Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Iron Lady and the Future Course of America

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) was interviewed yesterday on a radio show. He was asked if "he had a horse" in the Republican field for the nomination. His response was classic:

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)
At this point…I haven’t endorsed anyone, but if there were such a thing as an anti-endorsement I’d be tempted to bring out an anti-endorsement against Newt Gingrich. I’ve been appalled with the fact that he has, in effect, attacked other candidates, particularly Mitt Romney, based on the fact that he’s a capitalist, based on the fact that he’s been successful. He tried to pit one group of Americans against another and become a divider, much like our President is doing. It almost has a class warfare feel to it. And that doesn’t sit well with conservatives, or Republicans in general, and I don’t think it is going to work.

When I read that this morning, it caused several responses within me.

First, it resonated with the way I've been feeling lately as I have watched the circular firing squad these candidates seem to face every time they get together. We have a strange and elongated process to select a new president in this country, don't we? In this last debate Rick Santorum wisely tried to put an end to it and asked for a concession from both sides that Newt is a lifer politician and Romney has been very successful financially in the private sector (confirmed for all to see by the release of his 2010 tax returns - all 550 pages worth). "Let's move on," he intoned. At one point Newt even asked for a "truce," after Romney exposed him yet again for his outrageous attack on Romney as "anti-immigration." 

The attacks between the candidates against each other have been withering. Some say it's good to prolong the debates, extend the nominating process, fully vet the candidates. And ironically, who is it that's calling for support for Newt the most loudly? None other than perhaps the least vetted Vice-Presidential candidate in modern history, Sarah Palin. 

When I hear her whiney voice as a Fox News "analyst," I honestly have to ask, "Is anyone listening to her anymore?" Really? Who cares what she thinks? The world today has an ample supply of cable news network "contributors" in the punditocracy without Sarah Palin. I never knew there were so many "strategists" for both sides. The only voices I'm listening to are the people who have the guts to climb into the arena and get bloodied. Palin is certainly NOT one of those people, who is now living comfortably on her John McCain-bestowed celebrity. Gingrich has her and John King to thank for his hollow victory in South Carolina, pure and simple. He capitalized on one shining debate moment and knocked it out of the park.

Second, I went to see "The Iron Lady" last night because I wanted to be reminded once again about how ironic and unfortunate it seems to me that America has repeated the same mistakes Great Britain made during the last century in going down the path of socialism. 

Margaret Thatcher
I was not disappointed. Meryl Streep did a phenomenal turn as Margaret Thatcher, who is still living in her 87th year. The film for me was like reliving history. When she began her political career, she had visited America and drew inspiration from what she learned here. "They are unafraid, they look to the future, they take bold and decisive action," was the essence of her take-away revelation, and it propelled her into leadership of the Conservative Party, and eventually into an 11 1/2-year residency at Number 10 Downing Street as the longest-tenured 20th century Prime Minister of Great Britain. 

Thatcher had to overturn decades of Labor Party rule in England that had stifled economic growth through the implementation of all the socialist ideals, including national health care. She countered by privatizing everything, deregulated industries, restored confidence by taking back the Falkland Islands from the naked aggression of terrorist elements in Argentina, when England could least afford it, then presided over a sustained return to capitalism that inspired a nation. Thatcher stood on principle, politics be damned. I'd vote for her steely resolve in a New York minute if she were running today.

The themes of the movie last night were an eerie echo of the debates and stump speeches we are hearing daily in America from both sides. We would do well to pay attention to those who would propose turning our backs once and for all on socialism. It is the only way we will survive, as Thatcher's England once learned by their sad experiment with socialism in the last century. Socialism was not the road to prosperity then, and it certainly is not the right road today.

Third, this election in 2012 is going to easily become the most intense and hotly contested in our nation's history. There are a number of good reasons why this will be so, not the least of which is a polarized cable news community, to say nothing of what used to be a believable journalistic profession that is filled now with little more than political prostitutes from both sides. Never forget they are entertainers first and foremost, and the more they can keep the boiling pot stirred and bubbling the higher their ratings. The voices are shrill and piercing every day. "Fair and balanced" news reporting in this country is a populist myth. It seems everyone has picked a position and is defending it vociferously. No one seems to listen to anyone else. 

It may not be overstating it to say this election will be the most important we have ever seen in our lifetimes. Why? Because the outcome will determine many things, not the least of which will be to settle the argument about whether socialism can be put behind us and trampled under the feet of freedom now on the march. Obama, instead of being interested in engaging in constructive dialogue with his opponents on the other side, is more entrenched and isolated than ever before, more hardened, more repetitive, tone deaf and more certain he is right than ever before. His SOTU address the other night was pathetic if you measure it by his unwillingness to acknowledge the hard realities of his debt and deficit proliferation in the name of social re-engineering. No mention of the first-ever downgrade to the U.S. bond rating in history, nor a viable plan to reverse course against the profligate spending and deficit binge. Unthinkable. 

Again, I am amazed we have even flirted with the idea of socialism as long as we have. There has been a steady erosion of freedom and self-determination for decades in this country. Gradually yet persistently, since the Great Depression, the social safety net has been built. Both parties have contributed to its creation. Now both sides must admit their errors of the past and begin quickly to dismantle their Frankenstein, if it takes repetitive election cycles to ensure it. 

I was perusing some pamphlets my father gave me recently to read when Medicare was first introduced in the sixties. He was in hospital administration back in the day, and gave speeches in which he frankly admitted no one knew where it was headed. With the advantage of hindsight in 2012 we may now know for ourselves where it was headed back then - into oblivion and bankruptcy if we don't arrest the escalating cost trends. It may have been LBJ's inspiration as part of his "Great Society" initiatives, but the Republicans back then went along because their constituents demanded it. So, please stop the finger pointing.

Surprising to me, an overwhelming majority of Utahns (2/3) favored national health insurance, when asked whether they supported it in some polling data contained in the reports I reviewed. The only holdouts were the residents of Utah County, home to Church-owned BYU, who opposed a national plan. It seems the more things change, the more they remain the same. 

You can make the argument our politicians from either side today cannot seem to draw a bright line between themselves on these issues, and perhaps you would be right in almost every particular. I have said repeatedly I do not believe much distinction can be found anymore between traditional Republicans and Democrats. 

But this year the contrasts must be made with bold strokes and clear bright yellow lines. We are in danger of collapse financially as nation, and the perils of continuing down this path toward self-destruction are real. Our military leaders are confirming our biggest security threat as a nation today has nothing to do with our enemies abroad. They say it is the size of our national debt and deficits. 

You can point to politicians on both side and find ample justification for your angst. The point is we put them into the positions where they are, including Barack Obama. We have self-inflicted wounds that will take years to heal, and we must begin applying the "hard medicine" prescribed by Margaret Thatcher to make a beginning or we are doomed to failure. And that must not happen in the world if freedom is to survive.

Fourth, there is no evidence yet to suggest we can identify one single "white knight candidate" who will cure all our ills. Once America awakens from its long sleepy drift down the road toward socialism, and I think the awakening began in the elections of 2010, we may have a chance to make the course corrections needed to turn things around again, but we must act now. 

While no one person can do it - it would be fool-hearty to suggest that the "only one person" might be Mitt Romney, the turn-around specialist of Bain Capital and the 2002 Winter Olympics - nevertheless we must pick a leader who can and must bring together the disparate stakeholders and begin again to restore America's founding principles of self-reliance, capitalism and self-determination under the banner of freedom, not more taxation, class distinction, class envy and burdensome regulation. Study Margaret Thatcher for the role model we must seek in leadership. 

At this point in the election cycle I am convinced beyond any doubt that "only one person" is NOT Barack Obama. 

We must turn our attention first and foremost to the make-up of the next Senate. There is a chance that enough conservative thinkers like Mike Lee and Rand Paul can be elected to give new hope to legislation that would arrest our profligate tendencies for fiscal recklessness. 

The House is where spending bills originate, and there are enough there from the gains of the 2010 election to at least halt the speeding train since then, but now the job must be to put like-minded people in the Senate in 2012. That's why I say "only one person" cannot do it alone. I'd like to think Mitt Romney could be the leader to help put all the pieces together, but it may still be too early to make the determination whether the nation has the will to line up behind his leadership. With 33 new conservative senators in this election whose seats are up for grabs, we might have a fighting chance together to reverse course.

President Ezra Taft Benson
Fifth, and finally, there are ample lessons about our present condition in The Book of Mormon. Let me cite but a few, beginning with President Ezra Taft Benson:

The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior’s visit reveals many parallels to our own day as we anticipate the Savior’s second coming. The Nephite civilization had reached great heights. They were prosperous and industrious. They had built many cities with great highways connecting them. They engaged in shipping and trade. They built temples and palaces.
But, as so often happens, the people rejected the Lord. Pride became commonplace. Dishonesty and immorality were widespread. Secret combinations flourished because, as Helaman tells us, the Gadianton robbers “had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils” (Helaman 6:38). “The people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning” (3 Nephi 6:12). And “Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world,” even as today (3 Nephi 6:15).
Mormon noted that the Nephites “did not sin ignorantly, for they knew the will of God concerning them” (3 Nephi 6:18).
There were but few righteous among them (see 3 Nephi 6:14). Nephi led the Church with great power and performed many miracles, yet “there were but few who were converted unto the Lord” (3 Nephi 6:21). The people as a whole rejected the Lord. They stoned the prophets and persecuted those who sought to follow Christ. (Ensign, May 1987, 4).

There are three familiar "break-ups" that occur in the historical record. First, "there became a great inequality in all the land, insomuch that the church began to be broken up." (3 Nephi 6:14). Second, "the people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another into tribes, every man according to his family and his kindred and friends; and thus they did destroy the government of the land." (3 Nephi 7:2). And finally, just before Christ comes among the Nephites, "the face of the whole earth became deformed, because of the tempests and the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the quaking of the earth." (See 3 Nephi 8:4-20).

You can make your own judgments about where we might be on the timeline as we move toward the Second Coming, but certainly the earmarks described in the Nephite record are hauntingly familiar, aren't they? It may well be the case that we have reached a point of no return as the "America in decline" buzz continues unabated in some circles, but I'd like to think there is still hope. The hope lies in repentance, as summarized by Mormon's final appeal to those who would receive the record of The Book of Mormon in these latter days:

And then, O ye Gentiles, how can ye stand before the power of God, except ye shall repent and turn from your evil ways?
Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God? Know ye not that he hath all power, and at his great command the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll?
Therefore, repent ye, and humble yourselves before him, lest he shall come out in justice against you — lest a remnant of the seed of Jacob shall go forth among you as a lion, and tear you in pieces, and there is none to deliver. (Mormon 5:22-24).

Mormon writes to his son near the end of the record:

My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever.

And may the grace of God the Father, whose throne is high in the heavens, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who sitteth on the right hand of his power, until all things shall become subject unto him, be, and abide with you forever. Amen. (Moroni 9:25-26).

When we repent, mercy is immediately extended. Let us claim mercy, and may we never be past the need to feel after it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Greatest President of the Twentieth Century?

If you were to assume Newt Gingrich's choice as the best president of the twentieth century was Ronald Reagan, maybe even his favorite president of all-time, you would make a logical conclusion based upon all the mentions he's been giving in this campaign cycle to curry favor with Reagan conservatives.

But, you would be wrong. Newt Gingrich's very favorite president "maybe of all time" was (wait for it, drum roll please). . .

So I guess everybody gets to play the flip flop game these days with impunity.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Same Old Same Old SOTU Rhetoric

Talk about a broken record in an empty suit with seemingly no awareness that he's said the same thing over and over again without effect! This short video from the RNC (boy, they were fast getting this up) capsulizes what happened in this year's SOTU, compared with the same old stuff he's said before.

It's stunning how consistent Obama is in thinking Americans are totally mesmerized (they're not) by his stunning delivery of a speech. He demonstrates again how repetition from him seems to the polar opposite of inspiring conviction. Nobody's listening anymore. And no wonder why:

The failure of this presidency to address reality boggles the mind. We don't need a cheerleader in chief. What we need is a fixer with a Congress at his side who can get the nation moving again. As long as Obama is involved in his perpetual campaign mode instead of being focused on governing and bringing the disparate parties together, he will never become a successful leader. If we can only survive the summer and fall until an acceptable replacement can be found.

By the way, thanks for concluding with the reminder of your love for Seal Team 6 and your blood lust for killing bin Laden. Whoda thunk an appeaser and a pacifist could be such a lethal killer at heart, especially all that tough talk aimed at Iran and backing up Israel the way you did tonight, conveniently forgetting how you threw Netanyahu under the bus last year with your royal snub by demanding a return to 1967 borders.

Mr. President, with respect, you are a real piece of work!

If only. . .

Monday, January 23, 2012

"I'd Vote for Obama No Matter What"

I am normally an optimist. I try to infuse positive thinking into these pages, and not to be the purveyor of doom and gloom. There are enough of those folks out there in politics and the "blogosphere" without adding fuel to a raging bonfire.

But, no kidding, I heard a voter in New York interviewed on the street last week, and that's exactly what she said. For every intelligent person out there, I wonder if there isn't someone else who totally cancels out their vote. Very disheartening. Why? Because there are some cold hard facts associated with this president that are just difficult to ignore, even if you aren't the brightest bulb in the closet.

Joseph Curl
This article appeared yesterday in the Washington Times. This is Joseph Curl's list. I heard about it on the radio earlier today, and looked it up when I returned home tonight. I read this, and then I asked myself, "Who are those people out there who would actually cast a vote for Obama, no matter what?" They are likely the people who would kill the messenger, rather than question Obama's message.

I know the state of the Union is currently "dismal," as Curl suggests in today's article, and I know it's complicated, and I get really tired of people who blame the president for everything that's wrong under the sun; but seriously folks, what president in his right mind would proudly boast of this record and ask Americans for a second four-year term? This president has NOT submitted a budget to Congress, nor has Congress passed a budget for over 1,000 days now. Such dereliction of duty would have once been considered an impeachable offense. For heaven's sake, Congress impeached Bill Clinton for a semen-stained blue dress!!

It used to be "the economy, stupid," and it's what unseated the first Bush presidency and put Clinton in the White House. Now I wonder if even that stratagem resonates anymore with people. Here's the deal - the entitlement nanny state is where we now reside.

Capitalism and free markets are virtually dead. The government has been enthroned as the solution to everything, it seems. And there are people out there who actually believe our socialist economy is more fair, provides a more level playing field, and that redistribution of income from the wealthy to the poor is desirable. They will tell interviewers it solves all our ills, which are routinely touted as the "nasty side-effects" of capitalism. So when Obama says he's going to "win the future" for all Americans in this campaign cycle, beware of how he applies words. What he means and what you think and hope he means are two very different ideas.

But I digress. Here's the record, and some would say Obama has been more successful in accomplishing his agenda than any other U.S. president in history. The real question remains - is that what we all wanted? If it is, vote for the man again. If you believe as I do the country is in need of a swift surgical correction in direction, then vote for someone else.

When Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) exited the presidential sweepstakes last week, he asked rhetorically, "Are you better off today than you were $4 Trillion ago?" I hope his question resonates, but I fear nobody really understands it. Some will say national debt and deficits really don't matter, while military leaders will tell you our staggering national debt is the biggest security threat we face today.

And notice, please, I make no mention here of the largest entitlement program in the history of the world, Obamacare, since the way it's being paid for resides in the borrowed public debt listed below:
  • The unemployment rate when Mr. Obama was elected was 6.8 percent; today it is 8.5 percent — at least that’s the official number. In reality, the Financial Times writes, “if the same number of people were seeking work today as in 2007, the jobless rate would be 11 percent.
  • There are now fewer payroll jobs in America than there were in 2000 — 12 years ago — and now, 40 percent of those jobs are considered “low paying,” up 10 percent from when President Reagan took office. The number of self-employed has dropped 2 million to 14.5 million in just six years.
  • Regular gasoline per gallon cost $1.68 in January 2009. Today, it’s $3.39 — that’s a 102 percent increase in just three years. (By the way, if you’re keeping score at home, gas was $1.40 a gallon when George W. Bush took office in 2001, $1.68 when he left office — a 20 percent increase.)
  • Electricity bills have also skyrocketed, with households now paying a record $1,420 annually on average, up some $300.
  • Some 48 percent of all Americans — 146.4 million — are considered by the Census Bureau either as “low-income” or living in poverty, up 4 million from when Mr. Obama took office; 57 percent of all children in America now live in such homes.
  • Since December 2008, a month before Mr. Obama took office, food-stamp use has increased 46 percent. Total spending has more than doubled in just four years to a record high of $75 billion. In 2011, more than 46 million people — about one in seven Americans — got food stamps. That’s 14 million more than when Mr. Obama took office.
  • Median household income has dropped nearly 7 percent in the last six years, taking inflation into account. What’s more, nearly 20 percent of males age 25 to 34 now live with their parents.
  • Low- and middle-income Americans 65 and older now hold more than $10,000 in credit card debt, up 26 percent since 2005. 
  • The average age of the American car is 10 years; in 1990, it was 6.5 years old (by the way, in 1985, Americans bought 11 million cars; in 2009, less than half that, 5.4 million).
  • On the macro side, America’s annual budget has jumped to $3.8 trillion — and yet the United States brings in only about $2.1 trillion in revenue. 
  • The U.S. trade deficit for 2011 was $558 billion. 
  • America’s total public debt stands at $15.23 trillion. 
  • In January 2009, the debt was $10.62 trillion. Mr. Obama is on pace to borrow $6.2 trillion in just one term — more debt than was amassed by all presidents from Washington through Bill Clinton combined. The debt is rising by $4.2 billion every day — $175 million per hour, nearly $3 million per minute. (See the attached debt clock at the top of this page). 
That's an abysmal record. We'll see, beginning with tonight's debate in Tampa, and forward to the election in the fall, who can best draw the distinctions between socialism and capitalism. Whoever that ends up being will have my vote.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

False Prophets Among Us

There is more evidence this morning of false prophets in the last days. Yesterday the following ad ran in several newspapers around the country. This is a familiar pattern in the discernment required by all true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon contains accounts of anti-Christs, and the earmarks of false religion always include those who would presume to speak for God. The attempts to create "revelations" can easily be discerned if one has the spirit of prophecy, or the "testimony of Jesus." (See Revelation 19:10).

Warren Jeffs, 56, remains behind bars in a Texas prison after he was convicted last August of assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15. His defense was he took them as celestial wives. The charges came after a massive 2008 raid on the sect’s remote Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas. Jeffs' defense these children were his brides, given to him by God, wasn't particularly useful to him. That defense was reminiscent of David Brian Mitchell, aka "Emmanuel," another false prophet who claimed the same thing when he snatched 14 year-old Elizabeth Smart for nine months and repeatedly raped and abused her. Smart, of course, became the poster child for kidnapped and abused children, and she became the ultimate survivor when she announced yesterday she is engaged to be married this summer. Good for Elizabeth.

Joseph Smith
When discerning between who might qualify as a true prophet, and who might be a false one, the words they speak and write are a fair test to apply. On this topic, Joseph Smith gives an unerring guide:

"My enemies say that I have been a true prophet. Why, I had rather be a fallen true prophet than a false prophet. When a man goes about prophesying, and commands men to obey his teachings, he must either be a true or false prophet. False prophets always arise to oppose the true prophets and they will prophesy so very near the truth that they will deceive almost the very chosen ones.

"The doctrine of eternal judgments belongs to the first principles of the Gospel, in the last days. In relation to the kingdom of God, the devil always sets up his kingdom at the very same time in opposition to God. Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council. It is the testimony that I want that I am God's servant, and this people His people. The ancient prophets declared that in the last days the God of heaven should set up a kingdom which should never be destroyed, nor left to other people; and the very time that was calculated on, this people were struggling to bring it out. He that arms himself with gun, sword, or pistol, except in the defense of truth, will sometime be sorry for it. I never carry any weapon with me bigger than my penknife. When I was dragged before the cannon and muskets in Missouri, I was unarmed. God will always protect me until my mission is fulfilled.

"I calculate to be one of the instruments of setting up the kingdom of Daniel by the word of the Lord, and I intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize the whole world. I once offered my life to the Missouri mob as a sacrifice for my people, and here I am. It will not be by sword or gun that this kingdom will roll on: the power of truth is such that all nations will be under the necessity of obeying the Gospel. The prediction is that army will be against army: it may be that the Saints will have to beat their ploughs into swords, for it will not do for men to sit down patiently and see their children destroyed." (TPJS, 365-366).

Such are the words of a true prophet. One of the acid tests is that they are not cowards who hide in shadows. Rather, they boldly declare the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ whom they serve, and offer themselves gladly for the truth when required. They do not fear death. They are not deceived, nor do they seek to compel others in any way to do anything by force or dictum. Years ago, I wrote extensively about the role of true prophets, including Jeremiah.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in a General Conference gave a stirring defense of  the Prophet Joseph Smith and offered into evidence the fact that he and his brother Hyrum willingly sacrificed themselves for their testimonies of the truth as they left home and family to give themselves up to certain death by their enemies in Carthage Jail.

Hugh Nibley offers these thoughts about recognizing the voice of a true prophet:

Hugh Nibley
"It was a test that few have ever passed: the humiliating test of recognizing a true prophet and taking instruction from the weak and humble things of the earth. Was the wondrous modern age of applied science that began in the nineteenth century to be excused from taking the same test of authority? Remember that the prophets of old came to generations that were very modern in their thinking, smart and sophisticated, advanced, liberated, intellectual; the Hellenistic world, if anything, surpassed our own in those qualities of social advancement." (Nibley, The World and The Prophets, [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1974], 7).

In the ancient and modern scriptures Babylon is referred to as a "whore." A whore is one who rejects her sacred opportunity to co-create life. She cannot obtain eternal lives except she repents and seeks it through righteous union with one God's sons. A "whore" in the scriptural equivalent uses her most sacred and eternal gifts to get worldly gain, to destroy others, and to create cults for personal, selfish power. She is the antithesis of Zion, the beautiful and pure bride of Christ. The examples abound, but one need look no further than Brian David Mitchell and Warren Jeffs for the example of a "whoring" misinterpretation of Zion.

Babylon is the moral equivalent of evil whoring for gain after other gods. In the scriptures we see references to false churches, the result of whoring originating with the "mother of abominations." (D&C 88:94).

When these abominations redefine the nature of Deity and the covenants, they often seek a redefinition of the divine role of motherhood. Joseph Smith referred to the teachings of a false prophet, a woman named Ann Lee, who taught, "You must forsake the marriage of the flesh or you cannot be married to the lamb, or have any share in the resurrection of Christ." She abominably concluded, "Those who are counted worthy to have any part in the resurrection of Christ neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like unto the angels."

Ann Lee was born in 1736, the daughter of a blacksmith. She married a blacksmith by whom she bore four children, who all died in infancy. At age twenty-two, Ann was converted by Jane Wardley and began to preach. Ann came to America in 1774, and from then until her death in 1784, she was able to found three Shaker communities. Joseph encountered the Shakers (see preface to D&C 49). She also taught the Second Coming had already occurred and Christ had come back as a woman named Ann Lee.

Conversely, there are those who have strayed beyond the authorized priesthood keys and still advocate plural wives. "More or less" is still abominable without priesthood authorization.

All false religions, false churches and false prophets will one day be revealed and we will exult, "She is fallen, is fallen!" (see D&C 88:105) when Babylon, the great whore of all the earth, finally expires. There are, of course, repetitive claims that Mormonism is a "cult," nothing more than resounding echoes from the "great and spacious building." (See 1 Nephi 11:18). Only truth can tamp it all down, and only those with "ears to hear" the truth can successfully discern the difference.

Sorry to get sidetracked on whores, but the contrast makes pure womanhood, as seen in the faces of my daughters, all the more delightful. The whore today comes in many guises and disguises. She can be alluring on the surface, but certainly there can be no lasting depth in believing a false premise upon which they are all founded. There is an Eternal Father in Heaven who has given revelation and pointed the way back home.

The test of this mortal life is to find Him and Christ crucified in spite of the demons of hell who abound to deceive us and point us in the opposite direction.

Sign on a gas pump in South Carolina
Nowhere can false prophets be more easily discerned than in the political arena. Without naming names, okay, I will -- Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich -- there is a clear cut choice on moral issues. Beware of all the siren voices in election season who are not anchored in moral and ethical principles. An admitted serial adulterer who excoriates the national media in a stirring bombastic display of righteous indignation to open a presidential debate, while interesting (and I admit I loved it too), should still rightfully have to answer the character question of moral turpitude befitting a potential presidential nominee. Can you say "presidential temperament?" Ironically, when you watch the primary results stream in, betcha the evangelical Christians back Gingrich big time instead of the three moral marriage candidates, Romney, Santorum and Paul. The world as we know it is upside down in South Carolina.

Despite what others may say about it, character still matters in national politics. At least it always has historically. One smack down of the national media in a presidential debate does not a lifetime of disciplined moral turpitude make. In discerning truth from error do not dismiss the making and keeping of marital covenants, even if the world dismisses the making and keeping of covenants out of hand. If a man will lie to his wife to cover his own secret gratification, particularly when he is publicly excoriating Bill Clinton who was accused at the very same time of an affair with Monica Lewinsky, he will undoubtedly lie to everyone else.

But, you would argue, there is such a thing as repentance. Of course there is, but can you discern sincerity?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Presidential Approval Index - Obama at -20

Today, Scott Rasmussen breaks it all down in the race for the White House, Monday, January 16, 2012:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 21% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty-one percent (41%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -20 (see trends).
In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney leads by eight in South Carolinaand by a wide margin in Florida. President Obama currently leads Congressman Ron Paul by six and Romney by three in hypothetical 2012 matchups.
The Presidential Approval Index is calculated by subtracting the number who Strongly Disapprove from the number who Strongly Approve. It is updated daily at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily e-mail update). Updates are also available on Twitter and Facebook.
Overall, 45% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president's job performance. Fifty-four percent (54%) at least somewhat disapprove.
Thirty-two percent (32%) of Likely U.S. Voters will get most of their political news in 2012 from cable television, while 24% will primarily rely on the Internet and 22% on traditional TV network news. Additionally, 25% now routinely get news and political updates on their phone or some other portable device. That’s up from 19% in 2010.

Rasmussen's poll results are interesting, because they are very consistent with the analysis of Larry Sabato and others who maintain that about 20% of the electorate can be counted on to vote for Obama, "no matter what." They are solid liberal voters who have historically voted the same way and will never change. About 40% of conservative Republicans will always vote the same way, and cannot be appealed to. That leaves the other 40% in the moderate category, neither strongly Democrat or Republican. It's that 40% in the middle who constantly make or break presidential campaigns.

There is little doubt remaining that Mitt Romney will be the presumptive Republican nominee coming out of South Carolina and Florida, where he now holds commanding leads in both states. Rasmussen says he's up in South Carolina by 8% over Gingrich, but the Weekly Standard says the margin is 11% and Reuters has him up by as much as 21%. Take your pick, he's up across the boards. If he pulls off those victories in succession, on the heels of his narrow margin in Iowa and a wide margin in New Hampshire, there will be no stopping the express train after that as he rolls on across the country to the presumptive nomination.

Jon Huntsman will announce today that he is dropping out and will support Mitt Romney. No one is sure at this point whether that endorsement will help or hurt Romney, but it winnows the field. The three remaining "social conservatives" if that's what they are - Santorum, Perry and Gingrich - will continue to split the votes among themselves, and Ron Paul has a growing and loyal constituency representing what the future may portend. As the oldest candidate in the race (78), it's amazing that he attracting the youth protest vote in record numbers. They seem to like his anti-establishment message a lot. Why? I watched some of them being interviewed last night, and they know he won't send them to war for one thing and he'll do everything he can to arrest the profligate spending that is threatening the value of our currency. Paul won't win the nomination, but solid support for his libertarian message will represent a meaningful voice at the nominating convention and beyond. I believe that is a healthy trend in the right direction.

The only foreseeable threat on the horizon for Romney may be the possibility of a third-party candidacy. Such a threat may be muted, however, by the need of most in the electorate to overthrow the Obama "regime."

All the pundits in the world notwithstanding, Mitt Romney is increasingly seen by the electorate (watch the Rasmussen video on his website) as the only candidate in the field who can stop Barack Obama, and that seems to be far and away the most important factor in breaking down the electorate, many of whom feel as though they were hoodwinked by Obama in 2008. That question about electability seems paramount, and yields 43% of voters in South Carolina who think Romney is the guy to beat Obama. The level of dismay with Obama is seen reflected in the latest Rasmussen poll.

That said, "stuff" happens that no one can predict and there are still ten months to go before the general election, and it's always tough to beat a sitting president.

Romney's up by 22% in the latest Florida polling.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Our Agency, God's Foreknowledge and Omniscience

Beginning January 1st, I undertook another reading of The Book of Mormon from cover to cover. This morning I finished Helaman. I am reading from a worn copy of the original edition. The old Reorganized Church publishes it, and it can be obtained at Deseret Book if you're inclined to follow my lead.

The reason I love reading from the original text is that it reads like a long novel. There are very few chapter breaks, no verses, no footnotes and the typesetter at Grandin Press in Palmyra was the one who provided what punctuation there is. Many, many misspelled words can be observed in the original, grammatical errors and long run-on sentences abound. The familiar words flow freely, however, tumbling off the pages into one's brain with ease. The long narration flows as it fell originally from the lips of the Prophet Joseph Smith onto the transcript pages written primarily by Oliver Cowdery. You can almost sense those two at work in the room with you as you read. Here's but one example:

"And the angel of the Lord said unto me, Thou hast beheld that the Book proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew, it contained the plainness of the Gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; and they bear record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God; wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity, unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God; and after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles; behold, after this, thou seest the foundation of a great and abominable church, which is the most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the Gospel of the Lamb, many parts which are plain and most precious; and also, many Covenants of the Lord have they taken away; and all this have they done, that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord; that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, thou seest that after the Book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the Book, which is the Book of the Lamb of God; and after that these plain and precious things were taken away, it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity; and thou seest because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the Book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God; and because of these things which are taken away out of the Gospel of the Lamb, an exceeding great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them; nevertheless, thou beholdest that the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, and have been lifted up by the power of God above all other nations upon the face of the land, which is choice above all other lands, which is the land which the Lord God hath covenanted with thy father, that his seed should have, for the land of their inheritance; wherefore, thou seest that the Lord God will not suffer that the Gentiles will utterly destroy the mixture of thy seed, which is among thy brethren; neither will he suffer that the Gentiles shall destroy the seed of thy brethren; neither will the Lord God suffer that the Gentiles shall forever remain in that state of awful woundedness which thou beholdest that they are in, because of the plain and most precious parts of the Gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, whose formation thou hast seen; wherefore, saith the Lamb of God, I will be merciful unto the Gentiles, unto the visiting of the remnant of the House of Israel in great judgment."

One long paragraph, and all one long sentence. That's the way 1 Nephi 13:24-33 was rendered in the original edition. The careful student when comparing today's version with the original will see a host of changes in capitalization, grammar, punctuation, even in the wording. So the next time you are tempted to tell a non-member investigator there are very few changes from the original text into today's version, be careful and hold your tongue. I wish I had a dime for every time I'd said that as a young missionary before I actually made the side-by-side comparison.

I may have come to a point in my life now where I prefer reading the original version more, for all the reasons stated above and more. Critics of the book will tell you they are skeptical because surely God could render a perfect translation in perfect prose and punctuation with grammatically sound language construction. However, I counter the original text gives authenticity to the story of its origins.

It came through an unlearned boy, and the imperfections in syntax, grammar and the total lack of punctuation is precise and compelling evidence that God used weak men to translate the dictated record and write it all down with a quill pen on scraps of paper. The flaws are those of men (including the type setter and the printer) as well as the translator and the scribe. That we have the record at all is a miracle because of the painstaking ancient engraving on plates of gold, the careful custody, and the generations of preservation. That we have it as nearly perfected today as it can be despite the errors of men is practically unthinkable. To say Joseph Smith produced it on his own, given the accounts of how it came forth, is impossible.

Reading the original text is a thrilling periodic interlude to other readings of the book in the modern edition. The "voices" of the various authors compiled and abridged by Mormon are distinct and easily discerned. There is little to impede a rapid read through the contents. Even Isaiah flows easily and fluidly in the original, rather than being so "difficult" in editions where it is highlighted and stands segregated from the rest of the text, giving rise to the normal sighs of agony for readers who encounter the usual barriers in their minds about how hard he is to understand.

I've had reinforced again how many times the words "eternal life" pop out at me, and how consistently the phrase is synonomous with "saved" and "salvation."

This additional observation: Not all the pages of The Book of Mormon are "doctrinally drenched," as Elder Neal A. Maxwell used to say. In truth, my least favorite part in the book is the war chapters at the end of Alma. Not much doctrine there.

One of the pleasant remembrances this time through is the recurring reality of the existence of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. It is Jacob, younger brother of Nephi, who first introduces us to the title "Christ" in the book. (See Jacob 1:4). Prior to that reference, other titles like Redeemer, Messiah, and Savior are used by Nephi. There is nothing more basic in their writings than this: God is omniscient. "O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it." (2 Nephi 9:20).

We often accept this simple truth on its face without thinking through the implications, however. It is fundamental to our understanding of God and how He intersects in our lives through His foreknowledge and our foreordination to certain gifts and mortal missions. Because His love for us individually and collectively is ever-present and never-ending, our growth, purification and sanctification would not be possible absent His omniscience about the atoning sacrifice of His Son. How could He succor us without knowing the eventual outcome in our struggles, and how could we petition for His help and sustaining influence if we did not believe He would understand, lead and guide us to the finish line?

Joseph Smith
The Prophet Joseph Smith in his Lectures on Faith stated God is perfect in the attributes of divinity. A primal attribute He possesses in absolute perfection is knowledge. We learn, ". . . seeing that without the knowledge of all things, God would not be able to save any portion of his creatures; for it is by reason of the knowledge which he has of all things, from the beginning to the end, that enables him to give that understanding to his creatures by which they are made partakers of eternal life; and if it were not for the idea existing in the minds of men that God had all knowledge it would be impossible for them to exercise faith in him." (Lecture 4:11).

In another Lecture, Joseph Smith revealed, "God is the only supreme governor and independent being in whom all fullness and perfection dwell; who is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient." (Lecture 2:2).

Elder Marion D. Hanks
If the scriptures are true (and they are true), when we refer to the Son of God as "Alpha and Omega," a God who knows the end from the beginning, does that fact not presuppose He knows everything about the "in between" details too? I loved the phrase Elder Marion D. Hanks used, when he referred to our "muddling through the middle." That's where we are today, as individuals, as a nation that has lost its way momentarily, and as a world blinded by the abundant satanic influences surrounding and permeating mankind.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
I loved this observation by Elder Neal A. Maxwell, because nobody can say it quite as well as he: "Below the scripture that declares that God knows 'all things' there is no footnote reading 'except that God is a little weak in geophysics!' We do not worship a God who simply forecasts a generally greater frequency of earthquakes in the last days before the second coming of His Son; He knows precisely when and where all these will occur. God has even prophesied that the Mount of Olives will cleave in twain at a precise latter-day time as Israel is besieged. (Zechariah 14:4.)" (Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, 7).

Look at these samples from the scriptures, illustrating our Heavenly Father's omniscience (this is Elder Maxwell's list among many that could be compiled):

"The Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all." (1 Chronicles 28:9).

The Lord's "understanding is infinite." (Psalm 147:5).

"Now we are sure that thou knowest all things." (John 16:30).

"The Lord knoweth all things which are to come." (Words of Mormon 1:7).

Job asked, "Shall any teach God knowledge?" (Job 21:22).

Alma described God's "foreknowledge" of all things and said also that God "comprehendeth all things." (Alma 13:3; 26:35).

Helaman wrote, "Except he was a God he could not know of all things." (Helaman 9:41).

The Lord said He "knoweth all things, for all things are present" before Him. (D&C 38:2).

We read, too, that "all things are present with me, for I know them all." (Moses 1:6).

So in the momentary agony of our moments of doubt and fear, isn't it just possible we can each bend our will a little more to conform more fully with His? He will always bow beneath the rod of the moral agency we have been granted, but when we bow beneath the rod of our afflictions and our trials, sore as they may be, can we not believe He will be there to meet us, guide us and give us the inspiration needed in the moment to help us overcome.? Of course we can.

His knowing does not dictate nor undercut our doing. But in His knowing there can be revelation to inspire our doing.

There is a very real veil of forgetfulness between us and God. Elder Maxwell offers these insights about what may happen without that insulating veil:

"Without the veil, for instance, we would lose that precious insulation which keeps us from a profound and disabling homesickness that would interfere with our mortal probation and maturation. Without the veil, our brief, mortal walk in a darkening world would lose its meaning, for one would scarcely carry the flashlight of faith at noonday and in the presence of the Light of the world!

"Without the veil, we could not experience the gospel of work and the sweat of our brow. If we had the security of having already entered into God's rest, certain things would be unneeded; Adam and Eve did not carry social security cards in the Garden of Eden!

"And how could we learn about obedience if we were shielded from the consequences of our disobedience?

"Nor could we choose for ourselves in His holy presence among alternatives that do not there exist, for God's court is filled with those who have both chosen and overcome — whose company we do not yet deserve.

"Fortunately, the veil keeps the first, second, and third estates separate, hence our sense of separateness. The veil insures the avoidance of having things 'compound in one' — to our everlasting detriment. (2 Nephi 2:11.) We are cocooned, as it were, in order that we might truly choose. Once, long ago, we chose to come to this very setting where we could choose. It was an irrevocable choice! And the veil is the guarantor that that choice will be honored." (Ibid., 10-11).

Consider these facts in light of today's political situation in America and elsewhere. God, knowing the agency of His children would be abused, made provision for wrong choices. It's called repentance. When we err in selecting leaders to lead us who trample on the God-given principles of the Constitution, He makes ample provision for changing those leaders every two years in free and open elections. We are governed by our Creed that the gifts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness come from the Divine Providence of an all-wise Heavenly Father.

Elder Orson Hyde
God in His omniscience foresaw and prophesied the establishment of America as a nation, then the state of Israel. There can be little doubt in both cases, these bastions of freedom, one on this side of the world and the other in a different hemisphere, that their founding was at the very least "remarkable," at most "improbable." In the United Nations Security Council vote, both the United States and the former Soviet Union joined together to make the outcome of Israel's birth a reality. Soon thereafter a wave of immigration to the new nation-state followed and the Jews literally returned to the Holy Land and have made it blossom as a rose, all in fulfillment of ancient Biblical and modern prophecy, including Orson Hyde's inspired dedicatory prayer given on the Mount of Olives in the early days of this dispensation.

Daily we are bombarded with the predictions of wars and rumors of wars. There are only two possible choices historically for rebirthing a nation as drenched in debt as the United States: War or depression, and neither is pleasant nor desirable. Before the Second Coming we will undoubtedly experience both. But all of it is foretold by the omniscience of God through the inspired prophet-authors who have preserved His words. There are chilling prophecies about events yet ahead in the Middle East. (See Zechariah 14:2; Revelation 11).

Only a God who knows all things could make provisions for His children so His plan is not thwarted. He knew His Son would not buckle under the weight He bore in Gethsemane. The operative atoning sacrifice was accomplished. Because He knew, sin and death are conquered in accordance with His plan.

He needed to know the 116 pages of translation would be lost through the carelessness of Martin Harris and his wife. He made provisions for "these plates" (Nephi's small plates) to be preserved as an alternative. The charge given by fathers to sons who inherited the record is repeated again and again, "Take good care of these plates and see that they are preserved for a wise purpose known only to God."

Because He knows "all things," God can plan and make ample provisions so all His purposes are fulfilled. In July, 1828, He told Joseph Smith, "The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught." (D&C 3:1). However, in His knowing He does not compromise our individual moral agency. We cause the decisions of our lives, not Him. We can access His knowledge in varying degrees as we humble ourselves and take counsel from His hands (see Jacob 4:10), but we must decide and act, not Him. He merely knows the outcomes of our choices before we do. In that way He makes provision for all His children, and more particularly for His obedient and faithful children who eventually inherit eternal life. How many will eventually inherit the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom? He already knows,  but permits us to choose our own outcomes.

Whenever I raise this topic, some friends and family are troubled by the implications of the omniscience and foreknowledge of God. They assert incorrectly His knowing constricts our invididual choices and moral agency. How is it, they wonder, that God knows perfectly, but we don't. They, in effect, are telling me their view of this doctrine is better than God's.

I wonder how some can conclude that having spent billions of years (2.555 billion, according to Joseph Smith) in His presence in premortal worlds, where He has observed us, our personality traits, patterns of behavior, habits, tendencies, strengths and weaknesses wouldn't give God a perfect understanding of what we would do under a given set of circumstances - those very circumstances He already knows in advance. Our finite pea-sized brains can't possibly work out the calculus needed to compute all those outcomes, but His can. And once again, His knowing it all in advance has nothing to do with our doing it!

Ever to be emphasized, however, is the reality that God's "seeing" is not the same thing as His "causing" something to happen.

In this presidential election year, imagine the depth and breadth of His knowledge. He absolutely knows every voter in America. He knows right now, today, which candidate will win the Republican nomimation and He knows who will win the White House, every seat in Congress, and who the next dogcatcher in Timbuktu County will be.

But you still have to go to the polling booth and make your choice.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Political Quote of the Day

John R. Bolton
Anyone who is a careful observer of President Obama knows of his proclivity for verbosity and hyperbole. (He likes to give speeches, and lots of them). That's why this quote struck me when I read it today.

John Bolton, career diplomat in several Republican administrations (and a Newt Gingrich favorite) was interviewed yesterday about his endorsement of Mitt Romney. Jennifer Rubin, writing in her blog post at the Washington Post today, provides us with today's quote from John Bolton:

Bolton also told me about what voters should look for in a presidential candidate, basing his opinions on his years in government. “For judges, we talk about judicial temperament. For this, [Romney] has executive branch temperament and what you need in a crisis.” It is that lack of executive experience and temperament, Bolton said, that is so troubling in Obama. “Obama thinks being president consists of giving speeches.” But, Bolton said, what is critical is some broader executive experience as a governor, senior federal official or in the private sector. “It means starting at ‘A’ and getting to ‘B,’ ” he told me. He joked that that doesn’t mean “saying I want to get from A to B. That’s a speech.”

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dan Liljenquist Announces Candidacy Against Senator Orrin Hatch

Dan Liljenquist, Republican challenger to Orrin Hatch
This past week brought a long-anticipated announcement that former Republican Senator in the Utah Senate, Dan Liljenquist, would run for the U.S. Senate in Utah, challenging the aged one, six-term Senator Orrin Hatch, who will be 78 years old on election day 2012.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
For 36 years, almost half his life, Hatch has represented Utah. I am personally grateful for his service (more on that later), but enough is enough.

It's just the kind of David vs. Goliath political match-up needed to tantalize the voters and should assure a large turnout for the Utah caucuses coming up on March 15, 2012. Liljenquist, 37, similarly youthful as Senator Mike Lee, has won the hearts and minds of tea party groups who are disenchanted with Hatch. The reason they are excited about Dan's candidacy is they notched a victory in knocking off Bob Bennett two years ago, and now hope an encore performance may be in the wings for retiring Hatch. I have said before I do not believe all the hype that the tea party was solely responsible for Bennett's defeat, because I believe other moderates like me had a hand in it, but a victory is a victory no matter who takes credit for it.

Liljenquist stated, when he announced he was resigning his local senate seat to challenge Hatch, he would focus his campaign on reducing the nation's debt. He said Washington is broken and that some GOP lawmakers share in the blame. Hatch, of course, would counter he wants to do the same. His record says otherwise, however, despite his efforts to sponsor a balanced budget amendment on several occasions in the past. Hatch's long voting record includes support for TARP, which he later admitted he regretted when he sensed he had angered conservatives.

Dan Liljenquist is a name most Utahns have never heard before, but he has received national recognition for his work to overhaul Medicaid and the state's pension system for public employees, two critical and demanding issues begging for solutions. "Even counting for inflation, 36 years is enough," Liljenquist said Wednesday in announcing his candidacy for U.S. Senate. "Service in Congress was never meant to be a lifetime appointment. In the the military there's an adage that says, 'Be brief, be brilliant and be gone.'"

Hatch will say he is "not Bob Bennett." He's been quietly offering cash to potential state delegates to work for his campaign, up to $2500 per month. It's perfectly legal, just unsavory because it smacks of buying delegate votes. A good question to ask those who support Hatch at the caucuses would be, "How much is his campaign paying you to run as a delegate to the state convention?" He's done an unprecedented outreach to conservative groups like the tea party activists to assure them of his conservative credentials. Knowing how to organize is the main strength of his long-time friend and campaign manager, former state Republican party chairman, Dave Hansen. But all of it will not be enough this time around.

I have no argument with Hatch's conservative creds. My problem is his age. It's simply time for him to turn the page and retire. If he can't seem to make that decision on his own, it is my wish to get re-elected as a state delegate from my precinct and help him find the exit door.

Hatch's campaign war chest is even larger than Bennett's. He has more than $4 million in the bank based upon his latest filings. Other potential challengers, Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz and Democratic Representative Jim Matheson, both avoided a head-to-head battle with Hatch and decided to keep their powder dry in Congress, rather than to challenge him.

Liljenquist will have to embrace the help of conservative groups with strong ties to the tea party. FreedomWorks hinted last month it will support the Liljenquist bid, when it named him the organization's "legislative entrepreneur of the year."

In my estimation Hatch is making the same calculated error in judgment that Bennett did last year. Historically, I have not had issues with either of their conservative stripes. They are both "conservative enough" for my taste. I voted three times in the past for Bennett, then backed Mike Lee. This cycle I've voted six times in the past for Hatch, and this time I will back Dan Liljenquist, with the possible proviso that I will reserve an "endorsement" if someone else I like better enters the race.

Chris Herrod
Utah State Representative Chris Herrod announced yesterday he would run also, but he's not going to get as much traction as Liljenquist in my opinion. The danger at convention is they might split the vote in preventing Hatch from getting 60% of the vote out of convention and avoiding a primary. On the other hand, they could combine against Hatch, eliminate him as happened last time with Bennett and set up a primary between the two of them. The politics of our two former Utah senators are not the problem with me as much as their audacity to think they are irreplaceable. In Hatch's case, his certainty approaches infinity.

I have personal affection for Senator Hatch, because he advocated for me and my colleagues through a legislative fight on Capitol Hill he believed in and helped us win. I'll spare you all the details, but in an act of defiance against a piece of ill-conceived legislation requiring a 100% excise tax on charity-owned life insurance, he took on Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and personally walked a "colloquy" I had written in support of our position onto the Senate floor at 1:30 a.m. in the morning and had it entered into the Congressional record. But for his heroics on our behalf, a bad proposal by Grassley's chief of staff would undoubtedly have been passed into law.

So my problem, once again, is not about Hatch personally or politically. It is simply his age and longevity. In my presence on one of many trips to Washington, I heard him say he was going after Strom Thurmond's record for longevity in the U.S. Senate, a dubious reason to stand for re-election in my heart and mind (and that was the last time he ran, not this cycle). Actually, Byrd and Inouye served longer than Thurmond, but at the time he was the longest-tenured. By re-electing Hatch for a seventh term, Utahns would place Hatch high up in the rankings of longest serving senators, making him 84 years old at the end of his next term. For me that's just a bridge too far.

Like the aging prize fighter who thinks he can get keep getting back into the ring for one more big pay day, Bennett and now Hatch seem to lack the grace and good judgment to read the tea leaves (pun intentional), stand aside and make way for the younger generation. They both believed in their hearts they were indispensable to the citizens of Utah, the nation and the world. You can add the universe too if you like.

Between now and the March 15th caucus night in Utah you will hear that Hatch's experience and his pending (assuming Republican control of the Senate can be achieved) chairmanship in the Senate Finance Committee will be needed to get America back on track and that no one else is as well-equipped to get the job done as Orrin Hatch. The same argument was made for Bennett, who had only served half as long (three terms and eighteen years) as Hatch. The irony is that Hatch unseated Frank Moss to win his seat originally, saying no one should become a career politician. Setting the agenda in even a powerful committee is not as "powerful" as one might suppose. Each senator, after all is said and done, has only one vote to cast on every single measure that comes before him/her. And the argument that this is no time for "rookies" flies in the face of not understanding the upheaval that will almost certainly carry over from the 2010 uprising across America. In my judgment this is the perfect time for rookies, as many of the old guard in both houses of Congress voluntarily made a decision to bow out, take their campaign war chests with them and return home before they lost. But not Hatch. Damn the torpedoes, he would say, and full steam ahead to victory!

In this presidential election year nationwide the ballots cast for POTUS will not be as important as the ones cast for the 33 Senate seats in play. If the majority of those seats can be won by conservative Republicans who can gain control of the Senate and remove the old guard this time around, a Senate majority of new faces sent BY THE PEOPLE to stop the Marxist Obama dictatorship agenda once and for all will go a long way to restoring Constitutional principles.

We made a mistake in 2008 as a country. We elected a smooth talker with a personality. We hoped for change. He promised "hope and change." He passed the largest socialist program in the history of entitlements, Obamacare, and he borrowed more money than ALL the former U.S. Presidents COMBINED! Our national debt now stands north of $15,200,000,000,000 and rising fast. The interest on the debt now stands at $1,500,000,000 per day (yes, billion)! Then-Senator Barack Obama once accused George W. Bush of being "irresponsible" for raising the debt ceiling, calling that request a "failure of leadership," and now has demanded and passed record stimulus spending bills that have done little to stimulate the economy. He continues to cry for more debt and more spending when we're bleeding at every fiscal pore. And that's "responsible" leadership?

He sent Navy Seal Team 6 to Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden. This last week he proposed slashing the Defense Department spending to the bone, and ended the war in Iraq to bring home the troops. He takes credit for it, but the proposed withdrawal timetable was already set by the Bush administration before he took office, and the intel on the whereabouts of bin Laden was gleaned through enhanced interrogation techniques advocated by the Bush administration. Boldest of all, he now is "working around" Congress while it's out of session (or is it really "in" session - only Obama can tell us apparently) to appoint even more "czars" to head up regulatory commissions as far as the eye can see, emboldening his followers for a government-run economy that purports to be the solution to every societal ill we face. He is trashing the Constitution daily.

But I digress, this post is about our future and my sincere wish is that the future does not include another four-year term for Barack Obama. Elections are about the future, we must remember, not about the past. Obama is positioning himself to "win the future," but his idea about what that looks like is very different than mine and yours. I was told the other day that an in-law "hated" me because of my conservative positions, so I should not speak for everyone I know. As I have said before, I am not as much concerned about who wins the presidency as I am about putting an end to Congressional gridlock. Without a victory in the Senate that gives a majority to conservatives, not the old guard RINOs who have gone along to get along for too long in this country, we are doomed to continue down this path of fiscal insanity.

I'm not certain at all that we can reverse course in America at this late date, but I am certain we must try by retiring the old guard and beginning afresh. That begins with electing new conservative senators who are more responsive to the people like Dan Liljenquist. My hope is he will join Mike Lee and others in taking control of the U.S. Senate and partnering with the House in passing a balanced budget amendment, repealing Obamacare and never again flirting with the European socialist agenda for an entitlement society.

In my considered judgment Dan Liljenquist is better equipped to do that than Orrin Hatch.