254 Comments

Defining Political Extremism

I usually don’t comment much on politics.  When I do, it seems that my political posts don’t do so well, but here goes anyway.  A few months ago, I got an email from a friend asking me about how the church defines political extremism.  She had some relatives that were concerned about government conspiracies for population control, the New World Order, and a few other things.

Then I was talking to my sister a few days ago.  She asked me what I thought of the Tea Party movement.  In brief, I’m not a big fan.  Anyway, I thought it might be time to put together some of my political thoughts, and quotes from former apostle Hugh B. Brown into a post.  I considered waiting until closer to the election, but decided to go ahead and put this out now, since I was just talking to my sister about this issue.  I have combined a few emails into this post.

My sister’s email quoted a blogger complaining about President Obama.  The first question from the blogger was terrible.  “If Obama wanted to destroy the United States, what would he be doing differently?”

I don’t for a second think Obama is trying to destroy the United States.  People are welcome to disagree with Obama–certainly I do on a fair number of issues.  However, when we try to demonize people we disagree with, we have crossed the line into political extremism.

I had an email from a friend asking me about political extremism, and how the church defines it.  Well, here are some thing I told her, and I think they apply to this blogger as well.

You may be interested in this letter that was read here in Utah on Mar 22, 2010.  See http://www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/first-presidency-letter-on-utah-precinct-caucus-meetings

“Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of various political parties.”  (Emphasis mine.)

I usually lean republican, but I do like Jim Matheson (D-Congressman Utah) and Peter Caroon (D-SL County mayor.)  I’m not real fond of Harry Reid, but it is cool to have such a high ranking Mormon.  Matheson is a Mormon and crusades against wasteful government spending.  He was one of the few guys who voted against the Bank Bailout (and caught a lot of heat when the bailout was popular), and voted against Health Care Reform.  He’s a real fiscal conservative, opposes abortion, and I really like a lot of his stands.  In states like NY, CA, or MA, he’d be a republican (more conservative than Guiliani, McCain, or even Mitt), but Utah is so ultra-conservative that he is really a very conservative democrat.

The following quote comes from Hugh B Brown’s famous speech “Profile of a Prophet.”  This is the beginning of the commencement address he gave to BYU students in 1968.  The first 3 minutes of the speech, Brown gives a few jokes and advice, and then gets onto Politics, before addressing his main topic of “Profile of a Prophet.”

“You young people are leaving your university at a time in which our nation is engaged in an increasingly abrasive and strident process of electing a president.  I wonder if you would permit me as one who has managed to survive a number of these events to pass on to you a few words of counsel.

First, I’d like you to be reassured that the leaders of both major political parties in this land are men of integrity, and unquestioned patriotism.  Beware of those who feel obliged to prove their own patriotism by calling into question the loyalty of others. Be skeptical of those who attempt to demonstrate their love of country by demeaning its institutions. Know that men of both major political parties who guide the nation’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches are men of unquestioned loyalty and we should stand by and support them, and this refers not only to one party but to all.

Strive to develop a maturity of mind and emotion and a depth of spirit which will enable you to differ with others on matters of politics without calling into question the integrity of those with whom you differ. Allow within the bounds of your definition of religious orthodoxy variation of political belief. Do not have the temerity to dogmatize on issues where the Lord has seen fit to be silent.  I’ve found by long experience that our two-party system is sound.  Beware of those who are so lacking in humility, that they cannot come within the framework of one of our two great parties.

Our nation has avoided chaos, like that is gripping France today, because men have been able to temper their own desires sufficiently, seek broad agreement within one of the two major parties, rather than forming splinter groups around their one radical idea.

Our two party system has served us well, and should not be lightly discarded.  At a time when radicals of right or left inflame race against race, avoid those who teach evil doctrines of racism.  When our Father declared that we, his children, were brothers and sisters, he did not limit this relationship on the basis of race.  Strive to develop that true love of country, that realizes that real patriotism must include within it a regard for the people of the rest of the globe.  Patriotism has never demanded of good men hatred of another country as proof of one’s love for his own.  Require the tolerance and compassion of others and for them.  Those with different politics or race or religion will be demanded by the heavenly parentage which we all have in common.

-Hugh B. Brown, Commencement address, Brigham Young University, May 31, 1968

I’m sure he is referring to the Civil Rights, Vietnam, as well as the upcoming presidential election following Lyndon B Johnson’s announcement that he would step down.  Of course Nixon won a 3 way race over D-Hubert Humphrey, and I-George Wallace.  There were Vietnam demonstrations, and I think it was a much more divisive time than today, though today is a very divisive time.  Let’s not forget that Wallace was later shot in 1972, and we all know what happened to Nixon.  I didn’t know what happened in France in 1968, so I looked it up on wikipedia.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_1968_in_France Apparently there were some big-time riots, strikes, and protests that almost brought the French government down.

Here’s a different talk by Hugh B. Brown that gives some good advice too.  http://unicomm.byu.edu/president/documents/brown.htm

[T]he possibility of coherent community action is diminished today by the deep mutual suspicions and antagonisms among various groups in our national life.

As these antagonisms become more intense, the pathology is much the same. . . . The ingredients are, first, a deep conviction on the part of the group as to its own limitless virtue or the overriding sanctity of its cause; second, grave doubts concerning the moral integrity of all others; third, a chronically aggrieved feeling that power has fallen into the hands of the unworthy (that is, the hands of others). . . .

Political extremism involves two prime ingredients: An excessively simple diagnosis of the world’s ills and a conviction that there are identifiable villains back of it all. . . . Blind belief in one’s cause and a low view of the morality of other Americans–these seem mild failings. But they are the soil in which ranker weeds take root . . . terrorism, and the deep, destructive cleavages that paralyze a society.3

I am a bit wary of the Tea Party Movement, as well as MoveOn.org.  I view them both as unhealthy extremes.  My opinion is that it is fine to disagree with Democrats or Republicans.  But when we turn to decisiveness and refer to President George W Bush or President Barack Obama as “worse than Hitler”, we are guilty of political extremism.  As Hugh B Brown said, “the leaders of both major political parties in this land are men of integrity, and unquestioned patriotism.”

What say you?

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254 comments on “Defining Political Extremism

  1. Steve,

    We need to be a bit careful mushing communism and socialism together.

    Speaking of communism and socialism, President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. said, “The two are as two peas in a pod in their ultimate effect upon our liberties.”

    The first is evil. The second is just another way of organizing society.

    “During the first half of the 20th century we have traveled far into the soul destroying land of socialism.” (David O. McKay) I’d say “soul destroying” is evil.

    … Communism and all other similar isms bear no relationship whatever to the United Order. They are merely the clumsy counterfeits which Satan always devises of the gospel plan… Latter-day Saints cannot be true to their faith and lend aid, encouragement, or sympathy to any of these false philosophies. They will prove snares to their feet.” (Grant and McKay)

    If socialism is satan’s counterfeit, as has been stated by a number of church leaders, then how can it not be evil?

    I know Elder Benson used to mash them together and some, on the national scene, do so today.

    He’s not the only church leader either. Brigham Young and John Taylor’s main reason for keeping Utah out from joining the Union was over the issue of Public Education (the Church strongly opposed it — Brigham Young condemned it as a communistic evil — which, according to the 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto, it is); John Taylor went on to be very vocal about principles of Government and politics; Wilford Woodruff was an ardent supporter of sovereignty and of a Constitutional Republic; Heber G. Grant issued a First Presidency message against Communism and Socialism; David O. McKay said that Socialism and Communism consisted of the “greatest Satanical threat” to America — David O. McKay was far more vocal than Benson; J. Reuben Clark, Marion G. Romney, Marion Hanks, and many other Apostles and members of the First Presidency condemned socialism, government welfare, and everything associated to it.

    But, it is important to remember that some prominent LDS leaders have spoken positively of socialism. The modern examples were N. Eldon Tanner (he was in the Canadian parliament as a member of a socialist party) and Hugh B. Brown (a liberal but he often spoke about democratic socialism as a viable alternative).

    Why do we automatically believe these church leader over other church leaders?

  2. MH,

    At what point do you decide that you have (as Apostle William McLellin said) “no confidence in the presidency of the church.”? Let’s remember that the rank and file church member isn’t privy to the finances like you are. Tara, do you keep pouring money in a hole?

    I guess I’m too ignorant to see what losing confidence in church leaders has to do with being forced or coerced into living the Law of Consecration. I haven’t argued with you about losing confidence in church leaders so I’m not sure why you keep making that a point of contention.

    Are you really asking me why the pessimism after you said that dissent was “putting the lives of you and your family and friends in danger by their dissent”? If you’re Brigham Young, you’ve been run out of Kirtland, Jackson County, Far West, and Nauvoo. The 1838 Mormon War left nearly 2 dozen dead at Haun’s Mill, and you’ve had trouble with dissent. You’re being persecuted for polygamy. Why the pessimism? Are you serious?

    Well, let’s see. William Godbe lived in Utah when he was forced to leave, correct? Were there mobs there who were feeding off of members dissent that I’m not aware of? If there were, then I guess the members might not be very charitable. If there weren’t, then what’s wrong with what I said?

    A young man of marriageable age buys a pair of pants and goes to a church dance where a young woman rushes up to him and kisses him, and you are comparing this to a child eating broccoli????

    I’m sorry, but you said children. I guess I should’ve interpreted that as “a young man of marriageable age.” Okay, then is there any evidence that young men of marriageable age were forced to stay? Was there any evidence that they were not given the opportunity of choice? Do we not also in the church, give all people the opportunity to make their own covenants willingly, or not? Baptism is one thing, because children are so young, but a covenant such as the Law of Consecration would not be a covenant that was entered into as a young child. You said you didn’t think that young men of marriageable age had a choice, but I’m not sure if you really don’t know and are just speculating, or if you were just being “tongue-in-cheek.”

    You have no sympathy for Oliver or the Whitmers. Is that correct? They were free agents and were dealt with appropriately. Is that correct?

    I never said I had no sympathy for them, but sympathy doesn’t equate to looking the other way when covenants are broken. If it did, then that means God is not sympathetic. The demands of justice must be met, and when one doesn’t live up to their covenants, someone must bear the burden of that. Can you tell me who? Now tell me that earthly consequences are more severe than the eternal consequences and say that I have no sympathy.

  3. FT,

    Thanks for the input on my behalf. Excellent comments.

  4. FireTag:

    A brief on the historical expansion of the “commerce clause” to cover just about everything, and how far it differs from 18th Century understandings is a little beyond the scope of this blog, BTC. Progressives think that’s a good thing; conservatives think it’s gone much too far. It’s the old argument of “living document” versus “original construction.”

    I also think the expansion of the commerce clause is irrelevant to this discussion. It certainly hasn’t been expanded by the Obama administration. Moreover, the controversy of this expansion does not relate to the degree of regulation, but the subject of the regulation (ie. which industries are regulated and/or are the subject of the regulation actually commercial in nature). So while one may argue whether a particular regulation is outside the scope of the commerce clause, one cannot argue that this does not give the federal government power to regulate industry – which was my point.

    You also ignore that this was but one example of the regulatory power of government. Taxation is another – both by taxing directly (which is the specific thrust of Tara’s complaint) or by requiring a particular industry to agree to certain regs in order to take advantage of tax incentives.

    These are all ways the federal government can regulate industry. I haven’t even touched on the ability of state governments.

    FireTag:

    http://hotair.com/archives/2010/07/15/ppp-obama-palin-tied-4646-in-2012-polling/
    This links to and summarizes the results of a mid-July poll by Public Policy Polling (a Democratic polling firm) of registered voters. This link in turn goes to the PPP release itself if you wish to go further in the data. For years, Obama has done better among all adults than among registered voters, and better among regular voters than among likely voters. That may explain the difference in the results.

    It appears Mr. Obama’s fortunes may be shifting. Nonetheless, I’m glad you’ve come around to my way of thinking that match-up polls are far more telling than issue polls.

  5. Tara:

    Yeah, the government has always had the power to pass laws, but it wasn’t always been as centralized as it has become. The move to centralize power in the federal government over time is what has increased its power.

    Perhaps we are talking about two different things. I thought you said the Obama administration was doing this extraordinary thing. Now you seem to say it is just a natural progression and politics as usual. That was my point. Have you changed your position, or stating a new one?

    Tara
    That’s how I see it anyway.

    And you are certainly entitled to your opinion.

  6. Tara :

    But when you say that they do have, and always have had, the ability to pass laws, even to the point of passing a 100% tax, then you are saying they have the power to pass laws indiscriminately.

    Do you know what “indiscriminately” means? It means without reason or rational. How does saying that “government has power to pass laws, even to the point of passing a 100% tax” qualify as “indiscriminate?” This just doesn’t make any sense.

    Tara:

    The constitution states that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Right, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Our founding principles could not forever tolerate slavery within its midst and it did not.

    No, the Constitution doesn’t say that. I thought all you Tea Partier Libertarians had a pocket Constitution on you at all times? The document you are thinking of is the Declaration of Independence, which is not a legal document in our system of government. But even if what you say is true, it only serves to prove my point — that the government has in the past pushed the limits of its power and if Obama is doing something as bad as the founding fathers did — ie. Institutionalizing slavery — then let me know.

    The government does have more power than it did back then. As an example, in 1913, the Seventeenth Amendment changed the way senators were chosen, from being selected by state legislatures–ensuring that the state governments would have a direct and meaningful voice in the operation of the federal government–to direct popular election by the citizens of each state. Enough states ratified an amendment which largely disenfranchised themselves from the federal lawmaking process. Now, the once powerful states have themselves become administrative appendages of the federal government. It is not enough that the federal government exercises powers reserved to the states, but it also blackmails the states to implement its policies by threatening to deny them “their fair share” of federal tax dollars should they object.

    I’m not sure you understand the history or effect of the 13th Amendment, but just because the people voted for something you think they shouldn’t have, doesn’t mean that it’s some kind of power grab. It also happened, I believe, long before Obama took office. I was trying to rebut your position that the Obama administration is somehow exercising power in a way his predecessors did not.

  7. Do you know what “indiscriminately” means? It means without reason or rational. How does saying that “government has power to pass laws, even to the point of passing a 100% tax” qualify as “indiscriminate?” This just doesn’t make any sense.

    I do, in fact, understand what indiscriminately means. If the government were to pass a 100% tax, as you suggest they have the power to do, I would call that indiscriminate. That would be unreasonable and irrational, even if a majority thought it was a good idea and gave good reasons for it. Just because a majority, even a 10:1 majority, finds something okay, if it infringes upon one’s individual rights, his God given freedoms, then it is indiscriminate. Our Republic was founded on the basis that the majority could not rule in this way.

    No, the Constitution doesn’t say that. I thought all you Tea Partier Libertarians had a pocket Constitution on you at all times? The document you are thinking of is the Declaration of Independence, which is not a legal document in our system of government. But even if what you say is true, it only serves to prove my point — that the government has in the past pushed the limits of its power and if Obama is doing something as bad as the founding fathers did — ie. Institutionalizing slavery — then let me know.

    Yes, I misspoke. My intent was to convey that those principles were the principles on which the country was founded, and those unalienable, be they articulated in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, are most certainly rights that are encapsulated in the constitution.

    Also, I’m not a Tea Party member. I have only said that I think the Tea Party movement is a good thing.

    The founding fathers did not institutionalize slavery. Perhaps you are unclear on what the word “institute” means. It means to “establish, organize, and set in motion.” I believe that slavery was institutionalized long before the country was founded.

    I’m not sure you understand the history or effect of the 13th Amendment, but just because the people voted for something you think they shouldn’t have, doesn’t mean that it’s some kind of power grab. It also happened, I believe, long before Obama took office. I was trying to rebut your position that the Obama administration is somehow exercising power in a way his predecessors did not.

    I said the 17th amendment, not the 13th. Also, it wasn’t the people who voted for the amendment, whichever one you may be referring to either. No constitutional amendment has been passed by popular vote. That would go entirely against the foundation of the Republic. That would be the norm in a true Democracy, which we aren’t….yet. Are you sure YOU know what you’re talking about?

    And I’m only rebutting your position wherein you stated the government has always had the power to pass laws, even to the point that it can bankrupt any business or industry. Let’s try to stay on point here. I addressed much earlier in the discussion what I believed he has done to expand the power of the federal government.

    Perhaps we are talking about two different things. I thought you said the Obama administration was doing this extraordinary thing. Now you seem to say it is just a natural progression and politics as usual. That was my point. Have you changed your position, or stating a new one?

    When did I ever say he was the only one? A case could be made, however, that he is expanding it at a unprecedented rate, especially considering he hasn’t even been in office 2 years, and that is MY point. Always has been.

  8. It is difficult to discuss seriously with someone who says in the same sentence that “indiscriminate” means “without reason” and that you nonetheless find something to be indiscriminate even if it is passed by large majorities with very good reasons.

    If you are going to use words with unique meanings known only to you, then I am at a loss.

  9. Oh – and what is the “it” that Obama is expanding? And if a case can be made that he is doing so at an unprecedented rate, then by all means, make it.

  10. Gang rape is not okay in America because we believe that the individual has inalienable rights, regardless of what a threatening majority says. There is no magic ration wherein the majority can claim legitimacy to rape a woman; it doesn’t matter if it is 2:1, 10:1, 100:1, 100,000:1, or 10,000,000:1 — no majority number can infringe upon the inalienable right of the individual (as was reasoned came from our “Creator”). Murder is not justifiable, even if the majority condones it, because the individual has inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property. Who gave the individual these “rights”? If it was the majority, then we must also stipulate that the majority can change their mind, repeal the right, and then murder the individual legitimately.

    The right to property is an unalienable right. To tax 100% is to take away 100% of one’s property, and would be a violation of his rights. That would be indiscriminate; without reason.

    No one has said that congress has passed laws indiscriminately, but if a majority can decide that something is okay by the fact of their majority, then anything can be condoned or justified. That means that nothing can technically be considered wrong. That is what I mean by indiscriminate.

  11. BTC:

    Direct match up polls tell you one thing. Issue polls tell you another. Right track / wrong track tells you something else. Direct approval polls tell you something else. I can refer you to a poll directly questioning whether people believe the government currently has “the consent of the governed”. Only about a quarter of the population will say it does. I think that goes to the core of the issue of Constitutional legitimacy — even more than match-up polls.

    Hear about the Three Stooge’s match up poll? Do you wish to be burned at the stake or have your head cut off? Curly’s answer was “a hot stake is better than a cold chop.” I think the political class of both parties has put us all in a lot of three stooge’s match-up polls — in economic policy, environmental policy, in foreign policy.

    Our world is certainly doing a good job of making D&C 1 look prophetic, unfortunately.

  12. The “it” refers to the power of the government.

    I’ll give you an example. Under Bush, the Code of Federal Regulations increased at an average rate of just over 2,000 pages per year. During Obama’s first year, which is, historically, when fewer regulations are passed, it was increased by more than double Bush’s average. At the 1 year mark, we hadn’t even gotten to health care or cap and trade (which hasn’t been passed, but is a big agenda item) which will no doubt set records where regulation is concerned.

    It’s not the only yardstick, but it’s definitely one to consider.

    Other definitions of indiscriminate also apply: Unrestrained or wanton; profligate. Perhaps that will better meet your requirements of correct word choice. Profligate translates to wildly extravagant. Is that better?

  13. Tara,

    from a moralistic viewpoint I agree with your post 25 on page 5. The reality though is that “inalienable” rights are given and taken away by society. Unless God comes down and states that humans have a particular set of inalienable rights, all we can say is that man came up with them, and chooses whether to uphold them.

    MH,

    I know exactly what point you were trying to make, and I agree with your point. That said, the “Black Hats” you and Tara have used are pretty Black…enough to push a fence sitter off the fence.

    That is my point.

    I mean that’s some pretty serious stuff, regardless of how great a particular leader was.
    David is arguably the greatest King Israel has ever known, but I don’t think you expect to see him in the C Kingdom.

  14. BR,

    Well they CAN be given and taken away by society, but under the Constitution as it was originally founded, there were many protections which were built in to keep that from happening. That is still the case to a large degree in this country. As long as the majority holds values those rights as unalienable, then I don’t know of a scenario where they could be taken away. Once the majority is won over though, all bets are off.

    To which of our “black hats” are you referring?

  15. Tara,

    “I guess I’m too ignorant to see what losing confidence in church leaders has to do with being forced or coerced into living the Law of Consecration.”

    It is truly amazing that you can connect so many dots between Obama and Communism, but when I show you those exact same dots with Brigham and Joseph, suddenly you claim ignorance. You’re not consistent in your logic. Every argument you have claimed to reject socialism was shown to exist with Brigham and Joseph. You’re more interested in black hats/white hats and rhetoric than in truly recognize the problems with consecration. I’ve shown you the facts, and you choose to reject them, and replace them with political rhetoric from Pres Benson, Elder Romney, etc. Well, if you’re happier to play demonizing games, then there’s obviously nothing I can do to help you see this demonization. I’ve responded with facts and you choose not to connect the dots that are so easily connected with Obama. Your not consistent in your logic at all. At this point I agree with Chicken’s comment above: ‘I’d even go so far as to all it “extreme political rhetoric.”‘

    You have ignored my questions. Can you show me 1 country that has converted from socialism to Communism in a 70 year time frame? Where did this 70 year number come from? (the air?)

  16. Tara,

    I appreciated your quotes from various leaders about their opinions of socialism and communism.

    The absolutely critical point is that there are tremendous differences of opinion. That indicates to me that it is not a question of right or wrong, but of personal opinion.

    I really liked your J. Reuben Clark mention. He was in the U.S. State Department when communism became a worldwide force. He felt very strongly about.

    David O. McKay is an interesting one. He, like most, was a hardline anti-communist. He also hated socialism. Ironically, he appointed counselors who had kind feelings towards socialism. Both Hugh B. Brown and N. Eldon Tanner served under him.

    In recent years, there are some interesting figures with left-of-center views.

    James E. Faust is most prominent. He was a fairly liberal democrat in the Utah legislature. He cared deeply about gambling (hated it) but always had a soft spot for socialism. I had a really interesting conversation with him once. He was far more liberal than I am.

    Elder Jensen is also a Democrat and pretty liberal. I wasn’t surprised he gave the 24th address on the impact of Indians by the pioneers.

  17. MH: Our buddy Gary is up to it again. He has a new posting. In it he claims Ezra T. Benson was the first significantly politically connected Mormon leader. And, since he became prophet, that means his earlier political views were ratified and should be accepted. Take a peek. It is quite the hoot.

  18. Steve page 4, comment 49: (Can’t believe how fast this discussion grows!)

    I think your argument about the potential stability of socialism as a way of organizing society if the revolutionaries don’t win in the first place has some validity, but your economic argument of inefficiency also means that, sooner or later, the revolutionaries are likely to get another chance. Without wealth building, there can be no wealth distribution, so eventually there is sufficient resentment among the excluded classes to light the fire.

    I’m not suggesting that there is something unique to the “left” in this. It seems to be a more general characteristic of self-government that Mormons frequently refer to as the pride cycle. More classical sources have referenced the notion that once the people decide that they can vote themselves “bread and circuses”, a democracy is doomed. Fascists used it on the right in mid-20th Century Europe; military dictatorships in South America have used it to great effect; Mullahs are using it now throughout the Muslim world. The techniques aren’t much different than those used in Rome (or recounted about Zarahemla, or for that matter, recounted about the Garden of Eden.).

    Stir up envy. Ask for greater power to right the wrong. Find new excuses to keep the power and expand it. Believe you deserve to be rewarded for it. Then you are not far from being devilsfood cake.

  19. Firetag — Very interesting post. Very thoughtful. It will keep me up a bit tonight.

  20. Tara,

    I couldn’t tell from your comment that you were referring to the constitution. You seemed to infer that inalienable rights were God-given, not man-given (backed up by the constitution). If you are actually talking about the latter, then I will give that one to you.

  21. Tara:
    To which of our “black hats” are you referring?

    All of them.

  22. MH,

    What do you want from me? To claim I believe something that I absolutely do not believe because that’s what you believe and it makes so much sense to you? I’m sorry, but I’m not seeing what you’re seeing. Even if I can accurately understand the point you are trying to make, I’m still not seeing a direct correlation between consecration and socialism. The two are not equal. They have close resemblances, but they are far from being fundamentally the same.

    Also, I don’t think it is fair to say that I’m more interested in rhetoric than in facts. I am very accepting of the facts you’ve given. My only argument is with your interpretation of them. Why is that wrong? Perhaps you have a very good point to make. I’ve tried hard to understand it, but apparently I can’t, and now you are accusing me of claiming ignorance. Perhaps you didn’t catch the “tongue-in-cheek” there when I said that I was too ignorant? I did that because your comment prior to mine seemed to suggest that you thought my comments were less than intelligent. I responded with a little sarcasm.

    Now, since you’ve accused me of demonization, please show me who I’ve demonized. I don’t believe that I have demonized anyone. You may accuse me of demonizing Obama, but I don’t think that I have, other than to say what of his policies I disagree with, or to say that he is socialist. But as I tried to determine early on in this discussion (though it wasn’t engaged), if a label is true, is it politically extreme, or even demonizing, to use it? Now we’ve spent all of this time trying to determine whether or not Obama is a socialist, whether or not socialism is evil, or whether or not consecration and socialism and communism are the same, along with a number of other issues, instead of answering my original question in response to this thread.

    When did I ever say that there were no problems with consecration; that it was perfect in its execution? When? I dare say that I never did at any time during this discussion, or at any time during any discussion I’ve ever had with you. I’ve had about enough of being accused by you and by chicken of saying or thinking or believing things that I haven’t expressed in this discussion.

    To sum up, you believe that I can connect dots at will, but “claim ignorance” (meaning I’m being disingenuous) when it suits me, that I am inconsistent, I choose to reject facts, am primarily concerned with rhetoric, and I choose not to connect dots. I’m feeling a bit insulted. If this is what it’s going to be, I’ll be happy to leave. If I’m bothering you that much, then I don’t even want to be here.

  23. Oh, and capitalism was not the cause of the Great Depression. The government and its interference with the free market are the direct cause of the Great Depression.

  24. Tara,

    As FireTag said earlier to Chicken, I’m more interested in keeping you as a friend than winning an argument. I’m sorry my frustration showed through on my last comment. I really miss your participation here, and rather than have you bow out, I’ll duck out on this conversation (but continue to monitor it). I hope you’ll continue to stop by on less heated conversations. Whether you agree with me or not, I hope that you always learn something about Mormonism, Christianity, Islam, or Judaism when you stop by.

    Tara, I am interested in hearing of a country that has converted from Socialism to Communism after 70 years, and I would like to know where the number came from. (I will await your response silently and without any more rancor. It probably won’t surprise you that I disagree with your characterization of the Great Depression, but I will leave it at that.)

  25. Steve, I’m just finishing up the book “Scattering of the Saints” by John Hamer. My next book will be the David O McKay biography, and I know there are several chapters on the Civil Rights Movement, and Pres McKay’s positions on the priesthood ban. So, I am sure I will have a plethora of quotes from Pres Benson that I think you will enjoy, but it will probably be a month or so before I can get anything together. R Gary is a hoot. It’s too bad he censors comments so much; I’ve lost all interest in communicating with him on President Benson. I love Pres Benson as a prophet, but I strongly disagree with some of President Benson’s politics, especially when it comes to the Civil Rights movement. I see President Benson as prophet, seer, and revelator, but not as head politician. I know R Gary has a very hard time separating church and state (especially when it comes to Pres Benson), but I don’t.

    Tara, here’s a completely unrelated question. Did you see my post “Did Paul found Christianity?” It would be nice to get your opinion there.

  26. Tara:

    The “it” refers to the power of the government.
    I’ll give you an example. Under Bush, the Code of Federal Regulations increased at an average rate of just over 2,000 pages per year. During Obama’s first year, which is, historically, when fewer regulations are passed, it was increased by more than double Bush’s average. At the 1 year mark, we hadn’t even gotten to health care or cap and trade (which hasn’t been passed, but is a big agenda item) which will no doubt set records where regulation is concerned.
    It’s not the only yardstick, but it’s definitely one to consider.

    Perhaps. If it were true.

  27. FT – what does this poll tell you?

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-6201911-503544.html

    Poll Reveals Most Americans Don’t Know They Got a Tax Cut

    Tara:

    BR,
    Well they CAN be given and taken away by society, but under the Constitution as it was originally founded, there were many protections which were built in to keep that from happening. That is still the case to a large degree in this country. As long as the majority holds values those rights as unalienable, then I don’t know of a scenario where they could be taken away. Once the majority is won over though, all bets are off.

    Not sure what the majority has to do with the Constitution. The Constition can’t be modified by a simple majority, nor can the rigths given by the Constitution be taken away by a majority.

    The Founders did have an understanding of their own limitations, however. It was not an accident that they provided procedures to modfiy and amend the Constitution as society demanded. They made it difficult to do, so that it could not be done whimsically (or “indiscriminately”) but, in their wisdom, the Founders did not hold themselves up on the pedestal that Conservatives now do. They recognized their obvious shortcomings which are now obvious (slaves not people, women couldn’t vote, etc.).

  28. MH,

    I appreciate the apology and I’m sorry for causing your frustration. I promise, it wasn’t intentional.

    I haven’t seen your Paul post. If I get time, I’ll take a look at it. I’m not sure when that will be. It’s hard to engage more than one post at a time right now.

    I didn’t say a country would change from socialist to communist in 70 years. Here is what I said:

    “It is estimated that about 70 years is the amount of time a country under socialism will survive.”

    That statement, and I should’ve been more clear, had to do with the perceived success of socialism, and that no socialist state has survived more than 70 years without serious economic and political abuses. The “70 years” isn’t a number I pulled out of the air. I actually read it somewhere, but now I can’t find where I read it.

    I can’t really answer your other question about any country that has gone from socialism to communism in 70 years because that isn’t what I said. But since I said that none have survived more than 70 years without serious problems, then I suppose the test of that would be to come up with any socialist countries that have prospered for more than 70 years. Maybe there are some, but I can’t think of any.

  29. BTC,

    I didn’t say that the majority had anything to do with the Constitution. In a true Democracy, the majority would rule. We are not a true Democracy. I believe, however, that the 17th amendment and efforts to abolish the electoral college are efforts to take us in the direction of a true Democracy.

    Also, how do you conclude that conservatives put themselves on a pedestal? I just don’t understand the animosity that you have for conservatives.

    BTC,

    Perhaps. If it were true.

    Prove me wrong.

  30. Tara:

    BTC,
    I didn’t say that the majority had anything to do with the Constitution. In a true Democracy, the majority would rule. We are not a true Democracy. I believe, however, that the 17th amendment and efforts to abolish the electoral college are efforts to take us in the direction of a true Democracy.
    Also, how do you conclude that conservatives put themselves on a pedestal? I just don’t understand the animosity that you have for conservatives.

    You said that the rights under the Constitution are unalienable only so long as “the majority holds value those rights [sic]”. The Constitution is however a limitation on majority rule, as the founders intended.

    My statement about the pedestal, was that conservatives put the founders (not themselves) on a pedestal.

  31. BTC:

    LOL. That most Americans don’t know what is going on, of course. A lot of people don’t know who America fought its Revolutionary War against — as Jay Leno regularly demonstrated in the streets of New York.

    Hence the temptation for the educated elites to presume they should decide because they know better. Or, in other contexts, the strongest warriors, the less emotional sex, the most civilized race, the right religion, etc.

    Didn’t we just grow through this 100 comments or so ago?

  32. Prove me wrong.

    Tara, You made the statement. Now someone can make a statement and its up to the listeners to disprove them? That’s a pretty tough standard. I’m glad you didn’t say “Obama killed a transient this morning” – I’d have a hard time disproving that.

    But let’s try. The Federal Register is put together annually. Here’s a link to the Federal Register for 2009.

    http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fedreg/frcont09.html

    It contains 69,676 pages. So it seems hard to imagine that Bush averaged 2000 pages each year if he had 70,000 pages in year 8.

    And the reason I have anymosity toward conservatives is for just these reasons – their tendency to spout talking points and platitudes to put down others, with no backing or support or reason. Their goals is not to achieve anything but say their guy is great and the other guy is satan.

    FireTag,

    Didn’t we just grow through this 100 comments or so ago?

    Perhaps – but then you were ascribing to me the idea that elites should decide. I didn’t say that, nor do I believe that. I do believe, however, that we should be cautious when trying to govern via poll results.

  33. Whoops – GWBs last year was 2008 – my how time flies. Here’s the 2008 Federal Registry: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/31decu.pdf

    80,700 pages. Soooo, more than Obama’s first year.

    Let’s look at Bush’s first year (http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fedreg/a011231c.html): 67,702 – hey, that’s 2,000 less than Obama’s first year. Could that be what you’re talking about? That Obama’s first year resulted in 3% more pages?

  34. BTC,

    Okay, whatever. You can have that one. You missed my point, but that’s okay.

    As for the pedestal thing, now that I go back and reread more carefully, I’m not sure how I missed it. Sorry for the misunderstanding. But I think that you misunderstand the pedestal that we put the founders on. We don’t view them as perfect beings. We view them as extremely wise and prudent.

    I said the Code of Federal Regulations, not the Federal Registry itself.

  35. I got your point – because the Obama admin passes alot of rules, it must be bad. Because, as I’ve stated before, if you can’t say what substantively is the problem, look quantitatively (less taxes, smaller government, less pages, etc.)

    As for the pedestal thing, I Agree. And yet you continually criticize the system of government these wise and prudent men put in place.

  36. I ascribe to each type of elite I mentioned the notion of confusing what people SHOULD want with the notion of what they DO want, and basing the notion of their legitimacy on the “should” instead of the “do”. Unless the polls switch, in which case the sides switch arguments — not the positions they advocate. That tells me the issue is really about power.

    See my comment to Steve above about finding excuses to stay in power. Your own blog’s last post regarding the CofChrist’s managing of its budget crises makes the existence of the temptation real enough.

    The followers of Christ have to learn to be able to recognize, and walk away from, what the LDS call “unrighteous dominion”. Great term. I wish we had it.

  37. BTC,

    Nice try, but you’ve still missed my point. It had nothing to do with Obama.

    I don’t criticize the system that the founders created. I criticize the destruction of the system that they have made. The system we have now, in many ways, does not resemble the system they created.

  38. The difference between you sharing your points and not sharing them, seems remarkably small.

  39. Perhaps, though not as small as your mind, which would explain why you might say that.

  40. their tendency to spout talking points and platitudes to put down others, with no backing or support or reason. Their goals is not to achieve anything but say their guy is great and the other guy is satan.

    I could say EXACTLY the same of Democrats. Particularly while Bush was in office. They had not a kind word to say for him. Disagree with him or not, you cannot characterize what Democrats did to Bush as any better than what Republicans have done to Obama.

  41. You’re talking to a liberal now – and I’m not spouting talking points. And I’m talking to a conservative, and I’m not learning anything I can’t find surfing over to Glen Beck’s website.

    Would you go so far as to say I’m a “pin head”?

  42. That’s because you haven’t said anything. But I suppose if you actually did say something, I could just as easily pick you apart too. I’ve heard all the liberal talking points. As it is, you haven’t made yourself vulnerable to attack. Sure is easy to throw rocks from up there in your ivory tower, isn’t it?

  43. ?? What ivory tower? What rocks? Not sure what you’re getting at, but perhaps that has to do with my small mind.

    My only point is that Obama is continuing in the tradition of every President before him. He is pursuing the agenda upon which he was elected. This agenda is neither extreme nor radical and consistent with the will of the people with respect to the issues presented as demonstrated most notably by the landslide victory he had back in 2008. Everything he and Congress does is under the checks and balances outlined by the founders, except for Fillibustering, which is not in the Constitution.

    To the extent you have tried to “pick this apart” you have done so merely with non-substantive platitudes (“socialism” “ideologue”), insults (“small mind”) or with anecdotal half-truths that are unsupported by any evidence and irrelevant even if true. (“2000 pages more to the CFR”).

    You have yet to state one example of something Obama is doing that is outside of his powers as Presiden, or one example of something he is doing that is inconsistent with the expanse of government or increasing regulation that any other administration has done. To the extent you have alluded to things (like “health care reform”) you have been unable or unwilling to say either (a) why that is socialistic or (b) why it is more harmful or regulatory than anything Republican Congresses have passed (like ADA, Medicare Prescription Drug, Patriot Act).

    If all you have in your arsenal to “pick me apart” are lables, name-calling, and Glen Beck, I feel very comfortable.

  44. BTC:

    Your last few comments seem to be saying, at mimimum, that the policies of the current administration is not increasing deficits, spending, or regulation more than past administrations. Look at the President’s own Mid-Year budget review released last week. The Administration doesn’t even try to argue what you argue. They simply blame it on Bush.

    That Review is more optimistic about growth (e.g., sustained average growth of 4% GDP for several years, not seen in the past 40 years except when budgets were balanced) than anyone else and assumes Obama’s own policies (like major cuts in Medicare, such as the 21% cut in doctor’s fees which the Democratic congress just changed to a 2.2% annual raise in June). It still shows adding $10 trillion in Federal debt by 2020, and the yearly debts are accelerating (conveniently!) as soon as any possible second Obama term is over, because health care spending is back-loaded while health care taxes are front-loaded. The most limited definition of unemployment stays above 8% until after Obama’s first term, and doesn’t return to 6% until 2015; the broader measures stay up in the mid-teens, and for youth and various minorities they are in the 20-30% range. EVEN THE 6% NUMBER IS HISTORICALLY HIGH FOR THE US, AND IS GENERALLY CONSIDERED RECESSION-LEVEL; full employment has been considered at around 4%.

    I grew up up in the Detroit suburbs rooting for the Detroit Lions. I still follow them, except when they play the Redskins. They finished 2-14 last year. The coach is entitled to say that’s better than the 0-16 they had two years ago. But there are going to be a lot of new players on the field this fall, and if he doesn’t do a lot better than 2-14, he’s going to get fired, too.

    There are going to be big changes on the Congressional roster this fall, too. The House may have a new Speaker, and the Dems may have a new majority leader in the Senate.

  45. I’m sorry it seemed that way. That is not what I meant.

    What I said was:

    “My only point is that Obama is continuing in the tradition of every President before him. He is pursuing the agenda upon which he was elected. This agenda is neither extreme nor radical and consistent with the will of the people with respect to the issues presented as demonstrated most notably by the landslide victory he had back in 2008. Everything he and Congress does is under the checks and balances outlined by the founders, except for Fillibustering, which is not in the Constitution.”

    The fact that he may be regulating more than Bush or spending more than Bush does not mean that he is a radical, extreme, socialist who is destroying the Constitution.

    However, for the record, the vast majority of the spending making up the current deficit are the result of Bush policies – the war, the prescription drug benefit, and most notably, his tax cuts. Any one of these dwarfs spending added by Obama. But that’s besides the point that I was trying to make.

  46. BTC:

    Remember your point about match up polls? Obama ran on “bipartisanship” and being a moderate — the same argument you’ve been making. People believed bipartisanship was superior to the “failed policies” of the Bush Administration, as Democrats repeatedly said would be continued by McCain. People who warned that policies of Obama would represent a lurch to the left were given even less credibility than you’re giving them now.

    If you took the election results as a mandate for a policy lurch to the left, therefore, the resentment of so much of America toward those policies must be terribly hard to understand. You should reevaluate the nature of the mandate the Democrats received.

    The case that Obama is really just a normal liberal was most recently made by Walter Russell Meade on Real Clear Politics last week in a review of a book called “The Bridge”. Basically, he says that any appearance of radical or corrupt associations in Chicago was just Obama establishing his credibility in the black and radical community. Meade seems assured that Obama is really a New England good government reformer at heart.

    The logic of that ought to be troubling, because it basically says that Obama is able to con a sophisticated political machine, including an entire associated radical community, for a couple of decades, while his true nature as a “reformer” stays hidden. Otherwise, they would never have allowed his rise in power.

    He conned them, but he would NEVER EVER be conning the idealists. To THEM he’s being true.

    You are insufficiently cynical, my brother.

  47. Not sure what this has to do with polls – but I made and am making no such point. I don’t believe in labels such as “bipartisanship” or “moderate.” I don’t think they have any meaning without context, however, in this instance they are not germaine to my point that Obama is not a radical, socialist, extremist.

    FireTag:BTC:
    People believed bipartisanship was superior to the “failed policies” of the Bush Administration, as Democrats repeatedly said would be continued by McCain.

    I’m not sure who these people are – but, considering how talking-points are spewed as news on tv, I wouldn’t be surprised if this were true.

    FireTag:BTC:
    People who warned that policies of Obama would represent a lurch to the left were given even less credibility than you’re giving them now.

    Who wouldn’t believe that his policies were a lurch to the left? Everyone believed he’d be a lurch to the left. He ran as a lurch to the left. How could he not lurch left of Bush? I, however, commented many times how neither his policies, nor his passion, seemed very progressive and that he would not nearly be as liberal as he campaigned to be. I was proven right, in my opinion, as the left are struggling to come to grips with all of his failed promises.

    FireTag:

    BTC:
    If you took the election results as a mandate for a policy lurch to the left, therefore, the resentment of so much of America toward those policies must be terribly hard to understand. You should reevaluate the nature of the mandate the Democrats received.

    I didn’t take it as such. This is typical labelling. He didn’t win because he lurched anywhere – he won because he promised health care. He won because he promised to end the wars. He won because people liked his policies. And he won because Bush had put the economy in the toilet. Of course, that’s just my opinion and not really related to my point.

    The case that Obama is really just a normal liberal was most recently made by Walter Russell Meade on Real Clear Politics last week in a review of a book called “The Bridge”. Basically, he says that any appearance of radical or corrupt associations in Chicago was just Obama establishing his credibility in the black and radical community. Meade seems assured that Obama is really a New England good government reformer at heart.
    The logic of that ought to be troubling, because it basically says that Obama is able to con a sophisticated political machine, including an entire associated radical community, for a couple of decades, while his true nature as a “reformer” stays hidden. Otherwise, they would never have allowed his rise in power.
    He conned them, but he would NEVER EVER be conning the idealists. To THEM he’s being true.

    You are insufficiently cynical, my brother.

    I don’t understand what you are saying here. I don’t know why you consider my optimistic. I don’t think Obama is a “normal liberal” and have not said anything like that. I believe he is far more interested in winning elections than helping the country. I believe he’s broken every promise that was meaningful and think he’s set progressivism back decades by adopting dangerous conservative policies and in so doing, making them defensible – even mainstream.

    All of this – however, is besides my point. Which is that he is not a radical, extremist, socialist. I note you are backing that up to but only by saying it again, and not giving any support or evidence to back up that claim. Even an example of something “radical” that he’s doing would be helpful.

  48. Are you saying that you would position yourself to the progressive side of Obama.?

    You really are finding yourself in a strange land, then. I’ll have to get a new Pew Poll link for you tonight. On a spatial scale of 1-5, with 3 being moderate, 1 very conservative, and 5 very liberal, registered voters are asked to self identify and also identify where they see the parties, including the Tea Party, although only about half the voters know of or have any opinion of the movement.

    The respondents average self-score was 2.7, slightly to the right of center. They identified Republicans as being at 2.3, and Dems at 3.6. So the sample found Dems about twice as far away from their positions as Republicans. The Tea Party was at 1.0.

    There are breakdowns by individual parties as well (i.e., when respondents are Dem, Rep, or Ind, but that data is easier to see on a chart than to describe in a comment. I really want to look now at what fraction of the Dems see themselves significantly left of the Dem average.

  49. On most issues, absolutley – far to the progressive side. So are most of my friends, which is one of the reason Obama polls so low, he has lost the enthusiastic support of his base, in my opinion. And here’s why:

    1. I am for same-sex marriage – Obama is not;
    2. I am for ending the wars – Obama is not;
    3. I am against indefinite detention/assassination without trial or charge – Obama is not;
    4. I am against retroactive immunity for the telecom industry for assisting illegal government spying – Obama is not;
    5. I am against illegal government spying – Obama is not;
    6. I am for raising taxes to shore up social security and medicade – Obama is not;
    7. I am for opening the military to homosexuals – Obama is not.

    I’m trying to think of something that makes Obama particularly liberal, but I am currently unable to. Perhaps you can think of something?

    Do you still hold that he is a “radical?” or a “socialist?” If so – can you articulate what policies of his make him so?

    I think you can guess what I’d think of a poll based on “self-labeling” where the labels are subjective and not clearly defined. I’m sure most see themselves as moderate – no matter where they fall on the spectrum. If you actually polled people on issues, and them slotted them based on a defined and disclosed methodology, then it might be revealing.

  50. The Pew link is:

    http://people-press.org/report/636/

    I do need to correct one typo in my previous post. The Tea Party scored at 2.0 (conservative) among voters who knew of it, not 1.0 as I mistyped (very conservative). Interestingly, registered voters on average thus rated the Tea Party as no more extreme compared to their own positions as they rated the Democratic Party. And as I said before, they rated the Republican Party far closer to their own positions than were the Democratics.

    The methodology in the Pew poll is quite well defined. It is based on an established political science technique frequently called “spatial theory of voting” that was already a standardized method for analyzing voter behavior when I started consulting with political scientists for my own research 30 years ago. Up until we cleared out my files in the basement a few years ago, I had dozens of journal articles stored on its applications and limits (including the effect of people “crowding the middle”).

    So I assure you, it is more solidly scientifically-based and statistically supported than your comment would imply. In fact, it is no less subjective than is your own identification and that of your friends that Obama is insufficiently progressive. You are certainly free to advocate for the policy ideas you hold, but perhaps you need to have a more politically diverse group of friends in order to more realistically assess how much support Obama’s “base” actually has among the population as a whole.

    It’s ok to be extreme, because as I said in an earlier comment, holding extreme views doesn’t in and of itself make those views right or wrong. The 6% of the population that Pew found would self identify as “very liberal” and the 9% that would self identify as “very conservative” may both have extreme positions, but only God and/or evolution will show who is correct, if either.

    I probably have stranger theological beliefs than almost any commenter here, but I know my beliefs are strange. I think that not recognizing when I was on the extreme would be somewhat sad.

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