Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Being A Mormon Blogger Is Cool: Redux

A few months ago I wrote about the many Mormon-related search terms that brought people to my blog. I have two addendums to add to that post.

First, no, Sarah Palin is not a Mormon. She was born in Idaho, but as we found out with Larry Craig, that doesn't always translate to LDS Church membership.

Second, I just got an awesome comment to that previous cool post, and I wanted to share it with all my readers.
"I am very concerned about the mormon church and their treatment of non-momorns in utah. I mean I have heard dozens of horror stories of non-mormons being cheated, lied to an falsly imprisoned (on trumped up charges)simply for not being a mormon. I mean the fact is mormonism is a cult and there needs to be laws passed to protect non-mormons in utah. I hate mormons who try to force themselves on us. I wish to God that jospeh smith had never been born or at least had castrated himself. Anyone who think that God is on their side is dangerous as hell."
I'm guessing this guy didn't vote for Mitt Romney. Wait till he actually visits Utah and finds out we all have horns. That'll be fun.

It's September 30th, Do You Know Where Your Paycheck Is?

The $700 billion bailout failed yesterday. As of last Friday, Utah's congressmen were officially unsure of how they would vote. Here's the roll call from yesterday morning:

Rob Bishop: Nay
Jim Matheson: Nay
Chris Cannon: Yea

Two of these congressmen are up for reelection this year, and one is not. I'm not sure what, if anything, that says about Rep. Cannon's vote.

Last week I posted a link to Harvard economist Greg Mankiw's blog, wherein he posted a note he received from a colleague asking for his view on the bailout. Mankiw was a bit wishy washy, but ultimately decided that if Ben Bernanke thought it was wise, then it must be wise.

But I want to highlight something in the letter Mankiw received:
"A LOT of payrolls get paid at the end of the month. The next for many companies is September 30. Three different people with hugely relevant knowledge said to me today words to the effect of: "Why don't your economist buddies want [insert fortune 100 company/companies here] to be able to pay their employees on Tuesday. If Washington doesn't do something now, they won't be able to". That just scared the hell out of me. I can go into more details if you like, but all of them involve the four horsemen of the apocalypse."
That was written last week, in the midst of the "give me $700 Billion or the economy gets it" rhetoric. Are there payrolls not being met today?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Thoughts on Baseball, Fantasy & Otherwise

Last time we discussed my fantasy baseball prowess, I was tanking in both leagues - one team was in last place, the other in 6th. That was midway through June. The regular season just ended, so both of my teams have now finished playing. Here's how they fared.

After completely tanking the first couple months, my last place team played .500 ball the rest of the year and climbed out of last. Our 8 team league had two divisions of 4 teams each, and each division took 2 teams to the playoffs. So despite having a poor record, I was still in the playoff hunt. It went down to the wire between me and another team. I had a 2 game lead with 2 to play, both against my rival. It would take an epic fail to miss the playoffs. And epic fail I did. I lost both games, and since I lost the season series to that team, I also lost the tiebreaker and he went to the playoffs and I was sent packing.

But I still had my other league to follow, and I was again making a late charge to the top. This league was rotisserie scoring rather than head to head, so all I had to do was concentrate on specific categories in order to make up ground. My stolen bases were too low, so I added Willy Tavares and rode his 60+ steals to the top half of the league. Sadly, he completely stopped hitting over the last month, and then he got hurt so I fell only 4 steals short of gaining all the points in that category and pulling the leaders down.

My pitching staff finally took shape as Ryan Dempster continued his inexplicably great year, Adam Wainwright came back from the DL and pitched well, and I rode the huge second half comebacks of Roy Oswalt and Brett Meyers. I pieced together a serviceable bullpen by adding Jonathan Broxton and Brad Ziegler to Francisco Cordero and Kerry Wood. My ERA and WHIP finally started dropping, while my wins, saves, and strikeouts climbed. I ended with the most wins and third most saves, and it looked like I was going to catch the leaders in WHIP. But then Brett Meyers 2.0 reverted to the old Brett Meyers we all know for his final two starts and killed that chance. In a last ditch effort, I added Hiroki Kuroda and Jesse Litsch for the last day of the season, hoping they could bring my WHIP down. They did well, but it was too little, too late. I was able to tie the leaders in WHIP, but I couldn't get past that mark.

Going into Sunday's final games, I was 4 points off the overall lead with 5 or 6 categories still in play. I wound up 3 runs, 4 stolen bases, and .01 WHIP percentage points short of first place, finishing in 3rd overall, 2.5 points off the lead.

This was by far the worst showing I've ever had in fantasy sports. But it was a lot of fun.

My other baseball thoughts as the regular season closes:

Albert Pujols is the best player in the game. Period.

Josh Hamilton is the best story of the year. And he's a darn good baseball player too.

Yankees suck!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Greg Mankiw Weighs In

If I were a member of Congress...

An economics professor I know who teaches at a leading business school (who prefers anonymity, as he is still untenured) sends me a critique of our profession and a plea:

Dear Greg,

This is a strange email, but these are strange times.

I saw that your name was absent from the Shimer/Kashyap/etc initiated "letter" to the speaker and senate pro tempore. I don't know if that is reflective of your view about the appropriate course of action or not. But as a person with a very large microphone at your disposal I wanted to share the following, which is informed by my experience in the private sector prior to graduate school.

Let me preface this by saying that my personal view is that Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson are very, very smart people who have better information than anyone who signed that letter, and that questioning their view to the point where it is used by senators to justify inaction is reckless at best--and ideologically driven white-anting at worst.

But I digress. A LOT of payrolls get paid at the end of the month. The next for many companies is September 30. Three different people with hugely relevant knowledge said to me today words to the effect of: "Why don't your economist buddies want [insert fortune 100 company/companies here] to be able to pay their employees on Tuesday. If Washington doesn't do something now, they won't be able to". That just scared the hell out of me. I can go into more details if you like, but all of them involve the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

As I say, I don't know what your view is. And if it is that the problems with the "bailout" exceed the benefits then I obviously respect that.

But I am terrified about the consequences of inaction--and our profession seems to be advocating just that. If you do favor action then please avail yourself of your microphone. If not, free disposal!


[name withheld]

What is my opinion about all this? I am of two minds about the complex situation we find ourselves in.

On the one hand, I share many of the concerns of the letter signers and other critics of the Treasury plan.

On the other hand, I know Ben Bernanke well. Ben is at least as smart as any of the economists who signed that letter or are complaining on blogs or editorial pages about the proposed policy. Moreover, Ben is far better informed than the critics. The Fed staff includes some of the best policy economists around. In his capacity as Fed chair, Ben understands the situation, as well as the pros, cons, and feasibility of the alternative policy options, better than any professor sitting alone in his office possibly could.

If I were a member of Congress, I would sit down with Ben, privately, to get his candid view. If he thinks this is the right thing to do, I would put my qualms aside and follow his advice.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Motley Fool Weighs In

Dear Fools:

We need your help.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has put together a plan that is actively under debate and allows the Treasury to invest in assets that are crushing bank balance sheets. We view this plan as being an important step in allowing the global financial system to recapitalize itself. We agree with financial intellectual titans Warren Buffett and Bill Gross, as well as both presidential candidates, that the Paulson Plan needs to be passed and will benefit Main Street.

We believe that if the Paulson Plan is done correctly, American taxpayers will profit not only from the return of lending capacity to our banks, but also from these troubled investments. However, the plan should embrace the tenets of free-market capitalism. The government should demand equity stakes in the banks.

We think taxpayers deserve to benefit from a deal soundly rooted in free-market principles. We, the undersigned, encourage you to call the people who represent you in the House and Senate and demand that the approved deal include provisions for equity ownership. Go to www.house.gov and www.senate.gov to find the phone numbers for your elected representatives.

Finally, even though these are extraordinary times, we stand by our belief that the best way to build long-term wealth is through equity ownership. Just look at who is doing a lot of buying of late -- Warren Buffett.

We encourage you to take a few minutes -- now! -- to call your elected officials and let them know that there needs to be an equity component for taxpayers.

Tom Gardner, CEO and Co-Founder, The Motley Fool
Scott Schedler, President, The Motley Fool
Bill Mann, Senior Advisor, Motley Fool Hidden Gems, Pay Dirt, and Global Gains

P.S. We have opened a discussion board where Fools can gather to talk about this important issue. Please come and share your opinions.

An Open Letter to Suzy Shuster's Open Letter to Tina Fey

You loved Tina Fey's Saturday Night Live impersonation of Governor Sarah Palin. You think it is directly responsible for Palin's supposed drop in popularity. Because of this, you want Fey to don the Palin costume every Saturday night until the election.

You don't like Sarah Palin. You think she is unqualified to be vice president. She "scares" you. But rather than push to publicize the reasons for your fear (assuming you have valid, rational reasons), you push to make a comedy sketch show a partisan election changer.

Which is nothing new of course. Comedic commentary during campaigns has a long history. I remember well SNL's skits involving Bob Dole, George Bush, and Ross Perot. They even did some with Bill Clinton, but those mostly revolved around his "improprieties", and we all know that doesn't matter.

And SNL made a splash earlier this year with a skit lampooning the media's love affair with Barack Obama. Funny, now that the primaries are over they don't seem to be doing too many skits like that any more. It was around the same time that Joe Biden decided the presidency was a position that lent itself to on the job training.

But what is it about her that's so scary, that causes readers of the Huffington Post to be so "scared out of our wits" that they bring in their big gun celebrities? While begging Tina Fey to continue her electioneering, you write,
And I think its your responsibility to do so, or else we face the consequence of a woman in the White House who would strive to take away your daughter Alice's right to choose along with every other woman's in this country.
Ohhhhh. So that's it. You're a "Single Issue Voter". You're one of those people that gets lambasted by celebrities, bloggers, and news media types for voting for a candidate based largely on a single issue: abortion. Except those lambasters generally save their ridicule for those that vote against abortion. That's the only type of Single Issue Voter that's completely stupid and deserving of ridicule.

That's why feminists like Ms. Shuster are lining up to trash Gov. Palin. She's such a hypocrite for claiming to be a woman when clearly authentic women must be abortion advocates. We can't have a woman in the White House that isn't actually a woman!

Thank you, Ms. Shuster, for clearing that up for me. Now I understand that, like most things, voting for an issue is only "scary" when one side does it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Surprise! MoveOn.org's Facts Are Wrong

I hope you haven't already written that letter...

Since MoveOn.org (and pretty much everyone else) didn't properly vet their choices of attack lines, let's look at the anti-Palin claims one by one:

1. Palin recently said that the war in Iraq is "God's task."

Here's what she really said,
"Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."
Pray that our leaders are sending our soldiers out on a task that is from God. Pray that our nation acts in accordance with God's plan. I've said that prayer myself. Sorry MoveOn, you'll have to do better than that.

2. Palin has actively sought the support of the fringe Alaska Independence Party.

If by actively sought you mean "never been a member of", then sure.

3. Palin wants to teach creationism in public schools.

Flat out, unconditional lie. In an article titled, "Palin has not pushed creation science as governor" Palin is quoted as saying in 2006,
"I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum,"

4. Palin doesn't believe that humans contribute to global warming.

Here's the quote they're using,
Q:What is your take on global warming and how is it affecting our country?

A: A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.
Here's what she did as governor,
"A few months into her term, Palin directed a group of state commissioners to develop a strategy for addressing climate change. State lawmakers had already formed a climate commission, but the administration up until then had nothing.

"'I'm not an Al Gore, doom-and-gloom environmentalist blaming the changes in our climate on human activity,' Palin said Monday, 'but I'm not going to put my head in the sand and pretend there aren't changes.'"

5. Palin has close ties to Big Oil.

The source for this? ThinkProgress. TP's source? An Anchorage Daily News story during Palin's run for governor in 2006. The problem? TP didn't actually read the story. It's about an oil company called Veco. A company that has long played a heavy role in Alaska politics. A company that supported Gov. Palin's opponent in the primary and produced a newspaper editorial space that constantly criticized her. A company that gave her exactly zero dollars during her campaign.

And this is found in a story which says, "Palin often draws heat from the oil industry".

Huh. It's so weird that MoveOn/ThinkProgress would take that as having close ties to Big Oil.

5. Palin is extremely anti-choice.

For the uninitiated, "anti-choice" is code for "I think 100% genetically human beings should have more human rights than a Chimpanzee."

6. Palin opposes comprehensive sex-ed in public schools.

I wonder what they mean by "comprehensive". Anyway, again the source is ThinkProgress, which links to a Politico story containing this quote,
"explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support."
But they neglected to report the LA Times story which shows Gov. Palin saying the following,
"I'm pro-contraception, and I think kids who may not hear about it at home should hear about it in other avenues,"

7. As mayor, Palin tried to ban books from the library.

In a factcheck.org article titled, "Sliming Palin" we find,
One accusation claims then-Mayor Palin threatened to fire Wasilla’s librarian for refusing to ban books from the town library. Some versions of the rumor come complete with a list of the books that Palin allegedly attempted to ban. Actually, Palin never asked that books be banned; no books were actually banned; and many of the books on the list that Palin supposedly wanted to censor weren't even in print at the time, proving that the list is a fabrication.

8. She DID support the Bridge to Nowhere


And then changed her mind. Which, if we decide that's an immediate disqualification for a presidential ticket, I think it safe to say we can just call the whole election off this year. Along with every election in the history of the United States. As with the experience angle, I don't know that it makes for good strategy for Democrats to attack on the grounds of "changing one's mind".

So there you go. That's the list that makes Governor Sarah Palin so scary. Incidentally, I haven't received any new lists since this one was emailed to me, so I can only assume this is the best they've got. And it's all pretty much a bunch of ill-researched garbage.

Which reminds me. When I first posted this list, I was told that it was completely true, and that
"the bullet points here certainly are not "rumor-mongering". All of them can be easily researched and proven accurate in a few moments, from established mainstream sources."
Well, that "easily researched" thing turned out to be correct. But the whole "proven accurate" thing, not so much.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Democratic Party, Both Local & National, Proves I Made The Right Decision

I've generally considered myself a moderate. I've voted for Republicans and Democrats alike, never aligning myself too closely with either party. But over the last couple of years I have gotten the inclination to be more active within a party. And for much of that time I flirted very heavily with the Democratic Party. The thinking was that out west in Idaho and Utah, the Democrats can be quite moderate, and since they are few in numbers it's easier to be involved and be heard. In fact, many Democrats in Utah are Dems solely for that reason. However, it is the fact that the local Democratic chapters are so different than the national party that prevented me from jumping in with both feet. It didn't make sense to affiliate with a national movement with which I had so many philosophical differences, despite the example of a few Democratic congressmen that I admire. Nevertheless, my flirtation inched ever closer to a full fledged relationship.

That is, until I saw how despised by their own party those congressmen I admired were. I began to realize the "Big Tent" wasn't all that large after all. Consequently, my flirtation began to wane. But what has occurred over the last couple of weeks was the final nail in the coffin.

From the very moment it was announced, Governor Palin's nomination has made the Democratic Party go absolutely insane.

Here it is, the party of "rational" thought, a party which proclaimed its "Big Tent" appeal, its work for women and minorities, its position as voice for the little guy. And it has thrown that false facade completely aside to rear its ugly, partisan, sexist, gutter-politics head as it rushes to throw garbage at McCain's vice presidential pick in hopes something, anything, might stick.

For instance, on the very day Gov. Palin was announced as the candidate, Daily Kos posted a "story" claiming her infant Down Syndrome baby wasn't hers, but was her daughter's instead, and that the Palin's pulled their daughter out of school in order to hide the pregnancy and claim the baby as their own. They even posted links to pictures which "proved" that Palin was waaay too skinny to have been pregnant. Her teenage daughter on the other hand, plenty of "baby bump" potential there. Now, some might argue that Kos users can post anything they want, and the Kos site can't be held accountable for every crackpot user. But this particular user also put a poll with the story, asking if this sad, despicable, rumor-mongering story should continue. Over 22,000 people voted, and 64% of them said yes.

Sadly, Logan's own KVNU blog posted the same story - slightly less accusatory, but swallowing the Kos rumors hook, line, and sinker nonetheless.

It's an example of how the party faithful actually aren't all that different, whether they be a national Democrat or a local version. So while national commentators have been outlandishly juvenile, their local faithful have been much more disappointingly so.

Let's take a stroll down memory lane and revisit some of the things said about Governor Palin in the days following her announcement.

Radio host and TV commentator Alan Colmes speculates the Palin's first child was conceived out of wedlock. That fancy bit of journalism followed his breathless reporting that "17-Year-Old Bristol Palin Five Months Pregnant".

Sadly, local blog "One Utah", on day 3 of Gov Palin's nomination, jumps on the bandwagon, positing "her 17 year old unmarried daughter is pregnant (I heard whispers the father is 24)". Shockingly, he's not.

CNN reported a National Enquirer story claiming Governor Palin had an affair with her husband's former business partner. Andrew Sullivan excitedly posts that a former business partner filed an emergency motion to seal his divorce papers. Those fun Daily Kos-ites picked up the story as well, hoping beyond hope that it were true. Shockingly, it's not.

But that didn't stop local blogger Richard Warnick from spreading the same lies.

Even my own commenters fall into the trap of believing every last petty rumor written on a website somewhere. Democracy Lover offered up this gem as proof that Governor Palin is scaaaary - not to mention racist. But, once again, it's a complete fabrication. Just more garbage throwing in hopes something will stick.

But even if we were to put aside the muckraking and rumor mongering, the sexism on display by the Democrats, and the Obama campaign, is astounding.

Take this image, for instance. Or Richard Warnick complaining Gov. Palin is from the pages of Vogue. Or this image. There are countless others. All just as crass.

South Carolina Democratic chairwoman Carol Fowler said Governor Palin's "primary qualification seems to be that she hasn’t had an abortion.” She later apologized.

"Obama adviser" Anita Dunn said, "She's new, and a good performer of that speech that she reads, but that doesn't necessarily translate into votes eight weeks from now,"

Reclusive Leftist is not impressed:
A good performer of that speech she reads. Sarah Palin is the goddamn Governor of Alaska. She’s a crack politician who has made her own way. She is not some blow-dried twit on cable news. And of course Obama trots out a woman to spew this garbage. Irony overload: you know how everyone on the left likes to say that Palin is a typical anti-woman conservative, the type of successful woman who’s ready to stick it to other women instead of helping to raise us all up?

Sounds to me like a perfect description of the women on Obama’s staff.
But it's not just the women staffers saying it.

It's Obama's VP pick, Joe Biden.

It's even Obama himself.

It's the rampant misogyny that was on display throughout the primaries, and has reappeared with Gov Palin's nomination.

It's been quite disheartening to watch it unfold. Even more so to realize that it's not just the weirdo liberal blog sites behaving this way, but it's prominent national Democrats. Worse, it's local Utah Democrats.

So I will continue to vote bi-partisanly, based on individual candidates and races. But whatever moderate high ground the Democratic Party may have once held, is now no more.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Illinois' Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Governor Sarah Palin

"The reality is, governors every day have to make decisions for better or for worse. That's part of the job. It's an executive position. And it's a position that is like what you're going to do when you're president. Legislators, they do different things. They debate and they pass their bills back and forth," he said.

"But governors make decisions, and I think it's a tactical mistake for the Democrats to question Gov. Palin's experience when she's been a governor of a state," he said. "I don't think the size of the state is relevant. It's the kinds of decisions you have to make as governor.

via Chicago Tribune

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Suck It, BYU Haters

After beating Washington on the road, BYU actually dropped in one poll. That was largely because pundits thought BYU should have beaten Washington by more than one point. "If BYU is so good, why did they barely squeak by a crummy Huskies team?" the line went.


How do you like me now?

And that strength of schedule "problem" the Cougars are supposed to have, playing in a "lesser" conference like the Mountain West? Well, the MWC went 4-0 against the supposedly superior Pac-10 today.

TCU 31 Stanford 14

New Mexico 36 Arizona 28

UNLV 23 #15 Arizona State 20

Friday, September 12, 2008

Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel on Governor Sarah Palin

Via wikipedia:

Maurice Robert "Mike" Gravel (pronounced /grəˈvɛl/) (born May 13, 1930) is a former Democratic United States Senator from Alaska, who served two terms from 1969 to 1981, and a former candidate in the 2008 presidential election.

Hat Tip: Adam's Blog

Dear Mr Obama

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mark Daily

Why I Joined:

This question has been asked of me so many times in so many different contexts that I thought it would be best if I wrote my reasons for joining the Army on my page for all to see. First, the more accurate question is why I volunteered to go to Iraq. After all, I joined the Army a week after we declared war on Saddam's government with the intention of going to Iraq. Now, after years of training and preparation, I am finally here.

Much has changed in the last three years. The criminal Ba'ath regime has been replaced by an insurgency fueled by Iraq's neighbors who hope to partition Iraq for their own ends. This is coupled with the ever present transnational militant Islamist movement which has seized upon Iraq as the greatest way to kill Americans, along with anyone else they happen to be standing near. What was once a paralyzed state of fear is now the staging ground for one of the largest transformations of power and ideology the Middle East has experienced since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Thanks to Iran, Syria, and other enlightened local actors, this transformation will be plagued by interregional hatred and genocide. And I am now in the center of this.

Is this why I joined?

Yes. Much has been said about America's intentions in overthrowing Saddam Hussein and seeking to establish a new state based upon political representation and individual rights. Many have framed the paradigm through which they view the conflict around one-word explanations such as "oil" or "terrorism," favoring the one which best serves their political persuasion. I did the same thing, and anyone who knew me before I joined knows that I am quite aware and at times sympathetic to the arguments against the war in Iraq. If you think the only way a person could bring themselves to volunteer for this war is through sheer desperation or blind obedience then consider me the exception (though there are countless like me).

I joined the fight because it occurred to me that many modern day "humanists" who claim to possess a genuine concern for human beings throughout the world are in fact quite content to allow their fellow "global citizens" to suffer under the most hideous state apparatuses and conditions. Their excuses used to be my excuses. When asked why we shouldn't confront the Ba'ath party, the Taliban or the various other tyrannies throughout this world, my answers would allude to vague notions of cultural tolerance (forcing women to wear a veil and stay indoors is such a quaint cultural tradition), the sanctity of national sovereignty (how eager we internationalists are to throw up borders to defend dictatorships!) or even a creeping suspicion of America's intentions. When all else failed, I would retreat to my fragile moral ecosystem that years of living in peace and liberty had provided me. I would write off war because civilian casualties were guaranteed, or temporary alliances with illiberal forces would be made, or tank fuel was toxic for the environment. My fellow "humanists" and I would relish contently in our self righteous declaration of opposition against all military campaigns against dictatorships, congratulating one another for refusing to taint that aforementioned fragile moral ecosystem that many still cradle with all the revolutionary tenacity of the members of Rage Against the Machine and Greenday. Others would point to America's historical support of Saddam Hussein, sighting it as hypocritical that we would now vilify him as a thug and a tyrant. Upon explaining that we did so to ward off the fiercely Islamist Iran, which was correctly identified as the greater threat at the time, eyes are rolled and hypocrisy is declared. Forgetting that America sided with Stalin to defeat Hitler, who was promptly confronted once the Nazis were destroyed, America's initial engagement with Saddam and other regional actors is identified as the ultimate argument against America's moral crusade.

And maybe it is. Maybe the reality of politics makes all political action inherently crude and immoral. Or maybe it is these adventures in philosophical masturbation that prevent people from ever taking any kind of effective action against men like Saddam Hussein. One thing is for certain, as disagreeable or as confusing as my decision to enter the fray may be, consider what peace vigils against genocide have accomplished lately. Consider that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and individual rights by placing themselves between Iraqi voting lines and homicidal religious fanatics. Often times it is less about how clean your actions are and more about how pure your intentions are.

So that is why I joined. In the time it took for you to read this explanation, innocent people your age have suffered under the crushing misery of tyranny. Every tool of philosophical advancement and communication that we use to develop our opinions about this war are denied to countless human beings on this planet, many of whom live under the regimes that have, in my opinion, been legitimately targeted for destruction. Some have allowed their resentment of the President to stir silent applause for setbacks in Iraq. Others have ironically decried the war because it has tied up our forces and prevented them from confronting criminal regimes in Sudan, Uganda, and elsewhere.

I simply decided that the time for candid discussions of the oppressed was over, and I joined.

In digesting this posting, please remember that America's commitment to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his sons existed before the current administration and would exist into our future children's lives had we not acted. Please remember that the problems that plague Iraq today were set in motion centuries ago and were up until now held back by the most cruel of cages. Don't forget that human beings have a responsibility to one another and that Americans will always have a responsibility to the oppressed. Don't overlook the obvious reasons to disagree with the war but don't cheapen the moral aspects either. Assisting a formerly oppressed population in converting their torn society into a plural, democratic one is dangerous and difficult business, especially when being attacked and sabotaged from literally every direction. So if you have anything to say to me at the end of this reading, let it at least include "Good Luck"

Mark Daily

September 11, 2001

Reposted from last year:

I was on a bus. I was standing in a crowded bus from downtown Salt Lake City heading to the University of Utah campus, and I overheard other students talking about a bomb in Washington. When I arrived at the campus I went to the library to study a bit before class started, and they had a tv set up just outside the computer lab with a pretty big crowd around it. As I walked through the library towards my usual study table I stopped off at a bank of computers to check email. A library worker came by and told us that "because of what happened" there was a lot of traffic that morning and so the internet wouldn't work very well.

The rest of the morning is kind of a blur. I slowly began to get more information as word trickled through about what had happened. I skipped my first class. I later went to my behavioral management class where the professor told us not to be afraid because that's what the terrorists want.

At that time I worked as an intern in the federal building downtown. I got there around 12 or 1 and it was a very somber place. I wasn't there very long before they sent us home. I found out later that shortly after I left someone called in a bomb threat.

I rode the train home and watched the news with my family the rest of the day. I was stunned. It was as if the earth itself had paused in disbelief.

The next days were powerful and emotional. Thousands of people had died at the hands of Middle Eastern terrorists. My boss at the federal building was called to active duty. Before he left, he told us of being on the train with a middle eastern man and noticing everyone was quiet and staring at him uncomfortably. My boss spoke up and told everyone they were being stupid. Others later succumbed to the same stupidity and started a Pakistani restaurant on fire.

The next day, or the day after, the LDS Church held a memorial in the Tabernacle. Most of my office mates and I walked to Temple Square to attend. The First Presidency spoke, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang. We all joined in with the choir to sing "America the Beautiful", and few eyes were dry at the end.

The next days and weeks were unsure ones. Body counts were updated from the Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the passengers' actions on Flight 93 made news. I arrived on campus one morning to find the sidewalks covered in messages from anti-war activists urging no retaliation for the attacks. Radio stations began playing songs with audio clips from that day and the days that followed.

Nine days after the attacks, President Bush addressed the country. He confirmed that the attacks were planned and carried out by a terrorist group called al Queda, with a leader named Osama bin Laden- the same organization responsible for numerous attacks on American, and foreign, targets around the world. He praised the American spirit and resilience shown in the face of the attacks, but also pointed out that the attacks killed hundreds of citizens of other nations. He thanked foreign governments that had shown support, and criticized those that harbored terrorist groups like al Queda's. He singled out Afghanistan, and demanded they turn over all terrorist leadership in their country, but he also spoke out against any and all nations that supported terrorism, saying, "Our war on terror begins with al Queda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated."

In October, the LDS church held its General Conference. As church prophet Gordon B. Hinckley began to speak, he was handed a note saying the US had begun its attack on Afghanistan. President Hinckley then gave his prepared talk about the times in which we live. He concluded by saying,

"Now, brothers and sisters, we must do our duty, whatever that duty might be. Peace may be denied for a season. Some of our liberties may be curtailed. We may be inconvenienced. We may even be called on to suffer in one way or another. But God our Eternal Father will watch over this nation and all of the civilized world who look to Him. He has declared, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord" (Ps. 33:12). Our safety lies in repentance. Our strength comes of obedience to the commandments of God.

Let us be prayerful. Let us pray for righteousness. Let us pray for the forces of good. Let us reach out to help men and women of goodwill, whatever their religious persuasion and wherever they live. Let us stand firm against evil, both at home and abroad. Let us live worthy of the blessings of heaven, reforming our lives where necessary and looking to Him, the Father of us all. He has said, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10).

Are these perilous times? They are. But there is no need to fear. We can have peace in our hearts and peace in our homes. We can be an influence for good in this world, every one of us."

Friday, September 05, 2008

MoveOn.Org Tells Me What to Write

I'm on MoveOn.org's email list. They really don't like Governor Palin, and they want me to write my newspaper and tell them all about it. They've even told me what to write. (Now I see where you get your talking points from, DL) Their sources for their assertions? Why, MoveOn.org of course. Oh, and that other bastion of honest reporting and impartiality, ThinkProgress. At least it wasn't DailyKos.

Dear MoveOn member,

Did you watch Sarah Palin's speech last night? The speech told us a lot about her.

It told us that she can distort the facts and deliver mean-spirited zingers with the best of them. It told us that if Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter ever need a stand-in, she'd be a great pick.

It told us that she can be condescending and dismissive of the real work Barack Obama did helping real people on the South Side of Chicago. It told us that she can uphold the long Republican tradition of lying about Democratic tax cuts—even though Obama's plan would give Americans a bigger break than McCain's.

But the speech—written by one of President Bush's speechwriters—didn't tell us the truth about Sarah Palin's extremist positions. And the more that people know her far-right views, the less they support her. (There's a partial list below.)

One of the best ways to get the word out about Palin is to write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Today's a great day to write because this is very relevant—it just happened last night. Plus, our online tool makes it easy and has great tips. Please take a few minutes to write a quick letter to the editor now:

Palin's speech and the reaction to it also made clear why McCain picked her. It wasn't a decision about who's most qualified to serve a heart-beat away from the presidency—it was a political decision about pleasing the far-right base of the Republican party.

Writing a letter to your local paper is a great way to make sure voters understand that. The opinion pages are the most widely-read pages of the newspaper. Write today, and your letter's a lot more likely to get published because it's so topical. It'll help sway the editorial board too.

Here are a bunch of points you might want to include in your letter:

* Palin recently said that the war in Iraq is "God's task." She's even admitted she hasn't thought about the war much—just last year she was quoted saying, "I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq." 1, 2
* Palin has actively sought the support of the fringe Alaska Independence Party. Six months ago, Palin told members of the group—who advocate for a vote on secession from the union—to "keep up the good work" and "wished the party luck on what she called its 'inspiring convention.'" 3
* Palin wants to teach creationism in public schools. She hasn't made clear whether she thinks evolution is a fact.4
* Palin doesn't believe that humans contribute to global warming. Speaking about climate change, she said, "I'm not one though who would attribute it to being manmade." 5
* Palin has close ties to Big Oil. Her inauguration was even sponsored by BP. 6
* Palin is extremely anti-choice. She doesn't even support abortion in the case of rape or incest. 7
* Palin opposes comprehensive sex-ed in public schools. She's said she will only support abstinence-only approaches. 8
* As mayor, Palin tried to ban books from the library. Palin asked the library how she might go about banning books because some had inappropriate language in them—shocking the librarian, Mary Ellen Baker. According to Time, "news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving "full support" to the mayor." 9
* She DID support the Bridge to Nowhere (before she opposed it). Palin claimed that she said "thanks, but no thanks" to the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. But in 2006, Palin supported the project repeatedly, saying that Alaska should take advantage of earmarks "while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist." 10

The plain fact of the matter is that Sarah Palin did a bang-up job delivering a Karl Rove-style political attack speech last night. That makes her a skilled politician but it doesn't make her views any more palatable for voters. Americans don't really want another far-right, anti-science ideologue in the White House.

Please help get the word out about where Sarah Palin really stands on the issues.

Thanks for all you do.

–Nita, Ilyse, Wes, Karin and the rest of the team
Not only does this email give me my talking points for a letter that will hopefully "help sway the editorial board", but it's noteworthy in that after almost a week of unrelenting criticism and rumor mongering about Governor Palin, it finally gives grudging respect to Senator McCain's choice as our next Vice President. Not that the rumor mongering will end, mind you. The talking points in this email are evidence of that. But it does reveal that Democrats are beginning to understand that Palin has completely changed this race.

And they're right to be worried.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Governor Palin Was A Brilliant Choice

Governor Sarah Palin's nomination as Senator McCain's vice president has gotten the liberal blogosphere in an uproar. The very first talking point I saw was that Gov. Palin's nomination takes away Sen. McCain's ability to use Sen. Obama's inexperience against him in the campaign. To which I say, hogwash.

First, that liberal bloggers claim this reveals that they know this is a major weakness of their candidate. The fact that Obama picked Senator Joe Biden as his running mate reveals that he knows this as well.

Second, Palin's pick in no way means that McCain can't use Obama's inexperience in the campaign. Obama's responses to the Palin nomination reveal exactly why.

This is his response immediately following the announcement:
"Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency."
Mr. Community Organizer will be sure to highlight Governor Palin's experience as a small town mayor while conveniently forgetting her other experience (you know, like being a governor), but all it does is serve to keep the inexperience topic in the headlines.

And it ensures that Obama will continue to have to field reporters' questions regarding his own inexperience. For instance, CNN asked him about his experience vs Gov. Palin's and this is what he said,
"My understanding is that Gov. Palin’s town, Wassilla, has I think 50 employees. We've got 2500 in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe 12 million dollars a year – we have a budget of about three times that just for the month,"
So Obama thinks that running a campaign for president qualifies one to be president. Ok then.

Again, all Obama's attacks on Palin do is serve to highlight the fact that the man running for president barely has the experience of the vice president he is attacking.

But does this create problems with McCain's ability to showcase Obama's inexperience to be president? The beauty of this pick is that McCain doesn't have to be the one to do it.

Let his running mate Joe Biden do it for him:

Or have Hillary Clinton do it:

Or Bill Clinton:

Or Hillary, Bill, Biden, Dodd, and even Obama himself: