A friend of mine recently left this comment after I posted a sassy meme on Facebook:
"I love you and your theological writings, Rock -but try to stay away from any of your political commentary/sparring for the most part because it 'appears' you are entrenched in Trumpism..."
That's not the first time someone has advised me to "stick with what you know," but in this case the writer is someone I dearly love and greatly admire. My wife and I were guests in his Utah home for several days a few years back, and he and his wife were incredibly kind to us. So if you think I'm going to light into my friend for that gentle rebuke, you're seriously mistaken. He and I have more that unites us than that which divides.
Still, my friend's comment got me to thinking that since this blog is devoted to my religion, it's high time I addressed the topic of how our religion properly intersects with politics. (I sort of addressed something like this in my previous post, but I didn't touch on the reason why politics must be infused with the proper religious principles in order for discussions in the public square to have any validity.
But first things first: let's get one thing out of the way, and that's this idea that I am somehow "entrenched in Trumpism." Here is the meme I posted that motivated my friend to call me out publicly:
To that meme I attached a lighthearted jab: "It's okay if you're stupid, too, but that doesn't make you either factually or morally right."
Too bad I hadn't seen this three minute clip by Ben Shapiro, because he really pegs what's ailing this woman:
Ocasio Isn't Crazy, She's Immoral - YouTube
My friend, who to my surprise actually approves of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's scheme to steal the earnings from people she doesn't know, has made an assumption about me that many people are making about a lot of political observers these days: that if you criticize a member of one political party, your loyalties surely must lie with the other.
Here's a novel idea: why not call out dishonesty and hypocrisy no matter which party it stems from? How about not submerging your identity by giving yourself over to a political party? In our everyday lives we are both liberal and conservative, so if we hope to avoid becoming insufferable, we deserve to consciously cultivate that balance of yin and yang in the political arena as well.
I think I made it pretty clear in that last post that I feel it's a mistake for anyone -most notably Mormons- to align themselves with a particular party. When you do that, you will become defensive about your own team, shutting yourself off to the possibility that your party or your candidate might be capable of wrongdoing. Factional loyalty is a sure way to miss out on what's true and what's false in the political sphere.
This prejudice in favor of one party over another is the very definition of partisanship, and blind partisanship toward almost anything-whether politics, religion, or even whether you went to the best high school- will ever be a stumbling block to your search for truth. The wise will mark you down as a fool and shun your company.
So let me make this clear: I don't support any politicians, no matter how well-intentioned, for the same reason I am not a follower of any religious leaders. I already have a king, Yeshua the Messiah, so I look to no mortal to lead me.
Our scriptures warn us repeatedly that those who trust in the arm of flesh will be cursed. Psalm 146:3 gets even more specific when it warns us to "put not your trust in princes." When the bible refers to "Princes," it's talking about "rulers," which is what a good many politicians today fancy themselves to be: our rulers.
Look, I get enough cursings from people who respond to me on Facebook, so I'm not too keen on invoking further cursings from God. I'll continue to follow politics, but I'll do so with a healthy dose of skepticism toward both major political parties.
This is not to suggest I'm not deeply interested in politics. I am, but mostly for the entertainment. And I'll get back to my feelings about Donald Trump in a minute. First, let's talk about this insanely erroneous idea that politics and religion are supposed to be mutually exclusive.
The Political Philosophy Of Mormonism Yes, there is a political philosophy to Mormonism. Wanna know what it is? It's this:
"See that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually, for this is the law and the prophets." -Alma 41:14
If that sounds a lot like The Golden Rule, well, yeah. Here's how Jesus put it in Matthew 7:12:
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."
The purpose of the golden rule in the religious sphere is to instruct you on how to conduct yourself so that you will deal justly with others. But that doctrine necessarily operates in the political sphere as well, and the way it does is twofold: first, you're expected to govern yourself in a way so as to not hurt people and not take their stuff; and second, you're expected to keep an eye on those you've entrusted with governing, so you will be qualified to call them out every time they violate that rule.
We can't force politicians to adopt our religious ideals, but we do have an obligation to elect public servants who will follow the golden rule. After all, don't they campaign on those basic principles? Have you ever seen a candidate for office promise the people that he would not deal justly? Have you ever seen one refuse to take the oath of office? That oath is an oath to protect and defend the constitution, a document wholly infused with the principles embodied in the golden rule.
In those instances where our public servants fail in their obligation to perform strictly in accordance with their oath of office, it is our duty to hold their feet to the fire. They have an obligation to abide by the golden rule even if they don't believe in it. If you fail in your sacred role of monitoring the rulings enacted by your public servants, you fail in your religious responsibility as well.
The golden rule is so fundamental to good government that every major world religion promotes a version of it. Here are just a few:
Judaism: "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary." [Sounds a lot like what Jesus said about this teaching being paramount over all others.]
Islam: "None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself."
Confucianism: "Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire."
Buddhism: "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful...a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?"
Baha'i: "Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not...Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself."
Brahmanism: "Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you."
Hinduism: "Do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you."
Jainism: "A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated. "
These religious tenets completely infused the societies represented by these religions. So did American society at one time, until the false teaching crept in that religion and politics should be kept separate. Make no mistake, however. Unbending religious dogmas have no place in politics. That's not what we're talking about here. As Mahatma Gandhi (a hindu who also embraced Jainism) insisted,
"Religion should pervade every one of our actions. Here religion does not mean sectarianism. It means a belief in ordered moral government of the universe. It is not less real because it is unseen. This religion transcends Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, etc. It does not supersede them. It harmonizes them and gives them reality."
"For me, politics bereft of religion are absolute dirt, ever to be shunned. Politics concern nations and that which concerns the welfare of nations must be one of the concerns of a man who is religiously inclined, in other words, a seeker after God and Truth." (The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, R.K Rabhu and U.R. Rao)
I could go on and on quoting Gandhi regarding the importance of including religion in the public sphere. He was quite vocal about it on countless occasions. But you might wonder why I'm quoting a Hindu instead of quoting, say, Joseph Smith, since he is the founder of our faith?
The answer is simple: there are numerous citations by Joseph Smith affirming the necessity of religious principles infusing every aspect of our lives, but very few statements making the arguments Gandhi does. That's because in Joseph's day, there was no need to make those arguments. Just as in the days of America's founders, virtually no one was campaigning to keep religion out of the public square. Back then, it was a given that morality and religion were an essential part of political life. It has been only since the 20th century that some factions of American society have argued that there is no place in politics for principles borne of religion.
To be sure, there were instances when Joseph Smith found religious principles overruled among the political class. President Martin Van Buren, a member of the Dutch Reformed Church with no particular animosity toward the Mormons, still refused to assist them in obtaining justice by way of redress of grievance, for reasons of political expediency. If Van Buren were to help the Mormons, he admitted, he would "go against the whole state of Missouri, and that state would go against me in the next election." A Peoria Newspaper reported the prophet's stunned reaction:
Mr. Smith said he was thunderstruck at this avowal. He had always believed Mr. Van Buren to be a high-minded statesman, and had uniformly supported him as such; but he now saw that he was only a huckstering politician, who would sacrifice any and every thing to promote his re-election. (Peoria Register and North-Western Gazetteer, April 17th, 1840.)
______________________________ The Mormons in Illinois, nearly all of whom were democrats back then, helped assure Van Buren's loss to the Whig candidate, William Henry Harrison. So sometimes the universe does bend toward justice.
When Mixing Politics And Religion Goes Horribly Wrong So why do we so often hear that politics and religion don't mix? Well, that's because politics and religion don't mix.
But religion and politics do.
Allow me to clarify. The political sphere is enhanced by the infusion of just and honest religious principles, such as the Hebraic-Christian principle that all men are created equal. That phrase does not mean that all human beings have equal abilities, talents, skills, appearances, or -heaven forbid- outcomes. It means simply that all men are to be treated equally under the law. That statement is self-evidently true because it is an idea that originated with God and not with men. What "equal under the law" means is that no person should ever be given a legal advantage or disadvantage over another. (Leviticus 24:2, Romans 2:11, Mosiah 27:3, Mosiah 29:38, Alma 30:11, etc.)
This was a radical idea in 1775, since throughout most of Europe, as well as the rest of the world, members of royalty could oppress, torture, or kill any of their subjects and never be held to account. By virtue of their bloodlines and the rank they held, these insufferable snooties were above the law. The common folk were not. But in America, if a politician breaks the law, he is subject to criminal prosecution just like any other law breaker, and indeed there are numerous laws in place specifically tailored to punish official misconduct.
Richard Nixon did not believe this. He saw himself as some kind of elected emperor whose actions were above the law. In the famous interview he did with David Frost, Frost asked Nixon about the legality of Nixon's actions. The president replied, "Well, when the president does it, it's not illegal."
He was wrong, of course. He eventually realized how wrong he was and resigned before he could be impeached and put on trial. _____________________________________  Shortly after his resignation, Nixon's successor pardoned him before he had even been tried, let alone convicted, which was kind of odd, since a pardon is supposed to be granted after a person has been convicted. Pardons are also usually granted when a person has been found to be innocent after he's been convicted. In Nixon's case, Gerald Ford did his buddy an unprecedented political favor by pre-emptively declaring Nixon innocent before Nixon had even been formally charged with anything, which has to be some kind of legal precedent as far as I'm aware. So I guess maybe members of the elite class are above the law after all.
The mixing of politics and religion goes awry when your political views become your religion. Do you see the problem with political partisanship, when you begin to see your political opinions as inseparable from your religious faith? When Americans get to the point where they seem to be now, when they can see only the good in themselves, and only the bad in the other party or the other party's candidate, they're likely to either not notice the bad in their own, or to rationalize it away.
This was no more evident than when the majority of my fellow Mormons supported Mitt Romney in his bid for the presidency. As I documented in this blog at the time, Almost every promise Romney campaigned on was antithetical to the core teachings of the religion he espoused. Romney wasn't alone. Since at least the middle of the 20th century, Mormonism rightly reflected conservative American social values. Since the Republican party back then largely reflected those same values, Mormons (who used to be almost entirely Democrats) climbed onto the Republican bandwagon because, after all, to be a Republican meant you were a conservative.
As time went on, the majority of Mormons remained largely conservative, meaning they continued to stand for smaller government and traditional social issues that comported with the teachings of their faith. They still thought being Republican meant staying the course, but by the 1980s, the Republican party was heading the other way. Sorry if this bursts your bubble, but even Ronald Reagan was not the conservative hero the legends make him out to be. ________________________________________  Writes Sheldon Richman in The Sad Legacy of Ronald Reagan, "Ronald Reagan's faithful followers claim he has used his skills as the Great Communicator to reverse the growth of Leviathan and inaugurate a new era of liberty and free markets. Reagan himself said, "It is time to check and reverse the growth of government."
Yet after nearly eight years of Reaganism, the clamor for more government intervention in the economy was so formidable that Reagan abandoned the free-market position and acquiesced in further crippling of the economy and our liberties. In fact, the number of free-market achievements by the administration are so few that they can be counted on one hand—with fingers left over."
Beginning with Reagan, the Republican party grew to stand for big government just the same as the Democrat party did, with Republican administrations soon presiding over deficits larger than anything the Democratic congresses were passing. You wouldn't have noticed if you weren't paying attention, because party leaders still hypocritically yammered on about shrinking government even while making it grow ever larger. By the time George Bush II took office, all pretense was gone, as the NeoCon Statists were the real powers behind the throne. Bush took the country to war under false pretenses, and even some of the strictest constitutionists in the Church gave him a pass on his flaunting of the constitution because, hey, he's one of us.
By this time, false traditions in the Church had supplanted Mormonism's true teachings as revealed by God and promulgated by the prophet Joseph Smith. In that blog post I wrote about Romney, I documented how Mitt Romney's campaign promises not only were a betrayal of conservative principles, but completely and undeniably antithetical to the religion he claimed to believe in. I heard from a handful of readers who objected to my pointing to Mitt's numerous betrayals, but no one has ever shown me where I misrepresented his positions, or how those positions were not in conflict with the restored gospel. When it came to representing the Mormon faith, Mitt Romney was a wolf in sheep's clothing. He was no more a true Mormon than was the evil and designing John C. Bennett in Joseph Smith's day. If Joseph Smith were church president today, he would withdraw the hand of fellowship from Brother Mitt Romney.
Nothing I wrote in that blog post was intended to imply I wanted to see Mitt Romney lose to Barack Obama. Indeed, I frequently spoke out against the Obama fraud. But my thesis in this forum was that a Romney presidency would be virtually indistinguishable from an Obama presidency. And I stand by that. If you're curious as to how things would have been for America if Mitt Romney had been elected, you need only examine the eight years we experienced under Obama. Things would have been pretty much the same under Romney, from the continuing escalation of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the failure that is the Affordable Care Act, which Romney intended to model after the socialist debacle he had presided over as governor of Massachusetts.
The only difference I can see is that if Romney had been elected president, there wouldn't have been fools dancing in the street because they believed Romney would be making their car and rent payments the way they came to believe King Obama would.
The Trouble With Trump As I mentioned before, I'm an equal opportunity offender when it comes to politicians. So before I really get into ragging on the insufferable insanity displayed by those on the radical left, let me say a few more things about Donald Trump.
First, I'm starting to like this guy, because I admire a politician who doesn't rein in his thoughts. He ain't no tippy-toe diplomat when dealing with his Democratic opponents, and I enjoy watching the left go completely bonkers every time he frustrates them. Donald Trump is the Walter White of politics, and everyone on the left is Gus Fring. Every time they think they've got him cornered and are about to finish him off, they find out he's been three steps ahead of them the entire time. Now that the Donald Trump Show is entering it's third season, I'm really starting to dig it.
Still, there are plenty of reasons for conservatives and libertarians to remain agnostic about this president, and virtually none of them have anything to do with the silly accusations thrown about by atrabilious leftists screeching and wailing over his supposed triumphs. And none of it has anything to do with his being a racist (he isn't), a misogynist (he isn't), or a liar (okay, you got me there.)
Here is fellow anti-Statist Laurence Vance going down the list of reasons why conservatives and libertarians should be keeping an eye on Donald Trump, and it largely has to do with the fact that in reality the guy is a liberal's dream. If only those on the left would stop taking their cues from CNN and actually examine his record, they might notice he's almost as much a Statist as they are. They'd be kissing his feet except for one thing: he was a liberal who ran as a Republican, and when he won, that put the Democrats out of power. Democrats liked being in power under Obama, and they had every expectation of remaining in power when Hillary took office. Trump put the kibosh on those expectations, and they will never forgive him for it.
Vance wrote the following piece over a year ago, so it doesn't include all of Trumps recent fubars, such as his suggestion that the government should confiscate guns first and then allow due process later. Anyway, Vance opens with this paragraph, which comes close to echoing my own feelings. So if you want to know my current political views, this is pretty close:
"Before continuing I should state for the record that am not part of the “Never Trump” movement, that I despise the news media, that I would like to see America be made great again, and that I loathe Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders with every cell in my body. I did not vote for Trump, but that is because I don’t vote for anyone not named Ron Paul."
He then goes on to dissent from the conservative love fest over Donald Trump. Enjoy
As I've pointed out many times before, the only political philosophy consistent with Mormonism is the libertarian philosophy -not to be confused with the Libertarian party, which is a..
That's what I said. Mormons should stop identifying as Republicans.
Wait, come back here! I'm not finished.
I was about to say Mormons should stop identifying as Democrats, as well. (And yes, there are plenty of Mormon Democrats. They just tend to remain out of sight these days.)
It's a very easy thing to assume the politics you identify with are consistent with your religious values. More often than not, they are -if we are discussing the values of conservatives and liberals, and not Republicans and Democrats. Conservative and liberal values tend to remain somewhat consistent. Republican and Democrat values, on the other hand, have proven to be wildly erratic, and have even shifted over time to where it's been hard to tell who stood for what.
Both conservative and liberal values can be found in the gospel of Christ, and in the U.S. Constitution. Democrat and Republican values? Not so much.
I bring all this up because even though we just got through another election period -a time when historically the political vitriol finally tends to settle down- Americans are still divided against each other more viciously than I've ever seen in my life. This is by design, because even though all of us-particularly those who claim to follow Jesus Christ- should be infused with both conservative and liberal values, we have been manipulated into thinking we have to choose a side.
But when you choose one political team over another, you close yourself off from receiving information you need to make informed choices. You won't notice (or you won't want to notice) when your team is behaving badly, because the spokesmen for your team frequently omit some of the facts you need to know. To politicians, there is nothing more important than winning, therefore politics always devolves into a game of lies. One side may be more straightforward than the other at any given time, but neither party has ever been honest and forthcoming all the time. Not by a long shot.
Conservative Vs. Liberal Let's set aside for a moment the idea that being conservative or liberal has anything to do with politics. Put that out of your mind for a moment and just consider what those words actually mean. Because you doubtless possess both conservative and liberal characteristics. At least you do if you are a well-balanced person. Some people are more conservative than others, and some people are more liberal. The trick is to find a balance between the two. Otherwise you could become a zealot, and zealots don't get along with anybody.
Generally speaking, a Conservative is a person who is rooted in tradition. He or she prefers to be cautious, and is not inclined to act rashly.
A Liberal(again, speaking generally) is a person who is open to new ideas. Sometimes a liberal acts rashly without first weighing the consequences of those actions.
Notice anything about those two definitions? In the first place they sometimes do describe political tendencies, and in the second place both sets of characteristics have both advantages and disadvantages to the person tied to those characteristics. If you have traditionally conservative tendencies, you might at times be too cautious, resulting in your missing out on developing a relationship with that ideal mate, or deliberating so long you get bypassed on a job opportunity or business success.
Conversely, a liberal might act too impetuously and not only mess up his own life, but the lives of others. Actions entered into with radical aplomb can leave behind a trail of broken hearts and broke investors.
America's Political Legacy is Both Conservative And Liberal One reason tradition has served us well for so long is because on the whole, tradition works. Long-standing traditions have often been beneficial to mankind. But tradition alone can sometimes be based on a faulty premise. For centuries the British people believed that their long line of kings had a "divine right" to rule over them, which meant that they believed the king was on the throne because God Himself willed it so. Whatever the king decided was the will of God.
Then along came John Locke (1632-1704) who argued there was no such thing as the divine right of kings. Locke was a key philosopher of the Enlightenment period, and came to be known as the Father of Liberalism. His writings were well-known among America's founders.
Still, the great majority of Americans were reluctant to break with the king. In fact, they didn't so much think of themselves as "Americans" as they did British subjects living in America. As subjects of the crown, they were entitled to the protection of English common law, a set of open laws developed over centuries and rooted in biblical law that protected the rights of the people. Never mind that King George hadn't recognized the people's rights for quite some time. Those living in the colonies remained reluctant to act rashly by kicking the king's soldiers out of their country and ignoring the king's unlawful decrees. They held out hope that the king would come to his senses and go back to honoring their rights under English common law.
Then in 1776, Thomas Paine, an English corsetmaker who had immigrated to America just two years previous, published a pamphlet titled Common Sense, in which he argued that separation from the king was really the only option the colonists had left. Paine's argument persuaded the colonists to let go of their faulty tradition of devotion to a king. They became open to the new idea that they had every right to continue to govern themselves under the common law, and they didn't need any king's permission to live as they pleased. Paine's pamphlet was, in my view, the most cogent and effective liberal argument of all time, and it turned the tide of sentiment toward independence from England.
When you read the U.S. Constitution, you'll notice that document has both conservative and liberal elements to it. It is conservative in that it carefully and narrowly defines the roles that public officials are bound to abide by. That document is also conservative in that it is concerned only with the behavior of public servants. It does not apply to the rest of us. You don't have to obey the constitution, they do. That's why every public servant, upon being hired, is required to swear an oath to protect and defend the constitution. I've heard people say the constitution was a contract involving people long dead, that no one in this generation ever signed it, so what use is it?
Well. You and I don't have to sign the contract between the government and the people, but the contract is renewed every single time a government official swears that oath. That is what keeps the contract alive; if they don't want to enter into the contract, they don't get to govern. The rights of public officials to act are narrowly defined, which is the opposite of liberally defined and interpreted.
So where is the "liberal" section of the Constitution? That's in those ten amendments that make up the Bill of Rights. Every one of those amendments guarantees that the people's rights are to be liberally construed. As long as we do no harm to others, you and I are free to live our lives as liberally as we like, even if we don't always make the wisest choices.
Not so our servants in government. The constitution restricts them in their actions, because if it didn't they might very well get into mischief. There are few things as dangerous as a politician who believes his position gives him liberal carte blanche to rule over the people.
So How Did We Get Into This Mess? The 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume came up with some brilliant political ideas, but he had one that was a clunker. Just as John Locke is considered a liberal, Hume is considered a conservative, and as a conservative he proposed that the mass of people are nearly always motivated by passion rather than reason, and so are incapable of intelligently ruling themselves. Therefore, Hume proposed, there needs to be an elite class to rule over the people -so long as the people give their consent to be ruled.
Well, he got that first part right; most people are not capable of ruling themselves. But it doesn't follow that they need anyone to rule over them. The American founders went to a great deal of trouble to guarantee that the people's elected representatives did not rule over the people, but instead were to serve under them. If some Americans were unable to properly govern themselves, well then, so what? We all make dumb mistakes. God expects us to learn from our mistakes and continue on making even dumber ones. Your mistakes are yours to learn from. Just because some people happen to be chronically stupid doesn't mean anybody else is entitled to impose their will upon them, or on the rest of us, either.
Speaking of passion, David be rockin' that shower cap.
Little by little, and barely perceptible over time, the liberality of the government bequeathed to us by the Founders began to give way to Hume's safer, more conservative philosophy of government by the elite. Today many Americans believe that when they go to the polls on election day, they are choosing people to be their rulers. The problem with this belief system is that when some people end up with a master other than the one they had hoped would be ruling them, they react like petulant children.
On of my favorite conservatives.
Well, that isn't the way our government was designed to work. The most important elected officials, and the ones you should be closely monitoring, are your state and local Representatives. Why? Because those are the only persons in government you elected to represent you, and they are the ones most likely to screw up your life.
Next up the chain is your state Senator, whose job is primarily to make sure we haven't talked our representatives into passing laws that would restrict the freedoms of any of our fellow citizens. The majority will always try to impose its will on the minority if given half a chance, so a salient duty of the Senate is to nip majority rule in the bud when it gets out of hand.
My U-Haul Experience This seems like a good place for a digression.
Sometime in the first year of our marriage, circa 1980, Connie and I rented a U-Haul truck for our move from Provo to Salt Lake City. But when I drove the truck, I was chagrined to find the thing wouldn't go faster than 55 miles an hour, which was the federally imposed speed limit back then. No matter how hard I floored that pedal, the truck wouldn't go faster than 55.
I learned that the good folks at U-Haul had installed a mechanical device called a "governor," the purpose of which was to make certain the truck never went faster than it was supposed to. At the time I thought that was a strange name for a piece of machinery, but I understand its meaning now. I could have all the "Adventures In Moving" I wanted, but I couldn't have an adventure that took me faster than 55 MPH. There was a device installed under the hood of the truck that was there to temper any liberal urge I had toward behaving rashly.
So it is in the political sphere. In a state government, as in the federal, the House of Representatives is the "liberal" branch, so to speak. It exists to enact the will of the people. If the members of the house understand their limitations, they won't pass harmful laws. But when they do pass a bill, it gets kicked up to the Senate for approval, where the Senators are expected to determine whether or not that law would be detrimental to the state. If the Senate passes it, the bill goes to the Governor.
This is where the conservative aspect of state government kicks in. The governor's responsibility is much like the governor on that U-Haul truck. His job is to slow the process down, because sometimes bills are passed while everyone is in a high emotional state. Conservatism, by it's very nature, is careful and deliberate. Conservatism says, "now slow down a minute; let's think this through" and if the governor determines the law would be harmful to the rights of the people, he is supposed to veto it.
The president's role is similar to a governor in that respect.
Does it always work that way? Heck no. Politicians are ever seeking ways to increase State power and decrease the power of the individual. Nevertheless, the liberal-conservative dichotomy in government was the intent of the founders.
Okay, that's the end of this digression.
We Return You Now To The Rules Of Federal Procedure If the Senate approves of a bill passed by the House of Representatives, they vote to enact it into law, and then the President looks it over to make sure sure it passes muster. And if he feels it does, he signs it into law. If he feels it restricts the rights of any individuals as secured by the constitution, he can and should veto that law.
That's how government is supposed to work. The elected officials had one salient responsibility: don't pass any laws that would infringe on the rights of any of the people. If an unconstitutional law still gets enacted, a person with standing (which means someone who has potentially been harmed by the law) can still bring it before the Supreme Court for relief.
That's why I've found it amusing that so many Americans seem to think the current president has been elected as some crazy kind of Emperor. Why else would there be so many people coming completely unglued over his election?
Remember when Obama was elected? A lot of people celebrated the crowning of Barach Obama as if he were some benevolent new king. Some even thought he was going to pay their bills for them! And now there are an equal number of crazies who think the election of Donald Trump is going to mean the end of America. (Kinda makes you wonder if these aren't all the same people.)
Never mind that Trump doesn't have the power to destroy the nation. It takes money to run a country into the ground. The president can only operate on the money given to him by the House of Representatives. He doesn't control the purse strings, and neither does the Senate. No president has the power to send you to war, or enact healthcare, or build any kind of wall unless you tell your Representative that's what you want and how you want your tax money spent.
Recently an online friend reposted something I wrote on Facebook the day after Donald Trump was elected president. I think it's worth sharing again here as a reminder that one man with limited authority is not about to take us over the precipice:
My goodness, there are some heated responses here over a post that I expected others would find as entertaining as I did. Perhaps you've missed the scenes with protesters angrily taking to the streets declaring "Donald Trump Does NOT represent me!" and "Donald Trump is not MY president!"
Well, of course he isn't. He will be the president of the United States, not the president of the people. His job is not to preside over the people, nor to represent the people, and he certainly hasn't been given the job of "running the country."
These crowds of idiots in the streets appear to believe some kind of king or dictator has taken control of America; that he can wave his hand and issue decrees at whim. And it's fun to watch because they are panicking over nothing.
I found it vastly entertaining to watch these people freaking out because they fully believed their lives would somehow be upended after the election of a mere figurehead. If they want to whine about a politician representing them, they should have given more thought to their actual REPRESENTATIVES, because some of THEM are the ones involved in upending their lives. I can't see what good it does to howl about some guy whose jurisdiction extends only to one branch of government in an area that doesn't reach outside of the ten square miles of the District of Columbia. Perhaps a re-reading of the Hooven doctrine might get them to loosen up and relax (Hooven & Allison Co. vs Evatt, 324 U.S. 652 (1945) These poor saps are clearly confusing the "states united" with the United States. What the president has been elected to preside over is a corporation, not a country.
I got a particular kick out of seeing Miley Cyrus tearfully and reluctantly looking into the camera and telling Donald Trump that despite her misgivings, she accepts him as her president.
Why? Donald Trump is NOT "her" president! He's not my president either, any more than any president before him was my president.
Let me repeat this as many times as needed: The president of the United States is not the president of the states, or anyone living within the boundaries of a state. He is not in charge of me, you, or the country itself, and he certainly does not represent the people of the united states. None of that is in his job description. Miley Cyrus, you are completely free of his influence on you. Donald Trump is not your president. You do not have to accept him as your master.
The president is called the president because he "presides." And what he presides over is NOT the people living within the various states. He presides ONLY over the executive branch of the federal government; he is powerless to dictate his will to any citizen living within the boundaries of any state. So if you are a citizen of a state within the contiguous united states, trust me: you are safe from Donald Trump. He is powerless to enter your home if you don't want him there. You DO have the power not to let him enter. And if he tries to come in anyway, you can call your county sheriff and the sheriff is obligated by his oath of office to have the President of the United States arrested and taken off to jail.
That is a stone cold fact.
May I remind those currently panicking over all this that the president's job is not to MAKE law, or issue royal decrees, but merely to implement the laws that have been made BY THE PEOPLE themselves via the instructions THEY gave to their local representatives?
This is not to say that an unchecked president cannot cause a certain amount of mischief. Bill Clinton did, George Bush II certainly did, because the congress lacked the backbone to restrict him in his unconstitutional and immoral wars of aggression. And Barack Obama did his share of overstepping. But again, that was with the collusion of the congress that the people SHOULD HAVE kept in check. These men succeeded in causing trouble only because both houses of congress neglected to keep these men confined to their narrowly defined cages. Thanks to the division this election has caused, it's likely the presidency of Donald Trump will be kept on a shorter leash than we've seen of any president in decades. And that won't be a bad thing.
None of these former presidents had the power to fly over America destroying cities with their heat vision and leaving destruction in their wake. They may think they're important, but that's mainly because everybody keeps telling them they are "the leader of the free world," a nonsensical, empty, and meaningless phrase if ever there was one.
If you're concerned about keeping your individual rights and freedoms, keep an eye on the house of representatives. That is the ONLY branch of government that represents the interests of the people, and they are the only branch with the power to furnish ANY money to the president, and to withhold the money he might require to implement his schemes. The president can express all the grandiose plans he wants to, but if he is given no money by those holding the purse strings, he will be sitting on his hands for the next four years, and occasionally entertaining foreign dignitaries for photo ops.
The two main reasons the United States Government even HAS a president is because 1.) Someone was needed to veto any unconstitutional bills that might have made it through the first two houses of congress, and 2). SOMEBODY had to be available to meet with foreign dignitaries from time to time. The Founders were really stuck on that one for days while they were hammering out the constitution. Clearly, SOMEONE in government would have to be available to meet with the President of France. But who? It wasn't feasible for all 535 members of congress to make that lunch date. So they settled on the idea that it should be the same guy who vetoed the bad laws -because they had already figured out that congress should not be in the business of enforcing its own laws.
So they gave a sort of "figurehead" status to the guy who would be charged with enforcing the laws, so that same guy could represent the government (not the people) when foreign heads of state came a'callin'. At first the Founders thought maybe it should be three co-presidents, because there was some concern that if there was one man in that office some Americans might one day think of that man as the king of America. Then they realized Americans would never get to be THAT stupid, so they went ahead with the one guy, and just gave him very little authority to do anything.
I ask you to indulge me for a moment, seeing as I have emerged as a true prophet in my last blog post. I predict with certainty that Donald Trump will not be deporting many illegal immigrants who are here already, with the exception of those who have been duly convicted of crimes on our shores. He will not be building a wall between here and Mexico. He will not magically invalidate same sex marriages anywhere in the country. (For one thing, he has vowed to protect the rights of all LGBTQ people in the country, and for another thing, he has no power to invalidate laws already in effect within the states.)
Our rights and freedoms are not threatened by the guy in the white house. We lose our freedoms because they are LEGISLATED away by the congress, and because we don't keep on eye on the district courts, the ones depriving us of more rights every month than the Supreme Court would ever attempt to do in a year.
So to those who can't help but take to the streets crying and blubbering and shaking and quaking with fear just because some blowhard was elected to the LEAST powerful office in the land, I say keep it up! I know I'm not being Christlike when I laugh at dumb people doing dumb things, but heaven help me, I can't help but..
I've been receiving inquiries from readers of this blog who are wondering where I went, as the last entry on this forum was way back on July 8th. I usually make it a habit to post something every month, and since so many people are writing and calling asking what happened to me, I felt I'd answer that question here once and for all rather than tell the story dozens of individual times.
The simple explanation why I'm AWOL: I'm just too tired to write. Here's why:
Back in August the unthinkable happened. My lovely bride Connie tripped and fell down in the hallway. Forward, right on her knees. It was a real struggle to help her get up and into her wheelchair, but together we eventually succeeded in getting her up off the floor. Since Connie is already seriously disabled, any kind of fall is cause for concern, and this time it was clear she was in real trouble. Like Samuel L. Jackson's character, Mr. Glass, Connie's bones are pretty fragile. She already had to have both hips and a shoulder replaced. When we got her to the hospital, X-rays showed she had fractured both her knees at the tibial plateau.
Yeah, I didn't know what that meant either. Turns out it's not good news.
For those of you with little interest in hearing about other people's infirmities, you can skip this next part.
You Can Skip This Next Part As it happens, the tibial plateau is the place where the shinbone meets the knee bone, and it's one of
Yikes. This can't be good.
the body's critical load bearing areas. The problem is, if you want that fracture to heal, the last thing you want to do is put any more load-bearing weight on it. But the unfortunate reality is this: there's just no way to avoid continuing to put load-bearing weight on one knee or the other, fracture or no fracture.
Connie normally gets around with either a walker or a wheelchair. Well, now the walker is out, but it still requires a fair amount of standing to get her from the bed into the wheelchair. That places her weight directly onto the fractures for a few moments every time we do that maneuver, which unavoidably involves some turning and a little twisting that can't be avoided. The best I can do is grab her under her arms and lift in hopes of taking some of the pressure off her knees. But that doesn't help much, and it's still extremely agonizing for Connie to go through this time after time. Then I have to take her in the wheelchair to the bathroom, at which time I have to help lift her onto the toilet several times during the day and night.
Connie takes a boatload of medications, including pain pills, but she also has a pain pump embedded under the skin of her belly. This pump injects minute amounts of Fentanyl, along with a numbing agent, directly into her spine via a tube that has also been embedded under her flesh. This pump is refilled monthly by injection at the local pain clinic. But in order for this medication to have any effect, she can't be lying down in bed when it's operated. She has to be sitting up in a straight-back chair. That means lifting Connie into the wheelchair and then into another chair every time that bolus is due, which is every hour and a half, except for a six or seven hour period beginning after midnight. This is when we are permitted a few hours of blessed sleep, until Connie has to go to the bathroom.
Connie clearly has it worse than me. All I lose is sleep. Connie loses sleep AND she's miserable. I'm up during the night when she needs me, so the sleep deprivation is real enough for both of us. The kicker for me is that sometimes after I've gotten Connie to the bathroom (and also gone myself) my asthma requires attention, so it's twenty more minutes sitting up with the nebulizer machine. If you know anything about this misty medicine, it gives you an adrenaline boost so your brain is exhausted but your body won't let you sleep. The only reason I'm not dead yet is because our daughter Amy comes by most evenings and looks after her mother for a few hours so I can rest. So though my sleep is often disturbed in the night, I can sometimes get six hours total. That's enough to keep me alive, but not enough to make me smart.
And that's where this blog comes in. I haven't been writing any pieces here because I'm simply too mentally exhausted to be up to the task.
Man, Am I Ever Tired You wouldn't know it, but sometimes this blog requires a fair amount of research in order to make certain my facts are correct before I post something. It also helps to have all cognitive functions firing. I had intended in my next entry to discuss the anomalies in the various versions of Joseph Smith's First Vision, but in order to do that, I've got to review materials I haven't read in years, and my tiny dinosaur brain is just not up to absorbing, sorting through, and reporting on all that information. So I think it may be a couple more months before I attack that project.
But I'll give you a spoiler ahead of time if you like. When some folks read the early account Joseph Smith wrote by his own hand in 1832, then compare it with the one that was placed in our scriptures years later, they have mistakenly concluded that the prophet himself embellished his story the second time. What I intend to show is that the version most of us are familiar with was very likely not written by Joseph Smith, but was ghost-written before being sent on to the Chicago Democrat for publication. Unfortunately, that ghosted version ended up in our scriptures decades after Joseph's death (and obviously without his approval), while the accurate version was locked up in the vault of the First Presidency for decades in order to keep its existence a secret.
I'll go into greater detail when I get around to writing that piece, giving what I consider obvious clues that Joseph was not the author of what we think of as the "official" version, along with suggestions as to who might have written it. But all that is for another day.
Obviously, since I'm only half awake these days, I'm not perusing heavy academic materials. What I'm doing instead is going through fribble I bought years ago but never got around to reading. For instance, yesterday I decided to catch up with what's happened to Superman's girlfriend Lois Lane since last I checked in on her back in 1968. Did you know Clark Kent married Lois Lane and admitted to her he's secretly Superman? I had no idea.
You think I'm kidding.
Miraculous Update: I stepped away from this post after writing the above words a couple of weeks ago, and I'm happy to report since then that Connie's most recent X-rays show both tibia are actually healing! This is completely unexpected, because we were both resigned to the reality that for as long as we lived, our lives were very likely going to remain in this limbo between sleep and wakefulness without ever getting relief. We can only attribute this good news to the prayers of many of our friends, because if you were here and a part of this, you would know there was no way those bones were ever going to get the chance to heal. So we praise God, Comfrey, and CBD oils that were provided by generous friends, and look forward to the day when Connie can hobble to the bathroom by herself.
We're nowhere close to being out of the woods yet, of course, because Connie's agony remains and it doesn't feel to her like there's been any improvement. But assuming both X-rays are reliable, things are moving toward whatever it was that we used to consider "normal" around here.
Stuff You Might Find Interesting: I may as well fill out this page by sharing a few things I liked from some people I know and admire.
The blog, Seeking Further Light And Knowledge is always informative, and the most recent post is a discussion centered around how the LDS Church today is now frequently enforcing the commandments of men in the name of Jesus Christ.
In light of the controversy surrounding Sam Young, who was excommunicated for nothing more than asking the leadership of the Church to stop conducting damaging "worthiness interviews" with minors, Steven Retz Over at Seeking YHWH explains what it really means for a bishop to be a judge in Israel and how bishops in this church routinely disregard their assigned role in favor of something they were never authorized by God to do. Even Brigham Young understood that bishops had no role in hearing a member's confession.
For an even more detailed exegesis on the heresy of bishops seeing themselves as empowered to hear confessions, see also "The Law Governing Confession" at LDS Anarchy.
The podcasts over at Radio Free Mormon continue to be both informative and entertaining. His latest is a dissection of Elder Quentin Cook's 'Face to Face' wherein he promised to be honest and forthcoming about Church history, and then turned out to be anything but. I hesitate to recommend one RFM podcast over another, since they are all incredibly eye-opening, but I would not want you to miss the one where he proves, using Church leaders own words during just one weekend of General Conference, that they all know they no longer hold the priesthood, and they as much as admit it is not operating among them at this time. You'll find it in podcast 37, General Conference Death March.
I began listening to Denver Snuffer's multi-part series on the temple, and it's amazing what obvious things I hadn't realized were revealed in scripture until this great gospel scholar pointed them out. For instance, did you know that when God rent the veil of the temple following Jesus' crucifixion, he did not do it out of anger? There was a reason for it, and it's obvious when you understand what the scriptures say. Connie's ahead of me in this series, but she tells me that by about part four Denver discusses the corruptions of the temple ceremony introduced by Brigham Young. I'm looking forward to learning about that. The Temple podcasts and several more can be found by clicking here.
My grandson, Nate, eight years old, is devouring Connor Boyack's series of Books featuring the Tuttle Twins. This is an excellent introduction to your children on the principles of liberty. Connor has adapted some of the classic treatises on free market economics and made those concepts accessible to children. Your children need to read these books in order inoculate them against the propaganda that will be forced on them as they get older. Extra Bonus: these books are illustrated by another good friend, the incomparable Isaac Stanfield!
Another friend who is now a writer of children's book is my old pal Mike Agrelius. Mike and I haven't seen each other since we were both doing stand-up comedy together in the late 1970's, and now that we've reconnected, I can tell that Mike is still the funny one. You can find his latest book by clicking here. You can even watch a video of a lady reading it to you out loud.
Where Did All These Idiots Come From? In light of current events, this might be a good time to recommend a post I wrote six years ago entitled "What Is The Law Of The Land?" I don't know how long it will be before I can get around to writing that post on the First Vision controversy; it could be I'll need to gear up until winter before I'm less enervated and ready to go forward. But I will tell you this: I'm sorely tempted to write a piece in support of due process, because it's clear from some of the things I'm reading on Facebook that a lot of people don't understand the need for it.
We'll see. I may need to take some time, because if you've been following some of the links and opinions I have posted on my Facebook page these past couple of weeks, you've noticed that some of the comments show that the respondents lack -what's a nice way of putting this?- any capacity whatsoever for intelligent thought. All this sleep deprivation I've endured has left me decidedly cranky and impatient with numbskulls, so rather than respond as I should with Christlike patience, I have, of late, been more apt to lash out with insults about their low IQs.
So I may have to give myself enough time to cool off about this and choose my words carefully because let's face it, some of these people are really dumb.