POLITICS: Where Have All The Journalists Gone?

Written by Jordan Petersen on . Posted in Politics

Too late. Time for damage control.

Too late. Time for damage control.

Have you heard about ACORN? No? Hm.

Everybody these days grows up indoctrinated in the virtues and heroism of reporters. We see movies that show us how brave and important they are — they expose corruption, help society become aware of problems and shed light on momentous events. They bring us the Truth. If it’s important, you can bet that dedicated journalists will uncover it for all to see.

Today, however, the aggrandizement of journalists seems to mostly sprout from their own self-importance — because now they suck. News has become deeply politicized. No one reports on anything unless they can achieve some political angle with the story. As a result, there are a lot of things that go unreported. Important information — things the public needs to know — remains hidden because the only journalists who have the power and expertise to uncover the story find it politically unsavory to do so.

If you watch The Daily Show on a regular basis, then you’ve probably seen this clip. It features host Jon Stewart ripping the news organizations a new one for failing to turn out ACORN as the astonishingly corrupt organization it is. Jon makes the whole thing extremely funny, which is why we love him and what they pay him for, but the aftertaste is pretty dreadful. Seriously, where have all the journalists gone?

Jordan Petersen is a film correspondent for Rhombus. He’s also very worried about the state of modern journalism.

POLITICS: Arizona's Public Option

Written by Randal Serr on . Posted in Politics

Randal Serr

Randal Serr

Critics of health care reform, specifically of the public option, often point fingers at “socialized” countries and complain that they don’t want the government running their lives, both of which are logically unsound. Besides the fact that these “socialized” countries have better health care results for less money, opponents of real reform still refuse to accept that a public option is a viable solution. We have heard a lot about how we don’t want to be Canada, but we have failed to look at a public option in the United States that has been successful for decades. It’s not the universal plan initiated in liberal Massachusetts either. It is a public option plan in the conservative state of Arizona.

In 1985, the Arizona State Legislature created what is called the Healthcare Group of Arizona. It is a state-sponsored program that provides guaranteed health care to uninsured businesses (with at least 2 employees), meaning that no one can be turned down for health care based on any medical condition. Differing from other private health care plans, the Healthcare Group reports to the Arizona Legislature. The small businesses can either pay the premiums or offer the plan directly to their employees. It offers various benefit plan options to fit many needs, lifestyles and income. And yes, it covers dental and vision benefits. One of the plans offered even provides the benefit of a cafeteria service.

In short, it’s a great health care option. When the public option started in Arizona there were about 10,000 people enrolled in the plan. Total enrollment as of 2007 was over 45,000 due to word of mouth from satisfied users. The plan has reduced the number of uninsured persons in the state, since small businesses and their employees are often the most likely to lack insurance. The group’s market-based approach has prompted other private insurers to be more innovative and price-competitive as well as seen with price reductions. In other words, it “keeps them honest.”

This is not to say the plan doesn’t have its challenges. Shortly after the plan was passed by Arizona Legislators, premiums had to be raised because funding for the program was running short. There is also risk because the Healthcare Group has to meet goals of enrollment growth in order to keep price stability. Nevertheless, the group’s premiums are now less than half those of private insurers. Based on Arizona’s success story, logic would follow that a public option at the federal level is not doomed to failure and increasing debt.

It appears as though the Arizona plan is successful and that — as in the past — if a federal plan presents challenges, the necessary adjustments will be made by legislators. President Obama has repeated over and over that the public option will pay for itself in about a decade. With legislative changes, the Arizona public option has become self-sustaining without subsidies from the government and their budget is now operating in the black. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Randal Serr is a liberal political columnist for Rhombus.

POLITICS: My Asphalt Facial Turned Political

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Jess Jones

Jess Jones

In a fit of stupidity, I landed myself in the emergency room. It wasn’t how I expected to spend my Tuesday evening, but I guess that’s what I get for longboarding after dark down a gritty canyon trail. I sat in the Provo ER giving my personal information, waiting to be treated for my war wounds, counting the number of people that were going to say, “I told you so.” Needless to say, I was embarrassed. I was a statistic.

I guess the good Lord intends to teach us in diverse ways, but it was wonderful to sit and contemplate the hilarity of the situation. I learned humility at the hands of gravity and an unforgiving asphalt facial. I gained an new found appreciation for the blessing of 24-hour medical facilities. I also mused about the political implications of the whole ordeal. Perhaps it wasn’t the best time to think about politics, but I couldn’t help but think of all the woefully uninsured neighbors of mine that had probably visited that same institution. So what if I didn’t have insurance? Luckily I was covered enough to only have to make a co-payment.

My roommate who witnessed my swan dive into the bike trail mentioned that he was glad I bit the dust instead of him. (I don’t blame him.) I remembered he wasn’t insured. So what would I have done if I were in his position? I lay there as they cleaned my scrapes and cuts, thinking of myself storming into the ER bloodied and battered with a printed copy of the Hippocratic oath and demanding that I be attended to regardless, as if I were starring in a whiter version of John Q. I’d like to think that there are special privileges (such as musing) that are granted to trauma victims such as myself.

I sat there while the doctor stitched up my lacerated cranium and decided to quiz him about the whole health care issue. The moment I mention the name “Obama,” I could feel him stick the needle a bit harder into my numbed skull. He expressed his nervousness for not only the public plan but the uncontrolled tort laws that were allowing prosecuting attorneys to suck physicians dry in malpractice lawsuits. This obviously explained why he sent me to and from the X-ray room to examine every aching part of my body. Due to the presence of a cute X-ray technician that was assisting me, I didn’t mind too much; but think for a moment how much we could save by helping protect the doctors just a bit more from the ambulance-chasing thugs that prey on the medical world.

I don’t know whether it was the blow to my skull or just the intoxicating aroma of sanitizer in the ER, but i felt a little giddy to think that I was amidst the medical community that is in such a frenzy over the pending health care reforms. I can’t offer any definitive opinion concerning the issue, but some definite changes need to happen.

Despite my best efforts to remove myself from the gene pool, I’m still here thanks to the capable hands of the over-qualified and under-appreciated doctors in the Provo Health Center.  It’s always interesting to be placed in a new pair of shoes and experience the actual process of receiving medical attention. Needless to say, I witnessed the need to help as many people as possible receive medical attention. Perhaps I don’t feel the federal government should dictate the program nor should they just force employers to foot the bill, but obviously there is something that needs to be done. Until then, hopefully the majority of the American people will either stow their long boards till this bill passes or we all pray for softer asphalt.

Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. His face hurts.

POLITICS: The Art Of Brainwashing

Written by Randal Serr on . Posted in Politics

Randal Serr

Randal Serr

Yesterday was the end of democracy in America. The President of the United States continued his mission of making the nation a socialist (if not fascist-communist) country, following the path of Hitler. At least that’s what you would think having listened to some of the parents outraged that the president was going to make an address to schools nationwide.

Where did all of this fury come from? Last week, the chair of the Republican Party of Florida, Jim Greer, was outraged over the scheduled speech. He said that the speech was nothing more than an attempt to “indoctrinate America’s children to his socialist agenda.” This spread like wildfire, with conservative commentators continuing to make ridiculous claims about the speech and its purposes. It’s not quite as crazy as the conspiracy theories about Obama’s citizenship and religion, but it’s close. Since then, this story has taken a significant amount of time on the news, brushing over the increasing death counts in Iraq and Afghanistan and other actual life-and-death matters. Some schools even decided not to air the speech because some parents were so upset about their president giving a speech to their kids. For example, the speech was not shown in some school districts in Michigan, Texas, Illinois, Virginia and Wisconsin. Of course, the same thing happened right here in Utah with the Nebo District banning the speech. Many parts of Utah adopted a similar stance and parents in many districts across the state have took the option they have been given by their respective districts not to allow their children to see the speech. In a radio interview, one school district worker talked about the upset parents calling in one after another. “They were saying the same things, using the same language.” It is obvious the parents were driven by conservative political pundits.

One parent said this: “I don’t think it’s appropriate [that Obama] speak to our kids. It’s like someone calling my child on the phone and speaking to them without my permission.” So apparently anybody that ever talks to this person’s child needs permission from the parent. This is just irrational overprotection. But that is the recurring theme that has come from this whole thing: Insanity.

It’s obviously not the message that has so many parents upset, because Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush gave speeches to schools as well. Yes, there were some politicians that did not want those speeches to happen, but there was nowhere near the uproar from parents that we got this time around.

After the speech was released, Florida GOP Chairman Greer backtracked, saying “it’s a good speech” and “it encourages kids to stay in school and the importance of education.” He then turned a complete 180, saying “I think that’s what a president should do.” But he and others already made it painfully obvious the reason he did not think Obama should address school children, and it wasn’t because of anything in the actual message. Hopefully Greer and others like him learned that if you make outlandish statements with no evidence, you end up sounding crazy. For good reason.

In the end, Obama did speak to the vast majority of students across the country. He spoke about getting an education to make our country “more fair and more free,” but made no mention of health care reform or any other policy initiatives. He did say students would need a good education to do everything from medicine to the military. He talked about working hard no matter your situation, that there is no excuse for not trying. Nothing about welfare or tax policy. Nothing about gay rights or gun control. Nothing political whatsoever. He even closed with the well-known phrase “God bless you, and God bless America.”

The brainwashing has become evident, but it certainly did not come from Obama.

Randal Serr is a liberal political columnist for Rhombus. He doesn’t have children but, if he did, they would have been in school yesterday.

POLITICS: Health Care Hypocrisy

Written by Randal Serr on . Posted in Politics

Randal Serr

Randal Serr

You might have heard about the possibility of health care reform coming this year. It has been mentioned a couple times in the news. When the health care debate does come up, there is a lot of exaggeration, hyperbole and facts being thrown around in all sorts of ways to back up individuals’ respective opinions.

My favorite part of the debate is that everybody has a story about somebody’s friend that they vaguely know of that has completely made their minds up about what kind of health care reform, or lack thereof, needs to take place. Most of that has been talked about enough already though. What I do not think has been sufficiently discussed is the hypocrisy of the health care debate.

More than a handful of conservatives have complained that the possibility of using reconciliation to pass health care reform would be “an abuse of the process,” as Utah’s own Sen. Orrin Hatch has said. Reconciliation is basically a way to get a bill passed without subjecting it to a minority party filibuster (or an attempt to prevent a vote.) It’s funny that Sen. Hatch would say such things, because he has apparently changed his mind quite a bit since 1981 and 2001. To fully understand this we need to go back to 1974. It was a bad time for Republicans, having just lost 48 seats in the House and four in the Senate, partially due to tax increases under President Gerald Ford. They desperately needed new economic ideas.

It was at this time that a conservative economist by the name of Arthur Laffer introduced what we now know as the “trickle-down” theory to Dick Cheney, who was serving as White House Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld’s top assistant. This theory basically argues that tax cuts, especially for the richer population, will somehow create more tax revenues for the government and also help the poor somewhere down the line. It is supposed to be efficient. Turns out the theory is especially efficient (and convenient) for the rich, as seen by the widening gap between rich and poor in America over the past 30 years. But in 1974 this was no more than a theory with virtually no empirical evidence to back it up. Naturally, Cheney loved it. The theory was then passed on to the brass of the administration.

Long story short, the largest tax cut in history was pushed through Congress in 1981 by Republicans using reconciliation, the same method Hatch now condemns. Yes, Hatch was a senator at the time. This happened again in 2001 and 2003 with the Republicans using the reconciliation process to pass the Bush tax cuts, again providing “much-needed relief” for the rich. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projected the Bush tax cuts would increase budget deficits $349 billion by the year 2013. Again, these cuts were passed with no empirical evidence that they would actually do what they were theorized to do by conservatives.

The hypocrisy continues, most recently with the passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy. Democrats have been trying to rally their party around health care reform, Kennedy’s pet issue. For example, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) stated, “maybe Teddy’s passing will remind people once again that we are there to get a job done as he would do.” Dodd urged other congressmen to “bring … passions to the debate,” reiterating that it is a “job that needs to get done.” After this and other similar statements, Republicans accused Democrats of unfairly using sympathy to pass health care reform.

Once again,this is funny because, when Reagan passed away in 2004, Rush Limbaugh tried to compare Reagan’s war strategy (called the Strategic Defense Initiative) with the war in Iraq. He went as far as to say, “I really believe that if Reagan had been able, he would have put his hand on Bush’s shoulder and said to him, ‘Stay the course, George.’ I really believe that.” And we have all seen the Republican presidential debates since Reagan’s death where much of the discussion turns into an argument about which candidate most resembles Reagan, trying to sell themselves as true tax-cutters and war-fighters. Again, the hypocrisy runs rampant.

I do not pretend that Democrats are never hypocritical. A lot of times it seems like both parties just trade one-liners when the shoe is on the other foot. I just think Hatch and his cronies should be reminded of their own history so they don’t end up wasting more time than necessary trading political barbs. It’s an efficiency thing.

Randal Serr is a liberal political columnist for Rhombus. He loves Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney.

POLITICS: Excuse My Musing (A Piece of Short Fiction)

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Jess Jones

Jess Jones

“Teddy’s gone,” the voice told Nancy Pelosi through her overpriced cellular phone. She smiled. Finally, she had another chance to rally the troops behind her blitzkrieg of a health care bill and “realize the dream” of old Teddy Kennedy. Sure the “Lion of the Senate” was gone. He was the last of one of the most iconic political families in U.S. history; however, in light of the tragedy of his passing, there could be no time lost. She must seize the moment. But how?

As she drafted her statement concerning his passing, she couldn’t help but feel a slight twinge of glee knowing that perhaps this would help win back many of the “fallen” Democrats that she had so earnestly blacklisted for their opposition to her flawless bill. Those cursed Blue Dogs; Who would have thought that even Democrats could think to oppose her? This thought made her dictate more furiously (because, of course, she’d never lay a finger on one of those complex electronic typing machines).

The hour grew later, and Nancy was struggling. She needed a war cry. Her dictation machine nearly short circuited from her long-winded braindump of thoughts about Teddy and her precious bill. Exhausted she sat down and asked her butler to turn on the T.V. for her. She sat as he flipped the channels and came across the good old AMC station. She loved those old time movies.

“Pause there,” she exclaimed. Her butler gave her the remote and left the room.

It was the movie Rudy. She loved this movie (or at least she had heard it was good at one point in time.) She paused and watched little Rudy in the dressing room of the Notre Dame football team. She didn’t care much for football (she didn’t understand the rules), but she watched little Rudy as he paused and looked at a plaque hung in commemoration of the famous words of Knute Rockne. (“Whoever he was,” she thought to herself.)

Little Rudy began to read. Dreary eyed, Pelosi watched in dull interest, trying to stave off the sandman a little longer. But then Rudy’s voice lifted saying, “Sometime, when the team is up against it—and the breaks are beating the boys—tell them to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper,” Nancy’s eyes shot wide open.

“That’s it!” she exclaimed. “We’ll win one for the Gipper… I mean Kennedy. We’ll do it for Teddy. Perhaps he’ll be more useful now than he was alive.”

She hurried to her desk and began hissing her thoughts into the dictation machine. She could almost see herself alongside Rudy, reading that immortal speech by whoever that Knute Rockne guy was. “Win one for Teddy.” This would be priceless.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

Now this is not in any way, shape or form an accurate description of the events leading up to the Democrats’ decision to rally support for the health care bill around the passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy, but I’d like to think that this sad excuse for a P.R. rally occurred in a manner similar to the story I just spun for you.

With disapproval ratings on the rise, it’s understandable that Democratic leaders will try anything to bolster the diminishing support for their precious bill. I just flinch at the sight of them prostituting the passing of a fallen comrade to perhaps soften a few calloused conservative hearts.

It’s a last ditch effort to drum up support. It’s smoke and mirrors and nothing more. After all, there’s been an overwhelming consensus that the plan as now proposed is illogical and fiscally damaging to the nation. So why not turn to the pity card? Or better yet, how about we let the noble senator rest and focus on fixing the undesirable bill?

Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. His editor developed approximately 17 ulcers while reading this column, but opted to publish it nonetheless. Three cheers for free speech!

IN MEMORIAM: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (1932-2009)

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Politics

A much younger Edward M. Kennedy, far right, with brothers Jack and Bobby

A much younger Edward M. Kennedy, far right, with brothers Jack and Bobby

In lieu of a Song of the Day for August 25th, I felt it more important to honor a fallen legend.

Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, or “Teddy” as he came to be affectionately known, was referred to as “the Lion of the Senate” and was one of only two men to stand for election nine times. Over his 47 years in Congress’ upper chamber, Kennedy produced an unparalleled amount of legislation and chaired numerous powerful committees. He ran for the presidency on multiple occasions, but never captured the White House like his elder brother, President John F. Kennedy.

From the time of his election to the Senate at age 30 in 1962, Kennedy grew in legislative prowess and obtained the esteem of both his colleagues and constituents. He provided a key endorsement for President Barack Obama’s White House bid in 2008 and campaigned for the young Illinois senator despite a brain cancer diagnosis. The iconic 77-year-old Democrat died Tuesday night at his home on Cape Cod. He will be sorely missed by his friends and admirers on both sides of the aisle.

Politico has a lovely profile of Sen. Kennedy’s life and legislative career. Read it here.

POLITICS: From One Hypocrite To Another

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Jess Jones

Jess Jones

Greetings to all you Rhombus readers. It’s wonderful to publish articles for you and hopefully it’s been interesting to read. The more articles I attempt to publish and the more feedback I get from readers, it’s become apparent that there’s a large portion that don’t agree with what I have to say.

It’s not a very big shocker, I know. My editor is more liberal than Richard Gere and Michael Moore combined and loves/despises every piece I submit. And yet this funfest of contention doesn’t stop at our humble Web site, no sir. Even more amusing is the hype and heat that is radiating around controversies and conflicts produced by talk show hosts like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, the White House, Congress and basically anyone else who voices their opinion.  Oh dear, we’re disagreeing with one another.

Now there seems to have been some nasty treatment of the fair-minded liberal leaders in office. Isn’t is awful how those conniving conservatives are waging this national whinefest to combat the pure intentions of the Democratic Party? How could conservatives generate so many lies and misinformation and slander our leaders in such a shameless and degrading fashion?

The truth is, it’s been happening for ages. And I’m not just blaming the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”You could easily switch the parties around and what would we have? Why we’d be right back in the good ol’ days of “W” and the Haliburton Hitmen of the Bush administration. There is no question as to whether the Pinko commie liberals were using dirty tactics of misinformation and rabble rousing. Millions of rock albums were sold on the mistaken idea that we were living under a fascist dictator. (Here’s looking at you, Green Day.) But now that we’re not under the spurs of our beloved Bush Jr., it’s fun to see how they whine about the nasty and apparently unfounded attacks on our new president, the great reformer.

I’ve got two words for you: Double standard.

Please don’t think of this as an attempt to excuse the conservative nut jobs from their slanderous statements toward public officials. I’m just hoping you realize this isn’t a new issue and mistreatment isn’t a one-way street running from the right to the left.

Some may argue such tactics of misinformation are only fringe practices in the Democratic Party and that Democrats are much more concerned with bigger, more important issues. But guess what? That’s because the Daddy Democrats are now actually in charge of helping to steer the country. They’re running the show, so naturally they have to be a little more preoccupied with actual affairs of state and less stressed about debunking the commander-in-chief.  Such tactics have, of necessity, been pushed to the fringes.

Now I’m not saying that there isn’t a need to decry unfounded allegations and accusations made against those of opposing viewpoints, but I am saying (to both sides) to stop playing the martyr. We disagree on what needs to be done here in the States. The whole right/wrong concept really boils down to which side of the aisle you stand on. The basic belief systems that we have espoused perhaps differ greatly. Some amenities that I would consider privileges are regarded by others as God-given rights. It in no way says that I’m right and your wrong or vice versa, it just means we have differing viewpoints.

You don’t walk up to a member of a different religion and say, “You’re wrong!” That’s both rude and hypocritical. I’m sure you’d feel the same if an atheist came to you and said your beliefs are foolish (if you are of a particular religious denomination). The fact that we believe ourselves to be correct doesn’t warrant a crusade to unhinge the beliefs of others. Once we can get that concept clear, maybe there will be less of this ideological propaganda and a greater effort to reason together and incorporate ideals to achieve more elevated solutions to today’s problems.

But until then, bring on the bickering, back biting and blowhards. I’m sure there will be some sort of sense we can find in the endless debates on CNN, The O’Reilly Factor and other “credible” news sources. If anything, we’ll stimulate the economy from added airtime for private advertisements. So don’t worry about progressing: It’ll be fun! Having played water polo in my past life, treading water has always been a pastime of mine anyway.

Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. His editor doesn’t quite consider himself the liberal revolutionary that Mr. Jones does and genuinely wonders when Richard Gere become the new envoy of the left.

POLITICS: Glenn Beck, Mormons and Political Correctness

Written by Randal Serr on . Posted in Politics

Randal Serr

Randal Serr

There’s a little too much love for Glenn Beck in Utah. I mean, I get it: He has an endearing story. He has overcome an addiction to alcohol and gone from a small radio program in Kentucky to CNN Headline News to the news source you can always count on, Fox News. He’s also very politically conservative, which may or may not have had something to do with him landing at Fox.

And let’s not forget he’s Mormon, which makes him especially popular here, the same way people supported David Archuleta on American Idol and all the other Mormon candidates on all the other reality shows. Not because they were necessarily the best participants, but because they were part of the Mormon culture which is undeniably very cliquish.

Add all those things together and this guy is getting more recognition and love in Utah (and particularly Utah County) all the time. Take, for example, the number of people “fanning” him on Facebook, the same way they “fan” the President of the LDS Church, families or the “Yes on Prop 8″ campaign. He has also emceed “Stadium of Fire,” Provo’s Fourth of July celebration, two years in a row, beating out Sean Hannity and others of his ilk. I’m not usually one to talk about the Mormon culture in the public arena because I feel like it is already so engulfing in this area, but I have to draw the line with this guy. I guess I’ve not been as impressed with him as others generally have been.

The first time I got turned off by Glenn Beck was back when he was still on Headline News. His guest that day was Keith Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to the United States Congress. After warning Ellison that he was going to be politically incorrect and explaining that he knows and likes Muslims, Beck asked Congressman Ellison to prove his patriotism and demanded to know if he was “working with our enemies.” You can make all the arguments you want about it being a joke or about how political correctness is destroying America but, at the end of the day, it was tactless.

The antics don’t stop there. On June 30th, Beck agreed with a guest that insisted that it would take another attack from Osama Bin Laden for Americans to stop trying to earn praise from Europeans and demand that their government protect them with “as much violence as necessary.” That’s a little much isn’t it? Just a little excessive? Yet Beck’s popularity remains alive and well.

On July 28th, Beck called President Barack Obama, the country’s first black president, a racist on the “Fox & Friends” morning show. This comment has garnered quite a bit of attention lately, with at least 20 of Beck’s sponsors justifiably pulling advertisements from his show as a direct result of his statement. He went further though, saying that Obama has a “deep-seated hatred for white people” and “white culture.” (He tried to backtrack literally within two minutes: “I’m not saying he doesn’t like white people.”) Nevermind that Obama’s mother and half of his family is white. Nevermind the speeches he has given trying to improve race relations. Nevermind the fact that Beck has absolutely no factual backing for this outrageous claim. If the great Glenn Beck, Mormon superstar, says it, then it has to be true, right?

Beck employs a very common tactic that a lot of people use: They give a qualifier before saying something offensive. It’s like the person we have all run across at some point that says, “I’m not a racist but…” then goes on to use various pejoratives. Giving a qualifying statement does not mean you can say anything you want afterward.

Beck excels in this arena. On March 9th, he began using a recurring theme on his show about Obama lifting the ban on stem-cell research and its supposed link to eugenics, a tactic used by Hitler and the Nazis in an attempt to improve a population through breeding. He went on to blame “progressive doctors” and the “progressive movement and its science” for eugenics. Recently he did an entire segment on eugenics. After months of this nonsense, Beck tried to qualify his obsession with stem-cell research leading to eugenics on August 11th, explaining that “no one is saying eugenics is coming.” Actually, Glenn Beck has been saying (very loudly) that eugenics is coming for the past six months. If he doesn’t think eugenics is coming, then why is he even talking about it? But that’s how Beck does business: He qualifies, then makes outrageous claims.

Mormons can’t pretend like they don’t get offended when people make offensive or even politically incorrect comments about them or their faith. (That would be quite the double standard.) There have been many instances when Mormons have called each other to arms over comments made about the faith, myself included at times. For example, when ESPN analyst Ric Bucher played on Mormon stereotypes when discussing Utah Jazz fans, saying they are supposed to be “happy all the time,” thus causing them to “get vicious” at Jazz games because that is the only opportunity they have to do so. (He was later forced to apologize and replaced that weekend when he was scheduled to broadcast NBA playoff games, because of the Mormon backlash.) Or when Maureen Dowd of The New York Times made outrageous statements about Joseph Smith, causing Mormons to create a far-reaching chain letter to facilitate the sending of letters of protest to the newspaper. Or when Rev. Al Sharpton alienated himself and Christians in general from Mormons by referring to himself and other Christians as “those of us who believe in God,” implying that Mormons do not believe in such a deity. (He was forced to explain himself and apologize as well.)

The problem is that when Glenn Beck makes outlandish remarks, sometimes about other faiths and cultures, he is vehemently defended by the same group of Mormons that forcefully defend themselves when others say similarly insensitive things about them and their beliefs. The double standard abounds.

The love for good ol’ Glenn continues around here and that probably won’t change any time soon. Yet I am encouraged: There is a new group on Facebook called “Mormons Embarrassed by Glenn Beck.” Maybe a few fair-minded individuals will join that group and fight the lunacy.

Randal Serr is a liberal political columnist for Rhombus. No, you can’t excommunicate him for disliking Glenn Beck.

POLITICS: The Medical Monkey On Our Backs

Written by Jess Jones on . Posted in Politics

Jess Jones

Jess Jones

In what has been one of the most heated and highly publicized debates in recent years, it’s been amazing to see the upheaval of public interest in health care reform.  From countless YouTube videos and dozens of newsflashes and reports of town hall protests, it’s easy to see there are a lot of people that aren’t happy with what’s going on. Now, this would normally be a time for me and my conservative minions to proudly sound an advance on Capitol Hill, but there is some reckoning that needs to happen first.

The debate has taken a turn for the worst. We’re no longer compromising. Be it the bull-headed GOP or the jackass liberal Democrats, a definitely line has been drawn in the sand; Representatives are being forced to choose their side under immense public scrutiny. The White House has even begun to imply that there will have to be a Democrat-only vote to push health care legislation through Congress. The white house blames the GOP and the visa versa.

What really chaps my hide isn’t so much the fact that we’re disagreeing. Heck, we’ve been at odds with one another since men were still wearing wigs and knickers. What really get me are the implications of the outcome of this debate. There is a serious shift of power that is occurring in this country as we consider and possibly pass bills such as the health care bill currently sitting on Capitol Hill.

With the introduction of federal programs, there comes a surrendering of autonomy in some degree or another. Many families lose the ability to find decent health care, because private insurance companies will be scrambling to match the government’s offer. Even then, if those families decided to take the feds up on their new program, they’ll have to take a number and wait for their turn to check out some ailment that should have been addressed much sooner. Companies, both big and small, will suddenly lose a bargaining chip (a.k.a. health benefits) that they once used to attract skilled full-time labor and instead get a “tax monkey” to carry around, in order to support this doomed program.

Part of my sentiments about this issue comes from time spent abroad in the socialized nation of Chile. One thing I noticed above all is the polarization of the health care offered to the Chilean people.  If you were looking for treatment that was comparable to “U.S. standards,” you would have to be willing to shell out the big bucks to pay for it. Otherwise, the government-run hospitals and clinics were the only other local option.  Since there was little-to-no cost to the patient for health care, people came for the slightest coughs and sore throats. A mere checkup would be scheduled out three to four months in advance.  Is it any wonder that the leaders of other countries come to the States for their medical needs?

If you’re scratching your head and saying, “Jess, you’re an alarmist and an over-exaggerator,” try this one on for size. I am currently enrolled in a health plan that mimics the proposed health plan the federal government will provide if the bill passes. Several months ago, I went in for a checkup for chest pains and was informed that I needed to visit a specialist that dealt with such problems. Should the problem continue, I was in danger of contracting cancer. Naturally, there was need for an urgent checkup to curb this potentially lethal problem. However, the program in which I am enrolled offered only one specialist — and he was booked solid for four months. Keep in mind, this was America. Granted, I only had to pay for the co-pay and I would eventually get seen, but what can we expect from a larger version of this plan? Is there need to worry about the shortage of doctors and specialists that will want to work for government?

I guess what is most troubling above all is the manner in which we are proceeding to pass this bill. Democratic leaders, along with the White House, are determined to pass this bill without delay. I don’t fault them for their vigor, nor for their ambition of helping a larger portion of Americans receive healthcare; However, there is no room in democracy — especially in American democracy — for these thug-like stratagems in Congress. This bill is just one of several examples of a major shift of power and responsibility towards the federal government.

It’s a big deal and for Democrats to just say “We’re doing this whether you like it or not” isn’t only offensive to the framework of the Constitution, but it’s a key indicator of the lack of leadership abilities of both the majority leaders and the White House. The attempt to garner public support through town hall meetings has proved that many Americans are against the plan set forth thus far. Polls show that more Americans disapprove than approve of the plan, so why are our leaders planning on making a power move to ramrod this legislation through Congress when it will clearly take a step toward greater government control?

You may think this is a half-hearted attempt at a Beck/Hannity homage, but the truth is there are things to consider here that are of serious consequences. James Madison explained that the purpose of the American republic was to reduce the effect of factions, splinter cells that are looking to deprive others of their rights. Although the representatives that are fighting over this bill were elected by the people, a faction of leaders has emerged on Capitol Hill with the determination to decide for us one of the most personal decisions that we could make: How we care for ourselves medically. Are we in trouble or are we paving the way of the future? Such questions are worth debate and a personal diagnosis.

Jess Jones is a conservative political columnist for Rhombus. He is also the incoming vice-chair of the BYU College Republicans.