Category Archives: Local

Constitutional Carry in Utah

It was bound to happen sooner rather than later. HB76 has been introduced this legislative session and I’m not really sure if it’s going to pass.

Utah law already allows unlicensed open carry and concealed carry permits are easy to get. Of course there is some pant wetting going on by those who don’t understand Utah’s gun laws. “But this means criminals could legally carry concealed handguns!” Um, no, not if they can’t legally own a firearm. It would still be illegal for them.

House Minority Leader Jennifer Seelig frames her opposition as not wanting to “take any tools away from law enforcement,” referring to the daily background check that is run on all concealed carry permit holders. This is certainly a valid argument.

Even if the bill passes, I would presume that a majority of those who would carry a concealed weapon would still get the Utah permit because of Utah’s reciprocity/recognition with 35 other states.


Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Guns, Local, Politics, Self Defense


Utah’s Caucus System

Utah is a caucus state and I have to admit that I both like and dislike it.

Pros: It’s local. I enjoy going to my caucus and seeing people from my neighborhood. We get to sit down and talk about the issues that matter to our neighborhood. It truly is the most grassroots that you can get in the American political system.  It’s exclusive, meaning that you have to be affiliated with the party to attend its caucus meetings and be involved in the primary process.

Cons: It’s exclusive, meaning that you have to be affiliated with the party to attend its caucus meetings and be involved in the primary process.

In Utah, something like 12.5% of voters are registered Democrats, while 34% of voters are registered Republicans.  That leaves 53.5% of voters unaffiliated/independent.  As caucus attendance numbers dwindle, elected candidates come more from the fringe of each party, alienating a large portion of general election voters. How do you think Utah elected Mike Lee?! Mike Lee won the Republican nomination in a hotly contested Republican Primary 51%-49% (the final count was around 2,000 votes). He was carried by one ULTRA conservative county. When it came to the general election, Lee (R) defeated Granato (D) by almost a 2-1 margin. Many of Utah’s independents are Republican-leaning, and 7 times out of 10 candidate (R) is going to win in a national election.

In my discussions with many former-Republican-now-unaffiliated Utahn’s, they say that they left the party because of the caucus system. They feel that only “extreme” voices were “allowed” or “heard” and that anybody who questioned the “official party position” was ostracized. Because of the neighborhood affiliation of the caucus system, this created strain between neighbors and rather than potentially lose close friendships or create negative feelings within the neighborhood, they simply left the party (or no longer attend caucus meetings if they’re still affiliated).

So what’s the answer? Part of the answer is for more people to get involved in their caucus to make it truly more “representative” than it currently is. Of course, this means that people will have to care enough to get involved and to take the risk of arguing with neighbors. Until then, the more “extreme” elements of each party will continue to dominate Utah politics and we’ll continue electing jackasses like Mike Lee.

So please, if you live in Utah and you’re not affiliated with a party, get affiliated.  If you are affiliated, attend your local caucus meetings.

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Posted by on March 7, 2012 in Local, Politics


A Note to the Left and the Right

Something has touched a nerve today, I’m not quite sure why.  I was sitting her surfing the interwebz when I, again, became annoyed with the political establishment in this country.  For several generations now we, the citizenry, have sat back and allowed our government to become extremely top heavy on the Federal end.  In some cases, an extremely vocal minority have called for this increase.  In most cases, an extremely apathetic majority simply sat back and did nothing. 

We have lost something that the founders had enjoyed and come to love.  I do not say founders in meaning the Big Boys of American History, but rather the citizens who supported the Big Boys.  The citizens of the original 13 Colonies had spent almost 170 official historical years governing themselves.  Lifted from the source of all truth and knowledge, Wikipedia – “Each colony developed its own system of self government. The[y]… voted for their local and provincial government.” 

Yes, the early years of American history are not the golden age that many on the right try to paint them.  They are not, however, the historical arm pit that many on the left try to paint them.  It was imperfect, what with indentured servitude and slavery and what not, but it was 17th and 18th Century America.  The one thing they truly got right was local government and a citizenry active in that government. 

The British government started poking their nose in where the American Colonials felt it didn’t belong.  The Americans rebelled, declaring

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

The War was fought, the Americans won (with the help of the French who wanted to spite England), and The United States of America was quickly recognized as a nation by Morocco.  The people then set out to “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity….”  On September 13, 1788 the United States Constitution was confirmed ratified and the country was set on its historical course. 

The US citizenry then fought another war about slavery and about independence in government.  For the better, the Union won the War of Northern Aggression and the United States stayed intact, to some extent.

So, what am I rambling on about?  “Federalism,” the great American experiment, has changed many, many times over the last 235 years (see the source of all truth and knowledge).  The authors of the Declaration of Independence were correct when they said, “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”  In modern speak, Common sense (because “common sense” has replaced prudence) tells us that when a government has been around for a long time it shouldn’t be changed on a whim.  History also shows us that the people will mumble under their breath against government overreaching rather than giving up the entitlements granted while their rights are being trampled.” 

Sound familiar?  It should, because we are living it!  The Federal Government has gotten too large and overstepped its constitutionally set limitations.  Several factors are involved, not the least of which is the ever expanding authority of the Executive Branch, the weakness of the Legislative Branch and its relinquishment of authority to the Executive, and the failure of the citizenry to remember that the Judicial Branch exists outside of the Supreme Court (apart from viewing the Judicial as a tool to circumvent the Legislative).  I’m not saying that the Federal Department of Education can’t exist, but I am saying that it shouldn’t under our current Federal Constitution.  Do you want a Federal Department of Education?  Then convince your state legislature, or your Senator or Representative, to make a push for a Constitutional Convention or Constitutional Amendment so that the Federal Department of Education can be instituted properly. 

Your role as a citizen is to read and understand the United States Constitution and your State Constitution.  If you haven’t read them then you can’t know when your governments are overstepping their bounds and what their constitutional limitations are.  When you know these things then you can become active in your community and allow the private sector to do what the government has no authority to do. 

Governments are not all powerful.  If you think they should be, please remove yourself to Europe.  They favor that type of thinking over there.  The United States of America was founded on principles of INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY.  To members of the Right and the Left who have special interests, you are partially at fault for the current state of American politics.  The apathetic also hold responsibility, as do the political weasels who have found “public service” to be a career and not service. 

There, my rant is over.  Return to your regularly scheduled programming.


I Voted

Today is Primary Day in Utah, as in other parts of the country.  On the state-wide Republican ballot we’ve got two contenders for U.S. Senator: Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater.  The former is trying to jump on the “anti-incumbent-I’m-a-real-Libertarian” bandwagon.  The second is a successful business owner.

Locally we’ve got one putz(R) running against the incumbent putz(R) for State House Rep.  I voted against the incumbent.  Not because she did a poor job but because she didn’t do ANYTHING that I felt was a worthy use of taxpayer time and money.  If the new guy wins, hopefully he’ll do better, or else he faces the ax.

Results later tonight.

The other interesting race in the state today is in Utah’s 2nd District, between incumbent Blue Dog Jim Matheson(D) and uber-leftist Claudia Wright(D).  She was hand picked by the unhappy Democrats in the district because, “well, Matheson just isn’t Blue enough” or some other stupid argument.  Matheson actually represents the 2nd District, and the State, pretty well.  The scary part about this primary is that it’s an “open” primary, meaning you don’t have to be a registered Democrat (which only 8.6% of Utahns are) to vote.  There have been rumors that Republican uber-conservatives will try to throw the vote to Wright because she’s beatable in November.  I hope that doesn’t happen, as I really like Matheson.

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Posted by on June 22, 2010 in Local, Politics


I Have the Answer

To all of the Californians who vacation in/move to Utah – STAY OUT!  We’re tired of being associated with this crap:

PARK CITY, Utah – A woman who says she relied on Google for walking directions in Utah that got her hit on a major roadway has filed a lawsuit against the Internet company claiming it supplied unsafe directions.


Posted by on June 3, 2010 in Eyes+Sharp Stick, Local, People


Tour the Salt Lake Temple

Well, virtually any way.

More than a century has passed since the public open house was held for the Salt Lake Temple, but an exhibit featuring a 1:32 scaled replica of the Mormon temple opened today that offers an open house experience of the magnificent building. Earlier this morning, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unveiled the 88-inch tall, near-identical replica of the temple in the South Visitors’ Center on Temple Square. The permanent exhibit will be open to the public starting at 1:30 p.m. today.

This is a really cool idea!  The model is almost 7 feet tall and weighs between 600 and 800 pounds.  The Deseret News has a decent article on the project, with a neat slide show.  Even though I’ve been inside the Salt Lake Temple, I plan on heading downtown next week when I have a day off to check out the model.

If you’re interested, here’s a little background on the Temple.

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Posted by on May 29, 2010 in Local, Temples


Tea Parties

Not so astroturfy.

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Posted by on May 11, 2010 in Local, Politics, Really Excited


H.B. 78

Yesterday, H.B. 78 was signed into law by Governor Gary Herbert.  H.B. 78 “clarifies the use of force or the threat of force necessary to defend a person against another’s imminent use of unlawful force[, and] clarifies when a person may threaten or display a dangerous weapon in self defense….”  This bill was necessary because the previous language in the law left small loopholes where law abiding citizens could be snared.  The text of the bill is here.

Also, H.B. 380 was signed into law on Monday.  H.B. 380 “provides that a private property owner is not civilly or criminally liable for any harm or damages resulting from discharge of a firearm by a person who holds a concealed firearm permit while on the owner’s property; and provides that the exemption from liability does not apply if the property owner solicits, requests, commands, encourages, or intentionally aids the permit holder in discharging the firearm while on the owner’s property.”  Basically providing a legal incentive for businesses NOT to ban firearms on their property.

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Posted by on March 31, 2010 in Guns, Local, Self Defense


My First Time

You always remember your first time and this will be no exception.  I went to my first caucus meeting today.  It was interesting, and I had a good time.  I got elected as an alternate county delegate (2nd of two) so I probably won’t be going to the county convention but that’s okay.  I got involved at the ground level and I’m giving myself a warm fuzzy for that.

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Posted by on March 23, 2010 in Local, Politics


American Federalism

Any student of American history knows that our system of federalism has changed many times since the country’s inception.  Wikipedia has a rough summery if you’d like to take a “quick” look.  Many of the Democrats in our state legislature are whining about a number of bills that they perceive as anti-federal.  Among those bills are S.B. 11 (which was just signed into law), H.B. 143 (which has passed the House and is now in the Senate), and H.J.R. 11 and 12 (which have both passed and been logged).

The language being used by the Democrats’ is “we have enough problems do deal with locally, why get all uppity with the federal government in a vain attempt to assert state sovereignty?”

I cannot claim to know why our legislature is resisting the feds this year more so than other years.  Maybe it’s because Utah is a conservative and Republican stronghold.  Maybe we’re just keeping the tradition alive of thumbing our noses at Washington.  However, it may be possible, however unlikely, that our legislature understands that with the economy in shambles and citizens looking for strong leadership, the federal government has a perfect opportunity to continue it’s expansion (which has been happening for about 30 years, but has begun to accelerate with two wars and a bad economy).

That makes now a perfect time to push back and resist, and hopefully get the pendulum to begin swinging in the opposite direction.  Are we going to see a new era in American Federalism?  Only time will tell.

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Posted by on February 27, 2010 in History, Local, People, Politics


Utah State-Made Firearms Protection Act

SB 11 was signed into law by Governor Gary Herbert today.  Hippies and Democrats all over the state are crying.


Telling The Feds Where To Get Off

S.B.11, also known as the Utah State-Made Firearms Protection Act, was passed by both houses of the state legislature and was sent to the governor for signature. However, Governor Gary Herbert is considering vetoing the bill. Here’s what it does:

This bill:

  • addresses the legal status of a firearm manufactured in the state for use within the state;
  • defines terms; provides that a firearm or one of various firearm-related items manufactured in the state for in-state use is not subject to federal firearms laws and regulations;
  • exempts from in-state manufacturing some firearms and ammunition;
  • and requires certain markings on a firearm manufactured in the state for use within the state.

Mostly Democrats voted against it, claiming that the bill would be found unconstitutional and would waste state money during defense in court.  Money that we do not have because of the economy and budget shortfalls.  They point to the law suit that the state of Montana is currently involved in, but they overlook one point – a pair of indipendent lawyers sued the federal government, the feds have not sued the state, so the suit is costing the state nothing.   Supporters of the bill claimed that it’s less about firearms and more about states’ rights (I’m sure they mean state powers and sovereignty, because states don’t have rights).

Basically, this bill is about Utah saying, “What happens in Utah stays in Utah.”

A bill with a similar philosophy has been introduced to protect Utah land.  H.B. 143 had made it out of committee but has not yet been voted on in the House.  The issue at hand is eminent domain and it goes all the way back to 1894, two years before Utah was admitted as a state.  Currently, almost 60% of Utah’s land is owned by the federal government.  According to Henry Lamb,

As a condition of statehood, the citizens of Utah were required to “…forever disclaim right and title to unappropriated public lands.” In the same July 16, 1894 Enabling Act, the federal government agreed to grant four sections of every township, and various other grants of land, to the state to provide permanent funding for schools and other government purposes.

I won’t go into the history of Utah’s becoming a state, save to say that at one point, in an attempt to force the people of Utah into submission, the federal government threatened to dissolve the Utah Territory and divide it between Idaho and Arizona.  The rest of Mr. Lambs article is very insightful so I’ll direct you there to read up on the issue of land rights.

So again, the issue is state sovereignty and powers.  If the feds haven’t owned up to their end of the bargain, and if they’re in violation of the U.S. Constitution (which only gives the federal .gov the right to own the land of the D.C. – see U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 17), then they can’t tell the people of Utah how their public lands are to be used (for instance the President creating a national monument to please environmentalists, while destroying the local economy).

Utah has never really liked the federal government.  And I don’t see why that should change.

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Posted by on February 24, 2010 in Guns, History, Local, People, Politics, Special Interest


Check With Utah, They Know How It Works

Downrange TV’s weekly video podcast with Michael Bane

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Posted by on February 24, 2010 in Guns, Local, Self Defense


How the Process Works

I saw this article in the Salt Lake Tribune and thought it was a perfect example of A Public Peace Process: Sustained Dialogue to Transform Racial and Ethnic Conflicts and Sitting in the Fire: Large Group Transformation Using Conflict and Diversity.

Gay rights: Oakland LDS Stake tries to heal post-Prop 8 rifts

‘This is the church I know and love’

Updated: 02/05/2010 01:39:33 PM MST

Ted Fairchild, who is openly gay, has HIV and serves as a part-time LDS missionary in the Bay Area, left the love of his life to return to church activity. Linda Schweidel wondered why her bright, successful returned-missionary husband still was not ready for children after eight years of marriage. That’s when he broke down and told her he was gay.

Diane Oviatt held her sobbing gay son in a darkened kitchen as he poured out years of grief at the secret he had been carrying for 18 years and wondered how he would get to heaven without marrying.

These were among the anguished stories several Mormons shared during emotional church services Oakland LDS Stake held last summer to heal rifts caused by the faith’s activism in the Golden State on behalf of traditional marriage.

In June 2008, the LDS First Presidency asked all California Mormons to give their time and money to Proposition 8, a ballot measure striking down gay marriage. Many members did so with gusto, circulating petitions, raising money, sending e-mails to church lists and putting up lawn signs.

That left other Bay Area Mormons, particularly those with gay friends and relatives, feeling embattled and alienated. Some stepped away temporarily from church; others left for good. Those who remained often felt at odds with fellow believers.

Oakland Stake President Dean Criddle, a respected lawyer and gentle leader, sensed the ripples of collective pain and wanted to reunite his flock, says Matt Marostica, bishop of the Berkeley Ward.

So Criddle and his counselors assembled quotes and speeches from LDS general authorities that stressed love and compassion for those with same-sex attraction. They then asked each of the 10 wards in the stake to hold a joint meeting of adult members during church services on either Aug. 30 or Sept. 6 to hand out the quotes and listen to personal stories from area members.

The response in Oviatt’s suburban Moraga, Calif., ward was electric, Oviatt says. “Everyone in the audience was weeping. Men came up to my husband, crying, and hugged him, saying, ‘We love you and we love your son.’ ”

A couple of the more ardent ballot supporters apologized to Oviatt for having Prop 8 signs on their lawns, saying, “We never knew.”

Several people told Berkeley’s bishop, Marostica, how much they appreciated the meetings, including one woman who said, “I am so glad we did this. This is the church I know and love.”

[s]Till they have faces » The authorities’ statements and church setting provided a comfort level to Mormons who rarely discuss homosexuality openly, except to condemn it as a social trend or satanic tool. By all accounts, though, it was the stories that were transforming.

One man, who outed himself from the pulpit during one of the meetings, talked about a life of being scorned, bullied and accused by other Mormons of bringing on the AIDS pandemic. Still, every week when he takes the sacrament bread and water, God’s voice whispers to him: “You belong here.”

It’s the same voice Fairchild has heard over and over since becoming active in the LDS Church as a 17-year-old in Pullman, Wash., in 1970.

He served a two-year mission in Mexico, earned a degree at Brigham Young University and married a woman because, he says, she was pretty and could play the piano. The couple had two daughters.

But Fairchild always knew he was gay and eventually couldn’t continue the lie. He fell for a man.

“It was the only time,” Fairchild says, “I have ever been physically, emotionally and spiritually in love.”

By 1986, he and his partner were diagnosed with HIV, which at the time was a death sentence. Elder Richard G. Scott — then an LDS Seventy, now an apostle — gave Fairchild a blessing in which he asked God to build a protective wall around his cells. In that moment, Fairchild believed he needed to live by Mormon standards. He broke up with his love and returned to the church.

“Once you’ve experienced the Holy Ghost,” he says, “there’s no other feeling like it.”

More than 20 years later, Fairchild is relatively healthy and at peace with his decision. He believes he was born gay and a child of a loving Heavenly Father, twin qualities that make him a more effective “worker in God’s kingdom.”

Letting go or holding fast » That doesn’t work for Oviatt’s son, Ross Oviatt, who has not been back to church.

He attended BYU for a few semesters, she says, but it was a “toxic environment.” The Prop 8 fallout — which continues in California with the ballot measure now before a judge – proved difficult for Ross as he tried to weather homophobic slurs and keep his secret. He misses his Mormon experience and friends, but the association is too painful.

It hasn’t been easy for the rest of the family, either.

“We had to re-examine our place in the church,” Oviatt says. “We are not leaving, but it’s hard to stay in a religion that does not embrace our child. If we had to choose between the two, we’d choose Ross.”

Some Mormons in the stake see only one choice: following church edicts.

“I am a faithful Latter-day Saint, happily married with children, striving to live up to my temple covenants, fulfill my calling, be a good father and all the other things which active members of the church try to do,” one man wrote to Criddle in between the two joint sessions. “According to your definition of homosexuality, I am also a homosexual. I have had strong attractions to men (and exclusively men) my whole life.”

But homosexuality is not his identity, just a temptation he refuses to act on, the writer said. He thought the stake should have included more emphasis on heterosexual marriage as the core of Mormon teachings.

Criddle shared the letter (without identification) in all the wards.

Coming back » In what she calls, the “dark days of Proposition 8,” Schweidel took a “leave of absence” from the church.

She didn’t know if she could return. But when Criddle and Marostica asked her to tell her story at one of the joint sessions, she readily accepted.

She has been attending and involved ever since.

“The special meeting made me want to be part of a positive change in the church,” she says. “I want to talk to people, to explain why I feel like I do, and help them try to understand.”

That may work in Berkeley, but how about Bountiful?

Schweidel is hopeful. There are two kinds of Mormons, she says, quoting a friend: those who know gay people and those who don’t know they know gay people.

The task, she says, is to move more members from the second to the first category.

“If my mom in Orem had gay neighbors next door, I know she would love them,” Schweidel says. “The Mormons I have spoken to make an effort to understand. They totally get it.”

This gives you an idea of what I was trying to convey in my post Unpacking Things.  This is how the process works.


Some Peasants Are Getting Restless

Congressman Jim Matheson represents Utah’s Second District in the US House of Representatives.  Though I’m not in his district, I really like Jim Matheson.  In fact, he’s the main reason that I registered with the Democratic Party when I returned from Ukraine (I have since changed my party affiliation to Republican and am very close to breaking all party ties and registering as in Independent).

Apparently, since Jim Matheson is a Blue Dog, some of his constituents aren’t too happy and are looking to un-seat him this year.

The interesting thing about Utah’s Second District is that it covers so much of the state.  It covers 15.5 counties (out of 29) and around 750,000 residents (if you know anything about Utah geography you’ll know that the majority of the 2nd is desert).

If the Democratic base is able to un-seat Matheson in the Primaries, I think they’ll have trouble winning the general election.  It seems about time for that district to go back to the Republicans.

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Posted by on February 6, 2010 in Crazy Left, Local, Politics

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