2008’s “Hope and Change” seems so long ago

2008’s “Hope and Change” seems so long ago. POLITICO: Obama plan: Destroy Romney:

Barack Obama’s aides and advisers are preparing to center the president’s reelection campaign on a ferocious personal assault on Mitt Romney’s character and business background, a strategy grounded in the early stage expectation that the former Massachusetts governor is the likely GOP nominee. . .

“Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney,” said a prominent Democratic strategist aligned with the White House. . .

The onslaught would have two aspects. The first is personal: Obama’s reelection campaign will portray the public Romney as inauthentic, unprincipled and, in a word used repeatedly by Obama’s advisers in about a dozen interviews, “weird.”

In 2008, Romney (and Mormons) were said to not tell the truth. In 2012 will “weird” be the new code word for Mormon?

Neal A. Maxwell – “Notwithstanding My Weakness”

Notwithstanding My Weakness
Neal A. Maxwell
November 1976

Yes, brothers and sisters, this is a gospel of grand expectations, but God’s grace is sufficient for each of us. Discouragement is not the absence of adequacy but the absence of courage, and our personal progress should be yet another way we witness to the wonder of it all!

True, there are no instant Christians, but there are constant Christians!

Should lobbyists take the Hippocratic Oath?

Yesterday the the federal government decreed that all but a few religiously-exempt health insurers will have to cover birth control, without even a copay. It’s interesting to watch as the government assumes complete control over healthcare to see where its priorities are, and what will come next.

Forget finding the best doctor, Obamacare is reducing healthcare to who has the best lobbyist.

And it won’t end there. The pattern is set. Special interest constituencies will continually demand ever more; e.g. coverage for illegal aliens, coverage for abortion, coverage for IVF, etc. etc. etc. At the same time, powerless people will be offered ever less, e.g., imposition of futile care theory and health care rationing against the morbidly elderly, the dying, and people with severe disabilities. See, these groups have no powerful political constituency groups grabbing pieces of the pie for them. They will matter little in the emerging corrupt system of exchanging health care benefit spoils in return for political support, which is the essence of Obamacare.

And NPR is naive to pretend that that the coverage will be “free.”

Moderate Mormon Candidates

Ken Jennings (yes, THAT Ken Jennings) on the two moderate GOP candidates who also happen to be Mormon.

But it’s also a sign that Mormons are pragmatists. Despite elements in their foundational story that seem fantastical to outsiders – angelic visitors and scriptures translated from buried golden plates – Mormon belief is laudably practical. When I go to church on Sunday, I’m almost guaranteed to hear a sermon full of quotidian common-sense advice – the blessings of teetotaling, tithing, holding a weekly “family night” or laying in supplies in case of an earthquake or other emergencies.

It is interesting that as conservative as Mormons tend to be and as Republican as Utah is that Romney and Huntsman are the moderate candidates this election cycle.

Revolution Over an Idea

John Yoo: A Revolution Fought Over an Idea

Unlike many civil wars today, the American Revolution was not fought for material gains or ethnic, religious, or tribal loyalties — it was a revolution over an idea. And then the United States spread the gift of democratic self-government to other peoples that they barely knew.

Neal A. Maxwell – 1993 Freedom Festival Patriotic Service

1993 Freedom Festival Patriotic Service
Neal A. Maxwell
4 July 1993
[Unfortunately audio only]

More than we realize, our whole society really rests on the capacity of its citizens to give what is called “obedience to the unenforceable.” We do this by complying willingly with the law and behaving voluntarily according to time tested standards. Such citizenship expresses a high form of volunteerism. In contrast, widespread and sustained lack of self-control will bring either severe external controls or anarchy. America’s Founders were determined to avoid both of those awful alternatives . . .

The quality of self-control is best grown in healthy family gardens, yet so many familes are failing. Healthy families are the first places in which we learn how to balance rights and responsibilities and to take turns . . .

Surely it is one of the first duties of government to protect its citizens. Nevertheless, however beefed up law enforcement cannot realistically be expected to compensate fully for a widespread lack of individual self-control . . .

America with all of its problems, is still a beacon. This beacon needs to shine more brightly today for the sake of all mankind in order to continue to gibe in Lincoln’s words, “hope to all the world.” Whatever the dimension of patriotism therefore, it requires that America have and maintain a spiritual core in order that our hopes are not in vain. Without this spiritual core our liberties, our cities, our fiscal policies, and our brotherhood will finally fail and falter. Virtue must therefore reside in the people as well as in the leaders. John Adams so cautioned, saying, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Unexciting as a prescription, nevertheless the best single way to improve the quality of life in America is to improve the quality of our own individual lives and our own neighborhoods. Otherwise, citizen failures to respect property or to practice chastity and fidelity, with all of those consequences and all of those failures cannot be corrected by mere legislation. Similarly, our neglect of the poor or of our civic duties cannot be corrected by executive orders.

Our inspired Consitution is wisely designed to protect us from excesses of political power. But it can do little to protect us from the excesses of appetitie or from individual indifference to great principles or institutions. Any signifiicant unravelling of the moral fiber of the American people therefore, finally imperils the Constitution. The moral fabric of this society can become dangerously and relentlessly frayed as too few strands strain to hold us together. Hence, having a shared patriotic, spiritual, and moral commitment within this nation’s borders is as vital as defending those borders.

1960 vs. 2012

As discouraging as they may sound, I just don’t know how much to make of the poll numbers of those who won’t vote for a Mormon. When it comes down to comparing specific candidates, is religion that much of a factor for that many when there are so many other important issues to consider?

Perhaps, some respondents are full of bluster and could actually for a Mormon, if they had to.

Just to provide some historical perspective, in 1959, the year before JFK won election as the nation’s first Catholic president, 25% of Americans polled, including 22% of Democrats, 33% of Republicans, and 18% of independents, said they would not vote for a Catholic. Okay, so JFK had a 25% disadvantage, while Mitt Romney, who is currently in the lead for the GOP nomination next year, has merely 22% to overcome. The fact that this is even a problem for one of our leaders at the top of the political food chain, especially when we’re facing so many serious challenges to our future, is very troubling. Have we not learned anything about discrimination and bigotry since 1960?

LDS Church leaders must appear politically neutral

SL Trib: “Mormon church tells its top officials to stay out of politics“:

The First Presidency letter said that “General Authorities and general officers of the Church and their spouses and other ecclesiastical leaders serving full-time should not personally participate in political campaigns, including promoting candidates, fundraising, speaking in behalf of or otherwise endorsing candidates, and making financial contributions.” . . .

The First Presidency letter does allow leaders who are not full-time officers — such as area seventies, stake presidents and bishops — to be involved in campaigns, with some caveats including that they should not “engage in fundraising or other types of campaigning focused on fellow Church members under their ecclesiastical supervision.”

Also, it says those part-time leaders choosing to be involved in politics should not imply “that their actions or support in any way represent the church.” And they are told not to use church-generated lists, stationery, email systems or church buildings for political purposes.

Neal A. Maxwell – “Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King”

Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King
Neal A. Maxwell
April 1976

I testify that his premortal performance reflected both an astonishing selflessness and a breathtaking commitment to freedom as a condition of our genuine growth. I thank him for combining his long view of our needs with a short step forward to volunteer his services. Never has anyone offered so much to so many in so few words as when Jesus said, “Here am I, send me.” (Abr. 3:27.) . . .

I testify that, though he never needed it, he gave to us what we desperately needed—that program of progress—repentance, which beckons us to betterness. I thank him for helping me, even forgiving me, when I fall short, when I testify of things known but which are beyond the border of my behavior, and for helping me to advance that border, bit by bit. His relentless redemptiveness exceeds my recurring wrongs.


Neal A. Maxwell – “The Man of Christ”

The Man of Christ
Neal A. Maxwell
April 1975

[The Man of Christ] sees that only the gospel can really help us avoid the painful excesses in the tug-of-war between the need for liberty and the need for order. He knows, for instance, that true law enforcement depends on the policing of one’s self. If the sentry of self fails, there are simply not enough other policemen to restrain those who will not restrain themselves, and beating the system will become the system.

Neal A. Maxwell – “Why Not Now?”

Why Not Now?
October 1974
Neal A. Maxwell

The past of each of us is now inflexible. We need to concentrate on what has been called “the holy present,” for now is sacred; we never really live in the future. The holy gift of life always takes the form of now. Besides, God asks us now to give up only those things which, if clung to, will destroy us!

And when we tear ourselves free from the entanglements of the world, are we promised a religion of repose or an Eden of ease? No! We are promised tears and trials and toil! But we are also promised final triumph, the mere contemplation of which tingles one’s soul.

LDS Church issues new statement on immigration

LDS Church issues new statement on immigration. In part:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned that any state legislation that only contains enforcement provisions is likely to fall short of the high moral standard of treating each other as children of God.

The Church supports an approach where undocumented immigrants are allowed to square themselves with the law and continue to work without this necessarily leading to citizenship.

In furtherance of needed immigration reform in the United States, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supports a balanced and civil approach to a challenging problem, fully consistent with its tradition of compassion, its reverence for family, and its commitment to law.

I wonder if this in anticipation of next week’s Utah GOP convention where a resolution will be considered to repeal Utah’s immigration law.

Robert S. Wood – “Instruments of the Lord’s Peace”

Instruments of the Lord’s Peace
Elder Robert S. Wood
April 2006

It is far too easy sometimes to fall into a spirit of mockery and cynicism in dealing with those of contrary views. We demoralize or demean so as to bring others or their ideas in contempt. It is a primary tool of those who occupy the large and spacious building that Father Lehi saw in vision. Jude, the brother of Christ, warned that “there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.”

Closely related to mockery is a spirit of cynicism. Cynics are disposed to find and to catch at fault. Implicitly or explicitly, they display a sneering disbelief in sincerity and rectitude. Isaiah spoke of those who “watch for iniquity” and “make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.” In this regard, the Lord has counseled in latter days that we “cease to find fault one with another” and “above all things, clothe [ourselves] with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.”

President George Albert Smith observed, “There is nothing in the world more deleterious or harmful to the human family than hatred, prejudice, suspicion, and the attitude that some people have toward their fellows, of unkindness.” In matters of politics, he warned, “Whenever your politics cause you to speak unkindly of your brethren, know this, that you are upon dangerous ground.” Speaking of the great mission of the latter-day kingdom, he counseled: “This is not a militant church to which we belong. This is a church that holds out peace to the world. It is not our duty to go into the world and find fault with others, neither to criticize men because they do not understand. But it is our privilege, in kindness and love, to go among them and divide with them the truth that the Lord has revealed in this latter day.”

Ending the Mormon Question

As the campaign cycle gears up, like clockwork, if you are a Mormon GOP politician on the national stage, the media can’t stop focusing on your religion. And with two LDS candidates, news stories have been eager to set up a Mormon primary showdown.

Hoping to forgo a replay of 2008, both Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney are taking the initiative to avoid the endless media pondering of the “Mormon question” (which is so last decade).

Today, almost as if they both said “enough!” (or maybe they coordinated it), Huntsman and Romney in their own way did their best of killing that media narrative:

• Jon Huntsman directly takes on the Mormon Question by questioning his own membership in the LDS Church as describing it as “tough to define.” (Certainly his right but stupid question: why now as he eyes national office and not when he was governor of Utah?)

• Mitt Romney probably made any conservative not care if he was a Satanist by doing a pretty good job of unapologetically defending RomneyCare, and by extension doing a better job of explaining Obamacare better than then President ever could. I’m not sure how that works at winning the GOP nomination (especially considering how poorly Massachusetts healthcare is faring).

Although I’m disappointed in both of these developments, it would be nice if the media would focus on the substance of these two candidates rather than constantly suggesting a Mormon phantom menace lurks behind these two campaigns. But I know that’s too much to hope for.

Rep. Matheson can be pro-life

It’s good to see that Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah voted in opposition of taxpayer funding of abortion today. Too bad he didn’t vote that way in February with regards to Planned Parenthood. But it’s progress.

(Yes, it can be argued around, but funding the world’s largest abortion provider with hundreds of millions of dollars for “other” reproductive health services is like giving a gambler grocery money for his family so his own cash is freed up for use at the casino.)

UPDATE: More on today’s vote:

The passage of H.R. 3 is an important priority for the right-to-life movement. There is a fairly broad consensus among social scientists and public-health scholars that public funding restrictions are the best legislative tool that pro-lifers have to stop abortion. The reason for this is that these restrictions are largely self-enforcing. Other types of pro-life laws — including waiting periods, parental-involvement laws, and informed-consent laws — effectively require abortion providers to police themselves. Indeed, a 2009 Guttmacher Institute literature review found that 20 of 24 peer-reviewed studies demonstrated that public-funding restrictions led to abortion rate declines.