Rob posted this on the Mormons for Obama Facebook page -- in the past four years, things have changed: he upgraded his automobile to an Intrepid. This new model has a sleek design and a functional interior with an eye to the future and the real challenges ahead. That other car (a Sebring?) had too much give in the steering wheel (it could change lanes at any moment without warning!) However, it did have a nice rack on top for a dog carrier.
Post by Joseph M-
Santorum made a special announcement, Romney congratulated him on his failed attempt at the nomination, and we (almost officially) got a Mormon running against Obama in the 2012 election. Utah cheered, the South groaned, and people everywhere googled the words, "Romney mom jeans." (Is anyone else sad that David Horsey left for Los Angeles when the Seattle PI shut down?)
So here we go. Orrin (Orwellian) Hatch predicts the destruction of the Mormon church by Obama and the Democrats, but seeing that I am a Democrat and support Obama, I tend to yawn and disagree. Here is a link to a short article discussing Hatch's comments and their absurdity.
But the real big news of the day is this: due to all the requests for "I'm voting for Obama" bumper stickers, we have printed more, and they are on the way. I will get the link put back up, so if you'd like to pre-order that will be possible. A note of caution however: the design is a little different, but the bumper stickers do say the exact same thing. If you would like to wait - I will post the new design on the site as soon as the stickers arrive! And in case you aren't aware of the background behind the stickers- we thought they would be a fun way to express our support for Obama. We loosely based our slogan "I'm voting for Obama, and I'm a Mormon" on Phoenix Academy's new marketing campaign for new students:
So order some stickers for your friends and family to show your support for the president!
Firstly, Romney has furthered his position in the race for the nomination; according to NPR, after the Wisconsin primary, he is no longer being referred to as the "likely" nominee, but the "almost certain" Republican nominee. He is taking on Obama now, and Santorum appears to be an April Fool's joke after all.
And in other news, some guy named Brett Hatch read from the Book of Mormon at a Mitt Romney campaign rally yesterday, and he followed up his reading with a doctrinal question (about racism in the Church) that Romney refused to answer. I will let you read the link below in case you didn't already see it all over the web.
Nothing new here; more of people trying to understand and define Mormons in a way that gets America to vote for someone else - (Ron Paul in this case). But I would like to add this: Mr Hatch, if you want to question Romney about racism, you might want to first look at your own candidate, dear old Mr. Paul. He had a little racist newsletter problem a few years back that you might not have heard about. Besides, there are a lot more logical reasons for Romney to lose your vote than anything written in the Book of Mormon; feel free to search this site (or the whole world wide web) to discover what some of those might be. But alas, you support Ron Paul; logic may not be your strong suit.
One interesting thing did occur after Romney refused to get into the specifics of Hatch's question: he spoke about his time serving as a bishop or stake president, (he used the term "pastor" so I can't say for sure which calling he referenced.) He used his church service to explain that he has counseled with many who were struggling in his congregation, and that therefore he is in touch with real people and real Americans.
See this article from the Huffington Post about Romney's experience as bishop.
I appreciate that serving as bishop and stake president affords one the opportunity to rub shoulders with the common man, despite someone's wealth. However, given what he is saying now, I don't know that Romney really understands everyday Americans. I acknowledge that Romney-care showed a nice mix of sensitivity for those lacking insurance and business-sense in that an individual mandate was put in place to support it. But isn't that a thing of the past? Now we have Romney saying things like, "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there." Maybe we have a whole new Romney like everyone is saying, and just as his days of health care reform are over, so are his days of being bishop. He is a shaken Etch-a-Sketch; he needs to do a little more than talk about being bishop to prove he understands everyday Americans.
What an exciting moment in the history of our country. Look at the reaction moment photo. Obama's face captures it all, with others cheering in the background. It looks like Teddy Roosevelt's horse is also excited.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="531"] Barack Obama reacts to the House agreeing to the Senate's ammendment to the ACA[/caption]
Today the NPR health blog posted a great article about where we are in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Has it met it's goals?
The article simply summarizes in table format each of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 cost and impact, what has been done, and whether or not it is "on track". The table really impressed me as an excellent, well-referenced resource that I wanted to refer our readers to. It divides the provisions into expanding coverage, senior benefits, and consumer protections. Below are some highlights.
EXPANDING COVERAGE - 7 provisions
3/7 - Met goal
3/7 - Has not met goal
1/7 - Too soon to tell
An estimated 54 million people received at least one free preventive health benefit in 2011 (goal was 41 million).
48,879 people covered through 2011; Cost: $618 million through 2011 (goal was 200,000-400,000 covered).
SENIOR BENEFITS - 3 provisions
3/3 - Met goal
Prescription drug benefit included 3.8 million beneficiaries who saved $2.3 billion in 2011. Old people should love Obama.
CONSUMER PROTECTIONS - 5 provisions
2/5 - Met goal
3/5 - Too soon to tell
Insurers can no longer impose lifetime limits.
I'm impressed, are you?
By Doctor LauraClubFancy, your health care correspondent.
The topic of gas prices has taken center stage recently in our political discourse. Gas prices, as we are all painfully aware of, are have been climbing steadily, effecting us not only at the pump, but everywhere else where higher fuel costs are passed down the line to consumers, like at the grocery store.
So why does Obama let this happen? Why does he refuse to lift a finger to bring gas prices down to $2.50 a gallon, as Newt Gingrich promises to do if he is elected? Well, if you read the comments on the FoxNews web site from readers weighing in on the topic, you would learn that it is because: “the only thing he cares about is implementing his socialist/Marxist agenda”; and that “The progressive left have completed their agenda to weaken America so they can now bring in the wolves to finish her off.” I am not making this stuff up. These people really exist.
The insanity isn’t just coming from the right-wing blogosphere, either. Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, said a few weeks ago that Mr. Obama should be held “fully responsible for what the American public is paying for gasoline.” Other politicians with close ties to the oil and gas industries (i.e., mostly Republicans), are also getting into the mix. This has become a huge political issue, but its implications go far beyond just politics.
If the Republicans can convince Americans that today’s high gas prices are a result of Obama’s overregulation and antipathy for the hydrocarbon industry, then they can successfully distract voters from the real issue of what dependence on fossil fuels means for our country and for the world, politically, economically and environmentally, and at the same time score political points in an important election year.
The facts are that under Obama domestic production is way up from what it was at any time under Bush II (see NY Times graph). Is this because of Obama’s supposed onerous regulation, I wonder? It is also a fact that any expansion of drilling permits, or approval of the Keystone XL pipeline (a project originally opposed by Nebraska’s republican governor) would not have an impact on oil prices for years, especially since most of that oil would go to foreign markets anyway.
Oil is a global commodity, and producers will sell to whoever will pay the most. With the continued growth of countries like China, India Brazil and South Africa, global demand is only increasing. This is reflected in the rising gas prices all around the world, not just in the US. The US now exports more oil than it imports, but oil drilled here doesn’t necessarily stay here.
The fact that OPEC controls huge international oil supplies, and has the power to drive up prices through reducing production whenever it wants needs to also be acknowledged by Obama-hating Republicans. Middle East instability, lack of refinery capacity, corporate profits and global commodity speculators (which even the hyper-conservative Lou Dobbs admits is a big reason for current gas prices) all play a role as well. None of this, of course, is immediately under Obama’s control, or acknowledged by Republicans engaged in their anti-Obama rhetoric.
But common sense and facts have never given Republicans pause before, so why start now? That is why their only response to the situation is to “drill baby drill”, and make sure that high-earning oil companies continue to get billions of dollars in tax subsidies each year, while at the same time decrying efforts to subsidize green-energy firms, a move which, apparently, is only appropriate for fossil fuel companies. (These subsidies, curiously enough, don’t seem to be an issue for GOP deficit hawks. I guess deficit concerns just apply to NPR or Health Care.)
And what about reducing demand for fossil fuels through less consumption, increased fuel efficiency and alternative fuels? Poppycock! That is just liberals trying to destroy America through their environmental scare tactics! Somehow Republicans missed that day in econ. class when their professors explained how there are two ways to bring down costs in a market, one being increasing supply and the other being to reduce demand.
At the end of the day oil is a non-renewable resource, and it will only get more expensive as the economies of highly populated countries around the word continue to grow, and as long as western nations continue in their oil addiction. The only way to deal with it is to start figuring out how to use less. Period. But until the Right pulls its head out of the sand (and pulls its hands out of big-oil’s pockets), I’m afraid the prospects for making progress on this front are not promising. And like gas prices, that is also not something Obama has personal control over.
Once again, thanks for the support!
But these two internet entities are in no way collaborating with each other, nor are they communicating! They are completely and totally and 100% free of all and any type of coordination! (To understand why this even matters, please read Jen's post on Super PACs, and watch Steve Colbert's and Jon Stewart's explanation as well.
So please join Mormons for Obama on Facebook to interact with like-minded supporters of the president. You will find updates from this website, plus postings of events, other web links, and civil discussion of the 2012 election! Tom is in charge over there, and I don't even know if that is his real name, that is how uncoordinated we are.
Join Mormons for Obama on Facebook by clicking here!
Post by Joseph -
Super Tuesday is over, Santorum took Kansas yesterday, and Romney got Wyoming (and Guam and the Virgin Islands); he continues to inch closer to Republican nomination - line upon line, precept upon precept. And in order that I might contradict my last post, I offer up this post script:
While it might seem less likely that I'll have the opportunity to be offended by the Republicans for picking Santorum over Romney, ultimately I wish that the Romney candidacy was done or that it had never happened altogether. This Mormon moment is going on for an eternity, and I feel a tremor in the Force.
Mostly, I don't like the scrutiny. With Romney in the spotlight, the news media is looking to report on anything and everything about the Church; seriously, if there is anything sensational, ugly, or that will make a good report or newsworthy (or not) they seek after these things. Check out Friday's op-ed piece in the Huffington Post that asks, "Is Mormonism a Cult?" The good old days of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics are gone, back when the Church had published ideas for stories on Mormons for the media to use when reporting about the Church. Now the talking points have given way to the Mormonism: Getting it Right feature, and Mormonism 101 which includes a FAQ section that addresses many of the queries about Mormonism, (i.e., "Do Latter-day Saints believe that they will 'get their own planet?'") Personally, I would prefer directions from the brethren that sounded something like "duck and cover!" "drop and roll!" "hold on tight!" or other words of wisdom from a Tornado Survival Guide.
This oversaturation of Mormon stories in the news and popular culture leaves me feeling defined, boxed-in, stereotyped, and judged. My discomfort is increasing with each new online article or blog post, and I am patiently awaiting the day when I become desensitized to it all (or just give up and grow horns). I acknowledge again that Mormons make a tempting target. The policies of apparent discrimination makes it so; but seriously, The Book of Mormon Musical? (And I have it on good authority that it contains catchy tunes, colorful sets, and profanity throughout.) Of course, the South Park guys are equal-opportunity offenders, and Mitt Romney's campaign can't be blamed for The Book of Mormon Musical, only thanked. But it feels a little bit much right now.
A couple of media storms have arisen in the past few weeks that illustrate my point; these concern baptisms for the dead, and the ban on blacks receiving the priesthood.
Baptisms for the dead have continued to be a problem in the Church due to the continued overzealousness of some genealogically-minded Latter-day Saints that feel inclined to submit the names of people such as of Anne Frank, Daniel Pearl, Elie Wiesel's parents and other Holocaust victims for proxy baptisms. See my previous post. And before I even heard the Church leaders' letter that was to be read in Sacrament meetings today, I first heard a report about it on NPR.
And then my former mission president (and BYU professor), Randy Bott, offered an explanation to a Washington Post reporter about the Church's ban on blacks receiving the priesthood. The Church immediately condemned it in an issued statement. Well, I don't feel I need to say much about the ban or the 1978 reversal; here is the link to the original Washington Post article, and this is the Church's response as reported in the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune. Additionally, some Mormon bloggers at By Common Consent have already thoroughly examined the issue and posted their many comments, condemnations, and analyses on their website; they lined up like members of a Utah firing squad, uncertain who had the real bullet in their barrel, but took aim President Bott and fired their guns anyway. Their posts can be found here and here and here and here and here and here. I especially liked what this guy had to say - he's southern, and I can relate.
But my point is that a lot of this news coverage seems to miss who we really are as Latter-day Saints. For example, I enjoy explaining proxy baptisms for the dead. To me, this rite and all the research that goes into it, shows a deep compassion for one's ancestors and a commitment to them in a real tangible way. I am reminded of some branches of Buddhist practice that call for the male relatives of a deceased person to become monks and spend time in the monastery so that they can obtain merit vicariously for the departed. This merit is then transferred in a ceremony in hopes that it will improve the station of the loved one in their next life. Therefore, I realize I could take the opportunity to correct the misperceptions, but with so much information on the Church and its doctrines suddently available, why would someone even feel the need to ask a Mormon for clarifications at this point? (And why would someone feel the need to talk to LDS missionaries if they just heard them singing on Broadway for three hours?)
Additionally, all of the criticism of President Bott does not represent him in the way that I experienced him as a mission leader. I love this man; I loved his enthusiasm, compassion, and insight. He did away with "junior-senior companions," (we needed to learn to share responsibilities equally); he never talked about baptismal statistics, (this obscured the real purpose of missionary service); and he consistently followed Joseph Smith's declaration, "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves." As an instructor, he was incredible. He gave us the parable of the devil tree, his retelling of the David and Goliath story, and a clearer existential understanding of life and death. I remember going to him as a struggling "green" missionary, feeling somewhat alone and isolated, and he saw to the heart of my concerns almost instantly. His counsel was right on the mark, and I remember it almost word for word. I don't feel I should forget this, regardless of the Post article and the assertion by some that President Bott has taught these ideas for years at BYU.
Thus, I refuse to define my former mission president by this public relations debacle. I know that I don't wish for a lone action on my part to solely characterize me. President Bott does not equal his statement made to the Post reporter, just like the Church is not just the pre-1978 ban on blacks receiving the priesthood. But I realize that this happens often in life and popular media; we define people by their most provocative action or a prominent occurrence, and all else becomes insignificant: Kitty Genovese was defined by her murder, Richard Jewell by doing his job, and Thomas B. Marsh by cream off the top of the milk.
I miss the days of my youth in the south when nobody really knew the Mormons; I could be the one to tell them who we are and be the first point of contact. Then I had control of how I was defined and understood. So let it be over quickly. Mitt Romney's presidential aspirations have pulled Mormonism into the 21st-century spotlight like a handcart across the plains of America, and I am feeling pretty tired. Not even a hit Broadway musical could have ever done it this well.
You have probably heard quite a bit by now about a recent incident in Afghanastan in which several Qurans were burnt by US military personnel at Bagram air base. Apparently the Qurans had notes written in them by prisoners, and upon discovery were confiscated, mistakenly added to other garbage at the base and at least partially incinerated before being noticed by Afghani staff.
In the wake of the incident radical elements of Islamic extremists used the situation to foment anti-American sentiment, which ultimately culminated in riots that killed more than 30 people, several of them American service members.
As the controversy began to heat up President Obama wrote a letter of apology to Afghan president Hamid Karzai. Secretary of State Clinton and the head of NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, also issued apologies for the incident.
It was these apologies, and particularly the President’s, that set off its own controversy generated by the Right-wing media machine here in the U.S. Media Matters recently compiled an astounding set of clips from FoxNews on this story. (http://mediamatters.org/research/201202280001).
A few highlights:
- Liz Cheney (daughter of the Dark Lord, and qualified political commentator?) calling Obama “The Apologist”, and stating that his “default position” is to “apologize for America”
- FoxNews contributor Mike Gallagher saying that it was “outrageous” for President Obama “to go crawling to Karzai”
- And of course Carl “ham” Rove (Colbert reference), stating that rather then do any good, President Obama’s apology actually “made [the situation] worse by showing weakness”
[caption id="attachment_618" align="alignright" width="300"] A political cartoon by Gary Varvel criticizing Obama's apology[/caption]
Why should we apologize to terrorists who blow up civilians, throw acid in the face of schoolgirls and kill people over a burned book when they don’t apologize to us? As another Fox contributor, Charles Krauthamer, put it, “when I hear that [apology from their side] I'll expect my president to start issuing an apology.”
So, from what I have gathered, a good portion of the Republican electorate thinks that President Obama’s apology was insulting to America and its troops, pathetic, weak and harmful. Leaving the efficacy of the apology aside for the moment, I’d like to reflect on the substance of the Right’s inane reactions.
The reality is that the war that the United States is fighting in Afghanistan is not a ‘traditional war’, but rather a culture war. There are fundamentally differing views about the world on the two sides, views that cannot be softened with the help of shared history, customs, language or faith. A more amicable America is not Al Qaeda’s goal any more than a more democratic Afghan terror cell network is the goal of the U.S. We will never ‘agree to disagree.'
Because we are engaged in a culture war, the opinion of the vast majority of Muslims across the world whose minds and support are being fought over are very important to our goals. We will never win those minds and support if Muslims believe we don’t respect their beliefs. To ignore public opinion of Afghanis and other Muslims is not only idiotic, but also deadly. It should be noted that there actually are some conservative political minds that understand this, and so support Obama’s decision to apologize, in addition to a number of military minds as well. (See the Media Matters link).
As one observer pointed out, Hamid Karzai is a weak president struggling to maintain his tenuous grip on power. Whether we like him or not, he is our guy right now, and we need him to succeed for stability in Afghanistan to even be a possibility. What Obama did with his written apology was to give Karzai a tool to use as he worked to confront this mini-crisis at home. Karzai actually read the letter to the Afghani Parliament in the aftermath, using what he had to get what he could.
These common sense reasons to apologize were even obvious to George W. Bush, who apologized not once, but twice, to foreign nations for desecration that occurred to the Quran on his watch.
But beyond the common sense reasons to be culturally sensitive to the Muslim faith that is followed by millions across the globe, there is another reason, an even better reason, for being thoughtful. That reason, of course, is because it is the right thing to do. Rather than subscribing to Krauthamer’s ‘only do good unto others when they have done good unto you’ worldview, I am more inclined to go with another philosophy, something more like ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. Now who was it that said that? Maybe the Right believes that this only applies when it’s easy.
Because I am a Mormon, I am sensitive to how the outside world treats my faith. Beyond the history of forced dislocation, assassinations and open hostility that the early Mormons endured, I have personally had to defend my faith in public arenas, classrooms and in conversation. I know this is not unique to me, but is a common experience for many members of our church. As Mormons, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” [*] Of course this does not mean we sit idly by while minority fanatics attack us in the name of their God, but it does mean that we should show Muslims the same degree of respect that we believe our faith deserves.
Leave it to the Right-wing to call Obama’s common sense response to the situation “irresponsible and unnecessary”, an olive branch as “outrageous”, likening it to groveling before a foreign power. And who would you expect but Rove and his ilk to see what others might recognize as self-reflection and honesty as “weakness”. Is theirs a world you want to live in? Me neither.
[*] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ 11th Article of Faith.
Romney won Michigan and Arizona, and Washington's Republican caucuses liked him too; now he has to make it through Super Tuesday - the real test of sorts.
And seriously, I'd be somewhat offended if Mitt Romney lost the Republican Presidential nomination to the likes of Rick Santorum. I realize this is a strange thing to voice on a website entitled "Mormons for Obama," or when I have no plans to vote for Romney, or when I really don't even like that Romney is in the presidential contest altogether. However, as a Latter-day Saint, I can't help but wonder if much of the dislike of Romney can be attributed to his Mormonism more than to his flip-flopping. Clearly all the fervor in the news media over Mormonism this past week (the baptism for the dead letter read in church, racist remarks by my former mission president, Randy Bott,) would be much quieted or even nonexistent if Romney wasn't in the race.
And according to polls, many potential voters reported an unwillingness to vote for a Mormon for president (and this was before all the recent media scrutiny). Admittedly, many of these are liberals, but a large number of these folks are also from the far right. See one poll here. And a more recent article reported much of the same thing:
This is when I get offended, although that might be too strong of a word. As a Mormon Democrat, I consider Rick Santorum to be pretty "out there." His comments on everything from contraceptives to African-Americans does not move us forward, and I am half a key stroke away from calling him crazy, (but that is against our own submission rules for this website.) I am frustrated with "the us vs. them" mentality that exists in Congress currently, and I feel inclined to put a larger portion of the blame on the far right of the Republican Party. So when someone like Santorum starts getting votes, and he appears to be extremely partisan and divisive, I have to sit back and wonder: why isn't Romney good enough for the Republicans? Is he really so bad that they want a Santorum to represent them in the 2012 election?
Republicans have demanded an "anybody-but-Mitt" alternative since the beginning - before the creation of the world. They flirted with everyone from Herman Cain (!?!) to Rick Perry (!?!) to Michelle Bachman (!?!) The list is reminiscent of a casting call for a Christopher Guest film. (Imagine Rick Santorum holding a Shih Tzu, and you'll get the idea.) And so Santorum gets their votes because he is the last man standing, and a Mormon in the White House is not an acceptable proposition. (Click on the picture to the right to purchase Hugh Hewitt's book.)
I guess I'm revealing my victim-mentality here. These potentially imagined slights and the real historical persecutions such as Carthage, Haun's Mill, and the forced exodus west, are indeed "stamped into the Latter-day Saints' collective memory," as Jon Krakauer pointed out in his not-so-unbiased account of Mormonism, Under the Banner of Heaven, A Story of Violent Faith. But for me personally, after living in the South during my formative years, I experienced a certain amount of discrimination from other Christians. (Additionally, a Big Gulp flying at me from a car window while pedaling a missionary bicycle down the streets of Modesto CA also comes to mind.)
Unfortunately, discrimination based on religious affiliation is one of the last acceptable forms of prejudice. I've seen it from both sides in regard to Mormonism, (meaning that conservatives and liberals discriminate against Mormons for very different reasons.) In the end, I am more comfortable with the dislike of my faith that I feel from the Christian Right than what I experience from the Progressive Left.
Let me explain: In the Southern Bible belt, Mormons are perceived as weird, cultish and believing in "another Jesus." While I was in Sunday School learning about the Army of Helaman or watching LDS films like "I'll Build You a Rainbow," the Baptists and Methodists were showing their children "The God Makers," a film that informs young minds that Mormons believe in a very badly animated Jesus. And the following Monday, these same little children would go to school and inform me that I was brainwashed and that I worship Joseph Smith. However, the accusation that Mormons aren't Christian is easy for me to deal with. ("Blessed are they which are persecuted for my righteousness' sake...") In fact, this is what Mormons have experienced all along. But now that I live in the Pacific Northwest, I find opposition to my faith based on completely different reasons: the dislike of Mormons is due to the perceived intolerance of blacks, women, and sexual minorities. Ultimately, I find it easier to be portrayed as a religion that believes in another Jesus than a religion that oppresses others.
But back to my point, (because I'm not planning on moving back home just so I can be discriminated against differently): I don't believe that the far right of the Republican party should cast too many stones at us Mormons or our faith; one or two small pebbles might suffice. For indeed, we do proselytize to other Christian denominations, and we do believe that God has a body. But in the end, we are believers. And for every God Makers movie about us, there is a Jesus Camp about you. So give us Romney this time, and maybe next time you can have your Michelle Bachman.
But just so I'm perfectly clear: in the end it really doesn't matter. I am voting for Obama, and you might consider doing the same.