Thursday, April 30, 2009

Culture of Fear Case Study - Swine Flu

"Rule one: Never allow a crisis to go to waste."
-Rahm Emanuel, Obama White House Chief of Staff
Nov 10, 2008

In the first 100 days of the Obama presidency, no crisis (real or imagined) has passed without being exploited by those in power whether it be the furthering of the financial meltdown or the shift of power from the people to the government for control of freedoms guarenteed in the Constitution. These crisis events that lead to more governmental control did not originate with this administration but go as far back as the early 1900's with the establishment of the Federal Reserve and the 16th Amendment that instituted an income tax. With each new crisis (World War I and II, the Great Depression, Korean and Vietnam wars, fall of the Soviet Union, incidents at Ruby Ridge, Waco, and Oklahoma City, 9/11 and the War on Terror) the government has thrust itself into the lives of American citizens and continues to erode freedoms granted in the Constitution. Fear has played a huge part in helping the three branches of the government to pass temporary stopgap measures that soon become permanent and irrevocable.

The outbreak of swine flu is another opportunity for government control.

There is no questioning that swine flu is more than likely a contagious and deadly sickness that will directly and indirectly affect the lives of millions of people. What do we know about swine flu? What are the origins of the sickness? How is it spread? What can we do to prevent the spread and contain it? There are a lot of questions to be answered but very few answers right now.

Which is why the advice and reaction of government officials around the world is so troubling. The media and governments love fear. Egypt and Jordan are slaughtering their pigs as an excuse, even thought it can't be confirmed that contact with a pig will give a person swine flu. These are Muslim countries that forbid contact with pigs anyways and they see this as a way to get rid of something that benefits the Christian minorities.

Here is Joe Biden, always known for his honesty, integrity, and dealing in straight facts (just a hint of sarcasm there) telling Americans that they should not be using mass transit systems or be in school because they might catch swine flu from somebody. The WHO (World Health Organization) claims that "all humanity is under threat" and is calling for "global solidarity" to fight this battle. I have heard that term "global solidarity" WAY too much in the past 4 months.

Remember the avian, or bird, flu? Huge scare worldwide and mass panic, especially in the financial markets. What was the result? 421 cases and 257 deaths worldwide from 2003 to 2009, per this report, about a 60% mortality rate. Regular flu, influenza, mortality rates are 0.1%. So far there are nearly 3,000 reported cases of swine flu worldwide, with 151 deaths (150 of them in Mexico) for a raw mortality rate of about 5% - hard to say right now.

Let's be rational here and not do something that will give up our freedoms. The answer is not to get the "swine flu" vaccine when it comes out, you have no idea what it contains or doesn't contain. Will it actually help? How much testing has been done on the vaccine? Lot's of questions that still need to be answered. Tthis doesn't mean we should be unprepared however, here is an article from Meridian Magazine on the differences between an epidemic and a pandemic and preparing for them.

You make the call for you and your family but be careful of other consequences here.

"In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way. "
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Polls Reflect the Common Man, Right?

Interesting article about the popularity of President Barack Obama and his high popularity poll number 100 days into his presidency. I admire President Obama like I admire President Clinton (Bill, not Hillary) in that they have a charisma that draws people to them, that allows people to trust them.

And then the people find out the truth.

Dick Morris, an advisor to President Clinton, writes that President Obama is planting seeds that will lead an absolute disaster in a matter of 6-12 months-
  • He hasn't raised taxes yet, which is inevitable under Democratic leadership and his free-wheeling government spending.
  • He hasn't set up his healthcare plan in which the government will tell you which doctors you can go to, that your medication is unnecessary, and your treatment is not covered or there are unbearable delays to receive it. Your doctor will not have any incentive to treat you as he will be reimbursed by the government at a flat cost.
  • He hasn't granted amnesty for illegal aliens, making those who came here legally a punch-line in a joke. If you think that granting amnesty for aliens who are currently in the country is a cure for the immigration problem then think again. How soon will it happen again?
  • He hasn't closed any of the car companies or banks that he now owns under the guise of the TARP program.
As long as President Obama continues to look good on magazine covers and in photo-ops and the media continues to fawn over him then the numbers will stay up. Watch out this fall though.

A Mishmash of Mixups

Arlen Specter defects to the Russians, sorry I mean Democrats.

The Obama administration has made embarrassing bungles at home and abroad in his first 100 days and the Republicans can barely muster a response.

A Democratic Congress and White House have saddled our children and grandchildren with more debt than they will ever be able to repay and the White House calls upon all American to practice fiscal responsibility. The Republican response? No alternatives.

Republicans have lost several election fights in the past 6 months (House race in NY, Franken recount disaster in MN).

The RNC has fought a huge battle over the chairmanship, eventually settling on Michael Steele. I never believed he was the right person to lead the party.

Now this.

Is it any wonder why Republicans are losing ground and the faith of the American people?


“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants” — Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Don't Look At Me! It's Only My Plane!

So what's dumber than having Air Force One, with trailing military fighters, buzz Lower Manhattan to get a photo-op in front of the Statue of Liberty?

Let's launch an investigation to place the blame somewhere other than where it belongs! Like the Oval Office!

So, not only did the federal government (read WHITE HOUSE) spend your tax dollars for an updated photo-op of Air Force One, scaring millions of New Yorkers who remembered the last time a low-flying jet plane came screaming through the city, but now we are going to launch an internal investigation (funded again by your tax dollars) to see who authorized the decision to do such a stupid thing? And the FAA ordered everybody to keep silent about it even though they KNEW it would induce panic?


What else have they ordered people to keep silent about?

Let me save the feds some money. See the guy sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office? Yeah, he is the one. HINT: He goes by the name of Barry, like he did in high school. Now, the president wasn't on board but it's his plane and the plan originated in a White House office.

You will hear about how mad he is, how it will never happen again, how sensitive he is to the needs of New Yorkers and another attack possibility that Joe Biden spoke so confidently about happening during the election campaign . . . (the last comment might have an interesting connection to this whole "event").

I am sure George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the other Founding Fathers are turning over in their graves. This is exactly what they envisioned 200+ years from writing the Constitution.

A Traitor Among Us

Arlen Specter, I don't believe you and I suspect that the people who voted for you won't either. You sold out all those who supported you and fought for your cause. You are a traitor to those who donated to your campaign because they believed in you.

Today Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) switched parties from Republican to Democrat. This is like what Jim Jeffords (I-VT) did when he switched from Republican to Independent several years ago. Jeffords is, really, a Democrat and not an Independent. When he switched it gave control to the Democrats. Now the Democrats only need 1 more vote to make any piece of legislation filibuster-proof. Meaning - whatever they want, goes.

This is crass and low. His reasons for switching are not about idea or ideals. This is a man who has voted Democrat many times, much like John McCain did.

Here is a quote from RedState -

Just over a month ago, Specter told The Hill “I am staying a Republican because I think I have an important role — a more important role — to play there. I think the United States desparately needs a two party system. It is the basis of politics in America. I think each of the 41 Republican Senators, in a sense, and I don’t want to overstate this, is a national asset, because if one was gone you would only have 40. The Democrats would have 60 and they would control all of the mechanisms of government.”

Arlen Specter chose to become a Democrat because he was afraid that he couldn't win the Republican primary in 2010 against Pat Toomey, let alone the general election. In his statement he claims that the Republican party has left him.

I understand that. I left the Republican party as well because I didn't feel like they were following the mandates and instructions of the Constitution. Not because I didn't think I could win the next election as a Republican so I switched parties.

Specter just knew he couldn't win in the Republican party with his ideas. Because he has no ideas. He is the epitome of what is wrong with Washington.

I hope the good people of PA see through this garbage and vote him right out of office next year.

Of course President Barack Obama has called to welcome him to the party. Hopefully he won't offer him a ride in Air Force One as it flies past the Statue of Liberty for an updated photo shoot.

Goodbye Sen. Specter, don't let the door hit you in the rear.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Greg Book Review - The Associate / John Grisham

I couldn't believe my luck when I found this book in the library last week. I really enjoy the early Grisham novels and I was expecting this one to be better than the last one I read from him (The Appeal).

Disappointed was a good start.

This one was about a poor schmuck, Kyle, who was blackmailed to steal secrets from a big law firm that he was beginning to work at. His handler, known as Benny, had a compromising video of Kyle from his undergraduate days, Benny uses that to get Kyle to obtain information on an upcoming lawsuit between two big defense contractors. Well, Kyle is a poor first-year employee at the firm and he is working horrific hours, having to do menial chores, but of course gets put on the top-secret lawsuit - just right for Benny to steal secrets. Kyle finally tells the FBI and they go after Benny, but Benny escapes and disappears into the night. The novel ends with Kyle walking out of the big law firm and going to join his Dad in practice in Scranton, PA.

Lame. They never find Benny nor do we know who he really is. There is never closure in this story, so many open ends that need to be tied up. Kind of like one of those Law and Orders that just abruptly ends.

The writing was not well done, it seemed to be a mixture of earlier books - copy and paste at its best. Lazy writing.

Two thumbs down and let's hope they don't make a movie out of this one.

Greg Book Review - Blink / Malcom Gladwell

I picked this book up by Malcom Gladwell because I couldn't find his new book, The Outliers, in the library. A friend had recommended his recent book but since it wasn't available I found this one.

And I am glad I did. It was fantastic and fascinating.

Blink is about the judgements and perception we instantly create when we experience it for the first time. Have you ever saw something and known that something just wasn't right - it wasn't what it was purported to be? Gladwell opens up with the story of the Kouros (statues representing male youth in ancient Greece) that were offered to a large museum in New York. As the museum contemplated buying the collection they had many scientists come and test the statues for authenticity. All of the test came up positive as there had been some questions if the collection was of real kouroi. After all of the scientific tests had been run and the museum was on the cusp of buying the collection, they showed it to certain Greek art experts and all of them immediately said there was something wrong with the statues. They couldn't exactly put their finger on it but there were instant feelings that these were not real kouros statues.

Have you ever had that same feeling? That something wasn't quite right? The author goes through some fascinating ideas on why this occurs and comes up with some interesting theories on not only why it happens but how we can overcome preconceived notions.

One of the more interesting theories is his last chapter about situational autism. He explains that in high stress situations, we tend to blank out reason and go with base instincts and beliefs. Those who have not trained extensively in the right situations, like police officers, will fall back on thought processes that can lead to disastrous results. The idea is to train yourself to respond correctly in such situations by simulating those situations and evaluating them afterwards for responses.

2 thumbs up, can't wait to read The Outliers.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Greg Book Review - Bruce R. McConkie - Highlights From His Life and Teachings

This was the second biography I had read about Bruce R. McConkie, the first being written by his son entitled The Bruce R. McConkie Story: Reflections of a Son. They are different books as the book by Horne does a decent job of chronicling the life of Elder McConkie from public and semi-private sources for the first half while the second half is devoted to some of the unpublished manuscripts and teachings of Elder McConkie that you won't find in many other places. The Joseph McConkie biography is much better with regards to his life, and that is well expected as he has access and experiences with Elder McConkie that nobody else could possibly have had. There is an extensive section on Elder McConkie and the revelation on the priesthood, which he was present for, that is fairly detailed.
I liked this book but it became a bit monotonous after a while. The teaching/doctrine section of the book was grouped by subject and it was a habit of Elder McConkie to repeat many of the main points of his talk so by the time you finished reading several different talks in each section you had probably heard the same point several times over. I think the whole book could have been reduced in the amount of material it offered and not suffered. If you are looking for a good Elder McConkie biography then I would recommend his son's book. If you are looking for a smattering of Elder McConkie's teachings on various subjects that come from unpublished or difficult to find sources then this book would be the one to choose.

1 thumb up, 1 thumb down

Rick Perry and Texas Sovereignty

Take a listen to Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and his recent remarks about the sovereignty of Texas. He rails against the rights of the federal government vs. states' rights. I like Gov Perry and he has some good points. His prominent use of the 10th amendment is good to see as people may start returning to the Constitution. Maybe it is time to consider moving to Texas (wouldn't be the first time Kathryn and I nearly moved to Texas). Couple of things to remember though -

  • The stimulus package is not affiliated with just one party or the current administration. Many of the current financial crisis roots can be found during Clinton years with the extending of bad mortgages to those who could not afford them, the Bush adminstration's support of deregulation and their two attempts at a stimulus before Barack Obama took office, and the current administration's lack of control with regards to spending. Both Republicans and Democrats have lacked ethics and control when it comes to increasing the size of government.
  • Gov Perry attended the Bilderberg Group conference in Istanbul, Turkey in 2007. That is not a good sign as those who attend that conference are specifically invited and all things discussed there are secret. Don't be surprised to see Gov. Perry's name come up as a presidential candidate in the next 24 months. If it does, you had better believe that the Bilderberg is backing him to some extent.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Officially Unaffiliated

I did it today. I went to visit the Tooele County Courthouse, the office of the county clerk and changed my voter registration to Unaffiliated. It was easy but it was hard. Since last summer I have toyed with the idea of leaving the Republican party as I no longer feel like they align with the my values or beliefs. It actually started nearly 3 years ago when my best friend ran for office here in Tooele and should have easily won but the leadership of the county Republican party was so poor that Jess got beat pretty good. I was devastated. I had worked so hard with him on this campaign and I felt awful for him. It hasn't gotten any better either as the county party put up a nice guy last year for election but again got beat down by the incumbent who deserved to lose as he barely showed up for the election. At least Jess made him work for his victory in 2006.

Under George Bush the Republican party has strayed from its values of less government, lower taxes, more personal responsibility, a strong but limited defense, a foreign policy that keeps our troops home and doesn't become the world's policemen, conservative moral values, less involvement in international organizations, less socialism. I don't want to be associated with what I am seeing now.

I want to be FOR something, not against something. I want to believe in what I am doing, not wondering if my representatives (I'm talking to you Orrin Hatch and you Bob Bennett) have other motives for their non-conservative actions. I want to believe they are doing the best they can but I don't believe that any longer.

I love the Constitution and am willing to do whatever I can to defend it and its principles.

I am not ready to join another party - Democrat, Republican, Constitution, Green, Libertarian, Communist, etc. I am ready to support who I feel best represents my values and refuse to be tied to a label.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I Love America

As I was perusing my usual sites this morning for a brief update before conference (the milk before the meat) I came across an incredible rant by Warner Todd Huston, a regular contributor to What made the rant amazing was the common themes on which he touched - we, as Americans, have lost touch with each other. More and more we are seeing ourselves turn inward and worry about the self instead of the community. I was impressed by Bishop Edgeley's talk yesterday in Priesthood Session about the phone call to our brethren. (Sorry, no link for that yet on the Church's website)

I am not tired, I am full of life and energy. It is time to wake up and be men and women of courage, valor, ethics, and moral decency. We need to continue to put off the natural man who is consumed with himself and think about those things that matter - our spouses, our children, our family, our community, our God, our country. Madison Ave, Hollywood, and Washington DC does not represent this country. Those families who are trying the best they can to raise their children in righteousness, those who are willing to serve their country by thinking more about others than themselves, those who practice self-control in their financial, social, and work-related activities are the ones who built this nation and will continue to be it's base and foundation.

Read the article and see if you don't find yourself saying "Amen, brother!" Here is the article. After reading it, resolve to do something about your situation this week. Take your wife out on a date to look at the stars, play soccer with your children, call your siblings to tell them that you love them, make sure you are registered to vote, send an email to your Congressman, turn off your TV, gather your family around for family prayer. Do something to make a positive difference in their life.

And you will find you have made a positive difference in your life as well.