago says this about improving mental health care in the United States. Here's the current state of affairs:
Social workers, psychologists, nurses and non-psychiatry physicians can each have an extremely important role to play in rendering care to psychiatric patients, but they should not be the orchestrators of such care.

Largely to save money, insurance companies are most responsible for decimating the mental health care system in America by demanding such low payment scales that social workers and nurses have been trying to do the heroic work of trying to act like psychiatrists, while psychologists have been agitating for the right to prescribe medications so they can make more money and while internal medicine physicians and family physicians have too often tried to treat complex mental illnesses with medications alone, ignoring the fact that psychological factors fuel those illnesses and must be addressed.
And his proposal for improvements? He includes psychiatrists regaining supervision of patient management (as opposed to undertrained social workers), that insurance companies be required by law to cover monthly visits instead of quarterly visit, that insurance companies don't force hospitals to discharge mental health patients prematurely, that long-term psychiatric care be expanded in each state to save both hospitals and insurance companies the added expense by charging fees on a sliding scale dependant on patient income, the development of a "violence assessment tool" to better track patients highly at risk for injuring themselves or others, enforced treatment of those who have committed violent crimes with mental instability, etc.
All this would be a beginning. We have allowed the disassembling of the mental health care in America, giving into the lowest common denominator of treatments and handing control of our gutted system to insurance companies and drug manufacturers. Some may argue we did this in hopes of dialing back overzealous treatment strategies during the period of "deinstitutionalization." But I believe the real decline was fueled by the stigma still indefensibly associated with mental illness. Because such a shoddy system of care would never be allowed to exist in the world of cardiology or endocrinology or oncology.

This is by no means a complete plan. Elements of it may be challenged, and should be challenged. I hope others could contribute more creative and comprehensive solutions to some of the shortcomings I have noted.
Read more of the details yourself.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lessons from Robert Bork

Robert Bork died this week. He received passing lines in the media, as a formerly nominated (conservative) Supreme Court Justice. Why wasn't he put on the bench? The Democrat/media anti-conservative Narrative.

Ann Coulter visits that:
Since liberals couldn’t just come out and say that they hated democracy -- where they lose -- and preferred brute political force -- where they could win -- they accused Bork of being a closet slavery-supporter. Sen. Teddy Kennedy, who killed a girl at Chappaquiddick, uncorked his despicable “Judge Bork’s America” speech on the Senate floor within an hour of Bork’s nomination, accusing Bork of hoping to bring back segregated lunch counters and consigning women to “back-alley abortions.”

Bork’s name became a verb, meaning to smear a person with ugly slanders for political gain. The sleeping giant of sensible Americans woke up, angry that they had been tricked into fearing Bork. Next time, they’d fight back.

When Clarence Thomas was “borked” a few years later – accused of vile sexual harassment out of a Ku Klux Klan playbook – Americans exploded in rage. The truth won out and Thomas now goes by "Justice Clarence Thomas."

Conservatives wouldn’t win all court fights, but at least they became aware they were in a war. Finally, there were two sides fighting. In this way, Bork’s defeat may have been more valuable to the country than his becoming a justice.
Romney was "borked' in his own way. It's time for another awakening! Younger voters like me can't remember what happened to Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, since their stories are not taught in liberal public schools. The only reason I know about Clarence Thomas at all is I read his book - his story has never been and never will be put up as an example for Americans by the liberal media. The media and DNC fight the same anti-conservative battles as ever: slandering and falsely accusing Republicans until they hang their heads in foundless shame. I fully admit that most of the "Establishment" GOP leadership are spineless.

The same thing is happening with any and all conservative policies. For example, right at this moment, the entire DNC/news media coalition are speaking out against guns, and ignoring the effectiveness of the other side's argument by refusing to report it. From another Coulter article:
In a nonsense "study" going around the Internet right now, Mother Jones magazine claims to have produced its own study of all public shootings in the last 30 years and concludes: "In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun."

This will come as a shock to people who know something about the subject.

The magazine reaches its conclusion by simply excluding all cases where an armed civilian stopped the shooter: They looked only at public shootings where four or more people were killed, i.e., the ones where the shooter wasn't stopped. 
 (...)

In addition to the Portland mall case, here are a few more examples excluded by the Mother Jones' methodology:

-- Mayan Palace Theater, San Antonio, Texas, this week: Jesus Manuel Garcia shoots at a movie theater, a police car and bystanders from the nearby China Garden restaurant; as he enters the movie theater, guns blazing, an armed off-duty cop shoots Garcia four times, stopping the attack. Total dead: Zero.

-- Winnemucca, Nev., 2008: Ernesto Villagomez opens fire in a crowded restaurant; concealed carry permit-holder shoots him dead. Total dead: Two. (I'm excluding the shooters' deaths in these examples.)

-- Appalachian School of Law, 2002: Crazed immigrant shoots the dean and a professor, then begins shooting students; as he goes for more ammunition, two armed students point their guns at him, allowing a third to tackle him. Total dead: Three.

-- Santee, Calif., 2001: Student begins shooting his classmates -- as well as the "trained campus supervisor"; an off-duty cop who happened to be bringing his daughter to school that day points his gun at the shooter, holding him until more police arrive. Total dead: Two.

-- Pearl High School, Mississippi, 1997: After shooting several people at his high school, student heads for the junior high school; assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieves a .45 pistol from his car and points it at the gunman's head, ending the murder spree. Total dead: Two.

-- Edinboro, Pa., 1998: A student shoots up a junior high school dance being held at a restaurant; restaurant owner pulls out his shotgun and stops the gunman. Total dead: One.

By contrast, the shootings in gun-free zones invariably result in far higher casualty figures -- Sikh temple, Oak Creek, Wis. (six dead); Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va. (32 dead); Columbine High School, Columbine, Colo. (12 dead); Amish school, Lancaster County, Pa. (five little girls killed); public school, Craighead County, Ark. (five killed, including four little girls).
Concealed-carry states have fewer mass casualities by madmen than gun-free zones, yet the media will never report such because it doesn't fit in with their view of the world as they want it, a world in which the innocent cannot protect themselves against the black-hearted who will always find weapons with which to perpetrate crimes.

It doesn't fit with their destroy-the-other-party-at-the-expense-of-the-truth Narrative. So much for fair and balanced coverage.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Media fails to report big news

This isn't a surprise, once you become familiar with the kinds of things the news media is willing to report and what it will always steadfastly ignore. Right now, their push is to prop up Dem's pursuit of gun control. Thus, they fail to report that Adam Lanza snapped because he didn't want his mother to send him to a psychiatric facility. More than relevant, don't you think? Find it here, instead, or on any of a number of conservative news outlets. The left (and complicit media) is refusing to talk about mental health in the United States, even though reality insists that the criminally insane will not be stopped by fewer guns. The very same day of the Connecticut shootings, a madman in China killed innocents with a large knife. Clearly, the problem is untreated insanity, not guns.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mental Health continued

I am so relieved that mental health care is finally reaching center stage in our national conversation, though I haven't checked whether the national, liberal "news" outlets who carry water for the Democrat Party's anti-gun aims have climbed on board.

There is a lot to mental health care that is widely misunderstood. For example, a psychologist is not a medical doctor but a psychiatrist is. Psychologists are trained in therapy, which can be quite effective, but do not have power to write prescriptions. Psychiatrists can and often are trained in therapy and in prescribing the appropriate medications, but sometimes they are not trained in every effective therapy method. Other mental health care professionals have less training, such as nurses and social workers.

Mental health is just as widely misunderstood. Just like a physical illness stems from something physically wrong in the body, mental illness can be caused by something physically wrong in the brain. Doctors have done studies with MRIs and found pieces missing in brains that completely explain the type of mental illness a person experiences. This isn't to say there is always a physically-evident underlying cause of mental health, but it's still something that people should understand.

Adam Lanza couldn't feel pain - that's indicative of abnormality. He probably had some part of his brain missing or nonoperational. The brain controls everything from what we sense to how we think and move and what we can feel, how we process information, even our personalities. That's why people suffering from dementia change personalities - their increasingly diseased brains are the reason. I am not a doctor, but this is the way I understand it as explained by a doctor.

Another widely misunderstood part of mental health is the scarcity of effective medications. Quite often, a person will respond to a certain anti-psychotic drug for only a time before it loses efficacy, and then need a different one. There aren't an infinite number of anti-psychotic drugs. The ones we have include serious side effects. Some people respond very well to medication and can live normally in society and others just don't and can't live normally in society and never will, unless future treatments are any better than the ones we've got, which we can't count on.

A psychiatrist, Dr. Keith Ablow, has explained in "Why can't America care for the mentally ill?" that we face even bigger hurdles in America's overall mental health care than most people realize.  Insurance companies refuse to cover long-term psychiatric care beyond meetings with a social worker!
Here is the truth:  Today, even a mentally ill young man with a known propensity for violence, or even a history of serious violence, is likely to receive just an hour a week of counseling (if that) by a social worker. 
He is likely have an unclear diagnosis of his condition and to be on a list of constantly changing, very powerful psychoactive medications prescribed by a nurse. 
He is also likely to be turned away -- repeatedly --by emergency room social workers who act as gatekeepers for insurance companies to restrict access to inpatient psychiatric treatment.
If admitted to a psychiatric hospital, he will likely be triaged quickly through an often-incompetent “tune up” of medications that might accomplish nothing and then be sent back home as soon as he “contracts for safety”—simply promising a social worker that he won’t kill anyone.
 
That young man’s good parents might well pray that he be arrested for another violent crime so that the terms of his probation might (but probably still wouldn’t) include mandatory visits to a mental health professional (though not always the right one for their child’s needs) and mandatory drug testing.  At least then he can be jailed if he refuses all treatment or gets hold of some heroin that could worsen his hallucinations.
This psychiatrist then detailed eight specific failures within the American health care system. Please read over them to better understand what families with severe mental illness face in getting care. I will jump down to his eighth point.
8) In most states there is no way to arrange court-ordered, involuntary outpatient use of medications (including antipsychotic medications) even if someone is very violent or has reported extremely violent thoughts in the hospital, even if that person is psychotic and also addicted to cocaine or heroin, and even if that person is court-ordered to take such antipsychotic medications in the hospital. 
Once that person hits the streets he or she is too often free to never visit a psychiatrist, again, to never take another medication and to never be drug-tested. 
That is where we are.  And that defines what poses as a mental health care system, but does not merit that label.   
It is a cruel ruse to suggest to American families struggling with mentally ill loved ones that they can receive effective and healing psychiatric care without spending tens of thousands or, more likely, hundreds of thousands of dollars to do it.  
(...)
Psychiatry and psychology are amazingly effective disciplines, when properly harnessed and deployed.  And it doesn’t even have to cost billions of dollars to do that.  Within the week, I will post the rough framework of such a plan here on FoxNews.com.   
The mentally ill need our help. Gun control will not take the violence out of them, and they will remain a threat to themselves and their families and communities unless they get adequate mental health care. I eagerly await his plan. I'm very curious to see whether it will add to the public burden or whether he will build his framework around other funding. I do think this initiative would be worth funding publicly compared to the many wasteful expenditures of the US government (if we can persuade Obama to cut anything or replace anything), and besides that, the US government is bound by the Constitution to protect and defend its citizens.

I would argue that it is high time we defended those who have no ability to defend themselves. Rather than hire security in all public schools, having better mental health care evaluations and access ought to prevent the need for that expensive change. I've also seen elsewhere some suggestions about how schools could prevent similar incidents without hiring a single person even in the absence of reformed mental health care. However, I hope that this new conversation about mental health leads to real and meaningful changes in mental health care.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

It's time to talk about mental health

I've seen a slew of articles arguing for gun control, but I have seen comparatively few arguing for better mental health care. The few I have seen are excellent. Those who suffer from mental illness and their loved ones face a stigma: it's not socially acceptable to talk about mental illness beyond depression. Yet, just as one example, 1 in 100 people suffer from some form of schizophrenia. Think about that. That would be 17 of the people with whom I attended high school. That's not a small number. Some function well in society, others do not. Yet this is just one of many mental disorders. Some disorders are more dangerous to the population at large, as we have repeatedly experienced in the United States.

Last time a mentally ill person (Loughner, if I remember correctly) went on a shooting rampage, I found an excellent editorial written by a psychiatrist arguing that it is now time for that stigma against mental illness to be broken (which article is now lost somewhere within the annals of the internet, but here is a similar one). Yet we need to talk about this. We need to know the signs of serious mental illness. We need to know when to intervene and thus prevent the slaughter of innocents.

Today, I read an excellent editorial from the mother of one of these kinds of young men. After detailing the violent threats by and past ineffective treatments of her brilliant but mentally ill son, Liza Long wrote:
I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza's mother. I am Dylan Klebold's and Eric Harris's mother. I am Jason Holmes's mother. I am Jared Loughner's mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho's mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it's easy to talk about guns. But it's time to talk about mental illness.
Now, I am connected to the healthcare industry, and I have seen first hand exactly what she is talking about. There is no inpatient psychiatric hospital than can keep the criminally insane for more than a period of a few days or weeks. The criminally insane used to have somewhere to go for the long term, where they felt safe and which also kept the general population safe, but all such institutions have been closed decades ago, leaving these people and their loved ones in a very tight spot. Continuing on:
I don't believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael's sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn't deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise—in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population.
With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill—Rikers Island, the LA County Jail and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed the nation's largest treatment centers in 2011.
No one wants to send a 13-year-old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, "Something must be done."
I agree that something must be done. It's time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That's the only way our nation can ever truly heal.
It is time, indeed. Time to listen to women like Liza Long and psychiatrists and learn from them and think about how we can prevent the criminally-minded from becoming criminals, rather than locking them up once they are criminals. Gun control and politicization will not solve this problem: they'll use any weapon they can get their hands on because of the nature of their disease. It is time for deeper compassion and understanding towards those with mental illnesses. We must realize that they and their loved ones need our help. And they need it now more than ever. Erase the stigma.

UPDATE: for more insightful recommendations in this national conversation please go here.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

LDS Women

I am an LDS woman. I feel equal to the men in the LDS Church. I understand, deeply, that men and women have different divine gifts and roles and that this is a good thing because we balance each other out in church just as we do in families. We have our own women's organization called Relief Society, just as the men are organized in priesthood quorums.

(See also The Family: A Proclamation to the World. First revealed to the women in the LDS in 1995 at a women's General Relief Society meeting by President Gordon B. Hinckley, the prophet at the time, and then reiterated at the subsequent General Conference of the LDS Church with full membership participating.)

The LDS Church will not be giving women the priesthood because it is a role for men, from the foundation of the world. It was designed by God to be as it is. Priesthood is the authority of God given to men to act for Him. Priesthood service teaches men, among other things, to think of others before themselves - to love as Christ loves, something that comes much more naturally to women, just by virtue of the God-given gifts of nurturing and loving given to women at birth. Watch little girls, and you will see them practice these traits instinctively.

The blessings of the priesthood as opposed to the priesthood itself, however, are available to each and every member of the Church. There is no discrimination. Blessings of the priesthood include baptism, marriage and eternal families, partaking of the sacrament, etc.

Tomorrow, some LDS women will wear pants to church in protest of women's inequality in the LDS Church. This pants issue has nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ and everything to do with Mormon culture, and their own misperceptions of the differences inherent between men's and women's God-given roles. 

I have attended the LDS Church in many different kinds of places in many congregations large and small. How I was raised and with the various places I've lived or visited, I wouldn't look twice or hardly notice if another woman wore pants to church. I don't care. It's none of my business. It doesn't matter. We go to church to worship God and renew the sacred covenats we made with Him, not to judge each other. I have never felt second place as a woman in the LDS Church, but rather respected and listened to and valued.

The deeper reason behind the pants "protest" is that some women feel unequal. This is a real, and sad, problem. This is a problem in their understanding, and perhaps their experiences in their congregations have lent them these misunderstandings between gospel and culture. Not every congregation is as loving and respectful towards women as it should be if fully living and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm guessing that at times the leadership in those congregations are ignorantly rather than deliberately slighting women, if they even are at all. As in anything else, many offenses are perceived, rather than rooted in reality.

As much as these feminist LDS women are acting in solidarity to show their numbers, this act doesn't solve anything. Better for them to talk to their local church leadership about their concerns. Better for them to talk with them about ways that they can both understand and appreciate each other better. Understanding, like tolerance, is a two-way street.

I hope these women will learn that they are valued and indeed that they are valued within their particular LDS congregations, but that it doesn't matter what they wear or what responsibilities they hold in the Church. Their value is separate from those things.

They are daughters of God. God created all things. His last creation - the most special - was a woman.

Friday, December 14, 2012

What are you trying to do? Ruin our Christmas?

From "Scrooge," the musical. Scrooge's clerk's wife, Ethyl, says this at their family table Christmas Day when Bob Cratchett (the clerk) proposes they drink to Scrooge as the founder of their "feast."

I feel like saying this to all those on Capital Hill dilly-dallying on averting the Fiscal Cliff. We already know Obama wants it to go over the cliff, because if he didn't, he wouldn't be wasting so much time postponing meetings about it! He just wants to blame the GOP for it - which is inevitable and doesn't need to take so much time, either. Just get it over with! Tell us what our tax rates and any remaining deductions and credits will be already! Before Christmas, preferably. None of this passing-Obamacare-late-on-Christmas-Eve-against-the-will-of-the-American-people-in-2009 business all over again.

As far as Boehner goes, he is more replaceable than originally thought. Ann Coulter is a big voice in favor of the GOP saying, fine - do exactly what you want, Obama. Tax the rich. Do what you're going to do. Since Obama's going to do what he wants anyway, this would be the strongest position for the GOP to play. I'm not entirely certain that Obama would be willing to leap over the cliff if he can not squarely blame Republicans for it - not that the complicit media won't still come up with a way to blame America's problems on the GOP like they always do. And, we'd have the added advantage of seeing how insincere Obama is when he says he wants to protect the middle class. Would the Dems still nominally support tax increases only on the rich if the GOP no longer opposed it?

UPDATE: Sen. Jim Demint agrees that Obama is steering the country straight for the cliff with all the tax increases across the board. To see how you'll be affected, start here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Obama wants higher taxes on all to pay for new spending!

Yes, you read that right, unbelievable though it sounds.


Thanks, Weekly Standard, for the information.
"The [president's] plan called for $1.6 trillion in new taxes, twice what the president asked for in the campaign. He asked for $800 billion during the campaign. Now he wants $1.6 trillion in new taxes," said Senator Jeff Sessions, the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, last week on the floor.

"Spending under that plan would increase $1 trillion above the levels agreed to in the Budget Control Act, as signed into law. We agreed to the Budget Control Act 16 months ago, in August 2011, and we raised the debt ceiling and agreed to reduce spending. We raised the debt ceiling $2.1 trillion and agreed to reduce spending $2.1 trillion. The President's plan would take out over $1.1 trillion of those spending limitations that are in current law. I repeat, spending will increase more than $1 trillion above the already projected growth in spending," Sessions added.

"Our spending is growing. It is not decreasing. It is already projected to grow, but the President's proposal is to have it grow even faster than the law currently calls for."
 If you're new here, you may not be aware of the 1974 Budget Reform Act that ensured that every federal budget since grew automatically by as much as 10%, regardless of revenue or necessity. Any talks of cutting the 10% to something smaller, say matching revenue growth or inflation, has Democrats crying "Draconian Cuts!" even though the budgets would still all be larger than the year before. So, yeah, our federal deficit is a beast and apparently is about to become a leviathon, true to Obama's standard form.

From Ben Stein over at American Spectator:
For example, when he came into office, he supposedly gave middle class taxpayers a tax cut. Fine and dandy, but if he did it, it had to have cut the revenue to the federal government and therefore added to the deficit.

But now, he says it's all the GOP tax cuts that have created the deficit. Somehow, when Mr. Obama puts a minus sign in front of the tax revenue number, that does not count at all. But when Mr. Bush did it, that does count. In a word, deficit creation by Mr. Obama is good or negligible. By the GOP, terrible.

Likewise, Mr. Obama promised he would cut the deficit by half by the end of his first term. That deficit was then running at very roughly about $500 billion, so his cut would have brought it to very roughly $250 billion. But instead, Mr. Obama more than doubled the deficit. That means he was wrong in his promise by a factor of four. He quadrupled the deficit beyond what he said it would be.

There is something very wrong here. Hardly a word was said against him for this catastrophe, and he just smiled and waved his way right through it. It was as if it hadn't happened.
Yup, that's the Obama we know and either love or hate. Obama the masterful politician who gets away with murder (Libya), thanks to a liberal media who hides liberals' flaws and ignores Republicans' strengths.

Now, for Obama to get $1.6 T, my understanding is that we much go over the fiscal cliff and raise everyone's taxes. I still maintain that Obama isn't going to save the middle class from an average 5% tax increase between income taxes, fewer tax credits, and FICA going back up. Not to mention the Obamacare fees and taxes now rolled into everyone's health insurance plans. Obama will say he is for the middle class, and the Democrats in Congress probably genuinely want to save their bacon by pleasing their voters, but if Obama doesn't want the lower tax rates to continue, they won't happen. Prepare to tighten your belts to feed the glutton.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A note on the Bush tax cuts

Now that the idea of returning taxes to the levels they were before the much-decried-by-liberal-media Bush tax cuts, we find out that liberals actually support them (at least in word, I'll believe it when and if I see it). Let's examine why.

  • Americans take home less (10% less if I remember correctly) than they did a few years ago.
  • Americans have higher costs of living than they did a few years ago.  Thanks to Obama's energy plan and regulatory burdens just about everywhere.
  • Fewer Americans are working than there were a four years ago. We're down to less than 59% in absolutes.
  • Fewer Americans can find jobs out of college.
These facts add up to two conclusions. One, that with fewer people working and working for less, returning to the pre-Bush tax rates isn't going to haul in as much money to the government as it did before. Two, that people in the "middle class" are going to be substantially squeezed to pay higher taxes in a time with higher cost of living and less pay - driving them to government programs and thus increasing the welfare burden, already increased dramatically in the past four years. This is not going to be a pleasant for anyone disconnected from government.

Once again, government budget cuts are the only answer for getting us out of this fiscal mess in the long term. I see very few politicians willing to admit as much. Even fewer voices in the liberal media.

Monday, December 10, 2012

GOP redefinition revisted

I know, we conservatives keep talking about how bad the GOP leadership is and comparitively few things we can do about it. However, I found two fresh and insightful perspectives, both on RedState. One is about why, in sales, customers want to know about the benefits rather than the features (benefits the GOP does NOT explain, in their case). The other article compares the GOP to the Coca Cola company.
(...) Later, it was determined that notwithstanding the taste tests and the science, the company underestimated the visceral impact such a change would have on its loyal generations of drinkers. They had kicked out the old family dog in favor of a new puppy. Coke was a constant through wars, civil unrest, changing economies, a changing culture, and according to the commercials, Santa Claus’s beverage of choice. The company learned that you just couldn’t change who you are.

Yet, that’s what many in the GOP want to do. The experts, consultants and strategists are wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth trying to come up with the New GOP that can beat the Democrats in the next four years. The problem is that we’ve allowed some of the same people tinker with GOP Classic for a decade; and there are not enough folks who remember the original formula.
 
Yup. You got that right.
Republicans made their first significant alteration to their successful recipe when they abandoned their healthy skepticism and economic concerns of existing entitlement programs by managing the largest overhaul and expansion of Medicare with the creation of Medicare Part D. Not only did we seem to forget we were the party of smaller federal government, but we also seemed to forget our belief in the free market economy. A Republican Congress prohibited the Federal government from negotiating discounts with drug companies in this program.

Apparently, this was a subtle enough change that those loyal to GOP Classic didn’t revolt.
For more, please follow this link.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Jewish-LDS relations

Mormons feel a kinship of sorts with the Jews, as the descendants of the Israelites and whose beginnings we claim also as our own. Read, for example, this LDS article about how without Hanukkah there would be no Christmas.

We believe, in the LDS Church, that Jesus Christ instituted His church in its purity on the earth in different times and places through prophets among various peoples, and that one such instance is the restoration of the full gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith in the early 1800's.  As taught in the Bible, we believe that before Christ's birth, Christ's followers sacrificed animals to think about Christ's sacrifice -which was to be the great and last sacrifice. After His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament to meet that purpose of remembering Him and committing to follow Him.

Some other commonalities between the LDS Church and the Jews historically are temples, prophets, priesthood, covenants, tithing, etc. The Book of Mormon is a record of Jewish people who left Jerusalem before it was besieged, around 600 B.C., and came to the Americas through God's guidance, and who, 600 years later, were visited and taught by Jesus Christ Himself following his crucifixion and resurrection.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Leverage

I learned what leverage can be in the great movie series, "Pirates of the Caribbean." The Republicans, though the RINOs in the leadership seem not to know it, have a position of great leverage right now, in this "fiscal cliff" debate. Just as Reagan used leverage to end the Cold War without firing a shot! All details are in this article at the American Spectator. It's long. Seven pages. Yet well worth your perusal. Worth it enough for me to not even give you the highlights as a cop out!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Demographics continued

One of the things I love most about Ann Coulter (besides her humor) is her research. For instance, this week she broke down the youth vote and informed her readers that Romney won 54% of white voters under 30 - including a majority of young female voters, by a smaller margin. Obama got only 41% of young white voters.
Reagan got just 43 percent of young voters in 1980 -- and that was when whites were 88 percent of the electorate. Only 58 percent of today's under-30 vote is white and it's shrinking daily.
This is significant, and she explains why.
The youth vote is a snapshot of elections to come if nothing is done to reverse the deluge of unskilled immigrants pouring into the country as a result of Ted Kennedy's 1965 immigration act. Eighty-five percent of legal immigrants since 1968 have come from the Third World. A majority of them are in need of government assistance.

Whites are 76 percent of the electorate over the age of 30 and only 58 percent of the electorate under 30. Obama won the "youth vote" because it is the knife's edge of a demographic shift ... .
Yes, the GOP has a real problem. To continue:
Charles Murray recently pointed out that -- contrary to stereotype -- Hispanics are less likely to be married, less likely to go to church, more supportive of gay marriage and less likely to call themselves "conservative" than other Americans.

Rather than being more hardworking than Americans, Hispanics actually work about the same as others, or, in the case of Hispanic women, less.

It seems otherwise, Murray says, because the only Hispanics we see are the ones who are working -- in our homes, neighborhoods and businesses. "That's the way that almost all Anglos in the political chattering class come in contact with Latinos," he notes. "Of course they look like model Americans."

(Black males would apparently like to work more. Nearly 20 percent of black males under 30 voted for Romney, more than three times what McCain got.)
Ann Coulter offered no panacea to the GOP, but concludes, appropriately, with this:
Ironically, Romney was the first Republican presidential candidate in a long time not conspiring with the elites to make America a dumping ground for the world's welfare cases. Conservatives who denounced Romney as a "RINO" were the ones doing the bidding of the real establishment: business, which wants cheap labor and couldn't care less if America ceases to be the land of opportunity that everyone wanted to immigrate to in the first place.

Is there a solution? Who knows. We really may already have reached the "tipping point" indicating that a majority of voters want a welfare state whether they participate in it or support it for others. I would suggest that the only hope that conservatives have is to educate the people around them to the results and problems inherent in a welfare state, such as the lack of prosperity, opportunity, employment, and diminished freedoms of various kinds such as economic freedom. There are many people who simply did not vote who could have. We need to reach these people if there is any hope of restoring America to its birthright as a land of opportunity. It will be all the easier to teach the advantage in conservative principles when Taxmageddon sets it with ensuing economic mayhem.

This responsibility rests with conservatives and conservative media, because you had better count on the same anti-conversvative, anti-GOP media Narrative continuing in full force. It must be countered.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The LDS Church and Homosexuality

It's been quite a while since I focused on my faith.

There's a reason for this: leading up to the election, the most important things I could write were about Romney's shining character, his business experience, and Obama's horrid plans for our future which we now prepare to accept as our doom. Taxmageddon. He wants us to have it - the fiscal cliff is of his own design from the debt ceiling talks two years ago, he's not really willing to compromise just like two years ago and he'll do exactly what he wants just like he did two years ago. We're doomed to reap what we have sown, collectively. Misery in the form of higher taxes with higher costs of living, economic ruin, despair, higher unemployment... I don't really want to think about how miserable we're going to be for the next four years (at least). Not any more. It's too late to change our circumstances beyond educating Americans now so that we do NOT repeat this mistake. You already know all this if you read this blog regularly.

Anyway, back to the LDS Church. It is somewhat common knowledge that the LDS Church and its leaders teach that marriage is ordained between a man and a woman. In the eyes of the media and liberals in general, this makes us anti-gay. In fact, everyone is welcome in the LDS Church; homosexuals included, with the hope that they will refrain from acting on same-sex attractions, which is a sexual sin just like any other form of adultery or fornication. Now. That said, there is much room for improvement within the Mormon culture in accepting and embracing those who experience same gender attractions.

Now there is a new Church website devoted to this very task of promoting love and acceptance for gays within the LDS Church: mormonsandgays.org. Thanks very much to Josh Weed for the information. He's a gay Mormon blogger who is happily married (to a woman) with three children, and who professionally is a marriage and family therapist. He does not (lest you go up in arms) advocate marriage for Mormon gays in general.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Senate

I'm back online! At long last. As I get caught up on many things, please read this RedState article explaining Harry Reid's intentions with the Senate. Basically, it's about his commitment to the Constitution (err, the lack thereof).

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tax Rates Common Sense!

We have no internet at my house. Please forgive the shortage in posts until further notice. Meanwhile, read the best explanation I've ever seen about the relationship between tax rates and the economy.

http://www.redstate.com/danbongino/2012/11/18/the-golden-calf-of-increased-tax-rates/