Monthly Archives: May 2018

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 I worked in Congress.

Whenever I write or speak about any aspect of public policy dealing with marijuana, I inevitably receive all sorts of feedback from people correcting me about this or that. Everyone has an opinion and that is cool. Most criticisms of my pot commentaries complain about my use of generalities. Pot supporters, it turns out, are obsessed by pot minutia – everything from vernacular to science to medicine to the law. And, you know, I am not really surprised by these high-minded attempts to intellectualize a narcotic. Have you ever actually listened to two potheads discuss world affairs? They think they make sense. read more

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If this is a joke, it’s not funny

Robert Gehrke column on Trump nomination of Utahn Ron Mortensen to a federal post.

“I know he has experience working with refugees outside of the country. I don’t know about his experience with refugees inside the country,” said Paul Mero, who hired Mortensen when Mero was president of the conservative Sutherland Institute. “In fact, the only thing I really do know is that he’s very anti-immigration and anti-refugee.”

Salt Lake Tribune

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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 of the press conference, I had not endorsed any such thing. I attended, as I said, out of respect and friendship. But a funny thing happened while standing there along side the governor and so many high-profile community leaders: I agreed with what the governor was proposing. It made sense. In fact, I agreed so much with what he described about the plan that I embraced it and argued for it among our conservative legislators. read more

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Someone in Authority

You might think after decades of horrible sexual abuses perpetrated by people in authority over innocent and trusting individuals that law and policy would reflect every reality faced by the victims in a litigious society. But you would be wrong. Even today, victims of sexual abuse still face the humiliation of the original abuse and the subsequent abuses associated with having to face it and report it.

Just this month, a new law took effect removing the statute of limitations on childhood victims of sexual abuse in Utah. But the law has not gone far enough in my opinion. We should extend this legal courtesy to anyone sexually abused by someone in authority – be they subject to a parent or guardian, an employer, a school teacher, a youth leader, a law enforcement officer, a caretaker or, yes, even an ecclesiastical leader. read more

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Trifling Against General Satisfaction

In one of Bill Buckley’s last television interviews, Charlie Rose asked him to explain the differences between the conservative movement today and the one Buckley started with National Review in 1955. Buckley replied that conservatives back then had a unifying enemy – communism – and all sorts of political factions on the Right were willing to set aside some glaring differences of opinion to stop the communist menace. And what about today’s conservative movement? Buckley paused and said, conservatives today are “trifling up against the general sense of satisfaction.” read more

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God, yes; Pence, no

Does it bother you that Vice-President Mike Pence proudly shares that he talks with God? I have to admit it bothered me a bit – but not for the same reasons many other people became uncomfortable with Pence’s revelation.

I understand why some people are dismayed by the vice-president’s faith in open display in the public square. In fact, a “faith standard” is a pretty high bar to meet in terms of public service. For instance, how credible is the faith of a man who thinks Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio is a shining example of the rule of law, a man to be honored? If Pence’s faith-based political judgment whispers that Arpaio is an honorable man, what are we to think about Pence’s judgment on a wide array of other political topics? read more

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