Wednesday, October 31, 2007


It was Hallowe'en at 648, and we had visitors.
These are the boys next door.

And these boys are from down the street, I'm not sure exactly where.

More neighborhood kids.

Elmo and a local ninja.

H.P. and Peter Pan.

Princess Rachel from accross the street.

And her little brother Jesse, who must have forgotten his line, because he couldn't remember what he was supposed to say, even though he had practiced all day...

Cute kids.

And, um, well...maybe not so cute.

This little Valley Girl was actually on her cell phone when I opened the door, but when I grabbed the camera to take a picture, she got embarrassed, hung up and put it away.

UPDATE: This is Ashtyn Day, who is in our ward. She was on the phone talking to her mother. Her mom told my wife later that she could hear me teasing her daughter. (I was sure her face was familiar.

Here's a link to the River Trail Ward PHOTOBLOG where she appears in her family picture. See if you can pick her out. (Even though it's labeled, it's not that obvious).

John Stossel, Others Join Utah's Debate On Referendum 1

John Stossel has a column today at the World Jewish Review online calling attention to the debate over Referendum 1 and the opportunity Utahns have to vote for school choice.

Entitled "Utahns can vote for school choice Tuesday", the article comes down on the side of the proponents. From the article:

Next Tuesday, Utah voters go to the polls to decide if their state will become the first in the nation to offer school vouchers statewide. Referendum 1 would make all public-school kids eligible for vouchers worth from $500 to $3,000 a year, depending on family income. Parents could then use the vouchers to send their children to private schools.

What a great idea. Finally, parents will have choices that wealthy parents have always had. The resulting competition would create better private schools and even improve the government schools.

But wait. Arrayed against the vouchers are the usual opponents. They call themselves Utahns for Public Schools []. They include, predictably, the Utah Education Association (the teachers union), Utah School Boards Association, Utah School Employees Union, Utah School Superintendents Association, the elementary and secondary school principals associations, and the PTA. No to vouchers! they protest. Trust us. We know what's best for your kids.

They say they're all for improving education but not by introducing choice....


Vouchers will make schools accountable to parents rather than a bureaucracy. Principals and administrators will have to convince parents that they are doing a good job. That's real accountability. And the Utah law requires private schools to submit to independent financial audits and give students a nationally recognized test each year. The results would be publicly disclosed, giving parents information they can use to judge schools.


For over a century, American children have been in the hands of education bureaucrats. For over 40 years, the government's system has been dominated by a protectionist teachers' union that puts itself ahead of the children entrusted to its members. The results are what we should expect from a monopoly financed with money extracted from taxpayers: poor quality, lack of innovation and bored children.

The parents of Utah should be the envy of the rest of the country because on Tuesday, they have a chance to take back control of their children's education.

It's well worth reading the whole thing.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters joins the debate, with a post he titles "Parents Taking Power Back".

From his post:

What Stossel misses is why voucher programs have become a burgeoning movement, along with home schooling and the demand for charter schools. It springs from the loss of power from parents and the local communities to the federal government over the last four decades. The shift of control over curricula, standards, and mandates from local school boards to a vast federal bureaucracy -- abetted by the NEA -- has provoked this reaction. Parents want as much influence over the education of their children as possible, and federal control gives them no influence or say over how their children are taught. Power has shifted into the hands of the lobbyists, like the NEA, who represent teachers and administrators first, and children secondarily if at all, as I noted two years ago.

Vouchers simply provide parents with the power always envisioned by the public school system. It simply replaces the school board with a capitalist lever on quality of delivery. It requires more from the parents in terms of involvement, but at least in this system, their involvement actually gets rewarded. Right now, schools have so many mandates and top-down requirements that parents have little say any more -- and when they do attempt to make changes, get treated with dismissive attitudes from the "experts" who assume they know the children better than the parents.

The NEA and the Department of Education drove parents to voucher programs. Utah will likely be the first to pass the program, but in ten years, expect to see it spreading like wildfire. One way or another, parents will take back control over the education of their children, and dinosaurs like the NEA will either adapt or die.

Well, I know where I stand on the issue of Referendum 1. How about you?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Frederick W. Kagan, in an article entitled "Winning One Battle, Fighting the Next" that appeared in the Weekly Standard online suggests that we have the momentum in Iraq and need to seize the opportunity that affords us.

America needs to be heartened by our success in Iraq, and seize a victory.

How did we achieve this success? Before the surge began, American forces in Iraq had attempted to fight al Qaeda primarily with the sort of intelligence-driven, targeted raids that many advocates of immediate withdrawal claim they want to continue. Those efforts failed. Our skilled soldiers captured and killed many al Qaeda leaders, including Abu Musab al Zarqawi, but the terrorists were able to replace them faster than we could kill them. Success came with a new strategy.

Al Qaeda’s brutal tactics against local Sunnis caused area leaders to reconsider their loyalties. But without American help, resistance was futile, because any leaders who spoke out against the takfiris were tortured and murdered. The Sunnis needed the American military muscle to protect their populace, and the Americans needed the intelligence that the Sunnis were able to provide in order to run al Qaeda to ground.

But the American forces that were available then weren’t sufficient in number to make the gains permanent, and the "surge" was required so that commanders would have the resources to operate multiple simultaneous and consecutive operations to make sure terrorists were under constant pressure to run and hide instead of attack civilians and coalition forces. When al Qaeda operatives went on the run, the combination of locals cooperating with the additional American forces made it impossible for them to get where they wanted to go. They were cut off from their safe havens, captured, killed and otherwise decimated.

And so that battle was won, but there are more battles to fight in this "long war".

Some now say that, although America's soldiers were successful in this task, the next battle is hopeless. We cannot control the Shia militias, they say. The Iraqis will never "reconcile." The government will not make the decisions it must make to sustain the current progress, and all will collapse. Perhaps. But those who now proclaim the hopelessness of future efforts also ridiculed the possibility of the success we have just achieved. If one predicts failure long enough, one may turn out to be right. But the credibility of the prophets of doom--those who questioned the veracity and integrity of General David Petraeus when he dared to report progress--is at a low ebb.

There is a long struggle ahead in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and elsewhere against al Qaeda and its allies in extremism. We can still lose. American forces and Afghan allies defeated al Qaeda in Afghanistan in 2001 as completely as we are defeating it in Iraq. But mistakes and a lack of commitment by both the United States and the NATO forces to whom we handed off responsibility have allowed a resurgence of terrorism in Afghanistan. We must not repeat that mistake in Iraq where the stakes are so much higher. America must not try to pocket the success we have achieved in Iraq and declare a premature and meaningless victory. Instead, let us be heartened by success. We have avoided for the moment a terrible danger and created a dramatic opportunity. Let's seize it.

In September I posted in this blog about the possibility that we had fought and won the Battle of Gettysburg in the Iraq conflict and had in fact turned the corner and started to move toward victory. I cited Mr. Kagan as my principal source in "The Gettysburg of This War" which appeared in the National Review Online. I agree with him, that we’ve made innumerable and costly mistakes in Iraq that have nearly brought us to disaster. But we’ve learned from those mistakes and our troops have been persistent and successful in earning a great victory.

One of the biggest mistakes we could have made was to heed the Democrats (and al Qaeda propagandists) who insisted that America had lost the war and we needed to withdraw immediately to cut our losses. Because we didn’t listen to the voices of defeat, opportunities now abound for continued success if we press forward.

Hat tip: Dafydd ab Hugh at Big Lizards.

Monday, October 29, 2007


If you’re a small business owner, a wage earner or a married couple in America, you need to read John Boehner’s column about the tax hike the Dems are preparing for you in order to pay for all the pork they have planned after their successful bid for the White House in 2008.

From the column:

So what exactly will the Pelosi-Rangel tax increase mean for families?

The most striking feature of the Mother of All Tax Hikes is that it raises taxes on literally every single taxpayer. In 2001, the Republican-led Congress and the president enacted a sweeping tax cut plan that lowered taxes for every American.

The Pelosi-Rangel plan would eliminate those tax cuts, raising taxes for every single tax bracket and eliminating the new 10 percent rate Congress established specifically to reduce the tax burden on low- and middle-income working families.

And as if that is not enough, the Pelosi-Rangel plan also would reinstate the marriage penalty, which — before Congress began to phase it out in 2001 — punished couples by taxing them at a higher rate than they would have been taxed had they filed individually. Indeed, no family would be protected from the Mother of All Tax Hikes.

What do the Dems need all this tax money for? And what will all these tax increases do to our economy? I don’t think they’ve thought that far ahead. I just know that Congress seems to see American taxpayers as a great herd of cash cows, and they’re determined to milk us for all we’re worth. It’s reprehensible, and this trend has got to be reversed.

John Boehner is a Republican Congressman from Ohio and the House Minority Leader, so he know whereof he speaks. Read the whole column, it’s frightening. Appropriate for the upcoming Halloween season.

Dan Habib/Monitor Staff photo

John Edwards, Democratic candidate for President, obviously would make a very handsome President. Unfortunately however, I believe his Presidential qualifications end right there.

At the Concord Monitor Online, Lauren Dorgan has an article detailing John Edwards’ plans for our Republic once he takes office in 2009.

In the article, titled "Edwards plans big for presidency", she quotes Mr. Edwards directly:

"It is central to what I want to do as president to do something about economic inequality. I do not believe it is okay for the United States of America to have 37 million people living in poverty," he said in a meeting with Monitor reporters and editors this week. "And I think we need, desperately need, a president who will say that to America and call on Americans to show their character."

At every stop, Edwards said, he tells voters he'll ask them to sacrifice. Asked to describe what he means, he described his plan for increases in capital gains taxes, saying taxes on "wealth income" should be in line with those on work income.

"I think if we want to fund the things that I think are important to share in prosperity, then people who have done well in this country, including me, have more of a responsibility to give back," he said. Later, he added: "There are no free meals."

Like other Democrats, Edwards named his top three priorities as ending the war in Iraq, enacting universal health care and overhauling the American energy system. "Those are three things instantly I would do," he said.

Well, none of that sounds like it wouldn’t cost a lot of money, money that has to come from my pocket and your pocket in order to make it work. This is a creeping form of socialism, and it will eventually send our economy into a skid and produce a nanny state like France or Sweden, and a deplorable National Health System like Great Britain. That’s not the direction I’d like to see this country take. Maybe you feel differently.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


The problem with our so-called Social Security system is that it’s being run on a deficit.

For over twenty-nine years I contributed a goodly portion of my income to the Social Security system, with the understanding that I'd get that money back in benefits after I retired. But in addition to the money I paid to Social Security, I also put a portion of my earnings into a 401(k) savings plan, where the money actually went into an account where it grew into a nest-egg that allowed me to retire at the age of 56 in early 2004. I haven't collected a dime of Social Security benefits yet.

Everybody who get’s a pay-check and has taxes deducted also pays into Social Security. But Congress isn’t putting that money away and saving it for us. They’re just taking the money that goes into it, paying the current benefits of those who are entitled, and spending the rest. It’s not going into a savings account or into Ft. Knox or any where else. Congress is spending it and writing a big I.O.U.

It’s incredibly irresponsible. Instead of making the program pay for itself, they're passing the debt (and the difficult task of fixing the problem) on to future generations. Any corporate officers who ran a business this way would be guilty of negligence and fraud and would face charges with the potential for years in prison.

But Congress can act like a crew of pirates as they plunder our retirement funds to pay for their favorite pork projects, and they've been getting away with it for years, while we quietly and obediently acquiesce and keep pouring our money into the black hole. Congressmen don't have to worry about their retirement, because they've already provided for themselves, and they get great benefits that are guaranteed.

But we get no such guarantee. Congress has made a promise to pay the money back, but they are under no legal obligation to actually do it.

Here’s an interesting illustration of exactly how it works at The Further Adventures of Silence DoGood. It’s chilling.

Um, one word of caution. The linked post doesn't exactly meet, um, Church Standards, shall we say. Yeah, the language gets a little...colorful.

Have a nice day.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Is Obama Too Genuine to Show "False Patriotism"?

A few weeks ago Barack Obama, (D) IL, a candidate running for president, claimed he refused to wear an American Flag lapel pin because he believed too many people were wearing the flag as a false indicator of patriotism. He is apparently too righteous to engage in any ostentatious displays of false patriotism.
If the above photo is any indication, apparently he is too genuine and sincere to show false patriotism by showing respect for the flag in this ceremony where others are holding their right hands over their hearts. He stands respecfully... with both hands folded over his crotch.
What a courageous, noble gesture of true patriotism!
I suppose as a free citizen of a free country he has every right to make whatever gesture he deems appropriate at a public ceremony where others show respect in their own way.
And as a result, I have the same right, as a free citizen of a free country to not consider him in any way, shape, or form to be a qualified or serious candidate for the highest elected office in the land and the leader of the free world.
I'm just sayin'...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Izac's Birthday Party

As mentioned in an earlier post, yesterday was Izac's birthday, and they had his party last night.

I asked him how old he was now, and he said seven. I asked if he could hold up that many fingers, and it took him a couple of tries, but he managed it. He should have asked me if I could have held up 60 fingers, but neither one of us thought of that.

Izac is always happy to receive birthday presents, as is Jake. But when Izac get presents and he doesn't, well, then he's not so thrilled.

Oh, yea, Pokemon, my favorite thing in the whole world!

And if it wasn't Pokemon related, Isac wasn't quite as interested, but Jorgen Dansie was...

...and so was Jake.

Oh, yeah! You can never have too much Pokemon stuff!

Lessee, what's this, Play-doh?

I think so. What else have we got here?

Let's see, a card from Grandpa that says "Read, read, happy, happy."
Posing for obligatory photos with a cheesey smile.

Jake pulls his hat on and gets ready for action. What mischief can I get into now?

Posing for more mandatory photos...

...while Mom records it for posterity.

Let's get these Pokemon cards organized!

Izac and his Mom check out the mood ring he got for his birthday.

And back to my organizing.

While Jake and Jorgen check out the toy dragon.

Jake was fascinated by this "fiber-optic" toy.

Izac swung it for an interesting effect.

Ah, the cake!

And the lighting of the seven candle.

The singing of "Happy Birthday".

And the big blow!

Hattie arrived "fashionably late", with her entourage of doting parents. And of course she was her usual adorably charming self. Here she shows off her watch and bracelet, which her mother says she refuses to leave the house without.

She warmed right up to Nanna, who had an attractive plate of cake and icecream on her lap.

Notice that she's using the international sign for "That looks delicious. Can I have some?"

And of course, she could. And did.
Who could say no to such a charmer?

As the party wound down, Jake entertained himself by beating up on the party balloons.

Later, Brad served fajitas, and they were delicious. I didn't take any pictures of them because I was too busy snarfing them down. Thanks, Brad!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


IZAC ALLEN PETERSEN can jump from a swing...

and play soccer...

even in cold, rainy weather...

and he can suck down a slurpee and get a blue tongue...

Wait a minute--can he fly a helicopter??!!

Um, I don't think so. Not yet, anyway. Maybe someday after he has a few more birthdays (and some flying lessons).

He's a first grader, and he tells me he's a very good student and gets excellent grades. And his parents back him up, so it's not just a story he made up.

Izac is our grandson, and we're very proud of him.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


photo by Jack Petersen
This is a target I practiced on right after the Va. Tech shooting. See a related post here.

"It may not be for credit but it’s a credit to Weber State University."–Jeff Soyer,

I read this story, first on Alphecca, and then on KSL News website, about Weber State University's continuing education class for concealed carry.

From the KSL story:

Guns on campuses [in Utah] are not new. One anonymous teacher has had a permit for 10 years. He says, "My purpose in getting a concealed weapon was, in essence, to become a good citizen."

I couldn’t have said it better myself. In frontier America, good citizens had guns and were ready to defend themselves and their communities. That’s what the Second Amendment is all about.

Jeff Soyer is heartily enthusiastic:

"Nonetheless, the editorial board of Alphecca (that would be me and two cats) all think it’s a swell idea. It doesn’t mean that you can or will stop a tragedy but it does mean you might.

It’s about time a college started teaching about the civil right that dares not speak it’s name. . . ."

My favorite takeaway quote of the KSL story came right at the end:

Utah has issued more than 100,000 concealed weapon permits. That means, whether you like it or not, about one out of every 25 people you meet on the street, in the mall or on campus, could be carrying a gun.

Sounds like good news for peaceful, law-abiding citizens, and bad news for crooks and thugs.

There's a related post here.

Monday, October 22, 2007


I just read an A.P. story about a publicly funded air traffic safety study conducted by NASA that apparently found issues, but they won’t release the report, and in fact have instructed the survey contractor to purge the data from their computers.

Well, that’s piqued my curiosity. And by the way, WHAT’S THAT HORRIBLE ODOR?

A senior NASA official, associate administrator Thomas S. Luedtke, said revealing the findings could damage the public's confidence in airlines and affect airline profits. Luedtke acknowledged that the survey results "present a comprehensive picture of certain aspects of the U.S. commercial aviation industry."

Okay, so we have an air traffic safety survey conducted over 4 years with telephone interviews of about 24,000 pilots, at a cost of $8.5 million (borne by the public, not the airline industry), and NASA won’t release it because it might hurt the airline industry by damaging their profits?

I don’t like flying as it is. Now I like it even less. There’s something terribly rotten around here somewhere.

It's well worth reading the whole story. Here's a link. Also, thanks to Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters.

It seems to me that if Congress was really interested in investigating something worthwhile, this would be a worthy subject.

But I won't hold my breath. I think I'll notify my Congress-critter, though.

Have a nice day, and stay out of airplanes, children.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Be Careful Out There!

Several years ago I went riding in the mountains with two of my sons. It was a gorgeous day and we had lots of fun until we had an accident and rolled one of the ATVs into the scrub oak. I was just glad that no one was hurt in the accident. Damage to the Yammy Big Bear was minor compared to what it could have been. We spent several hours of hard work recovering the bike. Our fun day of riding was ruined by a seemingly minor mistake that had bad consequences. Again, the damage was minor compared to what it could have been, and no one was seriously hurt. I was grateful for that more than anything else.

Earlier this year my youngest son Brad and his wife Jodi made a large investment in two Yamaha ATVs and a trailer so they could go camping and riding with their two young boys.

A couple of weeks ago Brad was riding with Jodi's younger brother Bucky when they came to a part of the trail that was, shall we say "technically challenging". Actually, I've seen this place, and I wouldn't have even attempted to go there, but I guess that's neither here nor there. At any rate, Jodi's ATV wound up taking a tumble about 250 yards or so down a steep ravine.

It took Brad several attempts and finally, with the help of 5 other people, some long rope and a pully, they were able to recover the ATV.
Here it is.

This is the front (in case you can't tell). Note that the front wheels are no longer aligned with each other, or the frame.

Well, I think you get the picture.

Having an enjoyable, safe, but fun experience while trail riding on an ATV requires a certain combination of good equipment, confidence and riding skill.

Good equipment isn't cheap. A lot of young people don't have a lot of disposable income to spend on recreational equipment.

If you have low confidence, you won't have much fun because you're always worried about having an accident.

For a lot of young people, lack of confidence is not a problem. Most the time, it's too much confidence that's the problem.

If you have more confidence than you do skill, the consequences could end up looking like these pictures. Or worse.

At least no one got hurt. Thank God for that.