Monthly Archives: July 2007

An Ideal Primary Electoral System

With the current structure of the primary process, so many states attempting to move, and the “unfair” influence of Iowa and New Hampshire on the process, many have called for a new primary system. One of these is the Delaware Plan.

The Delaware Plan calls for 4 rounds of primary elections divided up according to state population. The 12 smallest states in March, 13 next smallest in April, the next 13 in May, and the largest 12 in June. The theory is that more states would have an influence and there is a decent chance that no one candidate will have the nomination locked up until June. This is how it would break out:

March: Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska , North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Idaho

April: Nebraska, West Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Iowa, Connecticut, Oregon, Oklahoma, South Carolina

May: Kentucky, Colorado, Alabama, Louisiana, Minnesota, Arizona, Maryland, Wisconsin, Missouri, Tennessee, Washington, Indiana, Massachusetts

June: Virginia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Florida, New York, Texas, California

I really like this plan, I think it is generally fair and equitable and everyone knows where they stand. That is, I really liked it until I mapped it, now I only like it:

Delaware Plan

Orange: March Yellow: April Blue: May Red: June

The problem with this plan is that the first round of primaries, which is the most influential, does not have any representation from the South and most of the mid-West. The bulk of influence is concentrated in the Northeast and in the unpopulated northern states.

To fix this problem I came up with a fair and equitable plan for the primary system. It involves both geography and population. First, divide the country up into 5 regions of 10 states each: Pacific, West, Midwest, South, Northeast

Regional Map

Now divide up each region by population to determine when they will hold their primary. The two smallest from each will be in February, the next two smallest in March, and so on until the two largest of each hold their primaries in June.

New Plan

What this plan does is allow all regions of people to be represented equitably throughout the primary system, keeps the smaller states relevant, and, hopefully, keeps the nominee from being determined until all of the states have held their primaries. It is a win-win for all involved.

(((Note:  This is a re-post of an article I wrote in the first week of the blog.  As I am on vacation for the week, I will be re-posting some of the early columns that were not seen by many people.)))

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Romney Extends Iowa Lead

In the latest poll coming out of Iowa, a Research 2000 poll, Mitt Romney has extended his commanding lead in Iowa to 11 points over the rest of the GOP field.

The Results:

Romney: 25%     F. Thompson: 14   Giuliani: 13   McCain: 10

First, the good news for Romney. Obviously the good news is that he has extended his lead.   It looks more and more like a Iowa is a lock for Romney, even more so than New Hampshire.    What is potentially negative news is that Romney’s share is only 25%.   I think that for Romney to truly feel comfortable in Iowa he will need to be polling at around 35%.   Also, another thing that is striking is what the poll here does not say, what about the other 38% of voters not listed here.  They are likely spread between Huckabee, Brownback, Ron Paul, and undecided.  (Unfortunately the Research 2000 website article was not working at the time of writing, but I will update when more info is provided).    I would suspect that both Huckabee and Brownback are hovering around 8-9% and that Paul has 3%.  What this all means is that a second place finish for one of these “2nd tier” candidates in the Ames Straw Poll next month is extremely possible and the same result could be in place for the actual caucuses.   It also tells us that there is a lot of room for movement, so despite Romney’s solid lead, he cannot get too comfortable and take it for granted.  

Certainly, though, this is great news for Romney.  It is potentially great news for the 2nd tiers also.   At the same time it is terrible news for Giuliani and McCain.  While McCain is not dead yet, he is in a coma and on the verge of it.   Giuliani should not waste any resources there, or so it seems.  The problem with this for Giuliani is that he is also not polling well in New Hampshire and is running third in Nevada in a close race.  If Giuliani loses all three of these, especially if they all go to Romney, in January; it will be difficult for him to pick up steam (not to mention that he likely will not win the often over-looked Wyoming caucus also).   An 0-4 start for the national leader is not the way to do it.  It would be in Giuliani’s best interest to at least win one of these.  However, it is not necessary, he will win both New Jersey and New York on mega-tuesday and is the odds on favorite for Florida and California.  If he sweeps these four, he will be just fine and right in the thick of it with Romney and/or Thompson. 

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Libertarians must hate the children

On this very blog, amongst other places, I have said openly that I think that career politicians are a poison to our democratic system of government. I actually have no idea what their respective backgrounds are, but the bi-partisan dynamic duo of Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) and (now infamous) Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Vice Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) should both be relieved of their duties that have to do with technology immediately.

Just like Kip, I love technology too and I hate seeing it be misunderstood and blamed for something that’s not it’s fault. Recently the aforementioned dynamic duo took part in a meeting that called for universal implementation of filtering and monitoring technologies on the Internet. The last thing I want is my ISP, HOA or other public group deciding what is and isn’t decent for the entire world. I don’t have any problem regulating open transmissions like radio and unencrypted television etc. However, trying to filter the Internet universally to “protect the children” is just stupid. Only someone that doesn’t understand how to filter the “series of tubes” as he called it, would make such a ridiculous claim. All in the name of the children.

My problem with this whole scenario is that it’s coming in a wake of debates about Net Neutrality. Shocker that the two leaders of our commerce are now calling for monitoring implementations universally on our global Internet. I wonder if any of the nation’s broadband providers have paid any lobbying money to get network traffic filtering legislated, so they can then levee that into offering consumers premium (higher priority, means you don’t have to wait in line) broadband plans for a premium price leaving the rest of the consumers in the cold. Or possibly more deviant, the larger ISP (Your AT&T’s, Verizon’s etc) that are required to lease the usage of the large tier networks to smaller broadband providers (a.k.a. their direct competition) would like to make their traffic more reliable and their lessee’s traffic worse, so the lessee’s customer’s switch providers for a better connection. Couldn’t be…….nah, never.

That being said, here is my real issue with the duo’s remarks: from Sen Inouye

“While filtering and monitoring technologies help parents to screen out offensive content and to monitor their child’s online activities, the use of these technologies is far from universal and may not be fool-proof in keeping kids away from adult material, ….. In that context, we must evaluate our current efforts to combat child pornography and consider what further measures may be needed to stop the spread of such illegal material over high-speed broadband connections.”

Who does he think he’s kidding? The current best technology isn’t enough to keep kids away from porn, therefore we must universally implement this inadequate technology universally? Wow, what a moron. He then says that contextually we need to determine what measures may be used to stop spreading child pornography. Here’s how to stop child pornography: Make the punishment so stiff (worldwide) that it becomes too dangerous to casually view, store, serve or create such pornography. Sounds great doesn’t it? Except, we go back to the age old “I know pornography when I see it” ruling. How can you attempt to determine measures to stop something that you can’t define what “it” is (thank you Mr. Clinton).

These two should be fired for one of two reasons:

1) They are absolutely incompetent to make the decisions to regulate our commerce of technological nature (which they’ve both shown).

2) They are heads of a committee that should be fighting for capitalism, not caving to the lobby of the large broadband providers that want to eliminate the lower tier competition by not giving them reliable connections on the large tier networks.

All in the name of protecting the children of course……

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Are Mormons Christian? A Matter of Semantics

This question is one that has been continually argued since the inception of Mormonism. On the one hand Mormons say, “of course we are Christian, we believe that Jesus is God, he is the savior of the World. Even the name of our church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

On the other hand, mainstream Christianity (MSC) would argue that Mormons (LDS) are not Christian because LDS do not believe in the trinity (or as MSC likes to put “Mormons don’t believe in the same Jesus we do.”) – in that God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Ghost are the exact same being.

Quite frankly, the debate is old and ridiculous. Honestly, it is a debate based upon semantics that will really have no bearing on either parties eternal salvation. Regardless of who is right, both MSC and LDS believe in God the Father, our supreme being, the creator and organizer of heaven and earth. We both believe in Jesus Christ, the son of God, the savior of the World, that he died for our sins and was resurrected in order to redeem us from both spirtual and physical death. We both believe in the holy spirit, who testifies of the father and the son and confirms their divinity through his presence. These are the beliefs God is truly looking for. Are we excercising such faith in him. Our understanding of the nature of God, though interesting and thought provoking, is not what God is judging us on, he is judging us on our faithfulness to his commandments and if we have accepted Christ as our savior. Undoubtedly, those in MSC and LDS have, even if we differ slightly on who Christ is.

Now, a note to Mormons, it is understandable that we want to be considered Christian and it is also understandable that we are offended when people say we are not. But you need to understand that MSC differentiates between believing in Christ and being Christian. I would hope that all those in MSC recognize that LDS believe in Christ. So when they say that we are not Christian, it means we do not believe in Christ the way they do, and hence, we do not fall under the Christian umbrella. Fine, so what? There is a reason that Mormonism is not a protestant faith, LDS is supposed to be different. So when mainstream Christians say that you are not Christian, smile and say, “if you say so.” Realize that no matter how much talking, discussing and arguing is done, one will not prove the other wrong. We are all already stuck in our ways.

Now, let’s discuss the origins and background for each argument. First, let’s point out that there is SIGNIFICANT evidence throughout the Bible supporting both MSC’s trinity and LDS’s Godhead arguments. So, I am not going to address Biblical evidences, again both points of view are strongly argued in the Bible. (I recognize that many on both sides will likely disagree with me on that, but I have had the Trinity vs. Godhead discussion enough times to know that no amount of time spent debating or discussing will prove one side or the other wrong). So, I simply want to address the origins for such beliefs outside of Biblical records.

Let’s start with the LDS Godhead – that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct beings. Quite simply the basis for this belief is rooted in the very beginning of the LDS movement – Joseph Smith’s first vision. As a young man Joseph was troubled by the various religions and their differences. He recognized the need for baptism and other ordinances, for the Bible taught that. But because there were so many different Christian faiths, he did not know which one was true. As a result, he took James’s advice and asked God. He went into a nearby patch of woods to have some privacy and began to pray; to find out which church was true. During this prayer he says God the father and Jesus Christ visited him. It was at this instance that the doctrine of the Godhead was solidified in the LDS Church; God and Jesus both visited the boy Joseph, they were not one being.

Now whether you believe this actually occured or not is neither here nor there. I only share it to explain that this is an unequivocal doctrine for the LDS Church and that this why it is believed. (Now, before many of you start commenting about how that is not biblical and JS is a false prophet, please spare me; remember that there is siginificant biblical evidence in support of the Godhood belief.)

In fact, these differences of opinion on the nature of God is what lead modern-day Christianity and Catholicism to their current trinitarian belief. From the death of Christ, or, more appropriately, Peter (as he was head of the Church after Christ’s death) through the reign of Emporer Constantine (who made Christianity a dominant religion) there was siginficant debate on this precise issue – the Nature of God. It was not until the First Council of Nicea (325 AD) and the First Council of Constantinople (381 AD) that the debate ended and the official belief of Christianity was that of the Trinity. Again, it is important to note that before this, there was no definitive definition, both sides were argued constantly.

So ultimately, what the argument comes down to is a matter of faith. Do you believe in the Nicene Creed version or the Joseph Smith version? There is nothing wrong with believing in either one in my opinion. I certainly have my beliefs, but I do not fault anybody for having theirs either. We are all entitled to them.

The point is, is so what if MSC don’t think LDS are Christian? If being Christian means that I have to deny my faith and subscribe to what the majority think, I don’t want to be considered a “Christian.” Further, if people like “Christian Leader” Bill Keller represent Christianity, I want nothing to do with it. Christ did not spend his time preaching hate and vitriol against the faith of others, he simply taught what he knew to be the truth and went on his way. That is what I think the LDS Church tries to do, at least as a whole. Mormons should not worry so much about what others think of them (although it is hard not to), but focus on ways to improve yourself and strengthen your faith. This is the same thing people of all faiths should be doing. All people should share their beliefs when appropriate, but do not criticize those of others. If entering into a conversation or debate about religion make sure it ends cordially and simply agree to disagree, people have been arguing religion since Cain and Abel.

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Is Obama OK with Genocide in Iraq?

Barack Obama up until now has been a strange enigma in my mind.  On the one hand, he is among the most left-wing senators in our country and I completely disagree with him on most of his policies.  On the other hand, he seems to be a genuine and honest person.  He does not seem to be overly tainted by Washington politics…yet.  And he is generally likeable and charming.   I have wondered if the race for President came down to Giuliani v. Obama, would I really consider voting for Obama?   Me, a right-wing conservative?   Well, up to last week, the answer was yes, I would consider it (though not likely).    

Anyone who reads this site fairly regularly is aware that I believe that success in Iraq is essential to U.S. national security, U.S. long-term interests, and to the preservation and rebirth of America’s image world-wide.   I have also argued that if the sole reason we stay in Iraq is for humanitarian reasons alone it would be worthwhile and justified.    So, when I read the comments of Mr. Obama on Iraq last week, you could imagine my extreme disappointment.  He essentially said that maintaining troops in Iraq for humantiarian problems and preventing Genocide in Iraq is not enough of a reason to keep our troops there

Now before I get into his justifications for this remark and my interpretation of what he is saying, allow me to interject something about what the Left (of whom he is a significant part) is suppossed to be about.   The left continually supports human rights and life, they are suppossed to be the U.S. humanitarians, they support Amnesty International, condemn U.S. actions across the world that are remotely deemed as insensitive and hurtful, and they are currently staging a large advertising campaign to raise awareness for the genocide in Darfur.  Aside from Obama’s obvious lack of understanding about the realities of the War, this is what is most disappointing in him.  He and candidates of his party should hold the line that they don’t agree with the war, they believe that political success is highly unlikely, but if only to save lives we should maintain a presence in Iraq.  Very disappointing and really causes the left to lose even more credibility.

Now, back to Obama’s specific statement.  Is he saying that the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people is not as important as the loss of another 1-2 thousand American lives?   That is what it sounds like to me.  Many of you may think that 1-2 thousand more American lives are not worth it, but personally I think that is sad.  In a situation like this in Iraq that we essentially created, I personally would be willing to make such a sacrifice, and when I signed my name on the dotted line to join the Military, that is exactly what I said I was willing to do. 

To emphasize his point Obama said the following:

 “Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now—where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife—which we haven’t done,” Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea,” he said.

What a completely stupid and asinine argument.  It infuriates me that he could be this short-sighted and moronic.  The problem with his argument is that we had nothing to do with the problems in the Congo and Sudan.   We did not cause them.  In Iraq, we are the reason the Iraqi’s are in the situation they are, for good or bad.  Al Qaeda in Iraq is there because we ousted Saddam and they see an opportunity to take advantage of the situation in attempt to earn themselves another country from which to field their operations.  We have an obligation to the Iraqi people to help them and protect them from people who commit atrocities like those AQI has committed.  We have no such obligation for Sudan or Congo.  

Further, regarding the deployment of US forces his argument is off on the wrong foot immediately.  Our troops are already deployed there for a military engagement mission.  The humanitarian crisis in Iraq is in no way the basis for our deployment there, but it should be part of the mission now that we are there.   He is right that we should not engage in war or deploy troops solely for such reasons, but that is hardly applicable to the situation in Iraq.  Thus, he has a complete lack of understanding of what is happening there and what our mission is.  Obama then added the following:

It is my assessment that those risks (of genocide) are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,” he said.

Wow, what can I say here?  I am almost speechless. He is wrong, wrong, wrong.  If we left too early AQI, Iran, and other groups would push into Iran harsher and faster to establish a new Taliban like state, to build a new Islamic Republic, or just to gain political power at the expense of anyone who stands in their way.  These groups are not just there to attack Americans, they are smarter than that.  When they see our weakness and wavering they push harder and are more ruthless, but the one thing remotely holding them back is the presence of American troops.  For evidence of this read Michael Yon’s blog.

I am extremely disappointed in Barack.  I recognize that he is a politician and is trying to earn votes, but this is unacceptable.  Primarily because it is a poor and not-thought-out argument.  It makes him look ill-suited to serve as commander-in-chief and leader of the free world.

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Mitt and Mormonism

Much has been made about Mitt Romney and his faith over the last six months.  Undoubtedly, this scrutiny will become more and more pressing as the campaign rolls on, especially if Romney should happen to win the GOP nomination for President.   A majority of things written focus on the impact his religion will have on his campaign, there has also been some writings on what impact his campaign will have on the Church.  It is this latter topic that I would like to address. 

The LDS Church (of which I am an active member) is in a very unique position in its history.  Sure, there have been high profile members, members in position of power, and members as heads of companies.   Steve Young, Harry Reid, Orrin Hatch, J.W. Marriott, and even Brandon Flowers (lead singer of the band, The Killers) have all been high profile LDS individuals, among others.   Many high profile Mormons introduce the Church to new groups of people and, as a result, provides opportunity for Church growth and also opens them up to more scrutiny.  However, none of these high profile individuals have or will ever put the church in a larger spotlight than will Mitt Romney should he continue as a Presidential front runner.

Just 6 months into the campaign, with 7 to go until the first vote is cast and 16 until the last, Mormonism is covered more in the MSM and on the Internet more than ever before.   This is and will be both a blessing and a curse for the Church.  I even think that lay church members will have bitter sweet feelings over whether they want this attention or not.  On the one hand, having a Mormon be legitimatly considered for President of the United States makes us feel more accepted and like we have made it. (What “it” is however, is a mystery).  LDS culture, whether most admit or not, has an insatiable desire for acceptance and recognition.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with this or that it is abnormal, everyone has some sort of desire for these same things.  This desire is why I, as a Utah Utes fan cheers for our bitter and hated rival BYU when they are playing Notre Dame or Boston College or TCU, I can say “yeah, we Mormons beat you Catholics or Evangelicals” or whatever.  I know this is childish, but it is what many of us do.  So I think many are somewhat looking forward to the attention the Church gets as a result of the campaign, even the negative things.

On the other hand, every organization, especially religious ones who claim some sort of divinity and hold high moral standards, are going to have skeletons in their history.  Mormons are no exception.  Things like the Mountain Meadow Massacre or the controversy about Blacks not receiving the Priesthood until 1978 can and will reflect poorly on the Church, regardless of the reasoning or explanation behind them.  Not only these type of things, but the Church also has many doctrines that are foreign to mainstream Christianity and that are deemed heretical.   Average Mormons will be questioned and challenged about these doctrines, it will be greatly uncomfortable and challenging (This is why I created the Mormon Q&A page here, to attempt to answer such questions).  These things will be flaunted across the Internet and on TV, it will be interesting to see how the Church addresses it, if they do at all.

Because of these challenges I think many members will sort of wish that this attention never came at all.  Some people may even lose their faith as a result.  Despite this, I welcome the attention for the Church and I think the senior leadership, while actively preparing for it I’m sure, also welcome it.  Why?  Because the Church has nothing to be afraid of or to apologize for.   Our people are generally good, moral, law-abiding, neighborly people.  Most people who know Mormons have a favorable view of them, despite reservations about our beliefs.  Additionally, the Church claims to be Jesus Christ’s restored church on the earth.  We believe in a foundation of apostles and prophets and that the Church is led by direct revelation from God and is given authority from him to act in his name.  What do we have to fear?   Sure, there are beliefs and doctrines that are hard to understand, but I have always held the belief that every Church has doctrines that most people, even most members, don’t fully understand;  God uses 100% of his brain, I use about 6%.  God would expect us to utilize faith and try to use our brains to figure out the mysteries.  In fact if a Church doesn’t have such complexities and intricacies I personally doubt any claim they have on divinity.  God should require things of his people.

Now I am not writing this to disparage any other religion or faith, but only to illustrate why I don’t think most LDS folks need to be concerned about the negative attention brought on our faith as a result of Romney’s candidacy.  In fact there will likely be many many people intrigued and curious and may end up joing the LDS Church as a result.  It seems that this one factor alone is one of the major motivating factors behind much of the criticism of the Church so far. Undoubtedly, there are some people who will not support Mitt purely because of his faith and that said faith may benefit from it, if inadvertently.   The next year and a half will be ridiculously exciting and intriguing, yet for many Mormons, will also be challenging.  But I always try to remember a quote from Joseph Smith in regards to the incredible challenges and persecutions the Church endured in Missouri and Illinois:

“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say, ‘the work is done’.”

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Mitt & Hillary Extend Leads in New Hampshire

The latest CNN/WMUR Presidential Poll gives Mitt Romney a 15 point lead in New Hampshire.  While we are still early, 6 months from the first primary, Mitt has incredible momentum riding in these early states.  Most analysts are already conceding Iowa to Mitt and it now looks like he has a iron grasp on New Hampshire.  Naturally, anything can happen and change, and there is a good chance it will.  But this is certainly good news for the Romney camp.

GOP Results:

Romney: 33%     Giuliani: 18%     F. Thompson: 13%    McCain: 12%

In the Democratic race Hillary also extended her lead but Obama is well within striking distance.  It looks to me like Hillary is a fore gone conclusion on the Democratic side, but with Obama’s fundraising and if he can somehow manage to pull out at least one of the first two states it could get interesting.   No other Dem candidate has a shot.

Democratic Results:

Clinton: 33%    Obama: 25%     Richardson: 10%    Edwards: 8%    Gore: 8%

How about Richardson leap frogging Edwards!  Edwards is done, he is tied with a guy who isn’t (and won’t be) running.  Good for Richardson, his hard work is paying off.

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