Category: Politics

Saul, Paul, and Crist (no, it’s not a typo)

“[Fanatics of various hues] hate each other with the hatred of brothers. They are as far apart and close together as Saul and Paul.” – Eric Hoffer, The True Believer

The animosity between the two principal political parties in the U.S. is unusually high these days. Doubtless there are many reasons, but I’ve been thinking lately more about the ramifications rather than the reasons. These two parties are a set of Saul and Paul of whom Hoffer spoke. They hate each other, but depend on each other for mutual existence. Without the Saul, or “devil” of an “other,” a political party sits like a child on a see-saw with no partner. The party out of power counts on the unrealistic expectations placed in and the incompetence of the ruling party. The opposition knows it will have its turn when we the people “throw the bums out.” So they sit and criticize, whine and obstruct while the ruling party steamrolls, blunders, and overreaches. If it weren’t for the incompetence of each party, the other may never come to power. And so they are like the moon, needing the sun to go away so it can be seen, but not too far away so it can still reflect the sun’s light.   (more…)

The True Mirror of Our Doctrine

The conduct of our lives is the true mirror of our doctrine. – Montaigne

The other day I saw a news article that said that Glenn Beck, a nationally-syndicated political talk show host who also has a TV show, a man who has millions of listeners/viewers, told them that if their churches mentioned “social justice” or “economic justice” (what he called political “code words” for communism, etc.), his listeners should leave their churches.  This was shocking to me, first because Beck and I are both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) and I can’t reconcile what he said with the doctrine I know from our church.  Isn’t this a violations of the First of the Ten Commandments?  And secondly, because anyone who actually took his advice widened one of the biggest rips in the fabric of our society.

I’m talking about the fact that all of us are bound together in an eternal family.  In too much of the political discourse lately, there has been demonizing, name-calling, and dehumanizing.  To what end?  To get the trajectory of the country to move a fraction of a degree to the left or the right.  At what cost?  We are sacrificing our kinship with our fellow man to our political objectives.   (more…)

The True Believer by Eric Hoffer; book review

I recently read for the third time a book I was introduced to in PoliSci 101 as an extra credit assignment.  In the past, to me The True Believer; Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer was an interesting theoretical book about sociology, based on observations of the past.  This time, its voice was contemporary and reverberating.  Every paragraph was an elucidating commentary on the news of the day. (more…)

Please don’t bomb Iran

On November 29, the disputed President of Iran announced plans to build ten new nuclear enrichment facilities throughout the country. Everyone’s mind immediately turned to military action, and many assume that Israel will bomb Iran sooner than later. It’s my hope no one attacks Iran. (more…)

Fallacies of the free market

Recently I read a piece by Newt Gingrich about letting the market solve the healthcare problem. He said, “We must offer a positive alternative where healthcare becomes more accessible and of higher quality at lower cost. That is what normal markets produce. Think computers and cellphones, where government bureaucrats have zero involvement in design and pricing.” I’m no economist, but evidently I understand economics better than Newt and a lot of free-market advocates. (more…)

Watch your tongue

As any English-speaker who has learned a Romance language knows, there are a lot of cognates, both true and false, between English and Romance languages. A cognate is a word that resembles its counterpart in another language. For example, even if you don’t speak Spanish, you can probably guess the meaning of the following words: dormitorio, liberador, laboratorio, general, and central. These are cognates. False cognates are words that seem to correlate, but don’t; for example dirección means address, and embarasada means pregnant, a false cognate that can lead to situations that are, well, embarrassing.

Why does English have so many cognates with Romance languages if it’s supposed to be Germanic? One of my linguistics professors told our class that 80% of the words we use everyday are Germanic, but 75% of the words in the English dictionary are of French origin, adopted into the language during the centuries-long reign of the French in Britain after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. French became, well, the lingua franca, literally translated as “French language,” but meaning the language generally spoken or the universal language. English is the modern lingua franca, follow closely by Mandarin.

So are we more Germanic or more Romantic because of our language uses? Does language affect society? Yes, but not linguistically, instead semantically. And those who have begun to change American English are not conquerors in the traditional sense, but they are leaving their imprint on the language—and on society. There is a list of words I hate to hear, and I want to change their usage. (more…)

A time for smaller government?

Small government advocates are a little too happy at the belt-tightening going on (at state and local levels, anyway) to deal with the effects of the recession. Utah’s legislature is overshooting estimates in its zeal to make government smaller. Is smaller government desirable? Sure!

However, in order for conservatives to prove, in the famous words of Saint Ronald that, “Government is not a solution to our problem; government is the problem,” small-government types need to unplug the mouths and plug in the helping hands. (more…)

“Resurrection” by Leo Tolstoy – Book Review

Tolstoy’s very readable tale of Prince Dmitry Ivanich Nekhlyudov, a man humbled by the results of his past sins and attempting to right wrongs and redeem himself, is a timeless criticism of human attempts at civilization and self-rule. In the process of the story, Tolstoy skewers high society, the church, the government, the military, the courts, lawyers, land-owners, revolutionaries, the prison system, and anything else he passes on the way. But he also reveals his life-view of Christian anarchy, the idea that man should follow the teaching of Christ despite any contravening man-made institutions, forms, and influences. (more…)

The President and the Constitution

Tomorrow we’ll witness a miracle. It happens every four or eight years in the U.S. It’s a peaceful (acquiescent if not voluntary) passing of authority from the most powerful person in the world to another person, often of an opposing worldview. It truly is a miracle. (more…)