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All right, I don't really want to talk about politics here and I hope not to make any more posts about politics (and I'll probably f-lock this one eventually), but I'll just make this post because I thought a couple of you might find it interesting.

K/B asked me two weeks ago about the LDS Church and whether it would ever come out against Trump. I said (and still say) no. The Church did not even endorse Mitt Romney in 2012, who was one of our own.

There are two reasons for this. The first is that the LDS religion believes very, very strongly in freedom of religion and the related freedom to vote our own consciences. Our theology in fact explicitly postulates that the founders of this country were motivated by the Spirit of the Lord to develop a country in which these freedoms are possible. The second, more cynical reason, is that the LDS Church will never, ever do anything to call into question its nonprofit tax-exempt status as a religion, and making statements about any political candidate or party would put itself squarely in that bullseye.

(I believe both. If it weren't for the second reason, I absolutely believe that the Church would be tempted to speak out more. I could also imagine that if it weren't for the first reason, the Church might be tempted to do at least wink-wink-nudge-nudge kinds of statements, which I've heard from the pulpit in my sister-in-law's evangelical church and which I found horrifying.)

The Church has put out a single official statement on, not Trump, but in response to Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the United States. It did not name Trump. It basically went, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in regard to party politics and election campaigns. However, it is not neutral in relation to religious freedom," and a couple of relevant quotes from Joseph Smith. The Deseret News (of which more later) was happy to unpack what they actually meant, though.

Utah is still red, I told K/B, but usually the LDS church votes Republican as an extremely reliable bloc [not wholly, especially those in California and Massachusetts, haha, but… pretty strongly so], and in this election that bloc no longer holds.

Then that tape came out.

The Church has not said anything officially about it, I think rightly so (see above).

Last Saturday, the Deseret News wrote a very strongly-worded editorial against Trump. (It declined to go so far as to endorse Clinton.)

And now Mormons have pretty much broken against Trump.

I've seen a couple of articles about the Mormon revolt against Trump in the last several days, but I don't think I've seen anywhere talk about exactly how important the Deseret News editorial was in the confluence of the LDS Church and politics. The Deseret News is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is not an official Church publication. It says it is not a mouthpiece for the Church. However, in the past it used to be exactly that. It still has a great deal of power and does in fact in the minds of many Mormons speak for the Church. Last week when I was at church, in fact, people (including me) were confused as to whether the Deseret News was an official Church publication or not. (This was in a completely unrelated, religion-based context, and I had not yet seen the Trump editorial because I am not the sort of LDS person who reads the Deseret News. But there are people in my ward (in California) who read it every day.)

Anyway, probably partially because of this background and the possibility of confusion, The Deseret News has not taken a stand for/against a political candidate in 80 years. But they have done so now. And it is a huge deal in LDS circles. It doesn't carry the weight of an official pronouncement, and certainly should not; but there are a lot of people in the LDS Church who will give it a lot of weight. There were already a lot of LDS who disliked Trump (that's a whole other story; Trump's brand of demagoguery is basically antithetical to Mormons -- ETA 10-14: for example see this Buzzfeed article written by a Mormon reporter) but might have pushed the lever for him out of not knowing that much about him combined with conservative solidarity; but this, I think, will have given them another path, and what's more, a path that at least appears to come with tacit approval of the leaders of the Church. (The editor of the Deseret News claims he did not run the editorial by any Church leaders, and I have no reason not to believe him. But people will assume that he did anyway, or at the very least — and I also believe this — that his beliefs are shared by church leadership.) I've already seen the editorial be passed around and convince a couple of previous Trump supporters on an LDS message board I occasionally look at.

(There's also a whole other post I could make about LDS theology and women and how Trump hit that in a way that was pretty much guaranteed backlash, but this is already enough, so never mind.)

(And I should also add that I don't think the Deseret Times affected the Mormon politician exodus from Trump which has also been happening; that seems to have happened independently (though for the same reasons that the editorial came out, see also LDS theology and women), and of course Mitt Romney has been the lone voice crying in the wilderness that is Republican politics for some time. What I'm talking about here has been more important for those people who haven't been following the political scene super closely.)

And today (er, yesterday now) a poll came out showing Trump and Clinton tied (with Evan McMullins' numbers shooting up stratospherically — he's an independent LDS candidate) in Utah. Utah. Maybe the poll is skewed, maybe it isn't quite right, maybe it's biased. But… I don't think it's that far wrong. I think, I really think, we're going to see Utah in play. It might not go for Clinton (I will laugh if McMullins wins Utah; I think he actually has a decent shot), but I think it is going to be close. This is something I never thought we'd see in my lifetime. And of course Mormons make up a small but decisive couple of percent in Arizona, which was balanced on the razor-edge before last weekend but now is turning…

ETA 10-14: Yesterday another, better poll came out which still shows Trump ahead in the state, but only by +6, which is still catastrophic for him compared to last week.
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I have been a fan of Elizabeth Warren since reading The Two-Income Trap, which significantly changed the way I thought about practical economics. In brief: if everyone's income goes up by a factor of 2, this does not make, say, houses cheaper. Because now everyone can bid up the prices of houses to two times what they could before, housing prices will also go up by about that much. Of course I did learn this in first-year economics supply and demand, but this was when-- okay, fine, I am slow-- I really got that yes, this occurs in non-textbook situations, and a similar application to the lax-credit market of the last five years (guess what-- if everyone regardless of income can get a mortgage loan of $500k, houses will cost at least $500k!) helped us to keep our head about it. I am still a fan of hers based on her TARP COP remarks. Transparency in disbursing government money! Oh, my heart.

I promise to shut up after this, but let me just say once: I strongly believe things in the financial system (and not just the US's) are Very Bad, people don't realize how bad they are, and things are just going to get worse. Probably much worse. I'm talking about Depression-era worse; I don't think we have staved off a depression, at all, and have probably made things worse. (Note I am not being partisan here; I don't think this is Obama's fault, or Bush's. I do think both of them did/are doing stupid things, but I'm not convinced any other politician would have done much better.)

My main sources of gloom-and-doom apocalyptic-ness are Mish and Karl Denninger-- the latter is kind of crazy, but then again look at his predictions for 2008 (scroll down to the bullets)... he might just be crazy like a fox.

I'll shut up now and go back to books. You can take all this with a large lump of salt, of course (and I realize I do look silly given this morning's news/stock market surge); I certainly don't claim to have a particularly high batting average with this stuff. Still. Save. Don't take on any more debt than you have to. Don't take your job for granted. Have a backup plan. Always good ideas, but I think now more than usual. I would add, don't invest in stocks right now; my dad begs to respectfully disagree.
cahn: (Default)
Parents-in-law just finished up a visit. I clearly absolutely won the parents-in-law lottery.

In other news, Rambles on Blink, snap reactions, Prop 8 tactics, and Gottman's marriage/divorce studies )
cahn: (Default)
Okay, I promised myself one politics post before Tuesday. I promise this will be followed by talk of books!

1. It's sort of interesting to realize that I'm way, way less interested in this Presidential election than I was in 2004. Part of it is because I think McCain doesn't have a chance, being of the incumbent party during an economic downturn, and so the entire thing is a lot less interesting. Partly it's because the drama spent itself with Hillary/Obama and Palin (whereas Kerry/Bush was nonstop drama, what with Dan Rather and the Swift Boat guys and so on...). Mostly, I think, it's because I'm more cynical now about politics in general than I was in 2004. Much of it is because both candidates quite annoyed me in the wake of the bailout.

2. Could we please just get rid of legal marriage and have civil unions for everybody? And then could we just stop talking about it? Please? Except for taxes. I entirely think that it's justifiable to agitate for marriage over civil unions if the benefit is that you only have to fill out one tax form. This has been the primary benefit of our (legal) marriage (the religious marriage had many more fairly obvious benefits).

3. Speaking from a purely strategic viewpoint, the No-on-Prop-8 side is not doing so well from my perspective. They are not nearly as well organized (the Yes side is scary organized) and they have let the Yes side have all their best arguments (the signs I've been seeing with the little icons of families should totally have been co-opted by the No side first). Also? Protesting a Mormon temple: not a bright idea at all, whoever thought of that one.

4. I still utterly hate and despise the California proposition system. We're going to pass more propositions to spend money we don't really have. GAH.

5. This may make me an evil right-wing etc. type, but yes, I would in fact like to be notified if my daughter is getting an abortion, the same way I would really like to know if she's getting operated on for appendicitis or having plastic surgery done.

(edited to add pt 5 and clarify marriage benefits)
cahn: (Default)
Yeah, so, if we must talk about the bailout, my feelings about it are best summed up here.

Anyway. Back to random ramblings:
Does anyone else besides me have dreams where one is both reading a book and participating in the action inside the book as a main character? (This probably says something about how I perceive life, or something-- I have these dreams all the time. Along with the anxiety dream that I haven't showed up for topology class all semester. It's always topology, even though I did perfectly well in that class. Huh?)

So... I had this dream where I was reading/acting-out a dystopian SF book (I got to perform a noble but essentially idiotic suicide for the sake of My Man... it wasn't a very good book) that turned into a Harry-Potter-slash crossover with the Chrestomanci books. Really. It was kind of a neat dream, but I am a little worried about what goes on in my subconscious when I'm not looking.

IBAR

Aug. 10th, 2007 11:02 am
cahn: (Default)
I haven't been ignoring this, and I've thought a good deal about it this week; but I don't feel very comfortable posting about it.

So, even more incoherent than usual )
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As part of the great rereading orgy I had over Christmas (including all of the John M. Ford books I've been missing since his death, and some old Star Trek cuddly favorites) I reread Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card. Wow. I had forgotten how much I love this book. It's one of my favorites.

Let me digress here to say a couple of things about Card. I've talked to several people recently who don't read him because they don't agree with his viewpoints, especially on homosexuality. To that I say:
1) If I only read authors whose opinions I always agreed with... I wouldn't read anybody, including any of my favorite authors and *definitely* including anything written before, oh, 1980. In fact, if I only read authors whose treatment of women I agreed with... that's basically nothing before 1960, at least.
2) He doesn't write about gay politics in his novels, and his gay characters are actually really cool, nuanced characters. (So actually he gets slammed by both the right and the left, which I take to mean he's doing *something* right.) He does write about it occasionally in his essays... but... it's actually possible to boycott, you know, his essays without boycotting the books.
3) He's Mormon. This means he utterly believes, perhaps even knows, that there is a latter-day prophet who speaks the commandments of God. And, you know, you can't really argue with God. Well, you can, but you won't get anywhere, fast. You can argue that he's stupid for believing the prophet thing, but not that he ought to break away from Mormon teachings... because then he wouldn't be Mormon. It's kinda like Dante and the unbaptized babies going to hell (which honestly I think is a LOT more offensive than someone thinking homosexual sex, or even sex in general, is a sin, especially if you have the Mormon take on the afterlife)-- he was a great man and a great poet, but he believed absolutely in Catholic theology, and that meant he had to make sense of a great many things I personally believe to be senseless.

Anyway. That particular rant aside, I must say that although I used to adore his books (and still adore the earlier ones), I have not been excited about one of his books in some time-- because he's started to talk about his particular beliefs in his novels, instead of showing us through the characters, and that. Just. Drives. Me. Nuts. Heck, I even agree with most of his points-- but I just hate it when a character is all, "Listen up, youngsters! Families are good!!" Which basically happened in one of his Shadow books.

Pastwatch, however, was written before he started this trend and when I believe he was at his peak as a writer. (Lost Boys is the other ultimate Card, but one which I rarely reread as I find it painful in its intensity.) It does have the Card trademark (I used to like this, but it's semi-annoying now) where all the dialogue is between two snarky wise-guy Card-clones-- but it's got loads of ideas, being a story of history, alternate history, parallel universes (sort of), time travel (sort of), and the end of the world-- it's the sort of book where abolishing the institution of slavery and finding the historical basis of Noah's flood are corollaries of the bigger ideas; this book is on a very grand scale-- but without losing sight of the essential humanity of some great characters, most notably Columbus himself who just awesomely rocks and makes me want to research his life. And it made me cry in, like, five different places (though to be fair I hadn't had much sleep so was more emotional than usual).

Because it has the Card trademark I adore-- his vast compassion for his characters, something that I feel hasn't been as prominent in his recent books. In this book it's especially strong, because there are no villains-- oh, perhaps the occasional small-minded or petty person, especially in Columbus's time, but usually just people trying to do the best they can in the face of impossible odds, sometimes having to change themselves into something new and strange in the process-- and sometimes they fail, and sometimes they are wrong, but sometimes they succeed beyond hope.
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So one of the things that having a fancified wedding did for me was make me think more about why gay marriage is desired.

Before, I suppose I was vaguely sympathetic towards the idea, with a strong dose of general conservatism (in the general sense, not the political: what do we really know about how changing a given cultural institution will affect things?) and a stronger dose of religious conservatism (which is pretty much gone now because of various twists in my religious life, but that's another story), but really my attitude was summed up by the question: Why would gay people care?

I mean, really. Half my friends are in cohabitating relationships with no particular thoughts about getting married. If not for religious and cultural factors, particularly the former, which prevented us from the cohabitation parts, I wouldn't particularly have thought too hard about it either, I suspect. Half the older people I know are divorced or in the process of same. Does anyone take this marriage thing seriously? (Yeah, I know, insurance and visiting rights and yadda yadda. But I'm too young and/or naive to worry about visiting rights, and anyway both husband and I work so we're separately insured, which is also the case for most of our friends.)

And then there was this wedding. People went out of their way to be happy for us. We were surrounded by so much love and-- and, approval. This is the way things are supposed to be. And now that I can refer to D as "my husband," there is a level of societal respect given to that above and beyond when he was just "my boyfriend." (That's not quite fair-- if he had been "my partner," that would also have been better. But not quite as good.) So okay, now it makes perfect sense to me why people want that sort of societal recognition, why people want to be able to have that sort of love and approval of their life's mate.

On the other hand... seems like asking for laws, right here right now, is not the right way to go about it. I know lots of people who aren't against it, really, but might well vote against it if a vote were to happen today. We need just a little time to get used to it. We need a little time to go to a couple of gay weddings of our friends, see that they are trying to take it seriously. We need to get more used to unconventional families that still work. (My friends are mostly just starting to have kids-- except the religious ones, who have of course no overlap with the gay ones.) Win that battle, and legality won't be a problem.

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