Pot initiative proponents and opponents deserve each other

For the past 30-something years, especially the last 18 years here in Utah, I have made freedom my business. But I guess I have not done a very good job as its advocate because even really intelligent people either do not understand it or still choose to prioritize self-interest. Throughout these ten years of commentaries, I have described freedom in minute detail – from its essence to its processes – and, regardless of the angle, I am convinced most people (even guardians elected to serve and protect it) do not…

Preserving the American political tradition is the goal

Former FBI Director James Comey recently called on voters to elect Democrats this November saying, “Policy differences don’t matter right now. History has its eyes on us.” And just a few weeks ago, conservative George Will authored an op-ed titled, “Vote Against the GOP this November.” Will wrote, “In today’s GOP, which is the president’s plaything, he is the mainstream. So, to vote against his party’s cowering congressional caucuses is to affirm the nation’s honor while quarantining him.” A writer for my favorite National Review slapped back that Will has…

Don’t Bogart the facts

Most Utahns do not know what it is like to smoke pot or use cannabis in any of its commercial forms. I do. I smoked lots of pot when I was a teenager – lots of it. I bought it. I sold it. It’s no secret among people who really know me and I do not mind talking about it. I do not care who knows about it. My kids know. Any close co-worker knows. I unhesitatingly reported it on my application to get a Top Secret security clearance when…

Governor Herbert for a third term

In November 2014, I received a call from Governor Gary Herbert’s staff inviting, and then asking, me to stand with the governor as he announced his Healthy Utah plan – the plan that opponents referred to as “Medicaid expansion.” I knew nothing about the plan at the time, was sent some briefing materials and, ultimately, agreed to stand with him largely out of friendship and respect. Of course, as a well-known conservative voice in Utah, I was heavily criticized for so-called “endorsing” the Healthy Utah plan. Up to the point…

Justice Kennedy divided America

In the span of 30 years on the United States Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy changed the face of America and, in doing so, created Donald Trump and deepened our political divisions. While Justice Kennedy is receiving great accolades for many important court decisions that he authored, his legacy should be judged by his activism more than by any wisdom he provided. Even after authoring Lawrence and Obergefell, perhaps Justice Kennedy’s greatest effrontery was his 1992 opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, upholding Roe v. Wade, wherein he wrote, “At…

Please, Senators, do not confirm Ron Mortensen

The Trump Administration has placed the name of Utah’s Ron Mortensen before the United States Senate as the administration’s nominee as the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration – and senators, especially Utah’s senators, should oppose Mortensen’s confirmation. The Bureau of PRM was created to “provide protection, ease suffering, and resolve the plight of persecuted and uprooted people around the world on behalf of the American people….” PRM “provides aid and sustainable solutions for refugees, victims of conflict and stateless people around the world,…

Character matters more than ideas

On my desk in my home office I have several yellow “sticky” notes upon which I write reminders, sometimes for my “to-do” list but mostly with those momentary but deeper reflections, I feel I need to capture for later pondering. One of those deeper thoughts constantly before my eyes says, “Good policy requires good character.” Of course, for those who know me, this theme of personal character has been important to me. Character has been my basis for understanding freedom, supporting the issues I have supported over the years and…

Potheads make bad laws

Now that the Utah Medical Marijuana Initiative has inched closer to obtaining a spot on the November statewide ballot, it is a good time to get absolutely real about what policies, and their societal effects, are at stake. Supporters of the measure argue that good people are being forced to break the law just to relieve chronic pain. Opponents argue that this initiative is simply the first step in a broader campaign to legalize pot, as in Colorado. So who is right? Every statewide ballot initiative permits supporters and opponents…

The Problem with Mitt, Part Two

As I said last week, Mitt Romney has a problem. To repeat myself, “I am concerned Mitt Romney does not understand freedom in its fullest, most transcendent meaning.” I am concerned that Mitt views freedom transactionally, as mere opportunity – the right to hunt, gather and possess. Of course, opportunity is a big part of freedom, but it is not the only part or even the most important part. Funny thing about our American priorities when tested: We fight and die for quality of life, not quantity of life. When…

The Age of Unreason

America owes a great debt to the philosophers of the Enlightenment over 300 years ago. Many democratic virtues are the result of liberal ideas formed in the 18th century leading up to the American Revolution. Unsurprisingly, illiberal ideas sprang from the Enlightenment as well – label these ideas “if a little is good, more is better.” As the ink was drying on our new Constitution and its initial amendments, the French Revolution proved to the world that more is not always better. Illiberalism was invented through zeal and excess in…