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Guy's Blog

Just one Guy's personal blog of thoughts & sense--common, non, and otherwise--of the world in which we live.

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Location: Nipomo, Central Coast, California, United States

I also blog over at Nipomo News, Messenger and Advocate and Bloggernacle Times

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Mires Withdraws

Harriet Miers withdraws from consideration for the SOCTUS. It was the right move. She, rather than Mr. Bush did the right thing for the country. She also saved Mr. Bush some face in this withdrawal . Check out the Washington Post.
Bush said he reluctantly accepted her decision to withdraw, after weeks of insisting that he did not want her to step down. He blamed her withdrawal on calls in the Senate for the release of internal White House documents that the administration has insisted were protected by executive privilege.

"It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House -- disclosures that would undermine a president's ability to receive candid counsel," Bush said. "Harriet Miers' decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the constitutional separation of powers -- and confirms my deep respect and admiration for her."
Watch the talking points to be "Executive Privilege ." The White House and Republican Senators are already spinning the withdrawal under the cover of documents and and executive privledge as well as attorney client privilege. Those may have been minor factors; however, make no mistake Ms. Miers was in over her head, was not qualified, and was a poor choice by Mr. Bush. Now he can name a quality nominee as he did with Chief Justice Roberts.

More later . . .

Monday, October 24, 2005

Vietnam Redux

Who says that Iraq has no Vietnam parallels The Washington Post reports that our good friends at the Pentagon (who have brought us both Vietnam and Iraq) have decided to release enemy body counts! Why is that? What good does that do? Is this information useful? Was it useful 40 years ago? Was it truthful 40 years ago? Is it useful or truthful today? Read the whole article; but, here's a taste:

Eager to demonstrate success in Iraq, the U.S. military has abandoned its previous refusal to publicize enemy body counts and now cites such numbers periodically to show the impact of some counterinsurgency operations.

The revival of body counts, a practice discredited during the Vietnam War, has apparently come without formal guidance from the Pentagon's leadership. Military spokesmen in Washington and Baghdad said they knew of no written directive detailing the circumstances under which such figures should be released or the steps that should be taken to ensure accuracy.

Instead, they described an ad hoc process that has emerged over the past year, with authority to issue death tolls pushed out to the field and down to the level of division staffs.

Now all we need is another General Westmoreland . . . or do we have one? This is very chilling, and very telling . . . demonstrating our "success" in Iraq? Oh my.

On a Lighter Note--Steve Martin

All Miers makes for a dull Guy----so, here's a lighter piece from today's Washington Post about comedian Steve Martin. I can still my earliest memories of Steve as a stand up comic working as a warm up act for popular singers. I remember seeing him as the warm up act for Neil Diamond while I was at BYU years and years ago. His "cat juggling" routine was hilarious. Read the whole article--but here's a taste:

And so the evening inevitably skimmed the highlights. It was, in fact, like a Steve Martin career highlight reel, with the occasional roast as intermission.

Martin Short, who has made four films with Martin, recounted that "Steve got his first job in comedy as a writer on the 'Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour' because he was dating one of the dancers. Oh, by the way, Steve, Tommy Tune says hi."

Short correctly noted that Martin took comedy from clubs to the arena ("and back to the comedy clubs"), becoming "the first comedy rock star." Roll clip of Martin's 1978 stand-up performance at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, with all the iconic bits: arrow through the head, the banjo, "Happy Feet" and, of course, "Well, excuuuuse me ."

It's refreshing to see good talent rewarded. Congrats to Steve!

Fund on Miers . . . and more

The Miers' opposition continues to grow, particularly from the right thinkers and writers. Today's op ed piece by John Fund in The Wall Street Journal explains why Mr. Bush failed so miserably with this nomination. A must read!:
The President trusts his instincts, and they are usually right. But when they fail him, the result can be calamitous . . . This time, the normal vetting process broke down, with Mr. Card ordering William Kelley, Ms. Miers's own deputy, to conduct the background checks--a clear conflict of interest. Even Newt Gingrich, a supporter of Ms. Miers's nomination, says that "the president believes in her so deeply, he is so convinced she's the right person, that I don't think it ever occurred to him to go through the kind of normal opposition research and normal vetting.
Also, today's New York Times points out the Miers' nomination has garnered rare criticism for a Supreme Court nominee:

Harriet E. Miers, President Bush's nominee to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, brings a similar résumé, along with five years in the White House and one year as its counsel. But in just three weeks, her nomination has provoked a range of opposition that some scholars say may have no modern precedent.

"I would be very hard pressed to think of a good historical analogy," Richard Baker, the Senate historian, said. "I don't think there is one."

Though past nominees have faced swift opposition, what makes Ms. Miers's nomination extraordinary, historians say, is the combination of doubts about her philosophy from within the president's own party and attacks on her legal qualifications from both sides of the aisle.
Read the entire article.

Also, the Bear's call for bloggers to blog their Miers' stands continues with the results posted here.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

More on Mires Nomination

On Meet the Press today, New York Senator Charles Schumer claimed that Harriet Miers currently lacks the votes necessary to win Senate confirmation. He claimed she would not garner a majority of committee votes or votes on the Senate floor:
“If you held the vote today, she would not get a majority either in the Judiciary Committee or the floor,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York. On the 18-member GOP-controlled committee, “there are one or two who said they’d support her as of now.”
He continued, pointing out that Ms. Mier's hearings (assuming they occurr) will be the critical moment for her nomination:
“The hearings will be make or break for Harriet Miers in a way they haven’t been for any other nominee,” Schumer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “She’ll have to do very well there. She has a tough road to hoe.”
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican had a more optimistic assesment, claiming that Ms. Miers should be confirmed primarily because no other current justices have practical real world experience:
“She is the only one whose entire career is in private practice,” Hutchison said, in contrast to the current justices. “I can’t imagine not having someone with practical real-world experience.”
They may not have had the same "real world" experiences as Ms. Miers; but, certainly they live in the real world, and have "real world" experiences like everyone else. This seems a pretty weak argument justifying Ms. Miers lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

Following along the hearing theme, the Boston Globe has an article by Charles Fried, who teaches constitutional law at Harvard Law School. He also served as solicitor general in the second Reagan administration and as a justice on the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

Professor Fried points out that Ms. Miers doesn't need to be an elite law school graduate, or even need to have been a judge on a lower court; however:

What is indispensable is that she be able to think lucidly and deeply about legal questions and express her thoughts in clear, pointed, understandable prose. A justice without those capabilities -- however generally intelligent, decent, and hardworking -- risks being a calamity for the court, the law, and the country.

The Supreme Court hears arguments in some 80 cases a year that present the widest range of issues of importance to the law. To give some recent examples: What innovations are patentable and what should be the role of juries in deciding whether a patent is valid or has been infringed? Are police officers entitled to ask the passenger of a car to step outside when they have made a lawful traffic stop? Does the First Amendment protect a government worker if his boss thinks his complaints are a nuisance to the work of the office? Does the exception for child-related materials in the First Amendment's protection of sexually explicit speech extend to computer generated images that look like they depict children? What are the proper procedures to be followed when the tax court considers recommendations from its administrative law judges?

All these questions have two sides (at least) and present real puzzles, or else they would have been settled at some lower level. None of them will yield simply to good instincts and a pure heart. Nor will something called a judicial philosophy -- whatever that is -- guide a judge through this maze of nicely balanced intricacies.

Once a conclusion has been reached it must be announced in an opinion setting out the circumstances, the competing considerations, and the reasons for that conclusion. Otherwise the parties will feel cheated and lower court judges, lawyers, and affected interests will have no guidance in dealing with the problem in the future. In this sense Chief Justice John Roberts -- who bids fair to becoming one of our great chief justices -- was wrong in saying that his job is just to call balls and strikes. It is that, but it is just as much to explain why he has made the calls he has. The courts are the only organs of government whose job it is not only to decide contentious issues but to explain those decisions. Its most important product is those explanations, on which the enduring effect of its decisions depends.

His concern, a valid one, is whether Ms. Miers has the intellectual firepower to understand the intricate issues she will confront, and whether she will be able to produce the requisite written opinions justifying the legal rationale she will bring to the bench:

A justice without the strength of mind to pick her way through these intricacies and the skill to explain her decisions in understandable and compelling prose suited to those intricacies will flounder in a number of ways that would be disastrous for the law. Such a justice might rely on instincts undisciplined by clear analysis and therefore over time spin a web of confusion which increasingly will entangle that justice, the justice's colleagues and a perplexed public. Or that justice might fall under the sway of one or more of his or her colleagues and so disappoint the expectation that a fresh and independent mind has been added to the court.

Worse still, if the justice cannot write then someone is going to have to do that writing for the justice, and that will inevitably be the justice's law clerks. Those law clerks almost to a person are wizards at untangling legal puzzles and masters at setting out the answers in precise if usually turgid and uncompelling prose. But they are also young graduates without wisdom, experience, or a constitutional mandate to help run the country.

Unfortunately over its history the Supreme Court has had its share of intellectually inadequate, wavering, incoherent, absurdly stubborn, or clerk-driven justices. It is not the Senate's job to test for some abstract and ineffable ''philosophy," and certainly not to apply litmus tests on particular issues: the questions a justice will have to resolve over 10 or 20 years cannot be anticipated nor categorized by such empty slogans as ''having a heart as well as a head, ''legislating from the bench," ''nourishing a living constitution," or ''strict construction."

We may grant that Miers is intelligent, decent, and hard-working. The hearings must convince us that she has the ability to understand both sides of a question, to reach sensible conclusions connected to established law, and to explain those conclusions in words that we can understand, whether or not we agree with them.

I've stated before these hearings are likely to be the most interesting nomination hearings since Clarence Thomas. Monday's Washington Post notes that the Senate Judiciary Committee may subpoena Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson, to find out what he and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove discussed shortly before Mr. Bush announced the Mires nomination. Aside from the content of such a potential discussion. What exactly is Karl Rove doing discussing the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice with an evangelical partisan before it is even announced to the American public?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Libby's Spotlight Dimming

Sunday's Washington Post has a fascinating, fact filled story on Dick Cheney's chief of staff, the man who launched 80 days in jail for the New York Times' Judith Miller. I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby according to the Post once joked he would be Cheney's chief of staff till he was indicted. Well, Scooter, like so many self fulfilling prophecies of the Bush administration, this one may be a little too close to home.

I'm not sure what it says about Scooter, than he won't say what the I stands for in his name--but it makes me wonder just how secure he is:
Several aspects of Libby are subject to varied interpretations, or at the very least, casual mystery. Libby is loath to disclose -- even to close friends -- what the "I" stands for in his name. Matalin credits USA Today with "breaking" the story that Libby's first name is "Irv" (though other publications had reported "Irving" and public databases list him as "Irve").

Cheney's office would not confirm or deny what the "I" stands for.

Is there really an official talking point of no comment from the Vice President's office when asked about Scooter's first initial? Then there is the etiology of "Scooter" which is apparently equally mysterious:

Likewise, there are differing accounts of where "Scooter" comes from. He told the New York Times in 2002 that his father, an investment banker now deceased, coined it upon seeing him crawl across his crib. The same year, in an interview with King, Libby spoke of a childhood comparison to New York Yankees Hall of Fame shortstop Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto ("I had the range but not the arm," Libby said).

I'm not sure. What significance does this name and initial thing have? Does Scooter's secrecy begin with his name, and extend all they way to being Judith Miller's secret source?

More interesting is the web of links with all the high ranking neo cons of the Bush administration:

"He's always been excruciatingly careful, which is ironic in his situation," says World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz, a former deputy secretary of defense and a longtime mentor of Libby's . . .

Among vice-presidential aides throughout history, Libby is distinctive for the power and authority he wields, a product largely of Cheney's outsize role in the Bush administration. Libby holds three titles: chief of staff and national security adviser to Cheney, and assistant to Bush. Like few other advisers, he attends the highest level of White House meetings. He attends the weekly gathering of Bush's top economic advisers and -- according to Bob Woodward's book "Plan of Attack," about the Bush administration's run-up to the Iraq war -- was one of two non-principals who attended National Security Council meetings with the president after Sept. 11, 2001 (the other was Condoleezza Rice's then-deputy, Stephen Hadley) . . .

After graduating from Columbia Law School, Libby was practicing law in Philadelphia in 1981 when Wolfowitz, then an assistant secretary of state, recruited him as a speech writer . . .

Libby also worked for Wolfowitz during Wolfowitz's stint as policy undersecretary of defense during the first Bush administration. He had long been interested in unconventional warfare, particularly in the Middle East, and his portfolio included the biological and chemical capabilities of Saddam Hussein. Cheney, then secretary of defense, shared Libby's interest in weapons of mass destruction and was, according to a Pentagon official of that era, impressed by his diligence and analytical skill . . .

This comming week, with the expected conclusion of Patrick J. Fitzgerald's investigation, should be interesting for Scooter, I. and the rest of the gang.

I Oppose The Miers Nomination

The conservative cacophony rises in opposition rather than support of Mr. Bush's nominee to the High Court. A different George, Mr. Will has another devastating column (Defending the indefensible) on Ms. Miers here. Right thinking thinkers (led by George Will) all over the country are in open rebellion against their non thinking "right" but apparently not conservative enough Mr. Bush. I'm not much of a "thinker", and many folks do not view me as conservative; however, I am now opposing the Miers' nomination, even though initially I felt she at least deserved a hearing. The evidence is overwhelming, yea . . .even clear and convincing that she is simply in over her head.

She can't keep her law license current. She can't fill out the Senate questionnaire sufficiently to placate even the Republican majority. She has questionable, and extremely limited constitutional understanding. Ms. Miers does not measure up to constitutional muster.

A list of some of the "thinkers" and bloggers in general coming out in opposition to Mr. Miers is being compiled here. Others, in no particular order include: George Will; Jonah Goldberg; Chalres Krauthammer. Other Bloggers are also coming out against Ms. Miers, some even having a Miers withdrawl watch.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Nixon Redux?

I don't think anyone knows what is really going to happen with the Plame investigation; however, reports claim the special prosecutor now has a website. Of course they say not to read anything into that; however, if he is just going to go away, and let this thing die, would he really go to the trouble of creating a website, and then begin posting documents? When was the last time there was talk about indicting the closest aides to the President, and in this case the Vice President, on potential charges of coverup? Yep . . . long ago, but not so far away. It seems that those in power don't ever seem to learn this one simple lesson: The coverup is always, always, worse than the crime! Stay tuned, next week could be big on this one.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Launch of the Titans

Cross posted over at Central Coast News Mission:

No . . .not the Nipomo Titans . . .the Lockheed Martin Titan. In fact its the final launch from Vandenberg Airforce Base of this particular type of Titan. Launch is supposed to be between 11:04 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Check out the story in today's Santa Maria Times. If the sky is clear, you should be able to see, and probably even hear and feel the launch right here in Nipomo. Luck permitting, I'll try and post a photo later.

Update: 11:14 a.m.

The Titan just took off about ten mintues ago. I was able to get a couple of shots . . . nothing very close up; however, it was the view from downtown Nipomo on Wednesday morning. I may be able to get a few better shots from a source I have who was at the launch. If so, I'll post them later as well. Outstanding!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

What I've Been Doing II (Wood Badge)

I've been out of town again, for the completion of Wood Badge, which I blogged about in September. We spent the last three days of our Wood Badge experience camping out up at Camp French, near Lopez Lake. It was a very intense, yet very rewarding experience as well. I don't have much time to blog at the moment, so I'll have to return soon with more details.

New Central Coast Blog

Actually the Central Coast News Mission Blog is not that new (probably been around several months now); however, what is new, is that I have been asked to Blog over there on the South SLO County section, specifically Nipomo issues. So, if you want to check out some local happenings over in Nipomo, please come visit the Central Coast News Mission Blog, and check out the whole blog---but of course the South SLO County section.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What Gives Me Pause

I've been pondering the last few days just what it is that gives me pause about Harriet Miers' nomination. Most of her political opposition at this point is from the far conservative right. I don't consider myself as part of that political group. I am not an evangelical. I don't support George Bush the man, or most of his policies. I am not part of the conservative, intellectual, thinking elite who have for the most part taken upon themselves to oppose Ms. Miers' nomination; yet, I find myself in almost complete agreement with what they are saying about her. So, why is this?

I sense much of the the conservative opposition to Ms. Miers revolves almost exclusively around the abortion issue. There may be some sub issues involved as well, such as prayer in schools, gay marriage, and the so-called cultural war issues; however, for the most part it seems this conservative movement is mostly troubled by the fact Ms. Miers is an unknown quantity. They don't know how she will approach and decide these issues. It also seems that they justify their opposition on the basis that Ms. Miers is unqualified for the seat.

I, on the other hand, don't find the cultural issues so troubling--some I do, but not all. I am personally opposed to abortion, and would not likely enourage anyone I know to undergo such a procedure, except if the life of the mother were in danger, or in cases of incest or rape; however, I believe the choice should be available in those particular cases. Yet, I am most troubled not by how she might vote one way or the other in the cultural issues, as I am about whether she is truly up to the task of Supreme Court judging.

It is simply beyond belief that there aren't more experienced jurists or legal minds, not necessarily jurists, who are more familiar with the constitutional issues that confront the Supreme Court each term. I would be much more comfortable with the appointment of such an individual, regardless of how I thought they might vote on the cultural issues.

I listened to Robert Bork yesterday talk about Ms. Miers. Again, I found myself agreeing with him and his critique on Ms. Miers. And, while I agree with Judge Bork, I was extremely grateful that he was unsuccessful as a prior Supreme Court nominee; however, to be consistent, if he, or another justice with similar views and experience were nominated, I think I would have to support the nomination out of principle. I firmly believe that a President is entitled to nominate most any person for a position, as long as that person is actually qualified for the job. Unfortunately, here, Mr. Bush has missed the qualification mark by so much with the Miers' nomination it is really not a difficult choice.

That said, I would like to hear Ms. Miers' testimony at the hearings to better determine her qualifications or lack thereof; however, at this stage, I'm certainly in agreement with all those conservative commentators, writers, and thinkers who have serious doubts about her. I just think I'm on a different page though. As far as I'm concerned it is just as wrong to pack the Supreme Court with a justice whom you know will vote a certain way on the cultural issues, as it is to appoint a justice who is not up to the job.

Monday, October 10, 2005

More on Miers

In Sunday's New York Times, Frank Rich pens an outstanding article on Harriet Myers, which I will re-post in its entirety below. Hat tip to The Huffington Post, and also to Truth Out which also reprinted Rich in his entirety:

The Faith-Based President Defrocked
By Frank Rich
The New York Times

Sunday 09 October 2005

To understand why the right is rebelling against Harriet Miers, don't waste time boning up on her glory days with the Texas Lottery Commission. The real story in this dust-up is not the Supreme Court candidate, but the man who picked her. The Miers nomination, whatever its fate, will be remembered as the flashpoint when the faith-based Bush base finally started to lose faith in our propaganda president and join the apostate American majority.

Though James Dobson, America's foremost analyst of the gay subtext of SpongeBob SquarePants, was easily rolled by Karl Rove and dragged back into the Miers camp, he's an exception. The pervasive mood on the right was articulated by Cathie Adams, president of the Texas branch of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum. She told The Washington Post: "President Bush is asking us to have faith in things unseen. We only have that kind of faith in God."

This is a sea change. If anything, Ms. Miers's record of opposition to abortion (a contribution to Texans United for Life, a leadership role at a strenuously anti-abortion church) is less "unseen" than that of John Roberts, whose nomination aroused no protest on the right only three months ago. The difference between then and now is a startling index of the toll taken by a botched war and hurricane response on whatever remains of Mr. Bush's credibility. The continuing inability of the administration to accomplish the mission in Iraq and of its post-Brownie FEMA to do a heck of a job on the Gulf Coast has inflicted collateral damage on its case for Harriet Miers.

"The president's 'argument' for her amounts to: Trust me," George Will wrote in the op-ed column that last week galvanized conservative opposition to the nomination. He then went on to list several reasons why he doesn't trust Mr. Bush. As if to prove the point, the president went out to the Rose Garden and let loose with one whopper after another in his first press conference in four months.

"Of all the people in the United States you had to choose from, is Harriet Miers the most qualified to serve on the Supreme Court?" Mr. Bush was asked. "Yes," he answered. Has he ever discussed abortion with her? "Not to my recollection." How much political capital does he have left? "Plenty." With a straight face he promised that Ms. Miers was "not going to change" and that "20 years from now she'll be the same person with the same philosophy that she is today." Even were that a praiseworthy attribute, it would still contradict the history of a woman who abandoned her Roman Catholic faith for evangelical Christianity and the Democratic Party for the Republicans.

But Mr. Bush's dissembling wasn't limited to his Supreme Court nominee. Asked how he was going to pay for Katrina recovery, the president twice said he'd proposed $187 billion in budget cuts over 10 years - but failed to factor in his tax proposals and other budget increases. The real net total for proposed Bush cuts is $103 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and even less according to some independent number crunchers. Turning to Iraq, Mr. Bush once again fudged our "progress" there with a numerical bait-and-switch, bragging about "30 Iraqi battalions in the lead." (Translation: in the lead with American military support.) Less than a week earlier his own commanders had told Congress that the number of Iraqi battalions capable of fighting unaided had dropped from 3 to 1 since June. (Translation: 750 soldiers are now ready to stand up on their own should America's 140,000 troops stand down.) For good measure, Mr. Bush then flouted credibility one more time to set the stage for the next administration fiasco. In the event of a bird flu epidemic, he said, one option for effecting a quarantine would be to use the military. What military? Last week The Army Times reported that the Pentagon, its resources already overstretched by Iraq, would try to bolster sagging recruitment by tapping "a demographic long deemed off limits: high school dropouts who don't have a General Educational Development credential."

Like most Bush fictions, the latest are driven less by ideology than by a desire to hide incompetence. But there's a self-destructive impulse at work as well. "The best way to get the news is from objective sources," the president told Brit Hume of Fox News two years ago. "And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world." Thus does the White House compound the sin of substituting propaganda for effective action by falling for the same spin it showers on the public.

Beware of leaders who drink their own Kool-Aid. The most distressing aspect of Mr. Bush's press conference last week was less his lies and half-truths than the abundant evidence that he is as out of touch as Custer was on the way to Little Bighorn. The president seemed genuinely shocked that anyone could doubt his claim that his friend is the best-qualified candidate for the highest court. Mr. Bush also seemed unaware that it was Republicans who were leading the attack on Ms. Miers. "The decision as to whether or not there will be a fight is up to the Democrats," he said, confusing his antagonists this time much as he has Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

Such naked presidential isolation from reality was a replay of his response to Hurricane Katrina. When your main "objective sources" for news are members of your own staff, you can actually believe that the most pressing tragedy of the storm is the rebuilding of Trent Lott's second home. You can even believe that Brownie will fix it. The truth only began to penetrate four days after the storm's arrival - and only then, according to Newsweek, because an adviser, Dan Bartlett, asked the president to turn away from his usual "objective sources" and instead watch a DVD compilation of actual evening news reports.

Mr. Bartlett's one desperate effort to prick his boss's bubble notwithstanding, the White House as a whole is so addicted to its own mythmaking prowess that it can't kick the habit. Seventy-two hours before Ms. Miers was nominated, federal auditors from the Government Accountability Office declared that the administration had violated the law against "covert propaganda" when it repeatedly hired fake reporters (and one supposedly real pundit, Armstrong Williams) to plug its policies in faux news reports and editorial commentary produced at taxpayers' expense. But a bigger scandal is the legal propaganda that the White House produces daily even now - or especially now.

As always, much of it pertains to the war in Iraq. On Sept. 28, to take one recent instance, the president announced the smiting of a man he identified as "the second most wanted Al Qaeda leader in Iraq" and the "top operational commander of Al Qaeda in Baghdad." As New York's Daily News would quickly report, the man in question "may not even be one of the top 10 or 15 leaders." The blogger Blogenlust chimed in, documenting 33 "top lieutenants" of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who have been captured, killed or identified in the past two and a half years, with no deterrent effect on terrorist violence in Iraq, Madrid or London. No wonder the nation shrugged at the largely recycled and unsubstantiated list of 10 foiled Qaeda plots that Mr. Bush unveiled in Thursday's latest stay-the-course Iraq oration.

The administration's strategy for covering up embarrassing realities with fiction reached its purest expression two weeks ago when both Laura Bush and Karen Hughes were recruited to star in propagandistic television "reality" shows. In the first lady's case, this was literally so: she was dispatched to Biloxi to appear in an episode of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." The thinking seems to be that if Mrs. Bush helps one family on a hit reality series, perhaps no one will notice the reality that no-bid contracts and ineptitude have kept hundreds of thousands of other hurricane victims homeless indefinitely while taxpayers foot the bill for unused trailers and cruise ships.

Ms. Hughes took her act on the road in the Middle East. There she conducted a culturally tone-deaf "listening tour" in which she read her lines from briefing papers and tried to win hearts and minds by posing with little Arab kids as if they were interchangeable with the little black kids in Mr. Bush's "compassionate conservative" photo ops back home. She didn't seem to know that this stunt wouldn't even fly on Fox News anymore, let alone Al Jazeera.

This Saturday is supposed to bring new victories on both these troubled fronts: Oct. 15 is the day that Iraqis vote on their constitution and the day that the president set as a deadline for all hurricane victims to be moved out of shelters. Chances are that the number of Americans who still have faith that the light is at the end of either of these tunnels is identical to the number who believe Harriet Miers is the second coming of Antonin Scalia and that Tom Cruise has found true love.

I have not looked as forward to a set of Senate confirmation hearings since Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill graced our television sets for three days back in the early nineties. While Ms. Miers' hearings won't be as juicy . . . they should be as interesting in their own "right."

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Founding Fathers and Harriet Miers

I can't know for certain; however, I'd venture to say George W. Bush has never read Federalist Number 76. If you want to be one up on Mr. Bush, you can review it here. In this paper, Alexander Hamilton, in his own right a brilliant constitutional lawyer, discusses the Presidential power of appointment. Specifically, in part of this paper, Hamilton discusses the Senate's role in giving its advice and consent to any particular Presidental nomination in relevant part:

To what purpose then require the co-operation of the Senate? I answer, that the necessity of their concurrence would have a powerful, though, in general, a silent operation. It would be an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the President, and would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity. In addition to this, it would be an efficacious source of stability in the administration.

It will readily be comprehended, that a man who had himself the sole disposition of offices, would be governed much more by his private inclinations and interests, than when he was bound to submit the propriety of his choice to the discussion and determination of a different and independent body, and that body an entier branch of the legislature. The possibility of rejection would be a strong motive to care in proposing. The danger to his own reputation, and, in the case of an elective magistrate, to his political existence, from betraying a spirit of favoritism, or an unbecoming pursuit of popularity, to the observation of a body whose opinion would have great weight in forming that of the public, could not fail to operate as a barrier to the one and to the other. He would be both ashamed and afraid to bring forward, for the most distinguished or lucrative stations, candidates who had no other merit than that of coming from the same State to which he particularly belonged, or of being in some way or other personally allied to him, or of possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure.

So, the question now arises, will the Senate also arise to the occasion and fulfill its obligation under the Constitution? The United States Constitution sets for the standard for Executive appointments of Supreme Court Justices. The Constitution, Article II, Section II, Clause II provides:
Clause 2: He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
The Senate's Constitutional duty is to advise and consent to Ms. Mier's appointment, contingent upon Hamilton's checks and balance formula outlined in Federalist 76. I'll reserve my final judgment until after Ms. Miers' confirmation hearings, assuming she lasts that long; however, based on what facts we know at this juncture, Ms. Miers' nomination is classic for rejection based on her well documented personal relationship with Mr. Bush, and the paucity of her constitutional qualifications.

Self Pity

I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
Without ever having felt sorry for itself.

-- D.H. Lawrence

I came across this short poem by D.H. Lawrence for the first time while watching the movie G.I. Jane. Its powerful message punctuated this movie with an overarching theme, and a powerful message. Whether you liked the film or not (I did), Lawrence's words, in my view gave it more impact and meaning.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bush's Second Supreme Court Nomination

In today's Washington Post, George F. Will says it all about George Bush, and his second court nomination. I repost it in its entiriety; however, you can read the original here until moved by the Post:

Can This Nomination Be Justified?

By George F. Will
Wednesday, October 5, 2005; A23

Senators beginning what ought to be a protracted and exacting scrutiny of Harriet Miers should be guided by three rules. First, it is not important that she be confirmed. Second, it might be very important that she not be. Third, the presumption -- perhaps rebuttable but certainly in need of rebutting -- should be that her nomination is not a defensible exercise of presidential discretion to which senatorial deference is due.

It is not important that she be confirmed because there is no evidence that she is among the leading lights of American jurisprudence, or that she possesses talents commensurate with the Supreme Court's tasks. The president's "argument" for her amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to, for several reasons.

He has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution. Few presidents acquire such abilities in the course of their pre-presidential careers, and this president particularly is not disposed to such reflections.

Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that Miers's nomination resulted from the president's careful consultation with people capable of such judgments. If 100 such people had been asked to list 100 individuals who have given evidence of the reflectiveness and excellence requisite in a justice, Miers's name probably would not have appeared in any of the 10,000 places on those lists.

In addition, the president has forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution. The forfeiture occurred March 27, 2002, when, in a private act betokening an uneasy conscience, he signed the McCain-Feingold law expanding government regulation of the timing, quantity and content of political speech. The day before the 2000 Iowa caucuses he was asked -- to ensure a considered response from him, he had been told in advance that he would be asked -- whether McCain-Feingold's core purposes are unconstitutional. He unhesitatingly said, "I agree." Asked if he thought presidents have a duty, pursuant to their oath to defend the Constitution, to make an independent judgment about the constitutionality of bills and to veto those he thinks unconstitutional, he briskly said, "I do."

It is important that Miers not be confirmed unless, in her 61st year, she suddenly and unexpectedly is found to have hitherto undisclosed interests and talents pertinent to the court's role. Otherwise the sound principle of substantial deference to a president's choice of judicial nominees will dissolve into a rationalization for senatorial abdication of the duty to hold presidents to some standards of seriousness that will prevent them from reducing the Supreme Court to a private plaything useful for fulfilling whims on behalf of friends.

The wisdom of presumptive opposition to Miers's confirmation flows from the fact that constitutional reasoning is a talent -- a skill acquired, as intellectual skills are, by years of practice sustained by intense interest. It is not usually acquired in the normal course of even a fine lawyer's career. The burden is on Miers to demonstrate such talents, and on senators to compel such a demonstration or reject the nomination.

Under the rubric of "diversity" -- nowadays, the first refuge of intellectually disreputable impulses -- the president announced, surely without fathoming the implications, his belief in identity politics and its tawdry corollary, the idea of categorical representation. Identity politics holds that one's essential attributes are genetic, biological, ethnic or chromosomal -- that one's nature and understanding are decisively shaped by race, ethnicity or gender. Categorical representation holds that the interests of a group can be understood, empathized with and represented only by a member of that group.

The crowning absurdity of the president's wallowing in such nonsense is the obvious assumption that the Supreme Court is, like a legislature, an institution of representation. This from a president who, introducing Miers, deplored judges who "legislate from the bench."

Minutes after the president announced the nomination of his friend from Texas, another Texas friend, Robert Jordan, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, was on Fox News proclaiming what he and, no doubt, the White House that probably enlisted him for advocacy, considered glad and relevant tidings: Miers, Jordan said, has been a victim. She has been, he said contentedly, "discriminated against" because of her gender.

Her victimization was not so severe that it prevented her from becoming the first female president of a Texas law firm as large as hers, president of the State Bar of Texas and a senior White House official. Still, playing the victim card clarified, as much as anything has so far done, her credentials, which are her chromosomes and their supposedly painful consequences. For this we need a conservative president?

Hard words from a true conservative.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

General Conference Sunday Morning Session

No, I'm not going to try and repeat a live blog of this morning's session, which has now begun--though my retention level of Saturday afternoon's session was higher than normal. I may post a few thoughts as the sesssion goes on, but not like yesterday. Based just on the choir selections this morning, (Joseph's First Prayer, and A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief--two excellent selections) it appears this morning's session may have some Joseph Smith talks. I would very much enjoy that, as we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of his birth and the 175th anniversary of the Church he restored.

President Monson 9:18 a.m. Yes. President Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency begins the conference with a talk on the Prophet Joseph (Millions shall know Brother Joseph again). Since I've been asked to speak on this subject in December in our own ward, these talks will be a great resource for me. He begins with the story of Joseph's leg operation, and his courage that he exemplified.

President Monson appears to be giving a good history of the Prophet's life, including the First Vision, and now into the translation of the Book of Mormon. "I am going like a Lamb to the slaughter . . ." as Joseph went off with his brother to meet his fate at Carthage Jail.

Though the Prophet was murdered by mobs seeking to destroy his work, that work continues to this very day. And, millions proclaim him a Prophet of God, as indeed millions know him again.

Section 135 of the Doctine of Covenents quoted about Joseph doing more than Christ only to save mankind. Fine closing for this talk.

9:35 a.m. Elder Boyd K. Packer, moves away from the specific theme of Joseph's life, but still remains on theme by discussing the Scriptures, including those we have as a direct result of Joseph's works. Today opposition is not so much directed to the Church as a body, but to us as individuals. The scriptures teach us that if we are prepared we shall not fear. This is also clearly set forth in the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared! Any correlation here between scouting and our young men's program---absolutely!

Good discussion of the compiliation of the LDS publication of the Scriptures, including the current indexes, dictionaries, and cross references. Good point about the use of modern technology and computers involved in the compliation of these modern scriptures. The most comprehensive scriptural compilation of the name Jesus Christ can be found in the Topical Guide of the LDS publication of the Scriptures. We are encouraged to read and study it.

The scriptural cannon is not closed, as the revelation of the Blacks and the Priesthood was also added to this publication. We beleive all that God does reveal, and all that He has revealed, and that He will yet reveal. Continuting revelation a critical topic, and foundational principle of Christ's Church. While the Church is housed in chapels, it lives in the hearts of Latter-day Saints. Nice quote by Elder Packer.

9:50 a.m. Merrill J. Bateman Quorum of the Seventy Discusses the parable of the wicked husbandman. Still there is a discernable Joseph Smith theme to the conference. Here, Elder Batement discusses the apostacy after Christ's death, and then the Restoration, by the Prophet Joseph. The Savior in the last dispensation will gather together all things. The restitution of all things began in the Sacred Grove. Again, specific reference to Joseph's mission.

He's now discussing how at each dispensation there is a Book involved. Of course in this last dispensation that is the Book of Mormon, which discusses Christ's Atonement more clearly than any book in history. This is clearly the case, as we read about Christ and his Atonement throughout the Book of Mormon. And, we read about the Atonement more clearly in the Book of Mormon than anywhere else. Good points all by Elder Bateman. Good discussion about Christ's Atonement and the Restoration by Elder Bateman

10:00 a.m. Choir and Congregation sing Sweet is the Work. Well, it's half time folks....the equivalent of the Seventh inning stretch at the Dodger game. Wow, that was a quick stretch--not a very long hymn.

10:02 a.m. Cheryl C. Lant General Primary President. She starts off speaking about reading the Book of Mormon again per President Hinckley's challenge. I'm remiss here, and confess I haven't yet taken up that challenge. Since so many are discussing this at conference, then I realize I need to get up to speed. There's still time to read and complete the Book of Mormon by the end of the year; however, combining that with the Prophet Joseph's new biography, that will be a tall order---well at least a great deal of reading, no doubt! Good empahsis on reading scriptures with the family.

10:11 a.m. Richard Scott, Quorum of the Twelve Deteriorating world conditions prompt people to seek out God's guidance and assistance. Elder Scott returns to the plan of salvation discussion and how we came to earth as part of a plan to test us. Part of the plan was to remove our recollection of our prior existence before this life. He also points out the opportunities lost by those rejected Christ's pre-mortal plan of salvation. They were cast out with Satan and deprived of a great learning experience and the opportunity for mortality.

How can we confirm these truths? How does God guide his children on earth? Prophets taught truths in their respective dispensations. Christ came and established his Church with apostles and prophets. He was crucified, over came physical death and was Resurrected. Yet, even Christ was rejected by the vast majority. Hence, the great spiritual darkness of the apostacy occurred.

Now back to the Joseph Smith theme, Elder Scott points out that God the Father, in His only appearance ever to mortals was to the Prophet Joseph, along with His Son Jesus Christ. This appearance dispursed the long spiritual darkness of apostacy, and commenced the Restoration. This initiated the dispensation of the fullness of times.

The Book of Mormon confirms the Restoration. Much of the Prophet Joseph's ministry focused on Christ and His Atonement and mission. Elder Scott has a distinct delivery--one has to learn to appreciate his delivery. I recall him from my mission days in South America when he came and spoke to us, year and years ago. Again the Book of Mormon challenge discussed. There's still time to take up this challenge and complete the reading. So, I'm again reminded of this important task.

10:26 a.m. Choir again sings The Seer

10:30 a.m. President Gordon B. Hinckley is the concluding speaker for this session. He is grateful for his extended life and the ability to serve. He travels a great deal, though observes he doesn't really like to travel. I don't travel much personally; however, I expect travelling as much as President Hinckley does probably gets old pretty quickly. So many hotel beds would not be something to look forward to I suppose.

He points out the prodigal son story, and encourages us to re-read that story, and he does in his talk. Sermon on the Mount also revisted, turn the other cheek, and give up your coat as well as cloak. Go not only one mile, but twain. Love our enemies and bless those who curse you. Strong words as the Prophet points out. And he asks, do we think we can really follow this injunction? Yet, he points out they are Christ's words, and we must decide whether we can, or will.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Woman where are thine accusers? A great review of some of the greatest verses of scripture--yet most difficult of concepts for those of us in mortality.

The use of frozen in fowel in the commision of a crime....great line by the prophet, and it got laughs as well . . . .but a great story as well about the individual who was a vicitm of crime, who actually forgave her assailant. These are hard words, and even harder concepts he is teaching. Forgivness, love and tolerance all tied into Christ's Atonement, His suffering, His promise of Salvation, Resurrection, and possible Exaltation.

We can all be a little more tolerant, walk an additional mile, lay aside old grudges, and move on.

Another very good conference session.

10:50 a.m. Choir concludes with two more Joseph Smith hymns, one my favorite, Praise to the Man.

Praise to the Man who communed with Jehovah!
Jesus annointed that Prophet and Seer,
Blessed to open the last dispensation,
Kings shall extol him, and nations revere

Praise to his memory, he died as a martyr;
Honored and blest be his ever great name!
Long shall his blood, which was shed by assasins,
Plead unto heav'n while the earth lauds his fame

Great is his glory and endless his priesthood.
Ever and ever the keys he will hold.
Faithful and true, he will enter his kingdom,
Crowned in the midst of the prophets of old.

Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven;
Earth must atone for the blood of that man.
Wake up the world for the conflict of justice.
Millions shall know Brother Joseph again!

Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven.
Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain.
Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;
Death cannot conquer the hero again!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Live Blogging Second Session of Conference

I've never live blogged anything; but, I'm going to try at least part of this session. I don't know if I'll be able to do the entire session. We'll see how far I get, and how accurate! Please be kind.

Young men's women’s choir from Bountiful, Woods Cross and Salt Lake Utah provided the music

Elder Faust conducts this session of conference

1:01 p.m. Elder Faust welcomes all to conference

The choir sings Awake and Arise:

Choir sounds great, and looks even better. The women are multi colored in their dress--very impressive.

1:07 p.m. Elder Faust extends greetings to all present, on the net, and watching at various buildings around the world

1:07 p.m. Elder John H Groberg offers the opening prayer

1:08: Choir Sings again:

They (the young women) look like the fall mountain sides of Utah, and other locations that actually have seasons. Very well done! Why are the young men confined to dark suits, ties, and white shirts? I really like the color of the young women side of the choir.

1:12 p.m. President Monson presents the General Authorities of the Church for a sustaining vote.

First Presidency Sustained

1:13 p.m. Quorum of 12 sustained--camera pans across each Apostle as names read.

1:14 p.m. First Presidency and Quorum of 12 sustained as Prophets, Seers, Revelators

1:14 p.m. Some of Quorum of Seventy released, thanked, and placed as emeritus status members of that Quorum

1:15 p.m. New members of 2d Quorum of Seventy sustained; Area Seventies sustained.

1:16 p.m. Other General Authorities sustained as presently constituted. All sustained unanamiously.

1:17 p.m. Dallin H. Oaks addresses conferece:

Priesthood Authority in the Family and Church

Father died when he was seven. Raised by widowed mother. Ordained a deacon, and she was very pleased to again have priesthood in the home. He was puzzeled because his mother still presided in home, called on others for prayer.

Neighbor was abusive to his family. Wife walked behind husband to church. Sister Oaks angry.

Elder Oaks decries priesthood abuse and authority today in relationship between husbands and wives.

Some single women who have been abused, think this is male abuse, and suspicious any priesthood authority. This is in error. Don't forgo electricty because one appliance is bad.

Scriptures describe priesthood authority, but don't explain what principles apply just to family or to Church or both.

Programs in family and Church. Service to one is service to the other. When families are strong the Church is strong. The two run in parallel. Church should not intervere with family time, and Family time should not interfer with Sacrament Meeting.

If all families more perfect, the Church could sponsor fewer activities. So there is a special need for special Church activities. Elder Oaks mother saw the benefits of Church programs, for her fatherless son, i.e., Scouting.

Priesthood is power of God used to bless all His children, both male and female. Men are NOT the priesthood. Priesthood meeting is a meeting of men who hold the priesthood. Priesthood blessings available to men and women alike.

Priesthood authority just happens to be exercised by men, by devine decreee.

Sis. Oaks continued to preside over her own family after husband's death, while Priesthood holders presided over the church.

All Priesthood authority in Church is exercised under the appropriate authority holding the keys.

Family priesthood exercised without need to obtain authority to exercise the keys. Family councils, family blessings, home evenings, etc.

Priesthood authority to baptize, however, is exercised only with permission from those in authority. This falls to the Church exercise of Priesthood authority.

Church callings always temporary. Family relationships always current.

Head of family lacks family to adjust family relationships. Church relationships can change. Relief Society President can be released. But the Bishop can't release husband and wife. Family relationships more enduring than Church relationships.

Government of Church by Heirarchy; family by Patrichary. Husbands and wives though are equal partners. Marriage is a full partnership, per President Kimball. Wives are not silent partners, per President Kimball. President Kimball decried priesthood abuse of authority, i.e., I hold the Priesthood and you must obey. This is wrong.

Christ treated women consiterately. Men must exercise priesthood authority per D & C 121:41-42. Love unfeigned, with love and kindness.

Family proclamation quoted.

Gentleness and persuasion very important, as described in section 121. Single women's experieince with Priesthood authority only within government of Church. She doesn't experience priesthood authority of husband.

Church theology centers on the family. We are spirit children of heavenly parents. Church is family centered church. We are distressed with world's misunderstanding of marriage and childbearing. Family nature is eternal. Elder Oaks mother continued to honor her deceased husband.

Looking toward future and reuniting of families. Testifies of Christ

Jeffery Holland 1:35 p.m.

Recently aware he had a teen aged grandchild. Raising them is harrowing but important. We are very proud of our teens. They face great temptations, yet they strive to do right. He praises our youth, and expresses his pride.

Young women are focus of Elder Holland's remarks. Be proud you are a woman. Feel the reality of what that means. You are spirit daughter of Heavenly parents. This knowlege should be fundamental in every decision you make. God knows your name, your circumstance, your hopes, dreams, frustrations, and knows what you can become. You have full equality in God's sight. You have right to become joint heirs with God and Christ.

Christ taught all he taught both to men and women. Young women are sanctified investiture, per Elder Talmadge. The world needs you.

If you live beneath your potential, we express even greater love for you. Prophets and apostles, and parents only want what is best in your life. Don't be a slave to the world's lower fashion standards. The Churdh will always declare standards. One such standard is modesty, which is always in fashion. Our standards are not socially negotiable.

Strength of Youth pamphlet quoted on proper choice of clothing. Parents, please review with your youth.

Sunday dress--should be best dress. LDS chapel is House of Lord. Clothes need not be expensive. But, it should not appear we are on the way to the beach. When we arrive to partake of the sacrament, we should be as dignified as we can be. We should be true diciples of Christ. We should be meek, and lowly of heart.

Please be more accepting of yourselves, including body shape and style. Don't think you need to look like someone else. You can't live your live that the world is staring at you--they are not. Don't give away your power. Always listen to your innner self. The real inner you is more precious than Rubies.

Adult women, you are the greatest examples and resource for our young women. If you obscess over a size two, so will the youth. Eat right, exercise, but remember optimum health. There is no optimum size. The world has been brutal in this regard. Looks are not everything as the world teaches. They teach if you look good enough you will be popular and happy. Too often too much is done to the body to meet these illusory standards of the world. We mutilate our bodies to try to climb this slippery slope.

We are fixated on the self. This is destructive. We shouldn't remodel everthing that can be remodeled, by nipping, tucking, and implanting wherever possible. Great and spacious make up kit (laughter from audience) would be required to keep up with the world of glamour and fashion . . .but it would never be enough.

Much said in entertainment media about reality shows. I don't know what that is; however, this is reality: The Father and Son did appear to Prophet Joseph Smith, called by God from your very age group. These Divine Beings actually spoke to the Prophet Josephy. This was real! This was just a real as the Doubting Thomas' experience.

God is our Father. Jesus Christ is His begotten in the flesh. This is God's Kingdom on the earth. President Hinckely a true Prophet leads Christ's Church today.

1:51 p.m. Choir and congregation sing High on a Mountain Top

1:53 p.m. Benjamin De Hoyos Quorum of the Seventy

Happiness is purpose of the Gospel. Book of Helaman quoted Chapter 3:27-30.

Making correct decision leads us to happiness, even in difficult circumstances. Father Lehi warned ancient Israel, and they sought to take his life.

Story of Bro. Valdez, about whether he should continue to work for cigarette factory, in anticipation of baptism. He quit, and was offered a new job the same day. He made a correct decision leading to happiness.

Happiness is a condition of the soul. Happiness is the object an ddesing of our existence, per Joseph Smith. After struggling to get to promised land, Nephi summarized that they lived after the manner of happiness. Mosiah 2:41 quoted. Those who keep commandments will be happy. We need to live in such a way to be happy, i.e., keep the commandments.

Come unto me, per Christ's admonition to us all. He testifies of Christ and his Divinity, restoration of the Church, and the comming forth of the Book of Mormon, and also of President Hinckely today.

2:00 p.m. Elder C. Scott Grow Quorum of Seventy. He served a mission in Mexico. Most elders were from the U.S. One of his towns made mostly of adobe, with dirt floors, and very little possessions. One family even had no shoes. Yet they sold everything they had to travel to the Mesa Temple to be sealed.

Mexico now has over 100 stakes and 1 million members. Lehi prophesied of this long ago in the Book of Mormon. Mexico and other Latin American countries have decedents of lands long ago, to whom Christ appeared. Christ is light of the world.

Arise and shine forth that thy light may shine forth. Christ is that light. We also offer additional light from Book of Mormon another Testament of Jesus Christ.

President Hinckely has challenged us to re-read Book of Mormon this year in honor of the Prophet Joseph who was told his name would be known the world over for good or for evil, which prophecy has come to pass.

Story of a young man named Jesus in Mexico. He grew up wanting to join the Church, but was told he had to wait for the missionaries to contact him. When he took the lessons he was captivated by the story of Christ coming to the Americas. Some years later he had further contact with the missionaires. He read the Book of Mormon and was converted. Yet, he lost 12 years in waiting for the Gospel to come into his life. Today Jesus Santos is president of Monterey, Mexico Temple.

The Book of Mormon is its own witness to all. It bears witness that God is again gathering Israel. Who do we know who might respond to an invitation to read the Book of Mormon. Don't wait--ask. The Book of Mormon is means by which all nations will be gathered into the Church. Christ is the Savior. This is His Church and Kingdom.

2:10 p.m. Elder Paul K. Sybrowski Quorum of the Seventy

Book of Mormon quiz with family. Enos went into forrest to hunt, but without success in terms of food, but spiritually was found. We should seek after the one who is lost. Parable of the 99 related.

Since Adam's fall, we are all in a lost and fallen state. His grandparents were baptized per missionary discussions. But within one generation activity was lost. He was invited to primary, and then eventually Priesthood meeting.

Lloyd Bennet was his scoutmaster. He took time for the one. Take time to find one more. Look to the one in the corner who you may not have considered. Like Enos while in Fort Ord he came away found as a result of prayer. He was to serve a full time mission.

Christ came into the world to redeem his people and take upon him their sins. Isaiah saw our day. Behold I will set up my standard to the people through the Gentiles. We have been carried on arms and shoulders to safety.

If Christ had my opportunities what would he do? (This is a very powerful question personally) Remember the one, and try to bring him/her to Christ.

He recalls his mission which was important to him. Young men you can and should prepare to serve a mission. Sisters also can help build the Kingdom, as can seniors. We need you all to help bring all to the knowledge of the Truth. We must act and do. We must labor diligently. We must follow our impressions. Would we ask someone to listen to a prophet? What about tommorrow at conference?

Is grateful to again serve. Testifies of the Gospel's restoration. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. God lives, and Jesus is the Christ our reedmeer. Like Enos, I must declare the word of Christ.

2:18 p.m. Elder Faust resumes stand to remind us brethern of Priesthood at 6:00 p.m. Utah time. Also he reminds us Sunday's conference. He thanks the young men and women's choir.

ElderHenry Eyring Quorum of the Twelve 2:19 p.m.--The importance and relevance of the Family Proclamation. (Read this it's important!)

We have seen the tradegy of the recent storms. We ask how can we prepare? There is an imporant preparation we can make more important than temporal provisions. We need spiritual preparation. We need to have developed Faith in Christ so that we can pass the test of life. This is the purpose of God in the Creation. We will prove them (meaning us) to see whether we will hearken to and obey God's commands during the storms of life. The real test is whether we will choose the right.

Power of evil would have us surrender to temptations around us. The test of life is very hard. Nevertheless we are free to choose for ourselves eternal life, or the alternative. It takes unshakable faith in Christ to pass life's test. Only through this faith can we resist temptation and have Christ's atonement apply to us.

We will need to have prepared long before life's storms in order to pass the test. We need to decide now whether to obey. We should start early and be steady.

Four settings to spiritually prepare:

1. Feast on word of God

Read Book of Mormon before end of the year. If we procrastinated (like I have) the number of pages increased. It's important to start as soon as the command comes to obey. (One of my major problems). We need to act quickly on commands of Holy Ghost. Go to the scriptures early and consistently. We will be better prepared for the upcoming spiritual storms. We can then drink often and deeply from the Book of Mormon

2. Pray always.

We do this so that we will not over come. We can also build our faith by praying daily. God always answers our petitions and prayers. We will gain the faith to go back again and again to pray and receive further light and knowledge. Christ's example in the Garden is instructive. He prayed not only to accept the Father's will, but to do the Father's way.

3. Be a full Tithe Payer

We should not wait until the annual tithing settlmement. It takes faith to pay promptly, and without procrastination. If we are faithful, blessings will flow through the year, as well as now.

4. Resist Temptation.

The best time to resist is now. Choose quickly to repent if and when we do fail. Seek forgiveness now rather than later. Repent as we go along, and exercise faith. Resisting temptation will also build faith. If we are prepared we shall not fear. We must decide to obey and then do it. We can decide now to do quickly what God asks of us. This will carry us though the great tests to come..

Testifies of Christ, and his Atonement, and Ressurection. Testifies of Book of Mormon and its truthfullness. Testifies of Restoration. God can give us the power to do what he asks of us. Let us obey the Lord quickly, always, in quite times and in storms.

2:35 p.m. Elder Russel M Ballard Quorum of the Twelve

Several brethern and he had visited hurrican victims in Gulf Coast. Most touching was the crying out for family. What we care about most are our families. This will be even more important when we leave this life for the next. Everyone is a member of God's family.

This year is 10 year anniversary of Proclamation of the Family. It is a stern warning in the world of misplaced priorites of undermining the basic unit of the family. It was ahead of its time, and calls for priority and emphasis on families. Traditional marriage is important. The proclamation stands in contrast to the world's confusion about families.

Marriage between man and woman is ordained of man of God. Gender is an essential characterist of the eternities. Children are entitled to mothers and fathers who honor their marital vows. The family is the fundamental unit of society.

All are to hold fast to this great proclamation. It should be like the Title of Liberty. The Proclamation applies to everyone. Yet, modern culture ignores family.

Definition of family is expanded beyond any recognition. Rampant materialism and selfishness teach families and children are a milstone. These are both false.

Families across the world, across cultures and faiths feel the importance of the family. The world needs to know what the Proclamation teaches. Families will also be the basic unit of the next life. This truth is rooted in Restored doctrine.

Before this life we lived as a family in the heavens. We know families can also extend beyone death. Families who have family as a priority will gravitate toward the Church. Nothing more important than how we love and support one another within the family.

The Church is the Kingdom of God on Earth. In Heaven it will be the family as the basic unit. We are released from Church callings. We will never be released from families.

There is no happiness without service. No greater service than home and family per Joseph F. Smith.

1. Be consistent in holding daily prayer and family home evenings.

2. Teach gospel and basic values in the home.

Reach the scriptures together. Learn and teach basic values in the home. The family is where this should take place. Be wise and don't become too busy in outside activites.

3. Create meaningful family bonds.

This can be done through dinner times, traditions, family policy rules with clear expectations and consequences. Teach to avoid debt. Teach to be self reliant. Put families first.

We call on the media to be more family supportive. We call on government to put needs of family and children first. We call on internet providers to protect families and children from filth and sleeze. We call on Church members to love others in different faiths. We help ourselves when we help families. As we do, we fulfill the measure of our creation.

2:53 p.m. Choir sings the closing hymn.

Just as a personal observation I have never understood better, or received a greater depth of information from a conference session than this one, as I paid more close attention to what was said than any in recent memory. I should blog each session if only for my own edification. I was particularly impressed by Elder Ballard's discourse on the Family Proclamation. Greater Truth has not been spoken. I'll now try and go back and clean up the typos and incomplete sentences.

Good session!

Closing Prayer 2:56 p.m.

LDS General Conference Take 175

Today is the 175th Semi Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Why semi annual you ask...well, because the annual conference is held in April. So, every six months the Church meets in general conference, which emmanates from Salt Lake City. At conference, Church members and the world at large, for those tuning it, are instructed by modern Prophets, Seers & Revelators on all manner of information, spiritual, and practical for everyday life. The first link above will take you to a site where you can listen live if you are so inclined. I try and listen to most of conference; however, as with all things in life, some elements are more to my liking and interest than others. Significant about this conference is that it commemorates the 175th anniversary of the Church, since founded in 1830 by the Prophet Joseph Smith.

In conjunction with this conference and the accompanying celebration of the Church's founding is a new biography Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (Knopf, 730 pages, $35) by Richard Bushman. I haven't yet had an opportunity to read this biography, it just came out; however, I anticipate starting the volume within the next few days. It is supposed to be the definitive biography on the Prophet thus far written.

There are at least two open conference threads on two of the more widely read LDS Blogs. These are the closest I have found to any actual live blogging of the LDS conference. You can read them at Millennial Star, and also at Times and Seasons, both excellent LDS Blogs where you could literally spend hours reading about LDS issues and discussions.