07 November 2012

What went wrong

Why did President Obama win reelection? I think there are a few main reasons, which I'll look at below. I'm not interested in what Romney did wrong in the campaign. It's over, and may provide lessons for the future, but I think that the issues below were partly outside of his control.

1. The Economy

President Obama inherited an exceedingly difficult economy. I disagree in very significant ways with how he has handled it, but the nature of those disagreements is not something that can be communicated to the general public.
I think enough Americans gave the president a pass on the economy. For four years the President has been blaming George Bush for the slow recovery. Enough people believed that.

2. Changed Electorate

Latinos, young voters, and other emerging voting groups are more reliable than many people thought. They remained supporters of the president, in spite of his weak handling of the economy. They don't identify with the issues defining many Republican voters, and immigration is a problem for the GOP.

3. Republican Failures

I trace this back to the four year period, 2002-2006, when Republicans wasted their complete hold on Congress. They overspent, and squandered chances at tax reform and social security reform. They found religion under Obama, and won major gains in 2010, but failed to overcome Obama's partisan intransigence on the budget and debt. Without notable accomplishments to point to, they could not overcome the president's successful campaign.

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05 November 2012

Turn Down the Noise

While attending a conference, a speaker helped us remember the phenomenal time in which we live. The pace of technological innovation continues, medicine and biotechnology make impressive strides toward disease control and even eradication. Every ten years, 1 billion people will enter middle class. The opportunities are unprecedented. We are bombarded with contrary information, noise, and it is easy to forget these wonders.

And we can vote. By blessing or luck, depending on how you see it, I am a citizen of the United States of America. Tomorrow we will elect or reelect a president, senators, governors, representatives, judges, commissioners, sheriffs, property appraisers and other offices. The transitions will be peaceful, the outcomes accepted, and life will go on.

The election matters. To me it matters a great deal who our president is. I think that Mitt Romney is a far better choice than Barack Obama. I trust Mitt to make the more advantageous economic policies and have every confidence that he will be able to work with Democrats on bi-partisan initiatives. I believe that he will make good decisions with regard to foreign policy, and that our security and prosperity will benefit as a result.

What if he isn't elected? Then I hope that President Obama resolves to behave differently and to do what is required to work with Republicans. His greatest leadership failure was to set a precedent at the very beginning of his term, through the wholly partisan passage of the Stimulus, that as the winner he would do whatever he wanted. He allowed congressional democrats to steamroll Republicans, and the young notion of post-partisanship was a memory.

I hope the Republicans will also understand the need for painful compromise, regardless of the presidential outcome. No one will get exactly what they want, and understanding that at the outset will go a long way to making some real progress. One thing is clear, regardless of the victors tomorrow, Americans are rightfully fed up with the way that Washington has functioned over the past several years.

Bottom line- whether or not your candidates win, or mine, America is more than any one man or woman. It is more than debt, more than healthcare, more than war. It is, and will continue to be, the greatest nation on earth, and I am proud to be a part of it. I am sitting next to three young servicemen as I type this, and I will thank them for their service, and for their efforts to safeguard our sacred right to vote.

Happy Election Day!

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22 September 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CCIII

This is a pretty clever video, from the "Swagger Wagon" rap genre.

08 September 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CCII

I just remembered that I had a blog! So I thought I would post this funny thing.

18 August 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CCI

This is one of the least appealing dating videos I can imagine, but the musical version has at least made it fun to watch.

12 July 2012

Just the Facts

Regardless of your politics, Factcheck.org is a helpful scorekeeper of the various claims made during the election season. I will admit that I am happier when the opposing side is taken to task, as the Obama campaign recently was in their attack on Mitt Romney's business record.

Paterno's Failure

I have refrained from writing about the Sandusky case for a few reasons. First, I have an inherent distaste for the sensational and disturbing elements of this story, as do many of you. Second, I didn't feel like I had enough information to opine appropriately.

The release of an independent report on Penn State's handling of Sandusky provides me with enough objective information to feel able to comment. It leaves little doubt that various officials, Joe Paterno included, acted with "a callous and shocking disregard for child victims." This article from Dan Wetzel is a good place to get a synopsis of the report's findings.

I don't believe that Paterno's failure erases all of the good he has done. The ultimate judgement of his life is left to those more qualified and deserving. I am left with an inescapable feeling that his ultimate legacy should be forever tarnished. I didn't want this to be the outcome of the report. I wanted Paterno to have acted appropriately, but to have failed to protect children is a grave misdeed.

My hope is that this case, and its attendant publicity, will serve as a powerful and lasting object lesson should similar situations arise in the future. Nothing is more important than providing for the safety and welfare of children. It is a basic, God-given responsibility.

07 July 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CC

This is an amusing commercial for VirginMobilAustralia, starring Brad Pitt's brother.
 I guess this edition would more appropriately be called "Amusing Video Saturday."

06 July 2012

Who's Afraid of Mormons?

This is an interesting interview with Cristine Hutchison-Jones, who chose to do her doctrinal dissertation on the origins of modern prejudice against Mormons.

As a Mormon, I found her conclusions very reasonable. It certainly validates the recent efforts of the Church to humanize our members through the "I am a Mormon" campaign. I've created my own page, and enjoy some of the videos that the Church has produced.

The video below is about a Mormon comedian that I have followed for some time on Twitter. She works for The Daily Show.

05 July 2012

A Designer's Death

As someone whose awareness of automobiles emerged in the late 1980's and early 1990's, I recall a debated about three "supercars." Among people my age, it was common to declare allegiance to Ferrari, Porsche, or Lamborghini. I am and have always been a Ferrari Guy.

Most of the cars that I have loved were styled by Italian design house Pininfarina. Sergio Pinifarina died last night, and it is a sad thing for lovers of beautiful cars. Some of their great designs are shown here and here. Hopefully his legacy, and that of his father, will continue.

23 June 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CXCIX

I have always been a fan of Mister Rogers. He had a gentle way about him that made the sedate pace of his show really work. You may have seen this slick auto-tuned version of this video. I think it's great.

16 June 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CXCVIII

An entertaining look at over 1000 years of European history, map-style.

09 June 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CXCVII

Two clever parodies of the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, my most anticipated film of the summer. I like the sausage one best.

02 June 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CXCVI

This a very touching, well-orchestrated and clever marriage proposal. I dare you not to smile.

31 May 2012

Is It Any Wonder?

This might be the beginning of a new recurring feature for me-

In preparation for a summer trip to Canada, we began preparing materials to apply for Isaac's passport. Because he is a minor, this means that he, Lacy, and I will need to present ourselves at a passport application "acceptance location" to submit it. I did a search online, and found the listing for sites near our home. Among the locations is a post office near Millie's preschool. Perfect.

After gathering everything that we need, and the grumpy, nap-needy Isaac, we entered the post office branch at mid-day today. We were told by the two employees that an appointment is required to submit passport materials. An appointment. The branch was devoid of other customers. And there was no availability today, tomorrow, or Saturday.

The website with the acceptance location listings did not mention the need for appointments, but if I had clicked on the link for the location itself, I probably would have realized my oversight. But still- an appointment? As the POST OFFICE? To submit a 2 page application and some supporting documents? Is there something special about the documents that require extra training, or a delicate touch?

I'm sure that I am making a mountain from a molehill. Is it that big a deal to come back on Monday? No. Do I relish taking our crazy two year-old back to the Post Office for that process? No.

Is it any wonder that the Post Office struggles, especially with these unfriendly policies?

28 May 2012

The Worth of Remembrance

A bit of history: Memorial Day began as "Decoration Day'' in the 1860s, to honor the 625,000 soldiers who died in the Civil War. Think of that amazing number: The number of Civil War dead is more than the population of Wyoming today. The number of Civil War dead is 11 times the number of American troops who died in Vietnam. According to Yale historian David Blight, the first Decoration Day event was organized by freed African-American slaves in 1865 in Charleston, S.C., where a parade of 10,000, led by 3,000 black schoolchildren, took place to honor the dead around a racetrack that had been used as a burial ground. In 2010, some leading Charleston residents dedicated a memorial for the first Memorial Day -- so re-named in 1882 -- at a reflecting pool in the city.

It is hard to reflect on the purpose of Memorial Day without feeling more than a little inadequate. It is one day of the year that is set aside to honor those who have died in the service of our country. How can any of us, enjoying our grills, pools (though not today), and many creature comforts, hope to express our thanks to those who have given everything? How can we express it to those left behind?

I was moved by this article by Tom Manion, the father of a fallen Marine named First Lieutenant Travis Manion.

Travis was just 26 years old when an enemy sniper's bullet pierced his heart after he had just helped save two wounded comrades. Even though our family knew the risks of Travis fighting on the violent streets of Fallujah, being notified of his death on a warm Sunday afternoon in Doylestown, Pa., was the worst moment of our lives.
While my son's life was relatively short, I spend every day marveling at his courage and wisdom. Before his second and final combat deployment, Travis said he wanted to go back to Iraq in order to spare a less-experienced Marine from going in his place. His words—"If not me, then who . . . "—continue to inspire me.

Mr. Manion reminds us that sacrifices continue to be made, and men like Travis continue to give their lives, after more than ten years of war.

Author, and soldier's wife, Lily Burana, comments on a photo that she finds haunting. I agree, and hope you will read about it. I remember seeing the photo when it accompanied a story about the Marines whose job it is to notify families of the death of a loved one and who accompany their remains to their place of burial.

Her closing words are worth copying here:
I believe that the civilian-military gap isn’t always born of indifference, but rather, at times, a sense of helplessness on the civilian side. What can I do? If you do nothing else, you can remember those who have given their lives for their country. Our country. Remembrance, which may seem a modest contribution in the moment, is a sacred act with long-term payoff — a singularly human gift that keeps on giving, year after war-fatigued year. I don’t need to remind you that America’s sons and daughters are still dying in combat. I don’t want to browbeat you into feeling guilty for not doing more. Instead, I want to tell you that as the wife of a veteran, it is tremendously meaningful to know that on this Memorial Day, civilians will be bearing witness and remembering in their own way — that those who are gone are not forgotten. I also want to say that as you remember them, we remember you.
Thank you.
Thank you, to those who have fought and died. Thank you to their families. Thank you to those who have lost in other ways, and thank you to those who love them. My words cannot hope to relay the feeling of gratitude that I feel.

20 May 2012

Lessons from Scripture

My current church responsibility is to coordinate and oversee Sunday school classes in my congregation. Occasionally this allows me to substitute teach, which is something that I really enjoy. Today's lesson provided me with a new connection between two stories that were already familiar to me.

In the Book of Mormon, which we consider scripture and a companion to the Bible, a man named Alma listens to a prophet and changes his life. He leaves a comfortable position of power and influence to follow the commandments, many people follow him, and they covenant to obey the commandments and be witnesses of Jesus Christ. At the same time, the people that Alma left persist in their ways and encounter great difficulty in the form of an occupying enemy force. Rather than rely on the Lord to find a remedy to their tough situation, they rely on their own strength and decide to go to war. Three times they try this, and each time they are defeated by a superior enemy. Finally, after all this, they turn to God,

Meanwhile, in spite of their righteousness, Alma's people are also placed in bondage by the same aggressors. Their reaction is to pray to God for deliverance, immediately. When they are commanded not to pray by their captors, they pray in secret and silently in their hearts. They are rewarded, not with miraculous deliverance, but with comfort and peace given through the Holy Spirit. This personal blessing is the miracle that they need to make their burdens light as they passed through that trial.

Two peoples, with the same basic problem, and two completely different ways of addressing it. One group is faithful, and the other less so, showing us that obedience is not a guarantee that we will not experience trials and afflictions. What we do learn is that the Lord is ALWAYS there, if we will humble ourselves and seek his comfort and guidance.

I am grateful for this story, and the important lesson it provides. We control how we react to life's trials, and I hope that I make the right choices as I experience whatever challenges await me.

Mosiah 18-24

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05 May 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CXCV

Yesterday was "Star Wars Day," so here is a funny, creative, and short retelling of the original Star Wars trilogy:

28 April 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CXCIV

I can't embed the video here, but I couldn't resist its inclusion into this series. It is 6 minutes of the world's most thorough auto detailing: 144 hours(!) on a Ferrari Enzo

If you love cars, it is worth looking at how the masters do it.

24 April 2012

My Millie

The other day I was driving Millie to school. She told me that her friend, a really nice little boy, had asked her to marry him. I quickly said that she was too little to be married. Then this happened.

"I know. But I told him yes. It will be when I am older."

Millie turns 5 on Thursday. She is years away from marriage, obviously, but this conversation filled me with panic, dread, and a heartbreaking love for this amazing little girl. I mean, look at this picture:

I can't imagine my little girl ever leaving us, but that time will eventually come.
When I saw this video today, edited from shots taken by a father over his daughter's first 12 years, it reminded me of yesterday's conversation, and how quickly these kids grow up.

Five years with Millie have flown by. I will do a better job of enjoying all the rest, and try not to lock her in her room the next time she accepts a marriage proposal.

21 April 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CXCIII

This is a pretty amusing ESPN ad:

20 April 2012


Peggy Noonan wrote this a few weeks ago and I like her critique.

If you jumped into a time machine to the day after the election, in November, 2012, and saw a headline saying “Obama Loses,” do you imagine that would be followed by widespread sadness, pain and a rending of garments? You do not. Even his own supporters will not be that sad. It’s hard to imagine people running around in 2014 saying, “If only Obama were president!” Including Mr. Obama, who is said by all who know him to be deeply competitive, but who doesn’t seem to like his job that much. As a former president he’d be quiet, detached, aloof. He’d make speeches and write a memoir laced with a certain high-toned bitterness. It was the Republicans’ fault. They didn’t want to work with him.
He will likely not see even then that an American president has to make the other side work with him. You think Tip O’Neill liked Ronald Reagan? You think he wanted to give him the gift of compromise? He was a mean, tough partisan who went to work every day to defeat Ronald Reagan. But forced by facts and numbers to deal, he dealt. So did Reagan.

I'm willing to accept and address the numerous flaws of congressional Republicans, but I'm tired of the complaint that the president has failed because Republicans haven't played nice. That's politics. Bill Clinton, like Reagan, knew how to make it work. The president does not.

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19 April 2012


I can't really say that I hate Ikea. I want to say that I do, because every time that I go there, buy something, and then return home to assemble it the phrase "I hate Ikea" is sure to exit my mouth.
But in the end, when calm and serenity prevail, I realize that Ikea is a necessary evil. It is cost-effective, to a point, especially if you can overlook the time it takes to put that stuff together.
This is an interesting house, composed exclusively of products made by Ikea.

Scout for Life

I attended a fundraising dinner tonight for our local Boy Scout district. I participated in Scouts for much of my youth, age 11 to 17 or so. I did not achieve the Eagle rank, which I regret, but I still consider my scouting experience to be very valuable.

I know many people who disagree with scouting and it's exclusion of certain lifestyles. It is a private organization, and I think it has an important role. I'm grateful for my scouting memories, and the important things I learned. I look forward to Joseph and Isaac getting involved when they are old enough.

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18 April 2012

Ominous Android

This is fantastic viral marketing for the new Alien-related film, Prometheus.

13 April 2012


This is an interesting article from the WSJ. It explains how a census of Emperor Penguins was conducted using satellites. Through the study, scientists determined that there are many, many more of that penguin species than originally supposed.

It's a great example of how technology is making species health easier to track. It is also a great example of the limitations on our ability to observe the world around us. We often hear about the number of undiscovered species that are out there, or the populations of various common and endangered species. We must remember that much of this is (educated) speculation, and should be treated as such.

I am a great believer in science, and a realist with regard to its limitations.

27 March 2012

Health Law in Peril

Based on the opinion expressed in this article, and an interview I listened to on NPR, it seems that the individual mandate included in the President's health care law is in real danger.

This is shocking to many of the law's supporters, who seem to have overlooked that a well-intentioned law could run contrary to the Constitution by extending Federal power beyond it's legal limit. Even if the law fulfils what they see as a moral obligation of government, this does not make it constitutional.

Of course, by the time the Court issues its opinion in the fall, they could uphold the mandate and all this become moot.

24 March 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CXCII

Two-year old kid dancing. Nothing else need be said.

12 March 2012


Here are a few things that I found interesting today-

11 March 2012


So BYU is in the tourney, but in a play-in game against Iona. I'm not terribly surprised. One bracket I saw had us as high as a twelve seed, which seemed generous given our very uneven play this year.

I guess you look for some kind of motivation in a thing like this, and perhaps a feeling of being underestimated will work to our advantage. Time to play like you want it.

If you are interested in doing a bracket, I set up my annual group on ESPN.com. The password is "spotd"

10 March 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CXCI

In light of the upcoming March Madness, here is one funny story from one of the most storied rivalries in the game-

09 March 2012

Regulation Disorientation

This article was published in The Economist a few weeks ago. It is a very solid critique of our current, governmental regulatory regime. Bottom line? It's a mess.

I find it ironic that The Economist this, having acted as very outspoken proponents of President Obama, his health care plan, and initiatives like Cap and Trade. A little buyer's remorse?

I have long held that the regulatory morass is a major reason behind the sluggishness of our economic recovery. Even if the economy improves by the November election, it will have less to do with the president's policies and more to do with the innovation endemic in our economic engine.

In fairness, the bad regulation is nothing new, and not unique to either party, but the buck stops at the top.

03 March 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CXC

Sometimes hilarious, sometimes painful- Golfcart Fail Compilation:

21 February 2012

Obama & Vacation

I disagree with the President in many ways, on many things.

I don't care if he and his family go on vacation.

I am concerned about the expense to taxpayers, as I would be about any public official, but the Obama's have resources. They have the flexibility. They want their girls to travel? Fine by me. In the interest of encouraging economic activity, I welcome it.

I don't think he is a good president, but his failures are not due to his vacation choices. This is a sideshow issue, and not worthy of significant focus.

18 February 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CLXXXIX

A speech to end all speeches!

Take that President Obama! In case you hadn't seen it, that video is a few years old.

I think he took his oratorial style from this great episode of The Office:

07 February 2012

Pot Calling Kettle

The other day I responded to a Facebook post written by an old High School contact. My response was unexpected, and I failed to follow a few rules of common courtesy that might have prevented any hard feelings, so overall the exchange was unsatisfying.

The reason I commented was that a quote from a Democratic Party leader implied that the DNC & Obama's choice to spurn PAC and Super-PAC money in the upcoming General Election was indicative of the righteousness of their party, candidate, and ideology.

I disagreed, and said as much. It was not well-received.

What are we to make of this news? From CNN's Political Ticker blog:

Obama campaign to support super PAC fundraising

Obviously, it puts the lie to Obama's holier-than-thou approach to super-PAC's in the past.
I wouldn't have had a problem with this strategy had he, and his surrogates, not staked out a philosophical basis for refusing to participate in this way.

06 February 2012

Limited RAM

I was rocking my youngest son while feeding him his bedtime bottle. Somehow it made me think of something I have become very good at (maintaining my improved physical fitness) and all of the things I am not nearly as good at (list too long to write).

It made me wonder about our capacity to improve. Is it limited? What limits it? Can we become excellent at many things? Or are most of us limited to one or maybe two?

Think about great performers who excel in professions but fail in personal pursuits. Personally, I think we can be excellent in many things, but it can be exceedingly difficult.

Here's to trying.

28 January 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CLXXXVIII

I'm going to have to link to this rather than embed it, as I am away from home. This is video of Conan and his show's new Newt Gingrich impersonator. It's a winner.


21 January 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CLXXXVII

This moved me.

Hello from ant1mat3rie on Vimeo.

14 January 2012

Awesome Video Saturday CLXXXVI

I like this cover of Coldplay's "Paradise"

12 January 2012

Romney the Raider II

Powerline has a nice examination of one of Bain's success stories, which Gingrich and Perry have attempted to portray as a failure.

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10 January 2012

Romney the Raider

As this article explains, Mitt Romney has been under fire for his time as as head of a private equity firm.

His rivals are attacking him for firing people. This is hilarious, given how this is exactly what Republicans are expecting the next President to do. Do they think cutting government spending will all come from more efficient cost controls? It is not possible. Federal workers will be affected. The next president will need the stomach for it.

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College Football...Adieu

So with Alabama's resounding victory tonight another college football season comes to a close. My teams were disappointing, the hometown team was disappointing, the championship rematch was disappointing to anyone not from Alabamy. In just under 8 full months it will all begin again. And I'll be counting the days. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

06 January 2012

Creating, not Consuming

A friend of mine posted a resolution on Twitter that I thought was excellent. He has decided to spend more time creating and less time consuming and connecting. I like that sentiment, so I am going to try to do a little more creating here, on the blog, than I did last year.

Traditionally I post a lot of videos, link to articles that I like, which I will continue to do, but I also want to spend more time on original thought. We'll see how I do.