Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Protecting the Libyan People Means What?

A month or two ago, Libya was just another insignificant Arab country with some oil and a dictator with at least two crimes committed over a decade ago against America. Now America is leading a "NATO coalition" with warships, missiles, jets and who know what else in a program to "protect the Libyan people".

Today, the all-wise-one stated in San Salvador: "we will continue to support the efforts to protect the Libyan people, but we will not be leading them."

Those people that favor Gadhafi are also Libyan people. He is obviously taking sides. It is okay to kill some Libyans, just the other ones.

A few Libyans, encouraged by their Tunisian and Egyptian neighbors, elected to move on their dictator, hoping he would do what their neighbors' leaders did: abdicate and depart. However, in this case, Gadhafi was able to garner a sufficient group of supporters -- mostly from his tribe -- and fight against those trying to take over. This has been carried out thousands of times in global history.

America elected to spend billions, dedicate military resources and will eventually sacrifice American soldiers' lives to support a bunch of unknowns in a country that is of little concern to America.

Obama's unilaterally decision to go into war is even questioned by some as being in conflict with our Constitution.

In Obama's corner is the idiot John Kerry. The anti-Vietnam dolt is now fully behind the military intervention. He says the goal of the mission in Libya is limited to saving lives, not necessarily getting rid of a tyrant.

If America has a problem with Libya, it is with Gadhafi. America sure goes about addressing a problem in a convoluted and costly manner.

Monday, March 21, 2011

American Military in Libya Is Terrible Policy

What good is going to come from American military involvement in Libya? Getting rid of Moammar Gadhafi seems to be the only logical reason. This "protect the oil" reason seems flawed.

Let's get this right: America is leading a UN-sanctioned military effort to keep the Libyans safe. It was suppose to be a no-fly-zone enforcement effort but they have shown this also includes a no-drive-zone.

Obama wants Gadhafi to step down. Where's he suppose to go? Has Obama given him a palatable exit strategy? Not that we know of.

Who are the rebels? Will the rebels and the eventual leaders be better than Gadhafi? We have no idea.

We are trying to protect the Libyan people. Who are the Libyan people? There are over a hundred tribes, more tribal-oriented than Libyan nationalists. Those that support Gadhafi benefit from his policies. Those on the outside want what the insiders have. If they change positions, who becomes the "bad guys" then.

The cost of foreign wars are always money pits. Missiles/ammo, fuel, war/hazard pay, etc. It does not take long for the bill to reach a billion dollars. And the bill will continue to escalate.

This is America's war, not the UNs or NATOs. Why all of a sudden do these rebels who we don't know, become the focus of our good intentions?

American military involvement in Libya is terrible foreign policy.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Scalped Tickets for Spring Training

Last week, I was working in Florida. I found myself in Ft. Myers on Saturday. I was hoping to take in a Twins Spring Training game.

I arrived at the ballpark about two hours before first pitch. I thought I was late and that the game was ready to start. There were thousands of people there already.

I got to the ticket window -- no line, a bad sign -- and the agent said it was sold out, no standing or outfield seats, no nothing.

Ticket scalpers were everywhere. They were selling tickets in the $60-100 range. For Spring Training? Half the players are minor leaguers. No way would I pay that kind of money for a ticket. I would not pay that kind of money for a regular season game between great teams with top pitchers matching-up.

I thought I liked baseball, a lot, like way more than 99.99% of the people in the country. But apparently not. These were not just blue-haired, snow-birds, but families getting out of the frozen tundra, taking a day off of Disney World.

Recession? What recession. I wonder how many of those present were paying for the trip and tickets on credit cards -- with money they do not have?

I will attend MLB games but will never pay $60 for a ticket. And I definitely will never go to MLB Spring Training games ever again -- in AZ or FL.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Orlando's Airport -- America's Worst

When our children were small, we did Orlando. It was painful then. Going back on business is torture.

Orlando has the things in American culture I detest: forced entertainment, chain hotels and restaurants, and spending money on useless things; e.g., t-
shirts and souvenirs.

The recession has not hit this area that hard. Of the few places I saw boarded up, I would guess the reason was mismanagement rather than lack of customers. There were plenty of people spending money they did not have.

The restaurants were packed. Twice, we waited an hour for a table. This is something my wife and I would have never have done. Thanks goodness for soft seats and my Android phone.

The airport is the worst. It does not cater to business travelers. At best, each terminal has one location with TVs (other than crappy CNN). The one's I saw only served liquor, no food items. They say you can buy food next door and eat it in the bar. But the waitresses don't make any money that way and they let you know that the seats are for paying customers.

An airport during March Madness with no TVs. Ridiculous.

I watched one game in the bar with my next-door food. I still had extra time so I decided to head back to the central hub via the tram system. Guess what? Once you do that, you MUST go back through security. TSA and the security process in Orlando is anal.

Who goes to Orlando? Large families and elderly. Most are not used to traveling. So you are given the opportunity to practice patience.

I dislike Orlando and the glitz that created it. It is hell on Earth that most are willing to pay large sums of money to visit.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization

Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization is one of the most timely and pertinent books I have ever read.

In October of 2010, I attended the third annual WaterSmart Innovations Conference in Las Vegas. At the time, I was working for a company in the irrigation industry. My company helped sponsor the event and I even provided a poster session.

During one of the lunches, I sat next to Steven Solomon. At the time, I did not know he was the keynote speaker. We had an interesting discussion about our industry and what were were doing to help address smart irrigation. Before long, I found out he was an author and had done some extensive research on the role water has played on mankind these past few millennia.

His 500-page book Water, is engaging. It not only provides a great review of global history but it clearly describes the interaction between man and water. The book is broken down into four sections:

-- Water In Ancient History
-- Water and the Ascendancy of the West
-- Water and the Making of the Modern Industrial Society
-- The Age of Scarcity

Successful societies have figured out ways to make water an asset. But for many, the methods used are non-sustaining.

It is the story of the Haves and Have-Nots -- how the Haves tend to get more and the Have-Nots tend to get less. It explores the historical aspect -- the successes and the failures -- and what the future has in store as we strive to keep a balance between:

-- Environmentally sustainable use of water
-- Equitable access to water
-- Efficient use on existing supplies

Because water is directly related to energy, food production and economic development, we can foresee where the economical and political problems lie. The biggest problem areas are China, India and the Middle East. These nations and regions know they have a serious water problem. Some are actively engaged in addressing it. Others have elected to all but ignore it, opting for borderline insane policies.

Fresh water is finite, extremely limited and unevenly distributed. Water is the the new oil. Those societies that are able to create and implement prudent, sustainable policies will be the societies that will flourish in the 21st and 22nd centuries.

Monday, March 07, 2011

iPad and General Authorities

For the past couple of years, I have heard various local Church leaders in multiple locations talk about the "evils" of electronic media being used at Church. Many have the opinion that electronic media is inappropriate for church services, Sunday School, Priesthood, Relief Society, etc.

I can only assume they feel this because by leaving electronic media at home will remove the temptation of using it for non-church-related activities; e.g., texting, checking sport scores, etc.

One could say that the same argument is that if we don't have electronic devices in our homes, we will be less tempted to view "inappropriate" items on the Internet.

This past Sunday, I saw and heard Elder Claudio Roberto Mendes Costa of The Presidency of the Seventy use his iPad during his Sunday a.m. talk in Stake Conference. He called his iPad and iPhone (holding both up) something like his "can't leave home without them" devices. He spoke for 45 minutes without paper scriptures.

Smartphones and tablets provide a wealth of information at our fingertips. Reading scriptures, church books and manuals on these devices will become the norm.

I have read the Book of Mormon a couple of times on my mobile phone. I doubt I will ever return to reading and carrying paper scriptures and class manuals to church. In Sunday School and Priesthood, I find it easier and more efficient to reference materials via my hand-held device.

No longer do we need to guess what a general authority said in a General Conference or what Talmage wrote in Jesus The Christ. We no longer need to guess as to what political or cultural life might have been like 2500 years ago in some obscure location in the Holy Land.

Electronic media has become mainstream, especially when you see a General Authority using them in a Stake Conference.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Unmarried Mothers, Natalie Portman and Mike Huckabee's Message

This week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a 49-page report entitled Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction, and Sexual Identity in the United States: Data from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth.

The most interesting finding was that the number of young people (15-24) that have never had sex with another person increased to 27 percent of males and 29 percent of females. This is a good trend. The MSM should have launched onto this because this is a good thing.

Contrast this with Hollywood's message: sex at any age, with any one is acceptable.

The MSM went out of its way to make a fool of itself by completely missing the real facts behind Mike Huckabee's comments on out-of-wedlock moms. Morality aside, young unmarried women who elect to have and keep babies (not giving them up for adoption) are a blight on society, the girl and the child. Motherhood is hard; it is real hard for an uneducated, young mother with limited means.

He referenced actress Natalie Portman who is unmarried and carrying a child. She has the means to hire nannies, provide for the upbringing of the child, and can even stay at home as a full-time mother (like that's going to happen). Most young women do not have this luxury. Ever seen MTV's Teen Mom?

The MSM can't stand anything that has religious overtones, even thought it is 100% spot on. Thanks goodness for Mike Huckablee and Michael Medved (who did the interview) for standing by their guns and stating the facts on this important issues.

Friday, March 04, 2011

What Many Don't Understand About LDS Church, BYU and Athletics

It is amazing how much of a national issue Brandon Davies' suspension from BYU's basketball team has been. For the most part, the decision to remove Davies from the team for violating BYU's honor code has been praised nationally. That Honor Code is:

-- Be honest
-- Live a chaste and virtuous life
-- Obey the law and all campus policies
-- Use clean language
-- Respect others
-- Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, and substance abuse
-- Participate regularly in church services
-- Observe the Dress and Grooming Standards
-- Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code

Every students agrees to this as part of his/her admission. Violation of this can result in their dismissal. One does not need to be LDS to attend BYU but every student must agree and abide by this code.

On one hand, it is too bad for Davies that his transgression went public (premarital sex). On the other hand, it has brought national attention to BYU and its honor code.

Ex-BYU student athletes including Danny Ainge, Ty Detmer, and Reno Mahe (who was suspended for the same reason as Davies), among others, have expressed their positive opinions.

This past week, all four Salt Lake City sports talk radio stations covered this honor code topic in depth. As I was radio station surfing, I caught ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd, whom I can't stand listening to, felt BYU needs to
loosen up and join the real world
. He stated that it puts them at a disadvantage in the national picture. Perhaps. But BYU and the LDS Church are not about becoming more mainstream or dropping their standards.

BYU will never drop its standards to become more accepted. It will not play on Sunday's (so what if they cannot play in major athletic conferences). It will support the Church's standards to the best of its abilities. Everyone there is not perfect but everyone tries to do the right thing. If a student, teacher or administrator does not agree with these rules, then BYU is not for them.

Thanks goodness for BYU. I just wish more religious schools (Norte Dame and Boston College to name two large ones) would adhere to their Christian principles principles and help set the bar high. There are Eric Liddell's (Chariots of Fire) out there that practice their faith.

We Mormon's hope we are more than and athlete, businessman, scientist, teacher, rather that we are God-fearing people that are always striving to lead a course of personal righteous, serving our fellow man, and leaving the world a better place for having been here.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

First Amendment & Court Protects 'Hurtful' Speech

Just because certain actions are hateful, hurtful or idiotic does not mean it should be against the law. Only delusional dolts would show up at a funeral with signs that read "God Hates You" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers."

Albert Snyder, the father of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who lost his life in Iraq in 2006, felt strong enough to sue for emotional damages when some members of the Westboro Baptist Church celebrated the death of this soldier. A Maryland court awarded Mr. Snyder $5 million in damages. the Supreme Court overturned that decision. As sad as that is, the First Amendment protects that right.

I was listening to Mr. Snyder on the radio today. He was very upset over the ruling. I would be also if it were my son. He believes all hateful speech should be against the law. I don't.

But when you start ruling what is allowable speech and what is not, it moves down a very slippery slop. We must accept the bad with the good, as offensive as some speech might be.

The winner this week was not the Westboro Baptist Church. There's nothing wrong being vehemently anti-gay as this church is, but their methods leave must to be desired.

The winner in this case is the Constitution and the First Amendment.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Libyan Tribalism Trumps Nationalism

America ought to realize that for Gadhafi and his followers, Libyan tribalism trumps nationalism. Gadhafi cares more about protecting his and his tribe's power base. He has no problem killing all of his non-tribal countrymen in the process. His "fight to the last man" stance should be heeded.

It bother me to hear about American warships queuing off shore, Marines on stand-by and the establishment of a no-fly zone. If America gets involved by sending in actual troops, striking with missiles or supplying weaponry, then America will become the mutual enemy for most Libyans (and Arabs). The Obama administration, aka America, has everything to lose and nothing to gain by engaging the Gadhafi administration.

America must take a neutral position with respect to these Arab conflicts. It was wrong to get involved in Iraq and was wrong to get involved in Afghanistan. They are money pits, death traps, ruiners of many American families and individual lives, and will never result in the democracies America deems appropriate.

It is not as Farrakhan claims -- that the Jews are pushing the U.S. into war -- but Israel welcomes U.S. military action in the Middle East.

I hope the Obama administration does not make the same mistake in the Middle East as the Bush administration did in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lets stay out of these battles. Let's make every effort to become energy self-sufficient and limit our need to pay for Middle Eastern stability.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Presidential Oath and the Defense of Marriage Act

On the federal level, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) favors traditional marriage. It defines marriage at the federal level, for federal programs. For those that favor same-sex marriage is not about individual rights, rather about gaining societal acceptance. Other legal recognitions are fine and should be left up to the states, but those same-sex unions should not be called marriage. DOMA protects states rights. It is not the federal government's domain.

Last week when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that the U.S. Department of Justice will no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court, he set a terrible precedence. It may not itself be unconstitutional, but it is unprecedented and regrettable.

Refusing to defend this law or any law makes me wonder what Obama is thinking after swearing an oath on the Bible? He said:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Article II Section 3 of the Constitution also states that the President "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed".

I firmly believe that it is the President's duty and responsibility to defend the law of the land. A President does the office a disservice by picking which laws to enforce and which ones to ignore. The exceptions to this are extremely rare.

DOMA protects states from the unintended consequences of radical changes to family law and social policy. Obama and Holder have set a terrible precedence; tossing some significant fuel on their "burn the Constitution" fire.