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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How's this for a headline?

Ha! I crack myself up. Actually, I ask the question in reference to this one:

What If Obama Can't Lead?

Why the president's defenders are wrong when they argue Obama is impotent.


Which also cracks me up. Obama can't lead and never could and never has and never will. He is a campaigner. If we wanted a leader, we would have elected Mitt Romney. 

It's a decent read, that article.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

QE3

From Rush today in response to a caller question about devaluing the dollar (inflation). I always appreciate additional explanations on the Fed, since I find them mysterious.
The real reason that they have been threatening to dump the dollar is because Bernanke's devaluing it, precisely what you have said.  They have lots of debt in dollars.  They underwrite our debt.  Bernanke is devaluing it and they're upset with that.  And Bernanke is doing this.  But this is really hideous to me.  You want to talk about insiders taking care of each other, that's what this is.  This is the moneyed establishment making sure that they're okay no matter what, holding on to their homes in the Hamptons is the way I describe it.  It also helps Obama create the illusion that the economy is doing well, if you can point to Wall Street.
Now, normally the Democrats hate Wall Street. They hate the Dow Jones Industrial Average.  It's always been the Democrats who talk about Main Street instead of Wall Street.  Now all of a sudden all they care about is Wall Street, because they can point to it and say, "See?  The economy is growing."  Bernanke is hurting the middle class.  The very group of people that Obama claims to be looking out for in his 19th or 20th revision now on trying to rev the economy.  If these guys dump the dollar, it will be devalued even more, and that doesn't help the ChiComs.  Bernanke is devaluing the dollar, as you point out, with this $85 billion a month that's ending up going to the stock market.  It's an intricate route that it takes, but it ends up purchasing stock, securities. 
The middle class is being killed by this devaluation because their real costs, the costs of living are going up.  Gasoline, food, you name it, the dollar is buying less.  It's so bad, folks, they're not even printing the money.  They're simply digitizing.  And to me, this is really scary.  Look at you, for example. Take your bank account.  Let's just pick a number.  Let's say that your bank statement every month says you've got $10,000 in your, let's just call it a passbook account just for the sake of this discussion.  You get a statement that says you've got $10,000 in it.  But there isn't $10,000 in a vault with your name, and there's nothing in that vault worth $10,000.  Your $10,000 exists because there's a number on a piece of paper that says it does. 
All Bernanke is doing is enlarging those numbers.  He's printing money, but they're not really printing it.  They're just going to the ledgers.  Folks, it's really scary stuff.  Now, they claim they've got backup for it, that there is backing for the money that they're creating here.  But they're not even printing it.  There aren't new dollar bills in circulation.  They're just digitizing this, so I've been told and as it's been explained to me.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Presidential discontent


Obama, the president who vacation more than any other prior president, who spends more on himself and family than prior presidents, who went on a trip to Africa with no known political reason, who seems to expect wealth, acclaim, and power as his due, is finally turning off Americans. I wish this had happened a year ago, but no liberal news media would ever throw in the towel on Obama and admit his character until after his second term was a done deal.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

If Romney were president

How might America might look right now? The Economist speculates on the answer to that question, using the plans the Romney team had made for the first months in office had he been elected.
Michael Leavitt, the former Utah governor who chaired Mr Romney’s transition team, describes plans to deliver a “jolt of confidence” by showing seriousness in a few big areas. He would simplify America’s spaghetti-spill of a tax code. He would grapple with the deficit; expand domestic energy production; and reduce the role of government in health care by hollowing out “Obamacare” reforms. Success was to be measured by bosses releasing cash they were hoarding when Mr Obama was president, and rushing to join a Romney-led American revival. 
Romney aides wince at the comparison, but their 200-day plans sound like a Bain turn-around for America’s economy: a co-ordinated series of shocks aimed at impressing investors, but likely to startle and anger many ordinary folk. Democrats would have scorned it as a wish-list for bosses and billionaires. But Mr Romney believed his reforms would work, and work fast. Benefits would follow swiftly, in the form of private investment and job creation: persuading the wider public to trust in President Romney’s competence, if not to love him. 
Team Romney’s 200-day plans included immediate, 5% cuts to public spending excluding security and social payments (though more money for defence), a weakening of the rules that Republicans say favour trade unions, a squeeze on public-sector jobs and pay, and a global push for free trade. Mr Romney would also have proposed lower income- and corporate-tax rates, offset by closing loopholes. Abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency, a conservative dream, was not on the cards. But “personnel is policy”, notes Glenn Hubbard, Mr Romney’s chief economic adviser. Those chosen to regulate energy and tackle climate change would have weighed costs against benefits minutely. A long-term squeeze on welfare and health spending was a priority: wholesale immigration reform was not.
(...)
Would businesses have rushed to invest in a Romney recovery? That is tricky. Granted, many bosses distrust Mr Obama. But firms have been hoarding cash for years now, in many different countries: the link between political leadership and investment is not straightforward.
The lack of unpopular immigration reform, simplify the tax code, cut spending and the effort to gut Obamacare alone would have been worth his election in my book. Lowering unemployment and reigning in the deficit would be icing on the cake.

However, since Romney isn't President, we see headlines like these from Drudge:

WASHPOST: White House budget strategy includes government shutdown...

Ex-HHS lawyer: Obamacare to 'inflict on public most widespread violation of Privacy Act in history'...

IRS employee union: We don't want Obamacare...
IRS watchdog reviewing claims of improper audit of 'Tea Party' farmer...
Promise To 'Protect Whistleblowers' Disappears From Change.gov...
Obamacare Call Center Hiring Part-Time Workers, Not Providing Healthcare...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Religious freedom is about more than religion

Religious freedom is about more than religion and a Republican and Democrat have teemed up to explain why that is, and why religious freedom is essential as a right across the world. Here's part of it:
Some argue that this experience is illusory, and that we are determined in our actions purely by material causes. But these arguments themselves presuppose that the quest to understand the truth about the human condition is a deeply worthy one. They honor the questions that give rise to the quest, even in proposing answers meant to establish its futility.
(...)
It should be equally obvious that respect for the flourishing of people requires respect for their freedom—as individuals and together with others in community—to address the deepest questions of human existence and meaning. This allows them to lead lives of authenticity and integrity by fulfilling what they conscientiously believe to be their religious and moral duties.
Religious faith by its nature must be free. A coerced "faith" is no faith at all. Compulsion can cause a person to manifest the outward signs of belief or unbelief. It cannot produce the interior acts of intellect and will that constitute genuine faith.
Coercion in the cause of belief, whether religious or secular, produces not genuine conviction, but pretense and inauthenticity. It is therefore essential that religious freedom include the right to change one's beliefs and religious affiliation. It also includes the right to witness to one's beliefs in public as well as private, and to act—while respecting the equal right of others to do the same—on one's religiously inspired convictions in carrying out the duties of citizenship. Religious liberty includes a heavy presumption against being coerced to act contrary to one's sense of religious duty. This is a presumption that can be overridden only when necessary to achieve an essential public interest and when no less-restrictive alternative exists.
Because the freedom to live according to one's beliefs is so integral to human flourishing, the full protections of religious liberty must extend to all—even to those whose answers to the deepest questions reject belief in the transcendent.
I'll now make this more specific to the United States itself. If only those who reject belief in the transcendent realized they made their conclusions in response to the same fundamental questions we all ask in this life, maybe they'd allow others the privilege of arriving at conclusions different than their own without condescending to all people of faith as delusional. To grant us the dignity inherent to observing this right. Media, you're guilty too!

Secularists mistake the physical means for finding physical truths such as the scientific method and reason as the only means to find truth. This is a fallacy. Spiritual truths are found in faith, as taught in all kinds of scriptures. Now, if secularists don't want to take the proverbial leap of faith for themselves and begin acquiring spiritual knowledge for themselves, that's their own business and their right. It is not their right to ridicule those of us who do take that leap and find spiritual knowledge for ourselves.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Love

In the most recent General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Church leader named Dieter L. Uchtdorf taught the young women in the church about their journey back to God. I want to quote part of that for you. It applies to everyone. It touches me deeply.
Have you ever wondered what language we all spoke when we lived in the presence of God? I have strong suspicions that it was German, though I suppose no one knows for sure. But I do know that in our premortal life we learned firsthand, from the Father of our spirits, a universal language—one that has the power to overcome emotional, physical, and spiritual barriers.
That language is the pure love of Jesus Christ.
It is the most powerful language in the world.
The love of Christ is not a pretend love. It is not a greeting-card love. It is not the kind of love that is praised in popular music and movies.
This love brings about real change of character. It can penetrate hatred and dissolve envy. It can heal resentment and quench the fires of bitterness. It can work miracles. 
We received our “first lessons”9 in this language of love as spirits in God’s presence, and here on earth we have opportunities to practice it and become fluent. You can know if you are learning this language of love by evaluating what motivates your thoughts and actions. 
When your primary thoughts are focused on how things will benefit you, your motivations may be selfish and shallow. That is not the language you want to learn. 
But when your primary thoughts and behaviors are focused on serving God and others—when you truly desire to bless and lift up those around you—then the power of the pure love of Christ can work in your heart and life. That is the language you want to learn. 
As you become fluent in this language and use it in your interactions with others, they will recognize something in you that may awaken in them a long-hidden feeling to search for the right way on the journey back to their heavenly home. After all, the language of love is their true native language too. 
This deep and abiding influence is a language that reaches to the very soul. It is a language of understanding, a language of service, a language of lifting and rejoicing and comforting. 
Learn to use the universal language of Christ’s love.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Obamacare and snooping

There is a chance Obamacare could be defunded! How realistic it is to expect that this may or may not happen remains to be seen. Nevertheless, I'm glad it is at least a possibility. The majority of Americans don't want Obamacare anywhere near them, but politicians have a way of doing what they want to do no matter what the people who elect them want them to do.
“This is the last stop before ObamaCare fully kicks in on Jan. 1 of next year for us to refuse to fund it,” Lee said Monday on “Fox and Friends.”
“If Republicans in both houses simply refuse to vote for any continuing resolution that contains further funding for further enforcement of ObamaCare, we can stop it. We can stop the individual mandate from going into effect,” he said.
“We have 64 of my colleagues on this letter and we’re asking the leadership not to bring anything to the floor that has funding for ObamaCare in it,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who is spearheading the House effort. 
Now. This is the same government we're dealing with that targets conservatives and pulls underhanded tricks to defeat opponents. And these are the same Republicans (by and large) who support big government.

On a different though remotely related note, the records of government snooping are being erased. Tea Party member Christine O'Donnell's tax records had been illegally publicized against her during her Congressional fight in Delaware (by media - Democrat) but now evidence of that illegal activity has disappeared.
“So far, it appears the department destroys the access records after a short amount of time,” Mr. Grassley said. “That’s puzzling. Unless the IRS has a back-up, and I hope the IRS does, there’s no way to know how and when Delaware state employees accessed Christine O'Donnell’s federal tax records.”
Mr. Grassley also noted that if records are routinely destroyed, this also would cast doubt on the state explanations.
“If the records were destroyed, it’s also hard for the state to support its statement that its record access occurred only in response to a public report, and not before,” he said.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Self-deception

Evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers studies self-deception. Why do we do it? The better to deceive others by first deceiving ourselves? It's a universal phenomenon - everyone does it. One of these studies is most relevant to politics, and I quote a paragraph from "The Better to Fool Others" within Discover Magazine:
In another experiment, researchers assembled a group of people who strongly supported or opposed capital punishment. Everyone was then presented with facts supporting both positions. The result? The people became even more strident in their views. The information gave each person facts to support his or her position. Again, while they thought they were evaluating the information objectively, they were not. Each group distorted the information to align with prior beliefs.
Like I always say. If you don't truly consider both points of view, you're unable to form an educated opinion. Open minds. Self-reflection. They're useful tools.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Obamacare Data Collection and Mining

Remember the hoopla with the NSA snooping on us? And the IRS targeting the conservative among us? Turns out those are nothing. Obamacare is going to be far worse with a giant database with free access to communities organizations approved - by Obama's regime. Use the link to read more.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Some economic statistics

Yes, I realize that statistics have lost their renown with good reason: anyone who knows how can make them say what they want to say - kind of like our news media makes the news by what they report and what they don't report.

That said, here are some economic statistics from the dude over at The Economic Collapse Blog. Yes, he is dramatic about our impending doom most of the time, but there is still truth at the core of what he's talking about: our government is set upon an unsustainable path economically and it's going to blow up in our faces some day. Anyway, today he stuck up a long list of statistics indicating the decline of the United States economically. I will repeat some of them:
#2 The United States was once ranked #1 in the world in GDP per capita.  Today we have slipped to #14.
#4 Since the year 2000, the size of the U.S. national debt has grown by more than 11 trillion dollars.
#5 Back in the year 2000, our trade deficit with China was 83 billion dollars.  Last year, it was 315 billion dollars.
#13 The number of full-time workers in the United States is nearly 6 million below the old record that was set back in 2007.
#14 The average duration of unemployment in the United States isnearly three times as long as it was back in the year 2000.
#15 Throughout the year 2000, more than 64 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  Today, only 58.7 percent of all working age Americans have a job.
#16 The official unemployment rate has been at 7.5 percent or higher for 54 months in a row.  That is the longest stretch in U.S. history.
#17 The U.S. government says that the number of Americans "not in the labor force" rose by 17.9 million between 2000 and 2011.  During the entire decade of the 1980s, the number of Americans "not in the labor force" rose by only 1.7 million. 
#19 The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs.  60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.
#25 Since Barack Obama entered the White House, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has risen from $1.85 to $3.64.
#36 According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of families in the United States declined "from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010".
#39 During Obama's first term, the federal government accumulated more debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined. 
There you have it. The economy is still in trouble. Our government increased spending exponentially - by as much as 10% per department per year. And it compounds. This has been going on since the 70's. It's blown up government so big that tax revenue can't keep pace and we get enormous deficits. A debt bubble is just as dangerous as a housing bubble and it does impact the economy even now, though it will do so more painfully when it pops. The end.

Only, it's really not the end. The end will be determined by whether or not the average voter figures out that we need to do something about it. Of course politicians (on both sides for the most part) have no interest in cutting spending - they have the power of the purse and they're not paying - we are. It's like they have an enormous credit card for which we have to pay the bill and interest. This is NOT "by the people, for the people, or of the people" any longer.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Utah's Young Mother of the Year

Here is a rare sight - for this blog, at least. I'm featuring motherhood! This mother of the year's editorial in the Deseret News touched me today, not least because my family's individual and collective adjustments to life in a new town and new house and new job are not smooth sailing. Use the link to read a humorous story with a serious message. I give you only the conclusion.

My two youngest children will tell you I never yell. Not even when the water bottle spills across the kitchen counter — and ruins my laptop — or when my daughter and friends pull all the petals off the rose bushes for a fairy dance.
Oh, they’re wrong. I still yell here and there, especially at cars speeding down our street, but not often enough to remember or loud enough to scare them. I now consider myself extraordinarily patient; it takes a whole lot to ruffle my feathers.
Please understand: I share this not to brag but to encourage. We can change. We can turn our weaknesses into strengths. We are not victims of our DNA or personality type. I often hear people say things like, “She never said an unkind word in her life,” or “She never complained,” or “He always had a positive attitude.” If I’m feeling grumpy, I think, “Well, I’ve already blown that.” I need to hear stories about people who struggled, yet improved.
Maybe, for someone out there, it will be more encouraging to hear, “She was a stressed-out, angry yelling mom but she changed and got better and much happier.” Because we are made for happiness.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Did Mitt Romney's faith cost him the election?

A book by a best-selling author surmises so. A summary is found over at WND. What interests me most, though, is the comment section over there: apparently plenty of readers think Mitt Romney's loss has nothing to do with his religion, yet many other commenters bash Mormons and Mormonism and Romney as a Mormon. Hmmm....

If nothing else, I gather that my faith is still a hot topic for "discussion." What I would love to see happen (not that it happens much in comment sections) is for people to actually listen to each other and learn instead of shouting inflammatory words with closed minds. Seriously, if someone is going to raise a bunch of questions or throw accusations about Mormons - as a people/culture and the LDS Church and the doctrine we believe - which are sometimes true, false and/or distorted, then they may as well have the decency to listen to the answers from those who practice the faith. Reading both sides, you know?

Ask your questions in the comment section and I will answer. Respectfully and Civilly, please, as is my standard requirement for publishing comments.

I am pleased that most Mormon commenters keep their tones peaceable, in keeping with the gospel of Jesus Christ who taught that contention is of the devil. It is possible to discuss opposing viewpoints without using inflammatory words.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Evidence

Evidence must not count for much anymore. The jury found Zimmerman innocent of manslaughter given the evidence - and given the evidence in his favor I wholeheartedly agree. I made a point of following evidence for and against him. The race riots and media-inciting racism is irrational. It disrespects the rule of law. And get this: the police hadn't been planning to arrest Zimmerman because there wasn't enough of a case against him, and the FBI itself found no evidence that Zimmerman was racist. Is this just a matter of the prevailing ideology can't be found wrong? But inciting violence? Irresponsible.

This book down below: a good one. I highly recommend it. Mankind is not as logical as it thinks it is!


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sessions on Immigration

The American Spectator published (will publish? It's online right now.) an interview with conservative Senator Jeff Sessions who has won many fights against amnesty in the past and is working hard behind the scenes against the current one, as always - purely political bills rarely benefit Americans (see Obamacare). This immigration bill is bigger than its predecessors, granting citizenship to upwards of 10% of our current population - a large chunk of people to compete for American jobs at a time of high underemployment and unemployment. The conclusion:
BY THE TIME this magazine appears in mailboxes and on newsstands, the fate of the Gang of Eight bill may well be decided. But even if, like so many of its predecessors, it fails to pass, one gathers that the fight, for Sessions, will not be over. “American workers have been on a retrograde path,” he told me. “These are the people who’ve fought our wars, who manage our buildings, who produce our widgets. One way to make their lives better is not to dump into America an incredibly large number of new workers to compete for their jobs, their children’s jobs, their grandchildren’s jobs.”
I asked him whether he understands the feelings of his Republican colleagues who want to put the immigration issue behind them. “Yes, but that doesn’t mean you pass anything,” he said. He refuses to support any immigration bill that does not strengthen border security and facilitate the identification and deportation of future illegal immigrants. “If you’re not willing to do that,” he said, “you can’t tell the American people that you have a plan that will work, that will be honorable, and that we can be proud of.” 
Right on.

Friday, July 12, 2013

This is SO not cool.

White House holds Obamacare background briefing with liberal reporters

Imagine, for a second, that Republicans had done this. As in Bush invited prominent conservative leading journalists - imagine, since there really aren't more than a handful - and declared to them how to push his agenda. How up in arms the liberal media would be! Well, that's how we conservatives feel when we see Obama do it. Journalism as an independent-thinking, scandal-exposing, pursuant of evil stories wherever they are found is a lofty ideal, but has never existed in practice. It's impossible, because journalists are people with opinions. By nature! Read both sides, folks. I'm telling you, if you only look at Obama-approved media you'll find an entirely different picture of America today than the one portrayed/exposed by the right. The one that matches up with the America I see would definitely be the right, but you can make your own opinions - after you've studied up on both points of view.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fair trial?

Is that even possible any more? Judges and lawyers all have their agendas, after all, and juries don't want to seem un-PC, liberal though PC is.  Poor Zimmerman got railroaded by the judge, of all people! That is not supposed to happen in a U.S. Court of Law.

Judge Nelson also ruled this week that Trayvon Martin’s text messages, which showed that Martin had been involved in fights before and was trying to buy or sell a gun, cannot be shown to the jury, which some suggested was another indication of an anti-Zimmerman bias.
Nelson also granted a request by prosecutors to block the defense’s attempt to show the jury a computer-animated depiction of the fight between Martin and Zimmerman.
She is also likely to allow the jury to consider lesser charges against Zimmerman in light of the prosecution’s probable failure to prove its case for second-degree murder, another indication that the state is desperate to avoid him walking free.
Judge Nelson has been very careful at every stage of the trial to dismiss evidence or testimony that could convince the jury in favor of acquitting Zimmerman.
Now some are asking the question – did Nelson’s aggressive outburst represent an attempt to prejudice the jury against Zimmerman?
Given the likelihood that Zimmerman will be acquitted, has Judge Nelson been put under pressure by the federal government to aggressively advocate for the prosecution, just as Supreme Court Justice John Roberts was apparently pressured to vote to uphold Obamacare?
Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Is this even America anymore?  If the government or a political party or ideology has the power to determine the outcome of events over the rule of law or a trial by jury, then it absolutely isn't America. Obama wants parts of Obamacare ignored now, though it is law, to name just one additional example out of hundreds of possibilties. Good-by, Constitution.  Good-by, America.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fact Checkers review

It's probably time for a chronic reminder that "fact-checkers" are often used to advance agendas, whether or not what they check is really true or false.

Here's a classic case:
Politifact deserves 'Pants on Fire' on religious liberty and gay marriage.

In short, a lawyer reviews their ruling of "half true" that religious liberty is under assualt during the advance of LGTB rights with individuals and businesses threatened with fine and jail time for refusing service for religious reasons, even though there is nothing half-way about it. I do recommend the article in entirety if you have time. If nothing else, consider this:

This is a big story--a serious story--and one that you can expect liberal media outlets to ignore or downplay in their efforts to avoid any negative stories involving supporters of traditional marriage. It’s harder to call someone an ignorant bigot when you see them suffering because they’re simply trying to live out their faith in their daily life.   
Reporters without law degrees or law licenses presuming to dismiss the legal judgments of professional attorneys to promote a left-wing media agenda by saying traditional-marriage supporters’ claims are only “half true” might satisfy liberal editors and colleagues, but it is an appalling betrayal of the public trust because it deceives the public on the truth on a matter that impacts many millions of Americans. Such abysmal pseudo-journalism should be spurned for the toxic waste it is.
Americans seek the news to understand the truth about what’s going on in their world. Some outlets won’t give the people that, which is why we will.
All of which illustrates the importance of considering more than one viewpoint in forming opinions.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Religion in America

I just read the most fascinating article about shifting religious beliefs in America. I have to share! It's called The Myth of Unreligious America, by Rodney Stark at the WSJ. He's a sociologist, so he knows the science behind studies and polling and how far you can trust them. Here's part of the intro, so you know the premise:
In March at the Faith Angle Forum in South Beach, Fla., a paper by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life was presented bearing the title "The Decline of Institutional Religion." The presentation followed up on Pew research that gained wide publicity last fall indicating that the fastest-growing "religious" group in America is made up of those who say they have no religion.
According to Pew, 8% of Americans in 1990 gave their religious preference as "none." By 2007, that response had nearly doubled to 15%, and in 2012 the "no religion" response had climbed to 20%. Earlier this year, an analysis of the General Social Survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago tracked a similar trend, also citing the 20% no-religion response.
You may have heard those numbers when they were published last year. But you probably didn't hear this:
Consider: The proportion of Americans who claim to be atheists has not increased even slightly since Gallup first asked about belief in God in 1944. Back then, 4% said they did not believe in God, and 3% or 4% give that answer today.
Most of those Americans who are reported as having no religion are not unreligious but only unaffiliated, and some of them even attend church. They do not belong to any specific denomination, but probably most of them would agree that they are Christians, had they been directly asked that question.
And here's his sociologist conclusion reconciling reported studies with other indicators:
When I was a young sociologist at Berkeley's Survey Research Center, it was assumed that any survey that failed to interview at least 85% of those originally drawn into the sample was not to be trusted. Those who refused to take part in the survey or could not be reached were known to be different from those who did take part. Consequently, studies were expected to report their completion rates.
Today, even the most reputable studies seldom reach more than a third of those initially selected to be surveyed and, probably for that reason, completion rates are now rarely reported. The Pew Forum researchers are to be commended for reporting their actual completion rates, which by 2012 had fallen to 9%.
Given all of this, only one thing is really certain: Those who take part in any survey are not a random selection of the population. They also tend to be less educated and less affluent. Contrary to the common wisdom, research has long demonstrated that this demographic group is the one least likely to belong to a church.
As the less-affluent and less-educated have made up a bigger share of those surveyed, so has the number of those who report having no religion. That would help explain why, during this whole era of supposed decline, Baylor surveys find that the overall rate of membership in local religious congregations has remained stable at about 70%. Hard to write a headline about the lack of change. Sometimes, though, no news really is good news. 

Ahhhh. Something stable in America. These are my favorite kind of write-ups because they blend all my favorite topics: science, politics, and religion. Note that he picks on the media a little bit there, too. Broadly speaking, you can't trust media-reported scientific findings further than you can throw them: there's always more to it that they don't report or don't understand themselves. You can trust the experts further, but as always, I recommend cross-checking! Reading both sides helps you eliminate a lot of the hype and misunderstanding and even misinformation about any given topic.


Monday, July 8, 2013

State of the Nation

Here's a disturbing headline for you: Citizens Receiving Food Aid from Federal Gov't Now Outnumber Full-Time Private Sector Workers.

Lest you have forgotten or have not known, the public sector depends on money from the private sector. If there is no private sector, there are no taxpayers to fund the government (those already employed by the government giving back part of their earning is hardly a net plus for government). If you ever wonder how the United States got to trillion dollar deficits each year, look no further than horrifically increased spending with a shrinking private sector. It has to stop. We can choose to stop it ourselves and choose our pain, if you will. Or we can wait until a financial crisis occurs with the debt bubble blowing up in our faces and creating worthless dollars- at least if I understand it right. Vote responsibly: instead of politicians promising to spend for pet causes, choose politicians committed to reigning in spending and deficit.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Charity never faileth

The ultimate contrast to politics is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I've been preparing to talk in church for a coming Sunday about the story of the prodigal son - the one about a young man who squandered his inheritance and destitute and humbled, returned home to be welcomed with open and loving arms by his father, but with jealousy by his brother who had done his duty all along. We have a lay clergy in the LDS Church and the congregation all participate in speaking to each other at times, also acting as teachers, musicians, etc.

In my preparations I just read LDS apostle Jeffrey R. Holland's sermon entitled "The Other Prodigal," given in a General Conference address to members - and anyone else interested - in 2002. In it, he says:
The scriptures are replete with the promise that God’s grace is sufficient. 9 This is one arena where no one has to claw or compete. Nephi declares that the Lord “loveth the [whole] world” and has given salvation freely.
“Hath [He] commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness?” Nephi asks. No! “All … are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden [at His hand].”
“Come unto me all ye ends of the earth,” He pleads, and buy milk without money and honey without price. 10 All are privileged, the one like unto the other. Walk peacefully. Walk confidently. Walk without fear and without envy. Be reassured of Heavenly Father’s abundance to you always.
As we do this, we can help others, calling down blessings on them even as they make supplication for us. We can cheer every talent and ability, wherever it is bestowed, thus making life here more nearly what it will be like in heaven.
It will help us always to remember Paul’s succinct prioritizing of virtues—“Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” 11 He reminds us we are all of the body of Christ, and that all members, whether comely or feeble, are adored, essential, and important. We feel the depth of his plea that there be “no schism in the body, but that the members … have the same care one for another. And [when] one member suffer[s], all the members suffer with it; or [when] one member [is] honoured, all the members rejoice.” 12 
Why are the parables or stories Jesus taught long ago important today? Because they teach us to remember who we are - children of God - and to act as such. With pure and Christlike love - charity.


* His reference to Nephi is unfamiliar to those who have not read the Book of Mormon. Nephi was a prophet of God who migrated with his family to the Americas at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem around 600 B.C.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Hmmmm

I'm giving this some thought:
In other words, had Boehner avoided DOMA altogether and not appealed the original decision, the Supreme Court would not have ruled the way that it did. And Edie Windsor, the plaintiff, would have lacked standing. The speaker seriously miscalculated.
But there’s a second, more fundamental way in which marriage traditionalists are to blame for the current inevitability of gay marriage: their utterly failed articulation of the traditional view of marriage as an institution.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th!

I imagine you, like me, are busy with celebrations. I love this country!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Abortion

Here's your read of the day from American Spectator:
And Davis’s position is not merely at odds with Americans in general, and American women in particular, she is swimming against the international tide as well. As Melinda Hennebergerwrites in the Washington Post, “The Texas law is not unlike legislation on the books all over Western Europe, where late-term abortions are rightly considered barbaric.” Peggy Noonan reiteratedthat point on ABC yesterday morning: “She is speaking for and standing for something we recognize as infanticide, late-term abortion, the taking of a little child’s life… something that even in Europe they call a matter of brutality and barbarism.”
Nonetheless, Davis has certainly accomplished her obvious goal. Last week this time, she was a virtually unknown member of the minority party in a state legislature that meets every other year. Today, she is a national celebrity. She is particularly beloved of the establishment “news” media, which have treated her as if she were a combination of Joan of Arc, Susan B. Anthony and Lady Diana. And this exposure may be enough to get her to Washington. Unfortunately, on late-term abortion, Davis and the Democrat party are once again on the wrong side of history, just as they were on the slavery question.
I truly don't understand how any one - of any ideology - could feel comfortable killing a child born alive or that could be born alive (3rd trimester). It's genocide, but with voiceless victims. Murder, as others have said. Why can a mom who flushes her newborn in a toilet or throws it in a dumpster be prosecuted but not those who have a late-term abortion?

On a side note, late-term abortions put the life of the mother at risk too. They are messy, dangerous things, speaking here as the wife of someone in the medical world.

I didn't know before reading this article that Europe doesn't allow them. I don't consider their society more moral than that of the United States very often, but in this they certainly are.

That second paragraph marvelously illustrates that topic I love: the bias inherent in media. Read both sides, folks! You just might learn something instead of be dogmatized.