Monday, June 4, 2007

My Iraq Plan

So here is my plan. Keep in mind that I have no knowledge of military strategy and my experience in politics is very slim.

1. Should we stay or should we go?
I think this is the most important question. A lot of Americans feel that the United States being in Iraq is making it worse. Let's put this to a vote and let the people of Iraq speak. We should allow Iraqis to vote "yes" or "no" to the US continuing to stay and assist in reconstruction. If they vote "no" we leave within 6 months. It's that simple. If they vote "yes," then we move on to step two.

2. It's time for a time-table.
I understand the position of many Republicans that setting a time-table would encourage the insurgency. But who cares? We have tried to help reconstruct Iraq for several years now and the insurgency doesn't appear to be suffering from lack of encouragement. Step two in my master plan is to force the Iraqi government to pass a time-table on how much longer we will stay. The key to this is having the Iraqi government decide, not us. Allowing them to decide will help strengthen foriegn relations because the world will see we are there because Iraq wants us to be there. We will set a time-table for the Iraqi government to create a time-table. The time-table could consist of several years, but at least we would have something concrete.

3. Diplomacy.
After the time-table for our occupancy is set we then go to the neighbors of Iraq and explain our plan. We ask for their assistance so that we can leave Iraq strengthened and able to stand on its own when we leave. We let them know that the plan will fail without them and the Iraqi people will be left open to harm and violence.

4. Stick to the time-table.
Next, we stick to the time-table and leave when the time comes. We leave knowing we did all that we could to help Iraq and its people. I am not opposed to leaving a US command center in Iraq, but we will no longer be in charge of security or support of the country.

So are we ready to elect me as President...yeah right.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Escalation or De-escalation: Same Difference

This past weekend I spent a lot of time playing Empire Earth. For those not familiar with the game, it is a strategy game in which you build up a community starting with a small village and form a powerful army to take over other player's (in my case the computer) territory. I have a few cheats for this game that give you unlimited resources allowing you to quickly build up an army. However, even when using these cheats I find it very difficult to beat the computer.

My two basic strategies have been to send hundreds of soldiers to the computer's territory to defeat them. When some of my soldiers are killed I simply send new ones trying to wear down the computer. My other strategy has been to build up a big fort to be ready when the computer attacks me. My hope is that they will use all their resources to attack my fort but will run out quickly because I am so prepared in my territory.

Both of these strategies have failed.

A couple nights ago I thought about how the proposed solutions to the Iraq war by the current President and by those seeking the office in the 2008 election are no better then my faulty Empire Earth strategy that even my computer's artificial intelligence can defeat.

President Bush continues to preach "stay the course" trying to enstill hope in the country by developing a plan that is centered on troop escalation. Many of the republicans that have thrown their hat in for President have supported this strategy.

Senators Obama and Clinton have made it clear that they want a troop de-escalation, bringing our troops home as soon as possible. I think it is safe to say this option represents how many democrats feel.

While I once felt my personal stance was leaning torward troop deescalation I have taken a step back and realized that no one has proposed a viable and worthy strategy for this war.

I understand that there is more thought behind Bush's troop esclation plan then just throwing more troops into the mix. But ultimately that is all we are doing. More troops=more resources to contain the insurgency. This plan is doomed to fail. The insurgency is not about numbers, its about the ideology and motivation of the men and women that are sacrificing their lives to send a message to the US through roadside bombs, suicide bombers, etc. It is a mental war, not one based on resources.

Bring the troops home? Yes, this will save the lives of many of our soldiers that would have perished had we remained. But for Iraq what does this accomplish? Nothing. Whether or not you were for or against this war (for the record I was not - and I definately side with what Obama has written in his book "The Audacity of Hope" that we rushed into this war without good reason and judgement) we took away Iraq's infastructure and any hope they had for peace when we toppled Hussein's government. A simple sense of doing what is right and just tells me we cannot abandon the Iraqi people.

So when are we going to have a politician and/or presidential hopeful that puts forward a plan that is more creative then throwing a lot of troops at the problem, or bringing them all home? When are we going to have a leader that realizes that this war will be one with not only military force but also diplomacy and an effort to understand the enemy's motivation?

My favorite line by the Republican party when defending the current state of the war is "This war is different from any war we have faced." If it is so different then why are we throwing the same solutions of military force at the problem and not being more creative?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Women and the Priesthood

I want to start this post by bearing my testimony concerning the Restored Priesthood. I have a strong conviction and have received a distinct witness that the authority restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith is the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. I know that it is the authority to act in Christ's name, and especially the authority needed to correctly govern His Church.

In today's Church as in the Ancient Church this Priesthood is only given to males. For reasons unknown the Lord has chosen select people and groups at different times to hold His authority. Aside from possible personal revelation to Prophets not shared through the scriptures or their writings, the reason for this has not been revealed.

As a man in the Church I cannot help but feel we can be a little more sensitive to women on this particular subject. I believe their are many of us that write off too easily those females that have struggled to understand why they cannot hold the Priesthood, or struggle that through this authority the Church becomes a male-dominated patriachal system.

I was guilty of shrugging of these conflicts until an experience on my mission. I got to know and become close with a small member family. Both parents were very liberal in their views of religion, and really anything for that matter. The husband was studying to be a sociologist, and the wife was struggling to become a homemaker putting her degree and career on hold.

While their views were liberal they were valiant and strong Saints. I loved going to their home a feeling the warm embrace of the Spirit. Many in the Church were attracted to the excitement and joy that surrounded these wonderful people.

One Sunday, after a combined Priesthood/Relief Society meeting on the blessings of the Priesthood I noticed the wife walking to her car in tears. As she passed me I couldn't help but ask her what was wrong. She turned to me and very candidly said, "I want the blessings of holding the Priesthood. Why can't I as a woman experience this?"

I am sure there are many responses that can be given to this question. I know that many would say that a women does experience the Priesthood through their husband (this explanation not taking into account women that do not marry in this life). But can we really blame or look down upon a woman that wants the opportunity to hold Christ's authority to serve?

In this woman I saw and felt so much sincerity it awakened me to the reality and seriousness of this issue. Since this experience I have always tried to be very sensitive and aware when a sister in the Church is dealing with this conflict.

I am not trying to say that I believe women should hold the Priesthood. As I said before, for reasons unknown God has chosen certain people to hold His Priesthood at certain times. And me in my finite and inperfect state do not challenge His current decree. But a little more sensitivity and understanding I believe would go a long way. And I believe it would also be more Christ-like on our part.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Review of "The Mormons"

I found "The Mormons" to be one of the most accurate productions on the Church produced by an outsider of the faith(which may not be saying much). There were inaccuracies and misleading statements but what I appreciated most about this documentary was its intention. I have watched enough anti-Mormon films to feel and know the chill that comes with the hateful and degrading motivations of its producers. And while I couldn't help but occasionally cringe, I never felt hate or bitterness while watching this production.

A lot of facts and views of the Church were shared. But most of the spiritual and sacred events that motivate our Church (in the past and in the present) were not. This presents almost an empty shell of Mormonism. Which I feel the producer was going for. It seemed she wanted to give her viewers just enough information without overloading them.

A few subjects I was disappointed about were the Mountain Meadows Massacre and Polygamy. I believe that too much time was focused on the Massacre, making it appear to be more of a defining historical event to the Church then it actually was.

Also, I wish the documentary would have focused more on the Church discontinuing polygamy. Right after it explained the Church discontinued polygamy it went directly into LDS Fundamentalists and their practicing of polygamy. This may give a viewer who is unfamiliar with the Church an idea that the Church never stopped this practice.

I could go over each detail I felt was incorrect - there were many. But overall I appreciated this documentary. There were many opportunities for someone to feel the Spirit when certain aspects of the Church were discussed.

Of course it also presented a critical side, but that critical side exists and I am glad they were given a voice.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Best in the West?

It's been a long time since my last post. You must forgive me but I have been spending my spare time engrossed in my second love to the Gospel - sports.

It's NBA Playoff time and my Dallas Mavericks have not been doing so well. I have been a true fan since I was 10 years old. I glory in this because when I was 10 years old the Mavericks were lucky to win 20 out of 82 games a season. Despite the losing record and the ugly uniforms I backed my team year in and year out.

Lately I have received my return as the Mavericks have been playoff contenders. Last year they made it to the Finals, only to choke after going up 2-0 and losing to the Miami Heat. I cannot describe to you how deeply depressed I was for weeks after that series. Unhealthy? Maybe. But I was born to follow sports.

The Mavericks are down 2-3 in their first playoff series since the Finals. They had the best record in the NBA this season, one that broke records, but have succumbed to the Golden State Warriors in what could be the biggest upset of the season.

I have had the opportunity to go to games 3 and 5. This has only fueled my anger towared the Warriors . They play like thugs, and they act like thugs. It almost seems like this series is a battle between sportsmanship and immaturity.
Tonight, if the Mavericks lose they are eliminated. If they win they are tied up and headed back to Dallas for Game 7. They have become the underdogs and most of the media is predicting a loss. But I have faith.
In regards to my usual topic of religion I did watch the PBS special "The Mormons." All I can say at this time is it was a valiant effort to capture Mormonism. I never sensed any motive but to understand and I appreciated it. I wish I had the desire to write a few mroe of my thoughts but I don't. I'm in a stage right now in which I am tired of discussing religion. I feel that I am living the Gospel the best I can according to my beliefs and faith and have no desire to explore them through dialogue with others. I am sure I will come out of this stage eventually. But until then...

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Great Scientist and Religious Scholar

For ages science and religion have opposed one another. If science formulates a theory that appears to conflict with the Bible many Christians immediately dismiss the theory as hogwash or the wisdom of men.

I have never had this problem. Rather I have enjoyed finding ties between scientific theories and biblical teachings. I believe they are abundant.

Sure - there are conflicts. But conflicts arise between scientists. And conflicts arise between churches and religious scholars.

God is both the Great Scientist and the Great Religious Scholar. He knows all scientific truths, and He knows all scriptural truths. He is the Author of both.

I know many view God as a mystical unexplainable Being. Because He is God His ways are incomprehensible. All of this is true, but in viewing God this way are we also robbing Him of His intelligence?

When we think of the Creation, many Christians believed God pointed His finger and the world appeared. But shouldn't we also recognize that God understood the science behind what He was doing? He knew exactly how far the Sun needed to be from the Earth in order to provide us with temperatures we could endure. He knew exactly where to place Mother Earth and the other planets to create a stable universe. We can take great scientists such as Albert Einstein and realize that God is infinitely smarter.

Just as Christians strive to understand God and His ways in regards to salvation, scientists strive to understand the science of His creations. Conflicts may arise but we are all seeking the same thing - the truths of God.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

My head hurts...

My latest muse:

Reality has always existed. It has no beginning. It has no end.

A beginning to reality signifies a time without reality. Out of a void reality could not be born.

An ending to reality signifies a void future. Therefore, reality would have never existed.