Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Sad Day for the Boy Scouts...

This morning, the LDS Church announced that they will no longer utilize the Boy Scouts as their youth program:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865679711/Mormons-drop-Scout-programs-for-older-teens.html

And before the flames begin - know that I have been a Boy Scout for over 3/4 of my life. I am an Eagle Scout, and the son of an Eagle Scout and the brother of another Eagle Scout. Many of those that I consider my closest friends are Eagle Scouts as well - we literally grew up together and still are friends to this day, some 20+ years after most of us earned the award.

Among us, there are VERY differing perspectives on the "3G's" in the Scouting program - God, Girls and Gays.

“God” is fairly straightforward - the Scouting program embraces *ALL* religions, but not the absence of a belief in a high power (Atheism). The BSA has been sued MANY times throughout the years for the requirement of those in the organization holding a belief in a higher power.

“Girls” is the constant barrage of those that want females as part of the BOY Scouts.  Again, countless lawsuits, and accommodations have been made to include female leaders and youth participants within the organization (the Girl Scouts, BTW, do not allow boys, unless they identify as a female. SHM).

“Gays” refers to the efforts of the LBGT community to participate as leaders, and then as youth members in the BSA.  In June 2000, the Boy Scouts won a landmark Supreme Court case (Boy Scouts of America v. Dale) which affirmed the organization’s right of freedom of association.  In recent years, the Boy Scouts have caved to those demands and pressures, first by allowing homosexual leaders, and most recently allowing homosexual and transgendered youth participants.

For the record, let me share the following on the 3G’s:

I believe that the organization has a responsibility to promote a belief in a higher power.  Part of the Scout Oath is a duty “to God and my country.” If you do not believe in God (in His many various forms), then the Boy Scouts is not likely the organization for you.

I believe that it is OK – and actually a good thing – for young men to gain values and experiences without the distraction of girls.  I am not saying that girls are “bad”, but I also know that the social dynamics of a situation change when you comingle genders. Boys will have more than enough chances to interact with females outside of the Scouting program. And females can also gain from participating in girls only organizations without the unnecessary social conventions associated with working with boys. If you want to camp and hike with girls, then the Boy Scouts is not likely the organization for you.

I believe that there are organizations that can be exclusive.  Not every single organization should be open to every single person.  There are many that believe in complete and total openness, and any level of exclusivity is discriminatory.  I am not saying gay people are “bad”, but there are many that believe that those values represented by some in the LGBT community are not aligned with those traditional parts of the Scouting program.  As represented above, most of the chartered partners (those that sponsor Scouting units) are religious organizations. And some of those organizations (including the LDS church) do not embrace the LBGT causes, especially when they are influencing their youth participants. I am sure the Mormons will be demonized for their antiquated and backwards views on gays.  Same for the Roman Catholics and any number of other religious institutions. But they believe what I believe – that while not necessarily evil, their views and beliefs do not mesh with the (former) traditional values of the Scouting program. If you want to promote and embrace values that run contrary to the core values of the Scouting program and their chartered partners, then the Boy Scouts is not likely the organization for you.

Unfortunately, the Boy Scouts disagrees with me, and that is why the Board of Directors at the National level have made drastic accommodations over the past 20 years to become more inclusive. Many of the afore mentioned Eagle Scouts that I consider my friends agree with this stance.  But I also know many that do not.  My friend Jason Carter (and Eagle Scout) left the Boy Scouts to become a leader in the Trail’s Life organization after the Boy Scouts abandoned his values.  I know of several others that were supporters of the Boy Scouts that can no longer support them (in spirit or through financial means) because of the value changes.

So yes – I am disappointed.  This is another sad day for an organization that I love.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The FBI Director is "Terminated"!

“I do not have confidence in him (Comey) any longer." 
- Chuck Schumer

"Maybe he (Comey) is not right for the job" 
- Nancy Pelosi

And - certainly not to be left out:

"That was so bad what happened originally, and it took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they’re trying to protect her from criminal prosecution. It took a lot of guts." 
- Donald Trump

Point being - regardless where you come down on this decision, politicians on both sides of the spectrum are playing politics. Those that expect them to be doing something different are fooling themselves. And it doesn't mean you have to like it - I, for one, do not. But was I shocked or surprised?

Hardly.

Pretty hard for me to agree with President Trump on this one. Sure - it is his prerogative to fire the FBI Director (though it is almost never done), but the timing sucks. You can either believe that he is trying to derail the Russian collusion investigation or that he has spectacularly poor timing. Either way, it again speaks to the political naivety or inexperience of the President.

The one comment that I had heard, and it almost made marginal sense: After James Clapper's testimony the other day saying that Trump was not a subject of the investigation, maybe the President thought that those comments would provide justification and coverage enough to dismiss Comey.

For the record: President Trump would have done well to terminate pretty much any / every political appointee Obama made as soon as feasible after inauguration. The fact that we are 100+ days past that point, and he is still dealing with Obama legacy appointments also speaks to the lack of good advice and inexperience of the Trump administration.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Senate Filibuster of SCOTUS Nominees...

Over the coming days, you will certainly here about the "historic" "unjust" "revolutionary" "destructive" actions of Senate Republicans to follow the precedent of Harry Reid and Senate Democrats and eliminate the filibuster, this time extending it to President Trump's SCOTUS nominee.

A few points I wanted to share:

- I will be the first to say I am not wild about the evisceration of the Senate rules for partisanship. That is foolish and short sighted - it was when Reid did it, and it is the same when McConnell is going to do it.

- That said, I do not believe that President Trump could have nominated ANY conservative jurist that would have received the 60 votes necessary for cloture.  I think the Democrats are still fuming (and somewhat rightly so) that they did not get to put President Obama's nomination on the Court, so any nominee for that open seat was likely going to be met with objection (apart from one personally chosen my Sen. Schumer, which he graciously volunteered to do).

- I think that the Senate should have confirmed Merrick Garland – I said it then and I will say it now. He certainly deserved a hearing and a vote.  Unfortunately, Sen. McConnell plays a wicked hand of poker, as his political gamble could have very easily backfired for conservatives, dramatically shifting the balance of the Court for the foreseeable future (presumably, a Clinton administration would have withdrawn the Garland nomination and installed someone much more ideologically left-of-center than Garland). But, as many have said since, elections have consequences. The Republicans won, and the outrageous gamble paid off.

- I am not so naive to think that SCOTUS seats are not political or partisan - they have been since the very first nominees to the Court. But I also believe that a qualified jurist nominee should be confirmed, unless there is something so egregious that prevents the nomination. Judge Gorsuch is certainly qualified, and at least as qualified as Justices Sotomayor and Kagan. And as partisan as those nominations were (both are as left leaning as Gorsuch is to the right), neither were filibustered and both were confirmed.

- And as much as I generally disagree with the stances and politics of Sen. Michael Bennett from the great State of Colorado, I am pleased that he has decided not to join his fellow Democrats in the filibuster against a nominee from his home state. I didn’t think he had it in him, but I am proud (and pleasantly surprised) that he did.  Ironically, there are commercials running on TV that claim the exact opposite, so they need to get their facts straight.

- Lastly, I would call on those Senators planning on using the filibuster for this nominee to reconsider. It is YOU that are setting a precedent that will be impossible to walk back and change. I know that these words will not reach anyone, but I would be remiss if I did not say it.

Also, to demonstrate that I actually get news from somewhere besides Breitbart and Fox News, I wanted to share this article from The Atlantic that discusses the actual impact changing the Senate rules will have.

Buckle up – it should be an interesting few days…

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Political Spectrum of the SCOTUS

First, you should all be proud of me. Instead of inflaming the situation with President Trump and all of the protests and marches and protests and anger and protests and memes and protests, I have pretty much kept out of the conversation and let my more left leaning friends emote. I know they are not done, and I am not trying to say that their voices do not matter. But responding to emotional concerns and fears with pragmatism rarely seems to work.

So they are not done, and neither is President Trump. So I guess the mudslinging will continue on both sides for a bit (like at least 3 more years).

Apart from his executive orders and proclamations, the President is sure to enrage those on the left tomorrow with his selection for the open Supreme Court justice.

Again - not saying that the Democrats do not have a justified beef with the Republican Senate leadership. The fact that they did not approve Garland for the Scalia seat was unprecedented.  But that is old news, and we will hear President Trump's choice for the vacancy tomorrow.

So I thought I would share a cool infographic found on the 538 blog about the political leanings of the current court, and the leanings of the front runners for the open seat.  You can find the original Nate Silver article here.


Not in complete agreement about Silver's political ranking here, but it is in the ballpark. Plus, it offers an interesting view of how President Trump's pick will change (or keep) the balance of the Court.