Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mormons and Democrats, Vol. 3

Like most Mormons, my problems with the Democrat Party begin with abortion. Mormon Democrats (like J. Crew) like to tell you that various old-fogey church members are Democrats. Yes, and so were most slaveholders. Parties change, and the post-Roe Democrat Party is not the same it was before.

Mormons used to vote Democrat in huge droves. The solid majority Republicans enjoyed after the Civil War made it so the national officials who persecuted polygamists were Republicans. As a result of this, and because Utahns were westerners who wanted cheap money, Utah often voted Democrat in the past. As recently as 1964, Utah went for Lyndon Johnson instead of the man that (if time machines, corpse reanimation, and gay marriage were realities) I would marry, Barry Goldwater. Goldwater was a Republican's Republican, and the argument that Mormons are anti-Democrat because they are anti-Socialist takes a hit when you realize Utah voted for Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal four times and for Johnson's Great Society.

The elections of 1968 and 1972 have Utah going for Nixon, but not in greater numbers than the surrounding states. By 1976, the first election after Roe v. Wade, Utah went Republican more than every other state in the country (62%). Utah was again the most overwhelmingly Republican state in 1980 (73%), 1984 (75%), 1988 (66%), 1996 (54%), and 2004 (72%). In 2000 Utah was within one percentage point of the most Republican state (Wyoming, 68%), while in 1992 there were other states that were more Republican, but Utah was the only state where the Democrat came in third place.

I submit to you that the "solidly Republican" Mormon majority is really just solidly anti-abortion. The Democrat Party's embrace of abortion (and its logical conclusions of euthanasia and infanticide) has created the Mormon Republican majority.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mormons and Democrats, Vol. 2

I got in a huge argument with a friend of mine at the Utah Republican Convention in 2000 over this issue. We were both delegates and the question before the convention was whether to make allowances for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or health of the mother. She supported the idea, and I am not sure.

Rape and incest are crimes committed by the parent, not the child. I don’t support the idea of killing a child because his parent broke a law, a law that doesn’t even allow for the killing of the parent (thanks to Kennedy v. Louisiana). So the criminal gets to live but the baby has to die.

Health of the mother is neutral territory for me. Again, why does a woman’s right to staying alive trump her baby’s right to staying alive? Sometimes doctors can say the baby has no chance of viability, and so continuing the pregnancy would kill two people instead of just one. In that case, I guess it could be all right, if a second opinion confirms this, and it’s not just a doctor signing off on it because the woman asked him to. I mean, pregnancy is inherently risky and “health” is such an all-encompassing term. Don’t forget that Roe v. Wade allowed states to prohibit abortions in the third trimester unless it was necessary for the mothers’ mental or emotional health. This is why restrictions on late-term abortions were overturned in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. I can say anything affects my health. Having a third kid last year made me feel old. My emotional health was affected.

I understand the idea behind allowing abortion for rape and incest; a woman wants to move on and get better. But I don’t think one is justified in saying, “Something bad happened to me, so I’m going to kill someone (who’s not the perpetrator) in an effort to move on.” The health of the mother exception makes sense if medical professionals are altruistic, but many aren’t. Second opinions don’t help when you can find two doctors to say, “Oh, you’re concerned you’ll have a hard time losing your pregnancy weight? Your emotional health is threatened!”

I know I’m in the minority, here. A vast majority of abortion opponents support these three exceptions. What I want is the Supreme Court to recognize the state sovereignty guaranteed by the Constitution and allow each state legislature to make its own decision. Don’t forget, prior to Roe v. Wade, abortion was not illegal in this country. A repeal of Roe v. Wade would return to that same setup. In my ideal scenario, a woman could get an abortion on demand in California, Oregon, Hawaii, Washington, Illinois, and the northeast, because those state legislatures would allow it. In the other states, she’d only be able to get one in the case of rape, incest, and a risk to her physical (not emotional) health. That might be a hardship on some women, but I don’t know when anyone said killing a baby would be easy.

That’s the democratic process in action. That’s states’ rights respected. The current setup is a travesty of science, politics, and law.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mormons and Democrats

I've made no secret here about being a fence-sitting Obama supporter. But I have a question I need to ask a Mormon Democrat, and those are hard to find. Fortunately, I know at least one casually reads my blog (and that's nearly 30% of all Mormon Democrats, right?).

How can I be anti-abortion and vote Democrat?

*

Unless I can answer this question, I'm going to have to vote Libertarian (I'm not satisfied with their punt on the issue, but at least they punt and don't call for more dead babies,** which evidently can also be called "choice") or not vote at all.

Regarding "choice," the Democrat plaform reads: "The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right." What this means to me is, "We don't trust the democratic process or respect states' rights or the inalienable right to life of someone incapable of making his own legal argument from outside the womb, and we think Medicare and Medicaid should pay for it."

I don't believe a woman has a right to kill a baby, and I am physically repulsed by the notion of a woman being so thoroughly entrusted with the care of a helpless individual and responding to that trust so shockingly selfishly and brutally. It is not a "right to choose," it's a right to kill, and I don't support it, and I never will.

I'm not deciding between Obama and McCain. McCain lost my vote with McCain-Feingold and his plan to stop being bribable by taking away my bribe money. I'm deciding between Obama, Barr, and nobody. Help me out here, Mormon Democrats.

*: For those of you who hate the idea of abortion as much as I do, I suggest you don't do a GIS for "fetus."

**: Why was it so hard to find even a draft of the Democrat Party platform? It's over two weeks old, but there's no direct link from the party website.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"English, Good Sir - Do You Speak It?!"

I’ve always had a problem with the words loose, lose, and loss. Particularly, why does the presence or absence of vowels change the voicing of the consonant? And if booze has two Os, why doesn’t lose?

While the pronunciation of the S is changed by an extra O, with the words prophecy and prophesy, the pronunciation of the Y is changed by the preceding consonant.

When I was a kid there was a lot of talk in school (particularly by Pinko idiot teachers who didn’t know much) about how the English language was capricious and unforgiving and basically a stone cold pimp. Cited “evidence” included observations such as, “Why do you park in a driveway and drive on a parkway?” and other things that have been booed at the Improv since 1982. (NOTE: I guessed at that date and then received confirmation from Wikipedia. Beautiful. –ED.) It wasn’t until I was reading Chaucer in college that I learned of the Great Vowel Movement (or Shift, if you prefer) and realized that English spelling is bad because it’s old. Yes, spelling wasn’t standardized until relatively recently, but “standard” spelling came from the most-widely used options then available, and these came from spelling determined by people who pronounced things much differently.

To finish this post, I’ll point out that sometimes pronunciation of a vowel can be changed not just by the adjoining consonant, but by whether that consonant is capitalized (Polish v. polish). And that’s just retarded.


Title a paraphrase from "Pulp Fiction."

Baseball Vindication, And An Ass-Load of Other Things, As Well

As I write, the Pittsburgh Pirates are well on their way to never winning another game. Ever.

On June 13, the Pirates were one game below 500 and I was excited. Last year on that date they were nine games under. (I know because I keep track of each season in a spreadsheet; just one more thing I’d probably stop doing if I ever worked for myself.) Today the Bucs are eighteen games under, whereas on this date last year they were only fifteen under. They are worse this year than last year, despite finishing last season with a 2-13 record over their last 15 games.

2007 PITTSBURGH PIRATES

2008 PITTSBURGH PIRATES

According to this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, the Pirates, Brewers, and Tigers all entered 2004 with consecutive losing season streaks of 11 years. Since then the Tigers have been to a World Series, the Brewers have been in playoff races and seem to be the wild card winner of the National League, and the Pirates are seven losses away from tying the all-time losing streak of 16 years.

I hate Neal Huntington so much right now.

*****

School has started up for me again. One of the quirks of being an undergraduate TA is that my students one semester can become my classmates the next semester. This semester I have a history class with a student who I’m pretty sure failed my class last term, and a math class with a student who passed. The failing student avoided looking at me last week in class, while the passing student at least talked to me. Also, many of my students from last semester are in the class I’m TAing for this semester, but are in other discussion sections. Is it because they didn’t like me? Three of my former students are back in my sections this term, though. Did they know when they enrolled, or are they hating their luck right now?

*****

My wife likes to draw the following picture of me:

I know, it’s a wonder I’m still married to this woman. But anyway, one of the reasons she says this about me is my utter conviction that nearly everyone I’ve ever met doesn’t like me. It takes most people a while to realize it, which is why I always have a friend or two, but I don’t usually have friends longer than three or four years because even idiots don’t need that long to determine who they hate.

As justification for this opinion, I’ve got this quote from Notes From the Underground on our refrigerator:

It is clear to me now that, owing to my unbounded vanity and to the high standard I set for myself, I often looked at myself with furious discontent, which verged on loathing, and so I inwardly attributed the same feeling to everyone.

Actually, the entire book makes sense to me. As I read it I thought, “Finally, somebody gets me!” I realize the negative implications of identifying with the Underground Man; I’m just saying I don’t think he’s so wrong.

Anyway, I counter this caricature of me with the notion of “depressive realism,” the idea put forward by Lauren Alloy and Lyn Abramson (and concisely summarized in this book excerpt from amazon.com), which says I am 100 percent correct and she should stop drawing hurtful pictures and start making tasty desserts and wearing less clothing.

*****

My daughter tends to worry about things. Usually they are things she is correct to fear, such as natural disasters, but they are also things she can’t control. For this reason, we keep her pretty sheltered from the news, and from much of history, too. (All she knows about September 11th is that buildings fell down because planes hit them, but the planes weren’t supposed to do that.) This might seem extreme until I tell you that, while I was watching TV with her two weeks ago and we saw an ad for a local “news” investigation into failing car tires, she made me promise to watch to see if our tires were the kind that were bad.

We have a restriction of Sunday TV viewing. Our kids can only watch church movies, which is why they watch “Mr. Kruger’s Christmas” any time of year. It’s either that or “The Restoration,” since “To This End Was I Born” freaks them both out. Well, for the last two weeks we’ve allowed them to watch the Olympics on Sundays. Two weeks ago they were watching the Olympics while Persephone and I were upstairs sleeping. (I wish that were a euphemism for something, but we were actually both asleep.) When Persephone woke up, the Olympics were over and the local “news” was on. She quickly turned off the TV, but Crazy Jane had already become frightened of a news story: “They said that next year some TVs will stop working.”

I’ve written in this (virtual) space about the HDTV change and how much I hate everything about it. (I bet the Underground Man would hate it, too.) Well, it turns out Crazy Jane is one of the frightened millions. That makes my plan to shoot the TV even meaner; it would be like shooting her best friend. She no doubt agrees with Homer Simpson’s characterization of, “Television: teacher, mother, secret lover.”

*****

The Pirates lost 2-0 while I wrote this post. They are now six losses away from their 16th consecutive losing season.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Pirates Pitching

So earlier this week I complained about the state of the Pirates pitching staff and they responded with a perfect game through eight-and-two-thirds innings. Bastards. Quit disproving my points!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Worthless Pitching

The Bucs made some moves at the trading deadline, but nothing has changed with pitching. I'm watching the Gameday feed on mlb.com right now. The Pirates have recorded 22 outs, allowed 18 hits, and given nine walks. That means they're allowing the opposition an on-base percentage better than 500. They expect to be able to win games like this?

Starting pitching is a shambles. Van Bent-whatever-his-name-is and Herrera both suck. Russell knows this because he has incredibly short hooks for these guys. Herrera lasted an inning and a third tonight. That means the bullpen has to get 23 outs (if they expect to win, but maybe they figure they'll lose so they'll only need to record 20 outs).

I don't want to be critical of guys who are trying to make a living. I know I'd be thrown off my game if I had to do GIS work with someone looking over my shoulder saying, "You're going to blow it again, loser!" But the fact is, these guys can't do their jobs. They're in the wrong line of work. The economist in me dislikes the misallocated resources these guys represent. They should be high school gym teachers, not major league pitchers. The saddest part of "creative destruction" is always the destruction.

I'm angry because this was supposed to be our year. As recently as the July 4th weekend the Pirates were one game below 500. Now they're three outs away from being 10 games under for the first time this season. There is little hope they will finish with a winning record, which means the record for consecutive losing seasons is virtually locked up. It doesn't seem like it was so long ago that they were winners, but that's because I've lived an abnormally-static life. I was dating my wife when I went to the 1992 National League Championship Series. Most 30-year olds can't say that. But the fact is their losing season streak has consumed more than half my life, and I'm not that young of a man anymore. (And when you remember that they sucked for most of the 80s, too, I have three years of sentient Pirate fanaticism that have coincided with a non-crap ballclub.)

Final score: Arizona 13, Pittsburgh 7.

Monday, August 04, 2008

I'm Freakin' Carnac!

Remember when I wrote about having a “near-Oprah experience”? Of course not, because you don’t read my blog. Nobody reads it. But I did write about it, here. Well, today I read this and I said to myself, “Geez, A Random Stranger, not only does your raw animal magnetism force me to question my own sexuality, you also can predict the future with stunning accuracy. Will you father my children?” To which I replied, “I already fathered all three of your children.” And then Me-Number-One said, “Sweet.” And Me-Number-Two said, “You know it.” And then the two mes (like the Two Coreys, but cooler) did a fist bump, which is the height of coolness right now.

Other things I can predict: second grade math curricula.

You see, around January Persephone quit doing math with Crazy Jane. Crazy Jane was making it difficult, so I got to do math with her when I got home from work. Well, Daddy’s Math Boot Camp fixed a lot of her problems, but Persephone still refuses to do math with Crazy Jane, so it was decided that this year I get to wake Crazy Jane up at seven and do math with her before I leave for the day. (This is just fabulous for me, since this coming semester is going to be, like, my MOST IMPORTANT EVER, but I’ve often been surrounded by enemies in the past.) I did it for about half of the summer with practice workbook pages, depending on whether my summer school schedule allowed for it. She is so much better now that, instead of needing someone to constantly remind her to do the next problems, many mornings I’d wake her up, read scriptures with her during breakfast, then give her an assignment and leave for school, and she’d do the work on her own before anyone else woke up. But, anyway, this is still the way things have to be.

The last week or two we added number word writing (like “sixteen” for 16) to the rotation. You see, Crazy Jane is a grade ahead in math, and some of the assignments don’t account for that. Her first week of kindergarten had her doing first grade math that supposed she could do first grade writing, so she failed that entire week, decided she hated math, and that led to the entire fiasco you see before you. So when I would assign her summer pages to her based on the things she needed to review before starting second grade math, I figured she would need to know how to spell all her number words. I would give her a sheet of words for her to copy and spell aloud while she did it. She said she was embarrassed to do it out loud, so she’d do it in her room with the door closed. (I listened at the door every once in a while to make sure she was actually doing it.)

Today is her first day of school. Her stuff came in the mail while we were in South Dakota and the school website is functioning, so she gets to start first grade today. I woke her up at seven, she yelled at me that she was still tired, I carried her downstairs, introduced myself as her math teacher, and we started her first assignment: number word writing. How brilliant am I?! I didn’t even KNOW! I’m just a regular genius! She still had problems with some of it (like “eighteen”), but she could do enough to pass the assessment at the end of the lesson, which was way better than her experiences with the first week of math last year.

Here’s my secret plan: get Crazy Jane to be the model student so I can run, eat breakfast, and do my own homework while she does her math assignment alongside me (or even during the regular day when I’m not home).

PS: I know what all you haters have to say about home schooling. Like I said, I’ve often been surrounded by enemies. My response to you is the nuanced retort, “Suck it.”